Ever since I started dicking around with the idea of mungifying the names of the games I’d been playing as a cheap way of coming up with a title for blog posts, it’s been a little piece of joy each week twisting the words around to fit the mood summoned by the games.
This week, however, the title – whilst cheap – was just too easy.
The namesakes (or gamesakes, right readers?) should be easy to figure out – and rightly so, because the gaming time I could scrounge together in the last week (in amongst work, acting classes, and more christmas celebrations (or cellarbrations, right readers?) was completely and willingly devoted to Skyward Sword and Halo: Anniversary.
After around fifty-seven-and-a-half hours, my first playthrough of Zelda: Skyward Sword wrapped up with a thumb-numbing final boss battle. And (apart from the previously-mentioned, dreadfully slow) first three hours of treacle, it was an absolute delight. I stuck with my commitment not to consult GameFAQs until after I’d finished the game, and that turned out to be a great move; combined with my self-imposed media blackout prior to the game’s release (early review scores excepted, of course), it meant that each and every step was a surprise. The boss battles were just fantastic: the second dungeon battle, as I briefly mentioned before, stands out as being wonderfully creative and stupidly good fun. Dungeon puzzles were both subtly signposted and devious: the collection of Link’s collected items included a few regulars, but the introduction of the new items allowed a freshness and depth to the puzzles that always left me grinning like a loon.
And that’s the great thing about the latest Zelda installment: it leaves you feeling good. And, more surprisingly, it made me feel smart. And that’s a wonderful feeling to get from a game, and certainly not something that’s been conjured up for quite a while now. But now the freshness – and surprises – have passed; I know what the game’s got up its sleeves. It’ll be interesting to see what my Hero Mode playthrough will yield (yes, there’s a “hard” mode to do, along with a mere handful of collectibles to snaffle that I missed on my FAQ-Free run) when I can apply myself to the task…
…in the meantime, though, I’m playing a game which offers the very opposite of surprises: Halo: Anniversary. Now, I’m no Halo guru, but I played the original on the Xbox a lot – so the levels are very familiar to me.
So why did I find it so hard to get back into the Anniversary love-letter? Normally it’s the fear of the unknown that prevents me from plunging into games; this week, however, it was almost like the fear of the familiar.
But one night I forced myself to load up my most recent save – right at the start of the Truth and Reconciliation sniper spree. Goading myself to pick up an Achievement associated with the start of that level seemed to be the tonic; suddenly, I was sucked back into the realm of Halo. The completion of Skyward Sword gave me time to run-and-gun my way through the next level-and-a-half, with a slight sidetrip to snaffle the tricky Bandanna skull. But I’m feeling it again… that Halo joy is back.
Next week? After I finish my first run through Anniversary, I might start on some of those more belligerent Achievements – speed running The Library on Legendary? Oh, alright then :)
Then again, Skyward Sword‘s Hero Mode beckons…