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I need to gush about Zelda. Let's talk about Zelda. [roundtable]
 
Breath of the Wild is two weeks off, and I can't control my hype for it. I haven't been this excited for a game since Brawl--heck, I'm not sure I even have been excited for a game since Brawl. I figured now would be a good time to go back over the series as a whole to try and let out a bit of the Zelda pressure building in my skull.

So, Ocarina of Time. There's not a lot to say about it that hasn't already been said. It was one of my first games I ever played, it's my favorite game ever. My nostalgia is through the roof for this. Every location in the game is charming, with inspiring music and vivid colors making you feel like you really are going on a journey across a plethora of different environments. The dialogue ranges from cartooney to poetic and never goes on long enough to detract from your play time. Aside from a few kinda clunky 90's design choices, like using the finnicky Action Button for everything, this game still holds up today as an all-time classic.

Majora's Mask took everything beautiful about Ocarina of Time and perverted it to tell one of the most melancholy, stressful stories in all of gaming. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is the most impressive video game sequel ever made: they took the same engine, the same assets, and a year or two of development time, and created the total polar opposite of what had just been praised as the most amazing game of all time. When you think about it, it's honestly kind of hard to fathom a game like Majora's Mask even existing: it's the kind of thing that only Nintendo could create, but it's the kind of thing that you'd think they never would create. I don't even know what another Majora's Mask would look like. I guess Undertale gave me some similar feelings?

My third favorite has gotta be the original Legend of Zelda on NES. Again, there's not a lot to say about this one that hasn't already been said: it's still to this day the game that has done the best job of being "Legend of Zelda." The mystery, the combat, the world, the way everything ties together--no other Zelda game has tried to recreate this, and aside from a few indie games like Fez and Spelunky, no other game has even come close. Zelda II was a gutsy sequel that did a lot of similar things and pulled them off well, and is definitely worth playing, but it still didn't reach the heights set for by Zelda I. I cannot wait to see if Breath of the Wild can outdo it.

Wind Waker and Twilight Princess both continue down the more cinematic path that Ocarina of Time started while preserving some of the exploration of the older games. These are the two most "modern" Zelda games, for sure, and they're pretty awesome.

Skyward Sword, on the other hand, is way more "modern," but I'm not totally sure it's a Zelda game. There's no exploration, there's no mystery, and your hand is held every step of the way. Take it for what it is, though, and you still end up with a really great action-adventure that's way better than anything else you can play. Skyward Sword has some of the best dungeon puzzles in the series, and while its overworld may be linear, that at least allowed it to be more interestingly-designed.

I haven't played Link's Awakening or the Oracle games in ages, but I still remember them fondly for their quirkiness and willingness to send the player to cool new worlds. You can even ride a flying bear! I played Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks more recently, and while I definitely enjoyed them, I don't actually remember anything about them. Phantom Hourglass's idea of having a dungeon that you keep returning back to over and over was cool, but I think they could have done more with it. What if there was a way to beat that whole dungeon in under a minute if you're a godly Zelda player? Once again, we'll see if Breath of the Wild can pull this off.

It's been even longer since I've played Minish Cap or A Link to the Past, and I remember nothing about them. A Link Between Worlds was enjoyable--it felt like a well-designed proof of concept for what Breath of the Wild could be. It used the same map as ALttP, but I remember ALttP feeling much more epic and fleshed-out when I played it. More dungeons and items and sidequests. Is that true, or is my memory off? If nothing else, those SNES sprites are way prettier than the 3D models.

Finally, Four Swords. Four Swords Adventures was such a crazy awesome multiplayer game, man. There needs to be a way to play it on the Switch. There just needs to! I never did play TriForce Heroes. Did that even come close to reaching the heights of Four Swords Adventures?

Phew. I think that's all of them. Alright, gush about Zelda with me. Which ones are you favorites? Which ones are your least favorite? What do you love most about the series?

Gush.

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Posted: 02/20/17, 22:38:53
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I enjoyed Tri Force Heroes. It's fun and unique. It's actually kind of weird to see people mention it as a bad or disappointing game.

They might've been better off making it two-player, though. (Although now we have another game to join Rampart and Super Sprint in the hallowed 3P pantheon.)

I played through almost all of it online, and then lost the game. So, after grabbing it again, I've been rolling through it in single-player. It becomes an interesting, cerebral puzzle game in 1P, although there are a few levels which become frustrating (the see-saw level, the final boss...).

Anyway, it's definitely worth playing. And the download play is an awesome feature. If you're with exactly two friends.
Posted: 02/22/17, 16:11:51  - Edited by 
 on: 02/22/17, 16:12:10
@Super_Conzo
Both are fantastic and very different compared to the rest of the series. Good Luck for one day
Posted: 02/22/17, 18:57:07
@Stephen
Like they have a choice when it comes to backlash from petty religious zealots. My point is this stuff wouldn't need to be censored in the first place if those people eased the fuck up and accepted a little cultural appropriation.

I for one loved and appreciated the chants and would love more religious imagery in Zelda.

For me that Fire Temple is half ruined because they had to piss all over it. That will always be one of the greatest moments in gaming for me, and it's a damn shame they had to ruin it for all versions of the game going forward.
Posted: 02/22/17, 21:24:33
Not to get into your weird side argument, but like 95% of video game companies just ignored religious zealots and their complaints during this period. There is definitely a choice. Hell, look at how Xenogears handled religion... oh man.

Like, do you REALLY think if Nintendo had just kept it the way it was they would have faced severe, damaging repercussions? Why not just ignore it?

With that said I don't really mind that they changed it either.
Posted: 02/22/17, 22:25:39
@Zero

Which is rather interesting, given that now companies are kowtowing to zealots on a near daily basis, lol. Ah this world of ours! Ce la vie.
Posted: 02/22/17, 22:53:36
@carlosrox

The symbols and chant were Islamic samples and iconography. They are kind of sensitive about people repurposing their religion.

Nintendo essentially did that and was left with two choices:

A. Replace the audio and visual bits with ones that wouldn't be seen as a religious allusion.

or

B. Leave it as is and endure any criticism they would receive from people.

They chose option A. No one made them choose option A and Nintendo set themselves on that course when they used those allusions.

But let's be realistic about what actually happened:

Nintendo wasn't intending to make a statement about Islam in any fashion. They wanted chanting for a temple and chose a sample that happened to contain the word Allah in it. They designed the Gerudo to be a desert dwelling people and borrowed elements without thinking about their cultural significance. Scimitars, sirwals, jewelry on the forehead, veils, a magic carpet sequence, and the moon and star symbol. The only difference is where the rest of those items are just items that can be used without much criticism having the symbol for your religion be used in such a manner would be upsetting to some people especially when the main adversary is from that tribe and you spend most of your time fighting against them when they are in the story. Obviously, this wasn't Nintendo's intention so they fixed their mistake.

EDIT: If you are cool with them putting stuff like that in the game then that's fine but you have to respect other people's right to not like it. Getting mad at them getting offended is like them getting mad at you for not getting offended. If you want more of that and for it to be uncensored then your quarrel lies solely with Nintendo.
Posted: 02/23/17, 00:51:43  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 01:15:29
So you just reworded exactly what I said. Yeah, I do blame people who are sensitive about religion to the point where harmless art needs to be censored. No one is pissing on Islamic imagery here, it being used is a sign of appreciation, not disrespect. So I think those people could use a little perspective. Sticks and stones and all that.

I don't blame Nintendo because they are not the ones who are offended by something so badly that it has to get removed.

And who says they didn't think about the imagery they were using?

Zelda has always had religious over/undertones so clearly they didn't just pull this out of their ass.

My getting mad at them doesn't require anyone to remove/censor something, but them getting their feathers ruffled does.

And they don't have to like it. But we also don't have to piss on an artist's vision because someone doesn't like it.

Rise of the Tomb Raider seems to more or less have Jesus as the core backstory, but they only seem to call him "The Prophet". Think they can get away with straight up using his name? Hell no. Religious groups would piss themselves. At least everyone knows what "The Prophet" refers to and it works in its own way. Maybe later they say his name, but for now they seem content with avoiding his name.

The new Fire Temple is completely neutered though. It sounds broken.

And how did SS get away with the Ancient Cistern? Maybe because they didn't think those people would be crybabies about some religious imagery being used.

I blame crybabies, not Nintendo.
Posted: 02/23/17, 02:26:23  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 02:32:35
@Super_Conzo For Zelda II, go through the eastern cave to find the first palace in the desert. This cave has just one enemy in it and if you look closely, you can see it moving along the ground. Or just jump through the cave and you'll be fine. South of the desert palace is also a heart container.

@V_s Huh, interesting. Most people seem to treat them as multiplayer games. Do you prefer single player games?
Posted: 02/23/17, 02:53:34
@carlosrox

It is the nature of art to be criticized though especially if it is saying something troubling.

Nintendo caught a whole heap of shit for not featuring same-sex coupling in Tomodachi Life and that whole gay cure potion stuff in Fire Emblem.

Art is important. Criticism of art is important. And the creator can listen to those criticisms or they can dismiss them as is their right. The problem though isn't criticism itself.

You know this Carlos. There could easily be something in a game that you find offensive and complain about. It was recently you saw Secret Tunnel make a dark joke in that fan getting to play Zelda early thread and said this:

I dunno if this is a bad joke or what but I hate seeing this post in here. Ugh.

That one joke bothered you and you'd have preferred it not be there. Why is something like that okay to criticize but someone feeling their faith is being trivialized not allowed?

Your issue here is that you are blaming people who have criticism because Nintendo changed the game. If Nintendo had not changed the game those people still would have the same exact criticism. Your issue is with Nintendo.
Posted: 02/23/17, 03:24:36  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 03:25:42
@Stephen
Did I tell him to delete his post? I stated my piece and that was that. And that's not the same situation at all anyway. A bad joke over a real person who died isn't the same as a religious tribute to a God that may or may not be fiction.

Nintendo removed it because whiny people exist and may cause issues for them. As a family friendly company, having various religious groups bitching about that chant demonizing or promoting Islam is a concern for them. Again, the Ancient Cistern was no issue because that's not a religion that invites that same kind of whining.

Christianity and Islam are two prime examples of HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT, and they're two that Nintendo felt the need to bend over backwards for the most. I wonder why that is.

Why do you think he's "The Prophet" and not Jesus in Tomb Raider? Edit: It may not be him exactly but boy does it mirror him.

Was the Fire Temple chant in OOT really that offensive?
Posted: 02/23/17, 03:38:36  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 03:45:46
I don't think Nintendo is necessarily to blame. It's true that they had to make the final call whether to censor it or not, but that's like saying a blackmail victim has the final call whether to give in or not.

Of course, people are allowed to not support companies who make decisions they don't like, but we all know that people and groups get unfairly thrown under the bus for things that they didn't do wrong all the time. A criticism not being valid unfortunately doesn't always make it less damaging.

To me, there are two questions: how warranted would the supposed criticism have been, and how loud would it have been? If it's warranted and loud, then obviously the chant should change. If it's warranted and quiet, then it'd be cool of Nintendo to change it even if they didn't have to. If it's unwarranted and quiet, obviously they shouldn't change it. If it's unwarranted and loud--which seems like the most feared scenario--then it's a hard call to make. They could take a stand for artistic integrity or give in to try and save face.

How warranted the criticism is is totally subjective. Carlos says "A bad joke over a real person who died isn't the same as a religious tribute to a God that may or may not be fiction.", but no one gets to say that that's true for everyone. Different people get offended by different things. My stance on stuff like this tends to be that unless the object in question is psychologically triggering or perpetuating some kind of horrible idea that'll have bad societal effects, just be uncomfortable and let it slide. I think a little bit of Muslim chanting falls under the "suck it up and deal with it" category. Having the desert-dwelling villains use Islamic symbols, though? That's less cool.

Either way, I think it's more likely that Nintendo took it out because they didn't want any accidental religious imagery in their fictional fantasy video game rather than because they were afraid of actual backlash from real people. From what I've read, the version of the game with it censored was completed before the original version even released.
Posted: 02/23/17, 05:10:02
@Stephen

I just loved everything about it (except that it was too short). I enjoyed the combat with all the sword skills, the originality of all the items, the new lore that was added to the series, the NPCs and sidequests...

Ezlo was a great helper character. Vaati was an interesting villain that provided something different from Ganondorf. (He was so ambitious that he took over Hyrule without breaking a sweat (which immediately puts Ganondorf to shame) and still wasn't satisfied.) And I can't think of any dungeon in the game that I disliked. I just had a ton of fun with the game.

@Mop it up

Generally, yes. But I really like multiplayer games too. Smash, Mario Kart, Mario Party, NSMB/3DW (if we're just talking about the Nintendo side of things).
Posted: 02/23/17, 06:02:57
@Secret_Tunnel

To be fair, the Gerudo aren't really villains. I mean, Ganondorf is obviously and initially, the rest of them are antagonistic to you, but you end up forming an alliance with them and Nabooru ends up being a great ally. I have more an issue with the world-building element of the game with the Gerudo's symbol being almost identical to the moon/star imagery.

The funny thing about all this is that Zelda isn't without its Christian references. The very first image we see of Link is this:

Posted: 02/23/17, 06:19:13  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 06:19:30
@carlosrox

Oh I agree, I actually think religion should be criticized more.

Here's the thing though: Religious people aren't gonna like that. And if you're not going to have a spine and standby your work and your views then you have to wonder how much of a statement it was at all.

And I'm sorry, but you can't ask people not to get offended when you start utilizing bits of their religion when that is of significant importance to them. You can do it all you want, but people are going to bridle at it is their right.

Again, though, there is no reason to think that Nintendo was making any stance on Islam given how quickly they buckled and changed it and how they were superficial changes that ultimately didn't matter much anyway.

@Secret_Tunnel

Nintendo could've carried on selling their game as it was and just had people be offended. They chose not to. They weren't under duress like someone who is being blackmailed. They had a choice to make and they made it because the offending material was not worth keeping at the expense of some people's enjoyment. That is it.

@TriforceBun

If they hadn't changed that from previous games and left in the other stuff you conceivably have a version of Ocarina where Link goes in to the desert with a cross on his shield while fighting people in the desert rocking the hilal symbol.

NO PROBLEM THERE
Posted: 02/23/17, 09:44:00
@TriforceBun
The gravestones had crosses, too. Castlevania also had a bunch of Christian symbology. On Anime World Order (the best anime/manga podcast ever!), they often talk about how the Japanese use Christian symbology only to achieve a heavier, more meaningful kind of atmosphere, with no thought given to the actual meaning. Like in Evangelion.
Posted: 02/23/17, 15:29:43
@J.K. Riki Are video game companies doing that though?

I mean, there are always localization changes. And some of the more severe changes got publicized, like no blood in SNES Mortal Kombat and such, but the changes were usually were related to sex / violence / swearing, which I suppose you could argue was done to appease the religious, but I think it's a much broader base of parents in general that those changes were made for.

I suppose there were probably more religious-based changes back then than I know of though. Since, being changed, I'd never see the stuff.
Posted: 02/23/17, 16:00:57
@Zero

Dunno. But a lot of mainstream companies sure are. Essentially just for PR's sake (which I suppose is the point most of the time with this stuff).

Stephen said:

And I'm sorry, but you can't ask people not to get offended when you start utilizing bits of their religion when that is of significant importance to them. You can do it all you want, but people are going to bridle at it is their right.

That's very true, but also some religions actually don't give the right to be offended. So if you see anyone in Christianity doing that, feel free to kindly let them know it's not allowed. I myself certainly had to learn it, because I was never taught it in the past. But then, I had to learn a great number of things that were for some reason not taught to me back then, across a myriad of subjects. One of the times I'm thankful for the Internet, for sure! I wouldn't have found that book or many others if not for people sharing stuff online. (And a case could be made I should have known that from personal study anyway, but alas, that is severely off topic, lol.)

But that doesn't stop people from having the natural inclination of being offended, of course. It's one of those human traits built in there. We are a weird species to be sure. I guess all we can do is our best to try not to offend people while still, as artists in particular since that is the subject at hand, maintaining what we are trying to convey.

@Anand

That is so weird to me. But then, I used to think Buddhists all worshiped a giant golden fatman because mainstream media and stuff made it look that way. So...

Posted: 02/23/17, 17:45:14
@Anand

From what I've read, the crosses in early Zelda games were mainly to help develop the series' medieval/English feel, hence Link's Templar-style shield in Zelda 1 and 2 and the "Book of Magic" originally being called the Bible. In fact, I find the history of Zelda blended with Christianity to be particularly interesting, as one can actually make a solid case for the games being an allegory of sorts (C.S. Lewis style). I kind of miss that element a bit. There's even some rarely-seen ALttP art of Link praying before a crucifix.

As for Castlevania, I just kinda figured that the "Dracula is weak to holy symbols, artifacts and imagery" mythos of the character extended to the rest of the universe. Demons don't like Holy Water, of course! So there's a bit of a basis in that as well. Although I do wonder why we never got a Garlic power-up. Maybe it's time Simon called Wario?
Posted: 02/23/17, 18:50:28  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 18:52:53
TriforceBun said:
There's even some rarely-seen ALttP art of Link praying before a crucifix.

Woah!
Posted: 02/23/17, 18:59:35
@TriforceBun
Right, Castlevania makes sense. I guess the Zelda = Crusader thing kind of makes sense, too.

But the Crusades were so nasty!
Posted: 02/23/17, 20:30:38  - Edited by 
 on: 02/23/17, 20:31:02
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