I was around 6 years old.

There were four of us in the neighborhood who had our own NES. We would sometimes borrow games from each other. One of the other boys, a few years older than myself, was always kind to me — as evidenced by letting me borrow his golden Legend of Zelda cartridge.

I remember him trying to explain to me the importance of the save file. “That’s my man,” he said, pointing at the screen after we had powered the game on in my living room. “You don’t mess with my man.”

You have to realize, he did not say “my man” the way you would if it was a romantic sense, no. This was a serious matter of personal property, and I was to understand this by way of thrusting his index finger toward the small image of Link in a light-blue tunic.

Of course, I had no idea what he meant or what he was talking about. I managed to delete his file. Worse, I barely played the game at all. I did not quite ‘get’ it.

He was merciful upon my life, but certainly not happy with me.

Game-borrowing diminished significantly after that incident.

###

“Ho, brave lad, on your quest to wake the dreamer!”

Growing up, we had some fun Christmas traditions in my household. One of them was that every year my grandmother got myself and my sister an ornament. We got to open it well before Christmas, of course, so that it could be put on the tree.

Fun fact: The particular packaging for the Christmas ornament I received one year was just about exactly the same size as a new Game Boy game in the box. I know this because of what happened when I received, in the mail, two wrapped presents from my grandmother. One of them, we knew, was the ornament. The other, I did not yet know.

Thus, a dilemma: Nearly identical (seriously) in size, weight, even how they felt in the hand — how could I tell which one was the ornament, that I was allowed to open and put on the tree?

Well, I couldn’t: I just picked one, opened it… and discovered that my grandmother had gifted me The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Christmas.

My mother did not let me play it. It was rewrapped, and placed back under the tree, taunting me for all the days to come.

Once I was able to explore Koholint Island, Awakening became the first Zelda game I completed. Multiple times. On Super Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket, it became one of my all-time favorites, and remains so to this day.

###

To understand what Ocarina of Time means to me, you have to understand a couple of other things about my gaming history.

Although it was probably fairly typical for millions of American adolescents, I played… so much video games. I mean, hours and hours and hours for weeks and weeks on end of video games. In hindsight, I am so ashamed of all the lost time, all the lost potential, the sheer monumental mass of days bled away in front of the television.

The NES was my primary machine of choice. Even after we got the SNES, its predecessor got plenty of play. Those two consoles and their 2D experiences had years, and years, and years to cultivate a deep, obnoxious fondness for Nintendo gaming within me. Playing Nintendo games was a source of happiness, relaxation, and simple fun. I grew to enjoy the characters, the lore, the little details that were lovingly crafted into these experiences for me.

But where my history with Nintendo begins to differ from some others is with the advent of the Nintendo 64. For millions of gamers, their introduction to 3D Nintendo gaming was in the form of Super Mario 64. I have read some of these memories, these players whose eyes widened and jaws dropped at the possibilities they could only begin to realize in the third dimension, the overwhelming magic of what those sorts of settings and challenges could do to enrich games from that point forward.

Not me. I did not have this epiphany. Well, not with Super Mario 64.

It was a while before I had a 64 of my own. And when I did, I did not have Super Mario 64. Sure, I loved the Mario games and their lineage, and titles like Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario RPG got a lot of love from me.

But my first 3D adventure was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

My goodness. What a revelation.

Has it aged perfectly? Nah. But it is a great video game, and had a compelling impact on me, a teenage boy who was at the exact point of readiness for a bigger, richer quest like that one.

By the time Majora’s Mask began appearing in the pages of Nintendo Power, I was able to understand what hype really was, and how glorious it could feel to have your dreams become reality. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: Majora’s Mask was, for me personally, the culmination of already believing Ocarina of Time was something special and wanting more, hardly daring to imagine that I could like the sequel even better.

Here I sit, looking back with a smile at the fervent leap I took into Termina.

Majora’s Mask is my favorite Legend of Zelda entry.

###

I am 31 years old, now.

I am married. I have been for over five years, in fact. I have mortgage payments. My wife and I have a two-year-old daughter, and a son that is due in a matter of weeks. I have a steady day job.

My hair is turning gray, especially at the temples. I play basketball one evening a week, but sometimes experience joint pain and aches and soreness that I never did when I played a decade ago. I watch my diet a little; much more than I ever used to, at least.

I am old enough to look at the world and feel like it is foreign to me, like I am no longer in touch with its ways and its trends, much less its morals and its fascinations.

I teach the Westminster Catechism to high schoolers at my church. Some of the most significant stress in my life arises from bookkeeping issues at work. Last week, I wondered how often I would use a belt sander if I bought one. I don’t read as much as I would like, but I am slowly-but-surely getting through Dune. I should call my grandmother. It was only this year that I finally unfriended an ex-girlfriend on Facebook. My wife and I had a conversation about medical bills at the dinner table, just earlier tonight. I recently wrote a note on a tablet of paper we keep on the fridge for needed purchases, since I am almost out of my generic daily vitamin supplement.

My mind is still sharp. My heart still has a tenderness to it.

So it is with clarity that I can still recall, vividly and distinctly, the joy of plunging into a new Legend of Zelda video game, utterly immersing myself into its universe and letting my soul move, if but slightly, with its rhythms.

I am excited about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the new Nintendo Switch system. From what I have read and seen, it seems fantastic, and like something I will greatly enjoy.

I don’t really have time for games like this anymore, though. And I have no business making it a priority, amid everything else that I have going on, and in my household altogether.

Yet…

I am going to enjoy it, and thoroughly. I am going to persist in the belief that fun is a value, and that my life has room for it, and this has worth. I am going to stay up irresponsibly late at night, multiple times a week, just to partake in the wonder of the Wild. I will smile, and laugh, and feel. It’ll be great.

For my inner child, this may be his last stand.

I hope he survives.

 

Just havin’ some fun makin’ fake game boxes for the Nintendo Switch before tonight’s presentation, mostly a reimagining of some NES launch titles, along with other… things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to work at a summer camp. Every once in a while, we would receive a phone call from someone asking if we had any tent or RV sites available that night/weekend. We would politely explain that, no, we are not that kind of camp. Most of the time, the caller would totally understand, and the call would conclude reasonably.

There was one exception, though, that I still think about sometimes, as an example of the absurdity people will reach in their beliefs on social obligations and communication.

This lady, when I explained that we were not that kind of campground, got in a sort of huff, and sounded clearly annoyed in her tone. She then explained to me: “Your website doesn’t say you’re not that kind of campground.”

This struck me as noteworthy, for two thoughts —

1) The fact that she apparently checked our website before calling, and to such an extent that she felt comfortable speaking as though she had browsed its entire contents, yet still arrived at the wrong conclusion as to what sort of place we were, is remarkable.

2) Can you imagine, just imagine, how ludicrous it would be if it were generally expected and thought to be rational that we should have to note every Thing We Are Not in order to clarify What We Are? To put it concretely: Our website did not say we were not a doctor’s office, either. Or a pet shop. Or a restaurant. Or a colony on Mars. Or a figment of the imagination of a four-year-old chimpanzee kept by an eccentric businesswoman in Guatemala. Am I crazy to think we shouldn’t have to say such, in order for a site-browser to assume it? The leap from “their website does not explicitly say that they’re not a comic book store” to “I actually believe that, because of this, they must be a comic book store” seems rather incredible to me. Alas.

###

People tend to have an overinflated sense of self-importance. I am sure I am no exception. I think it is healthy to view stuff like Twitter and blogging and video games as “y’know, this is ultimately meaningless, but if I or others get some harmless enjoyment out of it, that could be okay I guess, but I don’t place any expectations on it.” Hopefully, anyway.

###

This morning, I received this DM on Twitter.

Yes, there is some context that I have omitted. No, it would not help this person’s case. Nonetheless, I will summarize: I retweeted something, something that was not even my tweet, and something that ended in a winking-face emoji. This person took my retweet to indicate a serious interest in the subject matter, and tweeted me a few times about it, and sent a few DMs as well, before I could give a response. This is all fine so far, of course. An innocent misunderstanding.

The eyebrow-raising swerve happened when I thought I had politely explained basically, “Hey, thanks for getting in touch, but I do not actually have a serious interest in the matter. Have an excellent day.” A typical exchange could have ended there, or with a trade of “oh my bad” followed by my “oh no problem!” But instead, I got the response I have shown here.

Now, okay, obviously, this is still basically harmless, not a huge deal. But I think it is worth voicing the reminder that, on Twitter, you do not owe anyone anything.

I don’t owe you a follow, a reply, a shout-out, even an acknowledgement as a response to anything you do. As for what I do, I don’t owe you any labor, explanations, content labels, or editorial consideration.

This goes for everyone! Don’t let people think they’re your boss when they’re not. It’s super weird, and indicative of behavior that, in face-to-face interaction, would likely be found not only awkward, but not exactly conducive toward making anyone want to hang out with you ever again. Which, hey, it’s not like it’s illegal to be cringey, but I don’t have to accept your input either. Lord knows I’m way awkward enough on my own.

Here, let me put it this way.

If you feel as though I have somehow shorthanded you in an interaction on social media, this feeling is a result of your overblown sense of its significance — not a result of any failure on my part.

Just like the people who hunt me down to ask why I unfollowed them, who fail to grasp it’s because I realized they were the type of person who ask why people unfollow them, treating me like I owe you something has the *gasp!* opposite result they intend: I am less likely to give you anything, time or effort or attention altogether, when you pull that crap and treat me that way.

Try this exercise: Imagine me, saying to you, “Your interactions with me on social media are not important. I can definitely do without them. They have no real priority in my life. Ignoring you would do me no harm, and paying any attention to you is a frivolous indulgence, not a necessity.”

If any part of that bothers you, you may have some soul-searching to do! Good luck in that, for what it’s worth.

It’s skin-crawlingly bizarre that someone I don’t know would think they are seated in such a place of authority over me that they actually believe they can dictate what my messaging “should” be like. As though I should take this seriously, like, “oh, yes, please forgive me — here, I will label all of my future joke tweets as jokes, just for you, as I would just hate to have to receive another DM reprimand from you.”

Do you want me to do something for you?

Then make the request appropriately, preferably within the context of an existing relationship (friends have reason to do more for each other than strangers would, right? crazy!), and without the assumption that I owe you anything.

 

Or pay me to do it. Paying me to do something could work well. I would totally treat that as an obligation.

This tweet happened.

If you are unfamiliar with @LaurakBuzz, she is no stranger to Switch leaks and rumors — and has been pretty transparent even about the misses, if you’re interested in a deep dive on the topic.

This is not the most unbelievable rumor, as the release has been bandied about for the past couple years. If anything, for fans of the series, it’s nice to see that it might finally become a reality.

As for the Switch, well, Nintendo still has its work cut out for it, in terms of marketing the dang thing and undoing the unfortunate [ mostly ] legacy of the Wii U… but, hey, for the core crowd of Nintendo fandom, this is not the worst thing and might even pique the interest of a few.

 

 

 


2016 was a great year for the Nintendo Legend brand. I began speaking out against gamer culture, wrote some standalone features I can point at and be proud of, experimented with social media stunts like retro gaming image riddles and the whole Gaston thing, enjoyed my first viral tweet, jumped headfirst into community controversies, broke new ground in collaborations, and did some behind-the-scenes stuff as well.

I wrote multiple guests posts for other sites, was able to pay fellow creatives for quality work, and even got my own grandfather to do a colored wood burning of the Wind Fish from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

In general, my mission is to foster positive interaction in the retro gaming community. I did not always succeed in doing so, and I certainly stepped outside that vision into other avenues, but overall I am happy with the results of 2016 from a hobbyist point of view.

So, what’s next?

The fun thing about Nintendo Legend is that it very specifically started out as a blog on which I was trying to review every North American-released NES game. For a few years, that really was my focus. Nowadays, I don’t even do that, and the ‘brand’ or whatever has become its own beast, even if that means I mostly just say weird stuff on Twitter.

I like it. I’m having fun with it. And that’s all it needs to be.

But! I still have wants, in terms of where I want to go next and what I hope to achieve. So, here they are, in summary bullet-point fashion, my brand goals for 2017.

###

• Reorganize NintendoLegend.com NES games list navigation, archives, new reviews

• Make $1,000

• Write two posts I am proud of

• Figure out a better audio-recording solution
– post a simple webcam-style rant on YouTube
– start a new podcast series

• Write a new Masterpiece Microscope feature for SkirmishFrogs

• Reach 18,000 followers on Twitter (maybe in 2018 though hm)

• Stream something again at some point

• Continue posting retro gaming discussion questions on Facebook

###

… and, that’s it! I could come up with more, but those are the core items I will be working toward. I probably won’t succeed at all of these (if any), and I’ll likely get distracted with other stuff along the way, but there it is, out in the open.

I have secondary things in the back of my mind. At some point, as I have mentioned, the whole ‘Nintendo Legend’ name will likely be dropped and I will rebrand altogether. But, hey, honestly, as long as Nintendo isn’t sending me a cease-and-desist, I will continue as-is. Besides that, I have a silly little scoop I’ve been sitting on for a while that I’d like to write about someday. And I have ideas for new video series. And I want to ensure the first story arc of my new The Guild of Profits fanfiction series gets finished. And, and…

It never ends, y’know? I always have a lot going on, whether in my hobby life or my personal life (kid #2 due in March!). Which, to be clear… is great.

Here’s hoping 2017 is great, too.


rogue_one

I saw the most recent Star Wars movie at the theater last night. I am not going to be super spoilery, here, but there will be a couple tidbits.

This is not really a review. It’s more of a ramble.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS, DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS POST

My overall impression is that I enjoyed it, it was pretty good (pretty darned good, perhaps), but not perfect, which is fine. The visuals were splendid, with some of the most gorgeous scenery and brilliant images from the whole canon. The action sequences were fantastic; in fact, two in particular stood out in my mind, one of which I will talk more about later.

The story was serviceable, in my view. I think the performances were alright, but the characters themselves were not as lovable as in The Force Awakens, in my experience. Then again, perhaps they were doomed from the start — after all, we all went into this one knowing they weren’t exactly going to make it to Episode IV: A New Hope.

Whereas, on the other hand, the principals in The Force Awakens have a whole new saga pinned on them.

Yet Rogue One definitely works, as a one-off, and can give reasonable hope to Wars fans for future projects, such as the Young Han Solo flick. For me, I was already hyped for Episode VIII, but Rogue certainly did not throw me off the train. I am still on track. I have to admit, this was the one I was not excited for, so I am glad it turned out as well as it did.

But, gosh, it made me wonder a couple things. Like: Do you really have to be a Star Wars fan to begin with, and just kinda have to buy into the experience, in order to enjoy the writing from these scripts? I know that Star Wars is supposed to be cheesy to some extent, but if I heard the word “hope” one more time I think I may have rolled my eyes. Yes, we get it, we really get it, and we really got it the first couple times the theme came up. Maybe that was just me.

Also, Jyn Erso. Such an interesting character! The strong opening was a cool stroke of worldbuilding for the audience, and gives Erso some inner conflict. Obviously. Somehow, though, I wish I had more to work with? She sets out from the start as an independent vagabond, a criminal in fact, but within the span of a couple scenes she goes from shrugging about the whole Rebel Alliance idea to literally being the one at the center of their headquarters giving the requisite Rousing Speech.

However, maybe this is my fault, maybe I am very dumb and very dense and there was a lot going on that went unspoken that I was supposed to pick up on. She goes through some trauma, after all, and some complex social navigation. I dunno.

The humor was great! I mean, it’s no comedy, it’s not like there were jokes throughout, but that worked to good effect, as the jokes that did emerge were all real solid. K2-SO, of course, was the primary source, and did well in that role. I laughed pretty hard a couple times. That exchange where one character mentions the possibility of them dying in the vacuum of space, and K2 says something like, “I wouldn’t. … I would survive,” so straightfaced and deadpan, ahahaha, that’s good stuff.

Hearing Red Leader and Gold Leader again was great. In fact, yeah, I have to admit, all the tiny little references (I am sure I missed many!) were wonderful — personally, I almost laughed with delight when the mouse droid made its brief appearance on-screen. The blue milk brought a smile as well.

And the accuracy, too, everything from the way the Death Star plan preview loaded to the style of the Rebel forces’ helmets, that was all immaculate. They clearly took this project seriously, as to be expected, and knocked it out.

It was better than the way Force Awakens went about its fanservicing. Whereas TFA recycled an entire plotline, to a nauseating extent (I still greatly enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, and even can understand why they did it that way, but c’mon), Rogue One went for the more subtle fanservicing, and I liked that style better.

… some of the CG character work was a bit much for me, though. I know, not exactly an uncommon take (I’m seeing “uncanny valley” chatter going around), but, I mean, I guess I can’t blame the artists here. They were given a daunting, nigh-impossible task (hey we want Tarkin in here, then Leia too, no pressure), and did the best they could. It’s not bad, no, but it’s noticeable. I respect their efforts. I just wish it was better, more seamless. Maybe someday we’ll get there.

And, y’know, there’s other stuff I could mention, both good and bad, but… this is already super boring, I’ve written enough. So I have a little confession:

There’s really only one thing I wanted to make sure I wrote about, and got off my chest. I have to acknowledge it.

That finale, the scene with Vader? You know the one: Dark corridor, red lightsaber activates, the Rebel forces show a palpable sense of fear, one yells “Open fire!” … and then we are treated to the greatest on-screen display of villainous badassery in cinematic history?

Yeah, I. Yeah. I was a huge fan of that sequence.

I had an intense, full-body chill the whole time. That was amazing. And it was brilliant, the way they teased Vader, but held him back, but set things in motion, got him going there, got you thinking, oh man, are they going to, they have to write, we’re gonna see, they’ve got to show us one good Vader bit…

And we got it.

There’s this joke about how the “hallway fight” has become the iconic trope for movies over the past decade, but there’s a reason it resonates with people. The close quarters allows a more visceral reaction to what’s going on, since we can more intimately relate to every deadly blow as we see it up-close, and there’s a great sense of skin-scrawling tension in such an inescapable, claustrophobic place. Not to mention the natural progression, like a video game level, from one direction to another, which organically winks to the viewer, telling them ahead of time what to expect, as we know on a subconscious level exactly what has to happ–

Look, all I’m saying is that no matter what I thought of the first 98% of Rogue One, that Vader scene is everything. I want to see it again. And again. And I doubt I will tire of it soon. And it might be my favorite scene from the whole Star Wars filmography. And I don’t feel weird about saying that at all.

nintendo

Nintendo has a great roster of first-party franchises, from the lighthearted adventures of Mario to the fantastical Legend of Zelda canon and everything in between. But, still, there are some series that I wish I could play on Nintendo’s machines despite currently being exclusive elsewhere. Here are my picks for most-coveted properties.

Final Fantasy

Decades ago, Final Fantasy titles were widely available on Nintendo’s popular 8- and 16-bit home consoles. In fact, that is where the series began, on the Famicom. However, long since the glory days of Square in its 20th-century heyday, the property has moved to Sony – and with the recent success of Final Fantasy XV, it looks like it is there to stay for the foreseeable future.

Casino.com Online Casino Games

Nintendo has always struggled to form a consistent, coherent online identity. Additionally, they have also labored to strike a harmonic chord with a more mature audience. In order to accomplish two goals at once, why not embrace the arena of online casino games like online blackjack? It is a popular niche, even if not as mainstream as some other titles, but with a very loyal fan base this is an arena Nintendo could find great success in.

Halo

Microsoft has pushed Halo as their forefront property across three different generations of gaming systems now, with no signs of stopping. While it may be silly to think of Master Chief jumping ship to the big N, here is my reasoning: Nintendo used to have a popular franchise of sci-fi first-person shooters with the Metroid Prime series, but they seem to have forgotten Samus Aran and left her by the wayside, sadly.

Obviously, this is all just wishful thinking, and such acquisitions are wildly unrealistic. But it remains a fun thought exercise, to consider just how different the gaming landscape could be if just one or two franchises were in different hands. Can you imagine playing a StarFox title on the PS4, or if The Last of Us released on Wii U? That would be crazy!

Then again, there was a time when Sonic the Hedgehog was specifically pushed to be Mario’s rival; yet, now, they star in games together for Nintendo. Maybe there is a chance, if slight, of seeing such ‘crazy’ possibilities after all. What series do YOU want to see on a different system?

On Saturday afternoon, November 19, 2016, I began tweeting rhymes set to the tune of the Gaston song from Disney’s Beauty & The Beast animated movie. This began a descent into madness marked by a downward spiral completely out of control — I changed my Twitter identity completely, and tweeted nothing but “Gaston” and Gaston-related imagery for several days.

gaston_tweet_30

On Friday, November 25, 2016, I restored my account.

In the meantime, I lost about 150 followers.

Lol.

As with anything unusual that is done, half the fun was in the reactions I received. And I certainly received: From people going along with the joke and asking if I was okay, to those taking it far too seriously, and everything in between, my mentions remained a-buzz for the duration.

Mostly, it was all harmless and reasonable. People annoyed? I get that. People confused? Okay. People conjecturing as to some deeper motivation I had? Amusing. People feeling they had the right to speak on my behalf and butt into conversations so they could offer their oh-so-keen insight as to what I was ‘actually’ up to? Less amusing, but rare.

Oh, and the stream of people thinking they were telling me about @Botston for the first time. Oh my gosh. Yes, I am aware of it. Shhhh.

It was just a fun thing, overall, but it did confirm a prior finding: People CANNOT HANDLE IT when you change your username.

That’s it.

That’s the one single most determining factor in Twitter behavior that guarantees a loss of followers.

You’re mostly speaking to an echo chamber of like-minded people anyway, so espousing your views (political or otherwise) won’t do it. Silence won’t do it, as nobody will remember to bother unfollowing you.

But, gosh, change your username and people flip out.

I already went through this with @SkirmishFrogs (and wrote about it for that site), but it was still so interesting to me to see people screencap the Gaston_Legend account and ask foreboding things like, “Why are 15 thousand people following this account? And how did I start following?!”

People get unnerved, believing that Twitter is somehow acting on their behalf, like some sort of malevolent ghoul, out to control their social media followings. The horror!

I mean, like, I guess I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be common sense (?) to know that you can change your username, but it still surprised me to see the extent that it freaks people out. You really have to sit people down and say “hey Twitter lets you change usernames” for them to understand that, I suppose.

So, uh, that’s my only real takeaway, and a few people asked if I lost followers/how many did I lose, so there you have it. Sure, I lost some, but not as many for the reason you may think. I didn’t learn any profound lesson, just confirmed suspicions on people. And I didn’t actually go crazy, silly. It really was all just for kicks and giggles. Going ‘too far’ with stuff is something I’ve been notorious for, and for most of my life. Maybe some would be well served to remember that.

Otherwise, I’m back now. Hi. See ya on my next crazy adventure!

EDIT: Oh, quick little additional story!

The scariest part was when I went about restoring the accounts… I switched the placeholder @Nintendo_Legend just fine. So then, it came time to switch @Gaston_Legend to @Nintendo_Legend.

Only, when I did that, I got a message saying that my account was locked due to detecting spam-like behavior.

It may sound pathetic, but I admit, my belly had a little fluttery moment and my eyes widened in horror. I was like NO NO NO for a minute — but then it gave me the handy option to just confirm my account with my phone number, which I did, and I think everything turned out fine.

But, whew, for that moment… terror! Ha.

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