I’m competitive, always have been. I spent my youth playing organized soccer, and the desire to win was real. This translated to other activities, such as Monopoly, or anything else that had an element of competition to it. I wanted to win! In terms of my schooling back then, my parents instilled the importance of studying, that the effort I put in would result in good grades, which in my mind was a competition of sorts. Not necessarily against others in this case, but against myself. Competition was a means of self-improvement. It was the mechanism that gave me the drive, the motivation to succeed. Heck, even Pokémon encouraged competition, whether through the core trainer battles in the video games or via the infectious theme song of the anime.
And speaking of Pokémon, I can make a case that that franchise influenced my completionist tendencies. As I’ve mentioned before, when I experience something, I want to experience the whole of it. Similarly, when I play a video game on a modern PlayStation or Xbox, trophies and achievements materially impact my experience. If I’m digging the game, I’ll do my best to unlock as many as possible. When crafted well, they can complement the gameplay experience by rewarding experimentation or offering up unique challenges. Even when they’re not crafted well, I still feel compelled to obtain them, or at least do a cost-benefit analysis to determine which are worth my time. They’re a fun element of modern gaming; a nifty way to compare progress with and compete against friends, and an element that I care way too much about.
Relationships are hard work. Cooperation is a requirement. If two parties can’t work together, there is no relationship, no way to reach a desired destination. Competition has a place though and no matter the type of relationship, competition will always rear its head. While these concepts can be seen as opposites, managing them is necessary to make any relationship last. Similar to Reese’s with peanut butter and chocolate, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure blended these two concepts together and it’s what I’ll remember most about the game.
When my girlfriend and I began playing Four Swords Adventure I didn’t anticipate it would take so long to complete. Even with limited time, we saw it through and completed the game’s nine levels with plenty of healthy competition. Rather than the typical open, but linear format of most Zelda titles, Four Swords Adventure is broken into levels which are comprised of stages. Instead of accruing necessary items and then tackling a dungeon, each stage is a self-contained challenge combining puzzles and action.
Four Swords Adventure’s puzzles derived mostly from utilizing the four Links in a specific way. The puzzles weren’t very challenging, but I remember one in the final level which stumped us good. A lot of the mental work simply required us to position the four Links in a specific stance and then stand on a button or hit switches, not very tough stuff. Boss battles were interesting. The bosses represented a “greatest hits” of sorts, but some were slightly remixed to take advantage of the four Links and the use of the Game Boy Advance.
The game’s use of the GBA was clever, but ultimately its Achilles heel. Instead of controlling our Links with a GameCube controller, we had to plug in a GBA and use it. Whenever we’d enter into a building or a cave or what have you, that person’s Link would then be transferred to the GBA. This allowed each person to explore the screen and its contents individually while not hindering others. To play the game like this, it requires that each person have a GBA and link cable, which makes the game hard to recommend to those who don’t have at least some of these items already. Playing alone just requires a GameCube controller, no extra accessories. Without others though, the game doesn’t really merit a playthrough.
Princess Zelda and the six shrine maidens get captured by Shadow Link who leads Link to the Four Sword. When Link removes the Four Sword from its shrine he is split into four and the evil Vaati is released. As Link rescues the maidens and retrieves four special jewels, Ganon makes his presence known. The game took my girlfriend and me through many villages and we got a lot of back-story through NPCs and Kaepora Gaebora. As mentioned earlier, it was a lengthy game and well suited for bite sized sessions.
Link’s quest was familiar; rescue a bunch of something and overcome evil, but there wasn’t a detailed narrative to propel my girlfriend and I forward. Thankfully this driving force was replaced by the unique duality of the gameplay. It’s hard to recommend because of the requirements, but The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure is a noteworthy example of games that blend cooperative and competitive gameplay, a difficult relationship to manage.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure was released on GameCube in the USA on June 7, 2004. It was developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo.
Not much to report today. My girlfriend and I got around to nearly completing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure, like one stage and a Gannondorf battle away from completing it, but no dice. I also put in plenty of hours into Front Mission and I’m still sticking with it surprisingly. That’s kind of it. We had to house/dog sit for her grandparents so I was away from my home for the majority of the week, but I did get some time in with a few demos.
We went to the movies last night and watched The Thing. It’s a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing. I’ve developed a crush on the film primarily because of the 2002 video game, which I reviewed earlier in my blog, here. The new film serves as a prequel and it was okay. It was quite similar to the 1982 movie, playing out in the exact same way, but it was still suspenseful.
The night before that we went to the opera. It was my first time going and it was very cool. Most of the patrons were sharply dressed and the venue was packed. We went to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and watched their presentation of The Barber of Seville. It was sung in Italian and it was difficult to see the subtitles from where we were, but it was easy to keep up after reading a synopsis. The show was pretty funny with some modern day references thrown in occasionally and the actors were terrific, fantastic singing. The orchestra was awesome too; many of the songs were familiar so I’ve probably heard them in Looney Tunes cartoons.
So that’s some of the fun I had last week. I also worked my tail off for school, taking two exams and making progress on a large project for Accounting Information Systems, and that’s what I’m going to work on now. I guess I did have a lot to report.
For some reason last week is a blur. I can’t remember what all I did but I know I did so much. I posted first impressions for four games: Renegade Ops, X-Men, From Dust, and Red Johnson’s Chronicles. I also played the demo for Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and I’ll post my impressions of that tomorrow. I started playing Soul Blazer for the Super Nintendo… and I’m almost done with that. Depending on my schedule I should complete it and have a review this week, maybe next week. My girlfriend and I also completed another level in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure and we played Rock Band 3 with another couple and that was fun. That’s pretty much it for games I guess.
This week was a blur because of school and work too. Work was pretty much the same schedule as always so it’s a constant, but it seems like I did a lot of work in school. Heck, I’m in the middle of helping a classmate as I type this. Anyways, time permitting I’ll have a review of Soul Blazer, demo impressions of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and another demo impression or two this week.
I’m coming to you a little late tonight. After an early day at work, my friend and I spent the day playing some video games and looking for some deals. We began the afternoon by playing X-Men on the Sega Genesis, and it was terrible. It’s not a port of the well regarded arcade game, but a game developed specifically for the Genesis and Game Gear. We couldn’t make it past the first stage, but I’d like to play it solo before I give up on it.
We then tried Spider-Man and Venom: Separation Anxiety (or rather Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety, but I don’t like that title) and it was better, but nothing to write home about. It was a pretty simple beat ’em up and didn’t grab us. Like X-Men, I’m going to play through some of it by myself before I put it on the shelf.
We finally moved on to a standout beat ’em up on the Genesis: Streets of Rage 3. After initially seeing that it fetched a rather high price for a complete copy, we shelved the idea of playing it anytime soon, but I found a copy cheap locally and picked it up, and it’s a blast. I prefer Streets of Rage 2 to it, but it’s still a very good game. We also played Rock Band 3 on the Xbox 360. It was my first time playing that and it’s very good.
After defeating Doom 3, I took a day or two off from focusing on any one game. My girlfriend and I made it past another level in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure on the GameCube and I played a few races in Tube Slider, a futuristic racing game, also on the GameCube, but I took it easy and focused on school and work. I have decided to play through Soul Blazer on the Super Nintendo now. It’s a top-down, action-adventure, hack and slash, role-playing game, and that’s all the descriptive terms for it I can think of immediately. It has a really killer soundtrack.
And that’s pretty much last week in games. I don’t know what I’ll write about this week, but I will have a post or two for sure.
Well I finally posted my Grandia Xtreme review last week. Honestly I didn’t complete the game though. I made it to the boss before the final boss and it was crazy difficult, so I’m going to grind for a long time until I can over power the end bosses. I’ll focus on other games and try to play Grandia Xtreme every now and then; I’ll probably zone out with a podcast and grind some levels.
Besides that I posted two impressions for some demos. The first was Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine which was an okay third-person shooter. It’s worth noting that it’s my only foray into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The other demo I played last week was Hamilton’s Great Adventure, which I thought was a stellar puzzle game.
I didn’t have a lot of time for video games last week; school took up the brunt of my time. I did play OutRun Online Arcade and I should post a review of that this week. My girlfriend and I resumed our game in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure and are making solid progress in that. I also picked up Pokemon HeartGold for the first time in a long time. I played an hour or two of that and took my PokeWalker with me to work for one day, and wound up sending it through the washer; as of now it doesn’t work.
I’ll post my review of OutRun Online Arcade this week, and maybe some demo impressions.
Oh, and I decided to start adding a score to my reviews. Grandia Xtreme is the first game to get a score.
Returning to school last week cut into my gaming/writing time so I was only able to pump out one article: my demo impressions of Bodycount. I was also played the demo for Toy Soldiers: Cold War however and should post my demo impressions of that game tomorrow.
Besides those two demos I did play a few other games. I barely played any Grandia Xtreme but I plan on playing it tonight. I played a little bit of Halo 3 online attempting to clean up my achievements in that game. Surprisingly I played a good deal of OutRun Online Arcade. I purchased this game late last year and played a little then. I’m going to write a review for it, but want to play more of it. I’m expecting late this week or next week for that, pending free time that is. Lastly I played a level of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure with my girlfriend. We’ve played it previously but lost our save file. We definitely want to beat it and I’d like to write about it, but who knows when either will happen.
I’ll post my demo impressions of Toy Soldiers: Cold War tomorrow and we’ll see what else happens this week.