This week, Zero Punctuation reviews The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and has a chat with Nintendo.
You know what, I’m glad that new releases are currently barer than the sandwich platter at the home for wayward fat people; I've caught up on so much shit! I finished my full-sized replica of the West Midlands in Minecraft at the bottom of the ocean where it belongs, and I've caught up on some of last year's releases that I missed the first time around. I picked up Battlefield 4, then I put it down again and stamped on it a few times, and then I picked up the new Zelda, Link between Worlds, instead.
Now if you're looking for a balanced and thoughtful critique of the game, then what the fuck are you doing here? I'm basically just going to rail it with the same points as always until it cries. Strap in while I strap on, viewer. What's this game about, then? You play as Link and you have to rescue Princess Zelda. Wow, across the meadows of fresh ideas you stride like a colossus, don't you? Oh, but it's very innovatively evoking Link to the Past on the SNES, the same way I very innovatively crawled up my mum's vagina and stuck my thumb in me mouth. I'm gonna to continue like this for 5 minutes of your life that you will never get back.
Have they gone? Right! Sorry about the subterfuge. By my calculations, the only person still watching will be Nintendo itself, ego-surfing. And you and me need to have a little talk, man to monstrously-large corporation.
Consider this an intervention: you're currently dangerously addicted to failure. When the Wii took off the way it did, you probably thought that ship was going to sail into the sunset forever, didn't you? But a few years down the line you've realized it wasn't a sunset at all but the unforgiving hot flame of a tactical carpet bombing. Now the Wii U is failing to meet sales projections, profits are low, your senior staff are taking massive pay docks, and it's always worrying when a friend starts cutting themselves for attention. I wouldn't be surprised if you feel like a museum piece that's somehow come to life, stumbled out into the street and realised that it’s a relic of the past kept around solely out of nostalgia by a niche audience rapidly outgrowing it in the brief moment before a speeding bus comes along and smears you across the road like marmalade on a piece of toast.
I know we've had our differences, you and I. I did once refer to the Wii as a pile of white spunk that has congealed into the shape of the world's most uncomfortable turd (or something along those lines). I was just frightened that the gaming platform achieving mainstream success was the antithesis of everything I hold dear, namely murdering things with elegant controls that don't require me to wave my hands in the air like The Thomas Crown Affair. But it didn't last; all those trend-following knobs who bought the Wii moved on to the Furby hovercraft or whatever the next big thing was, and you were stuck with the old fanbase again.
Water passes under the bridge, and with a new generation of consoles, I find myself in the strange position of being unreservedly on your side, Nintendo. And why? Because you released a game console! Not an inferior gaming PC for people who dream of being the sub in an unhealthy techno-masochistic fantasy. The Wii U is all like, "Here are some things happening that even the most paralytically-drunk mind can understand. Assemble some friends and tequila shots and let’s do this, bitch!"
Consoles attempting the shift to online multiplayer focus will be remembered as one of the bigger of their many mistakes, because it’s always an uphill struggle and PCs do it so effortlessly. Play online without subscription fees, type insults with your keyboard, minimize the game and file your tax return and have another martini, Mr. Bond. Bam! PC doesn't do so well with local multiplayer because a PC is something you keep in an office, and you don't entertain friends in an office (except when you're shagging your secretary). You entertain friends in a living room, and that's where the console has the home team advantage. While Sony and Microsoft compete to see who can make themselves obsolete the fastest, Nintendo never lost sight of the need for strong local multiplayer in a console, and I respect that.
So what is the problem with the Wii U? Well, to coin a phrase, "you can make yourself as fertile as you like but you can't make a baby without a few good hard dickings". And people just aren't making games for the thing. Nintendo's never been good with third-party relationships. That's cool, I have trouble making friends as well, but that's because I compulsively slap people who end their sentences with prepositions. Nintendo loses friends by pushing the hardware. Everyone does hardware gimmicks; the Xbone has the Kinect and the Pisspoor has its rectangular clitoris, but both of these are fairly easily ignored like a sparrow perched on top of your hat. Wii U games push the screen controller like a sparrow getting in your face and doing plop-plops on your kebab.
The screen controller was always innovation for innovation's sake and doesn't seem to have done much more than place the Wii U in a dead zone somewhere between game consoles and tablet devices without the excitement of the former or the expedience of the latter. Press one button on a tablet and touch an icon or two and you are playing a game, my friend. You don't have to go through that slightly creepy "Michael York at the end of Logan's Run calling down to the brainwashed masses" sequence you get when you turn on the Wii U, and then you can minimize the game to file your tax return!
It could be that the average Joe Scumfuck is now tech-literate enough that we no longer need a Baby's First Console to slowly and patiently introduce to the dumb-dumbs all the wonders of the magic glowing box. Perhaps the very thing that makes me respect the Wii U is the very thing that's failing it. Maybe audiences would prefer to game now on integrated devices that also play movies and music and has the all-important tax return factor, and a dedicated games machine may already be right up there with still having a landline phone in your house or a hand-cranked brontosaurus feeder.
The difficulty is that Nintendo's name is so closely tied to dedicated games machines that you wouldn't take anything else they did seriously. In the mind of the masses, "the new smartphone from Nintendo" sounds akin to, "the new washing machine from Etch A Sketch." But none of Nintendo's problems would be insurmountable if the Wii U had a few more must-play games. I still think Mario Galaxy was the last time Nintendo showed any actual evolution and all their first party nostalgia-baked games since then have just been sifting through decade-old shits trying to figure out when they caught their wasting illness.
Maybe Nintendo should take a break from hardware and focus on the games, like what their old sparring partner SEGA did. And they seem to be doing all right. Sonic the Hedgehog now has all the vim of a pig slowly turning on a spit, but they do other stuff! They published Aliens: Colonial M- oh.
You know what, forget it, it'll all probably straighten itself out. Now I better put the façade back on in case someone skipped to the end. Oh! A Boomerang and a Hookshot!? Slow down. Stanley Kubrick! And now you're going to rent them out to me 'cause who wants actual structure that gradually opens up the game world when we could be at Blockbuster video. Zelda? More like Smellda!…fart. I Smellda fart.
- Quite the silly sausage: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Failing everything else Nintendo can always charge a dollar a pop to slap Reggie's big chunky face
- Consider yourself fixed, games industry