Tag Archive: legend of zelda

Where’s your head at?

There was a period when the metroidvania was a forgotten category of game, with few developers wanting to take on projects in the vein of two of gaming’s more classic franchises. But times have changed, and with the rise of indies and small teams following through on big ideas, the genre has seen a resurgence in recent years—to the point where we’re getting multiple games in the category a month. So, I was tasked with looking at my second metroidvania of July in as many weeks when a game called Headlander rolled into my office. The genre doesn’t get old for me, though, especially when the game is done well—and Headlander is proof of a metroidvania done well.


In a far off future, humanity as we know it is extinct. In a bid to live forever, people have transferred their personalities into robots, and anytime something happens to their metallic body, their personality is simply shifted to another bot. But Methuselah, the computer program tasked with maintaining this process, has taken things a step further. Methuselah suppresses people’s personalities with special chips, making humanity trapped in a prison of its own design. So, what happens when a lone human head, still feeling and made of flesh, wakes up in a self-sustaining thruster-propelled space helmet? It becomes the Headlander, and must find out why humanity fell so far while trying to fix this haywire program once and for all.

Developed by Double Fine, Headlander carries all the trademark humor and insanity their games are known for. Starting with the visual design, I imagine Headlander is what would happen if Tim Burton decided to make a retro-futuristic film in the 1970s. Neon lights, groovy dancing robots, and twisted security bots with laser beams called “Shepherds” flood many of the rooms you’ll explore on your outer space journey. Even the sideburns on the Headlander—unless you choose the female head—made me flash back several times to Logan’s Run.


The real joy in Headlander comes from its gameplay. Set up as a side-scrolling shooter, the Headlander’s greatest ability is that he can use a small suction device on his helmet to remove the head of any given robot and screw himself onto the remaining body to move through the world. Citizen robots have access to general areas, but removing the heads of a rainbow-assortment of Shepherd security bots (thus taking them over) provides offense with their respective laser cannons, along with access to different parts of the world depending on their color. Red robots can only access red rooms, but purple robots can access all rooms because of where they sit on the color spectrum. You can also detach your head at any given moment to access air ducts or hidden passageways, sometimes finding power-ups, other times finding recordings that fill in holes of the story, and the Headlander’s missing memory.

Finding the right robot body to advance past the world’s various traps, puzzles, and locked doors plays right into the best parts of most metroidvanias: the exploration. Backtracking with new robots or the Headlander’s floating dome (after some upgrades) to get new power-ups or complete the game’s handful of side quests allows you to both become familiar with the game’s world, and bolster that sense of accomplishment when you clear an area of every secret. One of my favorite moments came when a side quest had me take over the body of a robot dog, having to work my way back to its owner without any of the special abilities that come from humanoid robot bodies. Moments like those highlight some of the Double Fine humor we’ve come to expect, and some of the interesting challenges the game posed on a regular basis.


Of course, as fun as exploring the world in Headlander is, and how ingenious a lot of the puzzles are, it does become a bit stale after a while. Part of this, I think, is because even though the Headlander has a massive upgrades tree with four separate paths that you can max out by game’s end, you’ll rarely find yourself ever needing to do more than the mechanic given to you at the beginning of the game—popping robot heads off bodies and putting your own in their place. Some upgrades for the Headlander’s helmet do come in handy later—and are even required to collect all the items in the game—but when it comes to combat, really all you ever need is to just jump onto a Shepherd’s body and start blasting away with its laser. And, considering you won’t die if the robot body dies, evading laser fire via cover or rolling (I’d say jumping, too, but oddly enough you can’t do that in the game) you can just snatch another body and continue to mow down Methuselah’s mindless minions.

Headlander is a prime example of the greatness that can come from metroidvanias done right. It’s zany setting, retro-futuristic design, and tight gameplay come together in a nice package that should please all fans of the genre. It might lack the replayability of some games after you one-hundred percent it, and the gameplay can get a tad tiresome when you start approaching the endgame about six to eight hours in, but Headlander is a great summer pick-up if you love exploration or old-school side-scrolling shooters. Just don’t lose your head over it.


Developer: Double Fine Productions • Publisher: Adult Swim Games • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 07.26.16
Headlander is a great metroidvania whose retro-future style, humorous story, and tremendous exploration come together in one of the summer’s most complete experiences.
The Good Clever puzzles, tons of exploration, and a retro-future world that is nothing short of groovy.
The Bad Lots of powers, but not much need for them.
The Ugly The Headlander’s sideburns don’t belong in any decade.
Headlander is available on PS4 and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Adult Swim Games for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

The Strong National Museum of Play has announced the 2015 class for the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

The six games to make the cut were DOOM, Pac-Man, Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, and World of Warcraft.

The Strong Museum, located in Rochester, New York, is well known for its International Center for the History of Electronic Games and already houses the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame was designed to “recognize individual electronic games of all types—arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile—that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general,” said a press release from The Strong.

Games were picked based on four key criteria: icon-status, longevity, geographical reach, and influence. The six that make up the inaugural class were chosen from a field of 15, and were chosen by a committee of journalists, scholars, and individuals familiar with video game history. The games that were not inducted this year were Angry Birds, FIFA, The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, The Oregon Trail, Pokémon, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Space Invaders.

This year’s winners will be on permanent display at the museum’s eGameRevolution exhibit and nominations for the class of 2016 are now being accepted through March 31, 2016.

Originally Published: June 21, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

Game: Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Grezzo
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Release: 06.19.11

Players: Singe Player

ESRB Rating: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up

The Good: One of the best games of the past 15 years revamped for a new generation
The Bad: Need to complete story once to unlock Master Quest
The Ugly: New hint system is completely unnecessary

When I was 13, I remember waking up Christmas morning and one present stood out above all else. It was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a golden cartridge that would redefine what I thought of action/adventure games and that I would beat a dozen times over the next several months as each time I found something new.

A few years later, I would wake up early on a random Sunday morning and drive to my local toy store to pre-order The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in order to get Ocarina of Time: Master Quest for the Gamecube. Again, I would devote many hours to this evolved version of the original Ocarina of Time.

Now, I’m older and wiser (sorta) and I don’t wake up early that often anymore if I have anything to say about it. So when my phone starting going off early one morning, much like Navi trying to wake up Link in his Kokiri tree house, I was not happy. I felt a familiar thrill though when it was my boss assigning me Ocarina of Time: 3D.

The biggest difference between this version of Ocarina compared to the others is obviously the graphics. The flawless 3D gives you a whole new sense of depth that you feel on every step of the journey, but especially when using your slingshot and bow. Not to mention the painstaking detail put into every corner of Hyrule now. Every house and shop is full of life and color (in the past anyway) from the ceilings to the floors and really shines through.

Score: 9.5

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: January 8, 2011, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Link’s Crossbow Training for the Nintendo Wii.

Originally Published: December 4, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I looked back at Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for the original NES.