Posts tagged #zelda

Hyrule Warriors – Review (Wii U)

It’s been a while, but I’m back with a new game review! This time, I’ll be giving my thoughts on one of Nintendo’s latest big releases, Hyrule Warriors.

More after the jump!

Since the Wii U’s release in 2012, I haven’t really bought any new games. In fact, I have ONE game: New Super Mario Bros. U. Unfortunately, Nintendo hasn’t released a lot of games for the system in their major franchises; I’m pretty sure that the biggest release was Mario Kart 8 a few months back. Two years later, however, there are a lot of big games from Nintendo on the horizon – Super Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, a new Zelda game that we got our first glimpse of earlier this year, and the list keeps going.

One of the releases that caught my attention when it was announced last year was a mash-up between Koei Tecmo’s Warriors series and Nintendo’s own Legend of Zelda franchise. I was stoked. If for nothing else, I’d finally get a Zelda game of some sort for the Wii U, and would have a new reason to boot up the system that had seen very few hours of actual game time from me. I’m a sucker for Zelda titles; what can I say?

The fanbase for the Warriors games has always been pretty divided. On one hand, you have people that love the strategy/hack ‘n slash series – on the other, you have folks who claim the series is boring and monotonous. I fall in the former category. While I never played the series’ main entries, Dynasty Warriors, I was a HUGE fan of the spin off, Samurai Warriors. I loved the frantic nature of the game, and how it’s very “real-time,” in that stuff is constantly going on, no matter what you do.

The Zelda/Warriors mash-up is a strange one to say the least. It’s definitely something I never thought I would see, and never knew that I actually wanted. From my point of view, the colliding of these two franchises works pretty well.


The game's antagonist, Cia
Story: 8/10
As I said in my A Link Between Worlds review, trying to explain a Zelda game’s story is extremely hard to do and, on paper, doesn’t really sound all that engaging. Most of the time, you’re dealing with two objectives: Save the princess and recover the Triforce. Occasionally (most often in recent years), it gets a little more nuanced than that, but that’s the basic gist. Combine those objectives with the fact that you have to figure out where whatever game you’re playing fits in the series’ timeline, and you’ve got yourself a right mess at times!
Hyrule Warriors expands on the traditional Zelda story (though the Triforce is still the main focus), in favor of one that incorporates some of our familiar games’ timelines and, like the titles’ very nature, mashes them up to tell what is (to me, at least) one of the most “interesting” Zelda stories to date.
My only complaint with the story is that, given the frantic nature of the Warriors series, a lot of it is told during gameplay.
“What? Isn’t that when you want the story to play out?”
True, most games’ stories are told during gameplay, but the Warriors series (this entry included) is all about constant combat and completing objectives on the battlefield while doing so. With that in mind, some of the story can occasionally get lost as dialogue pops up on the screen while you’re trying to take out hordes of enemies. This becomes very frustrating when you miss a key bit of dialogue that might help you with an objective, all because you’re trying to keep your troops safe or fighting some of the tougher enemies.   

The game's pretty, and you'll be doing stuff like this... a lot!
Visuals: 9/10
 As you all know, I’m a stickler for resolution. I have no idea what resolution Hyrule Warriors is running at, but it’s gorgeous! I have to attribute some of that (if not all of it) to the game’s art style. The only thing I could possibly say on the negative side of things is that the framerate chugs occasionally as the Wii U’s hardware struggles to keep up when there are a lot of enemies on screen at once. This isn’t something that happens all the time and is, in fact, pretty rare. But when it does, it’s fairly noticeable.

Sound: 7/10
The music in this game, quite literally, rocks! Quite a few familiar Zelda tunes are present and reworked with a metal flavor. Since the game is pretty fast-paced and all about action, a metal-influenced score is perfect. The only piece of music that I really wish was included is the Dark World theme from A Link to the Past. Sadly, I never heard it if it’s in there, and it would have been a great one for a game like this.
While the music may be great, I’ve got to dock it several points for one reason: the lack of voice acting. It’s been a staple of Zelda games since Ocarina of Time to not have spoken dialogue. Instead, all games have featured a “Sims-like” approach by having the characters start their dialogue with some kind of unintelligible gibberish. This was fine for the 64-bit era, but it really is time to start having voice acting in Zelda titles. Want to have Link remain the “silent protagonist?” That’s fine. In fact, I prefer it that way. But when it comes to the other characters, Nintendo should really start making an effort to give them a voice.
I mentioned earlier how you might miss some of the dialogue in the game, or miss an important cue related to an objective. This could have been easily remedied by including voice acting.
The other thing I docked points for: “Hey! LISTEN!” Ugh. That should have never been included, and should never be again, as it was one of the most annoying things about Ocarina of Time. It seems like you’re interrupted by it nearly every five minutes towards the beginning of the game.

All the characters play and handle differently. Lana is a prime example.
Gameplay: 8/10
Being outnumbered, swiping your sword through 100 enemies in one blow, and mild RPG and RTS elements have all been staples of the Warriors series. This entry is no different. It can be a little repetitive, but I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t get a thrill from wiping out an entire regiment of enemy troops by charging up Link’s sword and unleashing his spin attack!
To increase the replay value, as has been done in previous Warriors games, Hyrule Warriors allows you to select several characters throughout the game besides just Link. These characters all play differently and have different abilities and move sets that will keep you playing. Also, a friend can join in for some good, ol’ fashioned local co-op throughout all of the game’s various modes. Nic and I played co-op for several hours, and it was a blast! 

Controls: 8.5/10
Opting to dock the controls a few points was kind of difficult. It’s not really the controls of the game itself that I had problems with, but the design of the Wii U gamepad and pro controller. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I don’t like the right analog stick being placed above the face buttons. Not only does it take getting used to, since it’s been below the face buttons on every controller since there were dual analog sticks on controllers, but I think it would serve this style of game more if it were placed where I’m used to (for camera controls sake). Just my personal take on it.

Closing Statements:
All in all, I loved Hyrule Warriors. Again, I never knew that I wanted a Zelda/Warriors hybrid, but I’m glad it happened. Sure, it’s going to be one of those games that people either love or get bored with quickly, but it’s definitely worth trying out. It’s action-packed, has great visuals and music, and it will definitely feed your need for a Zelda fix until the next full-fledged game in the series is released.

Final Score: 8.1/10


Posted on September 30, 2014 .

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Review)

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

There are quite a few games I would like to see resurrected or have a sequel from the 8/16-bit era. Chrono Trigger, Blaster Master, Ninja Gaiden (NES storyline and gameplay, please), Final Fantasy VI, Actraiser… All of these games, in my opinion, deserve some kind of new, modern game that pays homage to their predecessors. There are probably millions of people out there who never played Actraiser, so they have no idea how great that game was. People have been clamoring for a Chrono sequel since Chrono Cross, and I fear that people may eventually forget about the series altogether if a new entry doesn’t get released anytime soon. A modern day outing would be a perfect way to expose gamers to classic games, while giving all of us that played them originally a way to relive the past.
Lucky for us, one of the greatest games of all time - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past - has just gotten a sequel in A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS.  I’ve got to say, I didn’t see this one coming. The question is, “does it live up to the original?”
Find out in my review… which just happens to be after the jump!


Story: 10/10
The basic story in The Legend of Zelda has always been pretty simplistic, but never “great.” Go ahead and flame me. I’ll wait.

Finished? Good.

While it’s never been an involving story, it HAS been an extremely interesting concept with multiple games helping to produce a VERY involved mythology. With the recent publishing of the Hyrule Historia hardcover book from Dark Horse Publishing, LOZ fans have finally gotten a handle on how all the games connect and feed off one another (though it’s still somewhat convoluted in a few areas).
The basic concept is a princess named Zelda (always a descendant of the original Zelda) is captured by the evil Ganon and a young kid named Link (always a descendant of the original Link) has to save her by traversing the land of Hyrule and gathering pieces of a thing called “the Triforce.” There have been a few games in the series which mixed this formula up (The Adventure of Link and Wind Waker being notable entries), but this is usually the standard. In all fairness, A Link to The Past was no different, only it was, in my opinion, the best executed Zelda title even today.

A Link Between Worlds might, at first glance, seem like a direct sequel to ALTTP, but it’s not. Again, we are dealing with ANOTHER Link and ANOTHER Zelda, only this time it seems as though this takes place a generation or two after ALTTP. Hopefully, Nintendo will give us some exact idea of where this one fits in the timeline.
While I won’t go into details out of fear of spoiling the game, the story takes the same exact steps to get to its conclusion as the game it’s based off of. From a nostalgic point-of-view, this is great, but from a person wanting a true sequel to the original story it may not be entirely satisfying. At times, the game feels more like a modernized remake than the next chapter in a larger tale. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is noticeable and, in my opinion, worth mentioning.  

That's what I'm talkin' about! Classic Zelda action!
Visuals: 10/10
So far, this is the best looking game I’ve seen on the 3DS. More than that, my biggest praise comes from the fact that Nintendo perfectly captured the atmosphere of ALTTP in a 3D environment. The designers even mostly kept the layout of the original overworld map from ALTTP, but changed some things around here and there to make it feel fresh.
(Speaking of 3D, turning the 3D slider all the way up doesn’t really add, nor take away from the overall effect. For most of my time playing, I left the 3D turned completely off.)

Sound: 10/10
A Link to The Past had some of the best videogame music from the 16-bit era. ALBW remixes all those familiar tunes, some with new arrangements, in beautiful sounding, orchestral quality. Some of the themes even got me a little misty-eyed from pure nostalgia. I was taken right back to those times when I would spend hours and hours trudging through Hyrule and its Dark World. The new music introduced like the new villain’s theme is extremely well done, as well.

Pop yo' self into the wall and you have the game's
very well-designed "gimmick!" 
See that crack in the wall?
Gameplay: 10/10
If you’ve ever played a game in the Legend of Zelda series, you pretty much know what to expect in the next entry. The only thing that has really changed is how you receive items and weapons. Instead of getting a new item upon completion of a dungeon, ALBW introduces Ravio, a merchant who rents items for Link to use throughout his adventure. Ravio informs Link that there is a catch for renting his items, however: if Link falls in battle, Ravio will take all of his rented items back, forcing Link to re-rent, or buy them for a pretty expensive price. While this may sound like a troublesome gameplay element, it actually works quite well and introduces a fun sort of survival element to the game - you won’t want to die because you won’t want to lose your items. For 800 rupees each, you can purchase the items permanently, but you’ll find yourself scavenging for money in order to do so. It’s a neat addition to the series which I hope we see more of in future entries of the series.
The gameplay “hook” for this game is the whole “being able to merge into walls” thing. Link can now transform himself (because of a bracelet he receives from Ravio) into a 2D painting which he can use to both navigate dungeons and phase in and out between Hyrule and Lorule (though let’s be serious here – it’s the Dark World). I found this to be an extremely interesting gameplay mechanic because it forces you to think 2, 3, and 4th dimensionally in order to get around the world.

Also, there’s no ridiculous, hand-holding helper creature this time around. You play as Link with a sword, shield and items. Nothing else. That’s the way I like it.

I enjoyed A Link Between Worlds immensely. I’ve enjoyed the other games in the Zelda series as well, but the franchise always seemed to me as though it lost something after A Link to The Past. That sense of freedom and exploration was one of the things that intrigued me as a kid when playing the old NES game, as well as with the Super NES iteration. A Link Between Worlds brings those elements back to the forefront, offering an amazing experience which puts itself right under ALTTP for me as the 2nd greatest Zelda game ever made. While it borders on being a straight-up remake, the game has enough differences that make it feel like it is its own, separate entity and, even without the nostalgia factor, A Link Between Worlds holds its place in Zelda greatness.
Is it worth $40? Look at the final score and you’ll see what I think!

Final Score: 10

(It should be noted that this is probably the first game score on The Inner Dorkdom that has ever gotten a perfect 10. J)


Screenshots taken from Google Images.

Posted on February 9, 2014 .

My Videogame Life Pt. 1

-The 8 And 16-Bit Era-

From as far back as I can remember there was always a videogame console of some sort in our house. My dad,unlike most people his age,kept up with the times when it came to technology. Whether it was the latest computer tech,or more recently,technological advances in the realm of E-Cigs (Electronic Cigarettes),my dad was always at the forefront. And it was all because of me.

My dad was the kind of person who was probably one of the first in line when Pong was released.
Since the eighties was an era in which school systems were starting to employ home computers as an educational tool, and since it was also the time in which I was born,my father figured the best thing he could do was buy one and learn how to use it for my sake. Probably so I wouldn’t look like a dummy when I went to school and there were these TVs with letter-button-boxes,of which everyone but that stupid Josh kid could use. At the time,I was only concerned with the games you could play on the old Tandy computer he ended up buying. Sure,I had the Intellevison (a poor man’s Atari 2600) and a Texas Instruments cartridge loader thing,but the games for those systems were akin to Space Invaders. You know,stuff with one screen that you’d just play until you got bored. Kind of like Angry Birds. Yes,I just burned Angry Birds. But in all fairness,I have Angry Birds on my Android. And yes,I play it… until I get bored and decide to play something more substantial.

Around 1988 or ’89,my dad bought a Nintendo Entertainment System. Most people called it - or anything else that played videogames in the good ol’ days –a “Nintendo.” I called it the NES,thanks to my life-long,handicapped,friend who was sixyears my senior,Nic Weymouth. Some of you may know him from such shows as The Clone Cast and The Inner Dorkdom. You may also know him as the guy that posts copious amounts of pictures of his child on Facebook in which the pedophiles of the world are probably having a field-day. That was a crude joke and I apologize. But hey,if any of you know him and are friends with him on the FB,you probably just nodded your head and said,“Uh huh.”

It was a joke,people. Calm down.

The NES was nothing short of amazing. See how I just jumped right back on topic? No warning,no second chance,just right back in there! Moving on… The first real videogame I ever played was Super Mario Bros. Up until that point, myself and most everyone else that played games were used to the aforementioned, “static screen,” style of games. With SMB, you started at point-A and moved to point-B (a flag pole),all the while jumping on the top of Goombas (which I’m quite sure I heard somewhere is some kind of racial slang),flushing yourself down drain pipes, and being constantly told that,“the princess is in another castle.”

You know who made it to the second level first? My dad. I remember asking him to get me to the second level just so I could, “play in the blue world.” He wouldn’t do it. Not because he was a jerk or something, but because he thought I should do it myself. He realized early on that videogames (at this point,at least),were based on challenge. If I was going to get to the second level of the game,I would have to face the trippy obstacle course alone. Finally getting to “the blue world” a few days later was that much sweeter because of it.

Funny side-note: Before my dad remodeled the majority of our house,my room,and my parents’ room were side by side. Many times when I would go to the bathroom in the middle of the night,I’d hear the familiar sound of ducks flying around,falling to the ground and being presented by a hound dog as a trophy of accomplishment. I’d peak into my parents’ room (where the NES was),and see my dad sitting up in bed,calmly aiming the NES lightgun at any unlucky duck in his sights. I’ll never forget that until the day I die.

Throughout the NES’ lifespan,I acquired a slew of games for the console. One in particular that had an impact on me was a game my dad rented from a grocery store: Ninja Gaiden. NG was a game that not only focused on getting from here to there while slashing folks,monsters and demons with your sword,but also on story. In between every stage or two,the player would be presented with a cut-scene explaining why he/she was speedily doing all that slashing and jumping. Back in the day,people were only concerned with getting high scores in games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man,but here was a game that made you want to play it just to see the next story moment.

A good story would play a huge role in most videogames in the future. Can you imagine playing a game like Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy if it were about nothing more than “getting lots of points?” It would be pretty boring,I’ll tell you that. Imagine sneaking around a military base, taking out soldiers for absolutely no reason.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Not very interesting,huh?

While I’m sure Ninja Gaiden wasn’t the first game with a story progression throughout it’s entirety,it was the first one I played that did. The thing is,NG set a standard because even as a little kid I always thought that Ninja Gaiden stood out from the rest of the games in my collection. It gave me a reason to play and fueled my imagination in a way that most games couldn’t.

When I was informed by my Nintendo Power (yes kids,this is before the internet, so getting our videogame news came from these tiny-volumed things called, “magazines”) that there was going to be a new Nintendo console,I was ecstatic. It was called the Super Nintendo. Holy crap! SUPER Nintendo! You automatically knew that this thing was gonna be the balls simply because it had the word “super” in front of Nintendo. The Nintendo is already awesome,so the SUPER Nintendo must be SUPER awesome!

By this point,Sega’s Genesis console was fairly new,but it pretty much went under the radar for me for a long time. I knew that a friend of Nic’s had one,but that was about it. Of course,I knew who Sonic was, and yeah,that looked like a pretty fun game,but I wasn’t nearly as impressed with it as what I saw with SUPER Mario World. I mean,how could you go wrong with a Mario game that had the word “super” in front of it?

Needless to say, I had a Super NES shortly after Christmas of the year it was released.

The 16-Bit era of gaming brought forth a lot of gaming goodness for me. Most of this is due to a little game that Nic introduced me to called Final Fantasy II (IV in Japan). I was not exactly new to RPGs (Role Playing Games). I had played The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link (both action oriented RPGs),but I had also played Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in Japan): a free game that I received from Nintendo Power back in the day. See kids, it paid in those days to have a subscription to those magazine things. Sometimes they sent you free stuff. What website sends you free games? I’m really starting to sound old here… Anyway… Final Fantasy and other RPGs of the 16-Bit era concentrated more on story than ever before. And for a kid that always had an imagination bigger than his gut,RPGs were right up my alley. I poured over games life FFII,III,Chrono Trigger and a lot of other games produced by Squaresoft. If you saw that logo come up on the screen,you knew you were gonna get a quality title full of epic goodness. Ironically,Squaresoft would also be the company that turned the tide in the videogame industry for better or worse, depending on your point-of-view.

To Be Continued…
*Que the Back To The Future fanfare*