A link to the Link

Hey baby, how’s it going? Oh yeah? Good, good. Me, I’m good, too. I’ve been working on stuff all week and it seems that most of it has gone online within the past 24 hours or so. I feel like I should remark on these things as I link to them for you! But then again, I just stopped in for a sushi dinner at a place I used to frequent and apparently the waitress was so glad to see me back she decided to drown me with free sake. So, you know, my judgment is suspect at the moment. But let’s go ahead with this anyway.

First of all, we jumbled two weeks’ worth of Retronauts into a single podcast. This makes more sense than you might think, because both weeks were about E3. Though each week was very different in tone and substance than the other. Sounds quality’s pretty different, too. It’s easily one of the most laid-back and casual episodes we’ve ever recorded, so that’s something. I guess.

Second, I’ve reviewed Ocarina of Time 3D. Let me stress that: I’ve reviewed Ocarina of Time 3D. This is not a review of the original game, but rather of the remake. I don’t have to read the comments under the review (and since I don’t want to hate the Internet, I never will) to know that this review made a lot of people angry for terribly insubstantial and frankly incorrect reasons. So it goes. It doesn’t help that Metacritic is, as usual, completely misrepresenting my score and changing the authorial intent of the review by forcing 1UP’s scale into some rubric that we’ve never intended, but that’s par for the course, and it’s the industry’s own fault that this happens; they’re the ones who decided to treat Metacritic as the definitive voice of authority. Anyway, Ocarina of Time is a great game, but this remake — and yeah, it’s a remake rather than a port when the graphics and animation are completely updated — didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I debated for quite a while whether to give it a B+ or an A-, but then I realized that I was only considering the higher score because it seems unthinkable to give anything concerning Ocarina of Time anything lower, not because I really feel the remake stacks up to that rating. Of course, I only added a score because we’re obligated to. Ignore it and just read the damn text, OK?

I’ve also previewed the new Tomb Raider game, and I’m sad about that. Specifically, I’m sad because this preview is going to be read by far fewer people than the Ocarina review, and that’s a damn shame, because this preview is easily one of the best things I’ve ever written for 1UP. I’m rarely proud of my work, but this is pretty much my platonic ideal of what a game preview — or any kind of critique, really — ought to be. I wish everything I write could be this good. But it’s probably just as well that it’s not, because this isn’t the sort of game writing the world at large wants to read, and we’d probably go out of business if this was all we published. Now, cosplay galleries of Lara Croft — those pay the bills. But thoughtful analyses of the social and cultural challenges that exist for a reinvention of Lara Croft? Yeah, we’d probably get better traffic if I flung balloons full of cat urine in people’s faces whenever they clicked a link.

Anyway, it looks like sake makes me kind of ranty, so I think maybe I should shut up now. Yup.

28 thoughts on “A link to the Link

  1. It’s a good thing you don’t read the text below, because some of those people are idiots. I dared to read the stuff since I actually commented on the review, and I wanted to strangle somebody through the Internet. I’m glad I don’t have your job.

    Anyway, I’m content with sticking by old fashioned Ocarina for now, so I’m in no rush to get a 3DS yet. I didn’t expect this to be much more than portable OoT with upgraded visuals, audio, and some mild extras, anyway.

    • I’ve long since learned to ignore that sort of thing. Some people use the Internet because they’re looking for an excuse to be angry. I try to be honest and even-handed, and I know I put together a fair, sincere review, so I’m not really concerned about the fact that a handful of people are going to experience hysterics about it. Now, if people got bent out of shape about that Tomb Raider piece, that would be disappointing. Almost as disappointing as no one caring!

  2. I’m kind of surprised that a large portion of the people in the comments, maybe even the majority, are being completely reasonable.

  3. Even though the game has graphically been improved, I find it kind of ugly looking. I’ve probably been spoiled by Windwaker and the DS games. If only they remade Ocarina with Windwaker style graphics! People would love that, right?

    • Really, from what I’ve seen, the modeling and background improvements look about on the level of Super Mario 64 DS: Just enough that it looks better than the original, but at the same time not looking all that different. For example, Young Link’s got more detail in his outfit and he doesn’t like he’s a double amputee with mittens glued to his stumps anymore, and Queen Gohma are more rounded instead of looking like a miserable little pile of jagged polygons, and Hyrule Castle Town is more detailed and looks way less like some blurry CG backdrop*, but it still looks very much like the same old OoT.

      Of course, it runs faster and has 3D, portability and frivolous extras, but I wouldn’t consider it something to rush getting a 3DS for. Of course, I do hope it sells more 3DS systems so we could see an original 3D Zelda for the platform. Or at least Majora’s Mask 3D.

      *Does the game still use CG backdrops? I couldn’t really tell if the remade Hyrule Castle Town was CG or actual polygons in the online videos I’ve seen, but it looked a bit warpy.

      • Sounds like you’re going off web video impressions, which are kind of useless. Mario 64 DS didn’t receive anything like the overhaul Ocarina has been given. It seems like every single texture in the game has been redrawn, most polygon models are refined, the interface system is reprogrammed, and some areas (especially the Ice Cavern/Water Temple) look vastly different. Etc., etc.

      • Online videos and screenshots definitely don’t do it any favors, that’s for sure. It’s gonna be a while before I can go 3DS myself, but if I see a playable demo of the game I’ll definitely be checking it out.

    • I gotta say, the graphics in OOT3D look super-nice. Part of it is the effort that went into giving every backdrop personality; In the Goron City, there’s a big ‘ol cave painting of the Dodongo, and the fact that it’s there is lovely.

  4. It makes me wish a review website would just use totally random ratings. “Ocarina of Time 3D rates green pyramid!” “Hamtaro rates ^ɷ^” etc

  5. You’re missing out on a few very nice compliments by refusing to read the OoT3D review’s comments section. I’ll reproduce some of the more glowing ones here:

    “JP probably has the fairest reviews on 1up.com.” – chinpokoman

    “Excellent review… As usual, from Parish. Someone who understands where the game is coming from, and where it stands in the context of gaming history, probably better than anyone.” – turkish101

    “Mr. Parish’s reviews are some of the finest–as is his writing ability–that I’ve come across in videogame journalism.” – jcm1981

    There’s a fair bit of knee-jerk stupidity in the comments section, too, but the majority seem to understand your points.

    • Thanks, but I don’t want to just selectively pick out the good responses, either. That’s the reviewer’s equivalent of surrounding myself, George Lucas-like, with yes-men. What I really wish is that the critical responses were more substantive rather than just people being angry because oh no he said a thing I don’t agree with. I certainly don’t mind seeing my work criticized, but I’ve learned through constant repetition that there’s very little critical feedback on the Internet… mostly just infuriated blowback.

    • hey, that’s-a me!

      I always make it a point to make a supportive comment on your reviews (or any good reviews, really). Far too many idiotic commenters on there, who probably didn’t read the whole review, who were probably in an uproar back when Twilight Princess didn’t get above 8.9 in Gamespot or whatever.

      I’m well aware that Parish won’t see it, so in a way, it’s not really meant for him. Trying to get some recognition among other gamers, who also happen to be fans of good games writing (like that of Parish).

      Thing is, I couldn’t give a shit about Zelda. I’m not a yes-man who agrees with everything you say – half the time, I’m not even interested in the game you’re reviewing (or discussing on gamespite). I just genuinely enjoy your writing style and ability to place everything in context.

      MagFlare did not, however, quote my full comment. Which also pointed out how iffy that Bond analogy is…

  6. I was once told that when choosing between two scores, always go with the lower one. Brought a quick end to the dilemma of which number to slap on the end of a review.

  7. I was ready to write off the Tomb Raider reboot, especially after that presentation, as the “Other M”-ing of Lara Croft, but after reading your article, it looks a hell of a lot more interesting than it did.

    Perhaps Nintendo should get Crystal Dynamics to do the next Metroid. LOL

  8. Jeremy, I’m here because folks who like games and writing seem to congregate around you. Between 1UP and material for GSQ9, you’ve been on a tear lately.

    Unfortunately you can’t force someone to want to read or think critically. But the more of this high-quality writing you publish, the more repeat appreciators you’ll get — not yes men, but people who genuinely support how you express yourself. I think it feeds back to GSQ contributions as well — I’m really excited for the upcoming issue.

    Sake Jeremy might have needed this more than real Jeremy though :)

  9. It’s too bad a lot of people have been harshing on the new Tomb Raider, it looks promising. From now on any time a game features a female character acting afraid or vulnerable there will be immediate comparisons to Other M. The big difference in this case is that this is showing a younger, neophyte adventurer Lara. She’s not the experienced expert we know from previous games. In Other M, Samus was already a legendary bounty hunter, who had dealt with Ridley, space pirates and other dangers many times already, which made her behavior so much more out of character.

  10. I don’t have much emotional stake in the Tomb Raider franchise, but it’s definitely good to hear that the new game is probably much less terrible than the early word out of E3 indicated. And that was quite a good article.

    As for Ocarina, I’ll probably play it on 3DS eventually, since my lack of Nintendo consoles since the SNES means I’ve yet to actually play it in any form. But I’m not going to run out and buy the system before there’s more things I want out.

  11. As a Nintendophile, I just get giddy at the idea of Ocarina of Time being on the portable at all, so I guess these flaws or shortcomings won’t affect my experience with it.

    • Also a B+ is pretty high. I’ve seen scores of Super Metroid (my favorite game) for the Wii virtual console at 85 percent and even lower and it didn’t make me rage. If the score was a C or D, I might have reacted with rage though :p

  12. Yay! Another traditional Retronauts episode!! I don’t care for the call-in shows, but this one made my week. :D

    Also, a B+ means a lot from someone who didn’t really care for the original Ocarina of Time (as you’ve stated several times in podcasts). I’m going to pick it up!

  13. Unlike the Mario collection review deal, this was pretty unavoidable. Separating a remake from the game itself in a review is like trying to perform siamese twin surgery. Dunno if that’s the best analogy, but there you go.

    It wasn’t just the combat and overworld I thought needed fixing, but also the dungeon design, and the lack of methods and tools for enabling Link to traverse through them quicker. Which of course goes back to my real issue with the Water Temple: being forced to slowly wander through the submerged passageways multiple times. And some of the puzzles are just standard Zelda fare, only in 3d, with the more realistic mechanics it entails, i. e. Link pushing blocks one step at a time, and against a greater friction coefficient. Joy.

  14. Jeremy, that Tomb Raider article was indeed great. I think you presented a very well-balanced and thoughttful critique of the game and of the representation of women in the medium. My only issue is that the video embedded in the article clearly wasn’t the stage demo you were talking about, so I didn’t really have a point of reference for the issues that people have. Still, awesome job. Keep it up!

  15. You’re missing out on some special brand gems of stupidity by not reading the comments…my favorites being that since you’re on record as having some eye trouble that prevents you from “enjoying 3d to the fullest” you shouldn’t be allowed to review games for them since you can’t accurately do so? You’d think that any game that requires the 3d view for playthrough wouldn’t be on a system where the 3dview can be turned off!

    That said, I’m right there with you on the B score. Even at the time of its release, with it’s great new features to be implemented and imitated across the land, I never thought it was an A+ title. Nothing overbearingly wrong with it, but peppered with obvious filler and vast nothingness…and Navi. FUCK Navi.

  16. I find the whole concept of scoring rather frustrating. It makes sense when there are objective standards to go by (read: school), but with entertainment, each person is just going to derive something different from any given game.

    As for Zelda, I can’t look at it with anything other than rose-tinted glasses. It’s on a very short list of games I’d consider the best of all time. I’d personally have to give it an A+, nostalgia working overtime and all. To me, it’s like docking Citizen Kane a letter grade because it’s technique is lacking compared to modern films. But like you said, it would be just as disingenuous to give the game an A+ simply because it’s expected.

  17. I loved the trailer. Brought back memories of watching it over and over again as some 15 mb quicktime file on my computer, before the game came out.

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