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This is what Link would probably look like in the Legend of Zelda. Unless every Link is gifted with the most powerful item of all: The Invisible Bag of Shrinking Items!!! But then why does he need to get larger quivers, wallets, and bomb bags? This is a mystery we may never solve.

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Of all the Zelda games, this felt most like the original experience I had when playing Ocarina of Time. At first I was kind of wary of the ridiculous enemy, Zant, who looked like a dead fish, and turned out to be like Voldo from Soul Caliber, but once I found out that Ganondorf would be the main villain, I was ready to take this seriously. And it was a more mature Zelda game than its predecessors. I enjoyed being a wolf, for the most part, although by the end of the game, it felt like just one more item. The new items were interesting, (with the extra clawshot I felt like SpiderLink!), the world was large, and it brought back good memories. The last battle with Ganondorf was, while easy, dramatic. I really enjoyed this game.

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Spirit Tracks

Link’s more modern than ever, with his own train. This felt like it belonged on the handheld, and it didn’t have the time limit dungeon that Phantom Hourglass had. Controlling Zelda as a spirit made things interesting. But it did feel a lot like Phantom Hourglass, with some minor improvements. They kind of blend together in my mind, really. Anyway, it was a fun game.

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Skyward Sword

This one was really fun, but it was also harder than other Zelda games. And longer. The motion controls made this a unique experience, but they were part of the difficulty. Slicing the sword in just the right way could be frustrating, and trying to thrust was tortuous. I did like the idea of the stamina bar, having Link sprint. The art style was nice, but it didn’t feel as serious as Twilight Princess. Going around, flying on my bird, trying to rescue Zelda, it was an immersive story. Going to the same three environments over and over got a little dull, especially in the desert. And were the only people inhabiting the world those who lived in the floating islands? It felt kind of sparse in that respect. But finding out new places in each area was fun. They did a lot with just a little.

Extra: Smash Bros

Just to let you know, Link has always been my man on Smash Bros. And I will slay you with him.

I know there are more Zelda games, but I haven’t played them. I’m sure the minds at Nintendo will keep pumping them out, making the Zelda universe more convoluted and full of addicting puzzles. I will probably be there. In the immortal words of Link:

“Chaaa!”

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Wind Waker

Again with the little kid Link, except now his head is bigger than his body and he looked like he belonged on a Saturday morning cartoon. And he wasn’t the same Link that had fought Ganondorf back on the N64. I was a bit turned off by this. Also, sailing got a little boring, and it was weird that even though the world was covered in water, there was no underwater dungeon. Now, after looking at the timeline of the Hyrule Historia, it makes more sense, but I was kind of lost in how it fit into the series. And I didn’t think toon Link was worthy of defeating Ganondorf. But the game was addicting, like every Zelda game, and I got over my initial hesitations and was able to enjoy the game.

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I started playing this, and realized it was a lot like a flat Ocarina of Time. It was a bit harder than other games, especially because you had to go through the whole dungeon again if you died or had to quit. There was a time when I left it near the end for a while before coming back. And Ganon at the end kept knocking me down and making me start all over. Jerk. Otherwise, I don’t have many memories of this game.

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This is where I felt toon Link belonged. On a handheld. Let mature Link be on the consoles. It was an interesting experience using the touchscreen for everything. A little strange at the beginning, but it worked, as long as I could find the DS stick and see it through the scratches. Overall, it was a fun game, except for one aspect. The stupid dungeon where you had to go through over and over again, with a time limit. That time limit was really annoying. But being able to trace out boomerang paths was nice, and other unique things with the stick. It was creative.

Lately I have been just giving reviews about fantasy books, and while I like doing it, it is not what this site was originally for, just part of it. Really, it has been kind of laziness on my part, because they’re easy to make, and I have been strapped for time (it’s my last semester in college). Today, I would like to review something else besides books, because, like I’ve said before, fantasy exists in many mediums. Today, I want to talk about the Zelda series. Yes, everyone’s favorite elfish mute hero, link, and his many incarnations. Now, I have not played through all of the games, especially some of the handheld games, so this list is not exhaustive, but I would like to talk about the ones I have played, in no particular order, unlike what I did with the Final Fantasy games, because I like all of these, and don’t feel as strongly about one or the other like I did with Final Fantasy. I will go in order played. Beginning with…

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Ocarina of Time

This was the first one I played, and also had the most impact on me. From all the choices in tools I could use, and the newness of the 3D graphics from the N64 for me, it was an immersive adventure that I got sucked into. Again and again. The relationship between Zelda and Link. Ganondorf stealing her away. Link being sealed away and Ganondorf taking over. People blaming Link for not protecting them. Feeling empowered as an adult. I loved it. The puzzles that were so new to me, that cost my young mind to solve. This was unlike any other video game I had played, which previously had consisted in Mario type games. This helped me love fantasy, even if it was not quite traditional (bombs?). Leave it to my friend to spoil some surprises, like Sheik (although I probably would have figured it out) (coincidentally, he also spoiled FF7’s Aeris’ death. Jerk.). Even though the graphics don’t hold anymore, I can’t help but remember this game fondly.

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Soon after it came out, I bought this one. It was fun, but not as great for me as OoT. I didn’t like being a kid (I hadn’t realized that OoT was the first one where Link wasn’t a kid the whole time). Going back in time felt like I had to start over every time, and was kind of frustrating. Getting arrows as the special item in each dungeon began to get old. And the little punk possessed by the demonic mask didn’t feel as threatening as Ganondorf. Not even the moon felt that threatening, as I could see up its nose. Later, I played it again with a more mature look, and enjoyed it more. What I did like, even the first time, was being able to transform. Zora was my favorite. It was fun to resolve some of the quests as well. And the bosses were harder than in OoT. Actually, the whole game was. A departure from some of the more traditional fare, but still enjoyable, in its own way. Bunny hood!

Yesterday I talked a little about fantasy in video games, and mentioned some series I liked when younger. One of the most well known of these was probably Final Fantasy. So I thought I would post my own rankings and thoughts on each one I played (I didn’t play 11, 13, or 14). Yes, I know it might be a bit controversial, I’ve seen other rankings, and everyone feels strongly about their favorite. Remember, these are my opinions, not meant to offend. I enjoyed playing them all, it is a good series, I finished each one (usually getting all the extras as well). So if one is at the bottom, it doesn’t mean I hate it, I just don’t like it as much as one at the top. So let’s unveil the order:

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Final Fantasy 7
Overrated? Maybe. But it’s still my favorite. The first one I played, it was also the one I played the most. I liked the characters, the story, the villain. It caught me up more than any other, even with ugly visuals at times. Yes, I cried when Aeris died. This game didn’t need sequels, it needed an HD remake.

 

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Final Fantasy 10
Like 7, I got caught up in the story of Tidus and Yuna and their pilgrimage. Plenty of emotions and twists. The amount of time you had to spend to get the ultimate weapons and other sidequests was a bit much, though and the sequel was a bit ridiculous.

 

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Final Fantasy 6
My favorite of the spite graphic games. It had a lot of characters, but they were interesting, and I wanted to punch Kefka in the face every time he laughed, that clown. The bonus movies included at the end of the Playstation version made me tear up.

 

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Final Fantasy 8
Despite Squall being an emo punk, there was a lot covered in this game and it was interesting. It had a more mature air than many Final Fantasies. There were also some strange plot twists that didn’t really help, though. All from the same orphanage, evil witch from the future, frozen witch in space? The love story was both good and bad: When Rinoa and Squall are together, she annoys him. When apart or she’s unconscious, he’s obsessed with her. Romantic.

 

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Final Fantasy 4
Don’t really have a lot of strong feelings on this one. Some say it’s their favorite, I say it’s OK. Standard bad-guy-is-really-good-and/or-relative, but is possessed by evil force. But hey, you get to fly to the moon in a whale.

 

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Final Fantasy 12
It had a good battle system, for the most part. Once you have a strategy, you can kind of sit back a relax instead of button mashing. With Yazmat, could leave the room and come back a while later. No more random battles, either! What I didn’t really like was the plot. I wanted it to be good. Instead, it was: Meet bad guy. Get object A, find out it’s useless. Get object B, find out it’s useless as well. Run to heart of empire, then to other side of world. Get object C. Useless. Kill bad guy. Realize that main character had no reason to be included and the whole game would be the same if they took him out.

 

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Final Fantasy 9
The main character’s a monkey. Who later turns out to be all powerful. The main antagonist is a cross dresser (I seriously thought he was a she until half way through the game). CGM just for the princess cutting her hair. Last boss pops up, I was like, “Where the heck did you come from? You were never mentioned in the game until now.” It was kind of depressing too, even with cartoon-like characters. The second time I played, I was a little more tolerant. But still didn’t like it much.

 

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Final Fantasy 2
I don’t remember this one really well, but I do remember it was an interesting game. At times it got repetitive, though (go for this spell, now this one). Magic was useless and weak. I was mad that I sold the sword midway through the game would make killing the last boss easy.

 

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Final Fantasy 5
Couldn’t really take this game seriously. Turtle! Bad guy named X-Death! But it was fun to make fun of. And to play with the jobs.

 

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Final Fantasy 1
Not much of a story (Kill the first boss, find out that monsters are invading the land, you have to go back in time to find out the first boss had seen the future where you kill him, so he wants to kill you from the past by sending out those monsters. Yeah, I didn’t get it either). But it was kind of fun in the fulfill-a-quest-to-open-an-area-you-were-wondering-about way.

 

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Final Fantasy 3
This one didn’t have much of a story that I could remember, either. The jobs were kind of fun, though.

Up till now, I have mostly been focusing on fantasy within books. While that is probably where it is the biggest, there are other media that handle the fantasy genre. Movies, television, and video games all do it well, some better than others. For example, with movies, you won’t find much of magic and wizards outside of the Lord of the Rings movies and Harry Potter, both of which were extremely successful, so maybe the movie industry will start taking the genre more seriously. On television, there are series like Once Upon a Time and Merlin. But outside of books, the biggest place for fantasy is probably in video games, which makes sense. It is one thing to read about sword fights and wizard duels. It is another to experience them in video games. The RPG (role playing game) is probably the biggest that supports fantasy, but there are others as well. Strategy games, adventure games, online games. In this post, I am going to go over a few series of games that shaped my youth.

Final Fantasy

Square Enix

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This series has come to represent the Japanese RPG, a way of doing RPG games that often involve turn based battles and heavy characterization. There are fourteen entries, plus spinoffs and sequels. Every entry is a unique world with unique characters. Often, they mix technology and fantasy in interesting ways. What they don’t do is let you create your character and make game changing choices (except in the online versions, 11 and 14). So you pretty much have to follow the script, but in some ways that’s better, because it allows the makers to create a story that is more interesting that way. There are memorable characters (Cloud, Sephiroth) and beautiful graphics, at least in the later entries. Final Fantasy 7 is the most famous, and one of the best rated.

Warcraft

Blizzard

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Warcraft is a RTS (real time strategy) game, where build up cities, recruit troops, and lead the to war. Originally it was human versus orc, later they added undead and night elves in. It was easy to spend hours on building up an army, and multiplayer was tense. Then Blizzard came up with World of Warcraft, which grew to be the biggest massively multiplayer role playing game in the world, and they left behind the strategy part of Warcraft. I don’t play, since it costs a monthly fee and I don’t want to be addicted like some people end up being, but I heard it is fun.

Heroes of Might and Magic

Ubisoft

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This game is also a strategy game where you lead mythical creatures to war, but this one is turn based and the battlefield is set up like a chess board. I actually enjoyed it more, as you had a little bit of time to think, unlike warcraft, and there were more types of creatures, from titans to dragons to centaurs to phoenix. I spent a long time playing this one. The latest versions haven’t been as fun to play, though.

Zelda

Nintendo

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This series deals with solving puzzles and fighting with a sword. It is in real time, with just one character you’re controlling, Link. It can really force you to use your mind and the items you collect. The latest one used the motion controller of the Wii to its fullest extent. A really fun series.

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