Saturday, April 30, 2011

Darris Comic #5

In honor of Frankie going to Kawaii Kon, Comic Darris finds the reason HE goes to Conventions.

(Click to enlarge)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back To The Past: Zelda 3

The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
A short playthrough by Darris Pratt

Zelda fans are an interesting bunch. One could say we love nearly all of the main Zelda games, and most would agree with that. But when it comes down to which Zelda game is the best? That's when arguments start. If anything, I'd say there are only two things Zelda fans fight over; the Zelda timeline, and favorite Zelda game.

The other day at work me and a friend were discussing out favorite Zelda game, and right away we were at it, discussing which was better, for what reason, and why. It was an interesting debate, obviously not one in which either of us assumed victory, as we still loved each other's choices as well. Their favorite Zelda game was this one, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. And let me tell you, I understand why anyone would pick this game as their favorite.

Title Screen

Released April 13th, 1992, A Link to the Past was released a nearly four years after the previous title (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link), but it was well worth the wait. As Link to the Past was my first Zelda game (I was born in 1989), I remember a lot of very fond memories of the game, and hold it in very high regard. While the last game in the series was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Link to the Past was released on the Super Nintendo, and made very good use of the upgrade of graphics, sound, and control.

Creepy old witch...

Unlike the previous game in the series, Link to the Past controlled more like Zelda 1, as in the view is overhead the entire time. This gave the game a very slick and stylish look, along with the ability to move diagonally. Because of this update, the speed of the games combat really shined, as well did the games new sword moves and items. Overall, it was a lot like the first game, but better in nearly every single way.

As for where does this game sit in the timeline, it's hard to say. Some say that it was always planned to be a prequel to the originals, but since newer games, the role seem to be that it takes place after Zelda II. it's not that important, though. Majora's Mask messes up the timeline in a major way, but I'll get to that later.

At the beginning of the game, we are given a history of Hyrule for the very first time, but not the last, in any way. We learn that in the land of Hyrule, there was a golden treasure hidden, know as the Triforce, hidden away in the Sacred Realm. A band of thieves find a way into the realm, and their leader, Ganondorf, killed the other thieves so he could take the Triforce for himself. This sent the entire land into darkness, and the dark would draw people in, never to be seen again. Because of this, the King of Hyrule ordered seven sages to seal off the Sacred Realm, and this caused a massive battle to unfold. Monsters charged from the darkness and attacked the castle, trying to stop the sages. In the end, though many died, the sages were able to seal off the Sacred Realm with Ganon trapped inside. This would be know as the Imprisoning War. There were many centuries of peace after the war, but strange things started to happen. Drought and monsters started appearing, but the seal still stood. A mighty magician appeared, and solved all these problems. The King praised him, and gave him a place in the castle. This wizard, Agahnim, after waiting for the right time, cursed the castle guards, and started capturing all of the maidens that were decedents of the Seven Sages, trying to use their power to break the seal, and release the darkness from the Sacred Realm, along with the dark King Ganon.

Details know by the hearts of Zelda Nerds everywhere...

This is the first time we are ever given any real back story into the world of Zelda, and it is fascinating, to say the least. At a young age, I was taken aback at the depth of character in these details along, especially in a video game. The only other times I felt such a deep connection to a SNES games Setting and Story was with Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy 3 (aka 6). It drew me in right away.

After the opening, we are given another little scene, this time in a small house during a storm. Link is sleeping in bed, while his uncle sits at the table. Link is then sent a message that wakes him up, a message from Zelda.

This is a picture right from the games manual

As Link wakes up, he finds his uncle holding a sword and shield. He tells Link not to leave the house, and then he sets off. After jumping out of bed, and taking the lantern from the chest in the room, you head out and go to the castle. You find a secret entrance in the side garden (familiar to any Zelda fan, as its recreated in Ocarina of Time under different circumstances), and fall into a small chamber where you see Link's Uncle yet again, but this time he seem to be gravely injured. He gives you his sword and shield, gives you a final goodbye, and then passes away. And that's when the game proper begins.

I think this picture came from the games Official Strategy Guide

The first thing you need to do if find Zelda, who is located in the lower dungeons of the castle. After dispatching a few green and blue knights, you find her, guarded by a flailing knight. After rescuing Zelda, she tells you of a secret path out of the castle that leads from the sewers. You make your way through them and end up in a sanctuary that's north of the castle. The priest there tells you of Sahasrahla, an elder. When you meet him, he tells you of the Master Sword, a sword with the ability to destroy the Wizard (like the Master Sword needs an introduction today). But not just anyone can wield the sword, only someone who has proven himself can by gaining the three Pendants of Virtue.

These lead to sort of starter dungeons that prep you for harder one later on, as well as gain you some cool equipment. After getting all the pendants, you go deep into the Lost Woods, and find a clearing where the Master Sword sits. After claiming it, Link receives yet another message from Zelda, telling him that the evil knights have found the sanctuary she was hiding at. When you arrive, you find yourself too late, as she was already taken to the castle. As he goes to rescue her, he is too late yet again. Agahnim sends Princess Zelda off to the Dark World, and breaks the seal that kept the darkness away from the land.

A Zelda game without a Master Sword? Never.

Link is sent to the Dark World as well, right as he fights the wizard. This takes Link to a world much like the one he left, but covered in darkness, evil, and strong monsters. This mechanic, know as the Light World/Dark World puzzle, was revolutionary when it came to Zelda games, and would be replicated in later games in many different ways (Ocarina of Time Young Link/Adult Link, Season and Ages mechanics). While the maps were similar, if one were to find themselves at a dead end, you could switch over to the other world and find a new path, or part of the puzzle.

Simple enough, not as complex as some of the puzzles in later games...

As Link traverses the Dark World, he learns that he must save the maidens that were sent to the Dark World, and with their help, seal the Sacred Realm off from the Light world yet again. This brings Link to seven different dungeons in the Dark World, each more challenging than the next. Once Link rescues all the maidens, he makes his way to Ganon's Tower, a multi-level hell-hole that worked my puzzle solving skills to their very core, especially at a young age. At the end, you fight the Wizard for a second time, and now things get real. Fighting the Wizard at the top of Ganon Tower felt to me like the last boss, especially when I was a kid. So when I finally bested him, I exhaled slowly, expecting the end of the game to come next.

What a twat...

But after you defeat him, Ganon rises from the wizards body, turns into a bat, and flies off to the Pyramid of Power, the place where the final boss battle takes place, and it is an epic one. You travel to the center of the map, the location where the Hyrule Castle used to stand, and face Ganon atop the Pyramid. Ganon gains the full power of the Triforce, and uses magic and his trident to attack Link. But the Master Sword bests him in the end, and one more Silver Arrow put the evil fiend down. That's TWO silver arrow now, but in no way will it be the last. From all the boss fights in Zelda game history, this one is a good one, but is not nearly as memorable as the one's in some of the later games. You do fight Ganon's similar to this one in other Zelda titles (Boar figure with Trident), but Ganon evolves rather well into the later games.

It's not a weapon you normally throw...

So, peace has been claimed in the land of Hyrule yet again. Link lives out the rest of his life, and passes down his bloodline from generation to generation, until another is picked to be the next legend by fate. One special note goes out for this games music. It creates, remakes, and changed a lot of the simple notes and keys from the first two games, and makes them into powerhouse scores. The Overworld Theme that is so common among Zelda fans was perfected in this game, and carries through in nearly every game afterwards. If you haven't taken the time to listen to some of the games fantastic music, I will highlight some in later walkthroughs. It puts you in the mood for just about anything.

To be continued... with a different Link... and a different Zelda... in a different world...

As I said before, this was my first Zelda game, and it holds a dear place in my gaming heart. But that being said, it's not my favorite Zelda title. I'll let you know which one that is when we get to it, but for now, I'll end with this note. A Link to the Past was a groundbreaking recreation about what made the original so popular. Open world, dungeon exploration, interesting characters, and incredible bosses. And it will continue to be the favorite of many a Zelda fan.

NEXT TIME: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reach for the Tuesday: 20 April 2011

I know it's been a while since I've posted practice results so let me just say...

Man, it took us a minute but once we started working together we rolled pretty hard.

Ryan always bitches about sucking and then goes on to have the highest score of the team.

Man, we suck ass. This went down to a lack of communication. We spent most of this match arguing with each other to the point Darris muted Dillon and I lost my cool and Ryan giggled.

They were the better team. They kept the pressure on us to the point where we couldn't move at all out of our base.

In short, the complaints are the same. Lack of communication and map superiority. We need to focus on map specific strategies that are more thought out than "I've got the sword, Dillon, get the turret, Darris, get the sniper rifle, and Ryan, look pretty!"

Friday, April 15, 2011

They've gotta come from SOMEwhere - 15/04/2011

I said I was going to make a comic this week, so here you go:

Ain't it beautiful? Anyway, this comic was interesting for me, cause I did the last few panels with a tablet. I've never used a tablet. I think it's pretty neat.

ANYWAY. I might post something else later, but probably not.

Ryan, out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Testing Fraps

Meh, looks good enough. I'll start testing it with more intense games like TF2 and Amnesia. Then, then I buy a better mic, I'll start doing let's plays or something.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Waiting on the Valve to Change

In short, Valve you need to get on the ball.

Are you on the ball?

Get on the ball.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adventure Awaits!

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
A review and playthrough by Darris Pratt

Released in 1987 and 1988 (in Japan and the United States), Zelda II is a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda, an adventure game released on the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System. It's hero was the same Link of the first game, set several seasons after the events of the first Zelda title, but with a different Princess Zelda, as this Princess had been cursed to sleep for generations. As the brave hero Link, you travel through the world, discovering different cities, dungeons, and crystals used to free Zelda from her many years of slumber.

This Zelda was different from the first in a varaity of ways. There was an overhead view, like in the first, but this acted only as a sort of world view as Link traveled around the land. As you would walk around, walking into towns, enemies, or caves would send Link to an area where the camera is to the side of the player, much like a side-scrolling arcade game. In this mode, Link has many different things he can do. He can attack, duck and attack, jump and attack, thrust upward and downward in the air, and use quite a large list of spells once he learns them all.

While fighting against enemies, when they are defeated, a number is shown. This is how much experiance Link gains from the enemy. This plays heavy into the RPG aspect of the game, which allows you to upgrade your health, magic, or sword power. While the first Zelda game had some RPG elements with leveling up, they had more to do with finding the right items instead of with killing enemies. For this fact, this adds a good deal of depth to the gameplay in Zelda II, as maxing these skills as needed for survival. While in a dungeon, defeating the level boss automaticly brings your EXP to the next possible level-up position. because of this, you want to be sure to level up right before facing the boss, as it makes a big difference in the amount of EXP gained.

While Zelda II may seem to be more Action-RPG than Adventure-RPG, there is more than enough puzzle solving and traveling to get you scratching your head. Some puzzles are simple (get a hammer to break a bolder in the road), while some will make you wonder how the hell you were suppost to figure that out (Take flute, stand in specific spot in town, and play it to make a dungeon appear). Oh course, there are plenty of moments like this in the first game, almost to the point of being cryptic as all hell, but maybe because of the fact that I've play the first game more I don't mind as much.

The object of the game is simple. Go to the many different dungeons in Hyrule and place crystals there. After all the crystals are placed, the path to the Great Palace opens up, allowing Link to go and claim the Triforce of Courage, which will allow Link a wish to wake the sleeping princess. So why is Link getting attacked every step of the way? Because even though Ganon is dead, his minions have collected his ashes. Once they kill Link, they would sprinkle his blood on the ashes of Ganon, allowing him to return to life, which is a big no-no. That's the plot in a nutshell.

Link goes through many hardships on his journey to free the Princess. He travels through Death Mountain, saves a lost child, and finally makes it to the Grand Palace. And who is the boss of this game? Why it's the hardest boss of all: yourself. Shadow Link makes his very first appearance in the Zelda series, and god damn if he's not the hardest boss to face. He can counter just about all of your moves, and attackes faster than you would think possible. As word spread about how hard this boss was to kill, another rumor spread as well: there is an easy and cheap way to kill him. Alas, this rumor is true, which is too bad, as he could of gone down as one of the hardest bosses of all time if it wasn't for one small flaw. Standing in the bottom left corner of the screen, face left and crouch. Constantly attack. For some reason, Shadow Link's AI can't counter this, and will continue to run right into your sword.
With Shadow Link felled and the Triforce of Courage in the hands of Link, he makes his wish, bringing the Princess out of he deep sleep. You are given your "Game Over" screen as a curtain drops down, with Link and Zelda embracing, almost exactly like the first game.

With a heavy heart, you turn off your NES (or if you're like me, Gamecube) and plan for the next game in the series. If you were playing on the NES, there was probably a good chance you wanted the next Zelda right away, but at that moment, you didn't know what game was in your future. The bad news? You would have to wait FOUR YEARS. The good news? The next Zelda game was without a doubt one of the best ever made. And not just as a game in the series, but as a game in general.

Next Time: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Comic -Raptor Inc. - Biathlon by Frankie Sanabria

Wouldn't it be great?!

Comic -Raptor Inc. - Hitler Sucks at Romance by Frankie Sanabria

I haven't done any comics in a while because I've been doing commision art pieces and the quality of our comics has degraded ever since. The most common way this happens is a. they're not done or b. they're not comics. So to illustrate at least what they should be I have done two this week.
This comic is based off of something random I said during a game of Who's Line is it Anyway.