Monday, August 17, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Games That Changed The World Vol. 2


Legend of Zelda is magical. Legend of Zelda took the idea being a child, exploring, and going on adventures in your own backyard and made it a fantasy game. One part childhood innocence and one part Dungeons and Dragons, and no part hints, you are thrust into a world you know nothing about.

Of course, the first thing to grab any child's attention is shiny things. And Nintendo clearly knew this. There is NO reason for a game cartridge to be painted shiny gold. Flat primer paint instead of gray is one thing. But not only do you color it a shiny gold, but you cut a little square out of the packaging itself so you can clearly see what lies within. It's really diabolical if you think about really.

You're dumped off into the middle of nowhere. Basically, you see four paths and a cave entrance. Being adventurous, they know full well you'll enter that cave first. And so help you god, you had better. In there is some dude and he gives you a sword. For what reason he decides to give a child a sword isn't really explained, but there he is. Captain Runwithscissors gives you a sword. And now you're off! where really is your choosing. Unless you have a guide handy, you just keep walking until you find something to go into. Sometimes, you'll jump the gun and go into a dungeon you are TOTALLY not prepared for yet. It's an adventure. You want to beat this dungeon? You better have a god damn ladder, raft, flute, and boomerang in those tiny little spandex stockings you have on.

The Zelda games in recent years have sort of traveled away from the childhood innocence and whimsy that made it popular in the first place. Ocarina of Time played that card for the most part, but the game turned dark. And when they brought back the whimsy and adventure in Wind Waker, everyone complained about it. Then we got Twilight Princess, which no one can argue is a great game, but it feels more like a Zelda clone than a full fledged Zelda game. That's not necessarily bad, but it's just not the same. Here's to hoping whatever comes next doesn't consist of hours of traveling by train or boat, and takes itself a little less serious. When all is said and done, the Legend of Zelda for the NES (and whatever subsequent rereleases we've seen of it) is a game that ushered in a different way of thinking in games. It wasn't the first of it's kind, but it was by and large the best example of what games are capable of, and would be capable in the coming decades.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Games That Changed The World Vol. 1

And by "Changed The World" I mean MY world, because that's the only world that matters really. Your world sucks and you know it.

Mario? Check. Duck Hunt? Check. Free? FREE!

These days, a good deal in gaming is if you spend 60 dollars and the developers don't violate your private regions then steal your wallet and run away screaming. Mostly, when you get multipacks of games, you're getting compilations of games that they've long since either given up on or have long since made their money back on. Sure, there's some good deals out there, The Orange Box had one full length game, 2 episodic games, a fantastic and short spin-off title, and a an online only FPS game. It was a phenomenal deal. But for the most part, the pack in games that you get with a console are either tech demos (albeit fun ones) like Wii Sports, or just various game pack ins designed to keep costs up or a vain attempt at boosting sales. It's all good, but Nintendo seems to be one of those companies that when they put their mind to it, they do it right and they do it well.

Case in point. The Wii. A low end piece of hardware. Motion control wands is a good idea, but the hardware of the console itself lacks anything to get anybody excited about. Nintendo basically had to rely on their name and development studios to get them out of a console gutter. They've nailed down the handheld market. Even with serious competition like the PSP, Nintendo still maintained the tried and true fact that Nintendo is king in portable gaming. They need not worry about Japan. They know they'll buy the Wii. Here though. We're living in the Madden generation. The hottest properties are sports titles and FPS games. Not exactly Japans strong suits. Japan got Wii Play packed into their set. We ALL know about Wii Play. CLEARLY, considering it's one of the most bought games this generation. We however, got Wii Sports. A simple looking game, with simple design. Some of the games on the disc are almost broken to an extent. Boxing really has no rhyme or reason to it, and baseball is just, well. I don't know what it is, but it's barely baseball. And tennis plays more like a game of ping pong. Bowling and Golf pretty much made everybody on the planet want to own a Wii.

Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt eventually came packaged with the NES. Originally, it wasn't packaged with the muti cart. It wasn't until a couple years later that it came with Super Mario/Duck Hunt. It was probably one of the slickest pack ins ever. When you look back on it, it's funny. Mario seemed like a massive game, 8 long, peril filled worlds with secrets and awesome music and branching paths and all sorts of good stuff. But being able to fit it onto one cart with it and an equally awesome game, Duck Hunt, you realize how tiny most of these games really were.

On that cart, Duck Hunt was probably my most played. Mario created gamers, but Duck Hunt built onto Mario's foundation. Three games there on the game. 1 duck, 2 ducks, or skeet shooting. Of course it was easy as hell to cheat the system. Hold the Zapper up to a light bulb, or right up to the screen. It didn't matter though how easy it was to cheat. There weren't any unlockables or achievements. All you wanted to do is get as far as you could so you could brag. And the less you saw that dog the better. I could make a joke about shooting the dog or something, but I think we're all getting FAIRLY tired that running gag. Mario Bros./Duck Hunt is a game that needs no more discussion about. It's THE first game. Not in terms of videogames themselves, but as a product that bred a new breed of culture. Games went from being living room niceties, to being living room essentials.