The Legend of Zelda: The Nostalgia Crisis

Good news everyone! A friend of mine has offered to lend me his Wii U so that I can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Wind Waker. I’m super excited but also a little worried. I haven’t played a proper “big console” Zelda game for years, the last one I played was Skyward Sword where I nearly threw the Wii motion plus out the window and discovered a hatred for robot fairies. Since I left my parents’ house to go to Uni (about 5 or 6 years ago now) I have only ever played Zelda games on my 3DS because I opted to get a Playstation as my University Gaming Companion rather than a Wii (I know! Woe is me. How did I survive with just my PS4 and 3DS?!). I don’t regret that choice but I have missed Nintendo a lot. The 3DS has done well with Link Between Worlds and Phantom Hourglass but it hasn’t quite filled the void.

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While I am super excited about getting my hands on both of these games I am most excited about Wind Waker. I used to love it when I was younger. I spent hours and hours just sailing around the world with no particular goal, just cruising, the King of Red Lions and I had some good times. Sometimes I’d just run around random islands exploring, I’d follow NPCs sometimes just to see where they went, or I’d mess about trying to get up to a ledge or platform for ages just to see if I could. Sometimes my curiosity would pay off and I’d get a reward for my trouble but more often than not there was no incentive, it was just fun to mess about. As far as actual progress goes I usually got as far as finishing the three sage’s temples but then I’d get a little uneasy. In all honesty I was kind of scared of Ganon. That bit where you first see him was super sinister to me as a kid and let’s be honest, how beautiful is that world? Wouldn’t you just want to stay there if you could? By my 8 year old logic Ganon wasn’t actually destroying anything as long as I didn’t progress so… Let’s go visit the bird people! Eventually I’d have a little break playing something else for a bit, then I’d come back to Wind Waker and start again from the beginning.

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This was terrifying to 8 year old me.

So what am I worried about? Well… I had turkey dinosaurs for dinner the other day for the first time in years and they just weren’t anywhere near as good as I remember them. I would still like to eat a lot of them, but I know that it won’t be with the same enthusiasm that I experienced when I was younger. What if the same thing happens with Wind Waker and I don’t love it like I used to? What if it’s not how I remember it and the nostalgia I feel for that time gets tainted with a feeling of melancholy because the nostalgia’s built it up and I end up disappointed? What if Wind Waker is a turkey dinosaur?

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The (adorable) character closest to a turkey dinosaur

The core thing concerning me is how my play style has changed as that is the thing most likely to impact my experience of the game. I find it incredibly hard to just mess about in games now but that was the thing I enjoyed doing the most back in the day. Now I always feel like I should be doing something for a reason. Am I going to spend an hour following random NPCs around just because I’m curious to see where they go? Hell no. Why not? I don’t know… I don’t have time for that I guess. Or do I? I have no time limit on this game (my friend has a Switch now so there’s not much reason at all that he’d need the Wii U back – of course I do plan on giving it back… Eventually), no one is going to be nagging me to finish it. Now that I’ve finished God of War 4 there are no other games that I want to focus on this year, sure I can’t spend as much time on it at once like I used to but that doesn’t mean I need to rush it… Maybe I will follow random NPCs around! Maybe I’ll catch a pig and try to throw it onto my boat because they’re adorable and I want a pig companion! Maybe I’ll use the Hyoi Pears to posses countless seagulls and just fly around because I like flying… I just want to experience it again with the same feeling that I used to have when I was back in my room in my parents house, excitedly putting the tiny GameCube disc in, listening to the jaunty theme music, seeing the beautiful blue Wind Waker start up screen, and settling down and spending hours and hours at a time exploring.

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Some readers may be thinking “what about Breath of the Wild?! Aren’t you more excited for that?!” Honestly? No. It’s not that I don’t want to play it. I desperately want to and when it was released it was killing me that seemingly everyone else was playing it but I have been waiting to play Wind Waker for years. My friend told me that there’s a condition to me borrowing his Wii U: I have to play Breath of the Wild before Wind Waker and at that moment a wave of unexpected revulsion towards that game crashed over me, let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. I’ll play it first if he is there in the room with me because I know he wants to discuss it and everything but as soon as I’ve kicked him out I’m getting into my cosiest pyjamas, making a nice cup of tea, grabbing a packet of biscuits and just shutting myself away to sail the Great Sea.

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You know what? To finish off this nostalgic post let’s have a quick listen to the extremely nostalgic Gamecube start up music…

Aah, sweet nostalgia with a twist.


Is there anything good from your past you’ve been unwilling to visit for fear of ruining the nostalgia? How would you feel about playing some of your favourite games from your youth now? Have you played the remastered Wind Waker and was it as good as you remembered?

Age of Nostalgia

Have you ever played a game that reminded you of a game that reminded you of another game leading you on a little nostalgia trip where suddenly you end up buried in old games? Currently going through that a bit myself.

It all started with watching a YouTube playthrough of an oldish game called Spore, it looked like a lot of fun and, my other half and I decided to download it. This was mostly pushed by me to be honest, once I see a game where you make a thing and raise the thing and help it grow and take over the world and stuff I just want to play it. Don’t ask me why, I just do. The aim of the game is to evolve your creature from a tiny microbe thing to a creature that stumbles onto land, to eventually developing a civilisation and stuff. As you play through the game you collect different body parts for your creature that will give you better stats… This game is also super adorable because you can make friends with other creatures by singing, dancing and posing… Or you can eat everyone and extinct their species to become the supreme ruler, each to their own.

The game starts off with your little creature just swimming around eating things to become bigger. I was a herbivore so I wasn’t huge on attacking, my race is a peaceful race (although you can choose to attack even if you’re a herbivore, it’s just more difficult because you don’t tend to get as many aggressive body parts). Eventually my creature grew strong enough to develop legs and move onto the surface of the planet, where I then ran around meeting tribes of other creatures that I allied with by singing at them, I was really enjoying this but then I managed to move to the next stage of evolution and suddenly I was basically playing Age of Empires. The whole style of gameplay completely changed, going from me controlling my little creature running around singing and dancing to a top-down view of a little village where I suddenly had control of multiple creatures and I has to assign them tasks like chopping wood and collecting food and building… So just like that my nice relaxing “oh look there’s a little group of duck things over there let’s go and make friends!” became “THE GREEN SEAWEED CREATURES ARE ATTACKING!!! ATTACK!!! STOP COLLECTING WOOD! OH GOD, EVERYONE’S DEAD!!!” It was a very weird change. As I said before this part was very reminiscent of Age of Empires (albeit with a weird winged platypus-esque civilisation) and my other half who was watching me play started getting nostalgic for Empire Earth (which he used to play and which looks to be exactly like Age of Empires, hence my use of Empires in the comparison above as I know that one better…) that game and decided to download it.

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I may have only played this for about 3 hours but they were a fun 3 hours

I was a little young when Age of Empires was out but I remember my dad playing it and giving it a go when I was a little older but being so young I found it really difficult and to be honest I thought the cavemen were kind of scary although I couldn’t tell you why (it might have been their voices). I did give Empire Earth a go once my other half had downloaded it but I found it difficult. How does the red team get an army and build stuff so fast?! It’s literally impossible to keep up with them. After that I spent a while watching Dan play, I just wasn’t that into it, and then it was my turn to get nostalgic. While I was too young for Age of Empires (or Empire Earth, whatever, they seem to be more or less the same thing) another game came out later at the perfect time when I was happened to be really into Greek mythology (bit random, I know. I had a Greek mythology story book and it was one of my favourite things ever)… Age of Mythology.

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Now that game was absolutely, undoubtedly, AWESOME. If you don’t know it it’s basically Age of Empires but you start off as either Greek, Norse, or Egyptian and you level up your civilisation by worshipping minor gods (so if your main god was Zeus you’d advance with Athena, Apollo, and Hera, for example). Each minor god comes with perks and mythological monsters that you can include in your army (like the Minotaur or the Hydra). I loved it so much. Another great thing about that game was actually the campaign. You wouldn’t think that the campaign for a game like that would be very interesting and yeah… The beginning of it is basically “walk here… well done you finished the level” but later it could get really tricky and I got really into it, mainly because of the addition of heroes that I read about in my books like Ajax and Odysseus.

You’d have thought that I would have enjoyed playing Empire Earth the other day because they are so similar but honestly… I just couldn’t get into it and I think that what I don’t like about it is it’s too real. I don’t want to bomb people and attack them with guns… I want to attack them with an army of Minotaur that the goddess Athena gifted to me after I made several villagers worship her at the temple for hours on end. Honestly one of my main thoughts about Age of Mythology is how insane the villagers’ abs that worship at the temples must be.

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This little guy is gonna be ripped when he’s done worshipping

I’m now patiently waiting for my other half to finish his nostalgia trip so that I can use the computer to download Age of Mythology. Did you play this game? How about Age of Empires/Empire Earth? Maybe even Spore? Do you like these sort of games?


RPGs, D&D, and MMOs: Brought to You by an Old Favourite…

After many years of not playing PC games I finally downloaded Torment after many recommendations, I feel like I should love it and I kind of do but I just can’t get into it. Maybe making it my re-introduction to RPG PC gaming wasn’t the best move, after my many years of PS4 gaming I found it quite difficult to figure out and I keep getting stuck in places that have embarrassingly obvious means of leaving. Right now I’m in The Dead Nations and I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING. No one will say anything useful to me, I can’t leave, I’ve done everything I thought I needed to do to get an audience with the Silent King but no, still nothing. I’m too proud to look up the solution yet, I feel like as a seasoned RPG player I should be able to figure this out but it looks like The Nameless One is going to die down there… (Is that what I need to do? Die and then wake up somewhere outside of the Nations? I feel a bit like I’m clutching at straws with that theory…)

I should have re-introduced myself to RPG PC games with something a bit more familiar, something that despite years of playing it I still have many things that I never discovered or as it’s been such a long time since I played I can’t quite remember everything about it… If only there was such a game…

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BAM! GUESS WHAT! THERE IS! Long time Dragon’s Tea Party readers (and early 00’s RPG players) may know that logo and they may inwardly groan somewhat as they realise what this means. NEVERWINTER NIGHTS RETURNS, BITCHES!!! For the record, this is entirely the fault of someone that commented on a post I did a while ago telling me I could buy NWN on GOG, so you can all blame him/her for rekindling my obsession and probably the many related posts to follow (I tried to find the comment but it must have been a while ago now because I can’t find it, if that was  you then thank you). Not only did I buy the first game but I got its’ 3 expansion packs too (Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, and Kingmaker) all for a measly £7.99. I never finished the expansions for the first one so I am very excited.

I didn’t actually buy this just because I was struggling with Torment, I also started up a Dungeons and Dragons game (working our way through the Mines of Phandelver campaign) with some friends recently and while I have been playing for a while on and off now with the same group of people none of us are entirely sure we’re playing right, I guess D&D is a lot easier if you know someone that already knows how to play to get you into it. It’s pretty surprising how little explanation there is for D&D online, my instruction manual is not 100% clear on some points and my friend that wanted to be a wizard was bombarding me with questions about her spells (as I’m the Dungeon Master and the buyer of the 5th edition starter pack I am the most responsible for knowing this sort of thing, this means I spend a lot of time flicking through my manual and Googling stuff) to which all my answers were “I think you do this thing… Maybe… Wait no… Fuck it, just do it this way, that seems right”. NWN is set in the same world as D&D (the official one anyway) and uses the same rules, so for example on screen you’ll see loads of text scrolling with things like ‘Wolf attacks Tomi (5 + 3) = 8 does 8 damage’ so the 5 is a dice roll and the 3 is a strength bonus (or something) to the attack and later when you get more advanced stuff more things can be applied to these rolls. Back in the day when I used to play NWN, having never played D&D I never really understood what that all meant and I was also really nonstrategic in picking my feats and skills because I just thought “whoa, that thing sounds awesome, let’s do that one” but now, reading through everything it all makes so much more sense. I’m hoping that as I play through it I’ll be able to better understand how things work in D&D, although it’s not exactly the same of course but for basic things like attacking, spell casting, attacks of opportunities, etc it’s a pretty good base. Another thing I’m really loving is that the map that came in my starter set is the same map used in the Neverwinter Nights game in the intro video, it’s set in exactly the same universe and I’m loving picking out all the little bits that I recognise from the video game.

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Weirdly, about a week after I downloaded my nostalgia infused NWN, I got a text from one of my D&D friends (the same one who was asking me about wizard spells) who is also very into Dragon Age and the like asking me if I had tried the Neverwinter MMO. Immediately I got flashbacks to the time I did try it, I had my headset on and – forgetting I had the microphone attached – started cursing and ranting to myself because I didn’t know what I was doing. This went on for a loooooong time until I then saw a message appear on screen from another player saying “we can hear you” turns out I was connected to the area chat thing… Oops. I turned it off immediately and never touched it again in an attempt to bury my shame. Anyway, my friend said she would give it a go and then that night I got in from work and my other half was playing Neverwinter on the PS4 (despite me nagging him almost since we met to try the original game he still goes and tries the ‘new, shiny’ one rather than take my advice… Don’t know why I bother). I assumed they had both been talking and decided to try it but no they both just randomly decided to try it on the same day. So my bestie and my boyfriend are playing it… How could I not attempt it again? I picked back up where I left off with my character (the dramatically named Fade, a trickster rogue) and was surprised by how quickly I got back into it. Unfortunately there’s always just a little something that puts me off about MMOs and that’s the money, money, money element of the game (iplayedthegame recently wrote a post about this). Oh you’ve run out of inventory space? That’s OK! You can buy a new bag for £5! You’ve collected 84 Merchant Prince Lockboxes but can’t open any of them? That’s fine! Just buy the keys! I guess Neverwinter is free to play though so that’s how they make their money… Would still rather just buy the game though than have all the little bits add up. I am enjoying it though, not sure how long I’ll stick with it but my other half is pretty addicted. Again, despite me telling him for ages to try out any Neverwinter games because they have great storylines, he enjoys D&D, the characters are great, there’s no reason he shouldn’t like them, etc, etc he still seems surprised by the good quest lines in the game and the story so far (I had to hold back an ‘I told you so’ but it was very difficult so I just settled for an eye roll).

Fade the badass in all her glory
Check out my sweet ride

So there we go, the tale of how Neverwinter burst back into my life quite suddenly. Are there any games from your youth that you have an urge to take up again? Are you a Neverwinter MMO player? Does anyone know what I’m supposed to do in Torment?


Nostalgia Moment: Neverwinter Nights (1 and 2)

Recently I was reminiscing with my other half about our favourite games, he has been very keen on launching his favourites at me (Portal, Final Fantasy, Stardew Valley, etc), all of which I’ve enjoyed (with the exception of FFVIII), while he hasn’t really tried ones that I like yet. He did download Dragon Age Inquisition but stopped playing literally when the intro was over. It hurts my soul that he did this but he didn’t like the gameplay, even though he didn’t see much of it or play for long enough to appreciate any character development or story… but I’m not bitter. I got to talking about Neverwinter Nights with him, a game which I may have mentioned occasionally in previous posts. He has never played it and I got a little carried away reminiscing about it. It’s about time that these games, both the first and second, have a post dedicated to them because it is easy to say that they (specifically the second one) are my favourite games of all time.

Let’s start at the beginning and I’ll set the scene. The year was 2002, potentially the summer, I was a mere child of 8 and I was watching my dad play his latest game: Neverwinter Nights. My previous favourite games to watch him play were Baldur’s Gate and Doom (those are the ones that stick most in my memory at least, Doom probably not for good reasons). Then BOOM along came NWN with its incredible story, wonderful characters, and – at the time – great graphics. I was hooked. I can’t remember specifically when I started playing NWN myself because I used to sort of have a go, often starting from the beginning over and over as I did with most ‘big’ games in my youth, one day though I did finish it properly, it was probably the first ever ‘adult’ game I ever finished and I was VERY proud. I then went on to play the expansion packs Hordes of the Underdark and Shadows of the Undrentide, which were also very good.

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Check out those sweet 2002 graphics at work. Side note: I miss the use of artwork for character portraits.

Thinking about it, the reason NWN appealed to me at such a young age was probably the wonderful storytelling in the game and the engagement with the NPCs. NWN is based on Dungeons and Dragons, using the same fighting mechanism and the same Forgotten Realms world as a base, this is also most likely why it has such a great story. When I started playing D&D a couple of years ago I realised just how similar the two were. The text scrolling along the side of the screen in NWN for example helped me understand (sort of) how to play D&D quite quickly, or at least to improvise what I didn’t understand to create a playable game.

Unfortunately I don’t remember a huge amount of the first NWN, just that I enjoyed it immensely, I always thought the paladin Lady Aribeth de Tylmarande (pictured below in her awesome armour) was one of the coolest female video game characters ever (she looked so badass) and henchman Daelan Red Tiger was always my bro. When I come into possession of a gaming PC/Laptop I will be playing it again to relive some of my youth but until then I’ll have to make the rest of this post about NWN2.

Simply because I remember it more and spent A LOT of time on it, NWN2 will always be my favourite game. The magic of that game is just something I’ve never experienced with anything else. I connected so much to the characters (that sounds kind of sad but I really did, especially my bestie Khelgar), the story was brilliant, there are so many wonderful things added to it that give the whole world and the story so much depth, for example when you have to find each of the spirits that knew the Shadow King – the big bad guy – before he was corrupted by power and they tell you stories about what he was like before. It gives you such an unexpected connection to this creepy looking dude that you fight at the end and you feel sorry for him. Then there’s all those books that you can pick up and read but you don’t need – who writes those?! It’s actually someone’s job to write them! – If you want to you can learn about all the places, and about some of the characters, through books, NPCs and codices found in the game creating a whole history behind this world, solidifying it in your mind and making it seem almost like an exotic, medieval style country you’ve never been to but learned about in school or something.

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The Shadow King, bit of a tribute to Frank from Donnie Darko I always thought

SPOILER PARAGRAPH Another big thing was killing off Shandra halfway through the game. While she could be a little stuck up at first she grows on you and is set as a permanent companion, like your apprentice. I remember the first time I played through it and the death scene happened and all the companions expressing how they all felt about it (the gnome broke my heart, he was so upset) it was so unexpected as I’d never played anything that had killed off a main character before (this was 2006 so I was like 12 or 13 and hadn’t experienced as many games as I have now… but thinking about it I can’t think of a huge amount that do kill off main characters like that even now), I had tears in my eyes and had to take a moment to calm down.

MORE SPOILERS Then there was another new thing I had never come across in a game before – alternative endings. Before the final battle the Shadow King will try to persuade some of your companions over to his side, and it’s pretty much inevitable a couple will go, making you try to have them feel your glare through the screen as they swagger over to his side on a cloud of betrayal. I could never get enough influence over power-hungry Qara to have her not fight against me and the only way I ever got Bishop not to fight was by romancing him (more on that later). On top of that the Shadow King will also ask you if you want to join him, and you can! Despite trying to do an ‘evil’ play through I just can never be an evil character and never did that, I feel unnecessarily guilty about committing fictional evil acts. I’ve seen the bad ending though through the power of YouTube and it’s quite nasty in places. I’m glad I never did it or I would have been riddled with guilt.

On to what I mentioned before about romancing. This was the first game (lots of firsts here) I played where romancing was something that could add to the plot, or sub-plot. I almost always play as a female character and in NWN2 you have two love interests per gender. Both are heterosexual choices (the incredible display of Bioware’s sexually diverse characters didn’t arrive until 2009 when Dragon Age was released). As a female I had the choice between “he’s a bad boy but I can fix him!” Bishop the ranger, and “your holy aura of goodness and purity is blinding me” Casavir the paladin. I found this a bit unfair because Bishop was a total dick but was as fit as a bunch of 2006 pixels could get *swoon*. On the other hand you had Casavir, who was very nice but I thought he was boring and looked a little bit like he’d been beaten with a pixelated ugly stick (or maybe this is just my taste in men). I couldn’t shake the feeling they hadn’t meant to make him look quite like that. Pretty sure male characters got the best deal here with their choice being between pure, innocent Elanee the elf and the quirky, chaotic-but-not-evil Neeshka the tiefling. Seemed easier than the female’s choice of “you can either romance Satan or Jesus”. Despite my reserves about them I enjoyed the extra stories and side quests these romance options opened up, and the romance option was optional anyway so I didn’t have to stress about who to choose if I didn’t want to.

Perhaps I have been spoiled by the ‘golden age’ of RPGs because I am really struggling at the moment to find more RPGs of the same calibre of NWN, Baldur’s Gate, and Dragon Age. It seems like RPGs at the moment are either online, JRPGs, or they’re sort of from a first person perspective (The Witcher, Dark Souls, Skyrim…). While I enjoy those I don’t get as immersed in them as I do with my classic favourites, I never really feel like I am the character, I feel like I’ve been assigned a character to play. Sometimes I like that but I largely prefer having a character I can start from scratch with and mould their personality as I play through the game. On top of that I can’t really think of any characters from games recently where I’ve been emotionally invested in what happens to them and actually really like them. I suppose Borderlands comes pretty close, they have some good characters in there but as they don’t travel with you or fight with you – unless it’s part of a quest – it doesn’t really count. You could argue that you get that NPC relationship with JRPGs, playing through FFX at the moment I’d be pretty upset if something happened to one of my team but to be honest it wouldn’t hit me anywhere near as hard as if they killed off Varric in Dragon Age, for example (they don’t BTW in case you had a brief moment of panic, it was a hypothetical example).

Do you have any RPG recommendations for me? What are your favourite RPGs? Who else played Neverwinter Nights? Also, how cool would that NWN eye be as a tattoo? (Not thinking of getting one, just an observation…)