OK, I know I normally devote this space to exploring various parts of California, but there are far more important and pressing matters to discuss this week. I’m talking about a revolution within our midst, a change of paradigm, something that the masses have been awaiting for years… the console launches this month, ‘natch. The PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii.
As we prepare ourselves for this onslaught, I wanted to sit back and reflect on a couple of unanswered questions in the world of videogames. Things that game developers should think about as we approach the sixth generation of videogame consoles.
First of all, what the hell is the deal with Link from the Legend of Zelda series? In various incarnations he’s fought a boss who attacks with the help of a giant pair of bongo drums, a giant whale that calls itself the Wind Fish, he’s had to figure out that friggin’ Water Temple and he’s mastered not only four different kinds of musical instruments, but enough mad fishing skillz to sweep the Bass Masters Classic. For all that, Zelda’s thanks for him saving the world is a verbal “thank you.” The end. What is this? You would think that Zelda would at least have the common courtesy to give Link a victory blowjob, right?
But no, the elven boy wonder doesn’t even get a kiss on the cheek, something the short, ugly Mario can count on every time. Is Nintendo trying to tell us something? It’s a popular Internet joke that Link swings the other way, but I disagree. I wonder more about Zelda, to be honest. Just look at her guardian, Impa. Look at her haircut, her butch, muscular build, her lack of male companionship and her obsessive devotion to protecting Zelda. Hmmmm, Link was gone for seven years…
The old Legend of Zelda cartoon, for all of its faults, knew that Link and Zelda never consummating their love was illogical. That’s why they made Link a horny pervert that uses every chance he has to unleash his Master Sword on an unsuspecting princess. Now, I’m not suggesting necessarily that I hope in Twilight Princess Link exclaim, “Oh boy, smooching time!” but I think the time has come when gamers are old enough to expect heroes who go through as much shit as our Hyrulian friend to not act like celibate priests. Someone give this dude a kiss!
My second issue: Why are the heroes of RPGs always so goddamn young? Does it make any sense that the oldest protagonist in the history of the Final Fantasy series was Cloud, at 21? The average RPG hero age is somewhere between 14 and 17. Think about what you were doing when you were 17. Did it involve protecting mysterious, ancient power sources from being exploited by megalithic empires for world domination using summons that take five minutes to complete? No, the closest you came to the end of the world was your parents asking you at the breakfast table about a small plastic bag they found in your dresser drawer. These are the sorts of moments that you never see in a videogame, unfortunately.
I’m currently playing through Final Fantasy XII, and while I like 17 year-old Vaan, I can’t help but wonder about all the storytelling possibilities that would come from making Vaan, I dunno, 45, rather than have one of the supporting characters be 45. Where are all the middle-aged heroes, like in The Incredibles, or the Splinter Cell and Metal Gear series? The average age of a gamer is now nearly 30, not 16. Bioware, makers of the upcoming Xbox 360 title Mass Effect, has always been good about “realistically” aged characters, and I can only hope that more companies in this new generation follow their example.
One last thought: It may suck that the prices for consoles and the games themselves are going up, but it’s really nothing new. Even the cheapest version of the NES was $200 at its launch in 1985. You know what that would be, adjusted for inflation? $377.14. That’s about what you paid for your Xbox 360, n’est-ce pas?
Daily Nexus columnist C.K. Hickey saw many casualties during the 1990s Console Wars – fare thee well NeoGeo and Jaguar.