Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 18, 2014

email: black sheep

People call Zelda 2 the black sheep because it is.

1. Platforming does not belong in Zelda. That is for Mario to handle.

Multiple levels and bottom-less pits in LTTP? All the platforming in 3d Zelda?

You don’t really platform much in Zelda 2. You mostly do combat. There is not even a run button. You’re even given a jump spell that eliminates all platforming issues.

Platforming = precision jumping. You could be knocked into pits by bubbles or enemies, but there was no precision jumping in Zelda 2.

2. Zelda 2 does not have the Zelda composer (Koji Kondo). Zelda 2 has
the Ice Climbers composer. The music is not very consistent. The dungeon
theme is great, the title theme is great, the overworld music kinda
sucks and the town music … ugh.

You’re on acid. The music is fabulous.

The overhead music sounds great! I love it. Dun dun dun dunnn dun dun… dun dun dun dunnn. Very fun tune.


This sounds like a town should. It was always pleasant to hear this after dodging evil monsters.


3. The items suck. Most of the items you get only serve as special keys
to unlock stuff in the overworld. None of them help you in combat and
none of them have the clever multiple uses that items in other Zelda
games have.

The items didn’t need to do that. That is what the spells were for. And the spells were used ALL THE TIME in combat.


4. The difficulty is out of balance. Here’s how you can tell the
difficulty is correct in a Zelda game. If you play through without
spending much time exploring for secrets, you will be underpowered
toward the end and will die often. If you use a strategy guide and find
all the items (like bottles especially), the game becomes easy. It is a
built-in difficulty selector. Zelda 1 was perfect. Maybe Link to the
Past makes it too easy to turn your character into a tank (4 bottles?
come on). But Zelda 2 is so difficult that the only way the average
player could beat it is to max their stats and save every extra life
until they make a run at the last dungeon. And even then it is not going
to happen until the 5th try at the soonest. Forget it if you don’t know
where the extra lives are, or happened to use them earlier. How can you
dislike Mega Man 1 and love Zelda 2? No way is the Yellow Devil harder
than the Thunderbird/Dark Link combo.

Six year old kids beat Zelda 2 without any guides or maps. Zelda 2 is not that hard.

Who said Yellow Devil was harder than Thunderbird/ Dark Link combo? Thunderbird/ Dark Link combo is the finale of the game. Of course, it should be challenging.

Your ‘incorrect way to play’ applies to every RPG. In every proper RPG, you will have a very hard time unless you get better levels, spells, and items. Zelda 2 was perfect in that you could just grind your experiences to max early on if you wanted the game to be easier. Zelda 2 is really not that hard. You could even turn into a fairy to bypass doors!

5. Random battles suck.

Unlike Dragon Quest, you always see the random battles coming and can DODGE THEM. This was an innovation the JRPG genre sadly never picked up on. I’d say Zelda 2 has the best random battles, due to this, than any JRPG in existence. And there are no random battles in dungeons or roads. Just if you are running around the countryside.

Yes, there are things that should be carried over from Zelda 2 into
every other Zelda game.
1. While I don’t like feeling like the game is so hard I’ve just got no
realistic chance of beating it, I do think dying once in a while makes
the game experience better. You never do in modern Zelda games.

You don’t die in Aonuma Zelda because no one dies to puzzles. Puzzles, instead, get you stuck staring at digital walls. I’d much rather die repeatedly than stare at a digital wall.

2. Yeah, the sword combat is pretty awesome. But how can you do
something like this without a side-scrolling perspective, which breaks
other things like exploration?

Zelda 2 was full of exploration. As for a top down combat, Zelda 1 did this very well. LTTP did well too.

3. This game introduced magic spells. While half of them are pretty
useless, the idea is cool and was really used well in Link to the Past.
You twirl your sword around and then set everything on the screen on
fire! How cool. Too bad it became useless in Ocarina and subsequent
games because there are hardly any enemies to kill.

I hated the spells in LTTP. The ONLY reason why I’d need the 1/2 magic upgrade is for the goddamn ‘light four lanterns in a room for shit to happen’. That and for the fire which ‘lights lanterns from across the room’. I hate that bullshit. It’s the most overused trope in Zelda. I hate those lanterns!

Here are the Zelda 2 spells:


  • Fairy Spell
    When cast, this spell turns Link into a fairy, complete with the power of flight. It is mainly used to bypass certain cliffs and heights the Jump spell can’t remedy.
  • Fire Spell
    This spell causes Link’s sword to throw balls of fire when cast. The fireballs resembles those of an Acheman.
  • Jump Spell
    Link’s jumping height is doubled when this spell is activated.
  • Life Spell
    Some of Link’s life is restored. This spell seems exceptionally useful to most players.
  • Reflect Spell
    The Reflect Spell is used to return certain ranged attacks. It is heavily used throughout the Maze Island Palace and required against the boss Carock.
  • Shield Spell
    All damage Link receives will be cut in half. This spell costs the least amount of magic power.
  • Spell Spell
    This spell is an enigmatic spell primarily used to turn certain enemies to bots.
  • Thunder Spell
    This spell costs the most amount of magic power. It does, however, automatically cause damage equal to a sword strike when it is at level 8, which is the maximum. This spell is also used to defeat Thunderbird.


I use most of these in combat all the time. Life Spell? Oh yeah. Shield Spell. Yep. Jump Spell. You betcha. Fire Spell. There are enemies who can only be killed by fire. Fairy Spell is my ‘get-the-hell-out-of-dodge’ spell (also useful in case I fall into a bottomless pit). Thunder spell was too mana inefficient to use normally. Spell and Reflect were situational obviously.

I thought the spell casting in LTTP was worthless. The medallions were the typical 16-bit bullshit ‘look at the screen do shit’ that was rarely, if ever, used in the game. Magic Powder I used mostly to make fairies. But that isn’t combat. I’d have to say only the wands. LTTP was so ridiculously easy that you never felt outgunned.

“How easy was LTTP?”

LTTP was SO EASY even THIS GUY could beat the game without trying. This is when we have a problem.

4. I don’t think Link should get stuff just for grinding through battles
and gaining experience, but I love the idea of weapon masters teaching
Link new techniques and they are all super useful. Again, this was
duplicated in Twilight Princess but they are useless because there is
never any reason to engage enemies rather than riding your horse past them.

Beep beep, back up the truck! You don’t think Link should get stuff just for killing monsters? That is the rupee system in Zelda 1 and LTTP! What did you do with the rupees? Oh, you bought NEW SWORDS and NEW SHIELDS. *gasp* UPGRADES!

Whether it be rupees or experience points, they did the same exact thing. What I liked about Zelda 2 is that I didn’t have to go to a goddamned shopkeeper to get my upgrade. This is something that even today’s RPGs and MMORPGs are realizing. Zelda 2 was already doing it.

So these elements should be brought back. But I certainly don’t want
another Zelda 2 and seem to never feel like playing that one when I whip
out the old NES games.

Zelda 1 was declared, by Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter, to be the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ (not THAT Best of Both Worlds) of ARCADE GAMING (action based combat) and COMPUTER RPG GAMING (large overworld exploration, talking to NPCs, gaining items, improving yourself). This definition of Zelda fits Zelda 1 and Zelda 2 perfectly. This is why there was no backlash against Zelda 2 when it came out. Zelda 2 sold like wildfire just as Super Mario Brothers 2 did (and SMB 2 was MORE different from SMB 1 than Zelda 2 was from Zelda 1. But you hear no one call SMB 2 the ‘black sheep’ solely because Miyamoto enjoyed developing Doki doki Panic and he didn’t like Zelda 2′s development. I don’t think Miyamoto enjoyed any Zelda’s development ).

We can spin all day nitpicking about the various Zeldas. But the fact is…

A) Every Classic Zelda was recieved VERY WELL and SOLD VERY WELL.

B) There was no backlash to Zelda until Wind Waker (and to a lesser extent, Majora’s Mask but I think fans gave Nintendo a pass after Ocarina).

C) Zelda games used to be met with GREAT HYPE AND EXCITEMENT. This is no longer the case. The last Zelda game to receive huge excitement was Twilight Princess.

I will love to have the quality of ANY CLASSIC ZELDA GAME in a modern Zelda. Any of them! However, someone or something is not interested in quality Zelda. I believe the problem is Aonuma to changing the definition of Zelda from action RPG to Puzzle & Story along with his looney ideas (trains!) has destroyed the brand. If Aonuma and his ideas were truly talented, he would be able to succeed without a famous brand and massive budget (let alone half a decade to make a game!).

You can determine the quality of the Zelda game as if it is helping or hurting the brand. Did Zelda 2 hurt the brand? Like hell it didn’t. It only made Zelda cooler. Same with LTTP, Link’s Adventure, and Ocarina. Majora’s Mask? Ugh. Wind Waker? TERRIBLE! Brand went back up somewhat with Twilight Princess. Then it has been going down the toilet ever since. Phantom Hourglass? Spirit Tracks? Skyward Sword? The crap doesn’t stop.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 18, 2014

There is no reporting anymore for Generation 8 sales

It really isn’t even worth making posts on NPD numbers since no one gives any numbers. There are more platitudes than numbers these days. Look at this Venture Beat story:

Console sales are on fire.

Gamers spent $736.4 million on new physical gaming products at U.S. retail in June, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 24 percent from $593.5 million in the same period last year.

Why is anyone reporting Year-Over-Year percentage increase as a good thing when those new consoles (Xbone and PS4) weren’t around a year ago? OMG! New hardware sells more than seven year old hardware! What a fucking joke these sites have become.

A more interesting number would be comparing Xbone first year sales to Xbox 360 first year sales and PS4 first year sales to PS3 first year sales. This is a more appropriate comparison. However, no one is doing it on purpose. It is not a coincidence that bad news is never reported for the Game Industry.

“Sales of launch titles in June 2014 did not compare favorably to those launched in June 2013, which included the PS3 exclusive The Last of Us, along with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and a retail version of Minecraft for the Xbox 360,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

Reread this statement. At least comparing software sales year over year isn’t absurd. This statement is loaded with so many conditionals. But… but… but… A healthy market doesn’t have these buts. The Last of Us and Animal Crossing: New Leaf are not blockbusters in comparison to games like Call of Duty. But there is no bad news for the Game Industry. Ever!

Oh noes! The NPD analyst is saying that sales are bad last month because of the freaking retail version of Minecraft.

Above: Generation 8 cannot compete with this game? Really!?

An indie game made by one person that uses giant blocks apparently is defeating Generation 8 entirely. Who would have thought?

I’ve seen Minecraft in Wal-Mart. They have Minecraft in its own display case. Minecraft has as much shelf space as an entire console library. Shelf space comes at a premium so the only reason why Wal-Mart would do this is due to the sales (which we can see Minecraft keeps appearing in the Top Ten List). I think the absence of Minecraft from the Nintendo platforms is the biggest problem for the Nintendo sales. It is akin to Sega’s sports games of the 16-bit generation.

But still, the NPD analyst says Generation 8 cannot compete with the retail version of Minecraft? Oh noes. Yet, we are told that the Generation 8 sales are ‘on fire’ and fabulous.

If a game or console is selling well, there would be little rhetoric in expressing it. No one gave rhetoric about how wonderful Wii and DS sales were last generation because it was obvious. Most people, however, spent rhetoric on spinning those high sales that they were bad news for gaming and Nintendo.

“Console sales are on fire…” Yeah right. More like the Game Industry’s ass is on fire. And I’ve got sticks and marshmallows out to roast.

Above: Burn Game Industry burn!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 17, 2014

Email: Sick of Zelda 2 Hate

I don’t really get where all the hate for Zelda 2 comes from. It’s one of my favorite games in the NES library, and after I got done restoring my original NES last year, it was the first cartridge that I popped in.


The complaints seem to boil down to:


1) It’s not a Zelda game!
2) It’s too hard!


You’ve gone over in great detail why it’s a great Zelda game, so I won’t rehash that here. But if any game can claim to have invented the “Zelda formula” that Aonuma continues to lean on for the basic structure of his games, it’s this one. It at least gives you that great RPG experience where enemies who used to torment you in the beginning go down with a flick of your little finger by the end. The only Aonuma Zelda game that I felt powerful in was A Link Between Worlds.


The complainers are right about the difficulty, though. Zelda 2 punishes anyone who isn’t prepared for it. The enemies don’t f*** around and will quickly end your life if you’re stupid. There are lots of jumps over pits with Goddamned Bats doing their best to knock you into them. The temple layouts are confusing and full of dirty tricks like invisible walls. A Game Over means losing all your experience and starting back at the beginning of the temple or the world. It’s not always clear where to go or what to do next. The hammer maze and everything after the sixth temple are both brutal difficulty spikes that aren’t really matched by any other NES game, save perhaps Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!


I view all of these “problems” as positives:
1) It is WAY more satisfying to defeat an enemy that has both the means and intelligence to kill you. It’s why playing Halo on Legendary is the only correct way to play it, and why Gears of War 3 sucks compared to the first two. An enemy that poses no challenge is just an obstacle, no different from a locked door. The game is mostly about killing bad guys with your sword, and that sword combat is awesome. Duels with Ironknuckles are and remain some of the most tense and brightest highlights of my gaming memories, along with finally striking down those tough temple bosses.
2) The platforming is tough enough so that beating it feels satisfying, but it never crosses into Ninja Gaiden or Ghosts ‘n Goblins levels of cruelty.


3) They aren’t confusing if you make a map. Or memorize the correct path after hours of trial and error, like I did. Also, at least one townsperson tells you about things like the invisible walls in the fifth temple or needing the magic key for the sixth. There’s a reason why the best hint for any RPG remains “talk to everybody” to this day.


4) Knowing that death means starting over adds a wonderful tension to the game. Do you want to risk fighting the boss, or should you go back to town and top off your life and magic first? Will you have enough life and lives to stand a chance of winning? Should you fight a few monsters and level up? The only other games that you get this feeling from are the Dragon Quest ones, which is probably what Nintendo was going for.


5) Going out and exploring usually solves that problem. Exploring the world is half the fun. I know you’re not a Wind Waker fan, but to me, having the huge ocean overworld to explore was the best part of that game. It reminded me of this game, which just turns you loose in a huge world and lets you go nuts. Hyrule Field in Ocarina never felt like exploring a world to me. It felt like running across a big open field.


The thing is, none of these things are impossible to overcome. All of the spells seem designed specifically to mitigate the difficulty. Suck at combat? Cast Shield or Life. Don’t want to platform? Cast Jump or Fairy. Need to clear the screen? Cast Spell or Thunder. If I could beat the game repeatedly in the 80s, at the age of six, then it shouldn’t be too hard for some hardcore kiddies raised on Ocarina or Wind Waker.


Also, if Zelda 2 is so terrible, why does Nintendo keep re-releasing it? By my count, it’s come out SIX times on various platforms (NES, GameCube as part of the Zelda Collector’s Edition, GBA NES Classics series, and the Virtual Console on the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS). Also, if it’s such a bad game, why would they put references to it in Ocarina? Nintendo doesn’t even publicly acknowledge the Virtual Boy, so there’s definitely something else going on here.


I still replay it once every couple of years, and just a few years ago, I found out about the Easter egg about Zelda 1′s entire overworld being a part of the Zelda 2 world, and it blew my freaking mind.


Bottom line: Zelda 2 is awesome, and people who hate it are stupid.


As I understand it, when game developers were being propped up as GODS (which should never have happened), they began to believe they were geniuses. For whatever reason, Miyamoto does not like Zelda 2. So he calls it the Black Sheep of the Family which game journalists then proceed to write Miyamoto’s opinion as gaming fact. For years and years, game journalists wrote about Zelda 2 as ‘the Black Sheep of the Zelda Family’. This led to years of gamers (back when game magazines and sites had ‘authority’ and ‘gravitas’) to believe Zelda 2 was *wrong*. I remember early on even expressing my WTF about people saying how Zelda 2 wasn’t popular and all and there was much resistance on it. It wasn’t until the 20/20 documentary with John Stossel on the NES phenomenon that actually SHOWED people driving across states just to buy the big hit NES games of the time which were Super Mario Brothers 2 and Zelda 2. Zelda 2 may be different than the other Zeldas, but so was Super Mario Brothers 2. People loved the hell out of Super Mario Brothers 2 just as they did Zelda 2.

The most satisfying thing in Zelda 2 is the *ripping* sound when you kill an enemy. Oh, that feels good! *RIP* Future Zeldas would have the enemy lie unconscious and disappear with a puff of smoke. LAME. I love the *ripping*. I can’t get enough of it. Do not doubt the effects a sound effect can have on a game. If Nintendo would put *ripping* back into modern Zelda, that alone would make the combat feel more rewarding. Imagine playing a shmup that replaced explosions when you destroyed enemies with cute jingles. It would screw up the game experience!


One of the ways I know a game is compelling is that it is compelling in a way a great TV show is compelling. A great TV show tends to keep interest until the “OMG WTF IS GOING ON” season finale like the ‘Mr. Worf, Fire!’ of Best of Both Worlds fame. This email unlocked dormant memories of how Zelda 2 rocked my world.


The First Palace


The first palace is up in the corner of the desert. It is drab and dry. At first, the skeleton scared the shit out of me. It would even jump! Those endless dagger holding guys in the hallways certainly didn’t help me out as they just kept coming! I remember it was such a treat getting the Candle and being the scared out of hell of that vanishing bridge over lava. Holy cow! Remember your first duel with a Iron Knuckle? But really what scared me was this guy:


Zelda II Level 1 Boss


I thought he was the boss because of the plush curtains at the top. I saw him, ran away, and went all the way up in the elevator (for some reason). When I fought Horse Guy, he seemed impressive if not for the fact that hits in Zelda 2 knocked you back. His hit really did knock you back. And the music was so scary!


Second Palace


The game just kept getting better and better. The second area was full of SWAMP. It made fighting on it more challenging. Death Mountain truly was death mountain. Those guys with the axes were brutal. But once you got the hammer, you felt awesome! Once you got any item in Zelda 2, you felt awesome because if you had game over, you still had the item!


The Second Palace rained falling blocks from the sky on you. WTF!? The first dungeon, which was dark and creepy, seemed a happy place compared to the second dungeon. Then you had those flying heads.


Zelda II Level 2 Boss


This guy was SHOOTING stuff at you. And the more you attacked it, its heads would be flying around the room shooting shit at you. I had never seen anything quite like this. It was so macabre.


Third Palace


Everything just kept getting better. The third palace was a trek onto an island. You had to go through the hole in the grave yard, had to turn yourself into a fairy, etc.


But when you enter the Third Palace, you have those flying things swarming the sky dropping fire all over. HOLY COW! The third dungeon made the second dungeon seem like a happy place in comparison. There was a hammer tossing robot thingy inside which just seemed insane.


This was the introduction of the Blue Iron Knuckle. Their swords fired just like yours did!


Zelda II Level 3 Boss


The boss was a Blue Ironknuckle riding a hovering horse. WTF to the hovering horse? Zelda 2 gets the mythology right by the deeper you go, the more futuristic the technology (think Final Fantasy I).


Zelda 2, like Metroid, has you constantly feeling outgunned throughout the entire game. That’s definitely one of the secrets to its appeal.


Palace 4


Just going across to a new continent with the raft was an awesome experience. A new world! A new place to explore! Aw, crap, the enemies are really, really tough. The easy guys are these jumping things that your sword cannot penetrate. “When in doubt, use fire.”


Palace 4 was in a mountain maze. You had appearing ghosts that shot crap at you throughout the entire palace.


Zelda II Level 4 Boss


This boss is really scary until you know how to beat him. Then he becomes very easy. Still a scary motherfo.


Palace 5


Oh, I see. Now Link is WALKING ON WATER. IS HE A MAN OR IS HE A GOD???? Zelda 2 successfully combines feeling outgunned and making you feel godly. Palace 5 isn’t really on an island as much as it is on the ocean. While graphics can’t portray the mythology, this is good variety. This palace isn’t just a hole in the ground.


Zelda II Level 5 Boss


This guy can wreck your shit up fast. I remember Palace 5 as being very maze-zy with hidden passageways and crap. It made Palace 4 look cute while Palace 4 made Palace 3 look sunny. The game just keeps getting better and better.


Palace 6


The southern half of this continent is extremely dangerous, super dangerous. You understand why the town fled and made a hidden town. What a vicious place this was.


Not to be outdone, Palace 6 is invisible! You have to ‘summon it’ by standing at a certain location between a rock pattern.


I don’t remember much of Palace 6, but the boss cannot be forgotten.


Zelda II Level 6 Boss


This guy. It’s a FREAKING DRAGON. And he shoots fire too. Yeah, and you could get knocked back into the lava which happened frequently. He was tough! Do you jump and slash, do you do uppercut? He is tricky to kill. The dragon tops them all so far. The game keeps getting better and better.


Final Palace


OH MY GOD. Just GETTING to the Final Palace was harder than all the palaces combined! This game has gone insane! However, you can’t say it got hard because if you get Game Over, it restarts you at the Final Palace instead of Zelda’s bed (tee hee).



I think the Final Palace is the most memorable last stage of any video game I have ever played. It’s that good. That music! The golden walls! The INSANE maze and loops through it. The GIANT bit! Those SUPER Iron Knuckle type guys that jump up and down to the ceiling shooting their sword at you across the screen. DAMN SCARY!


Zelda II Level 7 Boss


Fuck this guy. Thunderbird definitely surpasses that dragon of Palace 6. Very difficult to kill. Just getting to him was hard enough, let alone killing him.


But nothing, NOTHING, prepared me for the final boss.



My jaw just dropped. WTF! I am FIGHTING MY OWN SHADOW!? Shadow Link was GOOD, REALLY GOOD. He could even moonwalk backwards. This was the most intense fight in all of Zelda 2. Man! Every time I beat the game, I have a sheen of sweat on me. Zelda 2 is intense like how Beethoven is intense. I think that is why I like it so much. It is not ‘hard’ (though there are hard parts). It is the most INTENSE Zelda. It is one of the most intense video games out there. That sense of control you have in the game is really good and adds to the enjoyment. You literally are dueling right up to the end. There is none of this bullshit ‘wait for its pattern’ because Shadow Link is a badass and doesn’t wait for you (though sometimes he might pause and stare at you hilariously). There is no ‘attack its weak spot for massive damage’. Shadow Link just rips you straight up. What an amazing final boss!


When you go from Zelda 2 to Zelda 3, it definitely feels like a downturn because LTTP didn’t really have the intensity that Zelda 2 did. I was soooo disappointed that there was no Second Quest in LTTP. It definitely deserved it and would have benefited from it.
The man’s Zelda!
Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 16, 2014

Email: M:OM as a coaster

Normally I wouldn’t share this kind of thing, but I thought you would find this bit particularly funny: Someone needed a coaster, so they took some ‘junk’ (read: a disk of Metroid: Other M) and made a nice coaster out of it.

The funniest part, though, is one comment where someone says “Why would you do that to that cork”.  They have a point. The cork probably would have been better served if it had been attached to something else.
A link to the individual comment (another, related post) in case it’s too far in to read by the time you get to this.
This is awesome! For a smaller glass, the Gamecube Windwaker disc will serve just as nicely.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2014

Sony says remastered PS3 games on PS4 is what Wii owners want

If there is any purpose to this blog, it is to stop bullshit like this. Anyone can say anything on the Internet. The Wii audience is very large. Instead of talking to Wii only gamers, most people ‘imagine’ what they do as if Wii only gamers live on another continent. Wii only gamers also get chased out of Gaming Message Forums. No one was interested in what Wii only gamers think or feel except when they upset the market. Then everyone insults the Wii only gamer and tell them how they aren’t ‘real gamers’ after all!

“Whether it’s based on this is a really good all-round entertainment device for a family in addition to having great games, our consumer data suggests some of those people are already coming in now and that’s what’s contributing to the really great sales we’ve had.”

What consumer data is this? It has long been the trend that kids who grew up with the Nintendo console tend to buy a Sony one later on. But that is not the Wii-esque type gamer. He doesn’t differentiate which is worrying.

House said that in Europe 40 per cent of PS4 early adopters didn’t already have a PlayStation Plus account. “That me was a good indication of whether they were new to this world,” he added.

That is his ‘consumer indicator’? Sounds more like wishful thinking. Just because someone doesn’t have a PS Plus account doesn’t mean they are ‘new’ to this world or a Wii only gamer.

“And anecdotally I’ve had people who were the Wii generation and who are back in the consideration set. It’s certainly something I hear about.”

Anecdotal evidence is garbage. This guy doesn’t have anything.

So why is he saying this?

“I hesitate to say this because I know committed gamers may roll their eyes about it, but there’s an opportunity with some of the remastering or re-imagining from PS3 franchises that will potentially find an audience that hasn’t played them in the previous generation because they skipped that generation,” House said. “We’re starting to see signs of that.

This is what it is all about. Sony is justifying their cash grab of re-releasing old games for their new system.

There is this thing called BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY that makes this ‘re-releases’ mute and predatory. PS1, PS2, and PS3 didn’t need it because they, at least at first, had backwards compatibility. GBA, DS, 3DS, Wii, and Wii U don’t need it because of backwards compatibility.

What this punk from Sony is doing is trying to say that removing backwards compatibility and ‘re-releasing’ old games is 1) good and 2) brilliant console strategy. He’s wrong on both counts.

If Wii gamers really wanted PS3 games, they would have bought a PS3.

In order for Wii only owners to buy the PS4, there needs to be games on the system they like. Are there sports games like Wii Sports? Fitness games like Wii Fit? Platformers like NSMB Wii? Is the PS4 a local multiplayer machine? (Pshhhh, no way).

And if Sony wants the Wii only customer, what does that tell us about the incredible and amazing hardly-core gamers? Why doesn’t Sony wish to attract more hardcore gamers and create more hardcore gamers?

Even if Sony is serious, their approach will not work. Wii only gamers and hardcore gamers are not compatible. Wii only gamers wish to be the primary customer, not seen as some second-class gamer. Wii and DS did this correctly and made the Expanded Audience gamer the Primary Consumer. The hardcore gamer was then placed as the second-class gamer… a role which is fitting to where they belong. This is what enraged the hardcore gamers who think all game consoles should revolve around them.

Hardcore gamers and normal gamers cannot both be the primary consumers. Choose one. You all saw the backlash hardcore gamers had when they aren’t the primary customer. Wii only customers have the same reaction. This blog and and its rants are anything if not evidence of that.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2014

Email: The Puzzle Plague

In particular, I’d like to mention my thoughts on the Zelda series and
how far it has fallen from its original premise.

The two NES games, A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening all had a
heavy action focus at its core, and it’s little wonder why these games
are among the fondest remembered. The latter two games did have a
scattering of switch and block puzzles, and fetch quests, but it
didn’t detract from the main focus: Link wandering around and using
his sword to fight enemies.

Ocarina of Time was the first 3D Zelda, but for the most part stayed
true to the Zelda core formula. There were still lots of things
scattered about that you needed to fight and destroy. Compared to the
earlier games, there was much more dialogue and a focus on story, but
this was the last Zelda game to really do everything right. It was the
last “great” Zelda game.

And then Majora’s Mask came. This is where the big changes gradually started.

Sure, it uses the OoT engine and in some places (mostly the dungeons)
feels like OoT, but it really isn’t. It had a long, un-skippable
prologue when you started a new game that trapped you as a Deku Scrub
and forced you to wander around town for about an hour of real time
before you could really start the game.

The number of main dungeons is cut down to just four, and the main
focus of the game is to stop the moon… mostly by doing massive
amounts of fetch quests and listening to people’s problems. This isn’t
Zelda. It’s an RPG. And the dungeons themselves are much more
puzzle-focused than OoT’s. I don’t know why everyone says the Water
Temple in OoT is that bad… MM’s Great Bay Temple is much worse.

Yet, compared to what was to come in the later 3D games, Majora’s Mask
was still pretty decent, mostly due to the high difficulty level.

The two Oracle games were also alright, but both had many more puzzles
than Link’s Awakening and neither are as enjoyable or memorable.

I have no need to discuss Wind Waker since you have already at length,
many times, and I’ve actually never played it. I haven’t played any of
the DS ones or A Link Between Worlds (yet) so I have nothing to say
about those either.

Aside for the graphics style being a step in the right direction,
Twilight Princess was a step even further downward. A horribly
dumbed-down difficulty level, even more puzzles, and an annoyingly
long prologue (Feeding cats! Rescuing children! Sneaking around as a
wolf without anyone seeing you!) that makes the one in Majora’s Mask
look short.

And Skyward Sword was even worse. A mix of TP’s and Wind Waker’s
graphics and even more puzzles, and yet another long prologue before
you can really do anything. The amount of puzzles, stealth sections
and the like is so great in this game that many areas just feel empty,
because you spend much more time doing stuff like using a magic beetle
to hit switches or blowing away sand with a magic dust blower than
actually fighting. The challenge level was much higher than TP though,
to the point where I was actually in danger many times through the
game. It was the one thing is got right.

Ever since Majora’s Mask, every single Zelda game (2D and 3D alike)
has gradually been getting more puzzles and less monsters. The biggest
reason why the older games are more liked is because fighting monsters
is fun. Solving puzzles is not. Once you’ve done it once (even if it’s
an easy puzzle), why would you want to do the same puzzle over again
in the future?

Starting with Majora’s Mask, Zelda got a new director. Who could that be, reader?

And yes, he did actually dress like that… in public.

Above: Aonuma somehow made J. Allard’s hoodie wearing look good.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 15, 2014

Email: About that Captain Toad game

Hey Master Malstrom,

just a quick opinion on that (underwhelming) Toad game: I think Nintendo did it due to the positive hardcore reaction on the Toad puzzles on the Mario 3D world game, which is unsurprising. They must think the game is gonna be some sort of cult hit, I guess.
Also, they have the assets/engine already in place from that previous game, so it must be a cheap game to make, I suppose.
So where is my Twilight Princess sequel? That was an expensive game engine too.
NSMB engine took some work. Where is my Return to Sub-Con game where I can choose four characters like in Super Mario Brothers 2? Oh, that’s right. Nintendo deliberately prevented 2d Mario from having the feature it originally made to put it in 3d Mario.
Nintendo simply doesn’t want to do those games. Why is it that Nintendo wanted to make the games we did back during the 80s and 90s and now keeps wanting to make games most people do not care for? It is one thing for a game to be 3d and puzzles, but why does EVERY Nintendo game have to be 3d puzzles? At the rate Nintendo is going, somehow they are going to convert Mario Kart and Smash Brothers into 3d puzzles because that is the only thing Nintendo wants to make.
Most hardcore gamers I hear from thought the Toad levels from Mario 3d World were meh. There is no real excitement over Captain Toad.
“But Malstrom! But Malstrom! Nintendo needs to pump out a game quick because of the empty release schedule.”
Why not make a new classic Zelda game? Using modern technology, it shouldn’t take that long. It’d sell much better than Captain Turd: Treasure Seeker anyway. Hell, do a Super Mario All-Stars out of the early Zelda games. That would sell better than Captain Turd: Treasure Seeker.
But you see, Nintendo doesn’t want to make those games. Nintendo is not being motivated by costs, market demand, or even creativity. Nintendo is motivated by ideology. And the ideology Nintendo is consumed about is 3d gaming and, to a lesser extent, puzzles. They keep trying to ram 3d gaming down our throats. By 3d gaming, I don’t mean a game that is 3d. I mean 3d gaming is ‘pushing for MORE 3d’. It would be 3DS. It would be Gamecube-esque games like Pikmin 3 and Wind Waker Hd.
How come you don’t hear more about games like Wii Sports Club? It’s a sequel to the best selling game ever made. Yet, Nintendo acts like it wants the game to fail.
It was over 16 years (!) before a new 2d Mario was released since Super Mario World. No one is this stupid. Nintendo did it on purpose.
There are two types of Nintendo audiences. There is the audience that likes the games Nintendo wants to make (you N64 and Gamecube fans out there). Then there is the audience that likes the games Nintendo doesn’t want to make (you NES/SNES/Wii fans out there).
They keep saying, “Those classic games? It is time to make something new.” And what is new is ALWAYS a sequel to a N64 or Gamecube game. ALWAYS. I just wish Nintendo would be public about how there are games they don’t want to make and games they do want to make… market be damned. If I see Aonuma mention how he ‘wants to get back to the spirit of NES Legend of Zelda’, I am going to SCREAM! He HATES Legend of Zelda which he said so with his own words!
I’m tired of the lies. If Nintendo doesn’t want us to be their customers, then they should say so. Otherwise, I assume they want us to be their customer yet they keep making games no one cares about. Captain Turd: Treasure Seeker looks like some indie game crap. No offense to you indie developers, but you guys know that ‘puzzles’ are the home of indie games, not AAA game companies like Nintendo. What’s next? An 8-bit retro game challenge? Whoops, Nintendo did that too.
Why is Nintendo acting like a big budget indie developer?
Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 14, 2014

Email: Classic Game Room – Metroid

Good old Lord Karnage does a great job talking about NES Metroid and what made it so special back in the day:


He’s right on with how special it is. Two great points he makes is:

1) The game is about surviving.  Isn’t that the truth. You try to see how far you can go before you die. It was so easy to die too! You’d play for hours and hours and then you’d find a ‘secret’ which was very exciting.

2) Samus is constantly outgunned. You never feel like a ‘death ball of destruction’ in Metroid. This is why the game kept being scary is that everything is so hazardous in the game.

Super Metroid was a huge disappointment to many Metroid fans such as myself. I held off buying the game forever since I nearly finished it in one rental. The value of Metroid, to me, was a giant block of hardness that would take you months to chip away and finish. Super Metroid got the atmosphere right but the ‘quest for survival’ isn’t there and all the enemies are wimps in the game. Samus outguns everyone. So lame.

The hatred of so-called Metroid fans at the original Metroid is to deny the realization that they suck at video games. Metroid was considered an ‘advanced gamer’ game back when it was released. Games like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Ducktales, and Mega Man were for ‘normal gamers’ or children. Not Metroid. Metroid was the non-child, non-noob game. I laugh at these so called hardcore gamers who can’t handle Metroid. “The game is cheap!” No, you just suck. “There is no map!” No, you just suck.

Metroid has two big flaws in it: 1) the password system which sucks. 2) Grinding to replenish health (especially when you start the game). Other than that, the game is perfect.

Back during the Golden Age of the Arcades, game makers learned that games should be accessible and even cute to attract large audiences. One game went against that grain of thought and was super-difficult, not cute, and the opposite of accessible. That game was Defender. And Defender was a massive hit because it gave experienced gamers something to play. Not every game can be ‘for new gamers’. Games like Defender also sealed the deal with the arcades being a pastime for everyone.

This is what Metroid did for the NES as well. NES had three types of ‘gamers’ it attracted. The first were older adults who enjoyed the NES sports games (this phenomenon would be replicated with Wii Sports). The second group were young boys who grew up with the machine (this is where most NES fans from the Internet were). The third group, which no one mentions, was little girls at the tail end of the NES who got into gaming due to their older brothers or fathers. It is not an accident that the last third party games on the NES were girl games (such as Barbie or Cinderella).

The NES had many things going for it. It had cool new games like Super Mario Brothers and Zelda. It had Atari, arcade, and computer ports such as Pac-Man to Gyruss to Archon to Ultima. But for the experienced gamer of the mid 1980s, the NES was just a child’s toy. Then came Metroid. Metroid was not for young kids who struggled with Super Mario Brothers. Metroid was for the advanced gamers. Metroid was not ‘cute’ but very ominous. Metroid was a very dangerous game. It was also a very mysterious game. What was with those pyramids on the title screen? The game world seemed endless.

The video talks of Metroid from the perspective of an experienced gamer. He says he wasn’t jealous of the NES until Metroid came out.

If you look at the big classics of the NES, the reason why Metroid gets placed beside Zelda and Mario in the triumvirate is that each game performs a different job. Mario experience is very different from the Zelda experience.  And Metroid performs a different job than Mario and Zelda. This is why Luigi U is a waste of time for Nintendo because people do not want Mario to perform the job for experienced gamers.

Metroid should be developed for experienced gamers. Metroid is not a child’s game. When Nintendo reveals their latest Metroid games, if they ever say how the game is being developed for the ‘new gamer’ or even ‘all gamers’, then that Metroid will fail.

Metroid should be mysterious (should excite the imagination).

Metroid should have the player constantly outgunned (the game is about tapping into one’s survival instinct).

Metroid should rely on the tricks and tactics experienced gamers have learned.

One of the reasons why Super Metroid has been popular with the Fifth Generation onward crowd is that the game imposes no effort on the gamer. It’s difficulty is a nature walk in 16-bit aesthetics. I still think games like Contra 3 are more fun than Super Metroid because at least you have to have some skill at the game.

Kids couldn’t beat Metroid until they were a little harder. The game was that difficult. What people need to get in their heads is that Third Generation gamers did not feel entitled to finish every single video game. Beating a game was bragging rights because 90% of people couldn’t do it. Instead, the joy was simply PLAYING the game. I think everyone, especially the so-called Metroid fans, play Metroid incorrectly. They keep assuming they are entitled to beat the game. They aren’t. The joy is actually just in playing the game, surviving as long as possible, and seeing if you can get further than you did or crack open a new secret. Metroid is not Ninja Gaiden (which came out at the same time) which was about story cutscenes where you do ninja moves (epitomized in the atrocious Metroid: Zero Mission whose sales were very lacking).

Survival mode on Minecraft has more in common with Metroid than any other game I’ve seen recently. In fact, I believe I said as much on this blog when I first played Minecraft.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 14, 2014

Email: Super Smash Brothers

Hi Malstrom,

A little while back you mentioned how Nintendo is done with the 3DS now, and are unlikely to spend efforts developing more games for it. While this makes sense, I was wondering why it is that the 3DS version of smash brothers has been getting more focus.

I would have thought that Nintendo would have wanted to use the new Super Smash Bros. (as an aside, why have we gone back to the name of the first game? It’s annoying when companies do this) to sell as many Win Us as possible, but the big draw to Smash Bros. Is the character roster. Having confirmed that both the 3DS and the Wii U will have the same characters, people will find our the entire roster when the 3DS copy is released a couple of months earlier, including the hidden characters which people are usually desperate to find out about. Removing this excitement from the Wii U version seems like an odd choice.

As well as this, there has even been an exclusive play mode revealed for the 3DS, which has actually Nintendo enemies like Goombas to fight (unlike the subspace emissary of Brawl, which had Sakurai “exercising his creativity” to create goofy looking enemies). While the Wii U may also have exclusive modes, we haven’t heard of any and it’s not that long until the 3DS version is released. People who don’t have a Wii U need to start being shown reasons to get it over the 3DS version (anyone who would buy both versions already has a Wii U, showing new features after the 3ds version comes out won’t cause more Wii Us to be sold). At the moment, the main things that the Wii U has over the 3DS version is better graphics (matters very little), the “console experience” (can be gained from Brawl, which I saw in a GAME store for £5), and different stages (which doesn’t matter much as all the stages tend to be the same with different skins on them).

So what exactly is the plan with this new Smash brothers?

I think Smash Brothers for both 3DS and Wii U is Nintendo wanting to share development assets between the two platforms. From the el cheapo Nintendo, this is like getting two games for one development budget. 3DS may be getting more attention because it is coming out first.

It’ll be interesting to see how Smash does on the 3DS (which has a larger install base). It could likely sell much better on the 3DS than on Wii U which means, like Animal Crossing, the future of Smash would always be on the handheld. 3DS Smash sales will be pivotal in Japan where the Japanese are more handheld centric.

One voice in my head keeps asking, “What if they release Smash and no one buys it?” What if the game doesn’t end up being a blockbuster? Look at the insane sales projections Nintendo had for Super Mario 3d World. High excitement on the Internet doesn’t translate to real world sales. Smash Brothers Melee, as good as it was, still made the Gamecube sell like the Gamecube.  I think Smash’s momentum projections are being overestimated.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 14, 2014

Captain Toad is looking like the Worst Game Ever Made

It is like all my nightmares have been combined, Voltron-like, into one game: Captain Toad Treasure Seeker.

The game is nothing but puzzles, puzzles, puzzles. And in addition to that, the game is 3d, 3d, 3d. 3d puzzles! No, it is not enough we have Aonuma Zelda and 3d Mario for their goddamn 3d puzzles. No, they had to dedicate a new spin-off to MORE 3D PUZZLES. Nintendo only makes one type of game anymore and that is ’3d puzzles’. They don’t want to make anything else!

“But it is cute.”

No. It is vile and demonic. Captain Toad Treasure Seeker is the pinnacle of all that is wrong at Nintendo.

“But what about Lolo?”

Lolo was actually fun. Lolo was heroic. Lolo went through dungeons. There was actually maps in Lolo. Captain Toad won’t do any of that. It is just floating 3d puzzles. Nintendo won’t even charge full price for the game because they know how crappy it is.

Lolo 3 actually had a WORLD that helped with progression. Even Mario 64 has the palace hub where it felt like you had progression. Now Nintendo has gone anti-maps and anti-world. Nothing is integrated into the game. Everything is floating around as ‘space puzzles in 3d’.

Very clean gameplay. Heroic music. So much better than the Captain Turd: Treasure Seeker theme. A new Lolo game would be better than this junk.

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