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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Entry #15: ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

From the moment that synthesized ominous music sounded and Zelda’s telepathic dialogue appeared on the screen, players knew that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was going to be different from its NES predecessors. There was an actual story developing before their eyes, a buildup of narrative tension created by text and environments like nothing previously seen from Nintendo. And the rain, my god the rain! While the previous two Zelda games were outstanding (or frustrating) in their own right, establishing a smattering of brand recognition, it wasn’t until this gorgeous 16-bit entry that a beloved formula was created and a franchise born.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past established so much of what is now expected and often taken for granted in Zelda games: puzzle-based dungeons, dual worlds, the Master Sword, fairies in a bottle, a Hyrule populated by weirdos, mini-games, pieces of heart, killer chickens, and so much more. For the first time the game and the world was full of personality, immersing players in the mythic story more than ever before. Link, silent as ever, is still the perfect hero, and though not quite as much imagination is required to fill in the blanks spots of the quest, the game manages to still project a feeling of mystery and openness, with new discoveries around every corner that rewards those adventurers who stray off the beaten path.

None of this would matter, however, if the gameplay wasn’t up to snuff, but slashing away with Link’s sword or whipping a boomerang into a slime monster feels great (unlike when using that butterknife from Adventure of Link). Boss fights are epic, and the sound they make upon defeat is oh, so satisfying. What makes A Link to the Past really stand out in the Zelda franchise, however, is just how perfectly it’s paced. Not a moment is wasted, no fat need be trimmed, yet the game maintains the same epic feel as the slightly more bloated titles that would follow it.

Looking as beautiful today as it did back then, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is as timeless as entertainment gets, an example of perfect design and intuitive gameplay culminating in one of the greatest experiences in all of gaming.

A Link to the Past

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #30: ‘The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

Director Eiji Aonuma’s swashbuckling adventure The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, set 100 years after the events in Ocarina of Time, stands as one of three best games released in the series thus far. Along with the N64 classic and A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker masterfully baits and hooks players in with its perfect blend of polished design, tightly crafted controls and beautiful presentation. Utilizing a completely new look with cel-shaded graphics, the game casts players in the role of a familiar young Link who sets out on a long voyage across troubled seas, into dark dangerous dungeons and against ruthless foes to save his kidnapped sister. At the time of its release, it was immediately evident that Wind Waker was going to be different from the previous Zelda titles, yet it’s surprising that the grandeur of The Wind Waker‘s bold, thick strokes, lusciously saturated palette, and the notably boyish protagonist with his humongous, expressive eyes ever caused so much controversy back in 2003 — because over a decade later, the game’s legacy remains defined by its visuals.

Players with keen eyes and an appreciation for art will know that Nintendo doesn’t just do things for the sake of pure experimentation. When developing The Wind Waker, Nintendo not only created a hugely stylistic world down to every last detail but also pushed the power of GameCube to do so. Upon closer inspection, cel-shading clearly was the right choice. This is a game that emphasizes the vastness of the open ocean and the open sky, and, with the application of cel-shading, every wave, every gust of wind is beautifully pronounced against a backdrop of colorful hillsides, small villages, and coastal locales. And like all previous titles in the series, the dungeons prove to be the most enjoyable aspect of this game, despite having so few. It is within these dungeons that Wind Waker shines. The true beauty of the visuals stands out, as each dungeon is brought to life with an astounding amount of detail. It’s ultimately not difficult to see why The Wind Waker has become something of a classic in the years since its release. Overall the Wind Waker is a huge achievement in every way, from the classic mix of sword-swinging action, perplexing puzzles, stirring story lines, vibrant art, evocative soundtrack, a cast of colorful characters, beautiful melodies and a fantastic battle system that propels the adventure and exploration. For many, the Zelda brand represents the pinnacle of gaming, and The Wind Waker stands tall, side by side with the very best. (Ricky D)

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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #29: ‘Super Mario Bros.’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

It’s hard to imagine a video game industry today without Super Mario Bros.. Here’s the title that single-handedly revitalized the gaming industry and solidified Nintendo as the King of the video game market. While the vast majority of early video games were largely designed by the programmers coding them, Super Mario Bros. was instead made by Shigeru Miyamoto, an artist first and foremost, who graduated with a degree in industrial design. As with Donkey Kong, character, and story mattered most. Players would play as Mario, accompanying him on his journey through the Mushroom Kingdom and his quest to rescue Princess Peach from the vicious Bowser, King of the Koopas. Miyamoto made Mario his go-to character, a plump, awkward Italian-American who could easily fit into any 8-bit graphics. Overalls made his arms more visible and his thick mustache appeared clearer than a thinly sketched mouth. He was given a hat so Miyamoto could sidestep designing hair and a big nose to accentuate Mario’s look.

One of the most amazing aspects of Super Mario Bros. is the game’s extraordinary level design in which Mario or Luigi must walk, run, or jump through various roadblocks throughout the levels comprised of bricks, underground pipes, menacing oceans and foreboding castles. Miyamoto’s motto was that a game should be easy to learn but difficult to master – one of the defining aspects of Super Mario that made it popular amongst dedicated gamers and casual players alike. Each castle grows increasingly difficult, and there are hidden warp zones that transport Mario or Luigi to higher levels – but if a player takes the incorrect routes, he will be transported back to the beginning of the level. Meanwhile, the clock ticking down at the corner of the screen becomes your biggest enemy. Chases and races are key ingredients for spicing up games and a race against time is perhaps the most exciting, suspenseful kind. Nothing creates on screen tension like an impending deadline or clock that counts down to the final seconds. In Super Mario Bros. time will eventually run out, resulting in an inevitable death.

Super Mario Bros.
is celebrated for its intricate levels, colorful characters and intuitive controls, but Koji Kondo’s sinister soundtrack rarely invites a discussion. Sure, just about anyone who’s played the game can whistle or hum the catchy theme song, but I’m referring to the complex score that elevates the game to a whole new level. Unlike any game before it, Super Mario Bros. wasn’t scored by a computer programmer – instead, Nintendo hired a talented composer. Kondo wrote the six-song musical score using only small pianos and yet still managed to create rich musical tapestries despite the limited resources. Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. score not only redefined video game music, but it still resonates thirty years later. It’s easy to take Kondo’s work for granted but had Nintendo not hired a professional composer, the Super Mario Bros. soundtrack might have comprised of nothing more than odd sound-bites and background noise.

Super Mario Bros. quickly became synonymous with the Nintendo Entertainment System and helped the NES become the top-selling console of its time. The video game crash of 1983 was officially over, and the famous brick-busting duo became household names. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most iconic video games ever conceived due to the sprawling level design, clever enemy placement, hidden secrets, optional sub-routes, superb physics, legendary soundtrack and gorgeous sprite-work.

  • Ricky D
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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #28: ‘Super Smash Bros. Wii U’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone reading this why Super Smash Bros. for the WiiU and 3DS makes an appearance in our Hall of Fame. As someone who spent his every lunch hour in high school hanging out at the local arcade playing Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, I have no reservations in calling this the greatest fighting game made to date. It isn’t just the roster of 49 iconic characters to choose from, or the assortment of weapons, nor the 8 player mode; it’s every painstaking detail, every pixel, every move set, in this smooth 60 frames per second masterpiece. Every fighter uses the same button presses to execute attacks and special moves, but each has their own distinct style, many of which are difficult to master. This is also the first game to integrate with Nintendo’s amiibo which has taken the world by storm, recently outselling the WiiU console by millions. Nearly every aspect of Smash Wii U seems fine-tuned to appeal to long-time Nintendo fans, and a generation of new gamers. Once you’re hooked, you won’t be able to put it down. (Ricky D)

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