Azn Badger's Blog

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The Best Track in the Game #6: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Yes, that is in fact a WWF European Championship belt. Hey, everybody needs a hobby.

After yesterday’s Zelda rant, I figured I should follow thing’s up with a Best Track in the Game of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

A Link to the Past was the only Zelda game released on the Super NES, and with good reason.

For Zelda fans, everything they remembered and loved about the original NES Zelda, as well as a host of new improvements and innovations that have since become adopted as standard elements in nearly every Zelda game since.

Despite the fact that the publication was owned and operated by Nintendo, it’s worth noting that Nintendo Power magazine had A Link to the Past rated as their #1 game for no less than 5 consecutive years.

That’s roughly a whole console generation to you and me.

Well... Maybe just me.

A Link to the Past was one of those games that I just didn’t get.

As a child, I played A Link to the Past exclusively at my Double Dragon neighbor’s house, thusly placing me in a positive and energetic environment to play the game, while at the same time limiting my actual hands-on face time with it.

As a result, I didn’t end up hating A Link to the Past the same way I did The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.

Don’t get me wrong, the game still made me feel dumb, just not to the same extent as those that came before it.

I don't think this guy needed help to feel dumb. God rest his soul.

We already went over that yesterday though, so for today we’re gonna’ keep things on a positive note.

For the most part.

Improvements to the gameplay of A Link to the Past included a greatly expanded inventory of unique items and equipment, including the Pegasus Boots for running, and the wicked-awesome Hookshot for, well, hooking and shooting things.

Yeah, even I thought the Hookshot was pretty pimp.

Not as cool as the motherfuckin' Sky Hook though!

Like previous games in the series, secret passages and sealed off areas were scattered across the map.

This time around however, much of the player’s ability to explore the environment was largely tied to the abilities given to them by various items they acquire throughout the adventure.

For instance, those black stones that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, were only able to be picked up upon acquiring the Titan’s Mitt in one of the games earlier dungeons.

8TH. FUCKING. DUNGEON

Whatever man, fuck you.¬† I beat the game eventually…

In addition to the new equipment, the gameplay was also enhanced¬† by the expansion of Zelda’s famous dungeons into multi-tiered structures with numerous floors.

This element of the gameplay not only increased the overall size of the game, (which was already made larger by the increased storage capacity of the Super NES’ cartridges) it also had a hand in enhancing the complexity of some puzzles.

A common element to many puzzles in A Link to the Past involved dropping down to lower floors in the dungeon from specific locations to find otherwise unreachable rooms or treasures.

In many cases, both as a child and just recently when I finally finished the game, I found that my simple, non-Zelda attuned mind had difficulty memorizing the layouts of multi-tiered dungeons, largely due to the top-down view.

First screen of the game: "Holy shit! I'm lost!"

From a bird’s eye view, room layouts become familiar and easy to remember, however when it comes time to connect those rooms into a coherent, interconnected whole, I just couldn’t do it.

I know, I know, “Use the map dumbass.”

Well, for your information, I did, and it helped sometimes, but not when I got lost.

Speaking of “lost,” did I mention that A Link to the Past introduced the popular Zelda concept of “The Dark World?”

It's okay, I don't know what the hell this is either. It's got that one dude from Scarface in it though, so yay!

The Dark World in A Link to the Past, was a unique concept that took the classic overworld map of Hyrule used in the previous games in the series, and effectively doubled it in size.

You see, a key element in the storyline of A Link to the Past involves Hyrule’s resident douchebag, Ganon, and his ownership of a “Golden Power” that created a twisted parallel world.

This parallel world became layered on top of the original Hyrule, and could be accessed by way of numerous portals scattered across the map, as well as through the use of the awesome Magic Mirror.

Magic Mirror, more like Magic "Get The Fuck Out of Jail Free" Mirror. Bless you Nintendo...

By giving the player two maps that they could transport between at will, Nintendo succeeded in not only creating a massive game world, but also in pissing me off by creating various puzzles and secrets that could only be solved or discovered through careful observation and manipulation of how the two worlds connected.

Trust me, it always sucks to see something cool just down the hill, only to find that it’s inaccessible unless you jump back and forth between the two worlds and put your non-linear thinking cap on.

My non-linear brain gets stumped by “creamy” or “chunky.”

SUPER CHUNK!!!? Man, now I'll never be able to decide...

As icing on the Zelda cake, A Link to the Past featured a wonderfully composed and technically advanced soundtrack for it’s time.

Koji Kondo, the legend that brought us nearly every major Mario and Zelda soundtrack, served as A Link to the Past’s composer.

... Okay, apparently he's also a fuckin' Nazi. Go figure.

Like many of the video games from major franchises of the time, A Link to the Past’s soundtrack was a thematic mix of old and new.

Many of the tracks and audio cues (I.E. the “item get” and “secret uncovered” cues) present in the previous games were remixed to great effect.

Fortunately, Mr. Kondo also succeeded in creating a number of brand new tracks that managed to live up to expectations, with some, like the Hyrule Castle theme, being utilized in future games, thusly securing their place in thematic history.

That being said, I can’t believe we’re already there, but it’s time for the Azn Badger to reveal that the Best Track in the Game is

Overworld Theme (Dark World Version)

Why?

*Warning!* Cock-sucking up ahead! *Warning!*

The Dark World theme is the Armored Armadillo stage theme of A Link to the Past.

You listen to it a fuck ton of times throughout the game, and yet you relish every moment of it.

Me saying that about a piece of music featured in a game I mostly hate, speaks volumes as to the quality of this track.

I love that it has an element of severity, of, dare I say it, “darkness,” that seems to resonate from the faux midi strings.

The Dark World Theme is a terrific action and adventure track that goes together all too well with the bizarre and hostile landscape it inhabits.

End cock-sucking.

Runner-Up:

Overworld Theme

Based on it’s pedigree, most would expect me to declare the Super NES version of The Overworld Theme as The Best Track in the Game for A Link to the Past.

However, in my opinion, I feel that this particular remix is a little weak when compared to some other versions.

The original Overworld Theme was tinny and hollow, but it had a strength to it, a soul, that made it timeless.

This version feels a little too “pokey” to me, like it really is just the theme music of a little boy traipsing through the woods on a bright sunny day.

To me, the Zelda Theme has always been about bombast and adventure, about a larger than life fantasy that demands a bold and powerful theme so audacious that it would sound downright ridiculous when played over anything pertaining to real life.

Unfortunately, no one told these guys.

In my eyes, the Zelda Theme has yet to be done justice, even when presented in orchestral form:

To me, this version has the appropriately “big” sound to it, however it’s conducted far too slow a pace.

It’s a wonderful composition, and many great renditions of it exist, however I feel that we have yet to see the definitive version of the Zelda Theme.

That being said, that’s all I’ve got to say about The Best Track in the Game this time around.

Have a good night watching Lost and not reading my blog.

Imma’ watch my brand spankin’ new DVD of Fire of Conscience or some shit.

Payce.

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Zelda Made Me Feel Dumb…

DUMB.

Have you ever played a game that made you feel dumb?

I have.

In fact, I’ve played a lot of them.

Chess, Connect Four, Battleship, they seriously fuckin’ wrecked my self-confidence as a kid.

Don’t even get me started on Candyland.

That motherfucker, Gloppy the Molasses Monster, used to kick my ass all the way back to that fruitcake Plumpy’s plum tree every fuckin’ game…

Lookit that fat fuck... Stewin' in his own feces. Eat a dick you fuckin' gamebreaking whore.

All that ugliness aside, this post is primarily concerned with the evils of the Zelda franchise.

It all began in my childhood, as all things on this blog seem to blog do.

I was over at one of my spoiled friend’s houses when I played The Legend of Zelda for the first time.

Seriously, this kid had all of the cool shit like a divorced kid, Power Wheels, Nerf Guns, and a Super NES IN HIS ROOM, only without the whole divorced parents thing.

COOLEST. BABY. EVER.

Anyway, on most days we would sit around and play cool shit like Monster Party, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, but on this particular day, he had to step out for an hour or two to go to a Kumon class.

Yeah, he was spoiled and he had tutors.

Guess which one of us grew up to be retarded and socially maladjusted?

That’s right, both of us.

Hey, at least we didn't up like these two...

Normally when this would happen, only my friend’s mom would be at home, necessitating my coming with them for the trip.

However, on this particular afternoon, my buddies’ dad happened to be home early from work, so it was decided that I would hang out at the house while my friend was away.

How I wish I had gone with them that day.

I remember sitting down for a minute and pondering what to do for the next few hours.

Being unwilling to play the usual stuff without my friend, I considered playing something different, like M.C. Kids (which isn’t nearly as bad as it should be.)

Hell, I even remember playing Sesame Street Countdown for a minute or two.

But then I noticed something different, something golden.

Not THAT you perv.

Do you have any idea how irresistable a golden videogame is to a child?

Totally fucking irresistable, that’s how much.

I plugged that sucker in faster than you could say “Jiminy Christmas,” and after removing the cartridge and blowing on it about a billion times, I was transported to the land of Hyrule for the first time in my young life.

By then, I knew who Zelda and Link were, thanks to those godawful cartoons they aired on Saturday mornings, but I had yet to play any of the games in the series.

If you actually finished that video, you’re a fag.

Regardless of your faggot/not faggot status, I knew that the Zelda games were supposed to be crazy good, so much so that many of my friends liked to brag about their progress within them, especially in the second, and supposedly much harder game.

Needless to say, I was pretty psyched to give Zelda a try.

My first, and easily best memory of Zelda was being enchanted by the classic Zelda overworld theme.

It was wondrous, certainly one of the most memorable tracks of game music I had heard up to that point in my life, despite it’s age, even back then.

The first screen had a cave clearly visible in the background, so of course I went in.

Upon entering the cave I was greeted by an old man that told me it was dangerous outside, so I should take a sword with me.

Apparently we're in the HARD part of Hyrule. Like, South Central HARD.

With sword in hand, I set out into the world of Hyrule to……

Do absolutely nothing.

You see, Zelda was the first “open world” game I ever played.

The map was designed in a non-linear, explorable fashion, thus making the objective of the game to, well, stumble across your objectives.

Much unlike the games I was accustomed to:

What do I do again? Oh yeah that's right, KILL EVERYTHING.

I was not aware of this at the time, however it didn’t really matter either way, seeing as I never actually stumbled across said objectives.

I spent 2 hours killing monsters and collecting a billion fucking rupees, while never once figuring out what I was supposed to do, or where I was supposed to go.

It made me feel stupid, like I was lame for missing something all my friend’s had apparently gotten with ease.

It's not that I don't "get" it, it's just that I don't "like" it.

As an older and wiser Azn Badger, one that now understands the “rules” of every Zelda game ever made (they don’t change), I could probably beat The Legend of Zelda in an afternoon with a little Energon and a lot of luck, but as a kid, I was hopeless.

Brownie points to those that got the reference.

Not long after my failure at the hands of The Legend of Zelda, I tried playing Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link at my neighbor’s house (the same ones that I used to play Super Double Dragon with.)

It took me only a few minutes to understand that straying off the main road caused monsters to spawn, but outside of that discovery, I was once again dead in the water.

All I ever saw of Zelda 2.

Zelda games had me by the balls as a kid.

Imagine growing up as a Nintendo kid and having that hanging over your head.

Zelda is one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises, and as such, every subsequent release in the series garners disgusting amounts of hype and praise.

I remember getting a sour taste in the back of my throat every time a Zelda game came out and my friend’s went nuts over them.

When The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past first came out on the Super NES, my Double Dragon playing neighbors suddenly converted to a Zelda cult overnight.

Thankfully they didn't go this far though...

I remember they let me start my own save file one time.

Thankfully, the game managed to provide me with a little bit of instruction at times, thusly allowing me to progress through the adventure somewhat.

By somewhat I mean I got through the introductory Hyrule castle segment.

It took me about an hour and a half.

After that, I remember walking up to an ordinary black stone and being frustrated by my inability to pick it up and throw it at a chicken.

My neighbors said to me:

“You need the gloves to pick that up.”

“Where are the gloves?”

“It’s part of the game, you’ll find ’em later.”

All through my childhood, I never found those damn gloves.

Turns out Michael Jackson had 'em the whole time.

I remember my brother getting the Game Boy exclusive, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Christmas one year.

He loved that game, he used to play it for hours every day.

I hated that game, but I used to love watching my brother play it.

I remember it well cause he used to get pissed when my head would put shadows on the screen.

My only real fond memory of playing Link’s Awakening came in the form of abusing a chicken until his friends showed up to pwn my ass.

By the time Ocarina of Time AKA “OMG The Best Game EVER!!!” came out, I was still feeling sour about Zelda games and how they had taken my nuts without asking.

I played Ocarina of Time exactly once, at my barber’s house.

No, not the same barber that gave me my first Nintendo Power.

Her son had a Nintendo 64 that I would tool around on while waiting for my mom to get her hair cut.

I usually played Starfox 64 and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, often times getting medals and achievements that my barber’s kid had failed to get.

I was good at those games, I liked those games; and they liked me back.

You can't see it, but I was hugging the console while taking this screenshot.

One day though, I was feeling confident and decided to plug in the ‘ole golden cartridge once more, this time on the N64.

I soon discovered that not much had changed in 10 years.

I remember being pissed off because all of the advertising material for Ocarina of Time had Link portrayed as an adult, a grown-up with a big ass sword.

During the segement I played, I was forced to control a tiny-ass Link with no sword, and no jump button.

Oh come on! Look at him! He's tiny as shit!

Once again, I was unable to get my bearings in the game, resulting in me doing nothing but ride my horse around aimlessly and occasionally go fishing.

Outside of the fishing, which was admittedly pretty fun, I walked away from Ocarina of Time without so much as reaching for my stolen nuts.

Now if only I could get 'em back from that fuckin' squirrel...

After Ocarina of time, I would never play any of the new Zelda games.

Until now.

A few months ago, not long before I started this blog, I fired up my Super NES one day, as I tend to do, and decided to do something bold.

A good friend of mine was kind enough to give me his entire library of Super NES games last year (he’s a really good friend), among which was A Link to the Past.

For the first time in over 10 years, I found myself playing a Zelda game.

Not only that, but I told myself I was going to beat it and get my nuts back!

Well, maybe tomorrow then. Yeah, that's right, tomorrow...

After a month or two of chipping away at dungeons and peeking at GameFAQs, I managed to defeat Ganon and unite the Triforce.

True, I didn’t beat the game legit, as evidenced by my liberal use of strategy guides, and my general lack of motivation for finding all of the equipment and treasures, but I didn’t care, I had beaten a motherfucking Zelda game.

I was often bitterly frustrated during my exploits throughout the game, and in fact found very little enjoyment in the experience as a whole, but by the end, I considered my nuts rightfully reclaimed.

And not a moment too soon.  I am, after all, a 20-something, handsome, (single) college graduate.

Did I mention I drew the cover for a published novel?

That's right honey, I do it all...

Bullshit aside, following my victory over A Link to the Past, I made the decision to try my hand at The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker on the Gamecube.

Honestly, I think I decided to subject myself to more Zelda torture simply because the experience promised a lengthy adventure that could not be beaten quickly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, games are like a way of killing time for me nowadays, so a playable, but ultimately confusing and frustrating game is now something that appeals to me on some twisted level.

Maybe I’m a masochist, who knows?

This guy knows what I'm talking about. God rest his soul.

Currently, I am maybe 20% into Windwaker, though I haven’t been playing with the same sense of urgency or fervor that I did Link to the Past.

The game is actually very good, with responsive controls and persistent yet simple puzzles around every corner.

I do however still feel stupid from time to time, usually when it comes to figuring out which items to use in dungeons.

Protip: Use the Deku Leaf FUCKING EVERYWHERE.

Despite this, I honestly like the cartoony, “island” aesthetic of the game, it reminds me of good things I remember from Hawaii.

And that’s always a good thing.

I am still using FAQs from time to time when I get stuck, and though I fear I will never be able to conquer a Zelda without the use of one, I don’t care.

“Beating” a Zelda game has never been the point.

Zelda games still make me feel dumb, but at least they don’t have my nuts anymore.

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