The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Articles RSS Feed | The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Gift Guide: Best Gamer Gifts Under $20 Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:45:29 -0500 Kieran Desmond


Those were ten of the best gamer gifts to buy for under $20 this holiday, but they are by no means all of your options. So if something on this list seems like something the gamer in your life would enjoy, awesome! But if not, just keep looking. You're bound to find something that they'll love sooner or later. 


Make sure you take of advantage of Black Friday this November 24th, and don't forget about Cyber Monday a few days later. You never know what kind of deals you may find.


Lamicall Playstand


Price: $18.99


Buy it on: Amazon


There's no doubt about i t-- the Nintendo Switch is an amazing console. However, it's not without its flaws. In this case, I'm specifically referring to the built-in stand and its location in relation to the charging port.


The issue that arises is that when you want to play your Switch in tabletop mode, you can't charge it. This is a big problem in games such as Super Mario Odyssey, which encourages you to play in this mode.


This stand solves that problem and is a cut above most of the other stands on the market in terms of build quality, flexibility, and portability. A must-have for any Switch owner.


Retro Pong Tee


Price: $15.99


Buy it on: Amazon


Show off your love for video games history by wearing this T-shirt tribute to Pong, one of the grandfathers of gaming.


Released in 1972, the table tennis-inspired Pong is credited as being the first commercially successful video game, arguably kicking off the gaming world as we know it today. Never forget where it all started by picking one of these up this holiday season.


DreamGear Retro Machine


Price: $19.88


Buy it on: Amazon


This miniature throwback to the glory days of arcade cabinets is packed with 200 video games. There's nothing licensed on the Retro Machine, so it's mostly clones of popular games, but when you get games similar to classics like Galaga, Space Invaders, and Dig Dug, this mini-machine is nothing to balk at.


This is a great item to keep on your desk at work for some quick gaming when you get a break ... or when the boss isn't watching.


Donkey Kong-Themed Amiibo Display


Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Amazon


If you know someone who has a bunch of Amiibo characters just sitting on a shelf, they'll go bananas for this Donkey Kong-inspired Amiibo stand. Not only does does this stand tidy up and organize Amiibo, it's also just a really cool design.


The stand holds up to nine Amiibo figures and is super easy to assemble. This is a no-brainer gift for any self-respecting Amiibo collector.


Aloy Stubbins 6" Plush


Price: $12.99


Buy it on: Amazon


Pluck Aloy out of The Frozen Wilds and into the warm home of a Horizon: Zero Dawn fan this holiday season. She may not be able to fight giant robot dinosaurs, but she can bring a smile to the face of even the most stone-hearted gamer.


The adorable Stubbins Sony Plush line features other iconic Sony video game characters such as Uncharted's Nathan Drake, both of the titular characters of the Ratchet & Clank series, and many more. So if Aloy isn't the right character for your gift recipient, you should check out the rest of the Stubbins toy line.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Ocarina Replica


Price: $13.99


Buy it: Amazon


If you thought that the ocarina from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was an instrument created for the game, then think again.This totally playable ocarina is a recreation of the titular wind instrument.


The ocarina is fairly easy to pick up-and-play, and it even comes with a songbook and finger chart to help you learn to play classic songs from The Legend of Zelda series.


Disclaimer: Be wary of causing storms, sudden shifts in time, or the random appearance of horses.


BlueFire Gaming Headset


Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Amazon


This headset is great for the price you pay. It's a given that it won't be the best headset you can buy, but if you're on a budget, it'll do the job.


With a removable microphone for when you just want to relax with a movie, a lightweight frame for more comfort during longer play sessions, and a nice seven-foot cord length, this BlueFire gaming headset is a great gift for any gamer.


Super Mario Odyssey Joy-Con Grip


Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Amazon


This Super Mario Odyssey-themed Joy-Con Grip is an awesome addition to any Switch owner’s collection. Released in conjunction with the game, this grip is the perfect accessory with which to embark on Mario's latest adventure.


Gameplay-wise, this Joy-Con Grip doesn’t add anything to the Switch experience, but let’s face it -- we all love owning stuff that has Mario’s face plastered over it.


BEBONCOOL Bluetooth Phone Gamepad


Price: $19.99


Buy it on: Amazon


Most gamers don't enjoy phone games because of the less traditional control method of using a touchscreen. It's not hard to see why, as touchscreen controls can be clunky and unpleasant when your fingers are covering half the screen.


With massively underrated phone peripherals such as this BEBONCOOL controller, you can change the way you play games on your phone forever. All it takes is a Bluetooth connection and some compatible games, and you're all set.


Pixel Pals - Mega Man Lighted Figure


Price: $14.99


Buy it on: Amazon


The Pixel Pals Lighted Figure Collection hosts many popular video game characters as well as popular characters from other mediums. But this Mega Man figure in particular really captures the essence of the classic Capcom character using awesome pixel art.


At 6 inches tall, this figure would look great on a desk to add a little fun to your workspace or on a shelf to instill some nostalgic personality into the room.


As the holiday season rapidly approaches, now is a better time than ever to start buying gifts for your friends and family. If you're looking for a budget gift for that gamer in your life, then you're in the right place.


Being a gamer doesn't mean enjoying just the games themselves; gamers also love collectibles associated with their favorite games as well as other aspects of gaming culture as a whole. So this list is video game-free, looking instead at some items the average gamer is less likely to buy for him or herself.


Whether you're on a budget or you're after some cool stocking-fillers, there's sure to be something on this list for any gamer to enjoy.

What's On Your (Game) Playlist This Month? Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:36:42 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Have you ever wondered what the awesome writers and techies at GameSkinny play in their spare time? Well, wonder no more! We've asked everyone that same question and compiled some of their responses for your viewing pleasure. Don't think this piece doesn't include you, though. We want to know what you're playing this month, too!

Stephen Johnston

GameSkinny founder Stephen Johnston found an October-appropriate outlet for his love of strategy gaming.

I'm playing Dungeons III quite a bit. Good solid game, a tad easy, but it has  funny, if a bit childish, banter, fun gameplay and dungeon builds, light RTS elements, and quality graphics.

Ty Arthur

Halloween also helped featured contributor and lover of shooters Ty Arthur's choice of game.

The Ashes Of Malmouth DLC has me back into indie ARPG Grim Dawn again, freezing and electrocuting Chtonian horrors from beyond and Aetherial ghost creatures by the thousands! Couldn't ask for a better Diablo 2 style game, and it fit my October preferences for horror games perfectly, with its heavy focus on the Cthulhu mythos and a grimdark, post-apocalyptic setting. Enjoying trying out new Necromancer builds in the base game and taking my Arcanist / Soldier combo through the new game acts added with the expansion.

Jonathan Moore

Senior editor Jonathan Moore took the opportunity to check out one of the year's biggest releases -- purely for professional purposes, of course.

I'm currently indulging in Destiny 2, much to the sheer surprise of anyone around the office. Having put some 300 hours into the original, I'm finding more and more that Bungie mostly learned from their mistakes and corrected course into what we currently have in Destiny 2. My primary takeaway after a solid month of playing is that the game respects your time, which is increasingly important for me. Sure, there's grinding and sometimes-"unfair" RNG, but overall, it's a game that I can pick up and play and then put down when I need to, not feeling as if my clan is going to leave me behind because of it. The gunplay is tighter this time around and activities more varied. It's a solid improvement over the original in almost every way.


Katherine Zell, contributor and fan of 3D exploration games, also found herself pulled into another highly anticipated release.

I bought Super Mario Odyssey for my husband for his birthday. I played it with him for a little while, but then he continued without me, since I was busy doing other things ha. But the bit that I played was awesome.
Two player mode is great fun as well. My husband doesn't like using the Joy-Con sideways, but I think it is just fine. For those of you who haven't played it in 2 player mode, here's a breakdown of how it works. As Mario in two-player mode, it is a bit of a pain to deal with the camera angle, especially if you've already gotten used to playing the Switch normally. But if you are just jumping in as a spare and controlling Cappy, it's a blast. As Cappy, you don't have to worry about the camera angle as much, so the awkwardness of controlling that is irrelevant. You also feel like you are still useful, and you don't get bored. The boss battles we did do were really easy because whoever was controlling Cappy could focus just on projectiles and getting the enemy ready for Mario's attack, and then Mario just attacks. there are a few things Cappy can't help with, though, not to mention he gets kidnapped for a short time, and that is really sad if you're playing as Cappy. Suddenly useless, ha. Anyway, it has been a lot of fun. Both one-player and two-player are great. It has met all of my expectations of a 3D Super Mario game.

Brandon Janeway

Destiny 2 is proving to be quite popular among the site's writers, with contributor Brandon Janeway also enjoying it -- if not so much as the original.

I am playing Destiny 2. The game just has visuals that I love, and I like the RPG and FPS mix as well. The story is the not the same as the first and does not strike the same grand atmosphere I got with the first but nonetheless, it is still very satisfying.

Kieran Desmond

Mentor and contributor Kieran Desmond's choice of new release is more on the lighthearted side of things.

I just finished South Park: The Fractured But Whole. It 100% lived up to the hype and my expectations after theThe Stick of Truth blew me away when it came out. Clocking in at 26 hours, I felt that it maybe went on a little long, considering it's essentially just a long South Park episode. Also, after hearing it was a little easy, I cranked it up to the highest difficulty from the get go and still never lost a fight. But it was hilarious all the way through. Awesome game.

Rothalack (Brian Schaaf)

There's still plenty of enjoyment to be had in older games as well, as bug master and support guru Rothalack shows.

I've been playing Factorio. It's a rabbit hole of complexity that makes me feel exhausted after playing. 10/10.


Site contributor Spacechaser is balancing new and old, while also planning on working through a sizeable backlog.

I was replaying Ocarina of Time, but that was cut short with Super Mario Odyssey's release. I'm enjoying it so far; Nintendo heard the term "open world" and really ran with it! I'll probably finish up my OoT playthrough after I'm done, and after that, I have a couple more games I need to, ahem, finish up. Mainly Hyper Light Drifter, Cave Story+, and Song of the Deep.


From the biggest and best of the year to some hidden gems and classics of days gone by, if you've got a favorite genre, chances are, a GameSkinny writer is playing it too.

Drop a comment down below and tell us your favorites and what you're playing this month too!

East to West: The Major Differences in Game Releases Based on Geographic Locations Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:40:40 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Ever since video games started being released internationally, developers have been changing or removing certain pieces of content. These changes usually end up being cosmetic only, with some larger changes required depending on the region,and the most common things to be changed are depictions of violence, sex or nudity, and religious content. However, it's not just games released in the US that end up changed. Japan, Europe, and some Middle Eastern countries adapt releases to suit their particular cultures or needs as well.

Censorship or Localization?

Many games go through a variety of changes when they are released for different areas. These are often minute changes to fit the cultural differences between the areas they are being released. The changes do not mean that a game is censored, however; it's more that they are localized for that specific region.

Censorship means that there is a suppression or prohibition of parts from a game and other forms of expression, such as books or films, whereas localizing a game is the process by which a company adapts something to be local in character. So, in other words, "localisation is not outright censorship, but merely adapting a piece of work," while censorship deals more with the suppression of thought and ideas.

With that in mind, a lot of games that move between regions fall under the category of localization, rather than censorship. These changes are typically made because of cultural differences, tragic circumstances in the region, or for religious purposes. Some regions may have issues with nudity, with North America being one of the major regions where this change is made, alongside Middle Eastern areas, such as Saudi Arabia.

Or the culture could have issues with certain religious depictions, and these are changed in the localization process to fit that region's perspective. It doesn’t restrict free speech, as it doesn’t tend to restrict ideas, but change certain cosmetic effects to fit the sensibilities of the region.

Nudity and Sex

This is one of the major aspects of video games changed for all sorts of launches. It is especially true of releases in North American and Middle Eastern nations, since they tend to have a greater aversion to nudity, rather than other things like violence, but other nations aren't always happy with certain depictions of sexual content.


You can find numerous examples of localization changes made for American releases when it comes to sex and nudity, especially with a series like Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI were games that were changed for American releases by removing anything risqué. For example, the town dancers in bikinis were covered up with leotards in Final Fantasy IV, and all nudity was covered up for the Espers in Final Fantasy VI. More recent games were localized for nudity and sex too. Games like Indigo Prophecy and The Witcher had graphic sex scenes removed, and most of the nudity was removed as well, unless the scene happened to be integral to the story.

The FFIV remake, however, stuck to the original intention for the dancer's design.

Although countries such as Japan are more open about nudity and sex in video games, that doesn't mean every instance is permissible. GTA V, for example, was changed for Korean and Japanese launches, removing or modifying a lot of controversial sex and nudity. However, the examples and instances where this is changed for Japanese audiences are fewer by far compared to North America.

Why Bother?

So why is there a massive difference between places like North America and Japan when it comes to sex and nudity? 

There is a substantial cultural difference between Japan and America, which explains the frequent level of localization between the two countries. Culturally, Americans are more sensitive to nudity, and sex is a particularly sensitive topic. The 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study showed that 80% of Americans studied were more concerned with sex scenes in films than violence. This was a study predominantly looking at films; however, considering the gaming medium's similarities with the film industry, the concepts involved are still closely linked.

There is not the same stigma in Japan and European countries, especially regarding female nudity. My own experience can attest to that. When I was working in a gaming store, a woman wanted to bring back a copy of GTA V that she had bought for her 8-year-old son. She told me she knew about the violence in it, but didn’t realize there was nudity and brought it straight back. Whereas traveling through Europe, I saw many of the beaches throughout Europe are topless, and the Scandinavian spas normally have a clothing optional policy. Being in Spain at the moment, I see even their advertisements featuring full-frontal nudity, as long as they air after the watershed.


Religion is another reason why games can be altered, because religion is central to lives of those who worship, regardless of the creed. Insulting or demeaning someone's religion, even without meaning to, can send people into a fury and cause backlash against the company.

Holy [Censored] Batman!

One issue that caused mass controversy was the design of Hindu gods in SMITE, especially Kali. The Hindu community in India was not pleased with the representation of their goddess and asked Hi-Rez to make changes. The developer eventually removed Kali from the website, but not much more. 

Kali is an important goddess within the Hindu community, and some sects worships Kali as the ultimate goddess or the true form of Brahman. She is the goddess of death, time, and sexuality, but has always had strong roots in motherhood too.  Hi-Rez didn't want to issue a statement on their removal of Kali from the website, but the Hindu community is still pressing for their other gods to be removed as well. 

However, Hi-Rez's Todd Howard believed that:

Hinduism, being one of the world's oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game. In fact, given Hinduism's concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within SMITE to be Hindu. And all gods outside of SMITE as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.

Although this opinion suggests that Todd Howard would have preffered not to remove the gods altogether, the Hindu community still wants their gods to be removed from the game. Rajan Zed, a Hindu statesmen and the President of Universal Society of Hinduism said that the removal of Kali from the website was "a 'step in the right direction,' thanking Hi-Rez Studios for being so understanding."

Games like CoD 4 have been banned in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because of the perceived negative presentation of Arabs, along with passages from the Qur'an being added into the game. Since the games are banned outright, these issues come under censorship, rather than localization. But the religion and culture of these places will not permit these offenses, so it also relates to localization and shows how the two are often closely connected. 

The Devil in the Details

It isn't just the Middle Eastern and Asian worlds affected by religious imagery in video games. Many localization changes from Japan to America change the religious imagery presented as well.

Religious imagery had to be removed in games like Final Fantasy IV and Super Castlevania IV. Any references to Christianity in FFIV were removed, including Holy, and religious imagery and all references to prayer were taken out or altered, such as the Tower of Prayer being changed to The Tower of Wishes. Even direct references to death were taken out.

The other early Castlevania games were no different, with a lot of crosses taken out of the North American release, among other things. The only piece of religious imagery to stay throughout Castlevania was a piece of rosary that was integral to the game and it's overall image.

There was also the infamous chanting debate surrounding the Fire Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There has been some controversy about what happened with the Fire Temple and whether the chanting was removed from the game before release. It has always been argued that the chanting was removed to avoid religious controversy, along with changing the original Gerudo symbol--which resembled the Islamic crescent and star--over misusing religious elements. Continuing with the Zelda series, but on a smaller scale,the Bible was turned into the Book of Magic, even though Link's shield retained its cross.


Violence is another aspect of video games that is often changed for releases. However, we mainly tend to see  North American games being changed to accommodate European and Middle Eastern standards of what constitutes over-the-top violence.

Some interesting examples of these changes relate to North American games released in Japan. Games like Crash Bandicoot 2 and The Last of Us were altered for their gratuitous violence. One of the death scenes was altered for Crash, where he was just a squashed head and feet, as it resembled the work of a serial killer in Japan at the time. The Last of Us was mainly altered in multiplayer to remove any dismemberment or exploding heads. The change doesn't feature in the main story, and the dismemberment is obscured and covered by camera angles, rather then removed.

Other games, like Manhunt, were banned for their excessive violence in a variety of different countries, from the East to places like the United Kingdom.  Germany has strict rules for their games, as decided by the USK, that limit the amount of blood and gore that is visible in their video games. (The USK "is the officially recognized institution responsible for the classification of computer and video games in Germany.") For example, the German version of Team Fortress 2 has no blood or detached body parts shown as part of the required regulations for the game. The USK is responsible for the protection of children and youths particularly in the gaming industry and the content they are available to see.

One theory for Germany's censure of video games is that:

due to its history and a cohesive nation opinion, the legislature limits content severely, much more severely than the surrounding European nation.

This is why the USK exists, as the general consensus of those living in Germany is to limit profanity and violence in video games.

You Decide

Perhaps all these changes are limiting our gaming experience and we're putting too much pressure on the companies. Yet some also argue that many of these changes are purely cosmetic and do not alter the story. However, one anti-censorship opinion is "it is no one’s responsibility but yourself to determine what is offensive or not."  Video game development is a business, though, and companies, at all cost, want to avoid backlash, since it is much better for business if they aren't involved in a major scandal. In the end, there are multiple sides to the story that make it difficult to arrive at an easy answer. 

Do you think that games should be changed at all? Or is it not worth worrying about? Let us know in the comments!

Open World Games Lead to Lazy Design (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Narrative) Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:28:37 -0400 LuckyJorael

It all started innocently enough. I played the original Assassin’s Creed way back in 2007, and thought it was pretty amazing. Large, explorable areas, tons of NPCs to glide past, guards to attack or hide from, and – wait, I need to collect how many flags?

I’m somewhat of a completionist. Sometimes I can ignore the pull of getting every single achievement, but if I love a game, I’ll try to get every single collectible, find every ending, and nab every achievement I can. Game designers love players like me, because it takes very little effort to pad the total hours of a game through collectibles, side missions, and secret areas. And I fall for it (almost) every time.

Because it's shiny, I need to find ALL OF THEM.

The original Assassin’s Creed is kind of an egregious example. It was a long time ago, and the collectibles were done clumsily, you might argue. So instead, let’s take a look at another game I became obsessed with for a time: Tom Clancy’s The Division. (As an aside, I think I have a penchant for playing fundamentally flawed games.)

In The Division, one of the achievements is to collect every single piece of Intel: phone recordings, drone black boxes, compiled video/audio/satellite data called an ECHO, survival handbook pages, incident reports, etc. There are 293 different pieces of Intel to collect, scattered around the empty New York streets and sewers.

And while the missions where these collectibles are found push the story forward, the collectibles themselves are really just a distraction -- to both the player and the development team. 

These are boring to listen to -- unless you're REALLY invested.

Both of these examples present missed opportunities. Why? Because the resources dedicated to placing flags, phones, and crashed drones could have been put somewhere else. In Assassin's Creed, there could have been more, better fleshed-out missions (remember the endless, repetitive side missions?). In The Division, they could have fixed some of the terrible writing.

But at least Ubisoft had the foresight to make collecting everything in The Division mean (a bit of) something. Get every object in an Intel set – all of the crashed drone black boxes, for example – and get rewarded with cosmetic gear. With Assassin’s Creed, collecting all the flags gets you nothing more than a digital pat on the back.

So why should I care that you can’t help but collect widgets in games, I hear you ask? Because it’s bullshit time filler that can (sometimes) negatively impact the narrative you're pursuing. 

Look, I really like a lot of games that have hidden collectibles. Every Assassin’s Creed has them, and some of them are done well. The Division has them, even in its first DLC, and they are… acceptable. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has them in the form of Korok Seeds, and they are perhaps the worst example I’ve seen in a while.

Only 899 to go!

900 seeds.

You need to collect NINE HUNDRED SEEDS, so Hestu can have all the seeds back in his maracas, and you get a “reward” that looks like a golden pile of shit. Way to troll everyone, Fujibayashi.

I’ve collected 40 seeds in my game, and I’m standing outside of Hyrule Castle ready to kick Ganon in his stupid face. I’ve visited all 120 shrines and beaten them because they are interesting and fun. But I refuse to find Koroks because even if I get more slots for my weapon, shield, and bow inventories, it’s completely ridiculous to tie inventory expansion to random collectibles.

I love Breath of the Wild. It has eclipsed Ocarina of Time as my favorite Zelda game, but I learned something while playing it. I no longer need to find every side mission, collect every tiny piece of whatever, or get all the endings to a game. I don’t need to track down the 87 pieces of the dragon’s heart to get the Infinity +1 Sword. I don’t need to trudge through a dozen boring side-quests to get the Flaming Armor of Jotun Strength -- because I’m trying to save the world, and I don’t have time for this.

I mean, hold on dude; I have to collect 60 stone fragments first.

I can beat the game without spending an additional 20 hours grinding through content that adds nothing but time spent in the game. I say this as a fan of Destiny and Final Fantasy VI, two of the grindiest games I know (and love). Where open world games go wrong is thinking that collectibles and mundane side missions add enjoyment to the game, instead of just time.

What I won’t look back on fondly is the hours spent shooting into a cave in Destiny, hoping to find a Legendary Engram, or the hours I spent walking back and forth on the Veld in Final Fantasy VI, waiting for a random battle.

I will remember the first time I took down Atheon in the Vault of Glass and got a Vision of Confluence (still my favorite weapon in Destiny). I will remember beating Kefka the final time in Final Fantasy VI, ending his reign as the god of magic.

I don’t want to have to grind through a million unrelated things or collect a bunch of useless junk just to power up enough to enjoy the game. All I want to do is enjoy the game and the plot. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bunch of sidequests to ignore in The Witcher 3.

'Final Build' Video Comparing the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Switch and Wii U Thu, 02 Mar 2017 04:23:17 -0500 Michael Llewellyn

A lot of fans have tried to get good comparison videos between the Nintendo Wii U and Switch versions of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of Wild during the course of the games development.

Some early comparison videos have had some fans a bit worried for the Wii U version that looked noticeably worse than the newer build of the Switch version.

Fans won't truly know how both systems match up until they release on Friday the 3rd of March 2017. So until then we have a good seven minute comparison video, courtesy of YouTuber Lord Ritchie.

Scores have been leaking out ahead of the game's launch this week, and are looking very promising so far with a very rare 10/10 from Edge magazine and perhaps most noticeably a 40/40 from Japanese publication Famitsu magazine.

The last Legend Of Zelda game to get full marks from Famitsu was The Ocarina Of Time back in 1998.

Will you be picking The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild on one of Nintendo's consoles at launch? Let us know in the comments below.

The Hero's Steed: A Brief History of Epona Wed, 01 Feb 2017 21:31:08 -0500 Bryant Pereira

Since the Hero of Time’s foray into the 3D realm, his trusty steed Epona has become an essential icon of the Zelda series. On her own, she may look like any other horse, but true fans understand the tight bond between her and Link. Named after the goddess of horses and fertility in Celtic mythology, Epona embodies more than the necessity for a companion,also serving as an integral character in Link's story.

Epona is a strong, independent horse who doesn’t take well to listening to others. Link’s first encounter with her in Ocarina of Time shows an untamed steed who only listens to our hero after he learns Epona’s Song on the ocarina. After Link’s seven year hibernation, our hero returns to Lon Lon Ranch where they first met, and the two reunite over the calming melody once more.

Ingo, the owner of the ranch, after having tried taming her to give to Ganondorf, is furious when she listens to Link. Ingo then loses a race to Link, and the heroic duo majestically retreats over a closed gate to continue their journey.

The addition of a rideable horse in Ocarina of Time changed the way Zelda games are played permanently. Having a companion gave players someone to lean on when they needed it, and paved the way for an unspoken relationship that would span over several games. Epona may not speak to Link, but just like Agro in Shadow of the Colossus, there is a strong sense of mutual respect for the companion who is always ready to help in battle. Exploration in Ocarina of Time was contingent upon finding secret areas and items, and engaging in mounted bow combat.

Epona joins Link in the direct sequel to OoT, Majora’s Mask, in which the two appear in their younger forms. The two are separated in the beginning of the game following the kidnapping of Epona by the Skull Kid. Skull Kid later tells Link that he got rid of Epona because she wouldn’t listen to anything he said.

Link eventually finds her at Romani Ranch, and he once again uses the power of music to rekindle their relationship. In Majora’s Mask, several barricaded fences block areas of the game off, and can only be accessed by leaping over them with Epona.

In Twilight Princess, players can choose the name of Link’s horse in the beginning, but when the default name is Epona, anyone who has any decency knows to keep it that way. Once again, Link and Epona have an established relationship in the beginning of the game, but Epona runs away when their village is attacked. The two reunite in Kakariko Village, where Link must show once more that only the Hero of Time can tame this beast. Twilight Princess made combat on Epona more immersive by adding one-on-one sword battles to the game, which is essential in beating certain bosses.

In addition to the main-series 3D Zelda games, Epona has made a number of cameo appearances in other games. In Minish Cap, Epona is an NPC who asks Link to buy milk from her. She also makes an appearance in Hyrule Warriors in Link’s animations and can be used as a weapon through DLC. Best of all, Epona moves into town in the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf amiibo update as an adorable, peppy villager.

Throughout the years Epona has been a cornerstone of the Zelda series. Symbolizing camaraderie and loyalty, Epona became a fan favorite for reasons that don’t need explaining. In the upcoming Breath of the Wild, Link can find and tame wild horses that have varied individual stats. Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed that Epona will be in Breath of the Wild, but did not detail how to find her or what her role will be.

We can only hope that she will be a mountable companion, and maintain her status as a legendary steed.

5 Fantasy Worlds We'd Love to See Rebuilt in Skyrim Fri, 16 Dec 2016 09:20:00 -0500 StraightEdge434

1. Asgard

Whenever I play Skyrim, I keep thinking of the Norse mythology and pantheon inspiring it. Nords (citizens of Skyrim), sound almost like Norse, Shor sounds like Thor, and the whole game world seems like a perfect spot for Norse influence (bitter winters and winds of the North and all that). It's also worth noting that the game's fishing vessels and ships look quite similar to Viking ships, and the game's house designs resemble those of Viking huts. Of course, there are many other similar factors that can be listed here.


The reason we have selected Asgard is because, in Norse Mythology, it is home to the Norse Gods and Goddesses. Each one has their own hall in Asgard, where they live. The rainbow bridge, known as Bifrost (seen above) connects Asgard to Midgard (Midgard being Earth).


And since the game and the Norse mythological aspect have much in common, it would only make sense to dedicate Asgard to the Gods and Goddesses of Tamriel/Skyrim. You could pay them a visit, and embark on their quests to fulfill their wishes for great rewards. 




Obviously, there are so many more equally rich fictional and fantasy worlds out there. What are some that you wish to see modded into Skyrim? Let us known down in the comments!

2. Hyrule

Ah, yes...Hyrule. The famous setting for the majority of Zelda games. Why wouldn't this place be on our list?! It's enormous, there's lots do to, and of course there are many different temples, castles, and dungeons that span across Zelda games like Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, The Minish Cap, and many more!


Just imagine the opportunity to explore all those enchanting places from all these games in Skyrim. Not only would it be extremely epic, but that would take hundreds of hours of our time -- perhaps even months! It's also worth to note that the rewards and treasures would be similar to Zelda, if not the same: like the Hookshot, The Lens of Truth, the Boomerang, and a heck of a lot more.


Hyrule is just bursting with character and opportunities to be recreated in Skyrim.

3. Atlantis

We're fairly certain that many of you have heard of this place at some point. A kingdom that became submerged underwater, never to be found again... until now! Or, in Skyrim to be a bit more specific. 


The reason Atlantis is on the list is purely because of its location. You might talk to a specific person, or come across some kind of an event, which sets the quest to discover the city in motion. The best part is, it'll all be underwater, so make sure to pack a lot of potions of waterbreathing (unless you're an Argonian)!


Let's also be honest here. There isn't much going on deep underwater in Skyrim. There really isn't anything to explore or discover. This location, if composed as a mod, would be perfect for exploration and adding fresh new ideas to a neglected part of the game. Who knows? You might also come by a number of unique characters, weapons, and gear that pertain to Atlantis. 

4. El Dorado

The city of gold may be just a legend, but nonetheless, this iconic location is worthy enough to be included in our list. El Dorado, whose origins are from South America, is full of gold! And we all know how much we love gold -- especially since it's a bit too difficult to come by in Skyrim


We know that this might sound a bit strange at first. How can a city all the way from a southern and tropical region end up in the cold heartlands of Skyrim? The truth is, it doesn't really need to. It could be a hidden civilization somewhere deep beneath the earth, similar to the intriguing Dwemer ruins.

5. Wonderland

Talking doorknobs, giant mushrooms, potions that either make you a giant or a microscopic creature -- we're obviously talking about Alice in Wonderland. If any of you have read the book or watched the film/television adaptations of this classic, than you can surely understand why such a setting would be suitable for Skyrim


The land is almost like a fairy-tale... a very bizarre and strange place to be in. Just look at the image above! Is it unusual to see mushrooms that big? Sure! But remember that this place is called Wonderland for a reason.


Besides the setting, this place would be ideal because you could potentially embark on quite a few interesting journeys and encounter fascinating characters to say the least. Exploring this land of wonder will definitely prove to be a one-of-a-kind experience.  


There's no doubt that Skyrim has gorgeous locations and landscapes. From the arboreal forests that surround Falkreath and all the way to the icy tundras around Winterhold, the game definitely captures the perfect view of the world.


However, with mods, anything is possible. You can create your own weapons, quests, items, and even worlds!


Speaking about worlds, the following slideshow highlights five fantasy worlds that we wish were modded into Skyrim. They were chosen based on their beauty, significance, and overall appeal from pop culture, other video games, and works of literature.

Dungeon Bosses: Creating Interesting Enemies Thu, 10 Nov 2016 02:00:01 -0500 Pablo Seara

This article contains spoilers of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Bloodborne and Bayonetta.

Bosses are usually the highlight of any level. They are a thrilling, final encounter that puts an end to an awesome dungeon. When they are well done, they can become one of our favorite moments in the game, where we are forced to put all our skills into practice to defeat a challenging foe.

However, they can also turn into a boring battle, with insipid mechanics, a bad atmosphere or an unexpected, ill-placed difficulty spike. Nailing bosses can be difficult from a designer perspective, and designing them wrong can end up hurting the player in the process.

In this article, we will take a look at the keys on how to create an interesting dungeon boss, both from the player and the designer perspective.

Foreshadowing: Preparing the player

Bosses have to serve two purposes: propose a difficult, exciting challenge to the player, testing the skills they have learned throughout the game, and continue with the progress of the story (if it isn't an optional one). Both ideas have to be developed properly, and this development can start from the very beginning of the dungeon itself.

There's nothing more frustrating than getting into a boss fight unknowingly. Preparing the player is essential to create the right atmosphere and buildup the tension to face the last enemy of the dungeon. This can be done through multiple ways: by teaching mechanics, cutscenes and dialogues, or the level itself.

In The Legend of Zelda series, players usually find a new item in each dungeon, which is designed to teach players how to use it. These levels have a certain theme, like water, fire, or forest, setting an atmosphere that is consistent. At the end, the player has to face a final boss, which is themed accordingly, using the new weapon and putting into practice all that he has learned during the dungeon.

An excellent example is the Forest Temple and its boss, Phantom Ganon, from Ocarina of Time. In the temple, Link finds the hero's bow, a weapon he has to use to kill the ghosts that populate the area by firing into paintings. The final boss has to be taken down in the same way. He even teaches you a new mechanic during his second phase that will prepare you for the final encounter against Ganondorf himself.

Size Matters... Most of the time

Players love gigantic, menacing bosses. Taking them down can be an absolute joy. Usually, the designer should aim for this. But there are plenty of final enemies that aren't big and are well remembered. This can be achieved through well-crafted details, fun mechanics or the importance of the enemy in the plot.

However, from a designer point of view, the most important element to consider is the movements. You can design the best-looking enemy ever, but if he is boring to fight, he won't be fondly remembered.

Creating a foe that can both attack and defend itself in creative, interesting ways is essential. Depending on the duration of the fight, these actions should change or evolve. A boss is a story on its own, with a beginning, a middle and an end. Good and bad examples of the previous points can be found in both Dark Souls II and Bloodborne.

In Dark Souls II, considered the worst game in the series, there are more bosses than usual. Most of them repeat the same patterns, like big, slow beasts with predictable movements or sponge enemies. Meanwhile, in Bloodborne, we have Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower. She is a hunter and a human, like yourself, yet she remains menacing and exciting during her different phases, with attacks that evolve consistently.

Setting the Right Tone

There's another key aspect in the design of the boss, which is the atmosphere. This is influenced by five aspects, (all of which are present in the Lady Maria video):

  • The music
  • The effects (both sound and graphical ones)
  • The place
  • The difficulty
  • The cutscenes/dialogues 

The soundtrack is extremely important and can elevate a normal boss into an epic one. Both the sound and graphic effects contribute to the overall quality and depth of the fight. The area where the battle takes place should be big enough, and designed to fit the aesthetic of the enemy or vice versa.

The difficulty can be tricky to decide and should be play-tested thoroughly. It has to remain consistent with the game. For example, in Dark Souls, every rival is difficult, but do not place an ultra hard boss in a Kirby game, especially during the first levels.

Finally, there's the dramatic aspect of the fight, which is molded before, during and after it takes place. Introducing your opponent with an invigorating scene and maintaining the momentum are good ways of setting the right atmosphere. Beating a dungeon boss has to feel rewarding, so do not forget to end the battle in an epic way. Take a look at the next example from Bayonetta.

It has all the elements necessary to create a memorable boss. Epic cutscenes? Check. Awesome music? Check. Different phases that feel unique and original? Checkmate.

In the end, a good dungeon boss has to feel well balanced, with all the design choices at the same level of quality. Players love to get to the end of an area and face an awesome enemy. It is a reward for completing the level, one that must feel invigorating, challenging and fun.

How do you think a dungeon boss should be like? Do you have any examples? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Should Schools Have a Required Gaming List? Mon, 24 Oct 2016 04:13:36 -0400 Aaron Grincewicz

Way back in high school I remember having a 'Required Reading List' in English class. The list is nearly standardized among schools. Most of the time it includes titles like; To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies, and other classics.  

Movies also have a similar list in some schools. With films like; Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind being standard. If your teacher is cool enough, they'll also consider movies like Star Wars, and Aliens

In case you haven't heard, times have changed. Gaming is mainstream, and in some cases, in our DNA. Video games have influenced pop culture and many other aspects of modern life. Games have been such a part of my life that if the Animus were real, a ton of my memory sequences would involve playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That is also the reason I would want my kids to have an appreciation of the gaming classics. 

While I'm sure everyone has their idea of what criteria a game must meet to qualify for such a list, I'll dive into some that I would recommend in my class. A lot of the games would most likely be from Nintendo due to the family-friendly nature of the company.  The less time a school has to deal with upset parents, the better.

Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue are a great way to kick off a semester.  Not only is Pokemon just as popular as ever, but the games are amazing. Students would discover the origins of the monster-catching craze, and could also study how accessible the gameplay is, some aspects of character design, and even the financial impact the sales had on Nintendo.

Super Metroid would be great to study in time for mid-terms. Regarded by many as one of the greatest games ever, it's gameplay still holds up, and has been imitated many times, but arguably never duplicated.  While the game is light in the story area, the level and boss design are nearly unparalleled. Shadow Complex would be a great modern alternative, but it's often better to start with the roots.

For the final exam, my class would study my personal favorite, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  This game nailed so many things, but the soundtrack, boss design, and Hyrule itself stand out most to me. Ganondorf is also an excellent example of what makes a great villain/Final Boss. Not only was his power intimidating, but the game showed he was smart, too.

What do you think? Should schools be equipped to teach students about the games on which their parents and teachers spent so much time? Do you have kids, and want them to try your old favorites? Which games should be on that list?

Top Ten Unexpected Horror Moments In Video Games Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Timothy J. Ralston (TehMadCatter)

What makes horror games enjoyable? Whether it’s the adrenaline that rushes through you, or the deep feeling of paranoia that keeps you on your toes as you enter the next room, almost everyone has played a horror game or two in their life, and everyone has a reason for why they do, or don't play horror games.

There are several types of horror games, from psychological horror like Silent Hill, or those infested with jump scares like the Five Nights At Freddy's Series, from old (Alone In The Dark (1992)) to new (RESIDENT EVIL (2017)), there are still games out there that managed to scare the crap out of us, even if it wasn't a horror game.

10. Call Of Duty: Black Ops III (2015)

Back in my Xbox 360 days, I was a huge fan of the Call Of Duty Series, starting with Call Of Duty: World At War. The love of the series (As much as I hate to admit) has stayed with me over the years. But after playing the campaign of Black Ops III, I felt as if the series was trying too hard to differ from the previous games.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a good game on its own. The game actually had a decent story, but felt too rushed. The moment I absolutely enjoyed, on the other hand, was during the mission Hypocenter. Just imagine, having to investigate a distress call that came from your old team, only to discover that the place is overrun by robots who love to pop out at random, whether it's in the flooded basement, or in narrow corridors.

The feeling of claustrophobia is pushed further when you're cornered as horde after horde of robots try to make their way to you. And throughout the continuation of the mission is intense beyond words, along with a fantastic boss to finish the mission.

9. Bioshock Infinite (2013)

The debate of whether or not the Bioshock Series is a horror game still goes on till this day. And even though I do agree that the first two games do feel like Horror games, due to their dark, gritty feel and claustrophobic surroundings, Bioshock Infinite differed away from dark and creepy, and turned itself into a bright, beautiful, yet still creepy game.

But the real horrors come later on in the game, after your companion, Elizabeth, goes missing. Your character, DeWitt, travels to the Comstock House, only to be encountered by the most disturbing enemies in Infinite. The Boys of Silence.

The Boys of Silence are young children who wear a type of lantern helmet, emitting an ear shattering screech, alerting your presence to those around you. Though, they do not attack you, they still are a huge threat to you, and are quite annoying while also looking terrifying at the same time. Especially the jump scare you encounter after viewing a monitor.

8. Mortal Kombat 9 and X (2011 & 2015)

The Mortal Kombat Series is one of the most gruesome fighter games of all time. It was even one of the causes of the PEGI rating system you see on video game covers and trailers, and stirred quite a controversy at the time. Now, not only gamers, but almost everyone knows what Mortal Kombat is, and has probably played it before with friends.

One thing that really got gamers the most, though, was the Krypt Demon/Monster found in the Krypt, a place where you could purchase unlockable content with the points you earned in the matches. The Krypt Demon/Monster had appeared in both Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X, though, no one really expected the one from 2011, but still scared players with its first jump scare.

In 2015’s Mortal Kombat X, the Krypt introduced not just one jump scare, but multiple ones, such as the Krypt Spider, still scaring players with different creatures and scares. It's best to avoid the Krypt, in my opinion.

7. Half-Life 2 (2004)

Half-Life 2 is a well known game to PC gamers, along with being known as one of the best first-person games to date. With a silent protagonist, a crowbar in one hand, and determination, the story expands past cliché, and creates a very unique experience to all players. (Along with a long wait for a third installment… Still waiting, Gabe Newell…)

Though, the game does have both action packed and creepy moments, the most haunting moment in the game, is the encounter with Ravenholm, a town infested with Headcrabs, Zombies, and a strange priest with a shotgun.

Though, not really titled as “horror”, the town and its environments do give off a feeling of being unwelcome, and manages to pop in some slight jump scares. Plus, the burning zombies still give me nightmares. Extra points for playing the audio backwards for more frights!

6. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)

To not include Metal Gear Solid in this list is almost impossible. The series has its creepy moments, such as ghosts appearing in photos from Metal Gear Solid 2, or the creepy yet oddly amusing "Psycho-Mantis", who read your memory card and shook your controller.

But nothing had ever compared to the enemy of Snake Eater, “The Sorrow”. From turning into a ghost, to having you “die” while screaming in agony while flashing a traumatizing image of Snake, everything about this guy just makes you want to pull the disk out and drown it in holy water.

What makes it worse, is that “The Sorrow” can bring the dead back to kill you. Why is this disturbing? He brings back the enemies you had killed before, making it very difficult if you had taken the “shoot everything first” path.

5. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The Legend of Zelda has really been a big part of my childhood, from learning puzzles to fighting foes, it evolved the way that gamers thought, even without having to look at Walkthroughs or hints at the game, especially at the time the original games were released.

And though, the series itself had really dark moments, nothing ever compared to the first boss encounter inside the Duku Tree. After solving puzzle after puzzle, going deeper inside of the tree, you finally come across a large arena. But no enemies in sight.

As a child, the moment I looked up to see Gohma on the ceiling staring down at me, I turned off the console and refused to play it for almost a year. All the while my Arachnophobia began to increase by each day, waiting to wake up and see Gohma about to pounce me in my bed.

4. Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

Batman is possibly the most well-known superhero, along with being known as the most badass character to ever face Superman, it was no surprise that Mr. Wayne would get his very own game series (Looking at you Superman… Have you no shame?).

But throughout the dark and brooding games, they have always had a few jump scares or two. From Arkham City having Scarecrows boat and a hidden surprise inside, to Killer Croc’s boss battle, nothing ever compared to the most recent edition, Arkham Knight, and the Man-Bat.

The Man-Bat was originally a scientist, who had transformed himself into a large scale humanoid bat, who loves waiting for Bruce Wayne at the edge of buildings, waiting to pop out, scream in your face, and fly off.

The whole mission (Creature of the Night) is just full of creepy moments, from spotting the Man-Bat through your detective vision, or exploring the ruins of his lab, you'll never want to grapple on rooftops again once you meet him.

3. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007)

With the downfall of previous Lara Croft games (before the reboot), it seemed like we would never get a good exploratory game again. Then, out from the heavens of Naughty Dog, we were given Uncharted, a game where you place as the sly, yet charming Nathan Drake, as he searches for El Dorado, in hopes of discovering more of his ancestors true past.

The game itself had amazing moments, along with unbelievably fast paced action moments, a handful of classic puzzles, and something totally unexpected in the ruins. Towards the end of the game, Nathan Drake discovers creatures known as the Descendants, zombie-like creatures who are just dying to tear you apart.

The moment had scared players, yet caused them to fight to save the rest of their team, rushing adrenaline through the veins of those who want to fight their way to victory.

2. Super Mario 64 (1997)

Before I continue, let me explain why this moment scared me. I was five when I was given my first Nintendo 64, which was passed down from my older brother. The first game he had given me, was Super Mario 64.

I was raised on Super Mario, and Super Mario World was actually among the very first games I had ever played. So, being as psyched as I was, I did not hesitate as I rushed off to play my new game. And I spent days on it. But when I had encountered the Piano Room, I never thought much of it.

Then suddenly, piano comes alive and chases me around as I scream and cry, completely terrified. I have never trusted a Mario game after that.

1. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

Halo was a game that changed First-Person Shooters completely. Whether it's the design, characters, weaponry or story, the game made itself the most unique shooter of its time, and still manages to release ground breaking games.

But there were moments that did creep out players, and one moment that kept players on their feet. The Flood. After seeing a strange and disturbing clip of the team before being killed by strange beings, The Flood begin. Keeping you on your feet as you fight wave after wave of parasites and infected, and much like a previous entry on our list, they keep coming, trying their best to get to you.

While counting down the top 10 most unexpected horror moments, we have encountered killer robots, screaming children, zombies, humanoid bats, and the Flood. If you enjoyed this list, then check out GameSkinny for more hit news, lists, and reviews of everything gaming!

Were Games Truly Better In The 'Good Old Days'? Fri, 07 Oct 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Rettsu Dansu

Growing up as a gamer in the age of the internet, you get to hear about a lot about games that came out years ago. The common consensus among people that grew up in the 80s/90s is that games were so much better then. According to them, while we still get good games today, the types of games we go back then had more thought and care put into them.

Is this actually true? Well there's points that could be made for both sides, but I do think there is some slight bias going on with these types of people.

On the Side of Games Being Better in the Past

You see this type of argument not with games, but with pretty much anything. Movies, Books, Music, really any medium is apparently better back in its early days.

And there's some truth to this, especially in film. We're in an era of sequels, reboots and remakes that are simply made to make money, and many are pretty bad because of that. That right there is exactly the problem.

The Way People Think About Making Products Has Changed

Back when film was first invented, it most likely wasn't viewed as a lucrative art, but more of a novelty. So the people who made the most money were those that tried to tell the best stories as possible. I mean, films were in black and white, if you wanted to show something on your film you had to really think hard about how to show it. Now we have CGI and we can show anything we want, not much skill is involved on the director's side.

This is the same for Video Games. Back in the 80s, we couldn't just make a 3D explorable world with plenty of things to do. Games were in 2D and it was pretty hard to show anything due to the limitations on graphics. Now we can slap a first-person shooter formula onto a large 3D map and bam! The latest Far Cry game is out.

We Can Make So Much Money Through Video Games by Barely Trying that There's no Point in Trying at All

This, right here, is the discovery that large companies like Ubisoft and EA made that creates all of the negative reception today. It's why indie developers, who have to try much harder to be seen by the population, are our source of good design nowadays.

Many of the games with large budgets that get heavily promoted, have very similar mechanics between each other. Usually there's a basic RPG leveling up mechanic, stealth, shooter mechanics and an open world. None of these are particularly bad, but there's little variety.

If you read an interview from game developers in the 90s, they'll say things like "With this game, we tried to do this", or "we wanted to achieve the feeling of this". If you read an interview with developers today, even indies, they'll say something like "we tried to recapture the feeling of this". There's a focus on doing what was once done well.

It's not bad to try to recreate the best of the past, but we see it way too often.

Instead of looking forwards, we're looking back

Games that try to invent new things, or just games that have some real thought put into them, still exist, but they're too far and few between. But then again, there were a lot of bad games back in the 80s.

On the Side of Games Being Better Now

The Angry Video Game Nerd is a pretty funny show. It's fun to look at the variety games from the past that were just plain terrible, and watching a comical critique of them is entertaining to say the least.

It's interesting to me that people can watch and laugh at shows like this, before turning around later and unanimously agreeing that 'games were so much better back then.' Sure, there are a ton of bad games now, but there were a ton back then as well.

Not only that, but there were definitely companies back then that made games solely for money, it's nothing new. The amount of rip-offs, clones, lazy movie tie-ins and buggy-to-the-point-of-impossible-to-play games made for consoles in the 80s and 90s is massive. So why do we ignore these games?

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the idea that no matter how much evidence a person sees, their opinion on the subject will always been reinforced. Their opinion or theory is constantly being confirmed, not matter what -- it's almost like they only see what they want to see.

Basically, we remember the really great games from the past, because those had a massive impact on us. We also remember the failures from the present, because of hype culture and the focus on sequels. Thus, we form the opinion that 'Games were better when I was a kid', and then ignore any bad games from back then, and any good games now.

Confirmation bias is a very human habit. It's not really something that needs to be fixed, but something that needs to be considered when forming opinions.

In reality the number of bad games per year has remained relatively stable. However, the argument still remains that the good games of this generation are still not quite as good as those that came before. Is it true that we just don't get the same quality of games as before?

Well, no...

To be honest, with the fear of sounding obnoxious, I'm not sure if this is even debatable.

Technology has improved so much that if you compare a game from 1980 to a game that came out recently, the older game just doesn't hold up. How could you compare a 2D game on the NES that looks like it's made out of lego with gameplay as stiff as concrete, to some of the most refined, artistic games that have come out recently?

I understand that I probably sound like some kind of deluded, uninformed casual gamer who only cares about specs, but think about it. We have games that replicate the type of gameplay that retro games provided, but thanks to technological leaps and improvements in the way we design games, there's no that they could be worse.

Most games today are designed by fans of video games, back in the 80s every single developer was just a programmer who'd probably just heard of video games. Developers today understand more of what makes a game fun, making the mistakes developers made back then incredibly visible.

Yes, there are games that stand the test of time, however I'd say most of these games were in the SNES era, and they're still far and few between. During the NES/Mega Drive and the N64/PS1 eras, we were still figuring out gameplay in 2D and 3D respectively, so a lot of those genres have been perfected more recently.

There's definitely exceptions to the rule, Castlevania Symphony of the Night had a number of mechanics, such as familiars and hidden moves, that I've never seen in a metroidvania title since (something that really bugs me). But if you've never played a game that people praise as one of 'the great games from back then,' there's a good chance you won't find it as great as they do.

I probably need to stress that not every game that comes out today is better than in the 80's. There are some terrible games that have come out within the last year. What I'm arguing is that the best games of today are better than the best games of back then.

Here's something I want to ask you, if a terrible game from recent times had come out earlier, how would it have been remembered? If we took a mess of a game, like Ride to Hell: Retribution, and released it back when people were still playing Pacman, there's a very good chance that it would have gone down as one of the best games of all time.

This game came out last year, let me let that sink in

And we're starting to wake up to this fact as well. There's plenty of really good analyses about legendary games that go into the problems with them, such as Arin Hanson's amazing analysis on Ocarina of Time.

But this asks another question, why did we think those games were great in the first place? What made us believe that those games were better than whatever came out afterwards?

We Were Children

I'm actually quite jealous of children, and I miss being one. When you're a child, anything can be interesting. Well not everything, I do remember being bored a lot as a child, but when it came to video games, it was a lot easier to find them interesting.

There are two reasons for this, the first is imagination. It's a know fact that children have a stronger imagination than adults, they're able to pretend and make games for themselves. Video games, even those made with limited technology, are enough to fill in the gap between reality and imagination. A child is able to play a game where they fly, and believe that they themselves are flying. To put it simply, children get immersed in a game so much easier.

Adults can't do this nearly as well, hence why as the average age of gamers gets older and older, there's a common focus on graphics. Better graphics makes games look more real, and fills the gaps that the lack of imagination leaves behind.

The second reason is that there is a limited supply of games when you're a child. Video games are usually supplied by your parents, and the average parent probably won't buy their children new games frequently, usually only for birthdays and Christmas.

The thing is, when you get a new game you had to like it. It could be months before you get another game so you needed to find enjoyment in it otherwise you'd have no games to play.


We, as gamers, have so much nostalgia for games that we played when we were young, and that's not a bad thing. Nostalgia is something that I'm incredibly thankful for, it allows you to relive the past. The word shouldn't always be used negatively to explain why people like something that you don't.

The issue is when we allow nostalgia to affect our opinions. One of the worst things about the gaming community is the idea of 'these games that I played when I was a kid are fantastic, but the games you liked when you were a kid were terrible.' Being born in the late 90s, I read magazines and saw people online telling me that some of my favourite games back then were actually really bad. The worst feeling was playing their favourite games and realising that some of them were just as bad.

Nostalgia could be the reason why people think past games were better, but there's something else that's bigger than that, and it questions how we critique games.

Leaps and Bounds

Think of a popular series of games that has been running for a long time, from the late 80s to the present day. Got one? Now think of what is generally considered the best in that series.

It's highly likely that the game you just thought of was made in the late 90s. Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII and Sonic Adventure have been considered as 'The Best in the Series' for the majority of that series' run. While the majority have either lost their title or are constantly argued about in recent times, there's no doubt that for a long while after their release people did talk about them a lot.

What do they all have in common? They were all the first in the series to be in 3D.

While whether or not our world has 3 dimensions goes into scientific theory I'm not willing to explain, it is fact that humans perceive the world in 3 dimensions. Thus, games making the leap to 3D was huge. It made games so much more immersive because they now look and act much more like the real world -- the jump to HD wasn't nearly as big.

We have games now that have further improved on what those first 3D games did, but we remember those originals much more. Why is that?

The Brain Works with Comparison

A century ago, we didn't have television. A millennia ago, we didn't have the majority of things that make up our daily lives.

To someone living in this day and age, it seems that life would be almost unlivable without the things that we have now. But there was a time when we didn't. There was a time when we didn't have air conditioning, security, or medicine that allowed us to live past the age of thirty -- humans didn't even have language itself, just some grunts.

Now this is pretty obvious, but the point is that humans still made it through their lives. This is because by comparison, the lack of these things didn't matter to them. It probably wasn't very clean thousands of years ago, but at least an opposing kingdom wasn't waging war against them. In the current era, if something isn't clean, it gets to us so much that we have to take action and use some kind of product. By comparison, there isn't that much in our daily lives that's worse.

Humans, and pretty much all animals, are able to feel happy in a situation simply because it's better than what they usually experience. Hence why when video games moved from 2D to 3D, it was very impressive at the time, but not so much any more.

You already know this, so why is this important?

When a game, or anything really, comes out that's new, different or innovative in some way, it's impressive when compared to everything else. When another game like that comes out, it isn't as impressive. It's already been done. We compare it to what already exists, we see something like it that has already occurred, and it isn't as interesting.

Humans focus more on the leaps in innovation than the quality itself

We remember being wowed by Ocarina of Time, our minds blown due to the new immersive world. We weren't as wowed by its direct follow-up Majora's Mask. It didn't blow our minds in the same way. It couldn't. It was only about a decade later that people started to come out saying that Majora's Mask was actually an improvement on what Ocarina had established.

It's these leaps that are much more memorable, and had a larger impact on those that played them at the time. All that players cared about was that the game was so much more immersive, the gameplay didn't really matter.

This goes back to what I said before about releasing a terrible game from today back in the 80's. If Ride to Hell: Retribution had been released decades ago, the 3D graphics would have made a massive impact on the player. While the game's graphics were awful when compared to games that came out the same year, the graphics alone would have been so impressive to players in the 80's that it would stick in their minds more than any other game of the time.

I think this point alone asks so many interesting questions about the way we compare games to others from history.

Video games are about an experience, they're all about having fun. So there's no problem when gamers have more fun with a game simply because it's an innovation. However, in the age of the internet, where we discuss games as an art, we do need to take careful consideration about why we think certain games are great.

When it Comes Down to it

Just because when you played a game you thought it was fun doesn't mean that it's a masterpiece of design. Many of the games that we hail as classics were fun when the people who decided they were classics played them. They definitely made major leaps and are impressive on a pioneer level, however they do still contain flaws in their design.

We treat 'classics' as lessons in game design, we don't seem to realise that the reason we liked them so much was because they lead the charge. We need to think of these games more as innovators rather than teachers.

But it's All Human Nature

These things aren't a problem that certain people have that we need to fix. We don't need to go around telling people that they're wrong and they need to change the way they think. It's human nature.

Confirmation bias, the way we think of video games as children, and enjoying leaps more than quality, it's all very human. Everyone does it. All that I'm saying, is that we need to question the way that we regard 'classic' media.

Do we Need to Change the Way We Think About Video Games?

It's hard to say, to remove these biases we would have to change our very nature. I would, however, make the statement that critics who support their opinions with knowledge of good game design are more reliable than those who simply state that certain aspects of the game were 'fun', since 'fun' is very much up to tastes.

The thing that I'm truly worried about, is that it's possible that certain games don't get the attention they deserve simply because we are comparing them to 'classic games.' We are constantly comparing current games to 'classics' such as Ocarina of Time, wondering why games can never be as good as those. But in reality, all these biases are in play, and what we think are these 'fantastic masterpieces' are really delusions that never existed.

It's possible that as video games as a medium gets older and older, the way we critique video games gets more and more unfair.

9 of the Coolest Alternative Controller configurations Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:07:23 -0400 Joshua Harris

With the evolution of gaming came the ingenuity and innovation of controller technology. However, players have found new, exciting, and strange ways to use controllers that are far from their intended purposes. These nine alternative setups show the genius of the human mind. 

1. DJ Hero Turntable

YouTube user  WhyBeAre uploaded a video last month of his DJ Hero dual turntable setup to play Overwatch on the PC. It works surprisingly well; he has mapped the left wheel to move forward and backwards while the one on the right controls the aiming. The green button on the right table is assigned for the regular firing, the red button is attached to the alternate fire, and the blue button for the special fire.

Interestingly, the crossfader is perfect for switching up Lucio's alt fire from heal mode to speed mode (and vice versa), but for now the speed mode option will automatically move players forward in addition to this ability. And, finally, the euphoria button activates Lucio's ultimate with an added red glow on the controller itself signaling its use. 

At about the 1:30 mark, WhyBeAre shows that the DJ Hero turntable can be used (against bots) and is actually functioning and playable Overwatch matches. Although, it would take extreme dedication to master this setup for PvP play. 

2. Drum Souls


Next is "Drum Souls" by YouTube user gbbearzly. As if Dark Souls was not hard enough, he has setup up the Rock Band drum set act as his controller. The red and yellow drums act as the left and right aiming, which would otherwise be used by the right analog stick. The blue pad is used to roll while the green pad is mapped for attacks. To complicate matters, gbbearzly can only move forward with the drum pedal, forcing him to make precise movements with the red and yellow pads either by furiously drumming on to rotate his character extremely fast, or by alternating both to navigate the terrain. The only "normal" buttons used are the menu and select buttons, which are present on the drum set as well. Given how difficult the game usually is, I do not think I could even beat this with a regular controller. Kudos, gbbearzly!

3. Hands Free Since '89

I thought it would be best to showcase one of the more serious alternative controllers because this one deserves the utmost recognition. The only available information on this national treasure seem to come from either the Houston Press or Kotaku.

Dubbed the 'Hands Free,' this controller was strapped to the player's chest and would allow quadriplegic players to use a long black stick with a pad at the end for their tongue, which would effectively act as the D-pad. The A and B buttons were controlled by a straw and would be controlled by a sipping- or blowing-breath action. The Hands Free was released in 1989 and was available to order through the customer service line. Kudos to Nintendo for getting ahead on accessibility for all players. 

 4. World of Dancecraft 

Prominent Twitch and YouTube gamer Rudeism took on World of Warcraft, reaching level 100 using only a pair of Dance Dance Revolution game mats. The button mapping is absolutely crazy, and I am thankful he uploaded the graphic showing exactly where he had to dance in order to survive. I cannot begin to wrap my head around the amount of patience and memory needed to survive an undertaking like this without losing my mind. 

5. He's Still Alive

From the brilliant man who reached level 100 in Warcraft, comes the massive undertaking of an age classic, Portal, with a twist. Rudeism, known for his adeptness with alternative controller setup, also defeated GLaDOS using only a Guitar Hero guitar. Using Xpadder, his configuration was set up with the whammy bar in charge of forward and backward movement, the strum bar for looking left and right, and tilting the guitar for looking up and down.

The color coded keys controlled the portal gun itself: red and yellow buttons were mapped to strafe left/right, the blue button to the blue portal, the orange to the orange portal, the start/power/back buttons for picking up objects, and finally the left button on the D-pad for crouching. The game is playable and Rudeism managed to defeat GLaDOS within the time limit, so we know that Portal can be beaten using unconventional methods. Don't tell him about the cake though. 

6. The Infamous Twitch Controller 

The enigma, known as the Twitch controller, has to be the most difficult setup in beating ANY game. Unlike physical controllers, such as the drum set, guitar, or turntable, the Twitch controller has no physical means by which a player can interact with the game. Keywords were mapped to certain text commands relayed from the Twitch chat to the computer hosting the game, which would in theory would be great if it was a single person playing the game.

But, thousands of people were in charge of coordinating certain commands in order to get through the game, proving to be one of the largest social experiments of all time. They managed to beat Pokemon Red in 16 days and 7 hours, which goes to show that people can cooperate long enough to beat all 8 gym leaders, the elite 4, and make it past the Pokemon champion. 

 7. Super Kongo Brothers 4

If you have rhythm, you can take on the "For Glory" mode in Super Smash Brothers 4 like YouTuber PJiggles. Because the Wii U allows for the GameCube peripheral adapter, he was able to integrate the bongos from Donkey Konga, and essentially map each of the GameCube's original buttons to the bongos. 

If you skip to the 45 second mark, PJiggles showcases the final product of his button mapping. Various actions allow him to use the character's grab ability. Tapping on the edges of the bongos will incur punching, shielding, and jumping. True to spirit, PJiggles takes on "For Glory" mode as Donkey Kong. The downside, however, comes into play in the actual fighting. The character can only face one direction, cannot move, and incurs idle messages during almost every match. I commend PJiggles for having the patience to map the controller and take the bongos out in the Smash ecosystem. 

 8. Too Epona Too Furious 

After picking up the N64 V3 Racing Wheel at a thrift shop, YouTube Gamerdudemat decided that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time deserved to be played through with the wheel (3:04 is when he starts playing it). Walking around proves to be difficult, but it appears that riding Epona works perfectly with the controller. Stepping on the gas pedal will use her carrots, and the wheel can be used to aim the bow while on horseback as well. Interestingly, it also works perfectly for the fishing mini-game in Lake Hylia. 

9. Dancertale

Another Twitch streamer and YouTuber, PeekingBoo, took on the Dance Dance Revolution controller challenge as well. But, this time, he went all out on playing Undertale on the actual, full-sized machine. The arrows on the left control the direction of the player in both the battle sequences and overworld.

However, the arrows on the right control the actions. The left arrow is used for canceling, the right for the menu, and the bottom for confirm. Given that Undertale is a bullet hell game, PeekingBoo demonstrates just how difficult it is to dodge in the battle sequences. Showing that to survive, absolute coordination is the key to mastering this Dance Dance Revolution and Undertale hybrid. 


People enjoy a good challenge, and, by introducing a new method of gameplay, they are able to make a name for themselves in gaming history. One way to do that is through alternative controlling systems, such as the DJ Hero turntable or Dance Dance Revolution dance pads. Seeking other modes of gameplay is not just an ode to developers, it is an exercise in creativity, and it shows the lengths that gamers will go to just to show how dedicated they are to their livelihood. I think we owe these people a round of applause for sticking to their guns and showing us that alternative forms of gameplay are viable and commendable. 

Moblins for Matt: A Legendary Charity Event This Friday Thu, 08 Sep 2016 00:39:57 -0400 Joshua Harris

For an estimated 3 million Americans, epilepsy is a real danger and puts many people at risk for life-threatening seizures. Corey Austen and his younger brother Matt Glasscock are no strangers to the complications of epilepsy. 

On May 31st, 2016, Matt lost his life to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (or "SUDEP.") He had always struggled with seizures most of his life, but the complexities of SUDEP were not merciful and in the end he lost his battle with epilepsy. Four months later, hoping to illuminate the danger of SUDEP, Corey is working with the Epilepsy Foundation to raise funds to research SUDEP, aid families who have lost their loved ones to this condition, and increase the awareness of an otherwise unknown illness. This Friday, Corey, his wife Annie Austen and his friends Denny Dowty and Logan Coursat will be streaming a host of Zelda games for roughly 24 hours (or more) raising as much money as they can. 

When a close friend of mine, Emmie Rodriguez started working on the illustration and graphics side of this event, I felt it was important to get involved and not only bring light to SUDEP, but also to bring gamers together for a noble cause.

A Legend is Born

The Legend of Zelda is one of the most staple games of our generation. The promise of an adventure is what draws players in: you embark on a quest, you perfect your skills as a warrior and you either save the world or the damsel in distress. The Legend of Zelda, unlike its peers, is not only a game, but it is an apparatus by which a story is told. The narrative has always been constructed in a particular way, giving the player the ability to place themselves within the story itself and allowing them to be the hero. 

Growing up, a majority of us spent our formative years playing these games with our siblings; video games were a told by which we could forge bonds with our brothers or sisters, something within itself is sacred and transcendental. For Corey and Matt, The Legend of Zelda was not only a game, it was something that tied their fates together forever. Corey (28) has been playing The Legend of Zelda since he was about 3 or 4. His first Zelda was the original game, and since picked it up he has not looked back since. Matt (23) had been gaming since since he could get his hands on a controller. 

The year was 2006 and Corey was in college with Matt just starting high school. What had set this year apart from the others was the Nintendo Wii. Twilight Princess had been announced, prompting the brothers to search high and low for both the system and the game. Gamestops, Walmarts, Targets, and local shops alike were out of stock of the up-and-coming next generation giant, leaving Corey and Matt disparaged in their search to acquire the system. However, with the help of their father, they found a store willing to give them a call when both were in stock. Matt purchased the Wii, while Corey got a copy of Twilight Princess.

The Zelda series has played a massive role in the brothers lives, forging lasting connections and meaningful memories only siblings could understand. Corey, being around for the forefront of The Legend of Zelda's genesis, began collecting the games at an early age. The most prominent piece of his collection is the ever rare golden cartridge copy of the first game in the series, a testament to the evolution of Zelda and piece of history in and of itself. 

A Turn For the Worst

Corey would drag Matt everywhere, they were pretty much inseparable. Even as they got older, the distance between Kansas City, MO and Colombia, MO was not enough to keep them apart. In April 2016, a month before Matt passed, Corey had purchased tickets for The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. It was a memorable experience for both brothers: they spent their night at an amazing concert, went out for some late night chow, and talked about life a while before heading home. 

A month later, after returning home from a road-trip, Corey had visited his parents in Booneville. When he got there, his mother had told him that Matt had had a seizure earlier that day and was downstairs sleeping it off. But, when Corey had gone down to check on him, Matt had been laying face down on the floor, breathless and cold. No one had told Matt or his family the creeping danger of SUDEP or how quickly it could take someone; Matt had developed epilepsy at the age of 11 and he would have a seizure almost every six months and they had become progressively worse as he got older. The seizures were getting so bad that Matt would have to take about 5 or 6 pills a day and even missing a dose once would have dire consequences. 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

One of the most potent memories for Corey was when his younger brother and him had been playing Super Smash Brothers when Matt's character suddenly stopped moving. Glancing over, Corey saw that his brothers arms had been curled against his chest and his posture slumped forward, telltale signs of a seizure. These epileptic seizures would leave Matt incredibly fatigued, so he would always take a well needed rest to recuperate from such a draining event. The same illness also prevented him from driving; the fear of having a seizure behind the wheel as well as possibly harming somebody during an attack prevented Matt from getting his driver's license. 

Little did Corey know that Matt, in some way, had managed to live on. Tucked away in Matt's room was an Amiibo, a Twilight Princess Amiibo to be exact. Resting in its circuitry was Matt's [data] ghost, a unique collection of data specific to him and nobody else. Realizing what he had stumbled upon, Corey took it upon himself to save, backup and archive any of Matt's other game data in order to preserve this digital ghost. Then, E3 rolled around. With the announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came the addition of a special in-game feature: the Wolf Link Amiibo can be used to summon Wolf Link as the hero's companion. Keeping it safe, Corey now stores the Amiibo in a cloche in memoriam to Matt. 

For Corey, this revelation meant that his brother and him could still play this game together, it would be a chance for them to play side by side again like they had growing up. In a letter to Nintendo, Corey told Matt's story and unbeknown to him, they had read it and prepared him a care package. The letter had also been published by ZeldaInformer as well. The note from Nintendo read:


Our condolences on your loss. May your brother's legend live on forever. Thank you for sharing your story.


Your friends at Nintendo

The case came from Corey, but the shirt, lanyard, pin, and coin are just some of what Nintendo sent him.

The package included:

  • Shadow Link Backpack
  • Shadow Link Hat
  • Shadow Link Dog Tags 
  • Shadow Link Lanyard 
  • Shadow Link Keyring 
  • Leather Watch 
  • Triforce Lamp
  • Legend of Zelda T-Shirt
  • Twilight Princess T-Shirt
  • Breath of the Wild E3 T-Shirt
  • Breath of the Wild E3 Lanyard
  • Breath of the Wild E3 Coin
  • Breath of the Wild E3 Staff pin

For Charity And For Fun

After hearing about Corey's loss, The Epilepsy Foundation reached out to him and has been helping aid Corey since May in his bereavement in addition to guiding him in setting up the 'Moblins for Matt' charity event this Friday, September 9th, 2016. The primary goals of this stream are to help The Epilepsy Foundation in providing programs and support for the community, aid in the creation of newer treatments and therapies for epilepsy, educate the population at large about seizure awareness, and advocate for the improvement of the rights and regulations for those suffering from epilepsy. With a heightened awareness of SUDEP, families may be able to better prepare themselves for the intricacies of living with epilepsy along with what can be done to prevent SUDEP.


One of the minds behind the Zeldathon Charity has reached out to lend Corey hand, giving tips and helping him prepare his Twitch channel for this Friday's stream. The livestream will start September 9th at 7PM CST. Corey and his friends will be playing games from the Zelda series such as The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Should they reach a high enough goal, they will stream Matt's all time favorite, Twilight Princess. The stream will last roughly 24 hours and they will keep playing through Monday should they get more donations.

Click here for the Moblins for Matt Twitch Channel

For more information, follow Corey on Twitter @MoblinsForMatt and use the hashtag #MoblinsForMatt to spread the word. 

The Facebook event is also a good place to check in for updates as well!

For more information on SUDEP and the SUDEP Institute you can also click here and here

Emmie's work can be found on Instagram or her Twitter

6 Games The Speedrunning Community Can't Get Enough Of Thu, 09 Jun 2016 13:04:33 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs


I Wanna Be The Guy


And now for something completely different. I Wanna Be The Guy is notorious for its difficulty -- and that, of course, enticed the hardcore speedrunning community. Whereas Spelunky trades on its uniqueness and random level generation, I Wanna Be The Guy's cache in the speedrunning world comes from the fact that the game, at heart, is all about pattern recognition. 


For speedrunners, this game is everything they love about speedrunning Super Mario Bros., just dialed up to 11. Yes, the game is insanely difficult, but the paths through and around each obstacle are decently clear, so it's a matter of stringing together that one perfect run and entering that zen-like flow state. Plus, at the end of the day, it's just insanely satisfying for viewers to see a game like this taken down that fast.


What's your favorite game to speedrun? Let us know in the comments! And hey, if you can't get enough speedrunning, make sure to check out our guide on how to speedily run through Dashes in Mirror's Edge Catalyst!




Spelunky is an odd case. Since it is procedurally generated, there will always be an element of luck to any Spelunky speedrun. Having said that, however, this randomness means that speedrunners need to constantly be on their toes. They cannot rely on rote memorization, and must use their general knowledge of the game and how level seeds are usually assembled to set new records.


Though Spelunky is not as popular as the previous games on this list, its following in the speedrunning community is surprisingly loyal, and that's due to the fact that, quite literally, speedrunning the game is a completely unique experience, mixing luck and raw skill.


Super Mario 64


Now, if we're talking about sequence-breaking and games that have countless glitches and exploits that allow for insanely fast completion, Super Mario 64 needs to enter the conversation at some point. As you can see above, sequence-breaking can allow a skilled player to beat this game in under 6 minutes. And if you've been paying attention, you know that those times are only about a minute slower than the fastest times for the original Super Mario Bros. on NES.


In addition to these "sprint" runs of Super Mario 64, the variety the game offers in terms of levels and objectives makes 100% speedruns unique as well. In particular, the fact that each stage features a star that can only be earned after 100 coins are collected means that players must plan their paths through each stage in creative ways, using all of the movement options that Super Mario 64 has to offer.


The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time


Of course, a big reason that The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time is on this list is that it is often hailed as the best game ever made. But Link's debut on the Nintendo 64 has so much more to offer to speedrunners apart from nostalgia and great gameplay.


Like Super Metroid, speedrunners of Ocarina of Time must be creative and sequence-break in order to post a quick time. However, what sets Ocarina of Time apart is the plethora of glitches and techniques that players can use to increase move speed and fly across the map. Many Nintendo 64 games, and other games from the first generation of 3D gaming, are favorites of the speedrunning community for this reason. Since the technology was not perfected yet, there are plenty of exploits for speedrunners to find. This not only makes for good times, it also means you can finally skip that damn water temple.


Super Mario Bros.


Whereas Super Metroid sticks around in the speedrunning scene because of its open nature, Super Mario Bros. sticks around for the exact opposite reason. Speedrunning Super Mario Bros. is a fairly linear experience. The best path through the game has been mapped out many times. The challenge this game offers speedrunners is the pursuit of perfection.


It's almost like an Olympic sprint in that fractions of a second often make the difference between a record-breaking run and one that does not, so speedrunners shave those precious moments off of their time whenever they can, keeping their momentum, making pixel-perfect jumps, and generally entering a supreme state of concentration and flow. It's cathartic to watch as well, especially since speedruns of the game generally hover around 5 minutes due to all of the warps.


Super Metroid


The speedrunning community owes a lot to this game. Super Metroid was and remains one of the most popular games to speedrun because it was one of the first to allow players to "sequence-break". Since Super Metroid is such an open game and power-ups are scattered all across the map, progression is linked to when and in what order these power-ups are collected. Sequence-breaking occurs when a player, either using glitches or pure skill, is able to skip a "required" power-up or sequence in order to complete the game faster.


Because there are so many power-ups in Super Metroid, and so many different paths to take, going for a speedrun at any completion level offers huge potential for creativity in how to tackle obstacles.


And that's not even mentioning the ridiculous 100% completion speedruns. There are so many different ways to speedrun Super Metroid, and so many different viable ways to attack each speedrun, it's really no surprise that it's still a mainstay for the community.


Speedrunning is as popular as it's ever been. No longer relegated to a small corner of a convention game room, the speedrunning community has exploded in recent years and brought the concept of beating a video game as fast as possible to the mainstream. It's not just the wonderful Awesome Games Done Quick events every year-- there are countless new games (Undertale and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, to name a few) that specifically reward players who choose to speedrun them.


So with Summer Games Done Quick right around the corner on July 3rd, it's a great time to pay tribute to the games that speedrunners always seem to come back to.

My Life In Gaming sheds light on antialiasing hack for Nintendo 64 Thu, 12 May 2016 03:21:53 -0400 Mark Elgie

Annoyed with the blurriness you get when playing Nintendo 64 games? The guys over at My Life In Gaming have talked about a solution of sorts.

Games nowadays generally have decent image quality. This is thanks to a technique called antialiasing. Antialiasing is used to diminish jagged lines or "jaggies" that are prevalent in older titles -- such as those on Nintendo 64, whose graphics typically show up as what MLIG's Coury describes as a "generous smear":

"Scan line separation on a high quality CRT may help smooth over the flaws, but if you're playing your N64 on an HDTV, it's actually pretty tough to get some decent results. Even with RGB mods and high quality video scans."

While an Ultra HDMI cable does a good job of approximating a clean, pixelated look, the crew over at, has discovered that sometimes all it takes is a GameShark to remove antialiasing on 3D graphics.

The GameShark can be used to change certain values that are written to the VI, or the Video Interface register, in turn disabling certain graphical functions, such as antialiasing.

Antialiasing and other video filters are applied to 3D graphics in N64 games, giving it the look of a smear. GameShark codes remove some of these filters. The Ultra HDMI cable is incapable of doing this. The HDMI cable can, however, reverse secondary blur through a process known as deconvolution, shown below.

Here's a comparison of what the Ultra HDMI does compared to a GameShark:

The GameShark deals primarily with antialiasing, while the Ultra HDMI does a good job of removing secondary blur from 3D graphics.

In the end, it boils down to personal preference: how do you like your 3D graphics on N64? As they're originally presented, or cleaned up a bit? And if you do want the graphics cleaned up, how do you want them cleaned up? Blurriness removed? Jaggies gone? The choice is yours.

First Peek of Legend of Zelda Gameplay at E3 Sun, 08 May 2016 17:07:49 -0400 JunaeBenne

There’s been a lot of ups and downs and misinformation concerning E3, Nintendo and the NX but! what is for sure is that the new Legend of Zelda franchise will debut and be playable for the first time at this year’s expo.

As soon as Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime introduces Nintendo Treehouse: Live it will be dedicated to streaming live gameplay of the Legend of Zelda. Legend of Zelda is streaming through Nintendo’s channels; YouTube, Twitch and E3 Nintendo.

The Legend of Zelda game is a brand new series of it’s own stated series producer, Eiji Aonuma. By creating a brand new series this removes boundaries and opens doors for new possibilities.

In addition, one lucky gamer will get the chance to showcase the game at the Nintendo booth. It could even be you. To put your name in the gauntlet Tweet a note to @NintendoAmerica about what The Legend of Zelda series means to you while using the hashtag #MyZeldaLegend and #NintendoSweepstakes. Nintendo will select a winner at random. The prize package includes airfare for two, a hotel stay, tickets to E3, a $500 prepaid VISA debit card. For all the details about the sweepstakes, visit the E3 Nintendo Sweepstakes site.

Tuesday June 14 at 9 a.m. the Nintendo Treehouse: Live will be dedicated to livestream Legend of Zelda.

Get hyped for Star Fox Zero with these foxy facts! Tue, 19 Apr 2016 06:57:17 -0400 Kat De Shields

Since its debut on Nintendo in 1993, Star Fox, the classic rail shooter video game series, has made a name for itself over more than 20 years of history. At the time of its release, the use of filled, 3D polygons in a console game was thought to be revolutionary and ground breaking. To this day, the series is known for staying on the cutting edge of gameplay, visual aesthetics and overall product innovations. Let's roll with Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, and the rest of the Star Fox team to explore some of the ways the series has evolved through the ages.  

Overall Series

  • Many elements of the debut game were inspired by the old-school puppet series Thunderbirds, characters from Japanese folklore, and architectural structures from shrines in Kyoto, Japan. 

  • Dinosaur Planet morphed into Star Fox Adventures for Nintendo GameCube when developers realized a lot of similarities with existing Star Fox characters.

  • Do a Barrel Roll!” The spoken dialogue in Star Fox 64 became some of the most iconic in gaming history.

Upon searching for the image below using Google, my screen did indeed do a barrel roll. Derp!


  • Star Fox Command featured nine endings and concludes the longest single continuity storyline of the series before it reset with Star Fox Zero. Talk about the Harry Potter of Gaming. 


  • NESGlider, developed by Jez San and Argonaut Games, served as a prototype for the original Star Fox game. When the team’s progress was limited by available technology, Nintendo gave Jez and team permission to co-develop the Super FX chip--the first consumer-grade 3D graphics accelerator. 

  • With the release of Star Fox 64 for N64, Rumble Pak support was included years before vibration feedback became the standard feature it is today. 

  • If you thought the Apple Watch is cutting edge, did you know Star Fox developed a LED wristwatch that included four stages of gameplay in 1994?

Oh, sweet nostalgia. 


You can find Star Fox inspired costumes, references and swag throughout a variety of games, such as Bayonetta 2, Super Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Warioware: Smooth Moves, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+, Steel Diver: Sub Wars; Pokemon Stadium 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Mario Golf, Animal Crossing, and many more.

I absolutely love the plushie key chains swinging from those boots of death.


From affiliated games like Super Smash Bros. to cameo appearances in Yoshi's Woolly World, Star Fox is a legendary series in the video game world. To check out the original infographic outlining the history of the Star Fox franchise, click here

Star Fox Zero is scheduled for release this Friday, April 22 for the Wii U. To pre-order the game, click here

What was your favorite game in the Star Fox series? Let me know in the comments below! 

Unreal Engine 4 shows how deadly Death Mountain really is Tue, 15 Mar 2016 10:09:25 -0400 Eric Levy

Link's been to Death Mountain many times before in the past, but it's never looked this good (and a bit terrifying)

We may still have a long time to wait until the first true Legend of Zelda HD game (not including recent remasters), but the creator of this demo, CryZENx has been trying to help make the wait just a little less painful.  CryZENx has brought our Legend of Zelda HD dreams to life in the past with HD renditions of Kakariko Village, The Temple of Time, and many other well known locations from the series.  This demo, starring child Link wearing the Goron Tunic, shows him exploring the fiery depths of Death Mountain, and I cannot stress enough how great it looks.  Check out the video above and go to CryZenx's channel to see other Unreal Engine 4 renditions of characters and games like Mario, Pokemon, and Kirby (just to name a few). Finally, you can download the Death Mountain demo for yourself RIGHT HERE!  Enjoy, and try not to get burned.

This guy completed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time after 5 years. There's a catch, he's blind. Tue, 05 Jan 2016 14:48:38 -0500 Jessi_Cat

After 5 years a gamer that goes by the name of MegaTgarrett has finally finished The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time! Now I know this may seem like a long time, but really it’s amazing considering he is blind. MegaTgarrett has been known to crush 2D games even with his disability, and back in May of 2011 he decided to take on the task of defeating Ocarina of Time.

He uses a Nintendo 64 emulator, which allows him to so save states. In order to locate where he is in the game or where enemies are he uses two speakers on his chair in the front of his body. It’s like echolocation. He uses audio cues to tell if he is at a wall or a door by simply hitting it with his sword. He uses Navi in order to know whether he is meant to target something or not.

In the video below you can see just how he does it:

It’s amazing that with patience and perseverance what someone can accomplish. Despite his disability he managed to do something most of the population would think impossible. If you would like to see the final battle between MegaTgarret and Gannon you can watch below:

If there was ever someone who deserves a “Gamer of the Year” award it would be this guy. Good job MegaTgarret and keep on gaming!

Top 5 mightiest steeds in video games Tue, 10 Nov 2015 10:59:45 -0500 Joe DeClara



Super Mario World

Yes, yes, I know: not an open world game, not a horse. But before you made D-Horse defecate - before you rode across the realms of Hyrule - you met Yoshi.


Making his debut in Super Mario World for the SNES, this delightful dinosaur brought some of the best platforming experiences to the franchise. After three games of stomping on our enemies like uncivilized apes, Yoshi enabled us to quite literally spit our enemies' attacks right back at them. As the ultimate power-up of the 2D Mario platformers, and our first companion in the perpetual battle against the Koopas, Yoshi stands as the mightiest of steeds in video game history.


It is so unfortunate, then, when considering how often Mario abuses his mount. Many have noticed that in the original Super Mario World animations, Mario seems to compel Yoshi to do his bidding by striking him on the head! Disturbed by this cruel behavior, some video game analysts have come to believe this to be evidence of Mario having anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). Poor Yoshi.



Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Named for the first initial of your military group, The Diamond Dogs, Snake's first buddy takes the best from all the trotters before him. D-Horse handles the arduous terrain of Afghanistan with ease and obeys every detailed nudge of the joystick even at full gallop. Summoning your steed is easy too; with just a whistle, D-Horse will appear by your side as if by magic. Take that, Epona's Song!


Like the horses of Rockstar's wild west, D-Horse is not invincible: steep falls and gunfire will render him incapacitated. His tactical abilities, however, set him apart from his predecessors. From simple abilities like hanging on D-Horse's side to avoid enemies' line of sight, to more complex, and slightly odd, strategies like using fresh horse manure to send jeeps slipping and sliding, Metal Gear Solid V's mighty steed is a perfect fit for Snake's masterful tactics. 



Shadow of the Colossus

Nintendo may have brought horseback riding to 3D games, but Team Ico brought life to the horse. Instead of acting as an extension of the players character upon mounting, Wander's companion seemed to behave as an independent entity. He obeyed your commands, but it was Wander you were controlling - not Agro.


Epona introduced horseback combat - but Agro perfected the art. Agro's implementation in some of the colossi battles stand as some of the best boss battle experiences to date. The world in Shadow of the Colossus may have seemed bare and empty to some, but Agro's presence and companionship made this game a masterpiece for the ages.


Dark Horse

Red Dead Redemption

Few game designers could claim to have mastered 3D horseback gameplay before Rockstar had their go in Red Dead Redemption. With full range of motion and smooth, intuitive controls, playing as John Marston was best experienced on the back of a wild mare. There are few things in this medium as satisfying as lassoing bounty targets, dead-eyeing villains, or just traveling cross country, all on your trusty steed.


The problem is keeping your horse around. Like any other living thing in a Rockstar open-world game, horses are susceptible to fall damage, wolf attacks, and the occasional double-barrel shotgun shell to the head. Luckily, there are plenty of nags to be lassoed and broken. The coolest of all, however, can only be obtained by achieving the lowest level of honor: Desperado. The Dark Horse may not be the fastest in the game, but she's fast - and she's bad. Just one look at this mare's deathly pattern reminds you of all the heartless, inhumane, dastardly deeds you committed to earn you this mount.





The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time brought one of the first fully realized, three-dimensional worlds to the video game industry. To freely explore this vast, lively land, Link is given his trusty companion, Epona. This magnificent steed allowed Link free rein throughout the Kingdom of Hyrule, as well as a tactical advantage when shooting arrows from horseback.


However, Epona's empowering companionship is not given to the player freely, but must be earned. Seven years after first meeting the young filly, Link returns to Lon Lon Ranch in order to win Epona's freedom in an epic and wonderfully cliche race of justice. Similarly, in Majora's Mask, Epona is kidnapped by Skull Kid, and can only be retrieved after completing half of the game. This element of investment in your companion makes exploring these beautiful worlds with her all the more rewarding.


"In riding a horse, we borrow freedom."

- Helen Thompson

There are few things as marvelous as a robust open-world game. We often remember those wondrous moments of a game world opening up to us for the first time -- when you first emerged from Vault 101 in Fallout 3, or the day Link finally left his home of Kokiri Forest to see the vastness of Hyrule Field. These seminal experiences stand as testaments to the endless iconic imagination and infinite possibilities of video games.


And what better way of exploring these worlds is there than atop a glorious mount? Traversing worlds on horseback has been a staple of open-world games for nearly two decades, and has inarguably become the most epic way to travel.


But which of these noble steeds stand out the most? After becoming accustomed to hopping on a trusty trotter and riding onwards to the next quest, it’s important to look back on those who started, and those who perfected, the art of kicking simulated animals in the ribs and yelling “Hyah!” Here are the top five mightiest steeds of video games.