Archive for January, 2012

It is interesting that the Zelda franchise has gone on for so long without an explanation of the connection between the individual games. I have had my many theories but, in a recent release, Nintendo has finally released somewhat of an explanation of the storyline. Here is an image to get a sense of the timeline:

What is interesting about this recent release is that it takes an approach that the legend actually starts with one progression but breaks into three different tracks based on Link’s success or failure in Ocarina of Time. My original belief was that the progression was actually something like this (with some of the game stories I do not know being omitted):

  • Skyward Sword
  • Ocarina of Time
  • Majora’s Mask
  • Twilight Princess
  • Link to the Past
  • Link’s Awakening
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Adventure of Link
  • Wind Waker

In this version, Hyrule is created and saved from the evil Demise, but his spirit remains and transforms into Ganon/Ganondorf. Locked away in the other realm, he is revived in Ocarina of Time when a new hero of destiny awakens in Kokiri Forest. Able to drive Ganondorf back into the shadow realm, he returns to his childhood and winds up battling the skull kid. At least a generation later, Zelda is a princess captured in the Shadow Realm. Link is awakened as the hero of destiny and opens a connection between the light and dark worlds. Ganondorf reveals his reawakening, but Link and Zelda drive him back again. A wizard is able to pull together the light and dark worlds again, forcing Link and Zelda back on the offensive. After defeating Ganon again, Link takes his vacation but winds up in a new adventure when he gets caught in a storm. The triforce being locked away, Ganondorf is able to free himself again and seek out the triforce for a wish. A young hero arises and is able to take down Ganon, and then prevent his return. Years later (possibly due to global warming), the face of the world has changed. Waters have flooded the land and people live by the open waters of the ocean. Ganondorf, struggling with reduced power, works to rebuild his empire once realized at the time of The Legend of Zelda.

I do not know if the picture above is 100% accurate, but I definitely am interested what the next installment will add to this already robust story.

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So one part of me that I both own up to and hide at times is my gamer side. I certainly would love to be able to share it with others, but most of my friends I used to play with have moved on or stopped playing. This does not stop me. I have a few games I play online, but most of the time I am focused on certain series of games. One that has me occupied at the moment is the Legend of Zelda.

I have been playing through this franchise since the first game came out…well, not when it first came out. I own systems all the way back to an Atari 2600, but one of the first games I ever beat was the first Legend of Zelda. Though simple in comparison to the games out now, it was actually quite challenging and complex compared to the other games of its time. Starting off outside a cave, Link receives his first sword and is off on a quest to rescue the Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon. Traveling throughout the land, he goes from dungeon to dungeon, collecting items/weapons to aid him on his quest and ultimately let him reach Ganon and Zelda.

Moving forward from original, the series began to evolve. Each story brought forth a new sense of the story and slowly a theme developed to help tie the stories together. Ganon/Ganondorf makes an appearance in most of the games and generally ends up being the final boss battle. It became apparent that the bloodlines of Link and Zelda allowed for a lot of the connections between games without starring the same individual Link and Zelda, though Ganon/Ganondorf is immortal and recurs in different forms. It was the Ocarina of Time that officially started to make the connection. Link gets the story from the Great Deku Tree at the start of his quest, which highlights the three goddesses that created the world but had to banish an evil presence which had recently escaped. Different races of characters and storyline themes were developed alongside of this story, including the solidification of the landmarks that make up Hyrule. Whether you look at the mountaintops in Wind Waker and the surface world during Skyward Sword, Hyrule remains fairly similar from that point forward.

In honor of the 25th anniversary and with my love of creating lists, I have my top 3s (specifically referencing the three parts of the triforce) of this great series. I will also point out that I have not played most of the handheld games and have only limited knowledge of Majora’s Mask, which means that those games will be highly unrepresented in my most memorable elements of the games.

Best Dungeon Bosses

  • Gohma – While not the most challenging of the bosses (especially when you consider the Twilight Princess version), he has been an enemy of Link since the beginning. The formula is always similar. The weak point is always the eye, whether it is on the front or on top of the body. Gohma has also appeared in both a spider and scorpion style creature. I would anticipate that Gohma will return in the future.
  • Shadow Link¬†– Appearing in a few of the major titles, it is never easy to battle yourself. The first carnation was in Link II, where the game ended with a fight against your shadow. While the fight proved to be difficult, any fight where the enemy mirror’s your motions seems like it would be a stalemate. To expand on the options with shadow creatures, several of the other major bosses ended up using shadow versions of themselves to slow Link path to Zelda.
  • Ganon/Ganondorf – The final boss is usually one of the best fights of the game. Whether you look at the first version which was invisible or the epic fights in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, this is always a challenging fight. In the more recent editions, Zelda has gotten in on the fight, using light arrows to stun the demon king. When you have an enemy that can only be defeated but not actually killed, there are excellent opportunities to revisit the intense battles with a well-matched foe.

Most Annoying/Useless Dungeons

  • The Water Temple (Ocarina of Time) – Probably identified as one of the worst on most Zelda fans’ lists, the constant tracking back through the dungeon to change the water level just feels exhausting. This gets magnified when you realize that you play the ocarina at the wrong time and have to correct the mistake. All of this ends with a decent boss fight against an eyeball traveling through jelly-like water, but at least the Shadow Link fight is in this level.
  • Lord Jabu-Jabu’s Belly (Ocarina of Time) – Odd that two of the dungeons in a nearly flawless game make this list, but this level includes having to babysit a very annoying Zora princess. The level itself is fine with the enemy fights and the final boss, but having to backtrack when she goes missing is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game.
  • Snowpeak Ruins (Twilight Princess) – Again, this is not all horrible, but the sense of backtracking with the collection of items for soup is just too much at times. The puzzles are fine. The enemies are fine. The final boss is okay. Why are we stuck on a mission for soup?

Most Innovated Additions

  • 3-D Gameplay – When Ocarina of Time was released on N64, a dynamic series was taken to a whole new level. A Link to the Past¬†included the most complex story up to that point, but the world expanded greatly on the day of the release. New weapons were added that increased the range of Link’s fighting ability and puzzle solving. It also meant swimming was added to include new underwater opportunities.
  • Motion Play – Though obvious, this added a true feeling of swing the sword and aiming the bow. With the latest installment, there is even more sensitivity and elements that require twisting, thrusting and snapping of the remote to achieve certain reactions.
  • Connected Storyline – Though not a visual element, Ocarina of Time¬†(as mentioned above) introduced a true backstory for the Link/Zelda/Triforce legacy. The creationism story became a staple to be highlighted in many of the games that followed. Wind Waker¬†was years after Hyrule was flooded over, with some surviving races rising to islands above the treacherous seas. Twilight Princess¬†takes place in Hyrule but introduced the new concept of the Spirit World¬†and the Palace of Twilight. Skyward Sword¬†starts away from Hyrule with a village of people who only know life in an island in the sky. Ganon’s story finally made sense and was getting explained in most of the major games after Ocarina.

Best Weapons (minus the Master Sword)

  • Clawshot¬†– Though it first started as the hookshot, this dynamic item worked as a weapon, item grabber and shortcut. Though not powerful, the clawshot can be used to stun enemies or take out smaller ones like Keeses (bats) without using arrows or the slingshot. Those pesky items that are out of reach are not as so when the clawshot can serve as a grabber. Finally with its ability grab hook points, vines and climbing walls, traversing dungeons and rough terrain is a bit easier.
  • Magical Key – Appearing in the first game, this key is a skeleton key that works on every dungeon lock. It only appears in dungeon #8 in both versions of the game, but it makes the rest of the dungeon and final dungeon easier to get through.
  • Musical Instruments – Each game has a different musical instrument, though the flute or ocarina appear in several of them. Instruments have the ability to warp link to other areas, open doors/gateways, change the time of day, call Epona and unlock secrets. Some games are more centered around the instruments like Ocarina of Time, where others are not even permanent items like with the reeds in Twilight Princess.

Most Annoying Secondary Characters

  • Midna, Navi¬†& Fi-¬†All of these characters are the guides for our hero, but all of them also overdo the help. Each are extremely talkative and cut off the action at some of the most annoying times. Navi, in particular, actually sometimes comes out flying into the view of the camera and can temporarily block a necessary item on screen. They are supposed to be helpful characters, but they are overused in each of their stories. It is also not explained what the real connection with Fi is.
  • Ruto – She is the Zora princess from Ocarina of Time¬†who requires way too much assistance in Lord Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. She comes off as a little too playful in a very dangerous situation and also has an odd crush on Link, which is clearly not reciprocated. The adult version is better as she only ends up being identified as a spirit guide for Link.
  • Old Man – In the first game, he is the man who both gives you your sword and then shows up all over Hyrule in caves and random dungeon locations. His guidance is almost Yoda-like and requires some deciphering to understand what he means. If you happen to make him angry, he starts throwing energy balls at you until you get out of his space.

Best Game Concept

  • Ocarina of Time – A boy of destiny is awakened as the Hero of Time. He is tasked with the responsibility to meet with the Princess Zelda, collect the spiritual stones and unlock the Master Sword. Transporting 8 years into the future, the world of Hyrule has changed, with Ganondorf’s minions having taken over the land. The universe was significantly expanded with this game and its ability to alter the entire concept of the game midway through.
  • Wind Waker¬†– While not always seen as a strong presentation of the series, the concept of the game is very different from the other major platform stories. Link is a child on Outset Island, unaware of the huge world beyond the shores. When a group of pirates give him a chance to get out on the open seas to search for and rescue his sister, he discovers a much larger quest to unlock the power to take out the evil Ganondorf and restore order to the world above the water. With the former Hyrule resting in suspension below the seas, Link gets to explore both the waters above and some of the land below.
  • A Link to the Past – Though actually the first game to set up the backstory (and potentially with more detail than Ocarina), it is easily lost if you do not read the manual. The tale starts with the creation of Hyrule and the goddesses of Power, Wisdom and Courage plowed the land, grew nature and created life. The Triforce was hidden, which contained the power of the goddesses, as the Hylians distorted the lore after many generations. The Evil Ganondorf was able to find and make a wish to the Triforce, bringing power and evil to the land. The Hylian knights fought valiantly, allowing for the sages to seal Ganondorf in the Golden Land, which under the evil presence had become the Dark World. When an evil wizard rises to restore the connection with the Dark World, ¬†Zelda calls on Link to first save her from the castle dungeon and then to go off on a quest to stop the wizard and keep Ganondorf at bay.

Though this series is not a secret to anybody, it is far from over. The coming release of the Wii U means that a whole new reincarnation of this amazing story. I certainly cannot wait.

While there is still quite a bit of football left, fantasy football is coming to a close. I have been playing for several years now and love how it gets me into the rest of the games across the NFL. Certainly I am a Redskins fan first and it is difficult to support production from players on teams like the Cowboys and Giants, but I find myself knowing about and appreciating the talent across the league.

I actually was not into football much until I got to college and started to watch the Eagles with a friend of mine. It was the earlier side of the McNabb era, also with Duce Staley, Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston. I started to feel that spark I had as a kid with the Redskins and then started to watch my home team struggle to find a rhythm. That certainly has not changed, but a couple years later, I jumped into the fantasy football commotion. I have yet to win a league but I at least feel good about each of my teams before the first week of games are played.

In this most recent season, I had 4 teams, with the last league ending tonight with this Cowboys-Giants game. My team names are as follows: The More You Gano, Lending a Shanahan, The Cooley Zone and AllAlongTheHightower. I am actually most proud of that last one. Naming the team can almost feel as satisfying as drafting it. With that in mind, I decided to come up with some options for each of the teams across the league. Here we go…

  • Arizona Cardinals – 53 Card Pickup, Cardinal Rule, The Bird Cage, L. Card Fitzgerald, All’s Wells that Ends Wells
  • Atlanta Falcons – Millenium Falcons, Turner Vision, Ju-Ju-Juilo, Ovie Ovie Oxen Free
  • Baltimore Ravens – Quote the Raven, Balit-more Cowbell, The Boldin Beautiful, A Tale of Two Rays
  • Buffalo Bills – Bills Bills Bills, Wild Bills Hickok, The Lights Are Out, Me and Stevie & McGee
  • Carolina Panthers – Sweet Carolina, The Black Cats, Give It to Newton, Taking a Gamble
  • Chicago Bears – Da Bears, Bear-ly Hanging On, Fort Knox, That’s My Forte
  • Cincinnati Bengals – Cincy’s Stripes, The Green Zone, Pac-Man & Co., Dalton’s Law
  • Cleveland Browns – Could Have Been Ravens, Brown-Eyed Girl, Sorry Mr. Jackson, Over the Hillis
  • Dallas Cowboys – ___ Does Dallas, No Mo Romo, Dez-tiny, Many the Miles
  • Denver Broncos – Mile High Miracle, Buckin’ Broncos, Tebow Time, Von Miller-ator
  • Detroit Lions – Lion’s Eye, Megatron’s Men, QB Killa, So Suh Me
  • Green Bay Packers – Cheeseheads by the Bay, Favre Who, Full Nelson, AJ Hawkeye
  • Houston Texans – Texas Texans, Johnson & Johnson, Super Mario, Rackers It Up
  • Indianapolis Colts – Peyton’s Team, Colt 53, Freeney At Last, Addai on the Prize
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Jig Jags, MJD Lite, Scobee Doo, Osgood That Ends Good
  • Kansas City Chiefs – War Chiefs, A King’s Cassel, Bowe and Arrow, Don’t Be a Succop
  • Miami Dolphins – Laces Out, Marshall Law, A Reggie in the Hand, Taylor-Made
  • Minnesota Vikings – Norse Code, Ponder Me This, Hail Mary Harvin, EJ and the Henderson’s
  • New England Patriots – Patriot Games, The Brady Bunch, Get Him to the Gronk, Wilfork in the Road
  • New Orleans Saints – Not So Saintly,¬†Cool Brees, Autumn Brees, Receiver Nation
  • New York Giants – Empire State of Mind,¬†Cruz-in’ USA, The Other Manning, Tuck and Roll
  • New York Jets – Cool Your Jets, No Place Like Holmes, Gun Control, Folk Lore
  • Oakland Raiders – Raiding the Endzone,¬†In the Palmer of My Hand,¬†Housh-Your-Daddy, Madden’s McFadden
  • Philadelphia Eagles – Flipadelphia, Fly Like the Eagles, The Real McCoy, Big Maclin
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – Reinforced Steelers, Hines 57, Sushiman Suisham, Malu of Troy
  • San Diego Chargers – Super-Charged, Cry Me a Rivers, Heavenly Gates, Jammer Jam
  • San Francisco 49ers – 9ers By the Bay, Crabtree Apple, Green Akers, Frank-en-Gore
  • Seattle Seahawks – I Love Ferry Boats, The Unstoppable Lynch, The Better Baldwin, Atari 2600
  • St. Louis Rams – Battering Rams, Ah You Guys, Coming Down with Laurinaitis, Chris Long Division
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ahoy Matey, Bowers Power, Haynesworthless, Trueblood
  • Tennessee Titans – Remember the Titans, Such a Hassel-beck, Britt-ish Invasion, Hope & Faith
  • Washington Redskins – Redskin Potatoes, Helllluuuu, Atogwe We Go, Orakpo Equals Sack