Warning: Opinions abound. If you comment, please be respectful—do not bash any games or characters, or people mentioned in this journal.
So, I know this video is three years old now, but I actually find it to be very interesting because the opinions presented within it are almost opposite to mine. I’m not the biggest fan of Arin Hanson (his type of humor is not to my taste), but make sure you watch the video if you haven’t already so that this journal makes more sense. It's also just interesting to see a critical video aboutsomething so beloved. I like seeing things like that. www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOC3vi…
Anyway, this journal is going to be about subjectivity vs. objectivity as the title implies, and I just wanted to discuss the importance of recognizing your own biases and go into why I found a lot of Mr. Hanson's complaints to be pretty... Subjective.
I wanted to start out by recognizing my own biases: Some of my favorite games are from the N64/dreamcast/play station era.
and I feel like these games from this era have come under attack lately. And yes, a lot of these games are some childhood favorites, but a lot of them are actually not. For Sonic Adventure and Xenogears, I CANNOT be biased because I didn’t play these games in my childhood: I played Sonic Adventure last year and I played Xenogears maybe two years ago and I thought they were both fantastic games and I enjoyed them both much more than plenty of modern games I have played. So anyway, yes, I probably do feel the need to come to the defense of some of my favorite polygon games because I have personal feelings attached to them; others not so much.
Another point I want to address is the idea that some things ‘age badly’. What I hate so much about this nugget is that it pretty much shuts down any valid criticisms someone might have about something and sweeps them under the rug so they don’t have to express why they didn’t like the thing they’re talking about. They can just say it aged badly. It also bothers me because the game you say aged badly has not changed: You have.
Going off of this, and this is no offense to Mr. Hanson because I think he actually did preface in the video that his opinion was subjective, but I have two ways of describing my favorite games in a series, and I sort of wish other people would do this too:
I have my personal favorites: These are games that I generally recognize are not necessarily objectively the best, but which appealed to me personally more than other games in the series. For example: I recognize that Mario Galaxy is technically the better game than Mario 64 (Galaxy has the better controls and smoother gameplay). But I prefer Mario 64 both because I have such fond memories about it, and because I like the little charming details in it a little more. To be more specific, I prefer the cute, down-to-earth, Peach’s castle to the more grand setting of Rosalina’s observatory. I also prefer Mario’s larger moveset and the level design a bit more.
And I have my technical favorites: These are the games I recognize as being the general favorites of large crowds of people, and are, on an objective level, probably better than my personal favorites, but I love my personal favorites more anyway because I have personal feelings attached to them. For example: I recognize that Sonic Colors is better than Sonic Unleashed on a technical, mechanical level, but I prefer Unleashed because I was more into the story and atmosphere of the game.
I find it very useful to discuss comparisons like this because it allows me to see things from other people’s points of view as well as my own: it helps me to see when I’m being biased.
Now, what so often happens with reviewers and with people in general, is they tend to love the game in a series that they played in their childhood the most, and they tend to completely discredit and bash new games in a series. Mr. Hanson is VERY hard on poor Skyward Sword which ironically happens to be one of my favorite games in the series. The motion controls really aren’t bad you guys, you just have to get used to them. XD
In the video, many of Mr. Hanson’s complaints seem extremely subjective to me: he complains that, in Ocarina of time, there is too much waiting (some gamers are really impatient), and he isn’t fond of the fact that there’s some story in the game. He says that he prefers A Link to the Past because it’s quick and open ended (you can go anywehere you want at any time rather than having the story direct you where to go first). Now, I have never been very fond of open world games, and the dirtying of the word linear these days makes me very sad, but that requires an entirely different journal.
Getting back on track, if we look at both games objectively… I mean, is A Link to the Past really that much more open ended than Ocarina? Personally, I don’t think so. In A Link to the Past you’re given numbered dungeons on the map to go to in order.
Personally, I never really got the obsession with being able to do levels in the order you want to in a videogame. I mean, you’re going to end up doing every level anyway, so why does the order you do it in matter so much to people? XD I mean, even when I get to choose what order I do levels in, I usually pick the same order everytime I play the game anyway.
Here’s another thing Mr. Hanson brings up in his video that also deserves its own journal entry: Narratives in videogames. I find that a lot of retro gamers really don't like it when videogames are story-heavy (although I don’t think at all that Ocarina is story heavy, there’s some text, but I mean come on…). This is another highly debated topic in videogames. Some people like myself love story heavy games while others loathe them. But just by this sentence, you should get that this is yet another subjective point. Mr. Hanson complains of having to press the A button a lot and go around talking to certain people in Ocarina in order to make progress. He finds this tedious, but I find it pretty fun. Especially if the dialogue is fun and amusing and the exploring you get to do between finding the correct people to talk to is fun. It helps add mood and immersion to the game in my eyes.
Now here’s a final point he brought up in his video that I personally think is just flat out wrong. That’s the Z targeting mechanic added to Ocarina to make combat simpler. Now, regardless of the Zelda game, I always prefer to lock onto enemies rather than swing at them without targeting. Why? Because it makes enemies easier to fight on a 3D plain. Without that mechanic I feel like combat would be about ten times more cumbersome and difficult. I would be SOL! It would be really hard to tell where Link is going to aim and attack without that mechanic. Mr. Hanson says that the z-targeting creates a disconnect, however, because it changes the camera angle from the regular exploration angle and makes you unaware of your surroundings. I'm not sure I understand this complaint to be honest? I mean, you can still see plenty of your surroundings when targeting an enemy. Focusing on the enemy is a good gameplay mechanic, right? XD
As a comparison: Although it’s clear most of the time in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 just how far Sonic’s homing attack can reach and where it’s going to go, one of the blessed things Sonic Unleashed did for the series was add a nice reticle on enemies so you can see exactly where Sonic is going to aim and how far he can reach with his homing attack. I feel the same way about Link’s Z targeting mechanic in Ocarina.
One thing that I do agree with Mr. Hanson on, and this is a big problem I have with Nintendo in general recently: the series is very much tied to a predictable mold. Nintendo is so petrified of trying anything drastically different that the Zelda series has lost a lot of creative sparks. One thing completely out of their comfort zone that I've always wanted Nintendo to try with Zelda is a sci-fi Zelda. It sounds nuts, but I think it would be so cool for Nintendo to try something so different. I'd love to see Zelda in a mechanical futuristic setting.
So, to wrap up, when doing a comparison, I always feel like it’s so important to recognize where you might be biased. If I did a comparison series, I would probably have two positions within the article. A subjective position where I express my personal opinion, and an objective position where I would try to see the games how the general public would view the games.
Here’s a subjective opinion of my own: Twilight Princess is probably my least favorite game in The Legend of Zelda series. It really has nothing to do with how good or bad the game plays, however: It has everything to do with personal preference. I’ve never been that fond of the game because it is way too easy and, to me, it was the most forgettable game in the series which is an even bigger crime. You see, to me, every Zelda game has its own unique flavor to and tone to it. Ocarina feels like this epic, legendary adventure, similar to The Iliad. Majora’s Mask felt like this very dark and quirky adventure and felt like it had a lot of very deep and personal feelings in it. Wind Waker feels a little more open and light-hearted but also kind of cold… Whereas Twilight Princess just felt so redundant and dependent upon using nostalgia. There was no creative spark to it. To me, it pretty much just felt like Ocarina and Majora 2.0. By no means is it a bad game, but it always felt pretty lifeless to me.
So anyway, I just kind of had some interesting thoughts on this video as it embodies a lot of the issues I have with reviewer bias. A lot of new games in old series take a lot of unnecessary heat sometimes just for being new in my opinion. There's always this attitude people tend to have towards others where they look down on people who like certain games in a series. Like people always think: My opinion is the ONLY right one and yours is stupid. Can we in general stop shaming others for the things they enjoy? XD
What do you guys think? What are your favorite games in the Zelda series? Which ones are you biased towards? Which ones do you not like? (Be civil)