Tag Archive: zelda

A magnificent mash-up

Whenever players first hear about a videogame mashup, there are typically two distinct reactions. Some will freak out as their eyeballs gush tears of joy in a manner befitting an anime character and their mind explodes due to the onslaught of unbelievable awesomeness. Others have a more subdued reaction: their face plastered with a look of puzzlement as the world around them slowly shatters due to the immense confusion with which they’re suddenly burdened.

When I first heard about Hyrule Warriors, I admit I fell into the latter category. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Legend of Zelda. I even like Dynasty Warriors, to be honest. But mixing the two together? Please don’t tell Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé, but my body was simply not ready. My state of corporeal preparedness aside, the day has come where Hyrule Warriors now sits in my Wii U.

What surprised me right away about Hyrule Warriors was the story. On the surface, sure, we’ve heard it all before. A hero named Link must once again save Hyrule from an unfathomable evil. But this time, he must do it across time and space, visiting Legend of Zelda realms from the past (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword specifically) to prevent the four fragments of an eternal evil from reuniting.

Though it sounds simple enough, the story finds a way to stay true to the classic Legend of Zelda formulapaying proper homage when necessarywhile also adding its own wrinkles on how characters came to be and how they aid Link on his quest. Everything’s familiar enough to give welcome pangs of nostalgia, but not quite so unoriginal as to feel brainlessly derivative or lacking in value of its own.

The narrative was also far longer than I expected. The main campaign lasts 18 missions, each about 30 to 40 minutes, and the story takes unexpected twists and turns, thrusting you into the shoes of heroes besides Link to take advantage of the Dynasty Warriors gameplay elements. The only part of the story that disappointed me? The fact that Koei Tecmo couldn’t find a way to work with Nintendo and make this adventure fall somewhere in the convoluted Zelda canon.

If the story makes brilliant use of its Zelda source material, the gameplay is where the Dynasty Warriors part of this mashup comes through. Droves of Bokoblins, Stalfos, and other classic Zelda enemies fill the screen as you hack and slash your way through literally thousands of them during each mission while trying to capture castles, keeps, or forts, and rout the dark forces.

However, it seems like the the development team’s efforts went into trying to fit all those enemies onscreen at once, because the levels that you fight through are some of the most generic, bland locales ever to exist in Hyrule. At least you get something for flaying as many baddies as possible, since Link and the other playable heroes and villains can level up by grinding through those seemingly endless hordes, earning better weapons and crafting materials that provide stat boosts to each character.

To give the gameplay a Legend of Zelda twist, however, each new level often contains a classic dungeon itemsuch as the boomerang, bow and arrow, hookshot, or bomb—which are then used to vanquish familiar bosses like King Dodongo or Gohma.

Unfortunately, even the addition of these classic items can’t prevent the gameplay from getting a bit tedious, even for the most devoted of Zelda fans, since the game quickly devolves into the mindless abuse of a single button. The lack of enemy difficulty is only trumped by the pitiful ally AI that always seems to find a way to get into trouble with these simpleton minions. Even the boss battles quickly become tiresome and simple, with no single creature proving to be a true threat—except when you’re surrounded by the never-ending waves of underlings that often come to their aid.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more waiting to be discovered just beneath Hyrule Warriors’ surface if you can tolerate the somewhat monotonous gameplay. After beating the story, you unlock Hero Mode (an ultra-hard difficulty for all the levels), as well as the ability to go back and replay any level with any hero in Free Play mode. Each level also has hidden gold skulltulas—with a grand total of 100 in the gamethat unlock special art and items as you find more.

The biggest replayability factor, however, might be Adventure mode, which opens up on a 8-bit world map from the original NES Legend of Zelda. Here, you can take on an assortment of challenges, such as killing a certain amount of enemies within a specific time limit, fighting all the bosses in quick succession, or even just answering a quiz based on the game. Each completed challenge unlocks more and more of the map and will sometimes reward you with new items that can be taken back into Story mode. You can also level up the heroes you don’t play with as often, since some sections require specific characters to earn an “A” completion ranking.

Overall, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo did a great job putting a unique spin on one of gaming’s crown-jewel franchises. It’s a mashup that most of us didn’t really want, but we should be happy now that we have it. If you love hack-n-slash games or are just a Legend of Zelda aficionado, then there’s more than enough in Hyrule Warriors to satisfy both those needs.

Developer: Team Ninja, Omega Force • Publisher: Nintendo, Koei Tecmo • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 09.26.14
If hack-n-slash games are your jamor you can tolerate them but really just love The Legend of Zelda in all its iterations—then Hyrule Warriors is a more-than-worthy warmup for Link on the Wii U.
The Good A unique take on the Legend of Zelda formula that will appeal to fans of the franchise.
The Bad The hack-n-slash gameplay can get repetitive; bosses feel like pushovers.
The Ugly Darunia’s victory dance makes me never want to play with him ever again.
Hyrule Warriors is a Wii U exclusive. Review code was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review.

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: May 10, 2011, on Comicvine.com

A short while ago, I remember reading that DC planned on giving Dick Grayson his own rogues gallery, on top of those we’ve seen him fight for years as Robin and Nightwing, that would fit more his interpretation of Gotham’s Batman. And so far they’ve been true to their word with the introduction of Professor Pyg, The White Knight, and The Dealer to name a few.

Now, one of my nightly routines, when not out and about, is to watch the Adam West Batman series on The Hub. It is one of my earliest comic book related memories to watch its syndicated re-runs growing up, usually right after Captain N the Game Master and the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, so it’s a nice way to relive my childhood for 30 minutes every night now that I’m an “adult”.

This all got me thinking back to a three-issue Batman: Confidential storyline from a couple years ago that introduced King Tut into the comic world of Batman. It seemed like a blatant reach to introduce new villains into the comic universe, but if DC is desperate for some new foes, then maybe they’ll be willing to reach back a few more times to those 1960s classics to help flesh out Dick’s rogues a bit more with some faces that us old-school fans might also have an extra appreciation for. Here’s a list of a few suggestions that I think would fit and not be too cheesy if written right.

1. False-Face: Originally played by Malachi Throne of Star Trek fame, False-Face was rumored to be a replacement for a story line that was going to incorporate Two-Face played by Clint Eastwood, but was scrapped because of a conflict he had since he was shooting a little movie called “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” at the time.

This expert jewel thief and master of disguise was actually featured in one three issue story arc in the comics in the late 1950s before retiring, but found his way into infamy more as a ghastly looking figure in the Adam West Batman series.

In order to modernize this character, instead of just making him a regular jewel thief that’s awesome with make-up, we make him a professor at STAR Labs or Cadmus. For one reason or another, one of the Clayfaces has been transported there for another gauntlet of tests and much like how many of Arkham’s inmates corrupt those around them, this time there is an accident and some of the basic compounds of Clayface splash onto a random scientist’s face, giving it malleable properties similar to Clayface. From there you can do a couple of things. Obsessed with the power he now has, False-Face attempts to finish the experiment and become the ninth Clayface, which I would like NOT to happen, but DC loves making more Clayfaces as laid out in a previous article of mine here. Or, he simply uses his abilities to turn to a life of crime and crosses Batman’s path.

2. The Minstrel: An electronics expert played by Van Johnson, The Minstrel appeared in only two episodes of the Adam West Batman and covers up his strong technology and electronics background with the simple motif of a wandering minstrel who distracts with both his song and various gadgets in order to pull off his crimes, including holding all of Gotham ransom to the whims of a sonic earthquake machine he creates.

Similar to the Joker in that he loves hijacking TV signals to torment the people of Gotham with his songs, The Minstrel takes pride in the fact that most people think his character is simply a joke while they listen to his pre-recorded telecasts consisting of him strumming and singing threats directed at Batman and the GCPD while he robs Gotham blind at the same time.

This classic use of misdirection and his strong electronics background makes The Minstrel could be just as worthy of being in the comics rogue gallery as The White Knight or Professor Pyg if this wandering wannabe musician becomes a bit more vicious and apt to kill while holding all of Gotham ransom with a more modern doomsday device.

3. Egghead: One of Hollywood’s most well-known actors of the last century, especially for the low budget horror films he would take part in, was Vincent Price. But when speaking of his favorite roles, Price went on record several times as saying the five full episodes and several cameos where he played Egghead in the Adam West Batman series was some of the best times he had on a soundstage.

Although featured in the background of several Batman comics and even having one issue of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic based off the Cartoon Network show (that pays homage to the campy days of Batman more than some may realize) devoted to him, Egghead has never been a major player at any point in the main DC continuity. But if Egg Fu can become a major player like in the series 52, why can’t Egghead get a facelift and get a couple issues devoted to him?

The biggest problem with Egghead is just trying to figure out how to revitalize arguably the campiest character ever. He has some interesting weapons like egg shaped tear gas bombs and laughing gas, but maybe he’d have to go darker. Acid filled eggs and mustard gas filled eggs for example. His crimes could still have the egg theme as well. Some kind of priceless Faberge eggs could be on display by the Wayne Foundation when he drops his mustard gas eggs on the wealthy socialites of Gotham. He’d definitely have to lose the egg-related puns though.

4. Zelda the Great: The great Anne Baxter would be called upon the play Zelda the Great very early in season one of the Adam West Batman series before being recast to play Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, in the third season. Her time as Zelda though was one of the more interesting two episodes of the series as Zelda was the first of several reluctant villains over the course of the series.

Zelda was once one of the greatest magicians and escape artists in the world, but as time went on her act grew stale and her career began to flounder. It is here that she procures the services of a retired trickster who promises to revive her act at the price of $100,000 per new trick and escape maneuver. Unable to come up with the funds but not willing to relinquish the spotlight, Zelda resorts to crime to pay for her rejuvenated act.

This could be the easiest character to rejuvenate. Cut out the secondary trickster and you could link Zelda back to the Dick’s Haley Circus days, turned to a life of crime for various reasons. Or, you could put it up as a Batman and Zatanna team-up, as Dick needs assistance with the more magical element. A disenchanted magician and escape artist who only saw the craft as a means to make money and once no longer able to fill the theatres, she turned to things more macabre than simple parlor tricks and sets her sights on robbing Gotham blind.

5. Sandman: Played by the English born Michael Rennie and only featured in two episodes, and even those saw him needing to be supported by the lovely Julie Newmar’s Catwoman, the Sandman is another easy modern conversion.

An infamous European criminal mastermind, Sandman concocts a plan to retire for good if he could pilfer the fortune of Gotham’s billionaire noodle queen, J. Pauline Spaghetti. J. Pauline is an infamous insomniac and so Sandman poses as Doctor Somnambula, an expert in curing insomniacs. In reality, Sandman simply sprays her with his sleep inducing powder where the victim slips more into a hypnotic trance and has J. Pauline reveal the location of her private financial records including stocks, bonds, and a couple hundred thousand dollars in “petty” cash that Sandman documents in the hopes of pilfering later on.

Obviously, if Sandman were to be done in a modern story arc, he’d have to be a bit more grandiose in his schemes. Instead of putting one billionaire to sleep, he could focus on the whole of Gotham before he lets loose with his sticky fingers. Or maybe you could make it a bit more personal and have the billionaire he plans on targeting be Bruce Wayne.

There are several other villains who were also original or adapted to fit the series like the counterfeit stamp maker Colonel Gumm, the wayward cowboy Shame, the master thief, assassin, and bowman the Archer who tangled once with Superman, or the first Puzzler who was also adapted from a Superman adventure, and many more, but I felt these five would be the easiest to adapt to modern times and also fit somehow into Dick Grayson’s Gotham.

So, what do you folks think of this list? Would these characters fit into modern times after a facelift? Are there some other villains that could work if they shed their campy origins and were brought into modern times? Let us know what you think with comments below and be sure to always stay tuned to the SAME COMICVINE TIME, SAME COMICVINE CHANNEL!

The Holiday Rush

Originally Published: December 21, 2009, on Lundberg.me and 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

I did this last year where I offered some last minute advice to help out people looking to pick up a couple of more items to stuff in the stockings or under the tree and due to positive feedback, we’re doing it one more time!

Now, if you’re looking for games for some little ones and don’t feel they’re ready for an over the top, alien shoot ’em up, or some action-adventure, sword wielding bloodbath, then here are a few E-rated games that will keep them happy till their birthday rolls around.

1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii – Nintendo Wii – Any older gamer will appreciate the nostalgia this game conjures up. Any young gamer will fall in love with the crazy characters, classic side-scrolling platforming gameplay, and the hours of exploration and fun it will provide. Just like every other great Mario Bros. game to ever come out. This Wii game has been flying off of store shelves this holiday season with good reason.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – Nintendo DS –Another one of Nintendo’s powerhouse franchises with a new chapter in its long and storied history. What’s nice about this is that the kids can take this with them on the long car or plane ride you’re already dreading. At least it’ll keep the kids out of your hair as you prepare for departure delays or traffic due to the predicted bad weather. Not the longest or most in-depth in the Zelda series, it will more than do the job of distracting the little ones this holiday season.

3. A Boy and His Blob – Nintendo Wii – Rounding out the Nintendo dominance of kid-oriented games is a remake of a NES classic. A Boy and His Blob follows a young lad and his alien, shape-shifitng friend, who can help the boy in a plethora of ways by eating magical jellybeans. These jellybeans allow the blob to turn into a gun, a ladder, a trampoline, and many other useful items as you travel across these beautifully drawn 2.5 D worlds.

“But, Ray! My kid is in high school and I don’t think these childish games will work for him/her.” Never fear! There is plenty of T-rated games just waiting to be picked up.

1. Ghostbusters: The Video Game – All systems – The closest thing die-hards have seen to a third movie, this game picks up about three years after the end of the second movie and brings the story together better than any movie could have. With all the original voice cast returning to reprise their iconic 80s roles, ‘bustin’ has never felt so good.

2. Batman: Arkham Asylum – XBOX360, PS3 – One of the most critically acclaimed games of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum is the initial offering of what looks to be a long series of new Batman games. With a free-flow combat system that flows like water and a plot worthy of a comic maxi-series, this game is a must have for any comic book fan.

3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – PS3 – The SpikeTV Video Game Awards game of the year delivers on every front like no other game this year. Plot depth, tremendous characters that pull on your heart strings, probably the best looking game of the year, and flawless gameplay makes this a must have for any gamer’s collection if you have a PS3.

Now you’re wondering, “What about the games for Mommy and Daddy?” Well, there are plenty of M-rated games out there for long after the kiddies go to bed.

1. Madworld – Wii – It’s rare to see a phenomenal M-rated game on the Wii, but Sega’s Madworld delievers in ways I never thought a Wii game could. An unfathomable amount of gore and language brightens up the black and white world of “Jack”, a man tasked with winning a “Running Man”-esque game of death in a world that just screams “Sin City”. Either interacting with the entire environment to find new and interesting ways to kill your enemies, or just relying on the chainsaw on your right hand, you will have fun wreaking havoc in Madworld.

2. Assassin’s Creed 2 – XBOX360, PS3 – My pick for game of the year, Assassin’s Creed 2 expounds on the plot of the first game and trumps the action by leaps and bounds. A new free-flow combat system, being able to wield two weapons at once, poison, guns, and an entire economic system make what was once a repetitive, tedious chore to beat in AC1, makes AC2 one of the most unique mainstream gaming experiences of the year.

3. Halo 3: ODST – XBOX360 – My choice for first-person shooter of the year, any Halo fan needs to have this game. Aside from the amped up difficulty due to you acting as a lower class of trooper than Master Chief’s Spartan self, the film noir aspect of taking over every member of your squad at different moments as you unravel the mystery of the Covenant’s attack is one of the most immersive plot techniques I’ve seen in gaming in years.

Those are the games that will make everyone you know, no matter their age, happy. On this last list, are the games that leave everyone cringing and they will be returned. Guaranteed. Avoid these games at all costs Grandma!

1. Fairytale Fights – XBOX 360, PS3, PC – A nice concept that falls flat on its face. Living through some classic fairytale character’s stories with some bloody hack-‘n’-slash combat is a nice thought, but horrible gameplay, a poorly kept-together plot, and nothing really special about using these fabled characters from fairytale lore aside from the random weapons they find was really a disappointment.

2. TMNT: Smash-Up – Nintendo Wii – It uses the same engine as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but it lacks everything else. Only a handful of selectable characters, a miserable story mode, and controls that aren’t nearly as responsive as the Nintendo character counterpart. A bitter disappointment for any TMNT fan and another TMNT media project that doesn’t include the original theme music!

3. The Conduit – Nintendo Wii – This is probably one of the most hyped games of the year and instead should be considered as the worst first-person shooter of the year. Basically a remake of Perfect Dark from N64, but with some more high tech weapons and a looser plot. The graphics look like something from the Gamecube and the multiplayer, although probably one of the better ones for the Wii, is still subpar when compared with the multiplayer offered by games for the XBOX 360 and PS3.

Well folks, there it is. For all you last minute shoppers out there, those are some helpful hints. Thanks for reading my article and have a happy and safe holiday season.

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: December 19, 2009, on Lundberg.me and Sportsrev.tv

This week features reviews of Captain America: Reborn #5 (of 6) and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for Nintendo DS.