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Found 68 results

  1. Few games in the last few years exude as much charm as Save Me Mr. Tako, an indie PC title that uses a Game Boy aesthetic to tell the story of an octopus who doesn't want to fight. The tale of Mr. Tako was originally conceived by French indie developer Chris Deneos in 2014 as a way of honoring the 24th anniversary of the Game Boy. Since then, Deneos has fully committed to seeing the project through. As a pixel artist, Deneos really manages to create expressive and interesting visuals within the constraints of the chosen Game Boy style. The entire project has been constructed using Unity, which surprisingly manages to mimic the Game Boy visuals quite well. Fully titled Tasukete Tako-San: Save Me Mr. Tako, the platformer mashes together the spirit of the Kirby and Legend of Zelda franchises to weave a compelling world full of aquatic and land-based denizens and enemies. Players can absorb and use over fifty different powers from enemies as the titular Mr. Tako to help battle enemies and explore a large, non-linear world. The story of Save Me Mr. Tako centers around Mr. Tako, an octopus sent to fight humans in the great Octopus-Human War. One dark night, his unit attacks a human ship at sea. Mr. Tako doesn't want to fight humans and just wants peace. The octopi soldiers shove a woman into the sea to drown, but Mr. Tako dives in after her, saving her life. A sea fairy, seeing this act of bravery, gives Mr. Tako the ability to breathe outside of water in exchange for never hating another human. To bring an end to the war, Mr. Tako must brave the dangers of both the sea and land, and if that isn't the most adorable thing, I don't know what is. Deneos, working alone, is striving to add as much content to Save Me Mr. Tako as possible. The solo indie developer estimated earlier this year that the game was about half done, with over thirty levels, six towns, fifteen side-quests, and five hours of gameplay. The completed version of Save Me Mr. Tako will include the expected story mode alongside some form of multiplayer mode as well as a boss rush mode. Back in April he still hoped to finish work on Save Me Mr. Tako by the end of 2016, though that seems unlikely with about two weeks left in the year and no official release date announced. While the release date of Save Me Mr. Tako remains unknown, those who find the trailers and screenshots intriguing can download a free demo to see what the finished game will be like. The game is currently only on track for a PC release.
  2. Few games in the last few years exude as much charm as Save Me Mr. Tako, an indie PC title that uses a Game Boy aesthetic to tell the story of an octopus who doesn't want to fight. The tale of Mr. Tako was originally conceived by French indie developer Chris Deneos in 2014 as a way of honoring the 24th anniversary of the Game Boy. Since then, Deneos has fully committed to seeing the project through. As a pixel artist, Deneos really manages to create expressive and interesting visuals within the constraints of the chosen Game Boy style. The entire project has been constructed using Unity, which surprisingly manages to mimic the Game Boy visuals quite well. Fully titled Tasukete Tako-San: Save Me Mr. Tako, the platformer mashes together the spirit of the Kirby and Legend of Zelda franchises to weave a compelling world full of aquatic and land-based denizens and enemies. Players can absorb and use over fifty different powers from enemies as the titular Mr. Tako to help battle enemies and explore a large, non-linear world. The story of Save Me Mr. Tako centers around Mr. Tako, an octopus sent to fight humans in the great Octopus-Human War. One dark night, his unit attacks a human ship at sea. Mr. Tako doesn't want to fight humans and just wants peace. The octopi soldiers shove a woman into the sea to drown, but Mr. Tako dives in after her, saving her life. A sea fairy, seeing this act of bravery, gives Mr. Tako the ability to breathe outside of water in exchange for never hating another human. To bring an end to the war, Mr. Tako must brave the dangers of both the sea and land, and if that isn't the most adorable thing, I don't know what is. Deneos, working alone, is striving to add as much content to Save Me Mr. Tako as possible. The solo indie developer estimated earlier this year that the game was about half done, with over thirty levels, six towns, fifteen side-quests, and five hours of gameplay. The completed version of Save Me Mr. Tako will include the expected story mode alongside some form of multiplayer mode as well as a boss rush mode. Back in April he still hoped to finish work on Save Me Mr. Tako by the end of 2016, though that seems unlikely with about two weeks left in the year and no official release date announced. While the release date of Save Me Mr. Tako remains unknown, those who find the trailers and screenshots intriguing can download a free demo to see what the finished game will be like. The game is currently only on track for a PC release. View full article
  3. Jimmy Fallon could hardly contain himself last night when Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, came onto The Tonight Show to present the Nintendo Switch and a live demonstration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It seemed to come as something of a surprise to the late night host, who had just been playing some Mario Run with Fils-Aime. With shaking hands, Fallon seemed almost beside himself as he took the Switch and played through an encounter in the upcoming open world action-adventure title. It was pretty clear that Fallon was talking from a place of genuine enthusiasm as he dropped knowledge bombs from Breath of the Wild previews and old interviews. You can watch the entire Breath of the Wild exchange below. Shigeru Miyamoto was also in attendance, sitting quietly in the audience smiling. Jimmy Fallon called out to the game creator several times, receiving nods and laughter from the developer. However, Miyamoto didn't just attend the show - he participated. He took the stage with the band The Roots to perform the iconic theme to Super Mario Bros. live. These are clear signs that Nintendo has begun its media push to spread awareness of the Nintendo Switch - something that the gaming titan didn't do very well in the lead up to the Wii U launch. Obviously, they have learned from their mistakes. The big Breath of the Wild reveal last week at The Game Awards 2016 was the first inkling that Nintendo might be initiating an effective marketing campaign for both The Legend of Zelda and the Switch. Now we pretty much know that Nintendo will be pushing their console from now until its March 2017 release window. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild releases sometime next year, probably later in the year than March as reports indicate that it will not be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch.
  4. Jimmy Fallon could hardly contain himself last night when Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, came onto The Tonight Show to present the Nintendo Switch and a live demonstration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It seemed to come as something of a surprise to the late night host, who had just been playing some Mario Run with Fils-Aime. With shaking hands, Fallon seemed almost beside himself as he took the Switch and played through an encounter in the upcoming open world action-adventure title. It was pretty clear that Fallon was talking from a place of genuine enthusiasm as he dropped knowledge bombs from Breath of the Wild previews and old interviews. You can watch the entire Breath of the Wild exchange below. Shigeru Miyamoto was also in attendance, sitting quietly in the audience smiling. Jimmy Fallon called out to the game creator several times, receiving nods and laughter from the developer. However, Miyamoto didn't just attend the show - he participated. He took the stage with the band The Roots to perform the iconic theme to Super Mario Bros. live. These are clear signs that Nintendo has begun its media push to spread awareness of the Nintendo Switch - something that the gaming titan didn't do very well in the lead up to the Wii U launch. Obviously, they have learned from their mistakes. The big Breath of the Wild reveal last week at The Game Awards 2016 was the first inkling that Nintendo might be initiating an effective marketing campaign for both The Legend of Zelda and the Switch. Now we pretty much know that Nintendo will be pushing their console from now until its March 2017 release window. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild releases sometime next year, probably later in the year than March as reports indicate that it will not be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. View full article
  5. Since new consoles aren't announced every day from a major manufacturer, this week's episode focuses squarely on Nintendo's recent reveal of the Switch, their upcoming next-gen device that can become either a console or handheld. Jeremy had to go save kids or something, so this discussion falls to Jack and Daniel who hold somewhat differing opinions on Nintendo's hybrid creation. Will the Switch be a success or a commercial flop? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 'Dance of the Kokiri' by Chris ~ Amaterasu and Doc Nano (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03438) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  6. Since new consoles aren't announced every day from a major manufacturer, this week's episode focuses squarely on Nintendo's recent reveal of the Switch, their upcoming next-gen device that can become either a console or handheld. Jeremy had to go save kids or something, so this discussion falls to Jack and Daniel who hold somewhat differing opinions on Nintendo's hybrid creation. Will the Switch be a success or a commercial flop? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 'Dance of the Kokiri' by Chris ~ Amaterasu and Doc Nano (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03438) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  7. The Apple event today held an unexpected gaming surprise in the form of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, taking the stage. Miyamoto revealed that Mario games would be making their way to iOS in the near future, breaking Nintendo's mascot into the mobile gaming realm for the first time. The first title announced, Super Mario Run, was demonstrated live on stage. It features Mario traversing stages as players tap the screen to make him jump, collecting coins and avoiding obstacles within the stage's set time limit. The demo displayed at least six worlds for players to jump and jumble through. The iOS game also includes a multiplayer component. The mode, called Toad Rally, allows players to race one another through stages. Miyamoto stated that players can connect with one another from around the world. Miyamoto also stated that the app will sell for a fixed price and will not include microtransactions. No release date has been announced, but Miyamoto did reveal that players should expect Super Mario Run to release sometime this holiday season. This move by Nintendo follows closely on the heels of the smashing success of Miitomo, Nintendo's social app that became a mild sensation earlier this year, and Niantic's Pokémon Go, which generated an even larger sensation. Nintendo promised shortly after the resounding success of both apps that they would be looking more closely into mobile gaming for future investments. View full article
  8. The Apple event today held an unexpected gaming surprise in the form of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, taking the stage. Miyamoto revealed that Mario games would be making their way to iOS in the near future, breaking Nintendo's mascot into the mobile gaming realm for the first time. The first title announced, Super Mario Run, was demonstrated live on stage. It features Mario traversing stages as players tap the screen to make him jump, collecting coins and avoiding obstacles within the stage's set time limit. The demo displayed at least six worlds for players to jump and jumble through. The iOS game also includes a multiplayer component. The mode, called Toad Rally, allows players to race one another through stages. Miyamoto stated that players can connect with one another from around the world. Miyamoto also stated that the app will sell for a fixed price and will not include microtransactions. No release date has been announced, but Miyamoto did reveal that players should expect Super Mario Run to release sometime this holiday season. This move by Nintendo follows closely on the heels of the smashing success of Miitomo, Nintendo's social app that became a mild sensation earlier this year, and Niantic's Pokémon Go, which generated an even larger sensation. Nintendo promised shortly after the resounding success of both apps that they would be looking more closely into mobile gaming for future investments.
  9. It has been 22 weeks so far and we are only now getting to our first episode dedicated to a Legend of Zelda title! The Nintendo title, released in 1991 for the SNES, is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time and remains at the top of many best lists to this day. Why? What makes the top-down action-adventure of a boy in green saving the world such a pinnacle of video game achievement even a quarter of a century later? How will it stack up for future generations of gamers when the gaming landscape continues to evolve? Jack and Daniel, sans Jeremy this week, discuss this and a whole lot more. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'Unsealed' by CarboHydroM (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02900) Also, last week we ended up recording almost an hour over our usual running time with Elizabeth DeLoria for our Fallout 3 and had to cut them to fit the show into our normal running time. The thing is, those segments were so much fun that we edited those cut segments together into a mini-episode of sorts. That covers a wide variety of topics from Australian ladder licensing to gushing over glitches and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Chrono Trigger 'Punk Hairdo Kid' by HyperDuck SoundWorks (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03338) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  10. It has been 22 weeks so far and we are only now getting to our first episode dedicated to a Legend of Zelda title! The Nintendo title, released in 1991 for the SNES, is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time and remains at the top of many best lists to this day. Why? What makes the top-down action-adventure of a boy in green saving the world such a pinnacle of video game achievement even a quarter of a century later? How will it stack up for future generations of gamers when the gaming landscape continues to evolve? Jack and Daniel, sans Jeremy this week, discuss this and a whole lot more. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 'Unsealed' by CarboHydroM (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02900) Also, last week we ended up recording almost an hour over our usual running time with Elizabeth DeLoria for our Fallout 3 and had to cut them to fit the show into our normal running time. The thing is, those segments were so much fun that we edited those cut segments together into a mini-episode of sorts. That covers a wide variety of topics from Australian ladder licensing to gushing over glitches and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Chrono Trigger 'Punk Hairdo Kid' by HyperDuck SoundWorks (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03338) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  11. You read that title right. YouTuber/Twitch streamer MonotoneTim has managed to do the what no one has ever thought of doing with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and played through a large chunk of the N64 title with nothing more than a real life ocarina. To do this, he used a C# program that translates pitches into keyboard inputs (the title was emulated on PC). Since an ocarina can only play six distinct notes, one of the ocarina pitches was set to switch between three control schemes. With this set up, MonotoneTim was able to progress to the first boss of Ocarina of Time and confront Gohma, the spider queen, which you can watch below. To watch the full stream in which MonotoneTim gets as far as possible in one ocarina blasting session, be sure to check out his YouTube channel.
  12. You read that title right. YouTuber/Twitch streamer MonotoneTim has managed to do the what no one has ever thought of doing with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and played through a large chunk of the N64 title with nothing more than a real life ocarina. To do this, he used a C# program that translates pitches into keyboard inputs (the title was emulated on PC). Since an ocarina can only play six distinct notes, one of the ocarina pitches was set to switch between three control schemes. With this set up, MonotoneTim was able to progress to the first boss of Ocarina of Time and confront Gohma, the spider queen, which you can watch below. To watch the full stream in which MonotoneTim gets as far as possible in one ocarina blasting session, be sure to check out his YouTube channel. View full article
  13. The orchestral performance of classic Legend of Zelda tunes has toured around the world for the last few years now and has continued to gain popularity and recognition for its fantastic performances. Now, the musical dive into the world of Hyrule and beyond is poised to hit the mainstream consciousness. Nintendo has announced that The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses will be the musical guest on talk show host Stephen Colbert's Late Show next week, alongside guests Sarah Silverman and Elijah Wood. You can tune in on October 13th to catch the production. The performance will also include some highlights from The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes which launches October 23. For those of you who haven't heard of Symphony of the Goddesses or had an opportunity to listen to some of their music for yourself, check out this excerpt from one of the show's many concerts. View full article
  14. The orchestral performance of classic Legend of Zelda tunes has toured around the world for the last few years now and has continued to gain popularity and recognition for its fantastic performances. Now, the musical dive into the world of Hyrule and beyond is poised to hit the mainstream consciousness. Nintendo has announced that The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses will be the musical guest on talk show host Stephen Colbert's Late Show next week, alongside guests Sarah Silverman and Elijah Wood. You can tune in on October 13th to catch the production. The performance will also include some highlights from The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes which launches October 23. For those of you who haven't heard of Symphony of the Goddesses or had an opportunity to listen to some of their music for yourself, check out this excerpt from one of the show's many concerts.
  15. At the GameStop Managers Conference last weekend, Nintendo unveiled plans for two special New 3DS systems as well as themed Wii Remote Plus controllers and the launch of amiibo cards for use in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. On September 25, a bundle including a New 3DS with two Animal Crossing-themed cover plates and a copy of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and an amiibo card will launch. The New 3DS included in this bundle will be the first of the line of a more compact, non-XL, version of the New 3DS which features detachable cover plates. The Animal Crossing bundle is expected to retail for $219.99. A golden Legend of Zelda version of the New 3DS XL with a prominently featured Hylian crest will be released on October 30, shortly after the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on October 23. The system and game are sold separately. The system will be available for $199.99 and will be exclusive to GameStop locations. Three new Wii Remote Plus controllers were also revealed and are themed after Bowser, Toad, and Yoshi. These three controllers will be available only at GameStop. The Bowser and Toad controllers will be released alongside Super Mario Maker on September 11. Meanwhile, the Yoshi controller hits GameStop shelves on October 16, the same day Yoshi's Woolly World releases.
  16. At the GameStop Managers Conference last weekend, Nintendo unveiled plans for two special New 3DS systems as well as themed Wii Remote Plus controllers and the launch of amiibo cards for use in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. On September 25, a bundle including a New 3DS with two Animal Crossing-themed cover plates and a copy of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and an amiibo card will launch. The New 3DS included in this bundle will be the first of the line of a more compact, non-XL, version of the New 3DS which features detachable cover plates. The Animal Crossing bundle is expected to retail for $219.99. A golden Legend of Zelda version of the New 3DS XL with a prominently featured Hylian crest will be released on October 30, shortly after the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on October 23. The system and game are sold separately. The system will be available for $199.99 and will be exclusive to GameStop locations. Three new Wii Remote Plus controllers were also revealed and are themed after Bowser, Toad, and Yoshi. These three controllers will be available only at GameStop. The Bowser and Toad controllers will be released alongside Super Mario Maker on September 11. Meanwhile, the Yoshi controller hits GameStop shelves on October 16, the same day Yoshi's Woolly World releases. View full article
  17. Spotted, fittingly enough, by Zelda Informer, a tenacious group of fans has been toiling away at creating a 2D version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Oh, and if it is ever completed, it will have multiplayer. The project is still far from being complete, but this seems to be a very promising start. The team has a video showing the multiplayer in action. Right now, the ream estimates that the project has reached 15% completion. For a full list of current and planned updates, there is a site with monthly updates on the team's progress. You can download the latest demo version here. Here is hoping Nintendo doesn't squash this project with a cease and desist. Update 3/9/2018: It seems progress on Ocarina of Time 2D has stalled at about 20% completion. The original collective of fans working on the project seems to have gone its separate ways, though a few members say that they have plans to come back to it. Most recently, a fan dev under the name Link.57 posted a little under a year ago to talk about taking the project back up. The good news is that it doesn't seem like Nintendo hit the fans with a cease and desist, so there's still some chance that we'll see Ocarina of Time 2D in the light of day. View full article
  18. Update: 03/24/2015 Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata gave an interview to Time Magazine touching on a number of topics, but, sadly, Iwata poured some cold water on the rumors of a live-action Legend of Zelda series in the works with Netflix. Iwata said, “As of now, I have nothing new to share with you in regard to the use of our IPs for any TV shows or films, but I can at least confirm that the article in question is not based on correct information." While this is certain to be disappointing news to some, it doesn't necessarily mean that Nintendo is ruling out the possibility of creating a miniseries based off of their IP, especially given their upcoming foray into mobile development. Original Story: 02/06/2015 Yep, you read that headline right. We might be seeing a live-action Legend of Zelda series sometime in the near future. The Wall Street Journal reported today that an unidentified source confirmed that Netflix and Nintendo were in the early stages of creating an online series set in Hyrule about a boy named Link who must rescue a princess named Zelda. Netflix reportedly describes the show as "Game of Thrones but for a family audience." The source said that Netflix is in the process of finding writers for the show, so a live-action Legend of Zelda series is probably a year or more away from becoming a reality. Now, this is all effectively rumor since no one has been able to confirm with either Netflix or Nintendo that they're in the process of making this show. If it is real, there's an equally real possibility that the project will never see the light of day, killed off by either Netflix or Nintendo. Still, imagining what a series like this would be like is certainly interesting. I mean, for goodness sake, if IGN can cobble together a fake live-action trailer for an April Fools Day prank, then I have to think that Netflix and Nintendo pooling their talents and resources together could make something truly amazing. Obviously, it is way too early to get any hopes up, but I think I already am overly hopeful about this becoming a real thing.
  19. Update: 03/24/2015 Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata gave an interview to Time Magazine touching on a number of topics, but, sadly, Iwata poured some cold water on the rumors of a live-action Legend of Zelda series in the works with Netflix. Iwata said, “As of now, I have nothing new to share with you in regard to the use of our IPs for any TV shows or films, but I can at least confirm that the article in question is not based on correct information." While this is certain to be disappointing news to some, it doesn't necessarily mean that Nintendo is ruling out the possibility of creating a miniseries based off of their IP, especially given their upcoming foray into mobile development. Original Story: 02/06/2015 Yep, you read that headline right. We might be seeing a live-action Legend of Zelda series sometime in the near future. The Wall Street Journal reported today that an unidentified source confirmed that Netflix and Nintendo were in the early stages of creating an online series set in Hyrule about a boy named Link who must rescue a princess named Zelda. Netflix reportedly describes the show as "Game of Thrones but for a family audience." The source said that Netflix is in the process of finding writers for the show, so a live-action Legend of Zelda series is probably a year or more away from becoming a reality. Now, this is all effectively rumor since no one has been able to confirm with either Netflix or Nintendo that they're in the process of making this show. If it is real, there's an equally real possibility that the project will never see the light of day, killed off by either Netflix or Nintendo. Still, imagining what a series like this would be like is certainly interesting. I mean, for goodness sake, if IGN can cobble together a fake live-action trailer for an April Fools Day prank, then I have to think that Netflix and Nintendo pooling their talents and resources together could make something truly amazing. Obviously, it is way too early to get any hopes up, but I think I already am overly hopeful about this becoming a real thing. View full article
  20. Thanks to Viz Media, Legend of Zelda fans will be able to experience this comic from 1993 once again without paying around $120 on Ebay. One could say that Viz has made a real... link to the past. The adaptation of the classic SNES title features artwork by Shotaro Ishinomori, a prolific manga artist best known for essentially inventing the transforming super hero genre. Basically anything that remotely resembles Power Rangers exists because of this guy. The Nintendo Power comic follows the same general storyline as the video game, but adds more characters and twists in the plot. Also, Link talks. The republished Nintendo Power run will be available May 5 through Viz Media. If anyone is intrigued by this, it is worth pointing out that Viz has also published ten other manga adaptations of Legend of Zelda games by Akira Himekawa including: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Phantom Hourglass, Four Swords Adventures, and a different version of A Link to the Past.
  21. Thanks to Viz Media, Legend of Zelda fans will be able to experience this comic from 1993 once again without paying around $120 on Ebay. One could say that Viz has made a real... link to the past. The adaptation of the classic SNES title features artwork by Shotaro Ishinomori, a prolific manga artist best known for essentially inventing the transforming super hero genre. Basically anything that remotely resembles Power Rangers exists because of this guy. The Nintendo Power comic follows the same general storyline as the video game, but adds more characters and twists in the plot. Also, Link talks. The republished Nintendo Power run will be available May 5 through Viz Media. If anyone is intrigued by this, it is worth pointing out that Viz has also published ten other manga adaptations of Legend of Zelda games by Akira Himekawa including: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Phantom Hourglass, Four Swords Adventures, and a different version of A Link to the Past. View full article
  22. If you are looking for a way to flex your creative muscles and possibly make this year's Halloween costume, Nintendo has announced a crafty contest in honor of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Three winners will walk away with a New Nintendo 3DS XL and a copy of Majora's Mask 3D. Fittingly, the contest tasks participants with creating their very own mask. It doesn't have to look like one of the masks from the video game, it just has to be inspired by the game itself. Those that wish to enter the contest must submit pictures of their creation via Twitter from January 23 through January 25 with the hashtags #MyMajorasMask and #ContestEntry. Three winners will be chosen during that time period. Only residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec for some reason) and who are over the age of 13 qualify for this challenge. Entries will be judged based on the following criteria: Your entry is, in fact, a mask The mask's demonstration of your Legend of Zelda enthusiasm How well the mask represents Majora's Mask 3D The quality of your mask Winners will be contacted on or around January 26.
  23. If you are looking for a way to flex your creative muscles and possibly make this year's Halloween costume, Nintendo has announced a crafty contest in honor of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Three winners will walk away with a New Nintendo 3DS XL and a copy of Majora's Mask 3D. Fittingly, the contest tasks participants with creating their very own mask. It doesn't have to look like one of the masks from the video game, it just has to be inspired by the game itself. Those that wish to enter the contest must submit pictures of their creation via Twitter from January 23 through January 25 with the hashtags #MyMajorasMask and #ContestEntry. Three winners will be chosen during that time period. Only residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec for some reason) and who are over the age of 13 qualify for this challenge. Entries will be judged based on the following criteria: Your entry is, in fact, a mask The mask's demonstration of your Legend of Zelda enthusiasm How well the mask represents Majora's Mask 3D The quality of your mask Winners will be contacted on or around January 26. View full article
  24. Earlier this week, I wrapped up my review of Divinity: Original Sin and one of the minor problems that I briefly mentioned was the lack of narrative direction. I understand why it isn’t there; Larian studios didn’t want to funnel their players into any one predetermined path. Doing so would undermine the entire appeal of their game and diminish the sense of freedom Original Sin allows its players. As I thought about my experience with Larian’s modern take on old-school RPGs, I couldn’t help but feel like this was something of a missed opportunity. Original Sin was certainly entertaining, but will I ever feel compelled to replay it? Will I remember the details of its well-worn plot or the characters in a month or two? The somewhat somber conclusion that I came to was a flat no. I’ve always been a proponent of games as both a vehicle for both narrative and enjoyment. However, it seems that when one sacrifices narrative for enjoyment the entire package suffers as a whole. I still get the itch to play the first Mass Effect and experience the adventure again, despite the fact that the gameplay is clunky at best. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I rarely feel the need to go back and revisit Guitar Hero, though it was amazing amounts of fun when it initially released. And that isn’t saying that all games should have narratives; it is merely an observation that fun seems to be this ethereal and transient thing while well told stories last. I have a running bet with a friend of mine on which game people will still talk about in twenty years: BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us. It is a silly bet with $50 on the line, but if I am completely honest, people will probably still talk about both titles. The dialogue will continue, not because they were both fun (though they are both quite enjoyable to play), but because of the stories they tell and how they go about telling them. I wouldn’t be willing to place a similar bet on there being ongoing discourse about the narratives in Divinity: Original Sin, Crackdown, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Dark Souls, or Grand Theft Auto 4. The greatest strength that these games provide, player agency, seems to diminish the effect their stories might have otherwise exerted. This brings me to what I feel is a valid question: Why? Why is it that open world games seem to have fewer stories that connect with players? The first conclusion that I find myself drawn toward is that open world game design clashes with traditional narrative structure. There is a concept in Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ that stipulates many stories have a ‘call to adventure’ wherein the narrative beckons the protagonist to begin their quest. There is also an addition to that idea referred to as a ‘refusal of the call’ where the protagonist for various reasons declines the initial appeal. Though ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ was written with traditional, linear narratives in mind, these two ideas are useful when talking about open world structure. An open world completely destroys almost any attempt to create a similar type of story, and yet many of the narratives we find in open worlds cling to a linear structure. Since the players in most video games are the protagonist, this means that the hooks meant to invest them into the story must be effective or else most players will find various reasons to ‘refuse the call’ while going from initial plot point A to important plot point B. This was exactly my problem while playing Skyrim. I sank over one hundred hours into Bethesda’s open world and never made much progress on the main storyline. There was always a new cave to explore, a new sidequest, a new dragon shout clue. Any dramatic tension that might have been built up disappeared the instant an unexplored map marker appeared. I’d guess that many of you have similar experiences with open world games. The opportunities and incentives to refuse the call simply win out through sheer numbers over the singular call to adventure. You might argue that this is a problem that could be solved through design by including more motivations to follow the core storyline. I’ve heard ideas thrown around ranging from providing a timer to create tension like those found in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask or Dead Rising. Another idea would be to incentivize the main quest with better loot or various other digital rewards. That sounds all fine and dandy, but when you bring the idea of curbing or influencing player behavior in an open world game to the players themselves, you are met with a resounding, “LOL, NOPE.” Creating effective drama in a narrative is like shooting a bow and arrow. The string of the bow tenses as it is pulled further and further. If you hold the arrow back for too long your arm begins to get tired and there is the possibility that the string or bow will break. Releasing the arrow after it has been fully drawn causes it to shoot far and fast, but if you let the string go slowly slack, the arrow will just clatter to the ground harmlessly. Drama demands a certain amount of tension; tension which most players in open world games dislike because it makes them feel like they are ‘on the clock’ so to speak. This gives people a sense of being rushed or forced down certain paths, which they then resent. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who don’t care and do what they want anyway, which has the effect of deflating tension until it is non-existent, killing the drama. At this point, it might be fair to question the point of having a narrative in an open world experience at all. Perhaps it is best to look at how narrative in the genre has evolved to its current state for additional insight. Open world games began as text adventures in the 70s, but the first graphical attempt at an open world came in the form of 1979’s Adventure on the Atari 2600. While the game itself gave few clues as to what story, if any, was being told, the instruction manual provided players with the tools to contextualize the collections of shapes on-screen. In 1986, The Legend of Zelda refined the idea of an open world by adding engaging combat and puzzles, though the narrative was still largely contained within the game’s manual. Then, in 1998, Ocarina of Time released and became the go-to example of how to pull off an open world. To this day Ocarina is considered one of the greatest games of all time, lauded for its tight gameplay, exploration, and narrative. For the first time, an open world game had a narrative that was not only successful in a functional sense, but also in a way which seemed like it captured the essence of adventure. That part of the game might seem tired and less revelatory over a over a decade and a half later, but when it released people were amazed by the cheeky Princess Ruto, the odd society of the Gerudo, and the journey of a young boy to save the world. Ocarina of Time managed to tread a very thin line; one that encouraged and rewarded exploration while also minimizing distractions from the player’s pursuit of the narrative. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the areas you initially pass by in Ocarina of Time have paths and secrets you can only access with gear later on; gear that you only acquire by progressing through the story? Ocarina manages to gate various areas in this manner, but it never feels distracting or irritating. I’d guess that’s because it provides incentives to proceed, both in terms of new gadgets, but also by using what has become one of the most iconic gaming annoyances: “HEY, LISTEN!” Players who get overly sidetracked are reminded that they’re supposed to be saving the world and not wasting quite so much time competing in fishing challenges or fighting chickens. These gates and mechanics result in a tightly controlled story which funnels the player from dungeon to dungeon. While players might have accepted this in ’98 and have come to accept it as a staple of The Legend of Zelda series, they certainly wouldn’t appreciate such tactics in a game like Far Cry 4. Ocarina balances the openness of its world against its narrative needs very well, but it isn’t perfect, something that has become more apparent to me over time. It is a classic hero-saves-the-kidnapped-princess story, a tale we have all heard more than a few times. Sure, it has a few unique twists, but that isn’t enough to make the narrative feel completely new. It is an old story told very competently, which is high praise for a video game, but it isn’t Shakespeare, Dickens, or Dumas. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of developers at the turn of the century took the success of Ocarina of Time to mean that bigger open worlds with more things to do was what players truly wanted, not recognizing the need for a change in storytelling tactics. That leads us to the current day. Rapidly advancing technology has given developers more tools with greater power than ever before, ballooning the costs of development for open world games and causing more developers to play it safe by sticking with providing larger and larger worlds. Many gamers and developers seem to be stuck in the idea that bigger is better when it comes to open world video games, while forgetting the lessons of Ocarina of Time. With a smaller game world than most open world games since, Ocarina of Time is more successful on a narrative level than Skyrim’s massive realm. I feel the need to clarify that I don’t mean to talk smack about Skyrim. There are many, many things that it does much better than Ocarina of Time and its scale is utterly gorgeous, but on a narrative level it calls flat for me. The problem is that when a game touts its massive game world and sells millions of copies, many other developers attribute the success, at least in part, to how large the game world was. That’s the reason we see CD Projeckt hyping The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as having a game world larger than Skyrim and 30 times as large as The Witcher 2. As a side note, it seems a bit backward to me to tout how large a title’s in-game world is before players have gotten their hands on it. What if the general reception of the game is terrible? Doesn’t that just mean there is more of it to find unenjoyable? A great parallel of this mindset can be seen in the film industry. On the one hand we have Transformers, a series of films that trots around the world with giant robots beating the crap (oil?) out of each other that succeeds in being huge, loud, and flashy, with each film trying to be bigger than the last; and it is all so incredibly boring. On the other hand, we have 12 Angry Men a classic film from 1957 about a jury arguing over the guilt of a young man on trial for murder. Almost the entire film takes place in a small jury room and it is riveting. The film makes good use of the small space, shooting from interesting angles while dramatic tension is created between the various members of the jury. The size of the set isn’t what makes a film interesting, and neither is the size of a game world. It seems kind of like we are stuck when it comes to storytelling in open world games. Developers can attempt to tell a story that our players can completely ignore, which leads to lazy, uninspiring narratives; they could lightly sprinkle the narrative into the game in such a way that it is both unimportant to the player and the game itself; or we can tightly control the gameplay options to restrict the open world and tell our story appropriately. All of these options seem to come up a bit short if a developer wants to tell a meaty, interesting narrative in an open world. It might seem odd to look for a solution in linear titles, but that seems to be the only recourse to find a moderately comparable solution, since there are nothing quite like open world games in any other form of media. Observing some of the most interesting narrative titles from the last decade or so reveals what could be an interesting answer and possibly the future of video games: Game mechanics as storytelling tools. There is a tendency to view mechanics in games as simply a means to an end; that they are just how games work. It is a shame that we look at the basic means by which this medium functions and just shrug them off. But those underlying mechanisms are one of the characteristics that set video games apart from other mediums. Perhaps that is why some of the best games of our time have made use of mechanics to aid in storytelling. Look at Jonathan Blow’s Braid which uses its core time reversing mechanic to devastating effect. It completely turns the tables on the accepted theme of princess rescuing that many games have adopted as a shorthand for adventure. It reveals a troubled protagonist who has created his own version of events while ignoring the truth of what happened; someone who desperately desires to rewind the clock and take back what they did, but ultimately finds that this is one thing that can’t be fixed. For a more blatant example, look at this year’s Transistor from Supergiant Games. The mechanics of the combat contain several layers of meaning. On a surface level, they build the world of Transistor and reflect the digital nature of Cloudbank. Each combat ability stems from a person who has been absorbed into the Transistor and must be combined in different ways to unlock each individual’s history. Using these abilities, these souls, naturally brings up questions about humanity and the moral questions of what you, and by extension the characters around you, are doing. These mechanics are both core to how the game is played and compose the heart of their respective games. This is what open worlds need to strive to do. Developers can escape the confines of linear storytelling if they ingrain the mechanics with weight and meaning. *spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus ahead* The melding of mechanics and story was a concept that Shadow of the Colossus (one of my favorite games of all time) understood very well. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that it is the only open world game that has succeeded in doing so in a nearly flawless manner. Every single mechanic in Shadow of the Colossus tells us something important. What’s that? Wander swings the sword clumsily? That makes sense since it is revealed later that he stole the sword. He rides his horse Agro very competently and it comes when whistled for? They probably have a deep bond that will be exploited later for dramatic effect. He shoots arrows very well? He was probably hunter or an archer of some kind. Within the space of several minutes with no dialogue the player can make some accurate assessments of Wander’s character. As the player progresses through Shadow of the Colossus, they slay enormous magical beasts for a mysteriously imprisoned entity in exchange for the soul of a deceased loved one. For every colossus that Wander kills, the game makes it clear that this is a sinister task with grave consequences via inescapable dark energy which pierce Wander’s body. At first the change is so subtle many players don’t notice, but after several of the creatures are dead, Wander begins to change, both on the outside and the inside. Small horns begin sprouting from his head, his hair turns black, and his skin goes white, eventually taking on the look of someone near death. But as these changes occur, he also gains more stamina and health, tangible things in the game that help the player overcome the remaining colossi. Wander’s willingness to give up his humanity over the course of Shadow of the Colossus speaks to the lengths to which he will go for the sake of his love, a sacrifice that becomes all too clear in the final moments of the game. Though the world is open, the minimal design ensures that there aren’t many distractions beyond the beautiful views encountered en route to the next colossus’ location, thus naturally overcoming the player’s urge to wander and break dramatic tension. It seems to me that in order to tell a completely successful narrative in a video game, developers need to embrace the things that make video games different and use them to tell their story. For too long, open world games have relied entirely on player agency while neglecting to consider the importance of what their mechanics are saying. And this isn’t just a problem for open world games, but something that a lot of linearly designed games also get wrong. Integrating mechanics meaningfully into the narrative will be what brings video games into their own. The industry is on the cusp of a change in design philosophy and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
  25. Earlier this week, I wrapped up my review of Divinity: Original Sin and one of the minor problems that I briefly mentioned was the lack of narrative direction. I understand why it isn’t there; Larian studios didn’t want to funnel their players into any one predetermined path. Doing so would undermine the entire appeal of their game and diminish the sense of freedom Original Sin allows its players. As I thought about my experience with Larian’s modern take on old-school RPGs, I couldn’t help but feel like this was something of a missed opportunity. Original Sin was certainly entertaining, but will I ever feel compelled to replay it? Will I remember the details of its well-worn plot or the characters in a month or two? The somewhat somber conclusion that I came to was a flat no. I’ve always been a proponent of games as both a vehicle for both narrative and enjoyment. However, it seems that when one sacrifices narrative for enjoyment the entire package suffers as a whole. I still get the itch to play the first Mass Effect and experience the adventure again, despite the fact that the gameplay is clunky at best. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I rarely feel the need to go back and revisit Guitar Hero, though it was amazing amounts of fun when it initially released. And that isn’t saying that all games should have narratives; it is merely an observation that fun seems to be this ethereal and transient thing while well told stories last. I have a running bet with a friend of mine on which game people will still talk about in twenty years: BioShock Infinite or The Last of Us. It is a silly bet with $50 on the line, but if I am completely honest, people will probably still talk about both titles. The dialogue will continue, not because they were both fun (though they are both quite enjoyable to play), but because of the stories they tell and how they go about telling them. I wouldn’t be willing to place a similar bet on there being ongoing discourse about the narratives in Divinity: Original Sin, Crackdown, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Dark Souls, or Grand Theft Auto 4. The greatest strength that these games provide, player agency, seems to diminish the effect their stories might have otherwise exerted. This brings me to what I feel is a valid question: Why? Why is it that open world games seem to have fewer stories that connect with players? The first conclusion that I find myself drawn toward is that open world game design clashes with traditional narrative structure. There is a concept in Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ that stipulates many stories have a ‘call to adventure’ wherein the narrative beckons the protagonist to begin their quest. There is also an addition to that idea referred to as a ‘refusal of the call’ where the protagonist for various reasons declines the initial appeal. Though ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’ was written with traditional, linear narratives in mind, these two ideas are useful when talking about open world structure. An open world completely destroys almost any attempt to create a similar type of story, and yet many of the narratives we find in open worlds cling to a linear structure. Since the players in most video games are the protagonist, this means that the hooks meant to invest them into the story must be effective or else most players will find various reasons to ‘refuse the call’ while going from initial plot point A to important plot point B. This was exactly my problem while playing Skyrim. I sank over one hundred hours into Bethesda’s open world and never made much progress on the main storyline. There was always a new cave to explore, a new sidequest, a new dragon shout clue. Any dramatic tension that might have been built up disappeared the instant an unexplored map marker appeared. I’d guess that many of you have similar experiences with open world games. The opportunities and incentives to refuse the call simply win out through sheer numbers over the singular call to adventure. You might argue that this is a problem that could be solved through design by including more motivations to follow the core storyline. I’ve heard ideas thrown around ranging from providing a timer to create tension like those found in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask or Dead Rising. Another idea would be to incentivize the main quest with better loot or various other digital rewards. That sounds all fine and dandy, but when you bring the idea of curbing or influencing player behavior in an open world game to the players themselves, you are met with a resounding, “LOL, NOPE.” Creating effective drama in a narrative is like shooting a bow and arrow. The string of the bow tenses as it is pulled further and further. If you hold the arrow back for too long your arm begins to get tired and there is the possibility that the string or bow will break. Releasing the arrow after it has been fully drawn causes it to shoot far and fast, but if you let the string go slowly slack, the arrow will just clatter to the ground harmlessly. Drama demands a certain amount of tension; tension which most players in open world games dislike because it makes them feel like they are ‘on the clock’ so to speak. This gives people a sense of being rushed or forced down certain paths, which they then resent. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who don’t care and do what they want anyway, which has the effect of deflating tension until it is non-existent, killing the drama. At this point, it might be fair to question the point of having a narrative in an open world experience at all. Perhaps it is best to look at how narrative in the genre has evolved to its current state for additional insight. Open world games began as text adventures in the 70s, but the first graphical attempt at an open world came in the form of 1979’s Adventure on the Atari 2600. While the game itself gave few clues as to what story, if any, was being told, the instruction manual provided players with the tools to contextualize the collections of shapes on-screen. In 1986, The Legend of Zelda refined the idea of an open world by adding engaging combat and puzzles, though the narrative was still largely contained within the game’s manual. Then, in 1998, Ocarina of Time released and became the go-to example of how to pull off an open world. To this day Ocarina is considered one of the greatest games of all time, lauded for its tight gameplay, exploration, and narrative. For the first time, an open world game had a narrative that was not only successful in a functional sense, but also in a way which seemed like it captured the essence of adventure. That part of the game might seem tired and less revelatory over a over a decade and a half later, but when it released people were amazed by the cheeky Princess Ruto, the odd society of the Gerudo, and the journey of a young boy to save the world. Ocarina of Time managed to tread a very thin line; one that encouraged and rewarded exploration while also minimizing distractions from the player’s pursuit of the narrative. Have you ever noticed how a lot of the areas you initially pass by in Ocarina of Time have paths and secrets you can only access with gear later on; gear that you only acquire by progressing through the story? Ocarina manages to gate various areas in this manner, but it never feels distracting or irritating. I’d guess that’s because it provides incentives to proceed, both in terms of new gadgets, but also by using what has become one of the most iconic gaming annoyances: “HEY, LISTEN!” Players who get overly sidetracked are reminded that they’re supposed to be saving the world and not wasting quite so much time competing in fishing challenges or fighting chickens. These gates and mechanics result in a tightly controlled story which funnels the player from dungeon to dungeon. While players might have accepted this in ’98 and have come to accept it as a staple of The Legend of Zelda series, they certainly wouldn’t appreciate such tactics in a game like Far Cry 4. Ocarina balances the openness of its world against its narrative needs very well, but it isn’t perfect, something that has become more apparent to me over time. It is a classic hero-saves-the-kidnapped-princess story, a tale we have all heard more than a few times. Sure, it has a few unique twists, but that isn’t enough to make the narrative feel completely new. It is an old story told very competently, which is high praise for a video game, but it isn’t Shakespeare, Dickens, or Dumas. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of developers at the turn of the century took the success of Ocarina of Time to mean that bigger open worlds with more things to do was what players truly wanted, not recognizing the need for a change in storytelling tactics. That leads us to the current day. Rapidly advancing technology has given developers more tools with greater power than ever before, ballooning the costs of development for open world games and causing more developers to play it safe by sticking with providing larger and larger worlds. Many gamers and developers seem to be stuck in the idea that bigger is better when it comes to open world video games, while forgetting the lessons of Ocarina of Time. With a smaller game world than most open world games since, Ocarina of Time is more successful on a narrative level than Skyrim’s massive realm. I feel the need to clarify that I don’t mean to talk smack about Skyrim. There are many, many things that it does much better than Ocarina of Time and its scale is utterly gorgeous, but on a narrative level it calls flat for me. The problem is that when a game touts its massive game world and sells millions of copies, many other developers attribute the success, at least in part, to how large the game world was. That’s the reason we see CD Projeckt hyping The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as having a game world larger than Skyrim and 30 times as large as The Witcher 2. As a side note, it seems a bit backward to me to tout how large a title’s in-game world is before players have gotten their hands on it. What if the general reception of the game is terrible? Doesn’t that just mean there is more of it to find unenjoyable? A great parallel of this mindset can be seen in the film industry. On the one hand we have Transformers, a series of films that trots around the world with giant robots beating the crap (oil?) out of each other that succeeds in being huge, loud, and flashy, with each film trying to be bigger than the last; and it is all so incredibly boring. On the other hand, we have 12 Angry Men a classic film from 1957 about a jury arguing over the guilt of a young man on trial for murder. Almost the entire film takes place in a small jury room and it is riveting. The film makes good use of the small space, shooting from interesting angles while dramatic tension is created between the various members of the jury. The size of the set isn’t what makes a film interesting, and neither is the size of a game world. It seems kind of like we are stuck when it comes to storytelling in open world games. Developers can attempt to tell a story that our players can completely ignore, which leads to lazy, uninspiring narratives; they could lightly sprinkle the narrative into the game in such a way that it is both unimportant to the player and the game itself; or we can tightly control the gameplay options to restrict the open world and tell our story appropriately. All of these options seem to come up a bit short if a developer wants to tell a meaty, interesting narrative in an open world. It might seem odd to look for a solution in linear titles, but that seems to be the only recourse to find a moderately comparable solution, since there are nothing quite like open world games in any other form of media. Observing some of the most interesting narrative titles from the last decade or so reveals what could be an interesting answer and possibly the future of video games: Game mechanics as storytelling tools. There is a tendency to view mechanics in games as simply a means to an end; that they are just how games work. It is a shame that we look at the basic means by which this medium functions and just shrug them off. But those underlying mechanisms are one of the characteristics that set video games apart from other mediums. Perhaps that is why some of the best games of our time have made use of mechanics to aid in storytelling. Look at Jonathan Blow’s Braid which uses its core time reversing mechanic to devastating effect. It completely turns the tables on the accepted theme of princess rescuing that many games have adopted as a shorthand for adventure. It reveals a troubled protagonist who has created his own version of events while ignoring the truth of what happened; someone who desperately desires to rewind the clock and take back what they did, but ultimately finds that this is one thing that can’t be fixed. For a more blatant example, look at this year’s Transistor from Supergiant Games. The mechanics of the combat contain several layers of meaning. On a surface level, they build the world of Transistor and reflect the digital nature of Cloudbank. Each combat ability stems from a person who has been absorbed into the Transistor and must be combined in different ways to unlock each individual’s history. Using these abilities, these souls, naturally brings up questions about humanity and the moral questions of what you, and by extension the characters around you, are doing. These mechanics are both core to how the game is played and compose the heart of their respective games. This is what open worlds need to strive to do. Developers can escape the confines of linear storytelling if they ingrain the mechanics with weight and meaning. *spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus ahead* The melding of mechanics and story was a concept that Shadow of the Colossus (one of my favorite games of all time) understood very well. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that it is the only open world game that has succeeded in doing so in a nearly flawless manner. Every single mechanic in Shadow of the Colossus tells us something important. What’s that? Wander swings the sword clumsily? That makes sense since it is revealed later that he stole the sword. He rides his horse Agro very competently and it comes when whistled for? They probably have a deep bond that will be exploited later for dramatic effect. He shoots arrows very well? He was probably hunter or an archer of some kind. Within the space of several minutes with no dialogue the player can make some accurate assessments of Wander’s character. As the player progresses through Shadow of the Colossus, they slay enormous magical beasts for a mysteriously imprisoned entity in exchange for the soul of a deceased loved one. For every colossus that Wander kills, the game makes it clear that this is a sinister task with grave consequences via inescapable dark energy which pierce Wander’s body. At first the change is so subtle many players don’t notice, but after several of the creatures are dead, Wander begins to change, both on the outside and the inside. Small horns begin sprouting from his head, his hair turns black, and his skin goes white, eventually taking on the look of someone near death. But as these changes occur, he also gains more stamina and health, tangible things in the game that help the player overcome the remaining colossi. Wander’s willingness to give up his humanity over the course of Shadow of the Colossus speaks to the lengths to which he will go for the sake of his love, a sacrifice that becomes all too clear in the final moments of the game. Though the world is open, the minimal design ensures that there aren’t many distractions beyond the beautiful views encountered en route to the next colossus’ location, thus naturally overcoming the player’s urge to wander and break dramatic tension. It seems to me that in order to tell a completely successful narrative in a video game, developers need to embrace the things that make video games different and use them to tell their story. For too long, open world games have relied entirely on player agency while neglecting to consider the importance of what their mechanics are saying. And this isn’t just a problem for open world games, but something that a lot of linearly designed games also get wrong. Integrating mechanics meaningfully into the narrative will be what brings video games into their own. The industry is on the cusp of a change in design philosophy and I can’t wait to see what comes next. View full article
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