Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 20, 2014

Email: Zelda 2 is the best Zelda

Hello Master Malstrom

Just want to add my voice to the Zelda 2 love. I’m from the NES generation and to me it’s the best Zelda game and I still play it yearly. You are right when you say that Zelda 2 is intense. The game is not hard but it will kill you if you get careless. It demands concentration, skill and reflexes. It also has the best swordfighting in any Zelda game. The diversity in attacks gives a great experience and killing those Iron Knuckles feels awsome. The spell system is great, used them all the time and they are crucial for surviving.

I love the overworld. Even though I know everything about this game, it feels like there is more to discover.

I’m sending you a scan from the Scandinavian version of Nintendo Power which shows readers top 10 and Zelda 2 is fifth. That list is from 1994 almost 6 years after Zelda 2 was released!

Zelda 2 the black sheep? Try Skyward Sword, what a piece of crap.

Also a little shoutout to Metroid. I’m currently replaying it and it’s such a great game. As a kid I was so obsessed with it that I mapped it in my head, haha.

Thank you and keep up the good work

It’s interesting to hear about the European experience with the NES. I remember Nintendo being dragged through the American courts by Atari that they couldn’t properly expand in Europe like they wanted.

Here is the image he sent me:



Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 20, 2014

Email: Zelda takes too long to develop

I know you’ve said this before but I think zelda takes too long to make and when the game comes out it look like it could have been made in 2 years instead of 5.

I mean If you look at Skyrim the development started in 2008 and the game came out in November 2011 and that game is open-world,populated with NPC’s,has an orchestra, has a deep upgrade system and is HD. So in 3 years it took Bethesda to make this game. 
Aonuma and his zelda team on the other hand started developing skyward sword in 2007 and it also came out in November 2011 and to this day I am baffled on why it took so long. Its not open world, there is no deep upgrade system (or any as the matter of fact), the dialogue is heavy but not as heavies as skyrim (which also had voice acting),has an orchestra,the games graphics are little bland and its not even HD. 
So in 4 years it took nintendo to make a non HD Zelda game that is not even on par with a game that had a shorter development time and was probably more expensive to make and the game sold over 20 million when skyward sword has even reached 4 million.      
3 years to develop


4-5 years to develop… Aonuma and team have no talent 


This is a very good point. What in the world is Aonuma doing this entire time? I bet he is playing with the hardware. “This Zelda is on the DS so we must MAKE IT TOUCH SCREEN ONLY.” Of course, no one asked for this. Imagine how cool a real LTTP type Zelda game would be on the DS. We never got it.  I guarantee you that in Zelda Wii U, you will be holding up the Gamepad over the TV to do ‘puzzles’. You just wait and see!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 20, 2014

Email: Well thanks a lot!

Just a quick email informing you that all these posts you have been making about Zelda 2 made want to play the game again,hah!

Last time I played it was 2 years ago and believe it or not, it was the very first time I played the game from start to finish. I found it very difficult and yet not annoying unlike the awful Skyward sword and Spirit tracks (to date is the only zelda I never finished and lost interest). It really felt an accomplishment when I beat it and never felt like I was cleaning the attic or anything.

I do remember seeing my elder cousins playing the game and I remember being a 10 year-old kid amazed with the game and scared of the creepy game over screen. That’s why I found absurd when I read that “nobody liked the game” from the industry’s cheerleaders on the internet.

I was disappointed that we never got a 16-bit version of Zelda 2 gameplay like we did with Zelda 1 of LTTP. I was more pissed of the lack of Super Mario Brothers 5 though.

Can you imagine a Zelda 2 with a Second Quest? Or with modern game mechanics? Imagine the hookshot in Zelda 2! That would be sweet! I suppose it’d handle similar to Super Metroid’s grapple beam.


I wonder how he feels about Skyward Sword having 3D Mario’s rotten leftovers

It doesn’t get worse than those sections which are timed platform puzzles from hell.


I haven’t seen that part. Just watching that gave me a headache!

You’re going against a narrative. The narrative is that Zelda 2 is the ‘Black Sheep of the Zelda Family’. There are narratives all the time around us. They are heavily present in the news. The problem is that these are video games which are silly fun things. No one should care if someone likes one game over another or that someone doesn’t like a game everyone else is supposed to like. They’re just games. They are not life or death.

You have to understand that if narrative that Zelda 2 is not the ‘Black Sheep of the Zelda family’, that it was made up (by whom? By Nintendo devs), it creates a big problem. There is an emotional block I’m running against that no one wants to believe that Nintendo devs are capable of being selfish and making games for themselves. Maybe it is because we have successfully demonized other game companies from EA to Activision that a reverse of ‘angel-ization’ occurs with companies like Nintendo. I have to laugh when people say “Nintendo is not corporate.” Nintendo’s most admired third party company is actually EA. They love EA because EA brings in so much money (though it might have changed to Activision lately).

When Yamauchi ran Nintendo, you got a very different sort of games than what we get today. Iwata is known to say, “It is not the programmer’s job to tell the designer how the game should be.” I suspect this is opening the doors to tons of crazy shit from Metroid: Other M to Spirit Tracks that Yamauchi would never have approved. But who does tell the designer what to do?

I do.

And so does the incredible reader. The customers ultimately are the kings in the video game market. Disinterest is not expressed as much as interest is. So let us express it.

The ‘Zelda 2 is the Black Sheep’ thing really has nothing to do with Zelda 2. Everyone knows Zelda 2 is a great game including Nintendo. Zelda 2 must be the black sheep in order to legitimize Aonuma’s Zeldas. Zelda 2 is the antithesis of EVERYTHING Aonuma Zelda stands for. Zelda 2 has arcade action swashbuckling. Zelda 2 has hard RPG elements like leveling up and experience points. If Zelda 2 is a Zelda, then WTF is Aonuma Zelda? Aonuma Zelda is something alien. Aonuma Zelda is as much as a mainline Zelda game as Hyrule Warriors is. Aonuma Zeldas always feel like bad spin-offs made by a third party company. They are not masterpieces. No one has ever described an Aonuma Zelda as a masterpiece. And before Aonuma stepped in, every Zelda game was considered a masterpiece. NOT out of nostalgia. They were considered a masterpiece on RELEASE, and they have stood the test of time.

Zelda 2 is the most contradictory of the Aonuma direction so that is why it gets hit with the big hammer. Notice other parts of Classic Zelda games get hit with ‘little hammers’. The arcade combat of Zelda 1 and LTTP? Can’t have that. The way how Classic Zelda revolves around the sword? Can’t have that. The way how dungeons are like vast mazes with few if no puzzles? Can’t have that. The lack of handholding? Can’t have that.

Classic Zelda wasn’t wrong then, and it is not wrong today. But in order for Aonuma Zelda to be validated, they MUST be considered wrong. It is exactly like Sakamoto validating Other M by saying the lack of dialogue/story in the early Metroids was fine for its time but is *wrong*. It is *wrong* only because he filled Other M up with tons of dialogue and story.

Don’t you all see? Instead of Nintendo trying to make games to live up to the heights of the classics, they trash the classics instead. Everyone is either poisoned by ‘nostalgia’ (what Nintendo used to say) but now they say how *wrong* the original games are. Really? I’d much rather do another playthrough of an early Zelda game instead of anything Aonuma has made.

Since there is more awareness of this, I don’t think Nintendo can do that anymore. Notice how Nintendo tried to say how great Other M was and that games like Super Metroid aren’t really all that great? That “it was time for change”. Says who? Says Sakamoto. But Sakamoto doesn’t buy Metroid games, we do.

I don’t suffer from this emotional block of unwilling to believe Nintendo devs to be selfish and want to make games for themselves because I saw them cease making 2d Mario for a minimum of 16 years! The most popular video game ever made, and Nintendo just ‘stopped it’ because “Wah! Wah! I don’t want to make it anymore!”

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

Do the hardcore know how ridiculous they look?

The Doom reveal came out. Here are the fans’ reactions.

This is how the hardcore view themselves:

This is how everyone else sees them.

The women just… leave. Contrast this to cool games like Wii Sports that ATTRACTS women to them. Which would you rather have at your apartment when you bring a girl back?

Anyway, I hope the Doom game ends up being good. FPS games aren’t as fun as they used to be.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

Email: Zelda 2 lovers: we’re out there

You’re probably getting tons of hate mail from the Zelda 2 haters since you posted my email. I’d be curious to know how many people responded positively. There seems to be a huge undercurrent of Nintendo fans who love that game, but are afraid to express it because they’ll be shouted down by everyone else who’s swallowed the “conventional wisdom” that Zelda 2 sucks.


I posted a link to your post on Facebook, thinking that the usual chorus of assholes would come out and tell me how wrong I am for liking Zelda 2. My friends pleasantly surprised me, however. I got around 20 comments on that post, and all but one of them spoke glowingly of their memories with the game.


If Nintendo released a “New Adventure of Link” with Zelda 2 gameplay and modern graphics (and maybe some optional concessions to modern gamers, like a Super Metroid-style minimap for the temples or EarthBound-style automatic killing of random enemies if you’re leveled up), I bet they’d get a surprising amount of sales.


Also, THANK YOU for your full-throated defense of Zelda 2. Literally no one else on the internet will go to the mat for that game. There are games that are far more deserving of hate than this one. Take Castlevania 2. That game is everything the Zelda 2 haters accuse Zelda 2 of being, and then some.


Zelda 2 had to be ‘different’ because it was on the same console as Zelda 1. To the people who hate Zelda 2, do they really expect Zelda 2 to be Legend of Zelda Quest 3? Super Mario Brothers 2 USA was WAY different from Super Mario Brothers 1. Yet, the three NES Mario games differentiated from each other quite well.


I don’t understand why with Wind Waker or the DS Zeldas I must ‘suspend disbelief’ and ‘accept that they are good games’. Yet, when it comes to Zelda 2 which I have played multiple times and greatly enjoyed, I am told that ‘the game isn’t that good’ and ‘it is the black sheep of Zelda’. It’s like someone doesn’t WANT us to like games like Zelda 2 but, boy, do they really want us to like Zeldas like Wind Waker!
Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

More proof of Zelda 2′s popularity

This was a link from an emailer below. It deserves its own post. It is from a story on Nintendo from the Chicago Tribune. 1989.

Reader, let’s get in the deLorean:


I recently visited or talked to employees of almost 20 toy stores in Chicago and the suburbs. The stores ranged from large discount houses like Venture in Elgin to small, privately run establishments like Klipper`s in Glenview. I asked each store if they had any games systems in, or if they carried two of the most popular cartridges, Super Mario Bros. II and Zelda II: The Adventures of Link.

The results of my survey: Out of all the stores, there was exactly one Nintendo Entertainment System on the shelves, and this happened to be one that another customer had just returned for a refund. Not a single store carried either of the cartridges.

That`s not to say you can`t find them anywhere. Some stores are receiving shipments, but they sell out almost as fast as they get them. Toys “R“ Us in Schaumburg, for instance, received 100 system units two weeks ago, but a store employee expected they would be sold out in three days.

I began each call by asking, “Do you have any Nintendos in?“ and I became intrigued by how the employees would react. Some simply laughed derisively and said, “Are you kidding?“ Others sounded bored, as if they had heard the questions a thousand times before. Others were exasperated and testy. Most, I could tell, were quite disgusted with the whole subject and would prefer never to hear the word Nintendo again.

I have bolded the above for our readers suffering reading comprehension problems. It’s there! It’s in print! Zelda 2! Sold out! Same with Mario 2.

Black sheep my ass… Black sheeps don’t fly off the shelves!

Check this out:

Here`s how the story goes: Last Christmas a local game store in a popular mall was selling some of the most requested Nintendo cartridges for $100 apiece, nearly double the list price. After hearing the story for the third time, I decided to check the story out by calling the store itself.

An employee who asked not to be identified said that no, to his knowledge they never sold any cartridges for $100, but that yes, they had sold cartridges for $70, still about 50 percent above list price. While this practice is legal-businesses can charge whatever the market will bear-it does leave a store open to charges of price-gouging.

This gets better and better. Zelda 2 was likely selling for $100 at many places. Do Black Sheep games sell at that price?

The great cartridge shortage of that time was caused by the lack of microprocessors. But soaring demand was engulfing everything.

Zelda 2 and SMB 2 for $100 each? THEY ARE WORTH IT.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

All NES box art, front and back, assorted by year

Someone mailed me this. This is really very cool. NES boxes are the wildest and most varied among box arts (for consoles). There is no standard design. They really get crazy.

The reason for the early box art being minimalistic with showing the game screen as the box art was Nintendo following Activision. During the Atari Era, there was GORGEOUS box art. Of course, the game wouldn’t look anything like that box art. Activision, the very first third party console company, made the decision to put screenshots of their game as the box art. This way no one would feel they were getting duped. Nintendo agreed with Activision’s philosophy. This is why the early NES games just have a pixelated screenshot as box art.

Then something interesting happened. Nintendo abandoned the pixelated screenshot box arts. It was a reverse of the Atari Era. I’m not sure why Nintendo reversed itself. Perhaps the gaming market got more mature as to what to expect for their game console. If someone wanted to stand out for the crowd, do the Activision/Early Nintendo way of putting the screenshot as the box cover.



Above: Only America got this Mario Bros box art. NOA was inspired by Activision’s direction. Then again, NOA was responding to the Atari Crash so better be safe than sorry than putting up misleading box art.

(BTW, this fake NES box art is really spot on for a Mario game. If I went back in time and showed people that, they would have majorly freaked out.)

Note: Minecraft’s box art is a blocky screenshot. Game history is cyclical.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

Email: Skyward Sword and Link Between Worlds

Hello Sean, and sorry for the long email

I am one of the many Legend of Zelda games fan. I played all the console games and only two of the portable games(will explain why later) and with the last two games: Skyward Sword and Link Between Worlds, I feel both with faith and fear of the franchise.


My first game of the series was a Link to The Past. I didn’t pay much attention to the NES games but I knew they were popular. This made me get a Gameboy and Links Awakening which I really enjoyed playing at the dentist office waiting for my turn and at home while I was taking breaks from studying. Ocarina of Time became my best game of the series when I played it and kept that position for many years, beating all other Zelda games that came after that… Until I played Zelda 1 and 2 on Virtua Console.


When I first played them I considered them unplayable for the difficulty, and as a working man that I am now It was frustrating. I gave the games a second chance with a notebook and pen in hand to take notes(I don’t like walkthroughs) and then the games just blew my mind on what they can really offer. They both became my favorites and can’t choose between them as No.1. Thus, these two games made me take a look at the next installments of the franchise with a more critical view.


I tried Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, Oracle of Ages and Seasons. I returned the games to my friend who lent them to me because I couldn’t play them. They became a chore to play instead of fun, probably because they were a lot more adventure than action. Wind Waker grew on me over time, in enjoyed the game on the Gamecube and got the HD version when I bought Mario Kart 8 (free and I had NSMBU while the rest sucked). Majora’s mask was interesting because you had what you may call sidequests. I enjoyed Twilight Princess tour guide(so easy it was more like an attraction than a game) and was interested in Skyward Sword……. and Then I sold it on Ebay halfway through the game in disgust. I don’t even want to have it in my collection gaining dust.


Skyward Sword was a big mess from day 1. Sword fighting felt off because you had to swing your hand properly to get a desired strike while enemies for the most part were waiting for you to strike. It took me a while to finally get the hang of it but combat always fell off. The main issue of the game were not really the puzzles, which were annoying, but how the game slaps you in the face when you feel excited because things start to move in a better pacing. You get a lot of action, then you get a big puzzle that breaks your pacing, and if it’s not a puzzle… it’s a goddamn treasure hunt or collectathon when you go around getting a number of orbs, notes or whatever in order to progress. You want to keep going in the game story, but these damn obstacles were so frequent and pace breaking that pissed me off in all the wrong ways. I didn’t mind collecting all masks in Majora’s mask since they were optional and you can complete the game without them, but in Skyward sword I have no other choice but to get the damn stuff in order to get to fight an enemy. The game says I have to hurry to save the world, but these obstacles….. ARRRGHH!!. I turn off the game and posted the game on Ebay 5 minutes later with a cheaper price because I wanted to get rid of it ASAP. I gave the game three chances and in all of them the game failed. Skyward Sword is, to me, the maximum expression of Anouma’s wrongdoing and betrayal to the series.


Link Between Worlds picked my interest and overall I was satisfied. However, what bugged me a bit is how cheesy the game was. In a world supposedly in danger, there were many ackward moments of Japanese comedy that felt out of place. You didn’t really feel the world was in danger or dangerous. However when I was playing in dungeons and fighting enemies, it felt good. there was nothing that would break my pacing. I saved rupees to rent all items and I rarely went back to that shop. I went to play my own way.


I like how Hyrule Warriors is looking and I would laugh if this game sells more than Skyward Sword or Wind Waker HD.


The next Legend of Zelda has me worried and hoping at the same time. Having a full world to explore without much obstacles feels more like the first Zelda games. but with Anouma at the helm stills has me worried. I believe this game feels like a response to Skyrim, since Nintendo can’t have the game and many former Zelda fans went to Skyrim to get the kind of game they wanted. to many I know Skyrim replaced the Legend of Zelda


That’s very impressive that you finished Zelda 1 and 2 without any maps. It is harder to come back to older games


I agree Skyrim has replaced Legend of Zelda. Skyrim was a big wake-up call to publishers. When Skyrim came out, the Game Industry (which Nintendo is a part of) had the mind that single player games were over and the future was multiplayer. Only multiplayer games sell! But Skyrim sold big, very very big. Sales numbers woke up publishers that there was a market for single player games. We can thank Skyrim for Nintendo not turning Zelda into an online multiplayer game.


If Zelda was made in the same quality as Classic Zelda games were, Zelda would be doing Skyrim numbers (or better). But since we have Crappy Aonuma Zelda, we get a tepid market response with every Aonuma Zelda selling on the premise that it is “getting back to Zelda’s roots’ (which it never does). We look at Classic Zelda and Aonuma Zelda and wonder why Nintendo can’t see it.


In many ways, Nintendo cannot see it. At GDC 2005 I believe, Reggie Fils-Aime asked game developers  a sobering question, “How would you market the successor to Super Mario World to a market raised on Grand Theft Auto?” What the question implies is that Nintendo believed Super Mario Galaxy was a successor to Super Mario World. The 2d Mario / 3d Mario divide simply wasn’t seen by Nintendo (and it may be in part because Nintendo didn’t want to see it). It was the freak sales of NSMB DS and NSMB Wii that rattled Nintendo’s thinking.


I think with Zelda, the powers that be have that if Miyamoto thinks the Aonuma Zelda is the successor to Classic Zelda, then it is. The Miyamoto cannot be questioned! So we have to speak up and say, “Hey. This isn’t Zelda.”


Luckily, we spoke up about Metroid: Other M before it was released. That’s a slam dunk issue, and I’m amazed the project even got greenlit in the first place.


People, like yourself, say that Link Between Worlds is a step in the right direction. We’ll see if Nintendo keeps doing these steps.


What I don’t understand is that if doing one thing doesn’t make sales, why does Nintendo keep doing it? Why not do something else? ANYTHING else? Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity.


With Zelda Wii U, I expect tons of gimmicks from the Gamepad. I bet one item will force you to hold the Gamepad up toward the TV. Oh, and there will be many Gamepad centric puzzles! Oh yes…


My response to Aonuma Zeldas is like yours, emailer. I get pissed off and the game feels like a chore. Even in the most frustrating parts of Zelda 1 or 2, I never felt like the game was a chore. I cursed the game obviously, but I still wanted to BEAT whatever I was stuck on. Today’s Zelda game I just get uninterested by the Japanese comedy, the forced tasks, and the lack of a coherent universe. The ‘its a secret to everyone’ or ‘I am error’ was witty and funny. Today’s Japanese humor feels forced. Less is more. No one is interested in Zelda developers’ “creativity”.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 19, 2014

Email: Black Sheep? Huh?

That last emailer is looney.  Just because HE doesn’t like Zelda II does not mean the rest of the market felt the same way.”People call Zelda 2 the black sheep because it is.”

Sorry dude, but the NES generation (myself included) would disagree with you BIG time.  We voted in FAVOR of Zelda II back in the day.  The game sold like crazy and sold systems left and right.

Sean, when you said “Six year old kids beat Zelda 2 without any guides or maps,” you were spot-on.  I was one of those kids, and I was about that age when I beat the game.  I had no Nintendo Power and no guides.  I don’t even know how I learned to beat the game, other than I must have talked to other kids who owned the game.
The game was not that difficult.  It was one of the few NES games I could beat back then.  Hell, it had a save feature and you could heal yourself!  Other NES games were so hard because they had no save feature, you had a limited ability to heal yourself (if any ability at all), and you had limited continues (if any at all).  Zelda II saved your stats and items and gave you unlimited continues.  You could even collect little dolls to gain extra lives!
I never see people talking about this, but I remember that I specifically used death as a tactical advantage to beat the game.  I would frequently drain my mana bar by casting too many spells, then die so I could empty it and cast more spells.  Dying was useful!  That was how I got through the Great Palace as a kid.  I’d kill those bird knights with Thunder (very useful!) then die if I needed mana for a later portion of the palace.  I would also use fairy to get through that treacherous road to the Great Palace.  I’d just fly through enemies instead of dealing with platforming and lava pits.  Then when I got to the Great Palace, I’d use the continue feature to my advantage by starting the palace with 3 lives.
I don’t need to use these tactics anymore, but back then, they were really helpful.
Zelda II is a masterpiece.  We need another game like that.


When was the last time a Zelda game has been called a ‘masterpiece’? Zelda 1 and 2, LTTP, Link’s Awakening, and Ocarina of Time are certainly masterpieces. But no one describes later Zelda games with that word. Even the few fans of Aonuma Zelda never call the games a ‘masterpiece’. They might say they are ‘good games’ (whatever they mean by that), but not even they would place an Aonuma Zelda next to Ocarina of Time or even LTTP.

Zelda has lost something.

I also get the sense that Nintendo is more interested in making ‘momentum’ than in making games. The modern Nintendo games all feel half-assed. For example, Mario Kart 8 lacks a proper Battle Mode. 2d Mario lacks a decent soundtrack and punching graphics. The earlier Nintendo games never felt half-assed to me. Consider Zelda 1. They find out they only used up half the memory. OK, so they add in a Second Quest. Today’s Nintendo would never do that. They’d say ‘ship it! We need the momentum!’ and then sell Legend of Zelda Quest 2 as another release for ‘more momentum’ or as DLC.

I think a reason why Nintendo may feel the need for ‘momentum’ is because they feel completely outgunned by the rising tide of asset generation. It only took a few people to make a NES game. But with 3d games, it took many, many more. Now, with HD games, it takes WAY more people. Masterpieces are not made when developers feel outgunned. Shakespeare was never outgunned by the theater for example.

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