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Joystiq ruffles feathers, rings a bell

November 12, 2006
by

Vladimir Cole, from what i gather, is Joystiq’s main man. He also happens to be their most antagonized writer, thanks to write-ups that usually go against the grain of Nintendo fans. No one can say for sure if he’s a Nintendo hater or not, but it’s clear as day that he doesn’t chomp on the PR bait Nintendo casts. Call me a daredevil, but i think he’s unbiased enough, since he is playing through Twilight Princess and has admitted its triumphs.

The problem lies in the criticism. Oh, the criticism — why does that remind me of something (or someone)? Vlad’s present write-up is called “Nintendo’s new Zelda falls flat“, an admittedly contentious headline at first glance, but his explanations clear the smoke. For the fair-minded reader, anyway. Vlad takes a look at the color selection in TP, saying:

“All the leaves are brown. (And the sky is grey.) Imagine being a freshwater fish after a heavy rain. All around you: brown. Zelda’s like this. The game’s muddy color palette doesn’t sparkle in the way that previous iterations of the venerable Zelda series sparkled. As our protagonist wanders through villages, we find ourselves wishing that those villages could be razed and in their places built more beautiful towns, filled with magic, character, and more than just the colors to the left and right of “rust” on the color wheel.”

Is that just? Yes it is. Seen TP lately? Or ever?

It’s drab. Dreary. And brown. When it’s not brown, it’s black.

And when it’s not brown or black, it’s a mix of the two with some hazy greens and reds thrown in.


This isn’t to trash Zelda, it’s to show that Vlad has a point. His opinion is his to prove. I’ve got my own.

Twilight Princess has a specific art style that the designers chose, and it’s nice, but bleak. Some of the screenshots (the one in the village, for instance) have always reminded me of Fable, a game of similar dreariness. Actually they look very similar, probably due to being in similarly themed time periods. Nothing wrong with that.

Where Twilight Princess gets singled out is in being a current-gen game (visually) on a new system. This is the biggest issue with the game. It’s great, we know we’ll love it, but amidst the graphically astounding stuff coming out at this same time, you can’t help but notice that it’s a GameCube port. Twilight Princess was not visually enhanced in any significant way on Wii, besides a widescreen mode. Vlad Cole’s second contention is this very thing. Because of the now old graphics it displays, signs in the game have to be laboriously walked up to, activated by a button press that brings up a text box and freezes your character, and deactivated by another button press.

I’ll concede the fact that it’s probably to do with Zelda folk speaking Hylian, the Zelda universe’s unheard language. Makes sense, but even if they spoke English, you’d probably still have to do the same thing to read a sign because of the limited hardware capacity. That’s VC’s complaint: these graphics that Nintendo chooses to deemphasize hold back an otherwise immersive game. Zelda’s designers attempted (watch out: OPINION APPROACHING) to make it suck you in by adding motion controls, a track-covering move to justify porting it over to Wii’s launch. Instead, they end up on square one because the graphics take it 2 steps back, leaving it almost entirely in the last generation.

One thing Vlad implied but didn’t say, was that Nintendo should’ve done more with Zelda on Wii than tack on motion sensing. I agree that if they were gonna put it on Wii, they should’ve done a little more.

What i really wish they would’ve done is release it sometime earlier this year on the GameCube and tack on the motion controls later through some patch on Wii for playing it with the remote, if at all. I don’t see why they couldn’t just wait till the next one to show off sword-swinging action along with utilizing the new hardware to the fullest. To me it seems as if Nintendo is so selfish and protective that they wanted their game to be the first to have sword/remote-slashing, and had to postpone the game’s release over a year just to make sure their game was the example to follow (Red Steel notwithstanding, being a half-shooter).

The fanboys smelled blood and came out swinging in the comments to Vlad’s post. You can almost set your watch to these guys. Joystiq colleague Chris Grant’s rebuttal was started before Vlad’s piece was finished. Not even on the biggest videogame blog lacks biased writers. Chris Grant argued the contrary with the usual, carefully worded verbosity that pervades all defensive writings that are a tendency of the Nintendo crowd. (Similar to [blank], Queen, King.) He ends wtih a disclaimer that reads: “[Editorial disclosure: my two cats are named Link and Zelda, so I may not be considered the most neutral party.]” You don’t say…

Keep in mind that these 2 have actually touched this game before, and none of the commenters bashing either one have laid eyes on more than a screenshot or video. Wii isn’t here yet, don’t count your eggs before they hatch. Zelda TP should be compared to other Zeldas, but until you get to experience what they have experienced, keep your traps shut. You just might agree with what they say.

Another case in a long history of writers who choose not to tread lightly, and get roasted for it. I know what that feels like. Vlad Cole, i extend a friendly hand to you. You’re my kinda guy. If for any reason you ever get fired, and also happen to read this on the same day, i have a spot all lined up for you here. You, me, and the gang, we can go places.

Fight on.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2006 8:51 pm

    Haha. I was thinking of doing a piece about that entry but you (and my useless 56k connection at home) beat me to it.

    What I find hilarious about the reactions of the Nintendo fanbos is that just a few months ago when joystiq were collectively gushing over the Wii they were being accused of being pro-Nintendo. Now that a single writer has voiced his opinions against Wii’s flagship title, suddenly people are threatening to stop reading joystiq because :

    “joystiq just has articles with retarded titles, all for the sole purpose to piss people off and start a freaking flame war. Im done with this shitty blog, theres plenty of good sites out there to get my info from.”

    While this can only be good news for Intendo (“plenty of other good sites”), it just goes to show how fickle fanboys are.

  2. frisby permalink
    November 12, 2006 10:22 pm

    RE4 was also muddy, people say its the best ever!!!

    In the games defense, those are older screens. The Black and white “realm” is now really high contrast and it kind of glows. I saw it in Nintendo Power. They said thats what the extra year was for.

  3. MacUser permalink
    November 12, 2006 10:24 pm

    rollin, if youre trying to be objective, youre doing it wrong. all those photos are of the twilight zone, which is supposed to look like that (the rest of the game doesnt). also, one of those pictures (the b&w one) is completely obsolete. its from an early build when the twilight realm was b&w instead of just containing over-saturated colors.

  4. frisby permalink
    November 12, 2006 10:57 pm

    “all those photos are of the twilight zone”

    No they aren’t. Link is a wolf in the twilite zones.

  5. November 12, 2006 11:00 pm

    Yea, that’s what came up first and i didn’t feel like searching too much fris. I’ll replace em later. Actually Joystiq put some up, if you go up a post after Chris Grant’s you can check em out for yourself.

    Mac, one of those photos is of the Twilight Realm, the black and white one, and i stated that the designers intended it to look that way. I know what i’m doing.

    For the record, even the new Twilight Realm looks dark and drab, but with a cool hazy camera filter. I never said it looks bad, i said the Cube graphics are what make it seem dated — drab is what they were going for. And Vlad’s opinion of it is he doesn’t like it. Big deal.

  6. November 13, 2006 3:57 am

    One of the problems of comparing this Zelda TP with past Zeldas is that the only GameCube title that came out was Wind Waker… The style of WW is so different from past Zelda titles, and from this new one, that one cannot say that the Twilight Princess graphics look like GC graphics -there is no GC Zelda game to compare it with.

    What I didn’t understand about Vladimir’s article is if it was actually negative or not towards Twilight Princess: was he saying that the choice of color palette was a bad one, or that it went well with the atmosphere of the game and, therefore, that the game itself was drab and boring, like its palette?

    I’m going to wait for more ratings in MetaCritic before I buy this game. In the meantime, I still have to finish Wind Waker and The Minish Cap, and that will take me a while…

  7. Anonymous permalink
    December 20, 2006 2:06 pm

    Vlad is on drugs.

    The game is absolutely stunning – and colorful.

  8. Yours truly permalink
    March 11, 2007 12:32 am

    Vlad is a total hack. Joystiq is ok, but Vlad is the worst kind of writer. He plays it straight only to hide his leanings. I don’t wish ill on many people but this guy should be fired for sure. He worked at microsoft for gods sake and didn’t even disclose it until he was outed after his internship. Then he had the balls to lecture the entire industry for its lack of “journalistic integrity”. What a hack.

  9. March 11, 2007 3:22 am

    I didn’t read Joystiq while Vlad was on top, so i wouldn’t know. I’d have to see this for myself, but it’s not hard to believe. You got a name?

    [God damn, did i write long ass editorials or what.]

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