Saturday, December 8, 2012

Twilight Princess Vs. Skyward Sword

Someone mentioned how the Zelda games appear to be getting easier and easier. That led my mind down this track. Which is better: Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword? They're both fairly easy, provided you're accustomed to the core mechanics of how to play Zelda. I'd say Skyward Sword is significantly harder in terms of combat, but both games hold your hand the entire way through. To TP's credit, Midna's character does make that handholding a little more bearable.

Twilight Princess: Pros and Cons


1) Standard Zelda Quest: The storyline and world of Twilight Princess fits right in with what you'd expect from a Zelda game. It's Hyrule, you are Link, and evil monsters are giving everyone a hard time. Some evil wizard seems to be causing these afflictions, but in the end, you learn that Ganon is really the cause of everything.

2) Simpler Control Scheme: Some mind find faults with the swordplay, but Wiimote IR aiming is pretty sweet. You don't need to recalibrate it, or worry that a change in sitting position might affect your shot.

3) Great Graphics: At the time of release, Twilight Princess' graphics were great. That's what we (or at least I) have been wanting since playing ALttP as a youngster. It makes Zelda look more hardcore than the lackluster quest actually was.

4) "Epic" Moments: Link is not a youngster trying to attain knighthood in Twilight Princess. He's a Legendary Hero that's been waiting for an opportunity to shine. No one else can save Hyrule, as only those Hyruleans with a piece of the Triforce can enter the Twilight. The people are all counting on him. Colin actually builds up Link's level of heroism at times, and even gives Link opportunities to look more legendary than he did before (i.e. When King Bulbin captures him). Link also engages in various sword battles against enemies which look quite intimidating.The darknut battles are some of the finest moments in Zelda, and the Ganondorf fight is pretty good too.

5) One of the Best Guides: Midna is right up there with Tetra and the King of the Red Lions from TWW. Fi is, in fact, a major step down from any Zelda guide -- even Navi!


1) Tear Drops. Oh Goddesses, the Tear Drops!: Before each of the first three dungeons, you have to collect these Tears of Light to revive the spirits of each Province of Hyrule. It is boring, and it takes forever. Why thought it back in SS, I have no idea.

2) A to Z Quest: Most of the games do have obligatory prescribed dungeon orders, so it's not a major fault. My main beef is with Midna telling me I can't leave the Twilight! That's an artificial barrier, and it sucks.

3) Handholding/Predictability: Maybe it's because I and most other players that find fault with TP have played too many Zelda games. I don't know. But actually figuring out what to do in TP was just too easy. The sidequest may appear unrelated to the main quest, but with Zelda logic in tow, you know that this is going to open up the way to another dungeon.

4) Easiness: Twilight Princess was a cakewalk, in terms of both combat and puzzles.

Skyward Sword: Pros and Cons


1) Nice Swordplay: I liked the way the sword worked in this game. The actual swordplay wasn't 1:1, but the non-strike movement was. I imagine it became apparent that a more fun game could be produced if Link strikes in basic directions.

2) Some Fresh Music: Much of SS was orchestrated, in fact. I'm all about the Faron Woods theme! It kind of reminds me of the intro to Fires At Midnight by Blackmore's Night (the first few seconds, but nothing else. ;) ).

3) Reuse of Items: If TP's cons were any indication, I don't like SS' linearity. However, at least SS made good use of the linear path. In the later dungeons, the earlier items are necessary. In the last dungeon, every item is needed, if I'm not mistaken. It's a pretty cool idea.

4) Fleshed Out Characters: Characters not at all related to the main quest have their lives fleshed out. With the exception of Majora's Mask, I can't think of another game where this has occurred.

5) Some Great Bosses: The boss of the Ancient Cistern was pretty hardcore. On Hero Mode, I hard some serious problems keeping up with him. Demise wasn't as cool as Ganon, although he sort of was Ganon... I guess. I suppose the fanon is still out on that. Anyway, I was getting to the fact that the cinematics of the battle with Demise were flat out awesome.

6) Excellent Dungeons: Nice graphics, interesting puzzles, some good enemies. I'm a fan of the Stalfos Knights, and it's good to see them back for another game. Their SS form was good. Not as good as OoT's in terms of look, but the swordplay was right up there with the N64 controller.


1) Fi: FI FI FI. Worst Con Ever. I've rambled about it before and I'm not doing it again.

2) Linear Path: Not as bad as TP's due to item reuse, but still. I don't like how the world is actually unavailable. There's not even the hope of being able to get to Lanayru before Faron. :(

3) The Sky: It takes forever to get anywhere in the sky. There's no warp system to get around up there either. They should have added in Sky-Rolling on button A.

4) A premise different from other Zeldas, but not a very good one: The Wind Waker was different from other Zelda games, but still very cool. If you can't go on a swordwielding medieval journey through a fantasy world, can't you at least be a pirate? Being a skyman is not something that I'd really like to do. :P

I would say that despite its many problems, Skyward Sword is a better game than Twilight Princess. It makes the same mistakes, but improves upon those mistakes in many areas. But that's just my opinion.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Top 20 N64 Games

I spent much a lot of last couple of weeks playing random N64 games with one of my friends. We really enjoyed it. It got me to thinking, and after I think, I tend to ramble! What do I think are the best N64 games? Hmm... it's like I'm kid in a retro gaming candy store, or perhaps just a kid in a retro gaming store. Keep in mind that this list is just off the top of my head. I'm probably forgetting a few games that I think are worthy of being on here.

20: WCW vs. NWO Revenge

I remember getting this for Christmas a decade or so ago. It's pretty sweet. It's a sequel to World Tour, which kind of sucks in comparison. The simple control scheme is what makes Revenge so much fun. It's pretty fun on single player, but you could spend days playing it on multiplayer. Also, the game has some knowledge of wrestling rivalries as they were at the time, and allied wrestlers will run in and help their buddies if they're losing too badly.

19: Doom 64

I love the way N64 FPS games conduct themselves. There's no online mode, so the campaigns are seldom linear. People would boo that stuff back in the day. From what I understand, Doom 64 is actually not the same game as the original Doom on PC. It's a sort of side story game that's made by Midway. Whatever the case, I like the way you have to explore the corridors and how enemies will pop up whenever you find something.

18: Snowboarder Kids

I don't have as much experience with this game as I'd like to, but I rented it several times back in the day. It's kind of like a kart racing game, except that it's on snowboards. I only recall that I really enjoyed it.

17: Gex 64

Gex is a one-liner delivering lizard. What's not like about that? I like all of the Gex games for N64 and PS1.

16: NFL Blitz

It's one of those games that's fun to play with friends. It's a shame that Midway couldn't get the NFL license for several of the later entries.

15: Starfox 64

Starfox is pretty nifty. The controls are nice and loose. I think Star Wars: Rogue Squadron is a much better game, but that's not to say Starfox is bad.

14: BattleTanx: Global Assault

Finally, you can blow up a buildings with tanks!

13: Mario 64

I have a confession: Aside from Gex, this is the only 3D platformer for N64 that I like (unless you could Zelda). I'm not big on Banjo Kazooie, and I hate Donkey Kong 64, so...

12: Wrestlemania 2000

This game is much better than the very-good WCW vs. NWO: Revenge. From what little I've played of No Mercy, I can safely say that I think it sucks when compared to this game. This has a Create-A-Wrestler mode, the ability to create little factions comparable to DX or whoever, a story mode, theme music for every wrestler, and is all around a fantastic game.

11: Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon

It's kind of like Zelda meets Mario 64. I'm always eager for games that are sort of like Zelda. I like the other N64 Goemon game too, but not as much.

10: Duke Nukem 64

Like Doom 64, it's fairly non-linear. But Duke Nukem 64 has humor, and also a nice multiplayer mode.

9: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

I'm a big fan of the movies. In some ways, I think of Rogue Squadron as a sort of sequel to Starfox 64. It's like not-on-rails version of that game, with better graphics, better sound, and generally better everything. It could have used a multiplayer mode, though.

8: Mario Golf

There are lots of unlockables in Mario Golf. You could spend a good bit of time just unlocking all of the courses and characters. The multiplayer is what's so fun about Mario Golf, though. I'm told you can actually create your own golfer if you have a GBC, a transfer pak, and Mario Golf for GBC, but that's a lot to hunt down. Heh.

7: Pokemon Stadium

Speaking of transfer paks, here's the only game I ever used that thing on. Pokemon Stadium is another good multiplayer game. Of course you can battle your Pokemon via Gameboys and Link Cables, but it's much more fun to do it in 3D. The graphics on this game are in 3D, it has commentary, and you can also play Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow from the transfer pak (with the games running four times as fast!).

6: Pokemon Puzzle League

I forgot how much I liked Pokemon when I was a kid. This game is basically Tetris Attack, but it uses the license of the Pokemon cartoon. There's lots of soundbytes, good midi renditions of the cartoon's music, and so forth. I honestly think that Tetris Attack is more fun in this form.

5: Goldeneye I prefer Perfect Dark, but I like the Golden Gun mode.

4: Majora's Mask

Majora's Mask is a really impressive game, mostly due to its sidequests. There are many of them. Termina's society is far more realistic than Skylofts. Given that 12 years have passed in-between these games, that's kind of sad.

3: Diddy Kong Racing

The game that led to this list. The actual game is fantastic, but it's better when you use cheat codes. You can actually unlock co-op campaign. How badass is that?

2: Perfect Dark

It's the perfection of the already-near-perfect Goldeneye. The campaign mode is intense, has heavily non-linear progression through the levels, there are a variety of guns (all of which have dual firing modes). There's a Combat Simulator mode with bots that you can play against. There are Challenges that can be completed by yourself or with friends. Perfect Dark is better than many newer console FPS games that I've played, and that's taking into account their online modes.

1: Ocarina of Time

What could be better than Ocarina of Time? Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time are both phenomenal for their own reasons. I like OoT more because of the actual quest, though.

There you have it, gentlemen. Sounds about right. 10-1 are all pretty close.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

(Rumor) Nintendo is Buying Rare Back

Check this out. It's a rumor which briefly raises the hopes and dreams of countless Rareware fans. If you believe the anonymous email (and alas, you probably shouldn't), Nintendo is currently in the process of attempting to purchase Rare and its various Intellectual Properties.

It goes on to say that Retro Studios is already developing a Banjo Kazooie game. That strikes me as a tad odd. It would be unusual for them to develop a game that they don't even own. Heck, it would be copyright infringment! The only way I can rationalize that is that Retro Studios is making a generic 3D platformer on which they will tack Banjo and Kazooie in the event that the purchase is successful. To me, that seems rather unlikely.

But as the initial publisher of the rumor Zelda Informer did, I'm inclined to humor the speculation. With the Wii-U coming up, Nintendo is trying to target the 'hardcore' gamer types. Producing types of games Rare used to make would do just that. Hypothetical games like Killer Instinct 3 (which need not be developed by Rare if Nintendo owns the whole thing) and Perfect Dark 2 would do wonders for their effort to regain their traditional market. I would buy a Wii-U to play a new entry into the Perfect Dark franchise or even some of Rare's more off the wall games like BlastCorps.

Of course, the people who made Rare great are no longer there. If it's happening (and it's not), the move is just to gain those Rare game IPs which aren't doing anything for Microsoft right now. If Microsoft would just have Rare try and make a few traditional Rareware games, this rumor wouldn't have any traction.

At any rate, a google search for "nintendo buying rare back" revealed this petition. A noble endeavor, even if it will probably never happen. Sign it if you're so inclined.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Top Five Things I Hate About Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword has some redeeming elements... just not many. Anyway, one my friend's kids was playing SS, and he said to me, "This game sucks. There's too much text, Fi is annoying, and how anyone could possibly think this is better than Ocarina of Time 3D is beyond me." with OoT 3D being the only other Zelda game he'd ever played.

I'd thought that maybe I was just being a nostalgic blowhard by thinking it sucks when compared to previous Zeldas, but if a youngster who didn't grow up in the N64 era thinks so... well maybe I wasn't. Without a further ado, I'd like to rant about the top five things that bother me about Skyward Sword. Now of course, in contests like these, readers might be able to think of literally hundreds of things worth mention that suck about SS, but one would have to write a book to list everything wrong with this game.

5: Unnecessary Reminders

The first time you find a green, red, or orange Rupee, the game will notify you of its value. This is fine. Now, reset your Wii, then and find another Rupee. The game will notify you again. Why!? This is not only condescending, but flat out unnecessary. The amount of Rupees is shown on-screen, and anyone first grader can do the math. Really: If I was able to out Rupee values playing ALttP when I was five, kids today should be able to do it, too. Perhaps Nintendo (understandably) doesn't have any faith in our education system.

That's inexcusable, but it gets worse. How would like to have Skyward Sword notify you about what kind of bug you catch every time you turn your Wii on? And what about crafting materials? Would you like routinely hear about those? Well, no worries my friend. They've got you covered with unnecessary notifications.

And it gets worse: Fi is an unnecessary notification system that's built into the storyline. Like all Zelda games, this game has a heart meter that beeps when you're dying. However, it also Fi to explain to you that your hearts are low. A second beep will start when you have less than three hearts, that beep being Fi wanting to talk to you. She'll also talk to you when your batteries or low. I won't even touch on how she patronizes you at every turn.

4: Lazy Man's Collision Detection

Beedle's Airshop is a shop that floats above Skyloft. To get Beedle to lower a rope for you to climb up, you need to ring his bell. But how? Well, you need the slingshot for that. Can you throw a pot at the bell? No. Tell me why a pot could not hit a bell? Give me one good reason! If you throw a pot at the bell, it would go right through. You could also try using a Skyward Strike on the bell, which also go right through. You could even successfully jump off a cliff and unsuccessfully strike the thing with your sword.

The unnecessary notifications are annoying, but this is just poor design. It even continues into the regular gameplay. Why can't you shoot something with a bow that can be shot with a slingshot? Because Hylia is kind of lazy when it comes designing her civilizations? That's all I can figure.

3: It's the text, stupid.

The first problem: There is too much text in this game. The second (and worst) problem: There is no text speed option. I don't support the idea of voiceacting in Zelda, but the lack of text speed in this game makes a compelling case for it. Final Fantasy 1 had a text speed modifier in the options. For a text-based game made in 2011 not have this is just... worse than magical can-only-be-hit-three-things bells.

To make matters worse, the text is unskippable on a new file. Twilight Princess, to its credit, allowed you to skip cutscenes all day long. But in SKyward Sword, you need to play Hero Mode to be able to skip cutscenes. What if someone wants to play the regular mode with heart spawns, but doesn't want to sit through the three hour intro?

2: An A to Z Journey

It seems like I wrote an entry about this. I'm certain I complained about it on ZU or somewhere, if not. Skyward Sword is the most painfully linear Zelda game ever made. It's worse than Twilight Princess in this area, and that's saying something! Gone is the excitement of open-world exploration. It's replaced with storyline. You can't go to a later dungeon because you'd see a cutscene at the wrong time. And when story is, at best, B-movie material, it all seems very -- what's the word? -- sucky.

1: Fi. Fuck Fi!

Fi makes bad things in SS worse. The game would be so much better if Fi had been left out, or at least replaced with someone more interesting. Midna was a good guide that contributed to the story. Navi was at least helpful and not overly intrusive. Fi just constantly notifies you of things, and spits out probabilities in a manner that would make the cast of Quantum Leap shout, "STFU Ziggy! We're not retarded!" How many times in this game does a character tell you something, after which Fi tells you the same thing again? How many times does she explain dowsing to you? How many times does she abruptly stop you to state the obvious?

Really, fuck Fi!

It's good to have this off my chest.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Goldeneye Vs. Black Ops Vs. The Conduit (Wii)

The battle of the ages! Yeah, so these games have been out for a while, but the retro gamer in me says that a title must be so old before I'm willing to consider it. Hehe.. in all seriousness, I've had Black Ops for a while and have enjoyed its online mode, and recently got around to getting The Conduit and Goldeneye because the price drop allowed me to do so with little expense. And now, I want to ramble about them.

Storytelling/Single-Player Campaign:

Oh, kids these days! The lot of you probably don't even know who Pierce Brosnan is any more than I know who Sean Connery is! Goldeneye follows the exploits of James Bond, the Hero of British Secret Agents, on his quest to save England from the dark lord Alec Trevelyan. It was an awesome movie, and a pretty fine N64 game. This Wii game is the same (albeit with updated technology and a few twists for variety), although Pierce Brosnan has been replaced by some gentleman named Daniel Craig. So, kids, tell me: Who the hell is this guy standing where Pierce Brosnan should be? Well.. whoever he is, he sneaks around killing Russians and uses stealth to avoid battles.

The Conduit isn't based on a movie, but it's got Kevin friggin' Sorbo (from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) doing voice-acting. With all due respect to Mr. Brosnan, Hercules would annihilate James Bond. Bond would start shooting his PK7 (or P99 in this Wii version) and Herc would just keep coming. He has the power of a god, and a sidekick that's a pretty good fighter by human standards. Unfortunately, Kevin Sorbo isn't Herc in this specific instance. He's a member of the resistance against a shadow government called The Trust, which is trying to take over the world via alien invasion or something. His character is named Prometheus, which is probably a subtle nod to Mr. Sorbo's eternal association with Greek mythology. The narration by this good actor really makes the single player campaign feel like a gem (much as Daniel Craig's voice-acting does in Goldeneye).

Black Ops' story is told through a series of flashbacks. Alex Mason did some stuff in the 60s and he wants you to hear about it. Well, he doesn't want you to hear about it, but the dude torturing him does. He tried to kill Castro, but failed and got sent to a Russian prison. But he broke out, then JFK wanted him to kill more commies. There's a shocking plot twist at the end which is quite surprising, but Black Ops' storyline isn't exactly up there with either the The Conduit or Goldeneye. I'd say Goldeneye is the best in terms of story, followed by The Conduit, then Black Ops is significantly behind.

When it comes to actually playing the single-player campaigns, I'd say Goldeneye is the best... if you play it right. Every difficulty mode except 007 Classic makes for a shameless Call of Duty clone, which the world could do without. On 007 Classic Mode, you pretty much have to play this game like you're a secret agent. Blasting through like Mason or Reznov will get you killed.. much as it would in real life if you tried to gun down an entire army. You have to watch your health and even your ammo to an extent. When coupled with the fact that this mode makes you accomplish all the objectives, the experience feels truly awesome.

The Conduit has some elements that aren't exactly miles away from what I've described in Goldeneye. You use your All Seeing Eye device to accomplish objectives and find secret areas. None of that is really all that great. The best thing about The Conduit is that it reminds me of another game: Gauntlet. It's not enough to kill the bad guys; you need to kill the objects that are spawning bad guys. Killing spawn spots is awesome to the max, yo! I also like the fact that the health regeneration isn't as overt as it is in CoD.

Black Ops has an annoying single player campaign. You could shoot six thousand NVA soldiers in some places and they'll just keep spawning. The developers want you to use your skills to advance and take position from the enemy, but that sucks! (on Veteran anyway. It's too easy to do on the lower difficulties, and it's nearly impossible on Veteran.) Like in Goldeneye and The Conduit, there are objectives, but those objectives primarily consist of getting to the end of the level.


Black Ops Wii really impresses me by just how good it looks. It's not in the same ballpark with the other platforms' versions, but the fact remains that not many Wii games that look as good as this one does. It's a pleasure to look at, and Goldeneye actually looks sort of bad when compared to it. The Conduit doesn't really strike me as real per se, and I certainly hope that's not what they were going for. It looks like a comic book world, to me, and the graphics are very easy on the eyes. I'd rather look at The Conduit than either of those other two.

Online/Multiplayer Modes:

I haven't played The Conduit's online mode yet, so I can't speak about it just yet. I'm sure it's pretty ok. Haha.

Fuck you, Activision! Why do I have to go to a PS3 owning friend's house to play Black Ops map packs? And why doesn't this game have a local multiplayer? Because Wii sucks, you say? Ah, right. I forgot about that. Outside of those two little things, Black Ops' online mode is awesome. There is so much depth to the combat, and there are any number of ways to play this game.

Goldeneye has a local multiplayer, which I'm sure means a lot to anyone who plays these sorts of games with friends. (My brother seems to like this game, but doesn't really want to play the multiplayer with me.. likely because he knows I'd destroy him. heh). However, there are problems. The framerate can get pretty low at points, particularly on the Outpost level. Secondly,I haven't counted them, but I'd wager that Goldeneye has fewer customization options than Black Ops. Finally, it takes entirely too long to level up in Goldeneye (which lets you get access to better weapons that the level 56 people are using to obliterate you).

In summation, I think Goldeneye has a better single-player and Black Ops has a better multiplayer. The Conduit is also good, mostly because of spawn destruction and the fact that Kevin Sorbo is god. Thank you for your time. :)