Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#9 -- Non-Sequitur Of The Estate (Etcetera)

"The audience just took their massive erections home and did stuff that would still be sung about in the halls of Valhalla come Ragnarok. Stuff that would make you and your partner experience the full repercussions of the Coriolis Effect."

We need to talk about stylistic consistency. As a framing device, we'll begin by describing why The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a piece of shit. 

In 1998, the Greatest Video Game of All Time was released, and it was better than good. This was, and is, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (* * * * out of 4), the game that made all the other games ache with envy. It was a new flavor of ice cream, and while you ate it, somebody played a fun snare drum beat to keep you in rhythm. It stunned with its setting, its latitude, and its focused minimalism. Seeing it today is like watching a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 drive by, windows down, radio playing a familiar tune, and you suddenly get thirsty. From beginning to end, it knew what it was doing, quietly going about its business, tightening screws, adding spice, and cracking its knuckles at all the right moments. It even stopped for smoking breaks once in a while, because you suddenly realized you wanted to smoke cigarette, if only one time. The best smoke of your life -- why ruin it? It was restrained and had a keen edge, making its precise blade strokes when it needed to, and then returning without a drop of blood back into its sheath. The game was a 5-movement orchestra, and every piece of that orchestra complimented the man (or woman) in the chair next to them while the concert was in progress. And then they complimented each other again later, with words, at the after party. 

In short, it didn't dance like one person's choreography. Instead, it crushed the whole goddamn scene like dance troupe, team name: "The Democratic People's Republic Of Infinite Christmas Banana Pancakes." It did its thing and it stunned people so hard that they could barely applaud. The audience just took their massive erections home and did stuff that would still be sung about in the halls of Valhalla come Ragnarok. Stuff that would make you and your partner experience the full repercussions of the Coriolis Effect.

In Zelda: Ocarina, and to an even greater extent in its sexy-cousin/sequel, Majora's Mask, everything had a place and every character had a Dickensian purpose. The center of the world had a vast Persian rug that smelt good and well-traveled, and every corner contained an etched statue with a story, or a piece of family memorabilia, or music box that played a familiar snare drum beat. If you looked closely at these things, it dawns on you that this world was actually made of other worlds, and when viewed from afar, you realized it had been made by a thousand tiny gods. All thinking the same thing. All hoping for the same thing. And all for you. You'll never want to smoke another cigarette again. 

Like so much pink insulation, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was made by a million tiny bits of lint and wooden splinters coalescing behind your dryer. It sort of collected back there, got stuck to your sock, and then somehow ended up in your coffee cup on, like, what was up until that point, a pretty good day. Well, it dissolved pretty quickly in your coffee, and it looks the same, and (wait, what's that, does somebody have their headphones turned up way loud? We can hear a song that. . . never mind, probably nothing), how bad can it be? You sip it and it barely tastes different. Then you get home and you have woodchips stuck in your gums and your lips are all sliced-up. Fuck.

See, the issue with Twilight Princess was that it was created by a dozen-hundred people that exclusively read romance novels. They have, however, never themselves been in love before. They might have convinced themselves, and anybody else that will listen, that they have. The fatal flaw keeps coming back though. Crabby, frustrated, but focused, these people moved their pieces around the checkerboard in a perverse, wrong simulation of what they've come to understand is the emotion people most want to feel -- slamming pieces down after each turn, assuring themselves they'd done right. After a few rounds of checkers, and realizing they can't figure out any ways between the six of them how to improve the game, they decide that's enough, they've sufficiently simulated the feeling of being in love, and package the thing. Each package comes with 15 boards, 15 red pieces and 15 black pieces.

Thing is, they all had different opinions on what the game was actually about. Was it supposed to resemble something old? Was it meant to be familiar? What are all these empty squares about? What were they thinking exactly when they made the game? No instructions were included, so the dearth of components resembling a familiar game just became puzzling to people that bought it. This begat harsh feelings. Twinges of dishonesty and betrayal. It made your gums bleed again just thinking about it.

Knowing what it should feel like -- that buzz of affection, effects not to be mistaken or faked -- it was all the more apparent that Twilight Princess was a cardboard cut-out in the background of a 3D movie. 

Its style wanted to be everything, which is not a style (just like how jamming on the START button to make your Mario Kart opponent lose rhythm is not a style and not a move). It was dreamed up as a flat world for all of your (and all of your friends) favorite old memories and fantasies to live in, but like Narnia, it had to die. Memories aren't flat, they can't exist like that. They're made of thicker stuff. They can't be dipped in fudge and thrown in a corner. You can try to do that, and point to what you've done, but that still doesn't help the fact that you dunked your friend's old classic rock mix-tape in Hershey's Genuine Chocolate-Flavored Syrup and flung it in their fucking face!

That's not what they want, and it's not like you to do that. Baby, you took something that might not have ever really existed in the first place and gilded it. Then you sold it, after slapping a badly-drawn plastic dust jacket and called it something unmistakably retromingent like Twilight Princess. In an effort to make something that can appeal to everybody, so was an inferior product created. One that nobody can relate to.

(click to embiggen)

-- Ghost Little
on Twitter  |  @GhostLittle_WTF

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