Love Letter: The Legend of Zelda (1986)

There are monsters everywhere. Ahead lies the entrance to a gloomy cave, promising a much-needed rest. Inside, you meet an old man who gives you a gift and utters a line that would become the catchphrase of the entire series.

Section 38(C) of the Games Journalism Act 1995 states that I legally have to use this picture at least once.

Section 38(C) of the Games Journalism Act 1995 states that I legally have to use this picture at least once.

With these words of wisdom, the old man decides he’s said too much and outright refuses to utter another line of dialogue. The handful of other characters you meet aren’t any more talkative.

The Hyrule of 1986 is a world away from its later incarnations. By A Link to the Past, the few dozen friendly souls you meet on your quest are happy to pass the time of day and fill you in on any rumours from the town square. As the series moved into 3D, more and more companions joined you on your journey, until you barely had a second to think about the next objective before Navi or Fi piped up with the answer.

HEY! LISTEN!

The original Legend of Zelda had no truck with such mollycoddling. You were pitched into an uncaring world without a sword (or even a map) and expected to survive with nothing but your wits. In this sense, Link’s first outing has more in common with the Dark Souls games than his own later adventures.

Link’s inventory grows over the course of the game, but it never bloats to the level of his later appearances. By Twilight Princess the series had reached its most overblown, showering you with a fancy new item in each dungeon which worked a treat against the boss but would never leave your knapsack once outside (remember the Spinner?). In contrast, The Legend of Zelda works wonders with a handful of items, making the boomerang, bombs and arrows crucial to surviving each monster-filled field. Items such as the raft and the stepladder, posted missing from later games, opened up whole chunks of the map in a far more organic way than the obscure hurdles used to section off later games.

Yay! An item! It's a... what the hell?

Yay! An item! It’s a… set of pan pipes?

Most of all, The Legend of Zelda is a game about exploration. Whilst the overworld was nowhere near as varied as the snow-capped mountains, fetid swamps and scorching deserts of later games, the lack of a map screen was a masterstroke. Across the globe, eager kids scrawled makeshift charts with pencil and paper, marking up dungeon entrances, secret caves and particularly deadly clusters of monsters. Contrast the feeling of fighting screen by screen through 1986 Hyrule with A Link Between Worlds, which proudly displayed the full map on the bottom screen from the very start. Whereas every journey in The Legend of Zelda is a step into the dark, by 2013 the familiarity of the world (especially for SNES veterans) is the game’s one low point.

If Nintendo want some free advice (and Wii U sales suggest they maybe should) then they should try and recapture the 1986 spirit for the next installment. Ditch the chatterbox sidekicks. Make a handful of items count – I want to be an expert archer and swordsman by the game’s finish. Finally, make the damn game as hard and unforgiving as those first hours in Hyrule.

It should always be dangerous to go alone.

Sony: A humble suggestion about error messages

Modern consoles are amazing, aren’t they? A generation of engineers and programmers have mastered their craft to the extent where they can create outstanding character models like Jake and Ellie…

ibz1z0K2XW4cXu

…. and beautiful vistas like the world of Destiny.

destiny-alpha-screen-night-time

So WHY THE HELL IS THIS THE BEST YOU CAN DO WHEN SOMETHING BREAKS?

PS4-error.jpgSeriously, why the hell do we have to go online and look up a meaningless jumble of letters and numbers to find out what happened and how to fix it? Here’s an idea for free, Sony – maybe JUST BLOODY TELL US? Maybe with WORDS ON THE DAMN SCREEN?

It’s 2014 and our £400, state-of-the-art consoles deal with error messages like fax machines from 1984.

Scottish FA confirm World Cup boycott will continue

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed that the national team’s boycott of FIFA’s World Cup tournaments will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Scotland have declined to attend any international tournaments since 1998 due to a series of concerns about each host nation.

“Well, it all started in 2002 when Barry Ferguson insisted we take a stand against Japan’s horrendous whaling fleets“, explained an SFA spokesperson. “After that, we decided that taking a moral stand was far more rewarding than sporting glory.”

“In 2006, Gary Caldwell felt very strongly about the EU’s continued trade in torture tools. He also wasn’t happy about Germany’s complicity in US rendition flights and ejection of Syrian asylum seekers.”

“In both 2010 and 2014, Kenny Miller had some serious concerns about human rights abuses in South Africa and Brazil, so we decided to give them a miss too.”

The SFA spokesperson went on to express sympathy with those who protested against Friday’s friendly match with Qatar.

“We’re glad that people are now concerned with the Qatari regime’s awful human rights record, and we’re sure the Sepp Blatter and FIFA stories all over the news weren’t the only reason anyone cared. It was, however, disappointing to note that nobody gave a shit the following night when Barcelona lifted the Champions League trophy whilst sponsored by Qatar Airways.”

El_trident_v1431871583

Man blinded by hatred after looking directly at The Sun

A 24-year-old man has been damaged for life after ignoring countless warnings and looking directly at a copy of today’s Sun newspaper.

“Of course I’d seen the warnings about what direct exposure to the eyes would do, but I didn’t think it would be that bad”, explained David Williams, who until the incident worked with an asylum seekers charity.

Continue reading at the North British Post…

Jack Straw: “My only regret is my pricing structure”

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has expressed deep regret in an exclusive interview with the North British Post.

“Of course I could have handled myself better, I’ve really let myself and my family down”, explained the disgraced MP for Blackburn, referring to his recent cash-for-access scandal and suspension from the Labour party.

“I keep going over and over it in my head, wondering how I could have been so stupid. I thought that £5,000 for a day’s lobbying was a good, competitive price, so I was sick to my stomach when I saw that Malcolm Rifkind was charging £8,000 for just a morning.”

Continue reading at the North British Post…