Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Breath of the Wild is one, big Rocky montage


On a recent episode of the Error Machine Podcast, we delved deep into the world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The nearly two hour episode covered everything from the hype surrounding the game to our littlest of nitpicks to the build up for the final battle. On the podcast, Erik Snedegar brought up an excellent point when he said that the entire game is just hype for the final battle with Ganon, and that couldn't be a more apt way to sum up the game.


Don't misunderstand me, there is a whole lot more to the game than just "go here, do this," and I wouldn't dare trivialize everything it does right by saying so. The ultimate goal of the game is to, of course, kill Ganon and free Princess Zelda, which is the same basic plot we've seen in many Zelda titles. But every previous game in the series required specific boxes to be checked and certain obligations to be fulfilled before facing the ultimate evil.

Here, however, your goal is singular, and that is, as it says on your Adventure Log during the entire game: "Destroy Ganon."


I did every optional piece of the main quest, and with each successive Divine Beast I tamed and every subsequent boss I bested, the anticipation and anxiety of my eventual confrontation with this supreme evil only grew that much greater. The cutscenes that would follow each "dungeon" featuring the fallen Champions were nothing more than exposition in which the Champion explained how they were too weak to defeat Ganon and that they'd been waiting 100 years for another opportunity.

Even something as small as learning recipes that could be used to make more powerful elixirs and meals that would replenish more life felt like skills that would help in the final approach. Every time I learned something new, every time I would cash in Korok seeds for a new inventory slot, every time I would use Spirit Orbs to increase my health or stamina, when I found the Master Sword, when I would upgrade my armor, every single thing that I did in the game, no matter how great or small, felt like reaching the summit of a new mountain.


The Rocky film that Breath of the Wild seems most comparable to is Rocky IV. At this point, Rocky is the champion and is considered the best boxer in the world. He's rich and famous and is living the American dream. He even has a robot, which is the easiest way to point out human success.

An amateur boxer from the Soviet Union by the name of Ivan Drago shoots up the ranks, challenges former champion and Rocky's best friend, Apollo Creed, to an exhibition fight, which results in the Russian fighter killing Apollo in the ring. Rocky has no choice but to challenge Drago and avenge his fallen comrade. The montage that takes place before the fight is pure cinematic gold.



Even though Rocky is the champion, he's the underdog. He chooses to fight Drago on his home turf in front of a crowd of hostile Russians, and even his own wife doesn't believe he has what it takes to defeat Drago. This is not unlike the story of Breath of the Wild. Link is the Hylian "Champion," he enters Hyrule castle--which has been overtaken by hostile enemies--to fight Ganon, the one who killed his friends, and even some of the other Champions and townsfolk doubt Link's ability to win the battle.


In the end, good triumphs over evil, Rocky knocks out Drago (spoilers for that, too, I guess), Link bests Ganon and seals him away, and all is well. I must say that if you take the time to tame the Divine Beasts, the beginning of the final battle is well worth that effort. It has a great build up, a satisfying payoff, and tasks you with putting all of your previous learned skills to the test. It's the culmination of an 80-hour montage


If there were anything that I could count as disappointing in the game, it's the lack of a human form for Ganon. All game long it's pounded into your head that you have to beat Calamity Ganon and that's he's the purest form of evil in the world, but you're never told exactly why or how he got to be this way. We don't get any face to face confrontation, no stare down, no villainous monologue, just a boss fight.

This does not, however, make victory any less sweet.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to check me out everywhere else.
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Error Machine Podcast 106 - Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


For the first time in over a year (probably), Erik Snedeger returns to the Error Machine Podcast to help the rest of us heap loads and loads of praise upon The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We don't spoil anything but still manage to talk about a lot of different aspects of the game, including experiences that no one else among us has encountered.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Resident Evil 7's success and what it means for Capcom




Resident Evil 7 is officially a success for Capcom. The game has already recouped its development costs with 2.8 million units sold worldwide thus far. Interestingly, this pales in comparison to the amount of units sold for the two previous numbered entries, Resident Evil 5 (8.08 million), and Resident Evil 6 (7.83 million), though its still very early in the game's life.

However, there's one thing that needs to be taken into consideration when comparing Resident Evil 7 with RE5/RE6. Not only is Resident Evil 7 a success financially, but it was also a huge critical success, garnering very high and even some perfect scores from major review outlets.

After Resident Evil 5--despite being what I consider an underrated game--deviated even further from the paths set by the early games than even Resident Evil 4 did, fans started begging for the Resident Evil franchise to return to its horror roots. What we instead got with Resident Evil 6 was a game that was too big for its own britches.

This is six protagonists too many.

It was 25 hours longer than it had any right to be, was overly convoluted, and added gameplay mechanics that fans never expected to see in their beloved franchise, like swimming sections, car chases, Michael Bay levels of explosions, a cover-shooting system (expanded from the one introduced in RE5), a stamina meter, and way too many cutscenes. Resident Evil was having an identity crisis. It couldn't tell if it was Resident Evil, Call of Duty, Gears of War, or Metal Gear Solid, so it tried to be all of them and succeeded at being none of them.

I'll go on record and say that I think the Revelations spin-off games are excellent and should be played by any fan that may have skipped them. But it seemed Resident Evil was content with fading into obscurity after the abysmal Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps receiving many "Worst Game of the Year" awards in 2016.

Congratulations?

Then Resident Evil 7 breathed new life into Capcom's dying IP. As someone who has been a fan of the series since its outset, I can say that the game deserves the high praise and perfect scores that it's receiving. So many things were done right. To me, the two things that make a truly good survival horror game are making the player feel vulnerable at all times and making you not want to progress in the game.

That second one seems counter-intuitive to general videogame design, but survival horror fans don't come to the genre to feel good about themselves, they enjoy the tension and the rush of not knowing what's ahead. Several times during my playthroughs I would hear a tapping on the windows or footsteps on the floor above me, making me dread my inevitable trek up the stairs.

Mainly to avoid creepy grandma at all costs.

I could sit here and lavish praise upon RE7 all day, but what I really want to discuss is what this means for the future of Capcom.

I'm 31 years old, and the first time I picked up a videogame controller was at the age of 3 with the NES. Two game companies that I grew up with were Capcom and Konami. Contra, Castlevania, and Metal Gear are three of my favorite series of all-time, but because of the changing climate in games development, it's unlikely that I'll ever see anything outside of spiritual sequels to these franchises (don't you dare try to tell me that Metal Gear Survive is a true sequel, I'll have none of it).


So with Konami lying in the grave and waiting to have the dirt piled on, my attention turns to Capcom, who are also responsible for delivering some of my favorite games ever. Despite positive reviews, Street Fighter V left a sour taste in the mouths of fans due to all that it was lacking in terms of the overall user experience. Devil May Cry was unnecessarily rebooted with a redesigned Dante that no one liked. Conversely, Dead Rising 4 relied too heavily on the appeal of its main character and delivered a sub par open-world experience. And finally, we have Mega Man, who has been MIA since 2010.

Mighty No. 9 turned out to be a colossal flop, but the one thing it did have was a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Keiji Inafune was very forthcoming with what Mighty No. 9 was: a spiritual sequel to the Mega Man franchise. The game may have burned a lot of fans by the time it was released, but if anything, that Kickstarter should have sent a message to Capcom that we do, in fact, want to play these games and are willing to give you money to do so.

Perhaps even too much money.

Resident Evil 7 received praise for returning to its roots and giving us the type of experience that made us fall in love with the series to begin with. However, critical praise doesn't pay the bills, so it's understandable why Capcom would continue to deviate from the traditional Resident Evil formula until it eventually became a (terrible) competitive shooter. One can only hope that Resident Evil 7 winds up selling close to the same numbers as RE5/RE6, so as to prove to Capcom that what's old is new again.

There's no game that I can think of that Capcom could make that I would want more right now than a new Mega Man game in the style of Mega Man X. To me, that's when the series was at its peak, and unfortunately I've had to resort to games other than Mega Man, like the Azure Striker Gunvolt series, to scratch that itch.


From the bottom of my heart, I hope that Capcom takes the ball and runs with it. I'm truly rooting for them to make a gigantic comeback, and hope that Resident Evil 7's momentum propels them to future greatness.

-TheDustinThomas

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