Friday, January 17, 2014

NGNY: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and more

Eleven days into the new year I finished a game!  A game in a series that I've never successfully finished before at that!  Pardon me for being so excited, but defeating a Zelda game is a record for me.

When this game was first announced, it seemed like it was just going to be a Link to the Past remake with a few tweaks here and there.  That's definitely not what it is though.  The map is primarily the same, but the dungeons are completely new and so is the story.  While it can certainly bring warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings for those familiar with the older game thanks to the music and setting, it's also just a great Zelda game period.

When I first got this, I made it through about four dungeons before hitting a wall of frustration.  I did really enjoy the game though and hated to see it put aside unfinished, so I consulted a walkthrough online, primarily to know which weapons I would need going into the dungeons and proper strategy to defeat the bosses.  There were also a few puzzle-like mazes that I got completely lost in and consulted the walkthrough to get past them.  But even with a guiding hand, the game gave me a significant challenge that made it all the more rewarding when I did make it through.

Most of the dungeons are call backs to the dungeons that appeared in Link to the Past, but they are significantly different from that game.  Most I would consider to be an improvement on the originals, adding in new elements to create newer challenges and make you do new and fun things.  Except for the ice palace.  It was a pain in the old game and it's an even bigger pain here.  Game designers who make ice levels are sadistic people.

The story on the surface is very similar to all the other Zelda games and really any other "rescue the princess" story, but toward the end it makes a significant turn.  While I began to sense the initial twist, the reveal was handled in a way that still made it feel satisfying and held emotional weight.  The second twist was something I should have seen coming, but didn't, and that made it all the more fun.  I certainly don't want to give it away for anyone, but for me the turn of events at the end of the game made me care about the characters far more than I usually do in these otherwise generic tales.

I'd recommend this game to anyone who loves the Zelda series or dungeon crawlers in general.  While it may not be worth purchasing a 3DS for alone, it's certainly a must have game if you already have one.  If I can beat it, you probably can too.

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Zelda was not the only game I played since my last post, so I thought I'd add a couple quick blurbs at the end here:

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - I've only barely started this one, meaning I've mostly been playing the tutorial levels.  It's fairly similar to the past Mario & Luigi games, which means it's a turn based RPG where timed hits give you bonuses, and there's a lot of puzzle solving to navigate the levels.  These games also have a cute silly humor to them that I really enjoy.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - I played a couple levels of this one and I have to admit I found it a little boring.  You run around shooting and smashing things.  The game tries to keep it interesting by having humorous commentary running throughout, but I'd put that comedy on par with a Dreamworks film - it's cute and mildly entertaining, but ultimately forgettable.  This was a free download with my Playstation Plus membership, so I can't feel ripped off.  The game was primarily designed for 4 player co-op play, and I elected to play it offline alone, so it's quite possible I'm missing out on some of the fun.  However my experience with online play via PSN is kind of spotty, so I'd rather not play that way.  I haven't deleted the game but I may not return to it.

Superbrothers Swords and Sworcery EP - I continued with Session 2 of this game.  The puzzles here are more of the "try stuff until you figure it out" variety rather than logic or things that are hinted at.  I'm not crazy about that at all, and I actually went to a walkthrough after getting frustrated with a puzzle where I was supposed to just know to click on 9 sheep in random order until they all lit up.  Once I got through the puzzles it was time to fight a boss, and that was also challenging but in a more enjoyable way.  A few days later I started session 3 and found those puzzles much easier to handle, but the boss far more frustrating.  So frustrating that I don't know if I'm coming back to this one.  The timing is just so precise with so little margin for error, which is so off kilter with the otherwise relaxing tone of the game.  I will probably give it one more try, but I just wasn't having fun by the end of it.

Super Mario Galaxy - I had played through some of this one a while back, and then abandoned it.  I played the game for a little longer this week and realized why I stopped.  I have a total of 34 stars, and that seems to be as far as I can get.  The challenge is frustrating me far more than making me want to beat it.  I anticipate the same will happen with its sequel, but I'll give it a try.  This one is going on the sell/trade in pile.

I also realized I have a few games through GOG.com, Bioshock 2 DLC, and some 3DS digital downloads I haven't played much of.  I've added them all to my list.  You can see why this project was a good idea for me; I have games I don't even remember having!

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