It’s been a few years since the “are video games art” question has been raised and pretty much resolved. Yes, video games are art. But with that question out of the way, we’re left with “what’s next?” To that end, I believe we are lucky that many outlets (such as our own) are more than willing to discuss games as an art form, in a similar vein to the way we discuss books or movies. For this week’s web crush, I want to highlight Vice’s gaming division: Waypoint.
Black History Month is moving right along, and while everyone is out there quoting Martin Luther King Jr. or incorrectly talking about Frederick Douglass, I think it’s important that we look at issues surrounding our Black women, as well. Luckily, we’re slowly but surely getting more Black girls and women in our media! Unfortunately, from looking at depictions of Black girls and women in media, such as last year’s scandal over Riri Williams, it’s easy to see that Black (and darker-skinned) women tend to be more sexualized in nerd media than their white (and fairer-skinned) counterparts. This creates a culture where darker bodies are seen as inherently more sexual, and thus more acceptable as targets of objectification and sexual violence.
Video games are a growing medium. They have the capacity to be anything from really fun toys to deeply emotional experiences. In my twenty or so years of gaming, I’ve seen graphics go from crude pixel art to fully rendered, photorealistic models. Stories have become more involved and control schemes have become more complex. Of course, there are nostalgic efforts and departures from futurism, but the general level of quality is so much higher. What a time to be alive, indeed. However, while we’re making progress in some areas, we are still lagging behind in others. The content of our games and characters isn’t improving at quite the same pace. We’ve expanded the roles of what women are “allowed” to be in our games, so on the one hand, we are advancing the idea that women aren’t simply trophies in another castle to be rescued or obtained. But on the other, we are still very much pushing the idea that women in games have to be conventionally attractive.
Recently my brother and I started playing TriForce Heroes, the newest installment of the Zelda series on the 3DS. While this game didn’t necessarily catch my attention from either the Nintendo Directs or E3, when I watched other people play it and saw how much fun they were having, I decided I had to pick it up despite its forced multi-player angle. However, I did also want to pick it up for one other reason: the fact that this game is the first where Link isn’t restricted to a certain type of clothes based on his gender. It’s sad to say how unique it is for a game to both allow characters to wear whatever the fuck they want with no consequence (via in-game perception) and to practically encourage it. While this is what it looked like from the outside, I couldn’t be sure until I played the game myself. At around the same time as TriForce Heroes’s release, the Zelda fandom received another announcement that seemed to promote the message that, well, if some part of Nintendo was going to take the steps to being more inclusive in their games, it was going to be the Zelda franchise. But how effective will their efforts be? I can’t predict the future, but if anything, I think it’s a good start.
Usually everyone here at LGG&F gets along really well. We bond over our mutual love of justice and all things geek! But once in a while, chaos comes to our serene nerd community. When all of the good we try to do is abandoned and our writer’s room deteriorates into madness…
I am, of course, speaking about Valentine’s Day, that heinous holiday that sends us all into a shipping frenzy as our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty as Empress of LGG&F to present to you this year’s bloodstained list. So put on your shipping goggles and prepare yourself for the 2015 Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom!
As Black History Month marches on, I want to delve into more issues on race. I could continue with the theme of how much representation matters, but I want to sidestep it ever so slightly. It is equally, if not more, important to have good and positive representation. For example, what good is representation if only evil characters are characters of color?
Some spoilers for Hyrule Warriors ahead.
Because I’m boss and have a mom who loves me enough to enter me in free raffles, I won tickets to see Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, which was playing in mid-August in New Jersey. The first of its kind as a video game concert actually arranged into symphonies, Symphony of the Goddesses featured some of the themes from the Legend of Zelda franchise including Majora’s Mask, Ocarina of Time, and more. In addition, visuals and gameplay were displayed above the orchestra, which I mentioned in my Wii U post. The show is touring throughout the world.
Instead of the musicians themselves traveling, the show “uses” the local talent. In my case, it was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. I think that’s a really great idea, not to mention cost-effective. As a fan of musical things, I know my local orchestra, and I always look for opportunities to see them. So it made me really happy to know that a group I already loved was playing music I already loved.
To make a long story short, the concert was fucking awesome. The only thing I didn’t exactly like were the visuals being projected above the performers of Link running around defeating Ganon in a bunch of different games. I would have preferred just the music and felt the visuals detracted from actively watching the musicians perform and the music itself.
In my corner of New Jersey, there aren’t many nerds to surround myself with. So another thing that made me really happy was seeing all the nerds at the orchestra. There was a costume contest before the show (which I unfortunately did not participate in because I didn’t know I was going until twenty-four hours before the show, which was not enough time to whip up a costume) where there was the best Skull Kid cosplay I have ever seen. It was possibly one of the best cosplays I’ve ever seen in my life. It was a lot of fun having nerds to laugh with at the corny jokes of the emcees, and I’ve missed that.
In short, this was a great experience. And you don’t have to know anything about the games to enjoy it; my two friends who I brought with me didn’t know the games but liked the music. So it’s a fun night for anyone and everyone. I suggest you check out their website to see if it’s going to be near you.
So I was in Boston for a week in August on a business trip, and in the evenings I would wander around fairly aimlessly. One night, I discovered Faneuil Hall, which is a sort of street fair, and there was a giant set of booths set up by Nintendo promoting Wii U and some of its many games. In general, the setup was poor, so I didn’t get to observe all of the games; in fact, I couldn’t tell you how many there were. Here are some of my opinions about the games that I did observe—I didn’t get to play any, sadly—that night.
In general, it seemed that gameplay for most of the games was too confusing or complicated for younger kids. While the kids (seemingly) ten and older had no trouble playing games without the assistance of one of the many Nintendo employees, everyone younger had at least one helper lending him or her a hand. This wouldn’t bother me if this was Sony or Microsoft who generally make games for an older, adult audience. But Nintendo prides itself as a family-friendly company making games that anyone at any age can play. With the new system, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be true.
Now on to the actual games that I spent significant time with:
Batman Arkham City
This seemed like a truly awesome game. While I didn’t get the chance to play it (it had the longest line), it seemed like the most fun. It was the only game that had a wide appeal to different audiences; it had everyone from little kids to adults playing and having a good time. The only complaint I had from watching was everything seemed about the same color. The graphics themselves were great, but the coloring was so monotone that it got hard to differentiate between some of the backgrounds and some of the characters.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Now before y’all go throwing a hissy fit, I want to reiterate that I did not like this game nor its graphics. If you’ve forgotten my opinion, go refresh yourself here. With that out of the way, the graphics of Wind Waker HD looked effing amazing. Since I had just gotten a refresher from my Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert (post on that is forthcoming) of the original Wind Waker’s graphics a couple days earlier, I could make a comparison without too much trouble. Original Wind Waker’s problem was that the graphics resembled something from Nintendo 64, seeming a step backward. HD, however, was crisp, colorful, and elegant. I feel that this was what the original Wind Waker attempted but really did not accomplish. This is the game in particular that demonstrated how difficult it is to play Wii U. The little kid playing looked confused as hell. I felt sorry for him, because the Nintendo employee tried to explain it and he still couldn’t get it.
In short, Wii U looks promising. For me, it is not worth the high price tag, but I’d consider looking into it when/if the price drops.
Though I don’t really go out of way to play the Zelda series—the only game I’ve ever made all the way through is Phantom Hourglass—I do enjoy the general aesthetic of the series. I like the settings, the characters, and all of the creepy meta that fans derive from all of these things combined. However, there has been one thing that has always made me a little disappointed in the series: why have we never been able to play as Zelda? It is her legend, after all.
Luckily, I’m not the only one with these thoughts. Recently, in an interview for Nintendo Life, Eiji Aonuma, the overseer of The Legend of Zelda for the past fifteen years, came out and said that he wouldn’t be against giving Zelda her own game. The thing holding them back, as it always is, was their uncertainty about fan reception of the idea.
I, along with many others, believe that giving Zelda her own game would be an interesting new take on the beloved series. Zelda has already proven herself a capable fighter in many of the timelines. For example, in Ocarina of Time, Zelda disguises herself as Sheik, a stealthy member of the Sheikah tribe, and aids Link by teaching him useful songs for his ocarina and giving him hints on defeating monsters and unlocking the puzzles of the ancient temples. In Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, Zelda takes shape in the form of Tetra, a feisty pirate who has no trouble using her wits to get what she wants (which is usually treasure). She battles alongside Link, and even against Link, to reach her goals. Even in games where Zelda doesn’t take a more aggressive role, she’s still proven herself capable. In A Link to the Past—at least in the comic—it’s Zelda that make the blow against Ganon that finally makes him susceptible to a killing strike. She also teaches Link what he needs to know about the maidens he must free from their crystal prisons. Though her actions may not be consistent in every game, what does remain the same is Zelda’s strength to keep going and her ability to think strategically even in the most stressful of times.
Nonetheless, as with everything, there are naysayers who believe such a move could only result in the downfall of the series. Several people have complained that Zelda has already gotten her time to shine, and certainly she has already had a game that she starred in. Wand of Gamelon for the CD-I did, in fact, allow the player to travel around Hyrule as Zelda as did Zelda’s Adventure. However, both the system and the games were terrible and often ignored or forgotten entirely. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that obscure games like these are brought up for the sole reason of arguing against more Zelda representation in the series. The way some people see it, the games starring Zelda have done terribly, so why should she be allowed to have another chance? This completely ignores the ability of the capable writers currently in charge of the series as well as underestimating the advancements in the game hardware itself. These arguments sound like nothing more than a petulant child complaining because someone’s ‘boys only’ club had to include their sister.
Personally, I believe that having the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom become the playable character presents the opportunity for interesting new gameplay mechanics. Of course, there will always be the general hack and slash of any Zelda game, but Zelda’s cunning gives way to the possibility of more tricky stealth situations. And seeing that the Princess is also a magic user, I’m sure the ideas for spells and their uses are countless. A while ago on Tumblr, a post was making the rounds showcasing the idea of a Zelda game starring Zelda. Needless to say, the idea blew up fast showing just how many people would be interested in such a game.
But, as I said earlier, the only way this will happen is if there’s a clear interest. If you think this idea is one you want to get behind, don’t hold back! Let Aonuma know by leaving tweets, messages on the Miiverse, or simply spreading the message. This is something that could actually happen and I, for one, would be disappointed to see an idea with such potential fall to the wayside.
(Source: Zelda Universe)
So there is a Legend of Zelda manga series based on the video games. I have come across Ocarina of Time (two volumes), Majora’s Mask, Oracle of Ages, and Oracle of Seasons (which I have not read) in my travels. Apparently there are more which are based on Toon Link who I refuse to acknowledge exists. Here is the general low-down.
If you like the video games, you are going to like the mangas. If you didn’t like the video games, you are not going to like the mangas. It’s that simple. The only manga that is significantly different from the video game is Oracle of Ages (which I’m not going to describe, because that would be spoilers). My favorite mangas were the Ocarina of Time pair, but that’s probably because they were my favorite video game. Also, because it was spread out over two volumes, it wasn’t rushed. Majora’s Mask, on the other hand, was insanely rushed. Because I knew the storyline I knew what was going on, but it was so rushed. If it had been one manga longer (like some of the Ranma ½ mangas) then it would have been fine. There wasn’t enough of a story to make Majora’s Mask two mangas, but it was still too much for one. And anyone who has played that game knows it’s crammed full of stuff.
I really like the art, especially the depictions of adult Link. He just looks really attractive.
But if you like the games, you will like the mangas. They aren’t hard to read (they’re Viz Kids you guys) and they don’t take up much time (There are nine or ten volumes and you don’t have to read all of them). So if you are looking for brain junk food or don’t know the games and want to figure out what all the fuss is about, pick these suckers up!