Tag Archives: thar be dragons

MKK: Shujinko & Onaga

Transition!

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance revived the Mortal Kombat franchise, but it was still a game lost in time. Fighting games never truly went away (Tekken bore the burden of an entire genre longer than anyone would have ever expected from a game featuring a panda), but there’s a reason the Playstation 2 era of gaming is known for so many one-player experiences. You couldn’t heart a kingdom or cry up a devil with a buddy, and that was just fine by the public at large. The very concept of an arcade had withered and died, and online play was still a generation away from being stable on consoles (and never mind the internet connections available to most players). In short, multiplayer experiences in MK: DA’s generation were few and far between, and, while there were a few obvious outliers (come and join the Melee!), you couldn’t expect a 2-player fighting game to survive on the meager premise of humans competing.

Make no mistake, the following MK title, Mortal Kombat: Deception is a fighting game through and through. The producers looked at Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, kept what worked (fighting styles, general gameplay, Kenshi), made some tweaks to the formula (added uppercuts across the board, dropped boring arena barriers for death traps, gave Raiden a new hat), and added a few fresh features to keep things interesting (combo breakers and the sensational kharacter find of 2004, Havik). MK: Deception is, of course, a new Mortal Kombat fighting game.

It’s also the game that includes Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat.

Look out!

I’m not going to pretend to know what Mortal Kombat’s curators were thinking during the creation of Mortal Kombat: Deception, but it sure seems like the plan was “We’ve got one of the most popular IPs of the last decade, but it’s tied to a genre that is currently dead. Can we try… everything?” Thus, Mortal Kombat incidentally included a puzzle game. Thus, Mortal Kombat incidentally included a strategy game. And, thus, Mortal Kombat included an entire “adventure mode” that could have been a whole game onto itself.

“Konquest Mode” seems like a loose combination of two of the most popular genres of the PS2 era. On one hand, it’s basically a JRPG, seeing the player steer a chosen one through multiple towns and realms, on an epic quest where “random battles” are swapped for the occasional fighting match. On the other hand, it’s a Grand Theft Auto 3-style clone, with a huge, open world begging to be explored and maybe you can punch a random townsperson in the face for no reason. And, in PS2-era Mortal Kombat fashion, it’s in this mode that you unlock half of the roster and many of the alternate costumes (and other goodies), because you can’t spell “Mortal Kombat” without “You’re going to need a FAQ for these unlockables”.

But if you’re going to have an epic Konquest Mode, you’re going to need an epic story to go along with it. You’re going to need a battle between good and evil the likes of which the Mortal Kombat universe has never seen. You don’t need just a hero, you need the hero. And to match said hero, you’re going to need a villain so incredible, so immense, he’s apparently been hiding in the logo since the first Mortal Kombat tournament.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Onaga, the Dragon King.

Roar

Now, to be clear, all of this kanon was retconned just in time for Mortal Kombat: Deception, but these changes have become “permanent” in the (mostly rebooted) Mortal Kombat universe, so let’s all just accept this story like it’s been there since Mortal Kombat 1. Remember Shao Kahn? The biggest bad of Mortal Kombat that has been a threat to Earthrealm again and again? Well, turns out Shao Kahn is clownshoes. In a time long forgotten, Shao Kahn was merely a minor deity of Outworld, and Onaga ruled the realm. We know it was eventually Shao Kahn that conquered Kitana/Sindel’s home realm of Edenia, but it turns out Onaga was the biggest bruiser in the realms, and many of the universes that were conquered and folded into Outworld were Onaga’s conquests. What’s more, Onaga is a literal dragon, and dragons in the MK universe are literally magic incarnate. As a result, Onaga could regenerate any damaged body parts, and, more importantly, he had the innate ability to revive literally anyone from death. So, Onaga had an army, and that army was literally immortal, because he could just CTRL+Z a bloody battlefield, and all his mans would be alive again. Onaga was an invincible warlord that played on Casual Mode and thus could not be stopped.

Well, until Shao Kahn poisoned him and stole all his stuff.

But Onaga had foreseen that being the most hated person in the universe might lead to an untimely end. As such, he set up something of a contingency plan: the last dragon egg in existence could potentially revive a dead dragon man, so Onaga got a cult together to protect said egg in a lava cave (Shao Kahn famously hates diving in lava [it’s bad for his skin]). Additionally, said cult mummified the Dragon King’s entire army, freeze-dried ‘em in a hidden temple, and basically kept the Dragon King’s seat warm for a few centuries. Onaga was coming back to menace the realms once more, it was just a matter of when…

Toasty!

And when Onaga did return, he would be more powerful than ever (yes, even more powerful than an already unstoppable reptile that can revive the dead). Onaga had learned of the Kamidogu, six (or seven) mystical trinkets that existed in the six main (i.e. plot relevant) realms of the MK universe. If one were to collect all of the Kamidogu, they would be able to go Super Sonic summon Shenron go to the moon finally release Mega Man Legends 3 conquer the whole of the universe and become a god among gods. And, since death is more or less a general inconvenience in the Mortal Kombat universe, Dead-Onaga was now free to flutter about the realms and locate the Kamidogus. Spirit Onaga couldn’t physically do anything, but that could be easily rectified by finding the right kind of idiot to do his dirty work.

And that idiot is the protagonist of Mortal Kombat Deception and its Konquest Mode, Shujinko.

protag!

Wait, crap, I shouldn’t say “protagonist”, because Shujinko literally translates to “protagonist”. I should have saved that trivia/wordplay for later! Dammit!

Okay, as you can likely tell by the name, Shujinko was intended to be the “new” lead of the Mortal Kombat franchise. Liu Kang died last game, Kung Lao, Kitana, and Raiden bit it during the finale of Deadly Alliance, and MK was left without a hero. Shujinko was created to fill that spot, and be a true Mortal Kombat protagonist (dammit): the entire point of the story of Deception was that we would see how Shujinko was not the pure and unerringly good Liu Kang, he was a man that trained all his life to be a martial artist, and he meant to do good, but he was also tainted by a literal lifetime of making hard, “evil” choices in the name of what he believed to be a greater good. By the finale of Deception, Shujinko would be a champion appropriate for the dark Mortal Kombat universe: a man that has nearly brought the world to destruction thanks to his own pride, but one now trying to atone (with uppercuts).

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite that way, because the whole of Mortal Kombat: Deception makes Shujinko look like an idiot.

Which is fine! Shujinko is an idiot! Konquest Mode is a broad, sweeping story of the Mortal Kombat universe that starts when Shujinko is just an overeager boy anxious to be the next MK Champion, and it ends when Shujinko is old and gray (or white). In that time, Shujinko ventures across the realms, battles untold horrors, and learns the fighting styles of many different heroes and villains. But you know what he doesn’t do? Go to goddamn school. Shujinko has, at best, like a third grade education, and then he spends the rest of his life learning how to effectively punch skeletons. And, don’t get me wrong, it is great to know how to properly palm a skull after tearing out an opponent’s spine, but it’s not something that is going to impress college admissions (at most schools). And, of course, it’s not something that is going to teach you that you’ve spent literally your entire lifetime being deceived by a disembodied lizard king.

The protagonist!

So here’s the soup to nuts story of Mortal Kombat: Deception: Konquest Mode. Shujinko was a young monk with big dreams and no other defining features. He lived in a small, pastoral village of other aspiring MK NPCs. One day, a spirit calling itself Damashi visited Shujinko, and claimed that Shujinko was now tasked by the very gods themselves to collect the Kamidogu of the six realms. To aid him in his quest, Shujinko was granted the magical ability to be able to instantly copy any special move that the programmers decided to grant him. Score. This also meant that Shujinko never really had to train or put any effort into anything. Double score!

Shujinko has a generally bad time on his quest. The whole thing kicks off with him being expelled from his idyllic community when he uses a mystical sword to battle a gigantic mantis. Or something. Then he winds up joining a group of assassins just so he can steal the kamiwhatsit of Earthrealm. Then he ventures through Chaos Realm and winds up stuck in some stupid hedge maze for like a decade. Then he literally goes to Hell, and you would think that would require years of therapy, but it just means he has to visit a friendly magical Native American to get his taint removed. And then there was some nonsense where he kinda started a war between Outworld, Edenia, and Order Realm, but it all worked out well (aside from the part where Shujinko spent many of his autumn years in jail). In the end, it wound up being a big, stupid quest that took nearly a century, about twenty game hours, and somehow involved literally every fighter that had ever appeared in Mortal Kombat up to that point (except the Chameleon/Khamelon twins, because we have enough lizards in this plot, thank you). Fun times for everybody! And Shujinko did wind up collecting the kamidoggies, so the Elder Gods are going to be so pleased when he shows up with…

Oh no! This whole quest where Shujinko repeatedly chose the darkest path available on a mission from “god” turns out to have been a ruse all along. Undeterred by the sheer number of orphanages that had to be burned down on his way to collecting magical objects of abject power, Shujinko never suspected that this whole adventure was a sham. A deception! There never was a “Damashi” at all, it was the Dragon King all along! And Dr. Robotnik is really trying to steal the Chaos Emeralds for himself! Who could have foreseen this eventuality!?

The protagonist!

Shujinko hands the sacred items over to “Damashi”, who reveals himself as Onaga, and is all of five seconds away from turning Shujinko into Shujerky when -simultaneous action- Nitara revives the physical Dragon King by accidentally hatching the baby dragon egg and transferring Onaga’s spirit into Reptile’s body. Yes, I know that sounds kind of confusing, but that’s what happens when you weld the ending from one game onto the “new” story of the next game. So now Onaga is physically alive again (thanks to Nitara, not Shujinko), and he (I guess) walks over to where Shujinko stowed all the Kamidogus, grabs ‘em, and then decides to steal the secret seventh Kamidogu, which turns out to be Quan Chi/Shinnok’s amulet. Onaga stomps over to the Deadly Alliance, kills ‘em all (more or less), and kicks off Mortal Kombat Deception: Proper Arcade Mode wielding all seven god gems.

(And, just for funsies, he revives the good guys that were killed by the Deadly Alliance, and reboots his undead army with a few extra warriors. Quan Chi thought this was a great idea.)

So, with the Story Mode of MK: D done, the “real” story of MK: D is that Shujinko gathered all the dorks that he ran into during Konquest Mode, got them all in one loosely defined tournament, and then pulled off one actually smart move: Shujinko has the ability to absorb the powers (and soundbites) of fighters. If you got, like, every fighter all in one room, he could absorb the power of every fighter. So, basically, the tournament that is Mortal Kombat: Deception was all an excuse to power up Shujinko to the point that he could manifest some kind of glowy, rainbow fist, shatter the Kamidogu that were empowering Onaga (you can just… break divine objects?), and then literally punch the soul right out of Onaga’s body. This frees Reptile to just be Reptile again, and Shujinko is now the once and future protagonist of Mortal Kombat. He might have endangered the whole of existence, but at least he fixed it (eventually).

Look out!

And what did our proud protagonist go on to do after his victory over his former patron? Well, Shujinko was still an idiot, so he got tossed in a dungeon by Mileena posing as Princess Kitana. Shujinko claimed that he was doing this to spy on Mileena and the revived Shao Kahn, but all evidence points to Shujinko absolutely not pulling off such a ruse. Shujinko was released in time for the final battle of MK: Armageddon, but, despite every warrior in history being there for the absorbin’, Shujinko still managed to bite it with everybody else. Shujinko was not to be revived for the rebooted universe (give or take a very out-of-character comic appearance), but he was killed in one ending from Mortal Kombat X, and was then again claimed to be killed by an entirely separate kharacter in Mortal Kombat 11. The message is clear: Shujinko is not the protagonist you are looking for.

And what of Onaga? Well, after his defeat, he was revived almost immediately by Shinnok. The “new” Onaga was now inhabiting his revived, “old” body, which was simultaneously a wonderful way to free up Reptile and explain why Onaga was now only super powerful, as opposed to godly powerful. Onaga fought with the official Forces of Evil at the battle of Armageddon… and died with everybody else. You’d think his magical reviving powers would have come in handy there, but, hey, guess his old body just wasn’t quite up to reviving shape. That’s one less cold-blooded emperor Edelgard has to worry about.

Ouch
Double Ouch
Nobody survives the reboot universe

Onaga is referenced repeatedly in the rebooted universe, but doesn’t actually make an appearance. The writers seem to be sowing some interesting plot beats with implications that Shao Kahn and Liu Kang are both using portions of Onaga’s legendary power (whether they know it or not), but the big guy hasn’t popped up yet. This makes sense, as Onaga’s revival was only thanks to basically the accidents of Shujinko and Nitara doing exactly what they were supposed to do exactly when they were supposed to do it, and asking for Shujinko to be successful in two different universes stretches credibility a bit much. Presumably, Onaga is still sleeping under the hill, waiting for the time of Mortal Kombat’s greatest need.

And if anyone else from Mortal Kombat: Deception shows up in future MK games, you know the franchise is in desperate need…

Next time: I will give you $20 if you can tell me who Dairou and Darrius are right now. (offer void in Earthrealm)

FGC #457 Blazing Dragons

Blaze itWhat constitutes a videogame “star”?

Today’s game is Blazing Dragons, a Playstation (1)/Sega Saturn adventure game from nearly 25 years ago. I am also a thing from over 25 years ago, and I purchased this game back when it was new. Well… fairly new. I was a young buck on vacation, and I want to say this Playstation jewel case was glimmering back at me from a discount bin somewhere around Delaware. Under normal circumstances, I likely would have paid Blazing Dragons the same heed I’d grant Bubsy or Gex, but this game featured one important phrase on its cover:

STARRING!
“Starring the voices of Terry Jones & Cheech Marin”

Now, even though I was technically officially a teenager at this point, I could not give less of a damn about Cheech Marin. I was a nerd, and was not nearly cool enough to know anyone that could ever acquire a drug. But, thanks to that previously mentioned nerdity, I could probably quote every third thing Terry Jones had ever said. Yes, I’m sure my audience will be shocked to learn that I was a Monty Python fan, and, just about when Blazing Dragons was new(ish), I was old enough to finally get all those sex jokes that flew completely over my head in my younger years. The Meaning of Life finally made sense! And included tits! Double bonus! Thus, seeing a videogame (my favorite medium!) featuring one of my favorite writers/directors/actors was practically a no-brainer for wee(ish) Goggle Bob. And it was on sale! Score!

HA HA HABut, even as a dedicated Monty Python fan, I could understand why Blazing Dragons was wallowing in the discount bin. It’s a Sierra-esque adventure game with no death conditions (that I could find…) and about three minigames that actually require a controller. So, to begin with, it’s a game practically made for the mouse on a pair of systems that didn’t have (easy) access to that peripheral. Beyond the controls, this is typical adventure game fare, and you must collect every random object lying around the kingdom, and then use it on every other object in a desperate attempt to find the proper solution to puzzles like “where is my corn” (you have to use a sheet) and “save the princess” (you have to use a mirror to hypnotize the court jester and then use a suitcase to dress him up like a lady). It’s clear that the “humor” of this universe applies to the puzzles, so solutions are often deliberately obtuse (sneak into the castle by wrapping prunes in newspaper and then tying it up with ribbon), but at least the lack of failure states means you only have to spend the afternoon clicking (not clicking) one thing against the other until something finally works. And, hey, you’ll probably remember to grab the hair tonic to menace Rapunzel the next time you play, so replays are usually pretty breezy. A speedrun of this game would probably take less time than listening to some nerd act out the whole Knights Who Say Ni bit.

But does the game adequately capture the spirit of Monty Python? Is Terry Jones permeating this little black disc? Heck no. Blazing Dragons does its best to follow the general humor of Monty Python and similar comedies of the 70s/80s. There’s an emphasis on parody here (see, it’s the dragons that are the good guys, and the expy for King Arthur and Merlin are the bad guys), a few fairytales are ribbed beyond the obvious Arthurian parallels, and, of course, there’s the old trope of men imitating women because Michael Bell throwing his voice is always assumed to be funny. And, uh, everyone has outrageous accents, so that helps. Blazing Dragons isn’t exactly a disappointment on the humor front (it is still generally funny, like watching a wannabe billionaire’s toupee flap around in the wind), but it’s certainly no Flying Circus. If you’re attracted to Terry Jones (not like that) (… though maybe like that), you’ll be generally entertained by the maybe 15 minutes of dialogue he recorded for this adventure, but sidesplitting isn’t on the menu.

ALL NIGHT LONGBut Terry Jones is the reason this game is in my collection. I wouldn’t have given it the time of day, but Terry Jones, man. Terry Jones! Life of Brian! Blazing Dragons might have been a dud, but would I buy another product featuring Terry Jones? Spoilers: of course I would (and did)! But another videogame? Well, maybe not. Writing an amazing movie or book doesn’t mean you can make a fun videogame. It might seem obvious, but that was news to me twenty years ago.

But that got me thinking: what star’s name would actually get me to buy a videogame today?

First of all, to get the obvious out the way, a specific actor/comedian/performer isn’t going to cut it. We live in a world where Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas got all of the talent in Hollywood (and James Woods) to show up in 2004, and all anyone remembers from that game is fun times with rocket launchers. Nowadays, we’ve got full motion capture and graphics capable of rendering an actor’s real life eye boogers, and it’s equally useless for creating truly good videogames. Nobody cares if the next Katamari Damacy title (may there be one) features the prince or an undead mocap of Prince: it’s all about rolling those sweet, sweet balls. And even more acting-based games like Telltale’s output may be enhanced by a decent performer in a role, but Tom Cruise isn’t going to make me care about clicking on random objects. Sorry, Maverick, but I’d prefer a maverick hunter.

Burn, babyBut what about the orators of the videogame world? I keep noting actors and writers that were successful in other fields, but not necessarily videogames. Christopher Lambert might play a mean Raiden in a movie, but that doesn’t mean he can deliver the uppercuts required to be a successful thunder god in the digital space. Where are the Spielbergs or Tarantinos of the gaming world? The men and… crap, it’s inevitably going to just be men… the people that can just stick a “presents” on anything in their medium and score a hit, from Ready Player One to Tiny Toons? Where are the videogame rockstars?!

Oh, right, I’m posting this on the eve of the release of Death Stranding, a Hideo Kojima Presents joint. As Kojima has noted on his own Twitter, Kojima Productions started when he had to leave his home at Konami, and was left with only his wit, ingenuity, a dedicated team of professionals, the massive success of every game he ever slapped his name on (except Boktai), and Norman Reedus’s personal cell number. Hideo Kojima managed to transform that grab-bag of practically nothing into a very successful videogame… or at least what is probably going to be a very successful videogame, because, again, as of this writing, the game isn’t even released yet. But! The internet seems to report on everything Kojima says (or when he farts in the general direction of a cosplayer), so Death Stranding is likely going to be an unprecedented (completely precedented) hit. It combines everything you loved about his old games, plus that guy from The Walking Dead peeing! Who could ask for anything more?!

But… this seems familiar to me. I remember the last time an amazing videogame director was ousted from his parent company, and was forced to strike out on his own to create an all-new, maybe slightly familiar franchise. I’m wracking my brain, I just can’t quite remember…

DAMMIT!

Oh. Right.

There are no videogame stars. And never judge a game by its credits. “Stars” are monsters.

FGC #457 Blazing Dragons

  • System: Playstation 1 and Sega Saturn. You’d think there would be a PC version, but I can’t seem to find any evidence of one.
  • Number of players: Solitary dragon quest.
  • Favorite Puzzle: In order to properly impersonate the villain of the piece, you have to grab a mask of his face, and then dunk said mask in a pile of manure. This is possibly the least subtle joke in history, but it does give you a firm grasp of the various odors of this universe.
  • Winner!Other Stars: Cheech ‘n Terry got the cover blurb, but Harry Shearer, Jim Cummings, and Charlie Adler all hit the recording booth for this adventure. The rest of the cast is a murderer’s row of 90’s VA talent, too, even including seemingly the entire cast of Rugrats. How many games can say that? Well, aside from Rugrats: Search for Reptar.
  • Waiting: The load times on this sucker are atrocious, and they occur every ten seconds or so. I’m pretty sure Blazing Dragons is optimized for some system that never hosted the poor thing.
  • Personal Vengeance: This game wiped out my original PSX memory card. I didn’t quite understand what “formatting” meant back in the day, and the instruction manual claims that the “format memory card” option is necessary to save your game. And that’s the story of how I lost my first Wild Arms save.
  • Secret Shame: In my younger days, I had a crush on Princess Flame. Yes, she’s a four-legged, hairless dragon, but I do have a thing for exotic accents, and the heart wants what the heart wants.
  • An end: The finale is basically an extended bit with Terry Jones complaining about adventure game tropes while marginally in character. So put Blazing Dragons in the pile with the other games that aren’t comfortable in their own skin.
  • Did you know? This game was delayed seemingly so it could be released at the same time as an accompanying animated series… that only seemed to air in Canada. And it was completely off-model and vaguely unrecognizable compared to its source game (Princess Flame, what have they done to you?). But Terry Jones got a created by credit, so at least it’s similar enough for the lawyers.
  • Would I play again: How about I just read a FAQ and nebulously recall what happens when you use the pipe cleaner on the termite mound? Sounds about equally enjoyable…

What’s next? There’s a certain holiday coming up, so we’re going to look at a game that is slightly scary. … Or at least it was when I was young enough to dress up every year. What could it be? It’s a trick! Or a treat! Please look forward to it!

Hair today, gone tomorrow

FGC #441 Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II

Here comes some starsThe original StarTropics game was an action/RPG hybrid that saw young Mike Jones venture through some ill-defined “South Seas” Caribbean-esque tropical venues. Mike traversed caves, spoke to parrots, and eventually discovered the source of all of his woes were mysterious aliens. The aliens are well established as antagonists from early on, though (StarTropics), so they’re not completely out of left field in this otherwise mundane adventure about Mike exploring some deadly vacation destinations. In a time when NES titles were often incredibly bonkers, Mike’s quest was arguably simply a much more ordinary Legend of Zelda.

And then we got StarTropics 2. And it was insane-o cuckoo banana pants crazy.

So, in the interest of properly conveying the plot and further adventures of Mike Jones, please enjoy these 30 unmodified images from my playthrough of StarTropics 2. It’s pretty straightforward!







Let’s see what else happens to Mike…

FGC #434 The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link

This is still the coolest part of the gameI have uncovered a startling discovery: all of Link’s problems are not created by Ganon, but the Hyrule monarchy!

Now, let’s be clear here: Ganon is not blameless in his actions. Whether you’re looking at Demise, Ganondorf, or just a bloated pig monster with an over-sized fork, Ganon is irrefutably not a good guy. Yes, he’s a thief from a downtrodden tribe that comes from circumstances, but Ganon is not the root of all evil in Hyrule. That dubious honor belongs to the royal family.

In some titles, this is abundantly obvious. We’ve already discussed Breath of the Wild, and how, had Zelda had just the tiniest bit of foresight, her kingdom would not have fallen to the horrors of technology run amok (though it is nice to see that happen to a nation where Facebook is not involved for once). Similarly, the world of Wind Waker is significantly wetter because the only solution the King of Hyrule had to the Ganon problem was to drown it and literally everything else. Ocarina of Time? More Zelda futzing with prophecies and timelines splitting off because of it. A Link to the Past? Never trust the advisor with blue, clawed hands, kingy. And Twilight Princess? That was a gigantic mess that was caused by not one, but two royal families. And then Zelda made it worse! Basically, we’re looking at the royalty being the number one reason Link can’t just sit around raising cuccos all day long, and has to actually nab a sword from some old man cave.

And while we’re discussing elderly hermits distributing weaponry, yes, this is exactly how The Legend of Zelda started.

A wizard did itEveryone knows the basic plot of the original Legend of Zelda: Ganon kidnaps Zelda, the Triforce of Wisdom is shattered into multiple pieces, and Link is the only one brave enough to save the kingdom. Or he just happened to be around. Actually, it’s probably that latter one, as it is distinctly noted that Zelda sent Impa out to find a hero, and Impa was old and wounded, and… what? Did she literally just go with the first elf she found? Dude didn’t even have a sword yet! Okay, it’s not like Impa imparted any valuable information anyway (“The Triforce pieces are out there! Somewhere! Buy a candle at Famous Cave’s!”), but this was a slapdash effort from the get-go. And why were the Triforce pieces scattered to begin with? Because Zelda had a vision of the coming calamity of Ganon, and her only solution was to “safeguard” the Triforce pieces in a series of marginally hidden dungeons. Did that make a lick of sense? No! You just give the Triforce to someone that can get the hell out of town (I hear there’s a lovely clock city just outside of the kingdom limits), and call it a bloody day. I’ve got news for you Zelda: Link was able to retrieve the Triforce of Wisdom because you hid those pieces poorly. Link was just a dude with a pointy stick, and he still managed to conquer every last dungeon and wind up with more equipment as a result of other dungeon-based goodies. Zelda, do you want Ganon to possess two Triforces and have a raft? Because that’s the end result of your stupid plan if Link had showed up in Hyrule like an hour later. And don’t even get me started on what would happen if multiple people found separate Triforce pieces. Face it, Zelda, you got lucky.

GrrrrBut there was one Princess Zelda that did not get lucky. It is canon that Link had a magical adventure where he teamed up with two different versions of himself and wore a suit made entirely out of bombs, and, sometime thereafter, the royal family of Hyrule required a bit of family counseling. The good King of Hyrule had two children, a boy and a girl. The princess was, obviously, another Zelda, and she was granted knowledge of the Triforce. The boy, whom we’re going to name Prince Don, coveted this shiny, golden treasure, and demanded the Triforce. Zelda would not acquiesce to her greedy, probably orange brother, and Prince Don was forced to take drastic action. He hired a wizard that put Zelda under a sleeping spell for generations. This, obviously, solved exactly zero problems, and Prince Don… uh… does the story elaborate on this at all? I mean… uh… he probably died angry, but he was the only heir, right? He just became king anyway, didn’t he? Totally poisoned a woman in a desperate grab for more power, and he’s rewarded with being the most powerful person in the kingdom anyway. Way to go, prince-y. Good job.

So where was the last piece of the full Triforce, the Triforce of Courage? You know, the secret that Zelda was Sleeping Beauty’ed for? Well, turns out that Prince Don’s dad realized his son was a real crumb-bum, and decided to split the complete Triforce, and hide a solid third of it in a dungeon. Sound familiar? However, this Hyrulian monarch knew exactly what he was doing. Somehow “in secret”, the King of Hyrule…

  1. Hid the Triforce of Courage in The Great Palace of the Valley of Death
  2. Populated the Great Palace with a variety of traps and monsters
  3. Placed an impenetrable barrier around the Valley of Death
  4. Scattered the source of the barrier spell into six crystals
  5. Built six temples to house alters that would activate those six crystals
  6. Populated those temples with six unique boss monsters, and a host of lesser, more annoying regular monsters
  7. And then, just for good measure, cast some weird-ass incantation that would make a hand-tattoo appear on whoever was worthy of finally traipsing through those palaces

Hey, Prince? Bad news: even if you knew where to look, there was no way you were going to make it past Horsehead and the Valley of Death or even your first Iron Knuckle. Your dad screwed you but good, princey.

And, bad news, he screwed Link, too.

GrossThe Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link is widely considered to be one of the most difficult The Legend of Zelda adventures. Some attribute this to the 2-D perspective being fairly half-baked, and not at all designed around Link’s butter-knife based offensive abilities. Some blame the magic system, which is inventive, but too many monsters and areas require specific spells, so you’re always running at a magical deficit. And there is certainly some merit to the claim that the experience system is opaque at best, and downright punishing at worst. How are you supposed to get anywhere when some damn flying eyeball is leeching your EXP every five seconds!?

But, no, that all pales before the real reason The Adventure of Link is so difficult: The King of Hyrule hated his son. Dude did not just hide the Triforce, he created a treasure hunt that spread across two continents. He devoted great swaths of Hyrulian resources toward building temples containing boiling lava and holographic walls. And, lest that King think his son had the slimmest chance of throwing those unlocking jewels around, for some damn reason, the King of Hyrule summoned a freakin’ fire breathing dragon just to protect one palace. And that cyclops! Where does one even find food for a cyclops, left alone satisfying other cyclopean biological needs!? The King of Hyrule went to a lot of trouble to arrange this massive undertaking for the exclusive purpose of waylaying his own son. Couldn’t he have just taken the kid to soccer practice? Shown up for a few more school plays? You have the Triforce, King! You could have just wished for your son to be a little less of an asshole! You didn’t have to construct a hover-horse!

I hate youAnd then Link got stuck dealing with the fallout of that failed royal relationship. Lucky guy, that Link. An army of monsters are trying to drain his blood to revive their piggy master, and he’s got to deal with generational family therapy for some royals he’ll never know.

It’s called The Legend of Zelda for a reason. It’s The Legend of Zelda Really Messing Up Some Poor Elf’s Day.

FGC #434 The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System initially, and then the Gamecube collection, and then I’m pretty sure every Nintendo system since. Currently available on Switch!
  • Number of players: Link is going to have to deal with this mess alone.
  • Favorite Spell: It might just be a way to conserve assets, but granting Link a spell where he transforms into a fairy was certainly a bold choice. And it’s a useful spell, too! Who needs all this jumping when you can just fly?
  • No. 3 Tryforce: I like how the first Zelda sequel introduced a new Triforce. I feel like this tradition should have continued, and, by the time of Breath of the Wild, Link has to collect 25 different Triforces, finally culminating with the Triforce of Muted Apathy.
  • I WINAn End: (Almost) Always restarting in Zelda’s sleep chamber has the excellent side effect of making the ending and final scene of the game in Zelda’s temple rather thrilling. Way to work the emotions with limited bits, Nintendo.
  • What’s in a Name: This was the first Zelda game to stick Link’s name in the title. So much for being an unnamed adventurer/player avatar, Nintendo! He’ll never be the most popular protagonist in all of videogames now, guys!
  • Land of the Rising Fun: There are a number of differences between the Japanese and International versions. Seemingly the biggest change in Japan is that Gooma, the cyclops with a morning star boss of the Palace on the Sea, does not appear at all, and is replaced with a second encounter with Jermafenser, the dude with too many heads. America: land of the myopic.
  • Did you know? Ganon’s laugh is the same sound sample used for Soda Popinski in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. This raises all sorts of timeline issues…
  • Would I play again: Anyone that says they enjoy this game is a liar. Or they haven’t played it recently. Or I’m being hyperbolic, and I’m just angry at anyone that can get through Death Valley without abusing save states. So many eyeball ghosts! So much lava! I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for the Nintendo Switch! Oh boy! We’re going to go somewhere or another, eevee! Please look forward to it!

Get 'em
That is how you do it. You’re welcome.