The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time | The Game That Defines Sheikah Plate

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The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Well, do we have a treat for you? This time, in every sense of the word! Please join me in welcoming back one of the most creative bloggers I know, Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate! She transmutes dishes from The Legend of Zelda series into real life recipes you can cook at home. I don’t want to say anything, but let’s just say you won’t be disappointed with the end-result of this piece. She’s already composed two amazing pieces (and dishes) for Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!

Once you finish this piece, you should head over to Sheikah Plate and enjoy some recent posts:

We hope you enjoy this delicious chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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DkFH4ynU8AM8ntk

Teri Mae @ Sheikah Plate

Twitter: @sheikahplate

For my first Hyrule…

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
System: Nintendo 64
Release Date: November 21, 1998

1P Start

I’ve learned to be brave.  It’s not a big, bold bravery – one where I stand up to “the man” or “the bully” and win.  It’s just an internal bravery. One that means I’m willing to accept when I’ve made a mistake, and do everything I can to make up for it.

When I heard about this project I was so excited!  Finally an excuse to gush about my love for The Legend of Zelda… again!  But then how do you say the words you feel in your heart? How can you put two decades of love, pain, and growth into a blog post?  How do you sum up the changes in your life that have come because of your favorite thing? And yet this is the insurmountable task Matt has asked us to perform.  And while others have been enthusiastic, eloquent, and impressive in their ability to complete the challenge I have struggled, from day one, to say what I really think and feel.  And at the final deadline I still am not sure if I’ve done enough to express what The Legend of Zelda as a series, and more particularly Ocarina of Time, has done for me.

It starts when I was a kid.  My family, my entire life, had gaming consoles.  Gaming was simply something my family did, be it tabletop or video.  And being an incredibly nerdy family meant that it never occurred to me playing video games for hours “wasn’t something a girl should do”.  But these passions; video games, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings to name a few, meant I didn’t have a lot of friends. Sure, I had my younger siblings who followed me around, but outside of family I was a pretty lonely child.  There were a few friends, off and on, but rarely consistent. We didn’t live in the same neighborhood, parents worked, they moved on, we went to different schools, etc… In fact, I couldn’t keep a friend for more than 6 months for most of my young life.  Which meant I spent a lot of time indulging on the singular pursuits that I loved so much.

I remember dabbling in earlier video games – playing Mario Bros 3 when my siblings weren’t there and trying desperately to get through the stampede level in The Lion King alone.  But my first real video game, the one I finally played, start to finish, alone, with no help, and without watching to see how someone else did it, was Ocarina of Time.

ocarina of time

The graphics were incredible.  The three dimensional world, blocky but still defined, allowed my imagination to soar.  With a relatively open world (it felt like it took forever to travel from Death Mountain to Hyrule Lake) I was able to explore, imagine, and create my own ideas about Hyrule.  It was so easy to imagine myself there! And not only were the graphics incredible, but the story was so inspiring. Here’s this little boy, lonely, with only one real friend, suddenly sent out to save the world with the help of a very new acquaintance.  He’s smart and sensitive, determined and courageous, and, well, cute. And with only his wits and his basic supplies he’s able to gain new weapons, new abilities, and save the world.

And just like that, Link became my hero.  Some kids idolize superheroes, but not me.  I idolized a video game character. He was everything I wanted to be – smart, kind, and brave.  I wanted to be able to solve intense, challenging puzzles in mysterious ruins. I wished that I could have a fairy to help and guide me through challenges.  I wanted everyone in the whole world to like me, just as they all end up adoring Link. I mean, I still remember the first time a girl in Hyrule doesn’t have a crush on Link.  And it’s very recent. That’s how popular he is!  But he’s popular because he helps everyone – he finds the cuccos, takes medicine to other people, plays matchmaker, supports businesses, and fixes entire towns!  And he’s so brave. He always stands up for what’s right. He always pushes to be better, work harder, and fight the bad guy. As a timid, shy little girl I could only dream about that kind of courage.

I ate up every single thing I could about the Legend of Zelda.  I bought every game, usually saving up to purchase it and the new console it was released on.  I played everything obsessively, over and over again, until it was all memorized. And if I got bored, I simply paused, played a different game, and then found myself drifting back toward Zelda after a time.

And as I delved further and further into the world of Link, Zelda, and Hyrule, I didn’t realize then how much the game, and Link, impacted my life.  It’s really only now, looking back, that I’ve seen the influence it had on my development and on me.

puzzles

I didn’t realize how unique it was to be really good, and I mean really good at puzzle solving until recently.  Difficult brain teasers, spatial reasoning, logic puzzles, all these come naturally to me.  And yes, you could say some of that ability I was born with, but quite a bit of it is enhanced and focused thanks to my life spent solving the puzzles within the Zelda universe.  It is exactly the type of thing I learned by exposing myself to really difficult puzzles at such a young age. And it pushed me toward a love of questions and answers that led me to become a scientist – someone who literally solves puzzles for a living.

zelda and link

I learned that being kind is the best way to make friends.  I tried the bragging, boasting routine and I couldn’t even attempt the “cool” factor.  No, when I made friends it was because I was kind. In a high school that thrived on catty, gossiping behavior it certainly didn’t make me popular.  It didn’t even mean I had any close friends – because I certainly didn’t. What it did mean was that I had a lot of general acquaintances. Quite a few people who thought I was great, even if we weren’t close.  And plenty of people willing to say hi to me in the hallways. And as I’ve gotten older, the friends I’ve made that have stuck – the people who are still a part of my lives – have come through kindness. A willingness to help others and serve those around me that I learned through example, both my parents and my hero, Link.

perserverence

I learned the art of perseverance.  As many of you may (or may not) know about me, I’m an incredibly and insatiably determined person.  If there’s something I want to learn I don’t just google it. I research it, the information relating to it, journal articles, books, podcasts, documentaries, classes – the list goes on and on, until I feel I’ve completely mastered a subject.  And I don’t give up and I won’t back down. Just like getting through a LoZ temple – the drive to complete, to overcome, is simply too powerful to just let things fall by the wayside.

brave

And I’ve learned to be brave.  It’s not a big, bold bravery – one where I stand up to “the man” or “the bully” and win.  It’s just an internal bravery. One that means I’m willing to accept when I’ve made a mistake, and do everything I can to make up for it.  One that pushes me to express my opinions, even when they aren’t the popular opinion. And one that allowed me to recognize when things were wrong in my life and seek professional help for my anxiety and depression before they got worse.  It’s the bravery that’s helped me navigate my way back into more of a social life than I’ve had in years. And it’s the bravery that’s helping me finally learn to accept myself, warts and all, and simply be who I was always meant to be.

So, while it wasn’t some big life-changing moment, my life has been irrefutably and undeniably influenced by Ocarina of Time.  This simple game, played by a kid, was able to change the woman I would become. And for that, and so many other things, I will be eternally grateful to my best friend, Link, and Nintendo for creating him.  And, in homage to my first Hyrule, I wanted to create a special meal, inspired by the entirety of Hyrule, to share with you. So here, with some very shortened instructions with but links to the more complex issues (I’m looking at you, roast chicken), I present to you: Lon Lon Ranch roast chicken, roasted Goron garnet sweet potatoes, and fresh Kokiri Forest green salad.

chicken, sweet potatoes, salad

Lon Lon Ranch Roast Chicken

 

 

This one’s the hardest, but also the one most worthwhile!  For more detailed instructions on the pre-cooking bit check out this recipe for my Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat aka Turkey.  We start by unpackaging the whole chicken, removing the giblets and the neck by checking the cracks, crevices, and insides and taking out anything that looks like it doesn’t belong.  Pat the chicken dry, rub with generous amounts of salt and pepper, and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.  Wash the sage and thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from the garlic cloves.  Place these inside your 9×13 baking dish, putting the onions in the corners.

After the brine, rub the entire chicken with room temperature butter, ensuring the entire bird is covered.  Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).  Put your chicken in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf.  Close the door and walk away for 45-50 minutes to prep the sweet potatoes!  Continue to bake (with the sweet potatoes – check out that recipe below) until the internal temperature, using an instant read meat thermometer, reaches 165°F (74°C).  Remove the chicken (and potatoes) from the oven, cover loosely with foil for about 15 minutes, and allow the chicken to rest.

Roasted Goron Garnet Sweet Potatoes

 

 

Wash and dice your garnet sweet potatoes (I mean, it could be any potato, but Goron’s eat rocks… so it has to be garnet sweet potatoes, right?  And yes, they do exist.  Cool, huh?)  into large bite-size chunks.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, with 15-20 minutes left on the chicken, add them to the bottom of the pan containing the chicken and herbs.  Add one pat of butter on top of each pile (in the corners was the easiest place to put them) and bake with the chicken.

When the chicken is resting, remove the sweet potatoes and allow them to rest in their own bowl so they don’t get mushy next to that hot chicken!

Kokiri Forest Green Salad

 

 

It’s pretty to make a chopped green salad – cut or break apart your greens, wash and cut your veggies, toss them all together with your croutons, and drizzle with delicious ranch.  But that’s where this recipe kicks it in to high gear – homemade ranch.  You can easily skip this and use store brand or the Hidden Valley ranch packets (which is wonderful).  Or you can add all the ranch ingredients I listed together, shake it up, and allow to refrigerate for about an hour.  It’ll be thick, creamy, and delicious!

food close up

Lon Lon Ranch Roast Chicken with Goron Garnet Sweet Potatoes and Kokiri Forest Green Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Whole roast chicken with garnet sweet potatoes and a chopped green salad with homemade ranch dressing.


Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2-3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 7 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 7 sprigs fresh sage leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion

Garnet

  • 3 large garnet sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp black peper
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter

Chopped

  • 1 head salad greens (I prefer romaine or red leaf lettuce)
  • 1-1.5 cup snap green peas
  • 1-1.5 cup cucumber
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 cup croutons

Ranch

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh italian parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 drop Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the ranch by adding all ingredients to a container with a lid and either shaking it or whisking it until it all comes together.
  3. Refrigerate ranch until ready to eat.
  4. Unpack the whole chicken, removing the giblets and neck.
  5. Pat the chicken dry, rub with generous amounts of salt and pepper, and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Wash the sage and thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from the garlic cloves. Place these inside a 9×13 baking dish, putting the onions in the corners.
  7. Rub the entire chicken with room temperature butter, ensuring the entire bird is covered.
  8. Put your chicken in the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes
  9. Wash and dice your garnet sweet potatoes into large bite-size chunks.
  10. Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and, with 15 minutes left on the chicken, add them to the bottom of the pan containing the chicken and herbs. Add one pat of butter on top of each pile and bake with the chicken.
  11. Wash and cut or break apart your greens
  12. Wash and cut your veggies into bite-size pieces.
  13. Toss the veggies, greens, and croutons together.
  14. After 1.25-1.5 hours, check the temperature of the chicken with an instand read meat thermometer. The chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) – if it doesn’t simply cook until it does.
  15. Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven and put the sweet potatoes into a separate bowl. Cover the chicken and potatoes with foil and allow the chicken to rest. Serve with the salad and enjoy!

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Animal Crossing | The Game That Defines Nikki

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From the artist that accompanied Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!, Vapidbobcat has also made an atmospheric Animal Crossing piece. Soak in this amazing piece of music. 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

It took work, but I managed to drag Nikki away from writing her thesis long enough to compose this wonderfully nostalgic piece. How could I be so lucky? Not only is my wife an amazing person, but she’s also an incredible writer. She really is brilliant — she can use brevity and free-flowing language to convey feelings in ways I rarely can.

Once you finish up here, please be sure to check out her other incredible pieces here on Normal Happenings:

We hope you enjoy this special chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Dqw2UQeWoAA2QIo (1).jpg

Nikki @ Normal Happenings

Twitter: @NormalNikki

For friendship…

Game: Animal Crossing
System: Gamecube
Release Date: April 14, 2001

1P Start

Throughout my life, I have always made time for my friends. I am a big believer in keeping your friends close, even when life changes happen. This is why I liked doing things for the characters in Animal Crossing.

Throughout my life I have always had amazing friends, but I want to take it back to the days before I could drive. Back to when I depended on my bicycle to get me around the two neighborhoods that I grew up in. In those two neighborhoods — one being my father’s house in Eclectic, Alabama, U.S., and the other being my grandmother’s house in Montgomery, Alabama — I played outside with my childhood friends until the sun went down. Then I would go in and everyone would go to bed. I, being the night owl that I was (and still am), would stay up. I would often read, journal, or watch a movie well into the night. I was also plagued with horrible nightmares throughout my life, so sleep would usually come in waves for me.

SI_GCN_AnimalCrossing_image1600w.jpg

One day an old friend of mine told me about a game called Animal Crossing and the rest is history. Time would pass ever so slowly in the game, but I would literally play all day. I wanted to pay off my house, I wanted to explore the land, and I wanted to most importantly be there for my friends. My family and real friends would have to tear me away from my town sometimes, but I have a secret.

I am no stranger to hardship, and at times the harshness of my life circumstances made me retreat into my own brain. I think these hardships are why I am so responsible now. Paying off the house in the game taught me that nothing worth doing  in this life is free. Everything requires hard work and time. Being a good friend has always been something that I strive for. Throughout my life, I have always made time for my friends. I am a big believer in keeping your friends close, even when life changes happen. This is why I liked doing things for the characters in Animal Crossing.

I loved the feeling of being able to decorate my house with wallpaper from Sable and Mable’s store because I felt like I was being a good friend to them by supporting their business. I loved delivering packages for the characters, not because it was fun, but because sometimes life is tedious and it is in those moments you can find real beauty in life. When I would see one of those cute animals dance around for helping them out, I couldn’t help but smile.

The monotonous patterns in the game mirror those same cycles in life. If my dad needed me to go with him on an errand I might’ve preferred to stay at home doing anything else back then, but looking back, it was in those small moments that we shared some of the best conversations. I hate to repeat myself, but beauty is found in moments like that.

Exploring the land reminded me that imaginations are vital in life. For example, I would often just run around and explore the game, and I would find the most random things —  old shirts, bouncy balls, and even wallpaper. This is similar to my life because I played outside often. My old neighbor and I used to pretend that we had a treehouse in the middle of the woods. We pretended to chop down wood, look at building plans, and figure out how to put up our pretend “No Boys Allowed” sign. All of these things were made up, but they felt real to me, just like the things in the game were to my character.

Whenever my friends weren’t home, or if they couldn’t hang out with me (we never called it “playing” because we were cooler than that), I would immerse myself into a different kind of world with friends that taught me all about life. Not only did the game itself have moments that taught me about life, but also many of the characters reminded me of people and how to treat and read them.

Tortimer made me realize that respecting my elders is essential to living a good life. If I as a human being can’t admire a person for living out their life well into old age then am I really doing things correctly? Yes, the elderly can be slow, forgetful, and even grumpy, but I like to look for the diamond in the rough. I listen to their stories and think about who they were when they were young. This respect also reminds me of where I will end up if I am lucky enough to live that long.

Rover taught me to listen carefully even when a person can be long-winded. At the beginning of the game you would talk to Rover and he would literally talk forever. I was always rude to him as a kid, but looking back has kind of taught me to be opposite of that towards people that talk a lot. Yes, they can be annoying, but they can sometimes be some of the most helpful people ever. It is also good to know another person’s story. Rover made me get out of my head and listen to him.

Mr. Resetti would often appear on the screen when I forgot to save. He would angrily tell me to always save before turning off the system. He taught me that following the rules and taking the time to think about each day is important because life is something to cherish. If I were to just go to bed and get up every single day without considering how the day went then I would feel like my days were running together.

Finally, Tom Nook taught me that evil can come in a deceptively cute package. It’s no coincidence that he is a raccoon with eyes resembling a mask. Nook wanted all of my money from the moment I met him, and as my debt to him grew, his store grew larger and larger. He seemed to have my best interest in mind when he was selling to me, but in reality he knew that he could make a hefty prophet off of me. In my life, some of the worst people started out as people that I thought were trustworthy. Be wary of the Tom Nooks in your life!

My real friends taught me about life in a very real and sometimes jarring way. Growing up is sticky for any human being, and I appreciate and love everything they have done for me. However, when I needed it most, Animal Crossing taught me life lessons in a much more beautiful way.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
become_a_patron_button

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Banjo-Kazooie | The Game That Defines LividLightning

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This is one fun and funky soundtrack!

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today’s blogger needs no introduction.

Anyway, we’re ready for the next chapter of The Games That… Just kidding, I would never miss an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite bloggers! We’ve been graced with Ellen from LividLightning, returning after writing a wonderful piece for the Hyrule collab! She’s one of the most entertaining bloggers I’ve ever met, and she’s in fine form for this post with her playful, quirky writing style. After you’re done here, be sure to check out these amazing posts:

T-minus three, two, one. We’re launching the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Ellen @ LividLightning 

Twitter: @LightningEllen

For silly animal noises…

 


Game: Banjo-Kazooie
System: Nintendo 64
Release Date: June 29, 1998

1P Start

Gah-huk! Ahem. I’ll try to keep the spelling of silly noises to a minimum for this article, but that’s a large part of the what make Banjo-Kazooie so darn special.

One my personal Top 13 list of all-time favourite video games, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time would be #1, the entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy would be #2 (yes, I know that’s 3 games… my list, my rules), and just edging out Diddy Kong Racing for the coveted #3 spot would be none other than Banjo-Kazooie!

Capture

Gah-huk! Ahem. I’ll try to keep the spelling of silly noises to a minimum for this article, but dammit, that’s a large part of the what make Banjo-Kazooie so darn special.

Anyway, the cranky bear and sarcastic bird were a large and wonderful part of my childhood. Yep. I was bullied relentlessly in the school system here, and had to go through many a scary medical issue while growing into the somewhat mature adult I am today. Along with many other video games, Banjo-Kazooie’s wacky and whimsical world drew me in, distracting little me from a lot of life’s miserable moments. I’ll never forget the first time I made Banjo punch an adorable bouncing googly-eyed carrot at the base of Spiral Mountain. I was instantly in love with the game after that. I had a blast helping the duo fulfill their ultimate mission: save Banjo’s little sister Tooty from the clutches of the evil witch Gruntilda Winkybunion.

Whoa… wait. Banjo likes punching things and he’d do anything to save his little sister… wow! I can see me turning this into a Banjo-Kazooie and Final Fantasy XIII narrative comparison essay now so I’m gonna stop myself there. Let’s take a trip through 13 of my favourite things about this game instead (I’ll compromise with my inner obsessive Lightning Farron fan).

Capture2

I) Banjo-Kazooie is essentially a big collect-a-thon that leads you across various themed worlds hunting down Jiggies, Musical Notes, helpless Jinjos, and Extra Honeycomb Pieces. I had so much fun tracking everything down, and I’ve done it countless times. To inspire me for writing this article (and refresh my terrible memory), I dug out the ol’ N64 and gave the game a very brief revisit. It seems I was able to collect everything in 10 hours the last time I played. I’m impressed with past me!

II) I remember being captivated by the box art as a kid. A big ugly witch looming in the distance, an action shot of our sarcastic heroes grabbing a shiny Jiggy in the foreground, and the game’s title is a super cute font. There’s a reason I tracked down a mint complete in box copy on eBay a few years ago.

III) The mighty Mumbo Jumbo’s magnificent transformations always made me grin from ear to ear. The sorta scary Mad Monster Mansion world was a lot less intimidating when you’re bouncing around as an adorably tiny pumpkin with yellow shorts and a blue backpack, let me tell you. There was also a cheat code that turned Banjo into a washing machine, of all things. Nope! Sorry Mumbo, I’m not washing your underwear.

IV) I mentioned Mumbo Jumbo in my last point, right? Well, as soon as I think of Mr. Mumbo, my brain goes “Eekum Bokum!”, the amusing sound effect my favourite skull-headed shaman friend makes. Kazooie’s “Bree!!” sound effect also comes to mind when I picture the red breegull. All the NPCs make their own silly sounds as the dialog scrolls on the screen too. Those cute sounds really struck a chord with young me. I have to admit, they do annoy adult me a tad these days.

V) The hella whimsical melodies that play in all the worlds are really something special and always get me right in the feelz whenever I listen to the game’s soundtrack today. Each tune just fit the theme of the world so perfectly. Great job in the audio department, Grant Kirkhope!

Capture4

VI) Kazooie’s ability to fly was fabulous, even though it was kinda annoying that it cost you a consumable item called Red Feathers. I’ll always remember soaring over the gorgeous island world of Treasure Trove Cove. Especially useful since swimming isn’t advised due to an angry shark…

VII) The invincibility ability was another fun thing to play with. For the cost of Gold Feathers, Kazooie shielded Banjo with her wings, giving you the ability to charge through anything, and also not get shredded to pieces by various things in Clanker’s Cavern.

VIII) If you wanted to really have fun with flying and being invincible, you can totally cheat to get infinite Red and Gold feathers. In certain secret areas of the witch’s lair, you stumble upon Gruntilda’s disgruntled spell book, aptly named Cheato. He’s upset Grunty lost him and will willingly give the bear and bird cheat codes to enter on the sandcastle floor of Treasure Trove Cove.

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IX) When you failed and got that dreaded Game Over screen, the game actually showed you poor Tooty’s fate. I remember laughing in sadness as poor Tooty emerged from Grunty’s machine as an ugly green monster, while a hyper-sexified version of Gruntilda walked away to likely go sign a modeling contract.

X) Click Clock Wood, the game’s final place, was one of my favourite worlds. It was so cool how the area went through four different seasons. It was so much fun just discovering what changed between seasons. I also remember helping a very cranky squirrel there. Conker’s cousin, maybe? Oh and the Banjo Bumblebee transformation was amazing.

XI) Egyptian themes are a thing that has always fascinated me so Gobi’s Valley is another high point in my memory. Traversing the scorching sands, entering the pyramids, and exploring ancient tombs was so exciting!

XII) There were secrets and Easter eggs aplenty in this game. I’m not sure how much time young me spent trying unsuccessfully to get at that mysterious ice key, just out of reach in an area of Freezeezy Peak.

Capture5

XIII) Some of the minigames Banjo had to endure for Jiggies were quite entertaining. The biggest, baddest, and best of all minigames, however, was a trivia board game style showdown with Gruntilda before the final boss fight, amusingly named Grunty’s Furnace Fun. I learned so much about the game answering the usually unfair questions Grunty asked of the bear and bird during the event. It took me quite a while to beat it my first time through, but I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment when I finally survived.

And there you have it! Writing this has made me realize the nostalgia is heavy with this one. I think all of us gamers have a soft spot for the first games we ever played. Those first moments when we wrapped our hands around a controller, gasping in amazement as the characters on the screen moved when we pressed buttons. Video games will always give us something other forms of media never can: the ability to almost physically interact with other worlds, and to feel like we’re living out the stories of the characters we control. Once that final boss has been crushed, we walk away feeling like the brave hero who just saved their world. For me, Banjo-Kazooie will always be one of those special first-time gaming experiences and I’ll always treasure the many hours I spent playing as the bear and bird.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Pokemon Red and Blue | The Game That Defines Murr

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Pokemon + Chillstep = Perfect

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

We’ve hit double digits, folks — it’s Day 10 of The Games That Define Us! 

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

We’ve been blessed with both members of the double-act Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat for this collaboration! Today, amazing writer (and new father) Murr is going back in time to the halcyon days many of us experienced — walking around with out Game Boys catching Pokemon. After you get done here, you should definitely check out Murr’s domain over on G.S.R.R., the Geekly Reviews!

Gotta catch all pieces of The Games That Define Us, especially this one! Enjoy!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

DorXgJTUYAE1hBO

Murr @ Geek. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

Twitter: @Murr_GSRR

For Missingno

 

Game: Pokemon Red and Blue
System: Game Boy
Release Date: October 5, 1999 (E.U. …
yikes, that’s way later than everyone else… )

1P Start

Pokemon Red & Blue changed the world for everyone, but it certainly reminds me of one of the greatest times of my life when growing up. It was one of the most magical journeys of discovery I’d ever taken.

Pokemon RB.jpg

Pokemon, it’s the fad that isn’t going away. Sure the popularity and craze isn’t the same heights it was years ago, but you’d be foolish to think that it will ever stop selling millions of copies each new iteration.

I was introduced to Pokemon all those years ago by a neighbour who used to live across the road from me. He was a four years younger than me, but growing up, we’d always hang out after school and do standard stuff kids would do back then. Build dens, ride bikes and occasionally play computer games, either on his SNES or my Master System. I would eventually get a SNES and with it the ‘Super Gameboy’ which allowed you to play Gameboy games on the SNES. Ultimately it was sort of irrelevant before Pokemon, but I digress.

So my neighbour comes home from wherever it was he went with his parents one day, and he comes running over to mine with his Gameboy and this brand new unopened game. It was Pokemon Blue. Genuinely, I had not heard of this game at all. The TV Show hadn’t hit Sky One yet in the UK, or if it had, it hadn’t taken off yet. Pokemon cards weren’t big — it was just the early stages of this phenomenon in the UK. I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went all those years back, but it ended up with us digging out the Super Gameboy I owned, sitting in-front of my SNES and playing Pokemon Blue. So to start with I hand the SNES controller over to my neighbour as it’s his game after all. The process starts, the now classic introduction to Professor Oak takes place, along with the silly opening mistake of trying to leave Pallet Town without going to Oak’s lab first. All of this was occurring, and each line of text we read captured our imaginations more and more.

As it was back then, you’d always have to beg the parents if you could have a sleepover, and after hours of not moving from the TV while we were progressing further into Kanto, I do the deed of pleading with my parents, and then my neighbour pleading with his parents if he can stay over the night. They give the green light and we’re good to go. As the night progressed I selfishly ask if I can play and take control. I didn’t relinquish the controller then until the sun began to rise. Each day after school he’d come over and I’d again take control and end up playing the game for him. Four years his senior, I had the right to, right?

Pokemon RB2.jpg

In the end, I knew I had to beg my mum if I could have Pokemon Red. She had already bought it for me for Christmas (I was to find this out years later) and she was actually worried I was ruining the game by playing my neighbour’s version so much — after so much begging and pleading, she gave me my copy of Red early and this is where my journey began.

To this day, no journey has stuck with me more. Of course I’ve played some incredible games that will stay with me forever, but Pokemon Red was something entirely different. It became a sort of way of life for me. With every stupid thing kids believed in, like making wishes when seeing a shooting star or throwing pennies into wells, every wish I’d make was “I wish Pokemon were real.”

As we’re all aware, Pokemon certainly took off in a huge way. I know there are so many people out there that claim to be the biggest fans of such games, and now especially I can completely appreciate that there will be many people that adore Pokemon much more than I do now. But I legitimately think back in the Gen 1 days that I was the biggest Pokemon fan going and I sincerely mean that. As the TV show began to take off, I’d record all the episodes in the morning including the Pokerap. After school I’d come home an re-watch the episodes that I’d already seen in the morning, and then would sit there with a pen and paper and write down the names of the Pokemon featuring in the episode. When the Pokerap would come on, I’d pause it, rewind it, replay it and again write down all the names of the Pokemon trying to build up my own Pokedex of the 150 Pokemon. As I said, the craze was taking off, but the names of all the Pokemon were yet to be discovered, and while yes there was Internet, it was a more wondrous time of discovering these things naturally via other sources.

It got so crazy that my neighbour and I made our own Pokemon RPG in which I would draw out routes and towns and mark encounters with Pokemon on them. I’d created Pokemon player cards with circles representing health points which we’d colour in with pencil when taking damage (so they could be marked out when a potion was used and health was regained). I made cards for the Pokemon that you bumped into in wild encounters so again their damage could be marked down, and if you caught them, you’d attain that Pokemon card and it’d be part of your party. It got so deep, I’d worked out the system for experience gained from battles and leveling up. I’d use dice to give damage from moves and the higher the level the Pokemon you battled, the more the multiplier of damage would be. We loved it — we’d sit there with Pokemon on the TV playing this while playing link player battles and trades with our versions of Red & Blue. There was such a good competitive rivalry there between us.

As the craze continued to take over the world, my collection ever increased. Any magazine that even had a mention of Pokemon in it, my parents would buy for me. When the N64 came out, before any Pokemon game was even announced we were in dreamworld at just how amazing the Pokemon N64 game was going to be. While we didn’t end up getting that dream 3D RPG, we did get Pokemon Stadium that took us to another level of competition with our teams being uploaded to proper 3D visuals. The merchandise was taking over my bedroom, posters and cutouts all over the walls. Figures and plushies everywhere. Magazines piled up.

I can always remember in one of the daily newspapers Sky One included a blue poster with a picture of each of the 150 Pokemon on it in their Pokedex order with their name. This poster lived on the wall next to my head in bed and it was like a ritual every night before hitting the light off to stare at it and memorise more of them in their Pokedex order. That poster lived there for years. Other posters came and went, but that stayed there for as long as I can remember — oh how I wish I still had it.

I even started to get into theories about Pokemon after studying the guides so much. Like shouldn’t the evolution of Venonat be Butterfree, and Caterpie -> Metapod -> Venomoth based purely on their designs. And of course the infamous Cubone and Kangaskhan relation and theory, and the Clefable and Gengar connections. It was all I’d think about. I’d have notebooks full of drawings and scribbles about these silly theories and myths. The TV show would help fuel these notebooks of silliness with some of their unique Pokemon featuring in episodes like the huge Dragonite that came to the lighthouse and of course the infamous Ho-oH appearance in the very first episode.

While the craze continued to grow, so did the amount of Pokemon related stuff I’d carry around. Naturally I’d need my Gameboy with my copy of Red, I’d carry my Pokedex around with me, my folder full of Pokemon cards. I’d keep all this in a case designed to carry the Gameboy and a few games — this case was an official Pokemon one of course. On the front cover of one of the many magazines I had was a blurb of text about how Pokemon had taken over the world. I cut this paragraph out and kept it with me in that carry case at all times. So strange I know, but the impact of this paragraph of text reflected how important I felt that Pokemon had become. I actually have the cutout paragraph on the wall in my office today. This is the paragraph:

While I would go on to enjoy all the Pokemon games after Red & Blue, It was these games that of course started it all. I can’t explain how much these games mean to me. They’ve impacted me even now in my 30s. As silly as it sounds when abroad and seeing wildlife unique to that country or setting, I still think of it as seeing rare Pokemon in their region. Like in Mauritius, seeing sea turtles and octopi, I was just thinking of it as seeing them as Pokemon in their natural habitat and sort of like ‘ticking them off’ a check list having seen them. So strange I know for a 30+ year old to think like that.

I became a father in October of this year, and I’m already getting excited about when my son is old enough to appreciate the Build-A-Bear Workshop in our mall, taking him there and getting him his own Pokemon — I’m hoping he takes after his father and picks Charmander. I shall do my best to encourage and influence him to become the fire type fan that I was and still am, to be honest. In a few days, the Switch will be getting its first Pokemon title, and in terms of nostalgia I can’t wait to get a copy of Pokemon Let’s Go and retrace all those steps that I’m so familiar with in new beautiful presented visuals.

Pokemon Red & Blue changed the world for everyone, but it certainly reminds me of one of the greatest times of my life when growing up. It was one of the most magical journeys of discovery I’d ever taken. It captivated my imagination so much and still does to this day.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Donkey Kong Country | The Game That Defines TWOTALL4UFOOL

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David Wise and Eveline Fischer, the composers for the Donkey Kong Country series, are the masters of ambiance. Open your ears, I’ve found a musician on a mission to restore the series tracks to their uncompressed glory. If you love the originals, you’re in for a treat. 

 

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

We are one full week into The Games That Define Us, and it had been an incredible journey so far! Thank you to all the readers and contributors who are making this amazing event a reality! We truly appreciate your support.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today’s blogger has such a big personality, I’m going to keep things brief and not hog the spotlight. You know him, you love him, it’s Justin from TWOTALL4UFOOL’s Gaming & More! He’s been a great blog friend for a while now, and he always keeps you entertained with his enthusiasm. We’re grateful to have him here, but once you’re done you should check out these recent posts on his blog:

Without further delay, take it away Justin with one of my favorite games on the SNES!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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DpQCELvUcAEQubY

Justin @ TWOTALL4UFOOL

Twitter: @TWOTALL4UFOOL

For you and yours!

Game: Donkey Kong Country
System: SNES
Release Date: November 21, 1994

1P Start

This had to be the best Christmas gift I ever received as a kid. If I could go back in time, I would just want to watch younger me having a blast with Donkey Kong Country.

Blogging live to you and yours! It’s your boy TWOTALL4UFOOL!

It was probably summer when I first saw the commercial — sometime in 1994, though I have forgotten the exact month. By then I would have had my Super NES for about three years. I either got it at launch, or if not, definitely my seventh birthday shortly after launch — sometime in 1991. Since having it I was having fun with the games I had. Some I had asked for. Other games were given to me as a gift. And then, of course, the rental games I would play on it from Blockbuster Video. Whatever game I was playing on it I made the best of. But even at a young age I knew some games were definitely better than others. And to be honest when I look back on it I feel the Super NES was just on an even plateau with the Sega Genesis until I saw this commercial. This game was going to change everything! Take a look below.

 

 

After seeing that commercial, I knew that had to be the next game I got for my Super NES. I didn’t know how or when I was going to get it, but I knew that had to be my next game for this console. I instantly fell in love with the game and I didn’t even have it. I didn’t even know too much about Donkey Kong to tell you the truth. I knew that he was the main villain in the Donkey Kong arcade game and that there was GameBoy version of that game that game that came out earlier in the year. And I also knew a character by the name of Donkey Kong Jr. was playable in Super Mario Kart. So I had an idea of who Donkey Kong was, I just didn’t know the whole back story at the time.

This had to be the only game I ever wanted instantly after watching a TV commercial for it! I just wanted it. I didn’t want to rent it. I didn’t want to read reviews on it. I just wanted the box so I could rip that thing open and start playing it and read the instruction booklet before I went to bed. I think the commercial did everything in terms of selling me on the game.

Where you gonna find it?
Not on Sega!
Not on 32x Adapters!
Not on CD-Rom!
It’s only for Super NES!

And if you look at those graphics. During that time, those had to be some of the sweetest graphics I had ever seen. Another thing that sold me on the game after watching the commercial. I was blown away by the commercial to say the least. And I was thrilled that it was only for the Super NES! It was a direct shot at Sega, I feel, because it didn’t need any CD adapter or 32x adapter to play a game of this caliber. All you needed was Super NES.

Now if I had gotten this game for my tenth birthday that would make this the perfect story. But since the game came out November 21st (19 days after my birthday) I had to wait a little bit longer. Instead, I got it for Christmas. This had to be the best Christmas gift I ever received as a kid. If I could go back in time, I would just want to watch younger me having a blast with Donkey Kong Country. I knew beating the game would be no easy task, but if I could beat Super Mario World I knew I had a chance at beating this game.

For those of you have never played Donkey Kong Country, here is how the game works. It’s a platformer similar to a Mario game. Donkey Kong can either jump or do a roll at his enemies for them to be defeated. However this won’t work on all enemies. For more complicated enemies, you can throw barrels at them and they can be defeated. Speaking of barrels, if you come across a DK Barrel, you’ll get your sidekick Diddy Kong. You can switch between the two as you please. Diddy Kong can also jump on enemies and do cartwheels, knocking enemies out. Going through the level, if you got hit once that would be it. But if you have both Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong whoever you are controlling will run off then you take over as the other. There are multiple DK barrels throughout the level so you would have a chance to get your Kong buddy before beating the level.

You start out with 5 lives, with the opportunity to get more for every 100 bananas, finding DK Balloons, or reaching bonus levels within each level. Reaching Candy Kong would be the only way to save your game. Funky Kong will allow you to go back to worlds that you had already beaten. And Cranky Kong gives you “helpful” advice on how to get through the game. You also have animal buddies that help you throughout the adventure as well. They are in certain levels throughout the game and can also be used in various bonus levels. At the end of each world you face a boss, and after you get through the six worlds, you fight the main villain in the game — King K. Rool, leader of the Kremlings.

Now, when I started the first world that was nothing out of the ordinary. I was able to pass the first level and first world with flying colors. It was when I got to the second world is where the trouble began. Mine Cart Carnage was the first level I struggled with during this game. That level is fun, but not an easy task in the slightest. It takes perfect timing to spell KONG, jump over all the carts, and not get hit by Kremlings in other carts coming right at you. The Stop & Go Station was another unique level. The concept that you couldn’t kill those baddies at all — you could only go by them when the barrel light was on stop — was something very unique and had never been done in any video game at the time.

Moving on the more memorable levels in the game: when I reached the fourth world (Gorilla Glacier), the level Snow Barrel Blast was so complicated. Not only was it slippery because of the ice, but thick snow coming down in that level makes it impossible to see. The other level in that world that I remember well had to be Torchlight Trouble. This is the only level where Squawks the Parrot made an appearance by holding the torchlight for you to see. Moving on to the fifth world, Kremkroc Industries, I went through some of the hardest levels the game had to offer. Elevator Antics, Mine Cart Madness and arguably the hardest level in the game, Poison Pond. I had met kids who had quit the game because they couldn’t pass Poison Pond. It is a complicated level, but your animal buddy Enguarde the Swordfish makes it a bit less complicated.

In the sixth and final world, Chimp Caverns, there is a level called Loopy Lights. It’s similar to the Stop & Go Station where you have to keep the lights on in the level. Another one that frustrated me quite a bit was Platform Perils. This is the last level you do before fighting that world boss. Looking back at the most of these levels, they each have a unique stipulation. You didn’t really see that too much in other platformers during that time, such as Mario or Sonic games game. Donkey Kong Country sure broke barriers, and I feel rewrote the rules on what a good platformer video game looks like.

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Fighting King K. Rool wasn’t easy. Besides throwing his crown at you, you had to time his jumps and be in the right place at the right time or you were a goner. I remember when I first thought I beat him and then the credits rolled and after the credits were done rolling he got back up and just killed me out of nowhere. That was so wrong! But I stayed patient and calm and eventually defeated him. What can I say? That game was a wild ride — one that I never get tired of playing.

Here is how this game defines me. It came out during the prime of my childhood. I saw a commercial for it. I didn’t read reviews, or rent it. I just saw it, asked for the game, got it, and beat it! It took me a while to beat it but it eventually happened. I never looked at video games the same again after beating Donkey Kong Country. It helped me realize that all video games are beatable (with the exception of sports games, I guess). It helped me look at some of the games I had played previously and had never beaten. One of those games was Super Mario Bros. 3., which I would eventually go on to beat in the Super Mario All-Stars compilation. And I don’t think I would’ve had the smarts to get through that game without getting through Donkey Kong Country first.

Overall, I couldn’t think of a better game that defines me and my video game playing skills than Donkey Kong Country. It is one of my all time favorites. When it came out, there was no game like it, and I don’t think there will ever be another game like it. The only sequel I feel comes close is Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. That game could arguably be better in overall gameplay than the original. There’s only one thing that’s missing, though: Donkey Kong. We love you Dixie, but I feel they could’ve found some way to make Donkey Kong playable. And I still think it’s a robbery that game wasn’t on the SNES Classic Edition. But Nintendo knows they would’ve messed up if they didn’t include the first game on there. If you haven’t played Donkey Kong Country, I highly encourage you to do so. And think of your boy as you play!

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Faxanadu | The Game That Defines Hungrygoriya

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GG says “a lot of this music could be played by a band at a fancy dinner or something.” We concur, and it would be awesome. 

 

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Welcome back to day two of The Games That Define Us! We hope you enjoyed the first post, and are excited to launch ourselves through the decades of both our lives and gaming history.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Today’s writer, GG from Hungrygoriya, has been a supportive blogging colleague since Normal Happenings’s inception. I’m so glad we got this mythical writer back after composing such a creative piece during Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! After reading this post, I highly recommend checking out their piece on Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Similar to this piece, it’s full of personal exploration of the impact of a game, and well worth your time.

I’ll admit, before organizing this collaboration, I had never heard of the game Faxanadu. It turns out I overlooked it on the Wii Virtual Console. I thought I had a good grasp on all of the classics of the NES, but this one slipped through the cracks. However, upon reading GG’s insights on the title, I find myself begging for Nintendo to bring it to the Switch online service.

But that’s enough from me — let’s get to the good part. We hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

DqYMrnoWwAAHnte

GG @ Hungrygoriya
Twitter: @hungrygoriya

For the unknown wanderers returning home

 


Game: Faxanadu
System: NES
Release Date: November 16, 1987

1P Start

I don’t really have a mantra per se, but the idea of being mindful and staying in the moment rather than fretting about things I can’t control has really helped me in all areas of my life.

2903803-faxanadu001.png

I wish I could remember the first time I played Faxanadu. My family bought an NES in 1990 when I was just four years old, but if I’m being completely honest, I don’t even remember how Faxanadu made it to us. It could’ve been a birthday or a Christmas, but many of my memories from that time are a bit foggy.

My parents were always pretty divided on gaming. My dad had bumped into that first goomba in Super Mario Bros. and never picked up a controller again, while my mom absolutely loved the challenge of games like Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3. My siblings also enjoyed gaming, but I was the only one who would regularly pop longer games like The Legend of Zelda and Faxanadu into the console. Usually they were stuck onto the trusty Game Genie to ensure I had a fighting chance to make it past the first parts of the games without meeting death too soon.

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Faxanadu was different from many of the other games I had been playing up until that point. It was not cut from the same cloth as the bubbly, colourful platformers of the NES era. Though I enjoyed the Mario games and Adventure Island II, Faxanadu drew me in for different reasons. The music was questy yet dissonant, and the graphics were based more in reality than imagination — as realistic as the setting of a giant tree can be, I suppose. There was something about the game’s dark and gloomy atmosphere and the nameless hero taking up a dire cause that I could relate to at that point in my life. My childhood was not particularly bright, and the dark setting of the World Tree was a great escape for me while I hacked and slashed away at unidentifiable enemies to raise my experience and rake in the gold. I especially appreciated that there was no option for a second player. It gave me an excuse to be alone once in a while.

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I should’ve disintegrated far more often while playing Faxanadu, but with Infinite Magic and Infinite Power by means of the Game Genie, I was unstoppable. After finally giving up the cheating machine, dying in Faxanadu was very frequent for me. Thankfully it wasn’t all bad, since one of my very favourite parts of the game is the message that’s shown when you die. It’s my one go-to phrase for when I need a pick-me-up:

Don’t have negative thoughts. Remember your mantra.

Those words are sometimes all I need to put one foot in front of the other when I’m feeling a little glum. I don’t really have a mantra per se, but the idea of being mindful and staying in the moment rather than fretting about things I can’t control has really helped me in all areas of my life.

maxresdefault (1)

Faxanadu was the first proper role-playing game I ever played. If you know much about me or my taste in games these days, it’s all RPGs all the time, and Faxanadu is solely responsible for that. I will never forget the day I beat it on my own without the Game Genie for the first time. I was well into my twenties and had decided to stream the game in hopes to garner some interest from others, having spent most of my life not knowing anyone else that enjoyed the game as much as me. That night I think I played Faxanadu for one or two people that came and went throughout the evening. I was vanquished over and over again, and after about five hours of struggling, I finally defeated the anticlimactic final boss. My enthusiasm post-win was met by silence, since most people watching had given up on me long before I had made it to the end, but it was a quiet victory and I reveled in those moments completely. I’ve felt accomplished finishing other games, but none bring me as much satisfaction as Faxanadu. Nothing beats seeing that rejuvenated World Tree and watching our nameless protagonist go off to his next adventure.

On the surface, Faxanadu looks like your average action RPG. In many ways it is, but I’ve never been able to find the same sense of urgency and adventure in other games like it. Though there’s not much to know about that game’s main character in terms of his story or motivations, his shoes are an easy pair to step into and walk a mile in, and the game and its challenges therein shaped much of my sense of self-reliance and determination. I’m so glad to have been able to experience such a wonderful game in my youth, and I’m even more grateful that I can continue to enjoy it as an adult.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.
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Adventure Map | The Games That Define Us

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introduction

Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Welcome to The Games That Define Us, the second Normal Happenings collaboration! Starting on November 1, you will be embarking on a 34-day long journey through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. These contributions go beyond mere game conversation, though each of these artists have proven time and again their ability to think critically about game mechanics and presentation. One need only view their blogs to see they are well-versed in the art of critique.

But that’s not what The Games That Define Us is all about.

This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

What does it mean for a video game to define you? It can be hard to tell at first, but here is a good starting point: close your eyes and just think “video games.” What games pop into your head? Maybe there is only one – if so you may have already discovered the one that defines you. If there are several, ask yourself which one is the most meaningful to you. We think that is where you should look, and we would love to know what game defines you in the comments. Perhaps it’s even one of ours, and if so, you’re in for a treat.

This adventure map will serve as a guide through each day’s pieces – a table of contents, if you will. There will be a mini-version affixed to each post, but you can treat this as a table of contents or a launch point. We recommend reading each post in order, as they are arranged by game release date. However, feel free to dive right in to your favorite games. With these incredible bloggers, you simply cannot go wrong no matter where you start. And with that, let us begin The Games That Define Us!   

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

adventure map

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative bloggers. Help us with the resources to make even greater collaborations in the future. We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about finding optimism in everyday life. Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place.
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Just a Boy, Nothing More

Better With Audio:

“East” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “East” is a contemplation of the mindset of a child and what the world turns the into as an adult.


I set out to rule the world
With only a paper shield, and a wooden sword
No mountain destined in my way
Even the oceans tremble in my way


I make no secret of the fact that Link from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favorite character in all of video games. He’s even the character I main in Super Smash Bros. On a superficial level, that may come as a surprise. He’s just a young kid — a very awkward, expressive kid at that. I’ll admit I was shocked in my moment of self-discovery about my favorite video game character. The more I think about it, however, the more it makes sense.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker | GCN

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Wind Waker is a game for kids. By featuring a protagonist so young and applying the notoriously cartoony cell-shaded graphical style, the designers did an incredibly effective job of hiding the mature and nuanced story within. Simply put, this is a game with themes squarely directed at grown-ups. Continue reading “Just a Boy, Nothing More”

The Park Bench on Main Street

Better With Audio!

“I’ll Keep You Safe” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

 

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “I’ll Keep You Safe” is about taking comfort in the world around you.


The sound of the branches breaking under your feet
The smell of the fall and the burning of leaves
The bitterness of winter or the sweetness of spring
You are an artist, and your heart is your masterpeice


Every Animal Crossing player suffers the inevitable fate of losing interest in or getting too busy for their town. When that happens to me, I always feel the need to write a letter of apology to Isabelle. I think it is time, however, to write a letter not of sorrow but of reflection.

Animal Crossing Continue reading “The Park Bench on Main Street”

It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon

Better With Audio!

“Overture” | Atlas: Year One · Sleeping at Last

Each post this month is set to a different track from this amazing album. “Overture” is about the birth of the adventure of life.


We claim our lands
We tame our seas
We carve our names
On the surface of history


It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon

One of my favorite pieces of imagery in this gorgeous game is the moon, it’s gradient yellows hanging large at the end of a long journey. I’m not sure why, but it symbolizes more than anything else of the first video game adventure I ever had.

Kirby’s Adventure NES 

Despite the retro gloriousness of accomplishing that level of detail on 8-bit hardware, nothing compares to the real thing. When I was a child, maybe nine or ten years old, I remember a prolific fall night with a chill in the air. I was visiting my grandparent’s farm in rural Georgia, U.S., and I had walked outside to see the biggest moon hovering there above the fields. It must have been the size of a quarter held right in front of me. I could count every crater on its surface, and it was so bright that the light actually reflected off the crops which were ready to be harvested. It was on that night I felt an inspiration that to this day has never gone away. Continue reading “It’s Only an 8-Bit Moon”