Tuesday, November 25, 2014

\\ Dark, Yet Clear As Day: Dark Souls II //

This article contains spoilers of plot points and gameplay scenarios in Dark Souls II for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
After much deliberation, I think it’s safe to say that the original Dark Souls is my favorite game of all time. It’s just such a wonderful thing that I can barely contain my composure when talking about its vast, sprawling worlds, filled with things to do, secrets to uncover, and mysteries never to be solved. Huge, imposing creatures found in the most dank, depressing corners of Lordran. Tough, imposing, uncompromising, yet doable boss encounters which tested your limits, pushing you further and further into the brink of uncertainty, kicking you out from the game for days, weeks, possibly months. But when you returned, fresh and revitalized, you’d find yourself empowered, a changed person, and would find the strength and the courage to plow through until the next surprising twist, the vicious circle beginning anew.

Dark Souls took me two years to complete; a long time indeed for a game that’s not really that long in the grand scheme of things, yet the experience of playing it is long. It felt like finishing a year at school; one takes the time to sit down and look back at the things that have changed in their life, the friendships mended and broken, changes in our bodies, maybe finding ourselves in a new place to call home. Finishing Dark Souls felt like how I would imagine breaking up with a long-time spouse could feel; it was good that I had closed the book on it, but I yearned for more. But of course, too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

\\ Half Moon - Majora's Mask Review //

This article contains spoilers of gameplay scenarios and plot points in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the Nintendo 64.

Travel back in time with me to the mid 1990’s.

This seemed obvious...

I was preciously young, and not too aware of a life beyond the confines of my room, but I surely knew video games. I was introduced to the original PlayStation around that time by my mother’s now ex-boyfriend, and became enamored by the foreign yet somehow familiar worlds of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Croc. I’d heard rumblings of a fabled maker of magic from across the pond. People my age knew them by many different names, but you might recall the name Nintendo. As a youngling, I always saw the house that Miyamoto built as an enemy of the state, a force which was to be ignored so as to preserve my rather insular notions of what a video game was and could be (one shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I was also extremely shy and socially awkward, literally afraid of social contact with anybody beyond the scope of my immediate group of friends, even at that sacred age where nothing you say is of any consequence).

But by 1998, it became impossible not to pay attention to these tremors emanating from the fields of Hyrule. Nintendo had just released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on their struggling Nintendo 64 console to massive amounts of critical acclaim from video game publications everywhere. Former senior editor of Gamespot and current editor-in-chief of Giant Bomb Jeff Gerstmann at the time wrote of the game as being, "a game that can't be called anything other than flawless. IGN writer Peer Schneider echoed this sentiment, declaring, "The new benchmark for interactive entertainment has arrived." (Indeed, I ripped these quotes from Wikipedia.)

Though I wasn’t cognizant of Ocarina of Time’s release at the time, nor did I know much about the Zelda franchise in general, it was hard not to feel the aftershocks of its arrival. You saw it in stores, in magazines, on TV; you heard about it at your pre-kindergarten daycare, you heard about it, bored at the DMV, pouring over whatever reading material was available on the shelf. You wondered what the big deal was; how could a game that had just come out already have declared itself a legend?