Thursday, 2 March 2017

Top 5 Worst Zelda Games

At the time of writing this blog entry, there is just one more day until the release of Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. So what better time to talk about the peak of adventure gaming than the day before a new Zelda game comes out?

I could talk about my top 5 Zelda games, but the problem with that is, no matter which five I pick, someone, somewhere is going to get insanely angry that I didn't put their favourite on the list. So, if people are going to be offended anyway, why not go all out and do something that everyone will get angry at? Talking about the WORST games in the franchise!

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to The Red Fleece's Top 5 Worst Legend of Zelda Games!


In all honesty, Phantom Hourglass isn't really that bad a game. It actually had some good stuff going for it. It's a portable sequel to Wind Waker with modified sailing mechanics and the touch controls work well. But the big problem with the game is it's main dungeon- The Temple Of The Ocean King. You have to keep returning to this central dungeons, repeating the same floors, doing the same block puzzles over and over and over again. As if that wasn't enough, doing so on a time limit, with invincible phantom enemies that can drain huge chunks of your time in one hit makes this dungeon the most frustrating water themed area in the series. Give me the water temple from Ocarina of Time any day!


Skyward Sword is basically the Frozen of the Zelda series. Not horrible, just not as good or as original as people claim it to be.

Unlike Phantom Hourglass, this game doesn't suffer from one gigantic problem, but several reasonably large problems that add up to a less enjoyable experience: Such as the empty over world in the sky, the linear game progression and having to repeat the frustrating boss fight with The Imprisoned numerous times.

A lot of people praise this game for it's story, but for me personally, the story seemed pretty cliché and just overstayed it's welcome. Let's begin with the story's biggest pain in the arse- Fi.

Take everything you found annoying about Navi, multiply it several hundred times, give her zero personality and have her repeat every-single-direction another character gives you- You've just experienced Fi. The NPC has just told me to go to the Volcano Dungeon. I REALLY don't need Fi butting in with “Master, I have calculated an 88.65% that you should go to the Volcano Dungeon.”
Fi, I have calculated a 100% chance that you are the most annoying companion character in the history of Hyrule.

Everyone gushes over the relationship between Link and Zelda in this title; what, you mean that cliché anime childhood friend twaddle? It's just a carbon copy of Link's relationship with Ilia in Twilight Princess and Saria in Ocarina of Time. Hell, it's not even the first time he's had this sort of relationship with Zelda herself- they were childhood friends in Minish Cap. Or does that game not count because it's on a handheld and not a home console? First time Zelda actually had a personality? In Minish Cap, she's bubbly, fun loving and down to earth. Sounds like a personality to me!

Like our previous entry, Skyward Sword does have redeeming qualities. I love the orchestral soundtrack (it actually reminds me of my childhood watching The Dreamstone) and I found the motion controls fun to work with. Its definitely not the worst Zelda game (there are three more spaces on this list after all!), but I do think its the most overrated.


Before I begin, I'd just like to clarify something- I am not hating on Link's Crossbow Training just because it's a shooter instead of an action adventure game. That would be like hating on Mario Kart or Mario RPG just because they aren't platformers. Bashing a game just because it's not the genre I expected would be narrow minded and childish...okay, admittedly I am a narrow minded and childish person, but that's beside the point!

The reason Link's Crossbow Training is on the list is simply because there's really nothing to it other than shooting. It's really just a showcase for the Wii Zapper peripheral with a Zelda theme. There's no story so all you're doing is shooting to get a high score. It doesn't even have a good multiplayer mode. You have to take it in turns passing the zapper around. They could have at least given us a split screen battle mode, like in Golden Eye. Even just adding a story mode would have made for a more satisfying one-player campaign.

Rail Shooters and First Person Shooters can be fun games, as long as they're done well. Think of games like Doom, Time Crisis, or even Nintendo's own Metroid Prime series. Shooting games that still gave you a sense of adventure.


The last three titles that I've talked about all had their flaws, but there was still some fun to be had. Now we move on to the really bad Zelda games- Wand of Gamelon and Faces of Evil. Much like Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, these two CDI exclusives were different games, but two sides of the same coin (hence why I've put them here together). Due to their high price on the market, they are two of the only Zelda games that I haven't actually played.

But isn't it narrow minded to call these games two of the worst, when you haven't actually played them?”

Yes, it is. Even if they are infamous for their bad controls and frustrating level design. But horrible gameplay isn't why I've placed them so high on the list.

Two words- YouTube Poop.

The infamous cutscenes in these two games are one of the biggest reasons YouTube Poop exists.

And that is why they are on the list.


Triforce Heroes...without a shadow of a doubt, the worst Zelda game that I've ever played. Nintendo was so focused on multiplayer that they left the single player story mode virtually unplayable. In said single player, you are accompanied by two dummy Links, who remain stationary until you switch your soul into them. To progress through the level, you have to either carry them totem style or keep switching between the three. Ridiculously tedious.

Now, the Anniversary Edition of Four Swords on the 3DS was also geared towards multiplayer, but you could still have a decent single player experience- the other Link followed when you whistled and automatically performed the actions that you needed to do to get past the obstacles. Triforce Heroes doesn't have anything like that. And because the bosses are geared towards you using your Totem formation to hit the weak spots with Top Link, Middle Link or Bottom Link, fighting them becomes a complete nightmare.

When you actually try to go through the game in Multiplayer, teaming up with two random people, it still doesn't help. Mostly because of all the trolls who drop out in the middle of the stage, meaning that the entire party has to return to the hub.

So why don't you just play it with friends that you know you can trust?”

Simple. None of my friends own the game. It really is that bad, nobody I know wants it.

So there's the list of my Top 5 Worst Zelda games, OR the 2 (technically 3) Worst and 3 of The Least Best. Will this list change when Breath of the Wild comes out tomorrow? Hopfully not. I'm cautiously optimistic about the new entry to the series. While this list does show that even the Zelda franchise can have a rotten apple or two, Nintendo does learn from past mistakes, as is the case with the HD re-release of Twilight Princess for the Wii U. It no longers interupts the game to remind you of how much the blue, red, yellow etc rupees are worth and it allows you to skip the cut scenes. 

Now if you'll "Excuuuse me, Princess/Prince", I'm off to change into my Goron Tunic to protect myself from the incomming flames being fired at my unpopular opinions.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The True Villain of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?

Happy January 5th! Also known as the twelfth day of Christmas, or if you're a theatre buff, twelfth night.

I've been watching a lot of Game Theory and Film Theory as of late, so I thought it would be fun to try doing a similar styled theory of my own. So what better piece of entertainment to cover on twelfth nigth, than Twelfth Night?

Written as late New Year's entertainment, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night or What You Will, has a lot of similarities with a traditional pantomime. Very straightforward, some people say. Viola's the heroine and Malvolio is the de-facto villain, right?

Well, I'm sorry to say, that is a false conclusion. I hate it as an unfilled can (or an antiperspirant that doesn't work).

People often label Malvolio as the villain, but when you pay attention to his actions during the play, he never actually does anything wrong, legally or morally. So, he's not really a villain at all. Arrogant- yes, ambitions- yes, in possesion of an ego the size of Seattle- oh, God, yes...

But evil? Not really.

What's that you say? He antagonises Viola? Well, yes, he's rude to her, when he gives her Olivia's ring and tells her not to come back, but remember- who was it that told him to do that? Hmmm, name's just on the tip of my tonge...Oh yes! It was Olivia!

Really, you can't fault the man, just for doing what his employer asks of him, can you?

In fact, the most antagonistic he gets is when he puts a damper on Sir Toby's drinking party, threatening to kick them out of the house if they don't behave. Seriously, that's the worst thing Malvolio does- tell a bunch of party animals to keep the noise down. For years, this poor man has been labelled a villain, just for doing his job.

“Ah! Then the villain must be Sir Toby!” I hear you say “Of course! He's the one playing pranks on everyone, instigating fights with the twins and setting Olivia up with Sir Andrew! Of course, he must be the real villain!”

Again, a false conclusion, more hated than an unfilled can, or a season finale of The Big Bang Theory that ends on a cliff hanger, so I have to wait another year or so before...

Anyway, Sir Toby Belch, the portly partaker of pickled herrings isn't the villain either. This may come as a shock to you, but Toby is actually the true protagonist. And before you ask, no, I'm not just saying that out of narcissism, because I actually played Sir Toby in a local production of Twelfht Night (or What You Will)...okay, I suppose it is parly out of narcissism...but I can back up my claim with evidence. Firstly Sir Toby has the most lines out of any character in the play.

No, I'm not making this up. 343 lines, just above Viola's 335. 


Numbers aside, Toby's actions through the play aren't really villainous either. A common misconception is that he's trying to arrange a marriage between Olivia and Sir Andrew, so Toby can help himself to Andrew's family fortune. But if that were the case and Toby was just marrying her off for money, why is he helping Andrew instead of Orsino?

Considering that Orsino is the one who governs Illyria, it makes sense that he would not only have higher social status but more money. If Toby was just trying to marry Olivia off for cold hard cash, why set her up with a buffoonish knight when he could just barter with the Duke himself?

Because he and Andrew are friends. He simply wants Olivia to be with someone he knows that he can trust. I mean, Orsino has no sympathy for the fact that Olivia's still in morning for her late brother. Not exactly winning any points with the family, Orsino.

While it's true that Toby does play some mean spirited pranks, that's really all they are- pranks. He does instigate fights between Andrew and other people, but he knows when his pranks have gone too far. Both times when it escalated into the actual drawing of weapons, Toby stood up for Andrew against Antonio and later Sebastian, only relenting when the officers (or his cheesed off niece) show up.He's pretty down to earth, too. His relationship with Olivia's chambermaid Maria is actually a lot better fleshed out and more believable than the ones either of twins end up it.

So who are the real villains?

Not Malvolio, not Toby or Maria, not even Feste. 

It is in fact the twins themselves.

Yes, Viola and Sebastian, the cover girl and poster boy of modern adaptaions are the real villains of Twelfth Night (or What You Will). These two, who have been hailed as heroes are in fact, shallow, dishonest, opportunistic gold-diggers.

Now, since it's ladies first, we'll start with Viola, one of the most two-faced characters in Shakespeare's entire cannon of work.

First thing to address is the fact that she spends most of the play lying through her teeth, introducing herself as a boy named Cesario. Hell, her real name isn't even mentioned until the final scene. One thing that's puzzled me lately is WHY Viola dresses up as a boy? If she needed to find work, she could have just got a job as a maid, like Maria.

Put simply- more money.

Disguised as a man, she would not only earn higher wages, but would also have better prospects for promotion. Hey, it is still the 16th century, after all.

In fact in the very first scene, she asks the ship's captain “Who governs here?”. Right here, she's planning on going right to the top, seeking out the man in charge of Illyria and disguising herself as a boy, not only for higher wages, but also to get close to the Count.

In the following scene she and Orsino share, where she utters “Myself would be his wife...” Orsino never actually shows any attractive qualities. Most of his dialogue is either gushing over Olivia or telling Cesario lines that in modern English, translate to “You look like a girl.” So, what does Viola see in him? Well, first of all, money, as we've already established- she doesn't see a potential husband, she sees a walking £££ sign (or at least Illyria's equivalent of a pound sign.)
Though another possibility is that she's just sick of hearing Orsino going on and on and on about Olivia when there's a perfectly good set of female organs right in front of him.

Hmm...compulsive liar, motivated by greed, jealousy and ambition...traits you'd associate with the villain. Know what other characters in Shakespear's works share these traits?

Claudius in Hamlet, Iago in Othello, the title character of Macbeth.

Oh, just a minute, I need to do the superstition


So Viola is really a manipulative gold-digger and not the goody-goody heroine modern adaptations try to paint her as.

But as vile a person as Viola is, she's not a patch on her horrible brother Sebastian.

Lets start with the company he keeps- the notable pirate Antonio. He rescues Sebastian from the shipwreck and takes him to Illyria, yet doesn't ask for anything in return. He follows Sebastian into enemy territory, knowing full well that Orsino's men are on the look out for him and even lends Sebastian his purse. This all seems...surprisingly generous for someone who's CV lists pillaging, plundering and looting as special skills. Sure, you could just say that Antonio is doing all of this out of the kindness of his heart. Like Captain Jack Sparrow, it is possible to both a pirate and a good man, but why would Antonio risk his life and lend a large amount of money (all he has on him , apparently), for someone he's only just met?

To answer that question with a question- what if they've actually met before the events of the play?

Back in Act 1 scene 2, the ship's Captain tells Sebastian's money hunger sister-

I saw your brother, most provident in peril, bind himself, (Courage and hope both teaching him the practice), to a strong mast that lived upon the sea.”

Captain Nameless claims that it's “courage and hope” teaching Sebastian how to tie himself to a mast, but that's all it is- a claim. I have a theory that the twin with the Y chromosome already knew how to do that. What I propose is that Sebastian is himself... a pirate.

It would explain why a salt water thief like Antonio is willing to stretch his neck out for him without asking for something in return. 

But, of course, that's just speculation.

If you want actual evidence of what a nasty, evil person Sebastian is, you only have to look at his behaviour in act 4.

After Andrew belts him one, believing him to be Cesario (whom Andrew has reason to believe abandoned his friend Antonio and fled their duel. So Andrew's actually doing somehting wrong for the right reason), Sebastian beats him up and then goes for his weapon. Toby, seeing that he's got Andrew in trouble again, tries to defuse the situation by grabbing Sebastian's arm and threatening to throw his knife over the fence. Sebastian breaks free and pulls his knife on Toby, who in turn is forced to draw steel in self defence.

So, just to reiterate- Sebastian pulled a knife, durring a fist fight, and threatened a man who was simply trying to break it up.

Then Olivia storms on gives Toby a bollocking, believing him to be the one at fault (if something stinks, it's usually The Belch. Yes, I was looking for a way to sneak a Phoenix Wright reference in here. =P ), she then takes Sebastian aside, also believing him to be Cesario and proposes marriage. Shallow Scallywag Seb agrees to marry Olivia, simply because she's beautiful and obviously rich.

Again, to reiterate- he takes advantage of a woman who's mistaken him for somebody else.

Then in the final scene, Andrew and Toby stagger on, after Sebastian beats them up. Round 2 of Delinquent vs Dunken Knight obviously happened off stage, so we're supposed to believe that the Laurel and Hardy of Illyria jumped him again, only to get their clocks cleaned. Well, what do you expect? Toby's niece, the only family he has left has just married a violent sociopath that she literally only just met. Of course Toby's going to be angry at his niece being taken advantage of! What would any self respecting parental figure do?! Most adaptions of this final scene also show Toby to be drunk at time, so there's also Sebastian beating up a man who's too drunk to fight back.

It looks like a happy ending because those shady twins have married rich and attractive nobles. But audiences overlook the fact that Olivia is now shackled to a violent and shallow man she that she doesn't even know. No sympathy goes to poor Malvolio, falsely imprisoned and humiliated. It's like “Who cares! The twins are happy and that's all that matters!”

Therein lies to real tragedy of Twelfth Night (or What You Will). The bad guys get everything they want without trying, while the real heroes are beaten, disgraced and humiliated. Despite their best efforts they failed to save Olivia from the clutches of an evil, bad tempered and cruel scrounger.

Like they say in the anime, Ouran High School Host Club- Twins with too much time on their hands are the devil. 

So do you agree with my interpretation of the characters? Or are you now after a pint of my malapert blood? Please, let me know in the comments. Please be aware, I'm not trying to ruin the play for you, I'm just having bit of fun. Hey, the fact that I've even come up with this over the top fan theory proves that Shakespeare's work is still enjoyable after 400 years.
Have a great twelfth night and remember- don't follow Toby's example. He's the 16th century star of “Why let good times go bad.”

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Harvest Moon Memories

A couple of weeks ago, the Gameboy Color port of Harvest Moon was released for the 3DS Virtual Console. This was actually the very first game in the Harvest Moon franchise that I ever played. Since I've recently got back into the series, I figured it would be a good time  to talk about some Harvest Moon games and share some memories of the franchise with my readers (though not as good a time as two weeks ago when it was actually released!).

Years ago, when Harvest Moon GBC was first released in England, I remember reading about it in a magazine. I can't remember if it was Computer & Video Games or Official Nintendo Magazine, but I do remember that the game received a very good score. So I bought it and it turned out to be really addictive.

The problem is, my brother wanted a turn. You could only have one save slot so he erased my save file and hogged the game for himself. My dad said that we should share it. I don't really see why, considering that I'm the one who bought the game with my own money, but whatever. So you know what I did? I saved up and bought another copy.

Yeah, that's one way to make more money; have only one save file, so if the gamer has a sibling with entitlement issues, they have to buy another copy!

But anyway, the gameplay is actually quite therapeutic. Even today, playing it for a while is an effective cure for a bad mood. It was so satisfying to see your crops ready for harvesting and making money. Saving up to buy animals or improve your house always gave you something to look forward to.

Years later, I found out about some other games in the series. I was able to play the original Harvest Moon for the Super Nintendo and, unsurprisingly, it was even better. The game world was bigger, the festivals were better and more engaging and you could marry a local girl.

It is, just as long as it's not snowing...

 A while after that, I was browsing Youtube and I saw a video in which a gamer listed his top 5 Harvest Moon games. I found it very interesting, so I decided to go and try some of them. I went on Ebay and bought a copy of Harvest Moon: Friends Of Mineral Town for the Gameboy Advance. When it arrived, I spent the following week with the GBA practically glued to my hands.

It combined the simple pick-up-and-play feel of the Gameboy Harvest Moon with the elaborate game world and dating system of the console titles. It had memorable characters, entertaining cutscenes and the system for upgrading your tools was much better this time. This is the kind of game you pick up to play for a few minutes while waiting for a youtube video to load and the next thing you know, it's four o' clock in the morning by the time you bring yourself to turn it off!

But the good times couldn't last forever. I turned the game on one evening to discover the message "There is no saved data." I pressed B to get back to the title screen. I selected "Continue" again and this time the file came up. It happened again a few days later and this time it took more times entering and exiting the file menu for my file to finally appear. As the days went on, it became worse and worse. Obviously, something was wrong with the cartridge. Perhaps my save file had become corrupted or the battery that powers the memory was dying.

So, yeah. Great game, but my save file seems lost forever.

Then, on 3DS, I turned to The Tale Of Two Towns, the latest Harvest Moon title to be released in Europe (I know there's also Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, but that game isn't available in Europe, at least not yet). Looking at the name, I couldn't help but think of Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities. I also like the artwork on the cover. That's a good selling point, if you can grab a gamer's attention just from the box art! I'd been thinking about getting it for a while but couldn't decide on whether to but the standard DS version or pay a bit more for the 3DS version. One day, I noticed that GAME had the 3DS version marked down to £19.99. Then I decided "Yeah! Why not?"

When I started playing, it was a bit slow paced at the beginning. The mayor keeps visiting you every morning to explain a new gameplay mechanic. It was annoying at first, but when you get to farming, it's just as fun and addictive as ever. One thing I like is that you can dig trenches to plant your seeds in. These allow you to water a bunch of crops with a single pour of the watering can. Another great thing about this game, is that your farm pets (dogs, cats etc) actually serve a function this time. When they have a high enough relationship level, they can herd your livestock outside for you on sunny days. It's great that the game has all these features to make things less tedious. 

The characters are great too, like Howard, the hilariously flamboyant owner of the cafe, Sheng the panda loving blacksmith and the two mayors, Ina and Rutger who bicker as sitcom arch enemies do best. Then there's The Harvest Goddess. Her appearance and mannerisms remind me of Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus Uprising. The dialogue in the game with definitely make you smile if not outright laugh.

You also have the option of going on dates with potential spouses. This is a good opportunity to increase your relationship level with them. The only bad thing about this is that going on dates is the only way to trigger their "Heart Events" and you need to see all of them if you want to marry them. The heart events are triggered by going on a date to a specific place on a specific day. Some of these events you can find easily, but with others, you may have to look at a guide on the Internet.
Another interesting thing about the dating system is that going on dates with a potential spouse builds "Jealousy points" in other bachelor(ette)s. When they reach 10 points they get mad at you and won't accept any gifts or request deliveries until you apologise. While this may seem like an inconvenience, they usually give you the chance to apologise right away and I think it adds a bit more personality to the characters.

On the day I bought Tale Of Two Towns, I was looking through the Wii titles as well. I was flipping through the "H" section when I stumbled upon this-

I remember in the Top 5 Harvest Moon games video, Magical Melodyy was Number 2, just below Friends of Mineral Town. It came as a surprise to see that there was a version on the Wii, as I heard that it was a Gamecube title. Then again, Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released on both consoles, so again, why not? The price was £7.99. Pretty good and I had heard that it was a great game, so I bought it.

The graphics reminded me of Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker with it's "chibi" characters and anime cell shading (Wow, two Zelda references in the same blog entry for the same game). The music was great too. My favourite track in the game is the "Spring" theme.

The game also seems to bank on nostalgia; it takes place in Flower Bud village, like the original SNES version and the N64 sequel. The five original bachelorettes from the first game also return. Characters from other games are thrown into the mix too, like the cast of Save The Homeland for the PS2. Nami from A Wonderful Life also makes an appearance during the Summer. This game is basically a love letter to the franchise, bringing characters from all these other instalments together.

Since then, I've been playing other Harvest Moon titles as well, but if I talk about every game that I've played, I'll be sitting here typing till next week. I just wanted to talk about how I got into the series and bring some attention to the Gameboy Color game's Virtual Console release.

You heard Ann. Go buy it.

 It may be a watered down port of the original Super Nintendo version, but it's every bit as fun and addictive. There were two sequels, also on Gameboy Color, but the third one was never released in Europe. Harvest Moon 2 had a bigger game world and Harvest Moon 3 brought back the dating and marriage system. They are also notable for being the only Harvest Moon sequels that were actually numbered, besides the Rune Factory titles on the DS.

Hopefully, if the first Gameboy Color game sells well enough, Nintendo will release the sequels on Virtual Console too.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Link To The Past Vs Minish Cap

The Legend of Zelda is the pinnacle of adventure gaming. It’s a series that’s been going strong for decades and is one of Nintendo’s biggest money makers.

This entry is going to look at two of the games that were released for the Game Boy Advance; Link To The Past and Minish Cap. (Well, technically there were four if you count the original Zelda and Zelda II released on GBA as part of the NES Classics series).

I decided to play through them both and find out which is the better of the two.

What’s the point of comparing the games, you ask?

Well, I’m planning on making top ten lists of games for all the Nintendo handhelds that I’ve owned over the years and I’m planning on putting a Zelda title on the GBA list.

So, why don’t I just put both of them on the list?

I’ve watched a lot of top tens on Youtube and I think the more interesting lists are the ones that keep it to one game per franchise. Besides, even if I did put both of them on the list, I’d still have to do this to decide which one goes higher.

Aside from that, it gives me an excuse to play through them again and just make this comparison for a bit of harmless fun.

I’m going to compare them in five categories. Best 3 out of 5 wins. Let the battle commence!

Round 1: Graphics

In Minish Cap, the backgrounds are a lot more detailed. The character sprites are very detailed and the animation is better. There's more vibrant colour pallet in the backgrounds.
When you shrink down, the giant leaves and nuts look amazing. They really emphasise the size difference. In the first dungeon, there's also a spinning barrel that has a great
3D effect to it.

Link to the Past also showed off impressive graphics for SNES standards, but Minish Cap just looks a bit better. Link To The Past was only 16-bit, but Minish Cap is 32-bit.   
Now, the GBA port does include the Four Swords sub-game that features the same graphics as Minish Cap, but you can only play it with friends and a link cable. So chances are you're going to be looking at Link To The Past’s 16-Bit more than Four Swords’ 32-bit. 

Best Graphics: Minish Cap

Round 2: Sound

Minish cap features most of the background music from Link To The Past, as well as some great music of its own. I love the bouncy upbeat theme of Hyrule castle town. The music in Minish woods reminded me of the first Rayman game on the Sega Saturn for some reason.
I also love the bouncy music of Minish village.

Link To The Past has some classic music to it, but I like the remixes Minish Cap offers better. Minish Cap definitely has more musical variety.

Best Sounds: Minish Cap

Round 3: Length

Minish Cap: In every Zelda game, most of the game revolves around solving puzzles in dungeons to acquire treasures, or “Plot coupons” that are needed to unlock the final dungeon. In Minish Cap, Link is after the four elements needed to repair to Picori blade. One of the elements is actually taken from its dungeon and put in a fifth. That felt so cheap when I found out the element was gone. It felt like an excuse to throw in another dungeon to artificially lengthen the game. You finish that dungeon and feel like it's just been a big waste of time.

Link To The Past: In this game, you actually have two sets of plot coupons. First, the
three medals needed to unlock the Master Sword, and then you go to the dark word to rescue the seven maidens. That's a grand total of ten plot coupons.
So as you can imagine, that's a lot of dungeons to get through. So when it comes to
game length, you really get your money's worth with this title.

Best Length: Link to the Past

Round 4: Best Items

Both games had the usual weapons for the Zelda series, the bombs, the bow & arrow, the boomerang, the lantern, the Pegasus boots and the ocarina. But they also each had items not available in the other. 

Minish Cap: You items sheet has a total of twelve slots. This includes the sword, the shield and the Pegasus boots. In Link To The Past, you always have the sword and shield equipped by default.  The items unique to this game are the Cane of Pacci, which flips certain items and enemies over and the Gust Jar that sucks things in and blows them out again. It's needed for sailing on certain lily pads. There's also the Mole Mitts that let you dig through specific rocks. These three items aren’t bad, but they're only useful for certain situations.

One advantage Minish Cap has over Link To The Past is that the boomerang gets upgraded to the Magic Boomerang that you can steer briefly when you throw it, but it's not especially game breaking. Of course, there are the Tiger Scrolls that let Link perform special moves, but in Link To The Past you could do three of them anyway, without needing any great sensei teaching you how to do them. The peril beam is basically letting you use the sword beam when you have one heart left and the rock breaker just lets you use your sword to break the pots with. Since you can just lift and throw them anyway, it's not really useful, except for saving a small amount of time lifting them. The only really good one is the Great Spin Attack, which is several spin attacks done continuously.

Link To The Past: The item sheet here has TWENTY FOUR slots for items and this doesn't include the sword, shield, boots or gloves. Those are all assigned to different lists, so Link To The Past gives you a lot more items to play around with. This game features the Hookshot, Ice Rod, Fire Rod, Hammer, Magic Powder, Invisibility Cloak and the medallions that let you use full screen magic attacks. So yeah. This Link has quite the arsenal. One thing that’s literally pretty cool is that you can freeze enemies with the ice rod and the ether medallion, then pick them up and throw them into each other like in Mario Bros 2.
In Minish Cap, it is fun to use the Roc’s Cape to jump over enemies and their projectiles, but you can’t beat getting out Link To The Past’s Bombos medallion and nuking the entire screen!

So in terms of both quality and quantity, the items round goes to Link To The Past.  

Round 5: Frustration to Fun Ratio

Every gamer you play exists in a delicate balance of frustration and fun. A game can be boring if its too easy, but if its too difficult you’ll just get angry and won’t enjoy playing the game, as is the case with original Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the NES. Along with difficulty there are other irritations.

Minish Cap: Ezlo constantly interrupting the game to state the obvious. He tells you how to defeat an enemy right after you beat one for the first time. That might have come in handy BEFORE I figured it out on my own! Or telling me that falling into Lava is a bad idea. No shit Sherlock...

Due to the game's world being smaller, the over world map also relies too heavily on a single linier path, which is just frustration to navigate. You’ll be trying to make your way from Hyrule Castle Town to the Minish Woods, but then the carpenters get the way and won’t move until later. Don’t you just hate it when you have to stop for useless road works? There's also this part of Crenel mountain, where you need to backtrack all the way to the base of the mountain to get Crenel hot spring water, to pour on a plant, even though normal water worked fine on the blue ones. So, Elzo will interrupt the game to tell you how to beat an enemy that you've already defeated, but he won't tell you that the seeds are colour coded for what specific water they need? The whole backtracking gimmick just seems like a cheep way to artificially lengthen the game.

Link To The Past:  You have to rely on a Magic Meter. You have a good number of items that need Magic, and they all come into play in the last dungeon.

Also, the biggest frustration is cheap difficulty. When you first start the dark world dungeons, enemies do much more damage than before. It gets really frustrating in the Swamp palace; you have fast enemies coming for you and projectiles flying in every direction. It's the last thing you need when you're trying to solve a block puzzle! Everything that touches you takes away two hearts. You know that annoying beeping sound that plays when you’re low on hearts? Well, you’d better get used to it, because in the Dark World dungeons, you’re going to hear it a lot. You'll spend more time looking at the game over screen than actually making any progress. 

The Skull Woods temple has these hands that keep grabbing you and taking you back to the entrance. There's so many of those that I was temped to make a mean spirited comment about the level designer and his own hand.

In temples, the game gets REALLY stingy with the health items. It'll give me stuff like arrows when my quiver is full, but no hearts when I need them.

Challenge is a good thing, but there’s a difference between fair challenge and just plain cheap.

There are armour upgrades, but you only get them late in the game. By the time I found the blue tunic, which doubles Link's defence, I had four of the seven maidens already.

So when it comes to frustration vs. fun, both games make me want to rage quit and throw the cartridges against the wall!

But instead of doing that, I went for a cup of coffee and gave myself time to cool off. Having thought about it with a clear mind, I was able to make my decision.

In the end, I decided to give the point to Link To The Past. Because while both games have a frustration factor, Link To The Past's frustration comes in late in the game. It is difficult, but there are optional items to make it easier. In Minish Cap, the annoying stuff is there from the start.  

So in the end, Link To The Past wins. But that’s not to say that Minish Cap is bad. It’s not as good as Link To The Past, but it’s still a fun game. The presentation clearly had a lot of work put into it. It also has a heavier emphasis on story than its SNES-born predecessor. You know how people gush over Link and Zelda having an actual relationship in Skyward Sword (albeit the cliché anime childhood friend thing)? Well, it’s basically a carbon copy of their relationship in Minish Cap. 

Well, now that I’ve picked a Zelda game for my Top Ten GBA games list, I’m ready to start it! Check back next time and I’ll be talking about more nerdy stuff!   

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day!

I really need to update more often. But, as it's St Patrick's Day and thus the busiest drinking day of the year, what better time to update? Last night, I was up late. I noticed that it was the early hours of Sunday morning. It was already St Patrick's day, so I figured it was a great excuse to have a can of Guinness before bed.

So, later today, I'm going to down some more Guinness and sit in front of the telly for a few hours of...

But first, into town for dancing, clapping and general merry-making.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Wigan Ale Fesitval 2013/Griffin Reopening.

Last night saw not only the first day of the Wigan Real Ale Festival, but also the reopening of the Griffin on Wigan Lane. With the introductory offer of Cooers Light for only £2.00 a pint, I'm already happy with it. Whats more, they have a jukebox. As I was browsing through the songs, one in particular caught my eye.

Do you remember the song Tongue Tied from season II of the Sci Fi sitcom Red Dwarf?

Well, it turns out there was a cover of this very song in that jukebox. The artist is simply credited as "The Cat", although it sounds like a different singer. Seeing this song in the jukebox, I thought it was too good to be true, but the music started and true it certainly was. What a great way to start a night out!

Next, it was off to The Anvil to catch the bus to the Robin Park Sports centre for the first night of the ale festival. My favourite ale of the evening was Floris Apple. A Belgian fruit beer.

Looking at the label, I was a bit unsure of it. When I think of apples and beer together, I usually think of Snake Bite; that vile mixture of lager and cider which is guaranteed to give you a headache and nausea for at least twenty four hours after drinking. But I remembered an non alcoholic apple beer I tried once called Iron Horse, which gives no such feelings of impending vomit. So there was a chance Floris would be an okay drink. Feeling adventurous, I tried it.
And yes, it was really nice. Essentially it was like fizzy apple juice. I later saw a couple of coasters with the Floris label on, so I asked if I could take one home as a souvenir. They let me have two. Thanks!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Many are the tales told of The Red Fleece of Wigan. The infamous bore of the Wigan pub circuit. Always ready to pounce on unsuspecting bar staff with a wealth of useless film and video game trivia.

This, is his blog.

So, what am I about? I volunteer at Book Cycle in Beech Hill and I sometimes help out at Wigan Little Theatre.

I enjoy computer games, films of the 80's and 90's (and the Carry On the series from the 60's) and light hearted detective novels. I'm hoping to make it as a writer myself someday.
I also enjoy going down to the pub. Booze and good conversation; that's what it's all about.

What kind of stuff am I going to talk about in this blog? This sort of thing-

  • Memories of old films
  • Video Game reviews
  • Comedy
  •  My exploits in the Wigan pub circuit
  • Pubs in general.