Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Could somebody please tell me what the fuck is going on in this game? Because I couldn't figure it out.

I even looked it up on Wikipedia and found no plot summary whatsoever, which means they don't know what the fuck's going on, either.

I played Rygar because it was one of those games I had played as a kid, but never got too far. And now, with the magic of Game Genie, I spent a Friday evening playing through the game. Because that's what I do on Friday evenings these days.

Now, I understand the general concept of controlling some little dude on the screen and killing monsters. It's great fun. But generally there's some kind of discernible plot. Not so much with Rygar.

All you know is you have to kill monsters, find five really weird-looking guys, and then kill a big boss monster. And the only weapon you get is what appears to be a bop-bag--one of those inflatable balls that had a rubber ring and string that would attach to one finger so you could punch it to your five-year-old heart's content.

Every so often you come across some gigantic old dude who gives you a hint as to where to go next, but these hints are about as helpful to you as a one-eyed chicken is to a blind man.


After getting this screen, I just shrugged. I had never seen those words before, and I didn't know what they meant, and therefore I didn't care. I pay more attention to soap operas on Univision, because I can occasionally understand (or, at least, think I understand) something they say on that channel. Here? Nothing.

Now, I thought this was worth the screenshot because of the creative use of quotation marks. It would seem the guru-fellow is trying to make a very pointed remark here. "Dorago" and "release my daughter" might be code for something...but what?

I would like to note that no female characters appear anywhere in this game.

Again with the weird words. I can just picture Napoleon Dynamite drawing Ligars all over the place. (Okay, I know it was "liger," but let me have my fun.)

And now for my personal favorite:

It all makes sense! The nonsense words, the cryptic phrases...these guys are cheerleaders! Nothing they say is supposed to make any sense anyway!

And this is what you get at the end:

So finally, at the end, we have some idea of what the damn plot was. And the lovely thing about the translation here is that they couldn't keep "Argool" and "Argus" straight. Wikipedia told me that in the Japanese version, the land was named Argos, but it was changed to Argool for the English version. Apparently the translator couldn't keep the two straight here.

After three hours of gameplay, I was rewarded by more confusion and a friggin' rainbow.

Thanks a lot, Tecmo!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

So here's one of the most recent in a long line of Zelda games. The plot, I assure you, is the same: Hack your way through monsters, save the princess, murder Ganon.

I must say, this game was made great fun by the Wii controls. It's like you're right there, murdering Ganon yourself!

As previously established, Link continues his assholery by walking uninvited into people's homes, breaking their shit, and stealing their stuff. And you know what? The villagers just friggin' love him for it.

I could go on about a lot of the odd elements in this game, but what really made this game shine for me were the peripheral characters. I will be highlighting four (well, technically, five) of them: the Mayor, the Really Gay Clown Guy, Malo, and the Yeti couple.

The Mayor: As his title suggests, this fellow is the mayor of Ordon, and is generally useless until Link has to venture into Death Mountain. To do this, the mayor must teach him sumo wrestling. As the lesson begins, you get a nice cinematic shot that goes between the mayor's legs and leaves you wondering, "Did I just see his taint?"

The Really Gay Clown Guy: This is the fellow you have to talk to in order to fly a chicken over Lake Hylia. Yes, you read that right. Take a ride with a chicken over a big friggin' lake. It's quite fun, actually. When I first laid eyes on the Really Gay Clown guy, I actually said, "Aaah!" He had makeup like a mime, Hammer pants, and a green polka dot shirt that essentially looks like a brassiere with long sleeves. He generally stands around with one hip cocked and calls you "big guy" a lot. Pretty creepy.

Malo: Malo is one of the children from Ordon, and by far the shortest. This kid is almost literally knee-high, and looks like a dwarf child who wants to be a Japanese theatre actor, and generally makes snide comments whenever he speaks. But somehow, after being kidnapped by monsters and deposited in a village far from home, becomes an entrepreneur. He reopens Kakariko's abandoned shop and badgers Link into buying shit. And when the shopping is done, Malo scoots what we can assume is his only customer out of the shop with "Time is money, so if you're done shopping, quit wasting both." Or something like that. The cocky little fucker.

Later in the game, Malo opens a satellite store in Castle Town, which is positively an orgy of commercialism with workers whose only duties are to dance or pretend to be buying things. I had a similar reaction to this place as I did to the Really Gay Clown Guy.

You can get some satisfaction after being snarked at by this kid, though. When you hit non-combatants in the game with slingshot pellets and arrows, they might fall, but they get right back up. I had a lot of fun shooting Malo in the head with arrows.

The Yeti Couple: About halfway through the game, Link encounters a pair of yetis, cleverly named Yeto and Yeta for the husband and wife, respectively. Yeto is about three times as large as his wife, and is working on a soup recipe to help cure his wife's peculiar illness. Link has to go through their home searching for a particular object, and will later have to beat the shit out of Yeta to get it, but I digress. What is most important here is the yeti assault.

To start out, Yeta sends Link on a quest to find the key to her mansion's bedroom. (Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but what actually happens is not nearly that interesting and involves Philip Glass-esque music.) Yeta marks a spot on the map where she thinks the key is. Link leaves the room, and finds Yeto standing over a big cauldron of reekfish soup. (Guess why the fish is named like that. Just guess.) So Link tastes the soup, and passes through to get to the spot marked on the map, which is a treasure chest containing a pumpkin.


Yeta then instructs Link to take the pumpkin to her husband. Link goes into the kitchen and speaks to Yeto, who knocks Link down and takes the damn pumpkin.

Here, you have just witnessed a yeti assault, and you have no semi-automatic weapons.

Yeto deposits the pumpkin into the soup, invites Link again to taste the soup. Back to Yeta, who marks another spot on the map. This time, it turns out to be a treasure chest containing--ta da!--goat cheese.

And we have a repeat of events--Yeta advises Link to take the cheese to Yeto, and again we are witness to the horrible crime of yeti assault when Yeto shoves Link to the floor and takes the cheese.

I suppose Link had it coming. He's pretty much been doing the same thing to everyone else up until this point.

Now, if Link ingests the finished soup with all these ingredients, it replenishes 8 hearts. Not bad for free food. The text in the game even refers to it as "superb soup."

But let's think about this for a moment, shall we? This is virtually the only food you see Link consume in the game, and it's soup made from foul-smelling fish, pumpkin, and goat cheese.

I've had fish soup, I've had pumpkin, and I've had goat cheese, but I can't even conceive what these three things would taste like together. All I'm imagining is something that's pretty gross and more effective at inducing a good vomit than playing with your uvula.

And yet here's Link, who, when he fills a bottle with it, holds up proudly like a kid showing his mom the macaroni picture he made in Bible school.

Good job, kid. Go ahead and chug that soup, and I'll go get a bucket for you.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

So, apparently I wasn't paying attention when I made this graphic, because I totally used cheats, and totally used a walkthrough. Because I'm not 13 anymore, and no longer have catlike controller reflexes.

Also, those catlike controller reflexes require one to move to and fro with the action on the screen with one's tongue hanging out the side of the mouth as a show of effort/stress, and that's what I have a friggin' Wii for.

But I must say: This game still has it. It is still my favorite of the series. There is a certain charm to navigating this 16-bit world, and collecting all the items, and seeing what they can do. You still want to explore every corner and find all the secrets. You still want to know what the deal is with those weird dancing cucumbers.

As I was playing this game through again so I could write this post, my fiance looked over my shoulder and said something thought provoking:

"You know, when you think about it, Link's a jerk."

And indeed, he was right. When you think about all the stuff you have to do to complete this game, Link is, indeed, an asshole. He run around, slaughtering guards and monsters without a second thought, all in the name of saving the princess.

Let's take a look at some of the events in "A Link to the Past," shall we?

You start out as Link is jerked out of a dead sleep by a mysterious voice in his head. Last time I checked, this was a symptom of schizophrenia. But crazy ol' Link gets up, listens to the voices in his head, and goes out into the rain STRICTLY AGAINST HIS UNCLE'S INSTRUCTIONS. What impunity!

So Link trots into the castle, and stumbles across his uncle, who seems to be suffering from some mortal wound. Link takes the old man's sword and shield and leaves him to die in the castle's cellar. What a devoted nephew. Sure, the old guy told him to take the sword and shield, but I think he would have filched them off the corpse anyway. There's high adventure to be had!

Now, let's take a look at Link's behavior in other people's houses: He walks in uninvited and breaks their shit and steals their stuff.

This is the Hero of Hyrule, folks.

And then, there are the chickens, who Link can slash at or pick up and throw. Yes, animal abuse in video games is all good and fun, but in this game, when Link abuses the chickens too much, they gang up on him and kill him to avenge their fallen, clucking comrade.

Take that, Hero of Hyrule! You can wade through thousands of monsters, but you fall to chickens!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Legend of Zelda II

I can say I am a fan of the Legend of Zelda games. But this game sucks.

As a kid, we got both NES Zelda games from a boon of cartridges given to us by a neighbor. So after finishing the first one, of course I played the second one. The first one was fun, why shouldn't the second one be fun?

Well, it was certainly more involved--not always a bad thing. The graphics had been updated--again, not always a bad thing.

But the game turned out to be altogether too hard, and the close-up scenes for battle were a little bizarre. First of all, it would appear that Link is just stabbing enemies overhand with a sword, which seems to look more like a very large kitchen knife.

I suppose this is possible, if he got news that he was supposed to save Hyrule yet again while he was switching to a career as a chef, and that the gigantic sword he had to retrieve from the mountain top was just three feet too far, and he had a kitchen knife in his hand anyway. So why not give 'em a nasty salmonella infection if you can't impale them properly?

Secondly, when travelling from place to place, any time you stray from the path, you are in danger being attacked by some very odd-looking monsters. Wiggly blobs, dog-men with spears, spiders, and all sorts of things abound. You get the occassional fairy, but mostly, you're going to have to jump around and stab things. A lot.

There's even one scene were you can get hurt by bubbles. BUBBLES.

I remember beating the game as a kid, but I haven't been able to as an adult, even with Game Genie codes. I got to the final palace, fell down a hole that I can't get out of, and, well, let's just say Ganon took over Hyrule, because even with the code for infinite magic, for some reason I couldn't turn myself into a fairy and fly back up to where I was.

Oh, yeah--you can turn into a friggin' fairy.

Now, let's take a look at the villagers. Sure, they're generally helpful--talk to the right ones, find out what you need to do next. And in each village, there is a woman who, if you follow her into her house, will restore your life. Normal game device, maybe, but you have to wonder about a woman who takes strangers into her home, and they leave mysteriously revitalized.


And then each village has a wise man hiding in the basement of some building. Again, what is it with the elderly hiding in dank, dark rooms to dispense wisdom to passing adolescents? And the stairs going down to these cellars are each the height of a person--it's safe to say there's no escape for these old folks. I can't say that there's any way for an arthritic old wizard to climb the series of mini-cliffs up to the main floor of the house. The along comes Link, who demands some kind of magic spell, and then bounds away, leaving the old man alone in a dark room once again.

What an asshole!

There just isn't a whole lot to like about this game. I can't even make fun of it properly--I had to drag out the old elderly-living-in-caves material that I used for my entry about the first Zelda game.

I would say that's evidence of this game's uselessness.


Don't call me Ishmael, okay? Because I am not friggin' Ishmael.

This game turned me into Ahab.

For about 24 hours, maybe less, I developed an obsession with this game. See, I figured out how to up your own power so you could knock down Jaws--you have to go back and forth between the two ports, and if you docked with at least 5 conch shells you upped your power.

So there I was, going from port to port, excited that this game that had always vexed me during childhood and made me just throw down the controller, muttering, "This blows!", was about to meet its match: Adult Laura.

Adult Laura has the power of logic and reason, of life experience. Some stupid pixelated shark could be no match to my Vulcan-like video game reasoning abilities.

Okay, I'm not even remotely Vulcanesque. But you get my point.

When, after sailing from port to port and numerous encounters with jellyfish, sting rays, and Jaws hisownself, I finally faced the big bad shark and shot so many of those weird little arrows into his face that his power bar went down to nil.

I was pleased.

I was pleased, because I thought I had beat the game.

But I hadn't. See, once I had knocked down that power bar, the game knocked me into a different screen. It was like looking into the water off the bow of a ship. I figured out that by hitting A, I could make Jaws pop out of the water, and by hitting B, something happened with the ship--it jolted forward.

All I can figure is that I'm supposed to make Jaws pop out of the water and them ram him with the damn ship.

Oh, did I try--I sailed around the screen, looking for Jaws. I'd find him, get dropped into the water. I would deftly maneuver the diver to and fro, firing madly at Jaws and those smaller sharks that keep popping up.

And do you know what would happen, time and time again?


In my hands, I held the power to kill JAWS. A BIG, EFFING SHARK. And then pow! a jellyfish.

J E L L Y F I S H.

So do you know what hours of cursing at the screen and shooting the shit out of sharks amounted to? Me being defeated by friggin' jellyfish.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bad Dudes

Words will not be enough to describe this game. I have some screen shots that will help me relate the awfulness that was this game to you, the reader, who I will presume never played this game.

First of all, after the opening sequence where you pick which dude you'd like to control, you are greeted by this:

For such a tragedy to befall the United States of America, this fellow (identified as a Secret Service agent in Wikipedia, and not, as I thought, "some kind of pilot guy") seems very calm. I mean, the president was just captured by friggin' ninjas!

I mean...ninjas?

So you have fight your way through veritable clouds of ninjas who just throw themselves at you as you slowly trudge your way through scene after scene to get to the Dragon Ninja.

Without Game Genie codes, I am not a bad enough dude to rescue the president. I couldn't even weed-whack my way through the ninjas with enough energy to beat the boss at the end of the first level. But with the Game Genie codes, I am, indeed, a bad enough dude to rescue the president.

So, armed with my cheat codes, I punched, kicked, knifed, and nunchucked my way through level after level. You got your blue ninjas, your grey ninjas, your red ninjas, your...um...teal ninjas, your lady ninjas. You even got your dog ninjas. All of these I knifed with impunity. It's pretty brutal looking, once you pick up the knife for a weapon--you pretty much just end up knifing everyone in the face. At the end of each level, you are rewarded by a satanic computer voice belching at you, "I'm bad!"

And at the end of the game, in true NES fashion, you have to beat all the bosses you already vanquished before you can beat the Dragon Ninja. These bosses are pretty odd. The first one's just fat and you have to hit him in the belly; another turns himself into 5 ninjas about three times before you can stop pushing the A button in a frenzy; another fellow with a staff whirls about like a ballerina. And the Dragon ninja himself, well...just take a look.

That's my dude on the right, and the Dragon Ninja, who I shall from here on out refer to as "Rufio", is hanging out on the helicopter. The helicopter then lifts up into the air, and you have to jump up there and knife the snot out of him. Or nunchuk the snot out of him. Whichever one you've got at the moment. And Rufio goes down pretty easy.

After that, the helicopter lands, the president gets out, and you are thanked. This is how your efforts are rewarded:

No parades, no monetary reward, no offer of a job in the Secret Service, where you'll be able to wear the cool gigantic sunglasses and bomber jacket like the fellow who asks you to save the president.

Nope. What you get is burgers.