Whenever I am low on ideas, it is always easy to fall back on my trusty 30-day video game topics. While it was meant to take place over the course of 30 days, I have completely broken the rules and don’t even care. I’m a rebel like that. I don’t even heed the expiration date on ketchup. I’m that bad. I swear it tastes fine after a year. It really does. Tomatoes are good for you. Anyway, today’s topic was the one that was supposed to be meant for day ten, the game with the best gameplay. A lot of people will likely disagree with me on this one, and maybe “best” is not quite the correct word to use here. The game I will really be writing about is actually the game that has the most fun controls. Like most people, I am not typically a fan of the motion controls of the Wii. Nevertheless, I still have to make an exception because I absolutely loved the controls of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game which I believed used the Wiimote in the most effective way I had ever seen. Continue reading Day 10: Best Gameplay
Today’s topic for the 100 theme blog challenge is number 12, insanity. This sounds pretty easy. Insanity. I know just what that is. It’s when someone is…well, insane. Crazy. Bonkers. A nutter. But, the more I think about this topic, the more I think about how not-easy writing about it really is. It’s a single word, but there is so much that can be written on it, can’t it? And I’m certainly no expert on mental disorders, so I had to think of a different way to write about such a topic. And then I got it, in the form of a question. Why is insanity so appealing?
Don’t look at me like that. It is, in a way. I mean, they have an entire archetype commonly seen in stories that is related to insanity. The mad scientist. No, not angry scientists, though many of them do seem to have some bone to pick with society. Crazy scientists. Why was this stereotype even invented if insanity wasn’t in some way appealing or intriguing? And insanity, as you’d expect, whether they be mad scientist or not, is most often portrayed in villains. Because you really don’t see that many crazy good guys, do you? No, it’s the villains that think up all kinds of bizarre plots for such goals as world domination or other methods of obtaining unstoppable power (the terrible movie “The Blood Waters of Doctor Z” featured a mad scientist that turned himself into a fish in his plot for world domination; I have no idea how he thought that would work, however), while the poor good guy always has no choice but to go and stop it. Our hero very rarely is crazy. Maybe brave or foolhardy, but it is most often the villain who is deeply disturbed, which is all the more explanation for their wild plots.
And so, to kind of expand on that, when it comes to villains, what kinds does this Duck usually like the most? That’s right, you guessed it. The insane ones. In many stories, I typically like the villain the most. Or, at the very least, I often find them to be the most interesting, and I wonder why they do what they do. But, the villains that always interest me the most are the crazy ones. The weird, eccentric ones. Because, frankly, villains that got it together (bad grammar on purpose) are boring. It’s the crazy ones that are obviously in need of some therapy that always capture my attention most of all, and that is what I’m here to discuss, with as few tirades as I can manage.
Let’s take Bowser, for example. A lot of people know about him, no? He’s the main villain of the “Mario” series and an experienced princess-napper. And I don’t think anyone would consider him insane. Nope, he’s a huge jerk, but he’s not crazy. He doesn’t like his rival, Mario, which is understandable, as the ‘stached plumber constantly puts a stop to Bowser’s plans. He also seems to have a thing for Peach, especially in “Paper Mario”, but hey, you can’t really blame him. And you don’t need to be a villain to understand his desire to rule the Mushroom Kingdom. I mean, who doesn’t want to rule the world or a kingdom of ‘shrooms? Antagonist or protagonist, world domination is pretty appealing. And so, while Bowser is quite the creep, I don’t find him to be that interesting. His plans are uninspired, but I don’t get the crazy vibe from him. And that just won’t do. You’re too sane for my tastes, Bowser.
And then I come to the villains that are nuttier than those bags of peanuts that you get on airplanes. These disturbed villains can be many things. They are usually interesting. They are most often rather…unique individuals. And they typically range between comical or downright disturbing. I may like a villain in a more lighthearted series because I think they are hilarious in a way that only someone nuts can be. On the other end of the spectrum, some crazy villains are scary because of their insanity, and that’s why I find them to be particularly…villainous. Because they manage to truly frighten me, while at the same time making me curious about them all the more.
Let’s take two examples of some of my favorite villains. These two are insane by every definition of the word, and they are Dr. Nefarious of the “Ratchet and Clank” series and Lord Ghirahim of “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. Now, this post is in no way intended to just talk about how great I think these villains are, even though I certainly do. It’s intended to explain my point on insanity. And explain it, I shall.
Dr. Nefarious is insane in a way that is on the lighter end of the insanity spectrum. This robotic villain is not someone to take lightly, as his plots have involved trying to turn all organic life into robots and trying to turn back time in order to undo all the times in the past that the good guys have prevailed over evil, which he is more than capable of doing because he’s also a genius (we got a mad scientist here, folks). And no one can disagree with me that this guy is crazy, from his bizarre plans to his maniacal ranting and screaming. And I will never fully understand why he hates organic life when he used to be one himself (and don’t ask me how that happened because I’m still not sure). All I do know is that Nefarious is a nut and seriously needs to be put into an insane asylum. But, his bizarre behavior is what makes me like him so much, as he is quite an entertaining character in an already rather hilarious group of games. Few can deny that his cut scenes are some of the best scenes in the series. And if Nefarious wasn’t insane, he wouldn’t be nearly as great.
And then I come to Lord Ghirahim, another character that is positively crazy. This guy is just weird. I don’t know. Nefarious, I kind of get. A little. But, this guy is, well, a lunatic. Ghirahim is rather flamboyant and, like pretty much all villains, quite enamored with himself. He can be pretty darn feminine and is known by all to make some pretty strange comments that can make you laugh (probably one of his most memorable lines is, “This news has just filled my heart with rainbows.”), but that doesn’t make him any less scary. That’s right, this guy is frightening. Rainbow-filled heart or not, Ghirahim is a terrifying dude in the way he can start off all calm and composed one moment and then threaten to do all kinds of unspeakable things to Link the next. And seeing as he starts off so much more powerful than our hero at the beginning of the game, this makes his threats all the more frightening because he is more than capable of carrying them out.
Ghirahim is evil and sadistic, and even though he can say some pretty corny things, he is not as laughable as you may think. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and you know what, he actually does. Oftentimes heroes stop the villains, but unfortunately, Ghirahim manages to be a bit more competent than Link even is. You may be able to laugh at Ghirahim’s strange dialogue and his goofy victory dance, but it’s his insanity, the same thing that makes him behave this way, that makes him so much scarier than he would have been without it. I have to give Nintendo credit for managing to create a villain that can say goofy things, and yet we still can take him seriously. Not everyone can do that, and that’s why Ghirahim is another one of my favorite villains, as he is by far one of the most complex characters I have ever known.
So I was right, after all, wasn’t I? Insanity is indeed appealing. At least, it can make certain characters more interesting or entertaining, because it often makes them either funny, frightening, or a combination of the two. When I try to look for any correlation between the characters I like and those that I don’t, often times it is the weirdos I find the most intriguing. And most of the time, it’s the villains that are the nutty ones, and that may be one reason why the villains are usually my favorite characters in a story. Insanity is interesting. Insanity can make certain characters stand out from all the rest. The mad scientist archetype is proof enough of that, with such examples as Dr. Eggman, Dr. Nefarious, and Professor Hojo, not to mention the most famous of all, Dr. Frankenstein. If insanity wasn’t intriguing, then who knows if these characters would even exist.
Not an Insane Duck
I recently played “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. It was a great game, made even better by great music, which I heard is fully orchestrated. This game had so many good songs, it was really hard narrowing it down to just 10. But, this is what I came up with. I provided links to youtube so you can easily listen to them. (Some songs have different versions, but I just chose my favorite.)
10. “Lanayru Sand Sea (Past)” is a pretty song and makes me feel sad. This place was once an ocean long ago, but is now covered in sand, and the music fits such a sad, desolate place well.
9. “Ballad of the Goddess” is heard in different parts of the game and is one of the main ones I find myself humming, so it needed a spot in the top 10. It’s a good song and makes the game feel epic. It is actually “Zelda’s Lullaby” played backwards.
8. “Lanayru Desert (past)” is played in the desert, as you would expect. This is one of my favorite non-dungeon areas of the game.
7. “Lanayru Mining Facility (past)” is played in the dungeon of the same name. I thought this song had an interesting sound, so I like it a lot.
6. “Earth Temple” is played, well, in the Earth Temple. I like the music here. It’s fun. But I despise this dungeon. Darn you, lava and lizalfos! I hate you both! I’m sure Link hates it, too.
5. “Koloktos/Moldarach” is the music that plays during the battle of those two bosses. I think it fits boss battles well, especially when fighting Koloktos.
4. “Scaldera/Tentalus” is the boss battle music for those two boss battles. It has a good beat. I think I like it better than the above boss battle theme because it is simpler.
3. “Mini Boss Battle” is just what I’m calling my favorite miniboss theme. I just chose the video for the “Stalfos” theme because there’s several videos of the same song. The best part starts at 0:55. This is one of the first songs I knew would be in my top 10. It fits a battle very well.
2. “Fi’s Farewell” is a beautiful song and my favorite version of Fi’s theme, the character that helps Link and is the personification of the Master Sword. It definitely deserves spot number 2. It makes me sad. It is played near the beginning and the end, so when I heard it at the end, it reminded me of the beginning, back when I had the whole game ahead of me, and it made me sad. I especially like it around 0:39.
1. “Battle Ghirahim” is my favorite song. I love this one. I keep listening to it over and over. As you’d expect, it plays when you fight Ghirahim (battle 1 and 2; battle 3 is a little different) and is a variation of his theme. It is definitely the best. I love those high notes at the beginning, and I love that there’s so much going on, and it’s so dramatic. This music fits Ghirahim perfectly, I think. (I bet it would make his “heart fill with rainbows” if he heard it.)
Ballad of the Duck (which involves a lot of lovely quacking)
I recently beat the newest “Zelda” game, “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. It took about 52 and a half hours, and it took me exactly from New Year’s Day to Valentine’s Day. The game came with an orchestra CD to celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary, plus I paid extra for the special Wii motion plus remote. It’s gold and has that bird, Triforce thingy on it. It is made with 100% pure awesome. The game itself, though, manages to be even more awesome.
I absolutely love this game. So much. One of the best “Zelda” games ever, if not the best. It has a more colorful, less realistic style of graphics than “Twilight Princess”, which I think fits the “Zelda” games a lot better. It also has some great music, which I’ve heard is apparently completely orchestrated (I’m going to put up a post on my top 10 songs fairly soon). I’m listening to the music as I type this.
I love the gameplay in this game. The motion is used really well. It’s used for aiming, throwing objects, and of course, your sword and shield. The controls for the sword are so accurate. Link’s arm actually follows mine even when I’m not fighting, and you pretty much have full control over the sword. And the game takes advantage of the improved controls, often requiring you to hit an object or an enemy at a certain angle, which I doubt was possible in the past. (I’m now playing the Wii version of “Twilight Princess”, and it is so hard going back to the old controls.) This game is one of the most fun games ever in terms of gameplay.
I also like the story in this one. I thought it was better than many other “Zelda” games, where the story mainly seems to be only at the beginning and the end (“Majora’s Mask”…). I also like the characters very much in this game. And I love that Link and Zelda are friends this time. Often, they’re pretty much strangers, so it’s fun to see them like this. Fi is the character that helps Link in this game. She lives in Link’s sword, or more accurately, is the personification of Link’s sword, the Goddess/Master Sword. She apparently likes percentages, is a good dancer, and looks frightening when she sings. And I think that Ghirahim (Demon Lord Ghirahim, actually), who is pretty much the main villain in the game (I mean, the main dude never really shows up until the very end), is the most interesting villain in any “Zelda” game ever. (I always found Ganondorf to be pretty boring. Pretty much just the usual evil guy that we’ve all seen a thousand times.) One minute, Ghirahim is saying he needs someone to vent to or other corny things you wouldn’t expect from a villain, and then he’s threatening to torture Link. He also thinks he’s pretty good looking and has “stunning features”. This makes him seem more realistic than typical bad characters. He’s my favorite “Zelda” villain so far (even though, at the same time, he creeps me out).
Anyway, getting more into what actually happens in the game, long before the game even starts, the Demon King Demise tried to take the Triforce, a powerful object that can grant the wish of whoever has it, so the goddess Hylia had to create Skyloft, a group of islands in the sky, to keep her people, the Hylians, and the Triforce safe. As you’d expect, the game starts out in Skyloft, but when a mysterious tornado suddenly appears and knocks Zelda off her Loftwing (it’s a big bird), she falls to the land below the clouds, and Link sets out to find her. But, this isn’t just a quest to save Zelda. She’s on a quest herself, but I can’t get into too much detail without spoiling things. Aren’t I nice?
There are three areas you can explore beneath the clouds, which are separate instead of one big thing like in previous games, but it cuts down on any boring traveling (“Wind Waker”…). There are also several areas called Silent Realms which are quite terrifying…. Oh, the amount of screaming I did during these levels. And like any “Zelda” game, the game involves exploring places and solving puzzles in dungeons (always the best part). There are some of the same items as earlier games (of course, every good “Zelda” game has bombs and a bow), but there are also new items. But, I’ll let you find out what they are on your own. Also, later on, you get a harp to play, but you don’t really have much control over it like you do instruments in previous games. You just strum left and right in time with a circle that gets bigger and smaller.
Now maybe it’s just me, but I thought this game wasn’t that hard. I had very little trouble with most of the dungeons or boss battles and stuff. I’m glad it wasn’t crazy hard, but I wish it was a bit more of a challenge. I only got game over twice. The first time during the first boss battle (don’t judge me!) and the second time during the final boss (plus, I sustained an injury during this battle when I punched myself in the face putting up my shield). I just started “Twilight Princess”, and I already got game over three or four times.
Anyway, I have few problems with this game, besides it being a bit easy. Maybe I got a little bored when I had to fly (due to my short attention span). Maybe I wish there were more heart pieces to collect (they start you out with a very generous 6 hearts rather than 3, but this gives you less to find). Maybe I wish my shield wouldn’t break (but due to my awesome skills, I got the “absurdly sturdy shield” anyway). But, there’s nothing wrong in this game that really matters all that much. My main problem with this game is that, due to the game having motion controls, Link is now right-handed when he used to be left-handed. I know, terrible. As upsetting as this is, though, I think I can overlook this distressing fact, since it is such a good game, after all. (It still bothers me more than it should, though, that Link is even right-handed on the cover art. What have they done? This is not the Link I remember!) This makes me “sick with anger”, though not really. I just wanted to quote Ghirahim.
And to keep with my usual pointless discussion of things I think are cute, I love those kitty things (remlits, I think) in Skyloft. They’re like cats, but have big round ears and a raccoon tail. I’ve gotten quite attached to them. It even beats the cuteness of the mini sheep in “Final Fantasy XIII”. The first time I played the game, I saw one sleeping somewhere. It woke up and started following me everywhere and meowing. It seemed quite happy to see me, and sometimes I’d pick it up and carry it. (Link does not know how to hold an animal, though. Don’t hold it out in front of you like that, Link! At least, he doesn’t hold it over his head anymore.) But, then I found that they get mean at night. I used to feel bad attacking them, but now I show no mercy to those little beasts. Poor Link’s gotten mauled by them a dozen times. But, fear not, people of Skyloft! Your town is now safe! Until I enter a building, and all the remlits return.
Now, I must mention that I rather enjoy messing with the bokoblins, which are enemies that appear often in the game (not to be confused with the goblin that got in my house that one time, which wasn’t armed, was shorter, and was not wearing the “exotic undergarments” Fi often refers to). So now, the duck’s list of ways to terrorize bokoblins. By the duck.
1. Knock them off tightropes. When the only thing separating me from a bokoblin is a tightrope, I like to lure it into coming over. It bravely starts to cross the tightrope, slowly, carefully. It’s doing good, until I shoot it with my slingshot. It loses its balance and falls screaming to its death. Good times.
2. Push them down mountainsides. These dumb things like to throw boulders at me when I’m trying to get up steep slopes of mountains, which means they then deserve a visit from my sword. So once I reach them, I attack them until they fall down onto the slope, and they roll down the hill and scream the whole way. While I laugh. Ha.
3. Drop beehives on them. Pretty straightforward. I tried this the same day I typed this (which was weeks ago). I found that the beetle item can grab beehives, which gave me an idea. So I had it grab a beehive and carry it until I found an unsuspecting bokoblin and dropped it right nearby. The bees broke out and started attacking, and needless to say, the bokoblin was rather upset. Shouldn’t have thrown boulders at me that time, then, huh? The duck holds grudges.
4. Chase them with the beetle. The beetle is apparently frightening to bokoblins. When they see it coming, they scream and run. Wimps.
So now if you ever meet a bokoblin (it might work on goblins, too, but I’ve never tried), you know what to do.
Anyway, this is a really good game. The biggest problem with it is that after playing it, it makes a lot of my games look disappointing now. I can’t wait to see what they make next. I probably have a long wait, though.
I love this game so much and miss it now that it’s done. To quote Ghirahim, this game “fills my heart with rainbows”. Okay. I’ll stop with the Ghirahim quotes now. Really. But, only because I don’t remember more right now.
The Duck Who Predicts a 95% Chance That Anyone Who Plays the Game Will Enjoy It (that was kind of a Fi quote; I told you she likes percentages)