Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 23, 2013

Email: A Link Between Worlds

I’ve put about a couple of hours into the game so far.  I beat the first dungeon and saved right before the second one.  I’ll give you full lowdown after I’ve beaten the game (or come close to it), but for right now, I can already tell: this isn’t a true successor to A Link to the Past.  It is polluted by a ton of Aonuma garbage (terrible, TERRIBLE NPCs, overabundance of puzzles, too much stupid dialogue, improper controls, piss-poorly designed items, lack of real challenge, strange controls… I could go on).  I’m sensing a strong undercurrent of Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass.  Like Aonuma took the basic design philosophies behind those games and altered the superficial things to make this look like a classic game.  I’m certain he used the same engines.

I was laughing when everyone was emailing you.  “This game is going to be great!  You’ll see Malstrom!  We’ll show you!”  Yeah, right… you guys said the same shit about Skyward Sword, and how did that turn out?  I had little optimism for this game.  That’s why I never said anything about it.  I fully expected Aonuma to screw up.

By the way I started with the Zelda series back in 1988/89.  My brother bought Zelda II because the neighbor had it and our babysitter brought us her copy of Zelda I to borrow occasionally.  After that I got an SNES in 1992 along with A Link to the Past, so if anyone is qualified to judge this new attempt at an old school Zelda, I better god damn well be.  

Anyway, I’m rambling in what was supposed to be a short email.  So far, this game is looking mediocre at best.

The damn shame of it is that Nintendo has only one chance to re-introduce Classic Zelda with playing the Link to the Past card. Nintendo could have re-vitalized the Zelda franchise in the same way NSMB revitalized the Mario franchise. Instead, Aonuma will squander it.

What else is there for Zelda to do? There already has been a Ocarina of Time Remake (3DS). There has the been the ‘Link to the Past’ “successor”. Of the many pathways to revitalizing the brand, Aonuma has turned the Golden Land of Hyrule into a Dark World and become worse than Ganon.

Imagine if Sakamoto hailed a return to Super Metroid type 2d Metroid gameplay, and he used it as an excuse to give us more Samus Aran ‘pink’ emotional stories. Yeah, he screwed up with the handheld Metroids of Fusion (all that talking), Zero Mission (a retcon the series didn’t need), and Other M (a disaster). But what the audience is waiting for is a full glory return to 2d Metroid on the home console.

Aonuma knew Zelda fans have been anxiously awaiting another Zelda like Link to the Past (the last Zelda where Aonuma was not involved). Instead of giving the audience what they want, Aonuma is using it to peddle his ‘vision’ of Zelda instead.

The problem with Zelda is not something small and tactical in the gameplay such as ‘boring and slow at the beginning’. The problem with Zelda is Aonuma’s vision is not and never was compatible with what the Zelda experience was. The Zelda experience is about exploration, arcade-like combat, RPG type growth in items and weapons, in a very traditional fantasy world. Aonuma keeps inserting his own ‘vision’ which is puzzles, badly designed NPC characters with equally atrocious dialogue, in a non-fantasy world which no one feels comfortable in.

Aonuma’s own game, Majestic, royally bombed. For some reason, Nintendo put this guy in charge of the Zelda series and that is when Zelda stopped being special. All Zelda can do is ride on the nostalgia of the pre-Aonuma games. The few faults of Ocarina of Time (the bad dungeon design such as the water temple) were all caused by Aonuma.

Zelda, like Mario, is totally controlled by Miyamoto. The reason why an unqualified person was allowed to be placed in control of the Zelda franchise was because of Miyamoto. We know, today, that Miyamoto totally mishandled the Mario franchise with his sick obsession of 3d and not making 2d Mario for 16-20 years. If Miyamoto bungled the Mario franchise so much, isn’t it possible the Zelda franchise was mishandled as well?

Why doesn’t Nintendo just make an actual LTTP sequel and see what happens? It could have been on the handheld so the risk is low. It would have been FAR SUPERIOR to the crap we’ve been getting with Spirit Tracks or Phantom Hourglass. The potential for phenomenon was especially high if it blew up like the earlier Zeldas blew up. We watched how NSMB DS blew up. So why not give it a go? It makes a ton of business sense.

No one is this stupid. That must be repeated. No one is so stupid to make a game that fails over and over again while ignoring the superior originals. This is intentional. Why it is intentional is something we have to guess. Does Nintendo despise their fanbase so much? I suspect it is personal and revolves around the developers make-believing in the childish idea that they are ‘creative’ angels.

Gamers furiously rail about Diablo 3 being totally different than Diablo 2. So much hot anger. Yet, Blizzard got rid of Jay Wilson and is trying to retread back to what Diablo 2 is with Diablo 3’s expansion.  Imagine if Blizzard kept Jay Wilson, put him in charge of everything Diablo, and then declared that Jay Wilson’s vision of Diablo is the ‘actual Diablo’ and that the earlier Diablo games were strange anomalies. Fans of those early Diablo games are silenced, the criticism is pretended to not exist by game journalists who are on the Blizzard beat (which they would be if Blizzard was a console company), and as Blizzard ‘consoles’ continued to decline, the game journalism would blame ‘third party games’ and not the actual first party games that are on the system.

That scenario is where I live in regards to Zelda. I don’t consider any Aonuma game to be an actual Zelda game. They are just Aonuma games with Zelda IP thrown in (similar to the CD-i Zelda games).

The 3DS and Wii U have one significant difference from the N64 and Gamecube aside that today’s Nintendo decline is fast and steep. During the N64 and Gamecube dark days, we, original fans of Nintendo, thought Nintendo’s obsession with 3d was just the usual ‘do the latest technology’ trend and that Nintendo did not realize how much of a market it had for the older games’ styles. Today, we all know that Nintendo knows. How could they not after the NSMB success? More and more people are waking up that Nintendo is intentionally not satisfying their fans. In fact, it is clear that Nintendo wants to wipe out its fanbase. They want to replace it with a Gamecube fanbase or such. Nintendo doesn’t want to design games that are fun to play, they want to design games that are fun to design. They religiously worship ‘creativity’ and keep giving us crap we don’t want. Game journalism, not being representative of gamers but representative of the developers, keep saying how each new Nintendo game is ‘wonderful’ in quality, that Zelda II is ‘the worst game ever made’, and that Miyamoto and all are gods-on-Earth. The sales numbers, however, are representative of gamers’ reactions and how people perceive quality in the game.

How come Nintendo’s hardware sales are never blamed on the quality of the first party games? Why is always the third party games to blame? Every Nintendo console’s success has depended on quality first party titles. People buy the console to get to those games. This creates an install base that third parties wish to join. Blaming the lack of third party games on the Nintendo console is giving cover to crappy first party content.

It needs to stop.

The Wii U is not selling because of bad brand, high price, stupid controller, or whatever. Those may be contributing factors, but it ultimately comes down to one thing: games. It is the GAMES of Wii U that are causing it not to sell. The GAMES are not seen as high quality, and people don’t wish to buy a console for them.

It is not for Nintendo or game journalists or gaming message forums to tell us what are the quality Nintendo games. It is for the market to decide.


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