Friday, December 31, 2010

Single Player - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

  On April 13, 1992 one of the greatest games ever to be released on the SNES, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, went on sale for the first time.  Being a Zelda game most everyone knew what to expect of the series seeing as this was the third installment.  However, no one realized they were about to play a game that would set the standard for action rpg style games for years to come.

  Almost 20 years later this game is still a favorite of gamers in general, not just fans of the Zelda series.  The Gameboy Advance saw a remake in late 2002 and the Wii's Virtual Console was quick to get this game in it's roster as early as January of 2007, two months after the Wii's North American release.  Many popular gaming sites an magazines list A Link to the Past as one of the greatest games of all time, and for five years it reigned at #1 in Nintendo Powers top games list, even though the time of the Nintendo 64.

  So with that a review of the game is out of the question.  It's just simply a masterpiece.  It's easy to play yet deep enough to keep you coming for more.  Every screen has something to do so you are never bored.  The puzzles are challenging without being frustrating.  The dungeons are epic and the bosses at the end a good culmination of what you learned along the way.  The music is awesome even for the 16 bit era and many of the tracks would be used again for future Zelda games.  The story is good too, though if you are familiar with Zelda then you know that the story has just never made sense.

  There comes a time in a series, be it a movie, book, or game series, when everything comes together to create an instant classic and an experience that one want's to relive over and over.  The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was that moment for the Zelda series.  All other Zelda games up to this point have referenced back to this one in one way or another, but none of them really were as flawless in their execution.

  It's not a coincidence that I'm covering this game late in the year.  I used to be a regular tradition for me to play though the game around Christmas time.  With school out for vacation, I had all day to immerse myself into the world of Hyrule and search every nook and cranny for the secrets and treasures.  As I got better I discovered interesting glitches and mastered the minimalist completion of the game (no extra hearts, no bottles, no quest essential items, etc.).  In fact, this is the only game I've ever played to death.  My original SNES cartridge burned out from the use it got.

  I'm not the only one who loved this game either.  That's why music from the game appears in Super Smash Bros.: Brawl and Link made a cameo appearance in so many other games.  This is also why someone remade Hyrule from A Link to the Past in Minecraft.  Everyone loves this game.

  I can't recommend this game enough.  If you only play one Zelda game ever, then this should be the one you play.  I don't care if you've never even played a video game before.  A Link to the Past is where you should start.  This is truly one of very few games that just gets better with age.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Encounter - GoldenEye 007 (Wii)

 GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 was, and is, one of my favorite games.  I have lots of fond memories of blasting down baddies or having throwing knife battles to the death with friends.  I even look fondly on all the time I wasted in vain to unlock cheats like Invincibility or Invisibility.  I love that game and would go back and play it any day if I had a working N64.

 With that in mind I was allured by the "remake" for the Wii.  Initially I was confused by the choice to put Daniel Craig in as Bond in what was a Pierce Brosnan film, but I just shrugged and went with it because I like Craig's version of Bond a lot anyway, and I was in it more for the gameplay than the story.

 Did you notice how I quoted remake in the last paragraph, as if to say I'm using that term lightly?  Well, that's because I am!  To say that GoldenEye 007 for the Wii is a remake of the classic on the N64 is a blatant lie.  It doesn't even try to follow the movie!  Remember when 006 and 007 have a high speed truck chase at the dam?  Remember when the EMP hardened helicopter blows the frigate to hell with Bond still inside in Dubai?  (In the movie, the helicopter was stolen off of a frigate in Monte Carlo, and it didn't shoot at anyone.)

 What about that gameplay?  It's friggin' aweful!  On my first try, on the easiest setting, I failed the training mission.  From then on I toughed it out mission after mission, battling not against the enemies, but against the hideous controls.  It shouldn't not be so hard in a first person shooter to just shoot a guy, but in GoldenEye for the Wii it certainly is.  I fidgeted around with the control setting for a half hour, and tried the classic controller pro and the Wii Remote + Nun-chuck and nothing helped.  I played past the frigate mission, doing my best to try and give this game a fair chance, and I found myself no longer wanting to play.  And I haven't.

 My game was the special edition that came with the golden classic controller.  I'm not even a big fan of that thing either.  It's not as comfortable as it should be, and personally I still like the look and feel of the old classic controller.

 So what anything good about this game?  Yes.  I really liked the finale to the first Dam mission where they do a full on Bond-esque intro sequence.  While it wasn't the one from the movie, it had the perfect look and feel for the game it was associated with.  On top of that, the artist they brought in to perform Tina Turner's GoldenEye sounded just like her (though at the time of this post I can't think of her name, and can't be bothered to fire it up to find out.).

 All in all, if you are craving 007 from back in the day, do yourself a favor and just play that one.  I regret buying my game, and I'll certainly be more cautious in the future whenever someone slaps the word "remake" on anything.