Posts Tagged ‘Youtube’

Is Zelda an RPG

Earlier this week I was presented with the following video by Happy Console Gamer. It poses the question is Zelda an RPG? Watch…

Having been a Zelda fan for years now, remembering fondly Link’s Awakening on the original Gameboy, it struck me as weird that I’ve never really considered this question before. Though, looking online I can see that Zelda’s genre is a fervently discussed issue in the gaming community! Time for me to throw in my two cents…

I would never profess to be a particular fan of RPGs, Fable, Fable 2 and Fallout 3 sitting neglected on my shelf for the last year or so. It’s not that I have a disliking for them, far from it. I simply don’t have time to grind away for 70+ hours before I am satisfied that the game has been explored sufficiently. With the sheer number of games that are available currently, I generally favour more linear titles that can be knocked out in 10 hours. Sorry Skyrim. Having said that, one of my favourite games of late is unequivocally The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. So enamoured with Shigeru Miyamoto’s latest endeavour, I actually sessioned it over the course of a few days, thoroughly exploring all areas, collecting bugs, weapon upgrades and heart containers.

This actually leads me on quite nicely to a discussion of whether Zelda is an RPG or not.

With an initial examination it is very easy to observe various features from the Legend of Zelda series that would indeed suggest that they are RPGs. Elements of quasi-grinding have always been key additions to the games, repeatedly killing low level enemies or slashing grass in order to collect enough Rupees to purchase items from the many in-game shops. This was especially prevalent in Skyward Sword with the addition of bug collection, in turn allowing for the upgrade of weaponry (another typical RPG trait). Similarly, the autonomous accumulation of hearts, a task which the games neither require or guide you in, further promotes Zelda  as an RPG. Furthermore, health and ammunition requirements have always been left open to the player; progression is not restricted by low attainment of both, beyond the player’s own struggle to defeat certain bosses with low ammo, health or healing potions, of course.

It’s this level of freedom which perhaps stands out as the most RPG-like aspect of the Zelda franchise. Though the games have an ingrained thread of linearity with strict narrative progression, individual exploration and discovery form extensive side plots. This can be seen in the quest for heart containers, or the many secondary plots from each title, completion of these unnecessary for ‘clocking’ the games: I often reminisce about Link’s Awakening, delivering [1990’s SPOILER] dog food to the crocodile; it was a completely unrelated side quest but one which was entertaining and very satisfying.

Additional RPG elements of Zelda titles include protagonist characterisation, or lack thereof, and speech mechanics. In each iteration of the franchise you play the role of a protagonist whose character is deliberately vague. There is no audible speech, he has no voice. In fact, characterisation goes very little beyond clarifying that he is a young ‘hero’. This affords the player the opportunity to stamp their own personality onto Link – even down to the name! Moreover, the games’ speech mechanics often allow the player to choose alternating responses when conversing with other characters (notably in Skyward Sword). However, though on the surface this gives the impression of player control, really with all answers generally resulting in the same consequences it is in fact an illusion. When was the last time you chose the ”wrong” answer in a Zelda game?

This, I feel is the key reason why Zelda is not an RPG. As explained above, it is true that there are many elements from the Zelda franchise that do indeed mirror those found in RPG games, yet they don’t quite have the required scope to render them entirely so. Narrative structures are decidedly linear, forcing players to complete tasks and temples in a strict order (areas must be completed in a set pattern for plot progression – generally, the new weapon obtained from one temple will allow access to the next). Apart from increasing your stock of life and ammo which eases the difficulty of combat, your exploration has very little impact on storyline. In fact, it is fair to say that there is no real way to change how the stories progress which is perhaps the most significant feature of RPGs.

Add to this the general lack of character and weapon customisation, and the exclusion of any experience based levelling system (with the obvious exception of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link), and you have a franchise that fails to meet the expectations of the RPG genre on many levels. Yet, in most recent execution this is changing somewhat; clearly Skyward Sword has taken Zelda to new heights, making it more and more like a role playing game. And who knows where this significant precedent could progress to in the future?

To answer the question then, is Zelda an RPG? No, it’s simply an immersive action adventure with familiar role-playing traits.

The real question is though, does this definition have any impact upon the quality of the game? The answer to this is much less contested…

Thanks to Mo, for the suggestion!


Here’s to a living legend… well,  no longer living. RIP The Butch.

Actually quite a sick tune, telling the history of Pat Butcher and her East end cohorts….

“Yah man! Patrick Truman”.

Wow, Hollywood never ceases to amaze me. If you read my blog then chances are that you’ve seen me ranting pretty fervently about the impending Akira remake. It just gets worse though…

I’ve just seen a trailer on IGN for an upcoming action flick called Bad Ass, starring Danny Trejo and I am gobsmacked. Not in a good way.

Ok, so Trejo is clearly a BEAST, sporting some particularly admirable facial hair. Uber Mexican. But seemingly his new role is playing the part of a humble Youtube hero – not quite Machete (MA-CHET-AY). Has Hollywood really created a whole film based on a viral Youtube clip?!

See for yourself:

Now see the original Youtube clip:

What’s next Hollywood, Charlie Bit my finger starring Charlie Sheen? Although that is definitely a true story.

With horrific live action remakes like GI Joe: Rise of Cobra and the impending doom that is Akira, is there really any need for further destruction of our childhood heroes? Well, finally someone has made a positive adaptation and interestingly it’s fan-made!

With a budget of zero, Dermot Canterbury has successfully recreated the 80’s disco-style opening sequence to Ulysses 31. Somehow he has managed to make it MORE camp. Ulysses looks less like a hero from a childhood animated fantasy and more like a bad porno Bee Gee.

Nice use of tennis balls though! Props.

(Media courtesy of Fluffrick and Denofgeek)

So, merrily wandering the internet earlier this week I spotted an advert for something called the First Direct Dialogue Festival. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised as it’s a surprisingly low-key affair for an event that has so much to offer.

The festival spans four days in early November at three small venues in-and-around Notting Hill. During this time, those lucky enough to have discovered it have the opportunity of seeing comedy and debate from the likes of Adam Buxton, Richard Herring, Robin Ince and Josie Long, with Will Self and Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame, amongst others) making special appearances.

So what’s it all about? Well, in keeping with the maxim of Ronseal, it’s about dialogue. No s~@t Sherlock! In a little more depth, the festival will explore the inner workings of conversation and the spoken word, discovering why it still remains so vitally significant in a world where technology has created a somewhat faceless, artless communication network. Every night of the festival is devoted to one of five themes (Debate, Technobabble, Lyrical, Chatterbox, Banter), all with different celebrities and a varying artistic focus.

The first night, which we managed to blag for £5 a ticket on Groupon – revealing how under-promoted the festival is – was focussed on Debate. Compere Robin Ince led the evening, introducing first a set from Adam Buxton, a pop-culture fanatic and one half of the inimitable comedic duo Adam & Joe. Now you’ve all probably seen the video of Adam, Joe and an endearingly young Louis Theroux dancing around to ‘Groove is in the Heart’. If somehow you’ve managed to miss it then treat yourself here). Alternatively, you may have heard Dr Buckles on Radio Four or witnessed him hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks recently. If so, then you will have some idea of what to expect from his show.

Adam’s set, essentially a ‘best of’ compilation from his popular show BUG, explores the greatest media sharing site of our modern culture, Youtube.  With hours spent trawling the site, he has compiled a collection of what he considers to be the best music videos and the most amazing user responses to them. Now although this is not particularly new territory, for example the Channel 4 show RudeTube also seeks outs popular videos from the site, it is Buxton’s charm and impeccable delivery that make the show his own. As he described himself, the show feels like he has invited us “round to his house for dinner”, but leaving us undernourished he soon digresses, instead showing us videos he likes. The great thing about this feel, especially in the tiny church we were in, is that it creates such a refreshingly informal atmosphere. He shows us a few videos and we have a laugh together. After particular selections he then also proceeds to unveil some hilarious comments left by Youtubers on them. He extracts the very best comments, having clearly committed himself to hours of slogging through undoubtedly inane or abusive chatter. The actual comments he selects are incredibly funny, but it’s his comedic delivery, complete with a range of hilariously indistinguishable accents, that have the audience belly-laughing throughout his set. This is interspersed with Adam’s own music videos, one involving some talking poo – not like South Park, I’ll leave that to your imagination. I’ve always enjoyed his quirky, energetic humour right back from the original Adam & Joe series and it’s great to see that he hasn’t lost any of it; despite sporting a lumberjack beard and having kids he’s still able to prance around the stage rewriting the lyrics to Grace Jones’ ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’. It was one of the finest comedy sets that I have seen in a long time, my continually watering eyes were a testament to that.

Here are some of the best videos he had to offer, each one amazingly different:

Iz Tropical, The Greeks. Video produced by Megaforce.

I absolutely loved this video and had to share it. The combination of naive children playing innocently with nerf guns and the destructive adult animation is wonderful. It made me want to be 12 again, or at very least just shoot some kids with some foam projectiles. The Play Doh C4 was a lovely touch too.

It also got the biggest laughs of the night from its Youtube commenting continuity afficionados:

As a self-professed literalist, Mr Buxton repeated this last comment with hilarious accuracy.

Manchester Orchestra, ‘Simple Math’. Video produced by Daniels.

This video was so engaging and totally mirrored the emotional feel of the song. I admit, I’m not entirely sure what it was supposed to mean but nevertheless, the fluid cuts between the past and present, the juxtaposition of a car crash with childhood relationships, left an undeniable impression on me.

Pigwiththefaceofaboy, ‘A Complete History of the Soviet Union, Arranged to the Melody of Tetris’. Video produced by Chris Lince.

There is nothing that I really need to say about this video. I adore games and have always held a special place in my heart for remixes of gaming theme tunes, so just the Russian-style adaptation on accordion is enough to earn my love, especially as it speeds up as the video progresses. Yet, there is so much more to love about it. The choice of the Tetris theme goes so far beyond simply providing a suitable backing tune and interesting visual prospect. Instead, it is used as a rather inventive metaphor for the Russian working classes, toiling away daily in manual labour yet ultimately seeing nothing for the fruits of their work (in Tetris, your ultimate goal is to make the very thing you have worked at for hours disappear).

Following Adam’s set was an unfortunately uninspiring debate about the Art of conversation and whether the rise of technology had killed it. Robin Ince mediated the debate between experimental comedian Simon Munnery and globally celebrated comic writer Alan Moore. Disappointingly, what could have been a very interesting debate ended up as an unbalanced critique of modern technology, without ever really discussing how conversation had been affected, let alone the prospect of it being a damaged ‘art’. The rise of the internet and social networking were never never mentioned, unbelievable when you consider that they have probably had the biggest impact on conversation. I fully expected the debate to be centred around these communicative tools and how they have streamlined our conversations into small sound bites, whilst allowing them to be shared globally at the touch of a button. Undoubtedly, the debate needed a commentator from a modern perspective to balance out the somewhat outdated opinions of Simon and Alan. Adam Buxton, whose set was devoted to modern technology and innovation, was the obvious choice for this. He certainly would have livened up what was a lifeless debate, especially after his own high-energy performance. Perhaps if they also opened up questions to the audience during the actual debate, rather than asking for them to be written down beforehand, it could have been directed in the way that people expected whilst keeping it relevant and fresh.

Robin Ince’s final set at least seemed to open up the debate slightly. It soon became clear that he had an awareness of social media and how it has affected modern conversation, so it was odd that he didn’t choose to use this point of reference to mediate the debate. Nevertheless, his set was an engaging and thought-provoking way to close the proceedings.

As a reward those that stuck it out until the end, Alan Moore once again approached the stage to pitch a new idea for a children’s cartoon. The captive audience chuckled away as he began to divulge his plans for a Scooby Doo-style crime solving caper starring himself, God and Hitler. There was an explanation for why this unlikely trio had united as a “dream team” (Moore’s own words) but I think it’s more fun to leave you without it… Suggestions on a post card please. The possibilities seem both endless and non-existent.

Roll on Thursday, with Richard Herring and a live tweet off!