Stories We Need [Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask]

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

This post goes along with our Zelda Month theme for November along with NaNoWriMo that Rachel and I also participate in every year. This is more of a personal, introspective piece, so I hope you enjoy it. 

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The story line of video games is important to me. Like a good book, I need to be invested in what is going on in the game, the “why is this nonsense happening,” the plot. Don’t get me wrong, games without stories — like beat-em-ups or racing games — can be just as fun, but I definitely prefer games with a strong story.

It may just be the writer in me or it could be due to the gaming influences I’ve grown up with. My first clear memory of Mario was from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars rather than Super Mario World. Mario RPG had a story and an interesting world and characters who all had their own agendas and personalities, even if they were a little cliche. Mario World had a bare-bones story, making you go from level to level to chase down Bowser and the princess, and did its primary job of being a platformer.

(Of course, the other reason why Mario World’s story is so-so to me could be because, when I was first introduced to it, I wondered why the princess would need saving. Sure, at the beginning of Mario RPG, I learned that Bowser tended to kidnap her a lot, but after we busted her out, she refused to be left behind and joined the party to fight. Why couldn’t she just escape herself in Mario World with her frying pan and psych bombs? But, I digress.)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was another game that gave me a story line to adore. And, yes, most of the games in the rest of the franchise may have used the same general plot line — with the help of a woman with wisdom, a guy with courage goes to defeat a man with power — but they all have fantastic new adventures, and I’ve enjoyed most of them.

One that I did not particularly care for was Ocarina of Time’s sequel, Majora’s Mask. Despite the game’s following and all the praise it has gotten, I have never been able to bring myself to finish it. I have absolutely no desire to dive into that story myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Majora’s Mask was a game that I believe was done brilliantly. The themes of the plot — particularly loss, grief, and death — were heavy stuff that was pulled off masterfully. I appreciate what the game has brought to the table and how thought-provoking the game continues to be today.

But, unlike Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask was never a story I needed.

As a writer, one of the most overheard pieces of writing advice you hear is, “Write what you know.” Use your personal experiences, your feelings, your thoughts in your writing to evoke the same from your readers.

But that’s not why we write. We write to explore new worlds, to escape our current reality, to figure out our feelings, to maybe start following a different train of thought. Those are also the same reasons as to why I play video games.

Ocarina of Time came out in 1998 and Majora’s Mask in 2000. I’ll be honest, Ocarina of Time was a fun quest, one where I could play with the hero, but in 1998, I had no idea what I was doing. I just enjoyed meeting the characters, getting through a few dungeons and, on my uncle’s copy of the game, riding Epona around Hyrule Field on his (completed) save file. Majora’s Mask was darker, gloomier, and I didn’t care at all for the timed day mechanic as a kid.

The games came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and I remember being excited for them. For the first time, I actually beat Ocarina of Time on my own, and the rush of accomplishment and pride was amazing. I was seventeen, in the second half of my junior year of high school, the time when everyone in my grade was panicking about SATs and college applications. While I did well in high school, I was firmly pretending that college was not a thing that existed. I ignored the impending deadlines, ignored the anxiety of trying to figure out a college major let alone a school, ignored the fact that my best friends were looking to go out of state.

I eventually made the decision not to even apply to any schools. Instead, I got a job while going to the local community college for an associates degree in information technology. When the SATs rolled around, my friends spent the night before with SAT prep books and practice tests. Me? I played video games with Rachel.

Ocarina of Time let me be in control during that tumultuous part of my life. I was with the hero, I was helping and saving people. I was allowed to explore the unknown, to figure out what I needed and wanted to do. I was able to get a horse. I was part of a story where I could make a difference.

I tried playing Majora’s Mask when it became available on the Virtual Console, and I beat a couple of the dungeons before being done. At that point in my life, I was nineteen and feeling left behind when comparing myself with my friends’ journeys. I was in the middle of switching my associate’s degree from IT to computer forensics to see if that would help keep me interested in school while still working retail. My passions for writing and gaming were getting more serious, but there was always those niggling questions of, “But what will you do for money? How will you do that for a living?”

Majora’s Mask echoed the chaos that I felt then. I was running out of time. I was missing friends from high school, friends that had promised with me to keep in touch, but then the friendships dissolved. I was part of too many stories that could be erased at any time, ones where my efforts wouldn’t matter and I’d find myself stuck at the beginning. Or, worse, a dead end.

It wasn’t the kind of story, the kind of game, that I needed back then.

Of course, my retail and computer skills have helped me tremendously with my current job. It’s not as creative as I would like it, but it has given me fantastic coworkers, an actual schedule, benefits, and pay that helps support both my bills and my gaming. While I’m not quite where I want to be yet, I can’t complain about where my life path has taken me. Ocarina’s story, to me, was about exploring and finding yourself and that’s what I’m still doing.

People should be told to write (or play) what you need more often. Stories have such a profound effect on readers, gamers, what-have-you, that I don’t believe people realize how much they need a story until they experience it. Ocarina of Time is one of my favorite stories from the Legend of Zelda franchise because it is what I needed at that time in my life. It’s taken me some time to fully realize it’s impact, but better late than never, right?

What video game story line do you feel has made an impact on your life?

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Pioneer Times

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Our days are saturated with technology, especially for those of us who love video games. Watching a DVD of an old show led me to wonder about how we would survive in an age before all of these technical advancements…

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I don’t watch too much television. Rather, Rachel and I tend to stick on some of our favorite YouTube or Twitch channels to listen to while we work or hang out if we’re not gaming or writing. Lately, DVDs of the old show “I Love Lucy” is what I’ve been putting on as background noise.

It’s an older show, one that originally ran in the 1950s and is still prevalent today with its comedy. Rachel’s and my older sister Lisa is the expert on stars from that era, and it’s due to her influence that “I Love Lucy,” “The Dick van Dyke Show,” and “Happy Days” are a couple of our favorites to return to again and again.

“I Love Lucy” has an episode called Pioneer Woman where the husbands and wives bet each other that they couldn’t live like their grandparents had in the 1900s — no electricity, needing to churn their own butter, bake their own bread, sew their own clothes, etc. The wives revolted over housework and wanted “modern” conveniences, like an automatic dishwasher.

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“I Love Lucy,” Pioneer Woman

Many of their modern conveniences are technology that we take for granted nowadays and, honestly, many we cannot live without. When was the last time you didn’t use your cell phone for a day? Are you able to do your day job without the help of a computer or any type of technology? Does the last video game you played have online capabilities to play and connect with others?

I’m constantly on the computer with my job, and it’s beyond frustrating when some aspect of it doesn’t work, whether its our Internet, the computers themselves, or one of the many programs we use to keep everything running smoothly. Our blogs and social media are used everyday at home for our writing, gaming, and connecting with friends. It absolutely sucks whenever our Internet decides to be spotty — it’s like we’re cut off from the rest of the world.

Gaming is a huge part of my life, having connected me with amazing people and friends through the Internet, as well as inspiring my writing and art in more ways than one. I am constantly amazed at the advancements in technology we have made in my lifetime, and I truly wonder if we could ever spend even a day without the tech we have at our fingertips.

Do you realize how often you use technology? Do you think you could survive in the 1900s after the comfort and ease of today’s technology?

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Confession: I’ve Never Played Majora’s Mask

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday! How is everyone?

With E3 happening, many companies are showcasing new games and DLC and such for the world. Considering all the new games that are being shown off, I was going through some of our older games and came to a realization about one of my favorite franchises…

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I have a confession to make. I have never finished playing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

The Legend of Zelda series has been one of my favorite franchises ever since I was able to pick up a controller. Even before then, Ocarina of Time was one of the titles that I constantly bothered my uncle to play so I could watch. The worlds, the swordplay, the tales of heroics about Link and Zelda… I love it.

Majora’s Mask, however, was never one of my favorites within the franchise. It’s arguably one of the most popular installments of the series, but I never found its appeal. In fact, it’s one of the only console Legend of Zelda games I haven’t completed (the other games being the Zelda titles that were on the NES, and my excuse is I didn’t exist back then). I know the story and the game play

I’m not entirely sure why I have no interest in Majora’s Mask. It has characters familiar from the Ocarina world with a sort of Wonderland feeling to them. It has a new world to explore, new items to discover in the form of masks, and an interesting story to boot — time travel with themes of death.

Perhaps it’s because I felt constrained by the time limit of three days. I felt as if my hard work from one set of three days was undone whenever I went back in time. The monkey I just saved from the Deku King in the woodlands? He’ll be sentenced to death for being wrongfully accused of kidnapping the Deku Princess, who is probably still trapped in the dungeon, when I play my ocarina. It brought about a repetitive mentality (“I already did this!”) instead of the liberated dungeon showing the positive influences on the world that Link is trying to save.

Maybe it was the collecting that came with the game. It had plenty of fun masks, all required to head off to the final boss of the game, but I was never a fan of collecting. Case in point was Super Mario Odyssey. It was a good game, but as soon as I was done with the main story, I haven’t turned it on again. I have absolutely no desire to run around and collect more moons, similar to how I never had the desire to collect masks.

Another reason could have been simply because Majora’s Mask just wasn’t my thing. An unpopular opinion? Probably. Maybe one day I’ll try to go back to it, but it probably won’t be anytime soon.

What do you think of Majora’s Mask? Do you have any popular games that you haven’t had the desire to play?

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The Return of the NES Classic

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Memorial Day! I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend!

We had a pretty chill weekend, with Rachel and me going out of town with a friend. Filled with movies, books, and video games, we had a good time. We went to a place that Rachel and I have been going with the family for ages, a nice house in the mountains filled with nostalgia. Nostalgia is what I thought I would feel when thinking of the NES Classic, but now that we have a second chance to get one, I’m not so sure about it…

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The NES Classic (along with the SNES Classic) is supposed to return to stores in about a month, on June 29th. When I first heard about the news that the NES Classic was going to be a thing, I thought it was a great idea. Plenty of gamers love their old favorites and the nostalgia that was sure to come with the mini version of the console made it popular.

Too popular, if there was such a thing. Scalpers overtook the stock NES Classic and the consoles were out of stock within minutes of hitting Amazon or store shelves, only to be resold on eBay for thrice the original price. Rachel and I were disappointed, of course. I remember having the NES as a kid (and, honestly, we still have our original one packed away), but I myself never played too many of the games. I played mainly on the SNES when we had gotten that. Rachel herself wasn’t born when the NES came out, so it would have been great to see her get to experience some of the NES games.

With that said, though… I don’t really remember the games of the NES. Our disappointment didn’t last too long considering we never had too much of a tie with the original NES as kids. I imagine the nostalgia would be much stronger with gamers who had grown up with it.

Seeing the news that the NES Classic would be returning, I found myself finding it nice but… I’m not really as interested as I was back when it was first announced. If we get an NES Classic, it’ll be cool, but it’s not something that’s on my wish list anymore. I just hope that scalpers don’t ruin this batch for those who truly want the NES Classic and hadn’t gotten the chance to get them before!

Are you planning on trying to get the NES Classic this time around? If you already have it, what do you think of it?

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Of Kingdom Hearts

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday!

We’re actually in Disneyworld right now! Being around Mickey Mouse and his friends reminded me of the popular video game franchise Kingdom Hearts, an ambitious crossover of Disney characters published by Square Enix.

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I’ve only ever touched upon the Kingdom Hearts games when I was much younger. Having never owned the games myself, I was only able to play a bit of the first one whenever we visited our aunt and uncle a couple of towns over from where we lived (coincidentally, this is the same uncle that introduced me to video games and superheroes). If I had the chance, I would start up the game, usually create a new file and enjoy the main theme song, and give the game another try.

The farthest I’ve gotten was, perhaps, to Tarzan’s world, but I vaguely remember Aladdin’s world as well. I honestly cannot remember if Aladdin’s world was from watching my uncle or a friend play, or if there was a time that I had been able to borrow the game to play myself.

I always liked the idea of Kingdom Hearts, finding the narrative to be unique with exploring the Disney worlds to be a fun thought, even with the story line being a tad dark. And, while I don’t completely understand the line of sequels (why is there a game called “2.8 Final Chapter Prologue”? Why is there a Kingdom Hearts II when Chain of Memories is the direct sequel to the first game?), it is a franchise I would like to try.

What do you think of Kingdom Hearts? Have you ever played the games?

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Reality is Broken

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

It’s the end of the first month of 2018. I hope you’re all doing well and that everything has been working in your favor so far. Here’s to the rest of the year!

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A book I’ve been reading lately is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. It depicts why video games are important in today’s society and how they aid us in being happy and fulfilled with our lives. While the book was published in 2011 and, thus, is a little out of date at this time, it has made me think about my love of games.

Think about why you play video games. Is it because of the challenge of saving the world? The relaxing atmosphere of caring for a virtual town? The social aspect of online video games? No matter your reasons, you wouldn’t be playing video games if you didn’t enjoy them.

There’s a particular quote near the beginning of the book that McGonigal put in from Brian Sutton-Smith, a psychologist of play: “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”

Depression often gives people a sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. Games, on the other hand, give us a sense of being able to overcome obstacles, an endorphin rush when we focus on our energy on achieving a goal. By gaming, we’re focusing on an activity that we’re good at and enjoy.

In other words, McGonigal claims, “gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”

The key ideas of being happy include satisfying work, the experience or hope of being successful, social connection, and meaning, or “the chance to be part of something larger than ourselves.” Gaming gives us all of that. Rather than using games as a way to escape reality, gamers are actively making their real lives more rewarding by playing.

I’ll be honest. My day job is not at all what I want it to be. It’s stifling and not creative at all, in my opinion. Sure, my co-workers are fantastic and the job itself pays well with good benefits, but it feels like more of a chore than anything else. I’m working there to survive, not to live.

Reading this book just kind of made everything click into place. Video games were always a way for me to help save the world and pour my creativity into, such as writing a blog about gaming. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way, and gaming has opened up a few connections that I never would have had otherwise. It’s rather amazing to think about, isn’t it?

Have you read this book? What made you start to play video games?

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Confession: I Don’t Like Z-Moves

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy New Year, everyone! May 2018 treat you even better than 2017 did!

We’re going to dive right into my perhaps controversial thoughts regarding a major feature of the latest generation of Pokemon games.

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The Pokemon franchise has always been a favorite of mine ever since I got my first GameBoy Color and the trio of the first generation games twenty years ago. It’s been an amazing ride seeing how the series has evolved, with the creatures, the stories, and the technology of the games. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed seeing the improvement, but there are sometimes new aspects of the latest games that make me scratch my head in confusion.

In the case of the Alola games, I don’t know why the Z-Moves exist.

The graphics for the Z-Moves are great for the handheld systems, but… I don’t understand why they are needed. Perhaps Nintendo had wanted to do epic graphics for every move but, due to time and technology constraints, could only do so for one to two moves per type? The little dances done for the Z-Moves were cute the first couple of times I’ve seen them, but I’m more interested in getting back to the battle rather than watching my character look a little silly for a minute or two.

Power-wise, it makes sense that a Z-Move can only be used once per battle. If that’s the case, then, what’s the point? I generally forget to use the Z-Moves because I tend to try to strategize my Pokemon’s attacks rather than use one all-powerful move as a cop-out. That, or I try to “save” my Z-Move for when I need it but it doesn’t work out that way. At the very least, with Mega Evolutions from the Kalos region, you were able to keep a Pokemon in their Mega form for the duration of the battle.

Speaking of Mega Evolutions, what happened to those? Nintendo had introduced them in the previous generation only to drop them in favor of Z-Moves. I would rather explore the world searching for Mega Evolution stones for my team than collecting Z-Crystals as makeshift gym badges from trials. I wonder if Z-Crystals were partly created to try to ease the players into the idea that gym battles were not part of Gen. 7, a little token that had more of a role — however small it was — in battles instead of a pixelated gym badge.

This is all just my opinion. Perhaps disliking one of the major new features of the latest Pokemon games is a sign that I’m starting to get old, haha!

What do you think of Sun and Moon’s Z-Moves? Are there any other new features that you like or dislike about the newer Pokemon games?

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