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Kasuto's Ramblings

Are You a True Fan, or Fair-Weather Friend?

    By now, we've all seen what the new Gamecube Zelda looks like. I think it's safe to say that the entrie Zelda community was shocked by the new look. Many were outraged. I didn't know what to think at first. It was nothing like the demo video we saw last year. Last year's video was shockingly realistic. The new footage looks like a cartoon. The thing I wonder is: why do people hate the new look so much? I like cartoons. Cartoons are great. Zelda is great. Using the transitive property of mathematics, I can make the assumption that the new Zelda game will be great. Allow me to illustrate this. Cartoons = Good. Zelda = Good. Therefore, Cartoons = Zelda and Cartoon Zelda = Good. But since a simple logical statement totally defeats the purpose of rambling, so allow me to delve further into this sensitive subject.
    I remember back in the day. I'm talking about the original Zelda for the NES. Back then, extreme graphics were something out of science fiction. We were happy with the squarish, 8-bit graphics that Nintendo pumped out. Despite the relatively crappy graphics, The Legend of Zelda was a damn good game. That one game started a whole new world: the world of Hyrule. Over the years, Zelda has become more than a game. It has become a legend in and of itself. Zelda is, and always has been Nintendo's flagship. Sure, Mario is the first thing people think of when somebody says "Nintendo", but Zelda is the real meat and potatoes. Over the years, Mario has become Nintendo's whore, appearing in every game and plugging everything in sight. Thank God that this never happened to our beloved Legend of Zelda. I remember when The Adventure of Link came out. Everybody was shocked when they saw the new side-scrolling platform. Most people didn't like that game, and some consider it not to be a true part of the Zelda saga. Humbug, I say. Zelda II was as much a part of the Zelda world as any of its successors. After all these years, it's still my personal favorite. Then we were subjected to a horrible waiting period. It took years for A Link to the Past to come out. But the wait was well worth it. The first thing I heard people say about Zelda III was "Wow! These graphics are awesome!" Graphics, that's all everyone cares about. Well I got news for you buddy, graphics ain't all that matters! I paid no attention to the graphics when I first slid that beautiful cartridge into the equally beautiful console. I didn't buy it for graphics, I bought it because it was a Zelda game. I bought it because I knew it would be a great game. And I wasn't disappointed. As you all probably know, the gameplay in A Link to the Past was absolutely extraordinary. The world was huge. There was a story behind it. And the puzzles left us guessing forever. Some people used the strategy guides, I used my wits. I don't need no stinkin' strategy guide. But my point is that I played the game for the game, not becuase "it has good graphics". I remember waiting for Ocarina of Time. The wait had be so long, that I almost fell out of the Zelda loop. I didn't follow it to closely anymore. But the old games never got lost or fell into disuse. Every couple months, I would dust off my SNES and pop in A Lik to the Past and relive my first adventure there. Sometimes I would get really nostalgic and pop in Zelda I or II. Both games were so addictive that when I fired up my old NES and finally got it working, I played the game from beginning to end without stopping. I'll tell you, it's an eerie feeling waking up in the morning, turning on the Zelda game, beating both quests, and then finally emerging from my room to hear my parents say "Where have you been all day?!" Yeah, those were the days. There's nothing like losing eight hours of my life to a video game. But as I was saying, I fell out of the loop before and during OOT's release. The main reason: we had no money. My family couldn't afford an N64. We could barely afford to pay our bills. Instead of going over to a friend's house and playing the game, or renting a system from a video store, I waited. I did nothing at all to familiarize myself with the game. I wanted to see it for myself. So I waited. Then the day finally came. It had been a year since OOT's release. I had heard rave reviews about it's spectacular gameplay and equally spectacular graphics. It had even earned a spot in the Guiness Book of Records. Allow me to quote from this book if I may:

Most Advance Orders for a Game More than 325,000 US consumers put down deposits for copies of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of TIme, a Nintendo 64 game, to ensure that they received their copy as soon as it went on sale on November 23, 1998.

My friends, this record still stands. But let me return to what I was saying. It had been a year since OOT's release, and my birthday was right around the corner. We finally had enough money, so I asked for a Nintendo 64 with the Zelda game. That's all I wanted, and that's all I got. I'm sure you can all understand how ecstatic I was when I ripped open that box and saw that beautiful gold box looking up at me. I swear I had the N64 hooked up and the game running in less than a minute. And I played it until 4:00 in the morning. I played that game for hours on end every single day until I had beaten it. Playing OOT for the first time brought back so many memories. I did the exact same thing when every other Zelda game came out. But allow me to get to my point, I played OOT because it was a Zelda game. I played it because it had good gameplay. Sure, the graphics amazed me at first, and they even pissed me off. I was so used to the flat, bird's-eye world, that I had a hard time getting used to this new three-dimensional world. The analog stick pissed the hell out of me for days. I finally got used to it, and now I don't know how I got along without it. But frankly, the graphics had no effect on me. I wouldn't have cared if the graphics sucked. The game was all I wanted. Graphics didn't fit into the equation. So the point I will eventually get at is: why do graphics matter for the Gamecube Zelda?
    Let me ask this again: Why do graphics matter for the Gamecube Zelda? I really don't think that they do. Besides, the graphics in that game are spectacular. Take a look at the motion and the animation. It is smooth and flawless. There isn't a single jagged edge like in the N64 games. The shadows are actually perfect outlines of the figures, instead of a black circle. The fire from the torches ebbs and flows just like a real flame. I think the complaint people actually want to make is not that the graphics suck, but the portrayal of the characters sucks. I'll admit, everything does look cartoonish. But like I said before, I like cartoons. I honestly don't see what's wrong with the new look. It reminds me of the old days when we were free to imagine. Sure, realism is great, but I want to play games in order to escape reality. If I want to see reality, I'll turn on the news. Maybe all these "reality" TV shows have spoiled us. Doesn't anybody watch Looney Tunes anymore? I love Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Obviously the coyote and the roadrunner don't look anything like the real animals. But I don't hear anyone complaining about how realistic they look. So why does Zelda need to be "realistic"? There are so many more things you can do with a cartoon character than with a "real life" character. Realistic characters have to follow logical laws of nature, cartoon characters can do anything. Making Link into a cartoon can enable him to do hundreds of moves that would look ridiculous if he were a realistic character.
    And what's with this stupid petition that everybody's signing to try to get Nintendo to change their mind? Come on people, do you have any idea how the corporate world works? Corporations are not democracies, they do whatever they want. You're all just wasting the Internet's bandwidth by signing a useless petition. If they decided to go ahead and change everyting, the entire game engine would have to be rewritten, which would put off the release of the game by at least another year. I don't want to wait for even longer just so a few crybabies can have the Link they want. Don't waste your time signing some petition. I guarantee that Nintendo won't even look at it. You have better odds of seeing Al Gore chug a beer and crush the can on his forehead than Nintendo actually taking the petition seriously. Frankly, I'd rather see Al Gore chug a beer and crush the can with his head than see a realistic Link in the GC Zelda.
    Wait, I'm not done. I have one more bone to pick. So far, the only thing we've seen of GC Zelda is a very short demo video. From a logical standpoint, we simply don't have enough information to make an accurate judgment. A 30-second clip is hardly enough to decide if the game is worth playing. It's like trying to write a book report based entirely on the picture on the cover: it'll work, but it won't be very good. Before everybody starts jumping to conclusions, I think we should all just wait. Don't give me any crap about how much Gamecube Zelda sucks because you haven't played it. And no, I won't believe you if you say you know some insider in Nintendo who sent you the beta version of the game. That's a lie and you know it. So don't start jumping to conclusions until you've played the game yourself.

Kasuto of Kataan

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