GamerSushi Asks: Favorite NES Memories?

Super Mario

I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember. I was lucky enough to be a kid during the beginning of the NES revolution, a revolution that we owe to Hiroshi Yamauchi, former President of Nintendo, who died yesterday. Yamauchi is largely responsible for turning Nintendo from a card-game company into the video game giant it is today, thanks to the NES, the brainchild of Yamauchi. He didn’t design games himself, but he was instrumental in crafting what would eventually become the NES.

As sad as it is that Yamauchi is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through the NES and all the great games and memories associated with it. I got my NES when I was 5 years old. I didn’t even know what it was, it just appeared one day, a gift from my mom to my brother and myself. Playing through Super Mario Bros, finding the warp zones, wondering how many damn levels there were in the game…it was a blast. I remember using the Power Pad to play Track & Field and losing to Cheetah over and over until finally resorting to pounding the pad with my fists instead of running on it like we are supposed to. Cheetah went down and my hands ached, but damn it, I won. Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: Favorite NES Memories?

Skyward Sword Comes Crashing Down

Link Skyward Sword

I couldn’t finish The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In fact, I could barely start it. I played for 3 hours, entered the first dungeon and then paused the game while I consulted a walkthrough just to see what was in store for me. The thought of enduring all that I read made me recoil in horror. So I traded it in, which is a historic moment for me. The first console Zelda that I didn’t finish. A dark day for Anthony and a dark day for Nintendo.

You see, Zelda was always my second favorite video game franchise after Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy was the barometer for which console I would buy, but Zelda was the mark for WHEN I would buy my inevitable Nintendo console. I got a Nintendo 64 so I could play Ocarina of Time. I got the N64 Expansion Pak solely for the purpose of playing Majora’s Mask. I bought a GameCube one month before Wind Waker was released and I jumped for joy when Twilight Princess was released on GameCube AND the Wii because that meant I didn’t have to buy a Wii yet. Continue reading Skyward Sword Comes Crashing Down

Pixel Count: Franchise Sabbaticals

Video game timelines are funny things. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the annual release titles — the familiars of our hobby, such as Call of Duty, Madden, Assassin’s Creed, Mario and the like — and on the other side of the spectrum you have the folks that release games when they’re good and ready — the Valves and Square Enixes of the world. Today’s post concerns the first group.

With the recent quality dip of franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, the underwhelming “next gen” (but still the same old) gameplay of Call of Duty: Ghosts and the staleness of other titles like Mario or Madden, it seems like there are quite a few annual releases in need of a good old fashioned sabbatical. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike these franchises. Far from it. I just think that perhaps an extended break might give developers a chance to come back to the table with fresh eyes and maybe a few gameplay or art tweaks that might reinvigorate things again.

Take Madden, for instance. I’m a dude that loves watching just about any random NFL game I can find on TV, but you almost couldn’t pay me to play a Madden game. Here’s the game of football — a rough-hitting, edge-of-your-seat, strategy-on-the-fly sport played by athletic gods — and EA manages to make a game that feels boring. Contrast that with something as historic as Mario or Zelda, two imaginative franchises that don’t quite excite the way they used to (unless they go retro or reboot one of the older, better games in some way), and it starts to feel like maybe it’s time for these guys to rest just a little while.

So without further ado, here’s today’s Pixel Count. Get your votes on and tell us what you think in the comments! It doesn’t even have to be a yearly release — just a franchise that you think might benefit with some rethinking.

Which franchise needs to take a sabbatical?

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Nintendo Announces Link to the Past 2 for 3DS

Nintendo’s been hit with a bit of the Legend of Zelda bug as of late, it seems — and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. In addition to the HD Wind Waker remake due out this fall, Nintendo has also announced Link to the Past 2, releasing for the 3DS this year.

The sequel to the much loved SNES game debuted during yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, introduced by the big Reggie himself. It takes place in the same world as Link to the Past, features some 3D dungeons and even allows link to become a wall drawing in order to solve some puzzles. While I never played Link to the Past (I didn’t own an SNES), I did watch a friend play quite a bit of it. I have no doubt that there are certain GamerSushi fans (and a few of its staff) that are freaking out about this news.

But what say you?

Skyward Sword and the Middle of the Road

legend of zelda skyward sword

So for this week’s “What We’re Playing” Monday, I’m taking us back to the Before Times, the Long-Long Ago, to November 2011 and the world of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Because the release schedule between December and now is a bit dry, I decided to go back and actually try and beat the latest entry in Nintendo’s fantasy series. While reviews for Skyward Sword were pretty phenomenal across the board back in the day, I’m finding the game to be a rather middling experience.

That’s not to say that Skyward Sword is bad, per se, and it’s certainly a small step up from its predecessor, Twilight Princess. While the motion controls do work well on occasion, most of the enemies are a little too stalwart in their defenses with very little room to get a strike in, leaving you waiting for an opening that you won’t hit if the controls decide to go wonky on you. The boss monster design is pretty comical, especially the man-boobed tentacle monster, which is a shame because Zelda bosses have typically been memorable and intimidating. The secondary bad guy, Ghirahim, seems to indulge in certain design tendencies that Zelda has previously managed to avoid. Perhaps one of the most annoying small things the game does is to do the introduction of crafting items every time you pick them up when you load a save. Continue reading Skyward Sword and the Middle of the Road

Miyamoto Reveals New Zelda for Wii U

Depending on who you ask, Nintendo’s presentation of the Wii U at E3 on Tuesday went over like a blue shell in Mario Kart: either it made your day or it made you wish for a quick death. Regardless of that, one of the big titles missing from the presentation was The Legend of Zelda. While Zelda doesn’t sell as well as the 2D Mario games do, it is (or was) a franchise that gets the hardcore gamers, who Nintendo claims to be courting, frothing at their collective mouths.

Thankfully, Entertainment Weekly had the clout to get an answer out of the legendary game creator himself, Shigeru Miyamoto. Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good. Miyamoto told EW that the next Zelda is currently in the R & D stage, but added:

But really what we continue to ask ourselves as we have over the years is, “What is the most important element of Zelda if we were to try to make a Zelda game that a lot of people can play?” So we have a number of different experiments going on, and [when] we decide that we’ve found the right one of those to really help bring Zelda to a very big audience, then we’ll be happy to announce it.

Sigh. I really don’t know what’s going on over there at Nintendo. The last Zelda, Skyward Sword, still sits on my shelf, its once gleaming golden cover now slowly being buried by a layer of dust. The reason? Too much hand-holding, the kind that caters to someone who has never touched a video game before in their lives. So what’s Nintendo’s answer to that? Try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, which actually goes against the very thing they are claiming to try to do with the Wii U.

These mixed messages, such as the fact that the Wii was made to simplify controls, but now the Wii U has all them there buttons that complicated it again (And don’t forget the Wii U Pro, which does away with that revolutionary screen altogether) are really starting to make me think that Nintendo is flailing about. The Zelda that everyone always holds up as the standard is Ocarina of Time, which sold over 7 million copies worldwide. I don’t have other figures on hand, but I would be shocked if that wasn’t the best-selling Zelda of all time.

So what is Nintendo thinking? Do you think Zelda should broaden its appeal to attract more fans? Or should it evolve, but stick to the core mechanics that get the pulses of gamers pounding, like Ocarina of Time did? Or should Zelda just throw in the towel?

Source: EW

Does The Legend of Zelda Need to be Fixed?

legend of zelda

If there’s any game series crying out for a fresh interpretation, it’s the Legend of Zelda. While this belief is a little incendiary, many people feel that the series hit its zenith with Ocarina of Time and has been in steady decline every since. That’s not to say that the games are bad, necessarily, but they are formulaic and in need of a shot in the arm.

During my travels on the dusty roads of the World Wide Web, I stumbled across an essay entitled “Saving Zelda” by one Tevis Thompson. In his piece he runs down what he sees as the problems with the current version of Zelda and where the series went wrong. His comments on how the game world is just a series of locks (and how the items you collect can be equated to a jangling keyring) struck a particular cord with me, and this is by no means the only point he makes. He examines everything from the games’ visual styles to the design of the over-world to the re-treading of the same story over and over.

His article is a bit lengthy, but it’s well worth the read, especially if Skyward Sword left you wanting. The comments about how modern Zelda games do not respect the player is in step with how I felt about Skyward Sword, and the analogy of game designers being helicopter parents was almost too perfect.

I really urge everybody to take a break from their day and read this; you may not agree with every point but it’s a great argument against the staleness of modern Zeldas. What did you guys think of the article? Did the author make some good points? Where do you agree and disagree?

SourceTevis Thompson