My Life as a Blood Elf: A Story About Warcraft

Every time a new expansion for World of Warcraft is announced or nearing release, I take a little time to read up on the new additions. I don’t even play the game anymore, but I like looking in and seeing where the masses of Azeroth are going to go next. The truth of the matter is that I gave up playing the game not long after Cataclysm, the previous expansion, was released. I didn’t even finish the content offered by it at launch, and I certainly never got around to doing any of the endgame content issued later. I never faced Deathwing. I never even made it to the Twilight Highlands. This doesn’t mean anything to anyone reading this who isn’t a Warcraft nerd, but in short, I became bored with it.

I played World of Warcraft on and off for a few years. I jumped in a little while after Burning Crusade, the first expansion had launched. I had no idea what was going on at the time. It was just fun to run around and hit things to see what happened. I got my first character to around level 45, and ended up getting sidetracked. I quit playing the game for a while as I had yet to really get an idea of what I was supposed to do. It was the first MMO I had ever played. I still didn’t really understand how this game was supposed to work. I just knew I was sharing a world with a lot of other people, some of which were my allies, and others who wanted me dead as soon as I walked into their territory.

I never had a lot of friends who played the game, so most of my in-game time was spent playing solo. When I came back to the game, I started a new character, a blood elf warlock, and I started the quest that I ended up sticking with for a good couple of years. At the time, the Wrath of the Lich King expansion was on the horizon, so I was trying to get this new character up to level 70 before it launched. When the Lich King expansion launched, I was right on the edge of the level cap. I quickly cleared through the remainder of the Burning Crusade questing content, and started on my quest to slay Arthas, the Lich King who sat upon the Frozen Throne.

At that point in time, the questing content from levels 1-70 had become boring and was built heavily on “Kill X Number of X” style quests. They were never that interesting, and most of the time I ended up just skipping the quest text, preferring to use my in-game mods to direct me to my quest objectives. It was a monotonous chore, but I pushed through it, and the experience was worth it. Blizzard made the questing a lot more enjoyable somehow. Sure, it was still more of the same, but the writing was a lot more self aware, and the pacing was much better. The main quest line in Wrath of the Lich King is one of the most exciting experiences I ever had in Azeroth. I did every quest I could find, and I explored every inch of the continent of Northrend. When I finished that, it put a new idea in my head.

I wanted to see the rest of the world… of Warcraft.

I spent a lot of gold upgrading my flying mounts so that I could fly around Outlands at a decent speed, but when it came to the old world of Azeroth, I was limited to the ground. Because of the way the old world was designed at that point, there were still portions on the map that were shut off from the public view. Certain chunks of the map weren’t actually in the game, and wouldn’t be until integrated until the next expansion. The only way to fly around the old world was by using the predetermined flight paths. It took forever to fly from one end of a continent to the other, so I decided to traverse the terrain using my horse, exploring every nook that the continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms had to offer.

Because of the existing progression of the game, the old world was sparsely populated save for the big cities. I was at the level cap, so old world wild creatures weren’t a real concern. I could move about the world at my own leisure. I was set on my quest to navigate the locations that no one really frequented anymore. No one really spent time in the glaciers of Winterspring anymore, and the dunes of Silithus were empty and vacant. I wanted to see all of them. I found myself going to places that few players ever saw anymore.

I remember one moment in particular where I swam out to an island off the coast of the jungles of Feralas. The island existed as part of a quest line that no longer mattered. I found myself wandering this island thinking how unlikely it was that anyone had been there in a long while. I found quest related creatures on that island that were never hunted anymore. For all I know, the griffons that flew around that small island had been undisturbed for months. Because of this, they thrived. I know that they existed only as digital data, but here, they were alive. They existed on this island, and I decided to leave them be. I left the small island, never to return. I had seen all there was to see there. When the Cataclysm happened, the island sank into the sea. Since the quest was no longer in the game, the creatures that existed there no longer had a purpose, and the island was forever lost.

My quest to see the world took a rather formulaic route. I went up and down one continent, and then worked my way to the other. I had explored the western continent of Kalimdor on and off over the course of a few days, and then I had set my sights on the mostly unexplored continents of the Eastern Kingdoms. While most of the Kalimdor region was open fields and small settlements, the Eastern Kingdoms were more populated, and were the locations of major cities for both Horde and Alliance players. I had to be considerably more careful this time around.

Having played through Warcraft III, the experience I had exploring the Western and Eastern Plaguelands had been really enjoyable and disheartening. Both zones were the decaying remains of what had in a previous time been the kingdom of Lordaeron. Aside from a few outposts here and there that acted as quest hubs, the zones were also fairly vacant, which added a real sense of loneliness to them. The soil and plant life there was dying. The animals were mutated and the whole zone felt without hope. The decay had mostly been confined to these zones, though the NPCs that inhabited the region worried that it might spread further.

I felt genuinely upset as I rode through these locations. I was never into the idea of role playing my character, but internally I had a set idea of how my character would act. My blood elf warlock never had much to say, and while he preferred to work alone, he was hell bent on trying to restore some level of order to Azeroth. Because of all of the horrible things that had happened to this region, Blizzard had managed to make me care about the people that used to live here, and I always hoped that somehow the region could be somehow cured of its ailments. I wanted to see these lands thrive again. My character wanted to see this region live once more.

I moved further south on what had become my primary quest, working my way through each zone as I had done numerous times before. Eventually I found myself riding through a barren passage through the mountains. Everything here was an ashy gray, and there were no points of civilization in the area. I would either have to keep going through to the Swamp of Sorrows, or I could turn back and make my way back to the Alliance held lands of Duskwood. The area I was riding through was referred to as Deadwind Pass. I worked my way down the southern path to a giant tower that could barely be seen in the distance.

The tower was called Karazhan.

I knew of the wicked tower. It was a raid instance that I had been through a time before, and I was familiar with the lore behind it. I knew it was the reason why the zone itself was as dead as it was. I knew the rumors behind it, of the hidden crypts that presumably lay below it, never to be seen by the eyes of the living. The area referred to as Lower Karazhan was never implemented into the game, and still remains locked away to this day. The dungeon itself was launched with the Burning Crusade expansion and was an early end game raid for level 70 characters. The thing that really got to me though, was that the tower itself had been in the game since day one.

This was a big deal to me. I found it exciting to think about how the game was at launch, when few had reached the level 60 cap and had the means to really explore their surroundings. I imagined all these characters walking by this tower, wondering what secrets laid within and having no real explanation. As I continued to explore the world around me, I still continued to think about the tower of Karazhan. It was a really stunning moment that I never really had again with the game. From my character’s point of view, I loved to think of it as this shady, forgotten tower where few would dare to tread. By the time I was really exploring the area, it had become just like that: a vacant, forgotten memory.

That is what made me love the game. I adored that attention to detail, that willingness to have locations like that that weren’t accessible, but did exist, if only to make the players wonder what it was for. I never found myself having that feeling about an MMO ever again, and I eventually quit playing World of Warcraft after the magic went away. I can’t ever go back now, as the memories I left with are far better than the actual time spent playing the game. Despite this, I do still enjoy thinking about the time I spent there, riding across the continents on horseback. I was Wyatt and Billy in Easy Rider.

I will fondly remember the time I spent in Azeroth.


The Day I Died: A Story About Minecraft

Minecraft has become one of those games that is defined by the experiences of the players itself instead of the experience offered by the game. The last game I played that really gave me that feeling was Grand Theft Auto III, as I remember having conversations with friends about our crazy escapades through the streets of Liberty City as we stole cars, outran the cops and managed to pick up some prostitutes along the way. Sure, the game had a set experience defined by the developers, but the longevity of the game’s popularity really came from its open ended world that let the players essentially create their own narrative. Minecraft is a game entirely built around this idea. Like Grand Theft Auto, I’ve spent many lives roaming around the worlds of Minecraft, forging out my own reality. The one that really hit close to home was the day I died.

Dying in Minecraft isn’t a rare or new experience. It happens all the time. Sometimes that first night results in death from an arrow firing skeleton or a zombie. Other times a creeper comes out of nowhere and explodes, ending your life. It’s never a big deal. You lose whatever you were carrying and you respawn at your original spawn point or a bed you slept in. If you go back to where you died, you can pick up all the things you lost and go about your business. Like I said, it isn’t a big deal.

One time in particular, I spent a few in-game weeks digging out a mine. I dug down as far as I could, hearing the sounds of nearby dungeons through the mine walls as I went further down. The mine itself became a myriad of passages and paths, all leading to false exits and dead ends. I had built chests in the mine to hold the massive amount of building materials I had acquired, so inventory space was never really an issue. In my journey through the caverns, I discovered a series of caves built around a flowing underground river. I was surprised that the game had been able to generate something like this, given the regular glitchy nature that our world had been prone to. I dug through it and had set up a small base of operations inside, but eventually I had to make my way onward. I needed to mine more minerals! Most of all, I needed to find my way back to the surface.

The problem was that I had dug so far into the mine that I had become lost. I had no idea how to find my own way home. The only thing to do was to keep going. I couldn’t stop there. I had to keep digging. Eventually I decided to start digging my way out. Somehow, someway I had to find my way back to civilization. I had to find my way back to where my friends had set up their respective castles and phallic monuments to a blocky god that didn’t exist.

I finally reached the surface. When I emerged from the labyrinth of my own making, it was dark. The sun would likely be up soon. I stumbled around, looking for some sign of something that resembled the world from whence I had come. No matter what direction I looked, there was no indication that I was anywhere near where I had started. I was alone. The world had continued to generate as I moved further and further away from civilization. I was in a new world. A new, barren no man’s land lay before me.

I didn’t know how long it would be until dawn. I examined my surroundings a little more, and set up a few torches at the top of a cliff to light the area.  I stood up there and looked out over the horizon, hoping one more time just to see something resembling my home. With nothing in sight, I saw that two choices were laid out before me: I could either build a new home and eventually try and find my way back, or I had to die.

I started building a small house to get me through the night. The plethora of building supplies I had amassed during the last leg of the journey through the mine made it an easy task, and the torches gave just enough light to see what I was doing. I built a small rectangular house out of the wood and stone I happened to be carrying. I had better building supplies that I was carrying, but for a temporary house, I didn’t need them. Inside of the house I built a chest to hold all of my valuables. I had acquired a lot of redstone, and I wasn’t in any position to lose all of that over a mismanaged encounter with a creeper.

My small stone sanctuary was completed, and the sun started coming up over the horizon. It was going to be another beautiful, blocky day. I watched from the cliff as the pixelated sun came up, and as the soft piano music started playing, I knew what I had to do.

I had to die.

I couldn’t make it home. I had no idea what direction I should have been wandering in, and for all I could tell there were fields of glacier and forests between me and my homeland. My thoughts of building a new home were quickly being replaced by the truth. I needed to die so I could get back to my home. I had a house there. I had a lot going there for me. I was in the process of building a floating tower of doom. I wasn’t ready to give that up.

I made a sign outside of my small home that said “Brandon Lived Here.” I knew that if anyone else on the server ever made it out there, they’d see that and they’d leave my materials alone until I could get back to them. I shut the door and walked to the edge of the cliff. I looked down at the ground below me, and then looked ahead. The sun was high in the sky. I took one last look at it, and I jumped. I fell to the ground, and I died on impact.

I respawned back at the server spawn point, not far from where we had all built our homes. I went back to my small house that I lived in. It was not far from the entrance to the mine, and it was not far from where I had been building my tower fortress. I knew the trip back through the mine would be a pain, so I planned to make that journey on another day. I decided to log out of the server. I wasn’t sure what else I could do at that point.

While playing Grand Theft Auto, it was rare for me to ever die by my own choice. It was typical that I would make some stupid mistake during a run and end up getting myself killed. After amassing a five or six star warrant, it wasn’t uncommon for me to die once the army started showing up. Beyond Grand Theft Auto, it isn’t uncommon to die in video games. Death typically signifies a problem that lay in front of the player. When we reach a challenge that we might not be prepared to face, we die, and the knowledge we take from that encounter helps us on the next attempt. Mega Man 2 taught me this, as did Demon’s Souls.

Death in video games teaches us the limits of our surroundings. This has been minimized greatly in newer games, which often relegate death to a minor inconvenience while we wait for the respawn counter to count down. Death is no longer a sign of defeat as much as it is a temporary impedance. Death in Minecraft is just that, a temporary impedance, but this death specifically took on an odd significance. It felt personal. That character lived a life, and ended it on his own terms.

I can’t think of many other games that give me that experience.

On Becoming Console Agnostic

Over the last month, I’ve been getting automated voicemail messages from someone running for public office here in Wichita, talking about how they’ve changed their political party and how they thought they’d never do it, followed by them explaining why they were doing it. As a gamer I’ve been going through my own level of changes as I get older and as the business philosophies of the hardware manufacturers change.

When I was growing up in the suburbs, I lived in a Nintendo household. I had an NES and by the end of 1992 I had a Super Nintendo. I never had any of the Sega systems, but my neighbor had a Genesis, so I got to play a lot of the popular games. The first Sega hardware I ever had was a Game Gear, a console I wanted because it was in color and was backlit, a major jump in hardware from the various shades of monochrome offered by Nintendo’s Game Boy. Around 1994 I finally got a Game Boy, jumping in on the “Play It Loud” era advertising that brought various colored hardware. The games didn’t look as nice as the Game Gear, but the substantial gain in battery life was worth it.

Somewhere in there I managed to acquire a Sega Genesis, but I only ever had three games for it: Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin, and Desert Strike. I borrowed plenty of games from the neighbors, and my dad and I actually played through Desert Strike together, but that was all I ever had. The system was a hand-me-down from a family friend, so I was never that invested in it.

When the Sony Playstation came out, I never got it. I stuck with Nintendo through the N64, and ended up amassing a great pile of excellent games. By the time the Gamecube came out, I was actually starting to fall out of video games altogether, and only ended up buying a few games for it. When my group of friends in high school started shifting, I started to fall back into gaming. Long nights of Mario Kart Double Dash and Super Smash Bros helped drag me back into the clutches of gaming, and at that point I decided to sell off my N64 collection to fund the purchase of a Playstation 2. I wasn’t giving up on Nintendo, but I wanted to find out how the other half lived. Sega’s hardware division had already gone to the bathroom, and the Microsoft Xbox never appealed to me. The Playstation 2 had become the dominant platform that generation, and I wanted in.

I sold my Nintendo 64 and all of my complete, mint-in-box games– something I still regret to this day– and used the money to fund the purchase of a Playstation 2 from EB Games. Since I never had a Playstation before, the first game I bought to go with it was Final Fantasy VII. I didn’t know what Playstation 2 games I wanted, but I wanted to play Final Fantasy VII. I still don’t really know why I did it, but I know for a little while I didn’t have that many games.

Since I now had a PS2, a lot of doors were now open to me. I had this crazy catalog of PS1 games I could play, and all of these new games–many of them exclusive to the system–at my disposal. I fell in love. I understand why the PS2 ended up “winning” the last generation. I had so much catching up to do in fact, that I was incredibly late to the party when the current generation started.

I remained Nintendo faithful, and while I didn’t buy one at launch, I did end up buying a Wii. By this point, Nintendo had become to me a company that existed outside of the dick waving contest that the other consoles occupied. Nintendo was just Nintendo. They made games I absolutely loved and I didn’t really care about the “more power” mentality that gaming ended up taking up.

Having friends who were gamers, I became exposed to the pros and cons of the current generation. Some of my friends pooled some money together and actually bought me an Xbox 360 for my birthday. Almost immediately it got the dreaded RROD, but I swapped it out and had another unit that survived for over a year. Eventually that one died as well, so I ended up just buying one of my own, and I still have it to this day. I got really into the XBox 360 for a while, and in a lot of ways I saw it as the evolution of some of the ideas Sega had been working into the Dreamcast. I had become a faithful Microsoft fan, as they were offering me what I wanted out of gaming.

After a couple years, my perception of gaming began rapidly changing. My tastes started shifting considerably, as I started getting out of Western developed games. My interests started shifting back to Japanese oriented gaming, and by then, consoles had started coming down in price. I picked up a slim Playstation 3 and a couple games to get me started. Almost immediately I was hooked again. Having been used to the ad infested layout of the Xbox 360, the XMB layout of the PS3 came as a huge relief. Everything was easy to find and I adapted quickly. It felt like a media center, and I liked that. I know the online community isn’t as vocal or pervasive as the Xbox 360 community is, but as someone who doesn’t do a lot of online gaming, I quickly found that didn’t bother me

The truth was that I was growing out of playing a lot of online games with other people, and I felt like most of the games on the Xbox 360 just weren’t made for me.

Growing up I was really into playing games with my friends, and typically what happens is that over time it becomes more difficult to hang out with those friends to play together. Online play finally became a viable process during the current generation, and while I’m somewhat thankful for it, it does feel rather soulless compared to playing in person. This was a big reason I started getting out of online gaming. I missed being in the same room as my friends. It also didn’t help that I’ve found that the online community on Xbox Live is horrible. I don’t understand where that sort of shit-talking became a thing, but that’s an argument for another day.

Over time I started buying more games for my PS3. I spend a lot more time on it than I used to, and at this point, I don’t think I’ve turned my Xbox on in a couple of months. I just have no desire to. The increasing majority of the games I play lately have become single player focused. When I do delve into multiplayer, it’s usually local multiplayer only, and even then it’s usually limited to arcade games or fighters. Shooters are not a big part of my gaming vocabulary anymore, and I’m finding more games on the PS3 that grab me in ways that the Xbox 360 never did.

I knew the transition was happening when I bought a competitive fighting game on the PS3. Games like that tend to do better on the Xbox 360, but I just feel better playing them on PS3 now, especially if they are Eastern developed. Plus, it feels weird playing a Japanese developed game on a Western developed console.

Another big part of why I’ve been making this transition is because of Sony’s approach to how they handle region locking their console. The PS3 is essentially region free, always has been, and presumably always will be. I love this approach and I wish the other hardware developers would take note of this. I know there is a lot of upset people regarding Persona 4 Arena’s region locking, but considering the incredibly short gap between releases in America and Japan, I’m not that upset about it. Atlus has apologized up and down and has said they have no plan to make this a regular practice, and I believe them. I understand that things like this are business related to prevent reverse importation and market cannibalism. While I’m not as militant as a lot of people are on the issue, I do think that region locking is anti-consumer. No, it doesn’t usually affect me directly, but it does affect the community and that does bother me.

While I know the argument can be made that as far as the multi-platform games go, there is a ton of overlap between the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but the majority of those titles also come out on PC, so that has become my platform of choice for a lot of those games. Since the PS3 actually has an existing market in Japan, I feel like it has a much better library of exclusives than the Xbox 360 does these days.

I don’t like making fanboy arguments about what system is the best. I’m in the fortunate position to own all of the major consoles, so gaming has become a crazy buffet for me. I don’t buy into fanboy sensationalism or anything of that sort. I love a lot of how Sony handles their user interface, I’ve always been a Nintendo fan and while I don’t agree with a lot of their business decisions, I do have a soft spot for some Microsoft’s games. Play the games you like on the consoles you like, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong for doing so. Video games are about having fun, and it needs to stay that way.

No Doubt – Settle Down

I don’t have much to really say today. All you need to know is that I am seriously digging this song.

Even the video has this real 90s feel to it. Also, the band is remarkably well preserved. If I didn’t know better I’d say this came out over ten years ago. This song sounds like nothing else on the radio right now. It’s so cheery and upbeat, not slipping into the cynicism or misogyny that the radio is full of these days.

1992: My 16-bit Christmas

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System came out in 1991. I hadn’t started subscribing to Nintendo Power yet, so I didn’t know this. At this point in time I was still loving my NES and my young mind couldn’t imagine anything greater. By Christmas of 1992, my family was living in a duplex in Derby, KS. My parents were saving up to buy a house, and I was all of six years old. I don’t think we lived in that duplex for more than a year, but I know that on Tax Day, 1993, we moved into the home where my family resides to this day.

I only remember ever spending one Christmas holiday in that duplex. I honestly don’t remember all that much about living there, but I seem to have a couple random memories involving me either injuring myself or learning how to ride a bike. All those memories aside, the only one that truly mattered was Christmas of 1992.

I couldn’t tell you any of the toys I got, but I can tell you nearly everything that happened on Christmas morning. Santa brought me something I didn’t know I wanted. He brought me my Super Nintendo Entertainment System that I still own to this day. I couldn’t wait to play the game that I got with it. I’ve got this new system that outputs these beautiful, colorful 16-bit sprite graphics, and I couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my holiday playing… Mario Paint?

What the fuck is Mario Paint?? Where’s my new Super Mario Bros game?

I wasn’t wise to the whole “Santa is a lie” thing yet, but for a brief moment I felt betrayed. Santa, that asshole, brought me a system and a game that of all things used a mouse. It wasn’t even really a game as much as it was a creative tool. Of course, being a Nintendo title, there were all these interesting game elements to it, but I was upset. I was really hoping for a new Super Mario Bros game to go with it, or even one of these other beautiful, colorful games advertised to me on the back of the box. I wasn’t a very grateful child when it came to this, but later that day, my dad went to Blockbuster Video to rent a couple other games. No Super Mario World, as I had learned it was called, but he did return with a golf game for him to play, and for me, Super Mario Kart. Now we’re playing with power.

I played with Mario Paint, but I didn’t get truly sucked in until later. Super Mario Kart had become my game of choice, and I spent most of Christmas day playing it. This was the last time until the Wii that my parents ever really played video games with me. My dad was so impressed with the system that we actually took it to my grandparents’ house to show it off, and it was a great experience all around. I think that may have been the last time a video game console other than a handheld ever made it to my grandparents’ house.

We came back that night and I finally started digging into Mario Paint. My mother had shown a level of proficiency at the fly swatting game, and my young mind was having fun just playing with the coloring book pages. When I stopped playing for the night, my dad ended up moving the console into their room so he could play his golf game and mess around with Super Mario Kart while I slept. I know now why they bought me Mario Paint, and the effect that it had on me was profound.

I pride myself on being a writer, but I’m in school for electronic media, which is kind of a blanket term for graphic design, audio production and to an extent, journalism. Mario Paint was my first real exposure to that world. It had rudimentary capabilities, but I could build songs using the sounds provided. I could draw whatever came to my mind. If I had the patience, I could even crudely animate something like the examples that were in the Mario Paint official guide. The possibilities were endless.

I never took to drawing on paper, and I never picked up a musical instrument until I was in high school, so those things were still a ways off, but it planted ideas into my brain. It helped my developing brain find a creative outlet, and to me that was a big deal. I played a lot of games on my SNES, some I played and never really touched again, but I kept coming back to Mario Paint. I later found out some of my friends had similar experiences with the game, and I guess I was kind of shocked to find I wasn’t the only one who really got something out of it. It really has shaped my love of Nintendo and why their games are still magical to me. The worst part of Mario Paint to me is that since we never got the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive in America, we never got the “sequel” to Mario Paint, Mario Artist. Perhaps had that been released here, I may have gotten into game development, or even dabbled in 3D modeling!

I actually don’t know if I’d be where I was now if it weren’t for that bizarre tool wrapped in the shell of a video game. Of course, I did get Super Mario World a few weeks later, but Mario Paint would forever be what introduced me to 16-bit video gaming, and later an interest in audio and design.

Zelda II and its Link to my Past

A lot of my best gaming memories are associated with events that happened to me as a young child, growing up in the early 1990s. When I was about six years old, I went to my first sleepover birthday party for my then best friend. The fact that this happened nearly 20 years ago is staggering to me and for the first time I see how quickly time passes. I’ll be 26 in less than a month now. I don’t want to mourn over my lost adolescence right now, as I’ll save that for another day.

The point I’m trying to make is that when you’re six years old, everything is a wonderful, new experience. My living arrangement was finally starting to level out and in first grade, I was friends with everyone. My then best friend was having his birthday party, and I was invited. How could I say no? It would be a night full of pizza, video games, and all of the chicanery that comes with a group of caffeinated first graders. I showed up, ready for my first real sleepover with friends, and things went the way they should. We all ate our weight in Pizza Hut pizza and settled in to play some video games. We spent a lot of the night playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES. I don’t really remember a lot of that in particular, but I remember us getting stuck.

In all actuality, I’m not sure if we ever actually made it beyond the second level. I know I wasn’t very good at video games back then, and my friends weren’t much better. It’s likely that we got stuck trying to defuse the bombs in the Hudson River. I still can’t make it past that level, even to this day. I’ve never been very good at that game and I doubt I ever will be. Eventually, we ran out of energy and went to bed, exhausted from running around the house and suffering from our sugar crash.

The next morning came, and Faron’s mom made us breakfast. It was still fairly early, and we started trying to play Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This was my first experience with this game, and it blew my mind to see Link running around from left to right like it was a Mario game. My only real experience with The Legend of Zelda at this point was the time I spent with my dad playing through it. To me, Zelda was a top-down adventure game. Zelda II introduced me to all of these bizarre role playing game elements that I wouldn’t really recognize for a few more years.

More than anything, Zelda II confused me. I don’t remember there being towns in Hyrule! What happened to Zelda? Who is Error and what is he really trying to tell me? The side scrolling element of the game was just icing on the cake. My friends and I all had problems understanding the idea that the villagers had things to say. I didn’t understand why there was an overworld map, or why the perspective switched to side scrolling whenever something attacked me. The whole game was this mess of questions and confusion. We spent the morning stumbling around this odd, mostly unrecognizable version of Hyrule, and if I knew the horrors that existed in the latter chunk of the game, I would have given up immediately. To me, Zelda II was this odd new creature that none of us understood. Considering the history that game has, we weren’t the only ones that felt that way.

As I remember, we didn’t get very far, and I know that I didn’t play the game again for another decade at least, but that memory sticks inside of my brain. After enough frustration, we finally gave up and decide to spend the remainder of our party time together riding bikes around the neighborhood. I eventually went home and went back to my normal life, satisfied with my first sleepover experience.

In retrospect, there are moments from that night that I recall now that I never noticed the first time around. Faron’s parents had been fighting a lot, and they actually got divorced soon after. Despite this, they managed to try and put it all aside give their oldest son a fun birthday party. It’s kind of worrisome that that event is what I associate with Zelda II, but it was one of the happier early memories that I still have to this day.

Here We Go Again

I’m awful at keeping something like this going, as immediately after I posted the last post, things got hectic for a while and I wasn’t able to post at all. That being said, life has toned down, and I’ve removed some unnecessary drama. Now I can actually focus on writing things on here. I can’t promise it’ll be daily or anything, so I’m not even going to go there, but I’ve got some awesome stuff to post on a regular basis. Let’s get this train moving.