Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 1, 2011

Still waiting for the ‘hardcore’ to tell me why I’m wrong

Someone made a post on a gaming forum complaining about the general direction Zelda has been going. This isn’t a new complaint as people have been complaining, very loudly, for a long time. The complaints became very prominent beginning with Wind Waker and haven’t stopped.

What caught my eye was this response:

Marvelous is in – no way – similar to modern Zelda games. Stop listening to Sean Malstrom he has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.

Aonuma has said otherwise. Why does this forum poster think Aonuma got hired to design Zelda dungeons in the first place and later put in charge of the Zelda team? Derp derp…

Puzzles have been a mainstay in the franchise since A Link to the Past and are better than before, despite your ridiculous claims.

According to Miyamoto, they  have been the mainstay since Zelda I. The problem is that no one in the market ever associated puzzles with Zelda (until modern Zelda appeared). NOA even marketed Zelda as an arcade/RPG hybrid (a much more accurate description).

This is what Tezuka said about the very first Zelda game:

Tezuka: We basically decided to do a real time adventure game. No one wants to do physical things like pushing and pulling by selecting them from a menu. If they’re going to push something, they want to put some force behind it.

But no one, not even the hardcore gaming forum dwellers, ever think of Zelda 1 as a ‘puzzle game’. My point has always been that the market has been responding to Zelda differently than why the developers think. To this day, no one considers Zelda 1 a ‘puzzle game’ or an ‘adventure game’ in the traditional sense. And no one had that response to Zelda 2 either or even LTTP (and arguably, not even Ocarina of Time).

But this should not be surprising. Nintendo developers once thought it was Mario that sold Mario games. It didn’t matter if Mario was in a 2d game or a 3d game, it should sell equally, right? No. The market’s response to 2d Mario completely blew that idea out of the water. And the 3DS sluggish sales demonstrate that Nintendo developers are out of sync with the market.

Here is a quote from Miyamoto after making Link to the Past:

Miyamoto: In addition to that, it has everything that’s good about an RPG. It’s interesting to hear my players bragging about how they’ve got this armor and that tunic, so they don’t take any damage. It means they’re really attached to their character. That’s why I wanted them to choose their own name. But maximum priority was put on the adventure.

Miyamoto is accurate in describing the RPG elements. I want this in Modern Zelda. I want to get better armor that prevents damage. But there is no damage in Modern Zelda. It is just puzzle after puzzle.

And listen to what Miyamoto had to say about puzzles during Link to the Past:

A puzzle game is an adventure everyone can understand. The game eventually became more and more puzzle-oriented, to the extent that there were times when I wondered if it wasn’t an adventure at all anymore. Sure enough, those were the times when I started worrying about whether a real time adventure be interesting or not. In the end I figured it would be a thrilling enough game on its own merit.

Back after LTTP was made, Miyamoto was worried if he was beginning to go ‘too far’ with the puzzles. Those are his words, not mine. LTTP still had the arcade-like and RPG-like elements in it. But now in Modern Zelda, there are no arcade-like elements. There are no RPG-like elements. It is just… puzzle after puzzle after puzzle. This is why Link’s sword was originally removed for Zelda Wii because Link doesn’t even use his sword anymore!

Above: The original design for Zelda Wii had Link with no sword (not counting the girl).

Listen to this quote from Miyamoto concerning LTTP:

• Are there any bonuses like hidden commands or characters this time around?

Miyamoto: There are lots of little details. Players worn out from solving puzzles will discover them by accident when they’re wandering around. Besides, players who beat the game once and come back to replay it a year later only to discover something new will be happy, don’t you think? I actually wanted put in more attractions like that, but I think that if there’s too many, players will forget what they’re doing.

Even the ‘puzzles’ Miyamoto refers to in LTTP have no resemblance to Modern Zelda. There is no where in Modern Zelda where you can ‘learn to solve puzzles’ by wandering the countryside. Why? First, the countryside no longer exists in Modern Zelda. Second, if there is a countryside, it is so uninteresting that it has no resemblance to the richness of the dungeons.

I liked that LTTP was made for ‘re-playability’. The question is, why isn’t Modern Zelda? Why does it take half a decade to make a Zelda game that is so much worse than LTTP which took only a fraction of the time with only a dozen people?

• Another example: When you’re searching for bottles, it gets easier to continue with each one you find. How did you decide on the number?

Miyamoto: We wanted to let the player decide. The people who don’t want bottles don’t have to have them, and the people who want to put fairies in them can fill them with fairies. The people who want to play around a little can stuff them full of bugs. We wanted to expand the number of options available to players.

This is also something never done in Modern Zelda. The player doesn’t get to decide anything in Modern Zelda. It is essentially a rails game.

Tezuka: We wanted it to be a game you could play over and over again. Beating it once, for example, and then challenging yourself to see how fast you can beat it again. I think that there are lots of things to discover, even just walking around on the overworld.

Modern Zelda does not have this. And now, there is little overworld if any at all.

Here is what I know the market wants for Zelda Wii:

Swordplay mechanics like Wii Sports Resort Swordplay dueling. Slashing like that guy at the end of the 2005 Revolution controller video. A rich and vast overworld. Many ways for the player to get through the game.

Here is what we are going to get instead for Zelda Wii:

Swordplay mechanics like Wii Sports Resort swordplay’s positional food slicing. Overworld is small and uninteresting. Emphasis is on the dungeons. And the dungeons are little more than a linear channel of puzzles. All these puzzles will be done with the motion controller. Even any combat will be puzzle based depending on the player to swing the sword a proper direction to kill enemies.

People are going to be very disappointed for the same reason why the latest Zelda Wii trailer disappointed. The market does not associate Zelda with ‘puzzles’ and ‘talking NPCs’. The market, however, does associate Zelda with RPG elements and sword combat.

I want to issue a challenge to these ‘brilliant’ hardcore gaming forum posters. I want you to tell me why I am wrong about Zelda. Send the email at…

Instead of just saying ‘Sean Malstrom doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about’, why don’t you tell me why I don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyone can say anything on a message forum. I want to confront you guys. Just be careful, remember what happened to the Sakamoto worshippers when Metroid: Other M came out.

Anyway, have you noticed that I’ve been held to a higher standard than any video game analyst? Since I’ve been right on so many big things like the Wii, the 3DS, 2d Mario, Sakamoto, etc. when everyone else was on the wrong side of the issue, I am held to a higher standard than people like Pachter. I find that quite amazing.

And I find it amazing that if I am so wrong, why not humiliate me with your brilliance? Email me why I am wrong at…

If you are so sure of your ideas, then let’s try some confrontation. If you are scared, well then… Maybe you didn’t understand video games as well as you thought. That means it is time for you to get off the message forum and do something productive with your life.


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