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Monday, February 20, 2012

Tevis Thompson

I haven't played Skyward Sword. I'm not even that interested, which says a lot about the series that sucked me into video games in the first place. It's easy to just assume that I grew out of these titles, that I'm nothing more than nostalgic for childhood, but that's bullshit. Dude, I play more games now than I did when I was ten. I haven't changed at all. If anyone changed, it's Zelda.

On a related note, here is an excellent article to read.

The article really pins down what constitutes an adventure in a video game, which is so god-damned interesting. A lot of what is considered excellent design is put to question by Tevis, and you know what? He makes some really good points. Granted, if Tevis's wish came true and Zelda actually did return to it's roots, the game would sell less copies. Maybe a lot less. I'm almost positive on this, so I have to ask if what Tevis wrote down, this article that has me so excited, is it good game design?

Better question: Is it wise to label something as good or bad design when it's the essential concept of the game that's being questioned? Tevis is suggesting a return to a different genre, and the appeal of a genre depends more on a player's taste than a designer's skill.

I'm getting slightly off-topic. The original topic was: Read Tevis's shit. He's smart, and he certainly makes a better case for changing Zelda than I ever have.


  1. That was a great, well-thought opinion piece. What stands out to me is his strong case that the nature of a Zelda game has completely changed since its original vision.

    I guess whether the old or new focus is "better design" is completely subjective. Cinematic games like L.A. Noire (or most games by Rockstar), Uncharted (or most games by Naughty Dog) or, yes, new Zelda games, are a bit of a fad right now since it's popular to play games that resemble movies more than traditional games.

    With that said, I'm personally stoked that Demon Souls/Dark Souls has sold much better than originally anticipated. We don't need Zelda to revert to its origin as much as we just need other games to fill the gap. IP is overrated.

  2. It bothered me greatly when you no longer had to find secrets in Zelda 3.

    I seem to be the only one who thinks Zelda64 is extremely boring.

    I almost abandoned Twilight Princess because it was pretty much just pushing a button to advance a story.

    I can't play Wind Waker again because it's now obviously just a series of chores.

    I've been having a really hard time trying to explain why they shouldn't have bothered making Skyward Sword since it's so similar to the last couple Zeldas, but this article covers it way beyond my ability.

    So the only part that's news to me is that all of this was intentional since the producer of these games couldn't handle the original Zelda himself! Wow...

  3. Also... I think it's incorrect to describe the difference this guy proposes between "old" and "new" Zeldas as a difference in "genres". The difference is more of a subtle evolution than a completely different kind of game (that is, as long as we continue to focus on the elements in question and overlook the differing perspectives, etc). For instance, if a "new" Zelda was actually challenging the way the "old" ones were, this would not necessarily mean a different "genre". Essentially, "genre" as we know it is too much a vague, crude mechanism to describe the gradual difference between "old" and "new" Zeldas.

    In other words, changing a mediocre game into a great one within the same "genre" should not lessen its appeal to either novices nor veterans. Perhaps they dare not challenge the precedent that was clumsily set with Zelda64.

  4. You said it yourself. Genre is a vague word.

    Both old and new Zeldas have been labeled as action-adventure games, but look at the layout of the original Zelda. Look at the overall pacing. The absence of a story arc. These elements matter in defining a game and determining genre, don't they? Who cares about subtle evolution. Virtually all of these games are high-quality products (I'm going to ignore your 'clumsy' shot at OoT) with lots of appeal on the mechanical level. Design isn't the issue, and the original Zelda games were not simply 'more challenging'. You could have a brand new Zelda modeled after the original, have it be the easiest game in the series, and people would still be turned off by the freedom they're given. Zelda 1 is an exploration game. It's different.

    Does Symphony of the Night and the original Castlevania belong in the same genre?