My Link to the Past: Reminisces on Legend of Zelda
Posted on Tuesday, February 22 2011 @ 05:29:52 Eastern
Today is a red letter day for video games. By red letters I mean the crimson N of course, and the brain child of Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka that I am referring to is The Legend of Zelda. The original game has just turned 25 years old , and with such a famous and adored series having a rich history that all game players can somehow relate too, I thought it would be good to make another one of those arbitrary lists that I famously hate all about Zelda.
What is this list, you ask? Well, personal memories; moments from my own past from playing Zelda that are on constant rotation in my gray matter that I would like to share. In no particular order, here are five moments that I will never forget in the Legend of Zelda series.
Finding the Moon
I was maybe six years old when I first played the original Legend of Zelda. I will be honest, I don’t think I had a clue as to what I needed to do in that game; roaming around the land of Hyrule in it’s 8-bit glory was daunting and, in my mind, served the purpose of fighting the monsters and collecting money to buy potions. I do remember the first dungeon vividly, especially since it was spelled out for you in the instruction manual on how to get there.
When I first played Zelda, I didn’t get that far, and I think most gamers didn’t for the first time. For me, the sense of accomplishment I was able to achieve at six was stumbling upon the second dungeon in the game; the Moon Dungeons as it’s nicknamed because of it’s crescent shape. Found north of the forest in the eastern part of the over world map, just trekking to that section filled me with pride, a sense of wonder and amazement. I truly thought I found something unique by exploring the game at that time, something no one else knew about! Foolish now of course, but it was 1992, and no one had any way of knowing a walkthrough without looking through magazines or talking with friends.
To this day I can rightfully access the second dungeon just as quickly as the first one. That accomplishment alone is memorable because the sense of exploration that creator Shigeru Miyamoto cited as one of the inspirations of making The Legend of Zelda truly is effective in that case. In fact, in most of the games the sense of exploration is there for us, locating a secret grotto or hidden hole in the world and finding another treasure chest or cavern to explore. It is good fun through a basic instinct of curiosity, one that doesn’t escape all of us.
“My god the 3-D looks Amazing!”
Picture, if you will, the year 1998. I was a pudgy twelve year old, a blossoming adolescent who thirsted for independence like any pre-teen would and snuck away from my parents the first chance I can get. It was a breezy November day, and my family was shopping at a local Wal-Mart for food and things that I can’t even remember what they are. What I do remember is the first time I laid eyes on it. It was a kiosk for the Nintendo 64, next to a Playstation running Tomb Raider and another Nintendo system with some sport game. But in the middle was a shiny golden cartridge of perhaps the most influential game of all time, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
For me, it was the first exposure I had of Ocarina of Time. Sure I remember seeing it plenty advertised in my recently renewed subscription to Nintendo Power (which at the time I was getting because I wanted hints on Banjo-Kazooie) but paid it no mind because I was too pre-occupied with the bear and bird. Once I saw the game in action, it was engrossed, however. I remember spending a good forty minutes at that kiosk just exploring the opening stages of the game, the Kokiri Village and the Great Deku Tree. I remember watching the long cut-scene of the Deku Tree talking, enthralled by the cinematic the game was showcasing. I remember thinking to myself that the controls were really good and the jumping mechanics made life so much easier, and a lot of fun. Hell I remember just doing backflips on the lilipads and logs in the pond in the village for several minutes before continuing with the quest.
Everything about Ocarina of Time wowed me then, and to this day it still wows me. Perhaps the most memorable moment, however, was hearing another kid around my age, over my should exclaim “My god the 3-D looks Amazing!” It did indeed, so much so that I couldn’t wait to play the game again after I bought a copy….
I do have a younger brother, born on the same day as me three years apart. No I am not making that up either, it actually happened that way. Now were opposites in many ways; I’m a short, kind of husky guy who likes writing and playing all types of video games, he’s a tall, kind of skinny guy who likes physical work and playing sport games only. But one thing that I do remember fondly was us taking turns playing several games back in the day. One of our best sessions was through A Link to the Past though.
It was actually new years 1997, me and my brother were playing the game for several hours as time clicked away, 7 PM, 8 PM, 9 PM. We put in A Link to the Past, which we rented for the evening and decided to just have a marathon with it. We didn’t follow the storyline during this play through, we just went wild and decided to see who can last the longest without dying in the Castle. For the record I won, although by maybe three minutes longer. Of course he thought I cheated somehow, which I shrugged off and we began again. Sometimes it is little things like that which make a great impact on you. Me and my brother may never see eye to eye on many things, but I still love him, and I treasure all the moments we shared playing A Link to the Past together.
I remember the first image from Spaceworld in an issue of Nintendo Power; it was Ganondorf in detailed 3-D holding a sword over his body two-handed like Conan The Barbarian. The next picture had Link slashing at Ganondorfs parry, and the third a profile shot of our Hyrulian hero in action. Little did I know that the images would end in a climatic clang of steel as the screen fades to black on the really short tech demo These three images meant one thing in my mind, the next great Zelda game was revealed, and looked amazing on the Dolphin!
Of course, the famous Spaceworld images have now become something of a scandal, since the game was retooled into the cel-shaded yet amazing Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker game for the Nintendo Gamecube. The change in art styles was a major shock, but the excitement that built up from seeing those three still images, and finally a thirty second video demo of the game in action still brings a stir of emotion in many longtime Zelda fans. It is perhaps the most famous tech demo ever made, and that is saying something for such a small clip.
After playing the demo of Ocarina of Time at Wal-Mart, I finally was able to purchase the game with some Christmas money and pretty much played it non-stop in 1999. I was able to get through most of the game on my own too, even the Water Temple, which the better of a month for me to complete. But the one memory I remember the most fondly is the first cut-scene when entering Hyrule Field. The sun was rising as the opening cut-scene played out, the overlook of the field and the skyline a rosy hue, the music kicked in in a sunny burst of midi sound as digitized trumpets and strings blared under a almost galloping drum beat. It was, in a word, magical to behold.
No matter what I think about any game I play, this moment sticks out to me because of the wonder of seeing such a great big space, fully digitized and free to explore every hidden hill and bush, from the desert-like area to the west to the streams and mountains in the east. From Lon Lon Ranch in the middle to Hyrule castle off in the distance…a little blurb in the map in the grand scheme of things. From hearing the music become a chilling symphony as the sun sets and darkness envelopes the land, and seeing skullfros emerge from the ground as a child to do battle with. Even moments like riding Epona across the plains were wonderful and bring back fond memories for me, and for many. To this day, the Ocarina of Time version of Hyrule field never fails to amaze me, and for many fans of Zelda, the first time traversing the open plains was also a magical moment for them.
But what about you guys? What moments from Zelda’s past do you remember? Please don’t be shy and share them, because it is memories like these, personal anecdotes that we all can recall from the past that is what truly makes The Legend of Zelda, or any game series we adore, so amazing. So please share your own experience if you have them, and I am sure some of you do out there.
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NaNoWriMo Entry 2: Blind Date
Posted on Tuesday, November 2 2010 @ 14:47:31 Eastern
Here is entry number two for my thirty day odyssey to see how long I can have creative juice. I hope you enjoy "Blind Date."
Liz was trembling madly as she clasped her blue band to her long blonde hair, arching up her head for a moment in the foggy mirror before forming a neat ponytail with a quick flip of her wrist. The young woman, clad only in a fluffy beige towel that covered her drenched body in her steam bath, smiled as she checked her face for any blemishes or beauty marks. She wanted to make sure she was perfect for tonight.
The twenty-something never considered a blind date before, even at the urgings of her mother whom wanted her to find the “Mr. Right” for her in the world. It took some coaxing from her friends to try one of those popular websites. Liz was probably more nervous then she is now in front of the bathroom mirror, forming a profile off her Apple notebook and answering the reveal all survey that accompanies each website’s profile matcher. She slowly answered each question to the frivolous psychology test.
‘A waste of my time.’ She kept saying to herself.
Even when she finally uploaded her most recent photos, including a picture of her clad in a sultry officer’s uniform from a Halloween party, she still didn’t take the site seriously. Begrudgingly making the webpage and waiting anxiously for a hit or two. A day passed, and then a week. Finally, a month went by and nothing came to past. She just forgot about her little endeavor until last week she received a very sweet email from someone off the site. The email from Pat.
It was sweet and endearing. Pat was also apparently forced by friends to conjure up a profile, and was looking at newer profiles to start out with. It was Liz that attracted attention to Pat. Their similar taste in food and music is what made Pat send the email to Liz. Pat asked her out to an Italian restaurant owned by a friend, one that thankfully Liz has never been to before. From there, the adventure would be a mystery, but one that Liz was at least willing to explore, if only once.
Liz finished in the bathroom, now damp and steamy from her shower as she clasped on her undergarments in her bedroom mirror. She chose something conservative for the evening, a simple black dress with short black pants with matching stockings. The dress was sleeveless, something that made it both casual as well as work-friendly. She decided against any fancy jewelry for the night, instead focusing more on a simple makeup job, touching up her cheeks and putting a natural color of lipstick on. Satisfied with her appearance on top, she applied her favorite pair of shoes, a pair of low heeled boots with a dark chocolate color. She figured high heels would be too much for a first date.
Now fully clothed, she took a seat on her living room’s armchair. She felt too nervous to turn the television on or to read one of her coffee table books. Instead she just sat down in the dimly lit apartment opening and began to think. The waves of nervousness swept through her as she gazed as the time on her wall clock every so often. Pat is supposed to meet her here at 7:30 sharp, and with each loud tick on the clock that time inched closer.
Her nervousness reached its zenith when she heard the buzz from the apartment’s loudspeaker ring. Still shaking a tad, Liz sauntered over to the intercom and pressed the worn out button.
“Hello.” She said, her voice trembling.
“It’s Pat. Can I come up?” said the other side.
Liz hesitated for a moment before buzzing Pat in. Her apartment was luckily on the second floor, and from the outside of her door she can hear the footsteps closing in quickly. Before she knew it, there was a knock on her door.
‘Well, here we go.’ Sighed Liz to herself, before she unfastened the lock and opened the door.
Once the door opened, Liz was taken aback by the simple beauty before her. Pat stood in the doorframe, clad in a collared maroon shirt that covered a simple white tee and dark black pants, with matching black boots. Pat’s hair was neatly combed and flayed in a bowl style, showing of the big brown eyes and the cheeky grin.
“How you doing? You must be Liz.” Pat said, breaking the awkward silence and extend a hand to Liz.
“And you must be Patricia.” Liz replied, accepting the handshake.
“Please, call me Pat. I like that better.” laughed the woman in the doorway.
“Oh yeah, sorry.” Blushed Liz. But Pat just let out another chuckle.
“No worries Liz, and if I may say so, you look great in that dress.”
Liz blushed some more, smiling greatly at the compliment. “Thank you, and I love your style as well, so simple but so handsome.”
It was Pat’s turn to blush. “I think we are gonna get along just fine.” She said to Liz. “You ready to go? My friend has a table waiting for us.” She asked. Liz only nodded and fumbled with her purse to get her apartment keys free.
‘Tonight should be a lot of fun.’ Liz mused to herself. ‘Maybe I should go on blind dates more often.’
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NaNoWriMo Entry Number 1: The Simple Things
Posted on Monday, November 1 2010 @ 20:52:12 Eastern
For those that do not know, Novmeber is National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge for aspiring writers to pen a 50,000 word story in thirty days, a hefty task indeed. One that at best I got about 36,000 words or so at my peak.
Last year I didn't participate, and the year before I got maybe 10,000 words at most. So this year I am going to try something different. I am going to sit down and write a short story, hopefully one a day for the next 30 days. It won't be flashy, it won't be epic, but it will be a fun challenge, and hell, I like to challenge myself in different ways.
So let me know what you think. Follow my blog and let me know what you think of my stories. Today's story for you is, "The Simple Things."
The Simple Things
Dusk was always the best time of the day for Derek Lucas. The sky drew streaks of pastel pink and tangerine orange, painting across the sky’s canvas like a visible line segregating light and darkness from their respected realms of dominance. Lucas sighed happily, taking a swig of his Bud while looking upwards at the colored collage above him, slouching in a faded blue lawn chair, spotted with rust and losing it’s fabric.
Derek Lucas always enjoyed the simple things. His wife was likely in the living room watching the news or reading a novella. His children have all began to build lives for their own since moving out. For fifty years he owned his homestead, working the earth and in town the odd jobs to send his children through school. A whole generation dedicated to his family. The spry old man’s weathered face, red and leathered from the brow down had a lovely grin stretched across his face. He felt relaxed. Contempt. Happy.
“Enjoying yourself, Derek?”
Derek averted his gaze from the sky briefly, following the breaking of his sudden silence to the man next to him. He saw him, his slicked back hair, his trimmed goatee, his wrinkle free charcoal suit with matching black tie on a pearly white dress shirt. It was almost like a shadow of a man standing out in the glow. Behind jet black sunglasses and a unflinching face he spoke again.
“No need to get up, I’ll just join you for a moment.” He said stoically, his clean hands grasping a rusted lawn chair and pulling it next to Derek’s side.
Cautiously sitting down into the antique piece of furniture, he fixed his gaze onto the sky, almost mimicking the plain-clothes old man next to him in gestures. Derek, for his part, didn’t even look square at the man’s protected eyes. Instead he grasped his beer and focused on the sky. The man in the suit took a breath, enjoying the moment as it was, even if it was a fleeting one.
“Lovely night, isn’t it?” he said, breaking the silence.
“Always is out here.” Derek replied, almost nonchalantly.
“I am glad you are comfortable, Derek.” said the man. “I think you know why I am here.”
Derek’s heart felt heavy in his chest as he sighed heavily. Never a man to be emotional about much of anything save for his family, for the first time in a while he felt a short twinge of nervous excitement. “I can only guess, but I have a feeling I do.”
The man turned his head to look at Derek’s face, with beads of sweat beginning to roll down his brow as the old man continued his ritualistic gaze as the slowly fading daylight.
“You know how it is, Derek, I have no qualms against you, but it has to be done.”
“That’s good.” said the man, grasping his hands together and rubbing his palms for a bit. “Most people aren’t as welcoming about this.”
Derek smiled a bit, giving out a slight chuckle at the man’s comment.
“It’s not that, friend.”
The man looked at him quizzically. “I don’t think I understand.”
Derek, for the first time, looked right into the suited mans eyes. Even through the sunglasses, the man felt Derek’s gaze upon him.
“I don’t expect you too. Some folk may just be content.“ said Derek. “Some may even be fearful. But for me, I am looking forward to it. It’s always a simple thing, you know. I look at it that way, and I see what i’ve done here. All of my years toiling, with all the success passed on to my family. It’s time for a change anyway for me.” With that he swigged his brew and looked back into the sky, the light of the day receding as darkness begins to settle.
The suited man felt bewildered by his words. In all his years he has never heard a client say this to him. His own hard work was not pleasant some days; sometimes a terrible chore since his boss always gives him the dirty work in the field. For once, he was speechless by the wisdom of this elderly man before him.
He took a deep breath again before scratching his goatee, deep in thought. After a few more moments of silence, he spoke again.
“What about you’re wife? Do you think she is ready for the change too?”
“My wife is ready for it, no need to worry.” said Derek. “She has been for a while now. Were getting old, a change is needed.”
“So you are happy then?” asked the man.
“Yes.” said Derek.
“Are you ready, then?”
“One second.” Derek said, grabbing his beer and gulping down the rest of it slowly, savoring the malted taste. After finishing his drink, he wiped the sweat from his brow and took one more look in the now starry sky.
“Ok, let’s go.”
The man in the suit just nodded. “All right, then.” he said, before giving Derek a pat on his shoulder and standing up from the rusted chair.
Derek Lucas died that evening. His wife found him, slouched over in his favorite lawn chair, an empty beer bottle on the ground where his now limp limbs hang. His head was hunched back, staring into the darkened sky, the stars brighter than usual on this night. His old age finally caught up with him, his powerful body, now softer with age, finally shut down.
But even in death, Derek Lucas enjoyed the simple things. A rusted old lawn chair, a bottle of Bud by his side. Enjoying the crisp air and the changing of the sky’s guard. It is no wonder he died with a wide smile on his face. He was content. He was happy.
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Playing Wargames: The story of “Under Ash” and the lessons learned from it.
Posted on Tuesday, October 12 2010 @ 15:55:34 Eastern
With “Medal of Honor” being released today, I did want to bring up another first person wargame that has been in development and was released in the year 2000, a classic known as “Under Ash.”
Now many of y... read more...
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An Open Letter to Robert Kotick
Posted on Monday, July 12 2010 @ 17:16:06 Eastern
Dear Mr. Robert Kotick,
While I know you are a busy man as the CEO of Activision-Blizzard, I implore you to take some time to read this open letter to you, sir.
As a gamer for over twenty years, I have seen many trends c... read more...
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National Poetry in Your Pocket Day
Posted on Thursday, April 29 2010 @ 13:19:37 Eastern
And now for something bleak...
Clouded mind, clouded judgement,
trapped in a thick black haze,
consuming, controlling my very thoughts,
stuck in an endless maze.
No entrance, no exit,
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Modern Myths, Interactive Adventures
Posted on Thursday, April 22 2010 @ 14:37:28 Eastern
Throughout my years in school, even to this day, I have always been fascinated by the stories of mythology and legend. The fantastic stories of Greeks like Perseus and Odysseus to Athurian Legend have been great facets of shaping my psyche on storyte... read more...
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The Narrative of Video Games (Version 2)
Posted on Saturday, April 3 2010 @ 10:53:04 Eastern
This is a re-write of my Narrative of Video Games Blog that I have tinkered with for the past few months. Enjoy it guys, this is the entire article in full.
Today it is hard to imagine a world without video games, let alone the style of ga... read more...
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Finally going somewhere!
Posted on Thursday, February 18 2010 @ 16:27:56 Eastern
It's been a while since I posted, but I have been busy.
With two new jobs....that are pretty awesome.
The first one is a teaching position with middle school kids that have high functioning (and in some cases lower functioning) ... read more...
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The Point of Pointlessness: Or How I Stopped Worrying About the VGA's and Dropped This Bomb
Posted on Saturday, November 28 2009 @ 10:12:04 Eastern
As the holidays draw closer to us, three things happen. One, a ton of shopping for your respected holiday, but it Christmas, Chanukah, or Festivus to name a few, will likely get done. Second, you’ll get fat with all the food you will eat. Al... read more...
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