Tag Archives: legend of zelda

Lost in the Woods

Ever since I wrote about the gorgeous Link to the Past comic some time ago, there has been this nagging desire to read more paneled Zelda stories.  But where could I find them?  There hasn’t been a Hylian on the comic book store shelves in years and the graphic novel section at Barnes and Noble is surprisingly scarce for video game stories.  Giving up on a physical hunt, I did what any stumped player would do: check the internet.  After a quick search, I found where Link has been hiding all this time: in the Children’s Section.

It seems in 2008, Viz Media translated and released a pair of manga based on Ocarina of Time for American audiences.  The books, which were split between the adult and child story arcs, were originally published by the Japanese company Shogakukan in 1999.  When Viz brought the books over, they decided to print them under their “Viz Kids” label, and have continued to do so for every Zelda comic since.  It is for this reason why I went hunting through the Children’s Section at the bookstore for my quarry: a comic based on Majora’s Mask. Continue reading Lost in the Woods

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Listmas 2013: Howard and Nester Comics

HowardNester

For those of you who were readers during the glory days of Nintendo Power, your first exposure to video game comics probably involved Howard Phillips and his good friend Nester.  These goofy stories were a source of tips and humor in the earlier issues of NP.  As the president of the Nintendo Fun Club, Howard Phillips would play the straight-man to Nester’s stubborn and off-the-wall antics.  Over the course of 21 issues, the lovable pair were immersed into the hit video games of the day, often to comedic results.

As a celebration of Listmas 2013, I am taking a break from the usual comic book analysis to share my three favorite Howard and Nester stories from pages past (hit the issue links for the full comics).  Here we go!

March/April 1989

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As a kid who spent much of his time at the local library, the thought of finding a Legend of Zelda book seemed like a dream.  Granted, I wouldn’t have dismissed some of the classics like Nester here, but I definitely sought out the more off-beat stuff in the stacks.  I especially love Nester’s indignant reaction to finding Howard in his story, even though the bow-tied knight is just trying to help.

May/June 1990

14-1

This comic was the first time I had ever heard of QA departments and play-testing in video games.  Until that time, I just assumed that the developers made the games correctly on the first try.  What can I say, I was a naïve kid.  At least I knew better than to assume the world of game testing was as fantastic as Howard and Nester would make it seem.  If only we could just hop into a game to test for bugs.  Then again, that’s a lot of pain and respawning for anyone who is testing Call of Duty…

December 2012

LastNester1

Okay, so this one isn’t technically a “Howard and Nester” comic.  After Howard Phillips left Nintendo back in 1991, Nester carried the torch in his own adventures for many more issues.  It was in Issue 55 of Nintendo Power when Nester’s Adventures went on hiatus.  The plucky mascot showed up for three more special comic appearances: as a college student in #100, as a father in #231 (the twentieth anniversary of NP), and once more in the final issue of Nintendo Power, #285.  When the last issue hit store shelves, I made sure to secure a copy from my local bookstore.  This comic is a total tear-jerker to longtime readers of Nintendo Power (and to anyone with a heart).  I hope to someday share in this bittersweet sort of moment with my future children.

Looking back at these comics, I am really impressed with how well the artwork has stood up over time.  The facial expressions on Howard and Nester are very emotive, and the shading is especially nice throughout the series.  Special thanks to Tiny Cartridge for posting the final comic, and to the Howard and Nester Comics Archive, where you can find every one of these fun-filled stories.  Merry Listmas, everyone!

Game Theory: Is Link’s Quest in Majora’s Mask Pointless?

MajorasMask

If any of you read my blog (PhoenixDown), you might have seen my long rant about the possibility of Link actually being dead as he progresses through the dark Majora’s Mask storyline. It wasn’t my own theory (although I wish it was), but I was intrigued by the possible inclusion of symbolism and I had to investigate. Game Theory introduces some awesome, yet maybe pointless observations that are just fun to learn about, and because I’m currently running on no sleep… I figured I’d let them do the work for me this time.

In this video, Game Theory discusses the importance of the moon in Majora’s Mask and if Link’s mission to save Termina from the falling moon is even possible. Of course they use a bunch of numbers and brain-numbing math equations, but if you’re a person that is interested in statistical observations then you’ll most likely enjoy this. For those who hate numbers (like me), basically the video discusses why Termina would be doomed way before the moon even crashed onto the surface. With the moon slowly falling, obviously things such as the gravitational pull would change which would inevitably result in catastrophic consequences… blah blah emergency blah. I for one tend to pull out the whole, “It’s a fictional game, yo.” in response to such theories, but I’ve come to respect the work put into this one. I’ll let you interject your own thoughts.

What do you think about theories such as this?

A Link to the Past

As someone who works a dreary desk job, I will often spend my breaks scouring the internet, looking for interesting sites to pass the time.  Earlier this year, I found a fantastic Tumblr blog which serves as an archive of video game magazines.  Old Game Magazines features high quality scans of covers and articles from the glory days of print gaming media (read: the 1990s).  Over the last few weeks, this Tumblr page has focused on scans from my favorite gaming magazine, Nintendo Power.  Along with the extensive strategy guides and fold-out posters that came standard every month, there was a period of time when comics were printed on the pages of this classic publication.  These paneled stories were serialized over several issues and were normally tied to the release of a big Nintendo property, such as Super Mario World or Star Fox.  Since a direct sequel for the SNES classic is looming over the horizon for 3DS owners, now is a prime time to have a look at the Link to the Past comic from Nintendo Power.

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First published in January of 1992 (issue 32 of NP), the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was written and drawn by Shotaro Ishinomori.  A famous manga artist, Ishinomori broke into the industry working as an assistant to animation legend, Osamu Tezuka.  The story goes that in 1955, Ishinomori entered an art contest for the magazine Manga Shonen while he was still in high school.  Impressed with the student’s work, Osamu Tezuka contacted Ishinomori, asking him to become an assistant on the hugely popular Astro Boy.  After years of work as an assistant, Ishinomori branched out on his own and went on to create several famous series, such as Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider.  Through his impressive body of work, Ishinomori successfully established an entire genre of “transforming” superhero media, and his accomplishments have been honored by numerous outlets around the world.

LinktothePast3For the Link to the Past comics, Ishinomori focused on the story of the game, in which a young boy becomes entangled in a quest that would transform him into a hero of legend.  Unlike the mostly mute hero of the video games, the Link of this comic starts out as something of a clumsy, inexperienced kid who has plenty to say.  While not exactly prepared to defeat an ancient evil, Link does possess a plucky courage that causes him to run blindly into a stormy night to save a woman he has never even met.  The general plot of the video game is mostly unchanged in the comic, save for some minor enemy details and quite a bit of flourish on the locations in the game world.  The core story of Link acquiring the Master Sword and traveling to the Dark World to defeat Ganon and save Zelda remains, albeit with several new characters and encounters.

LinktothePast4Probably the two most notable additions to the cast of characters are a headstrong young knight and a feisty fairy, named Roam and Epheremelda respectively.  Roam serves as a sort of rival character for Link, even though the two share the similar goal of killing Ganon.  A master of archery, Roam is a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule who fought to imprison Ganon many years ago.  Even though he regularly shows up to harass and test Link on his quest, Roam’s efforts in finding the Silver Arrow directly aid in Ganon’s defeat.  Epheremelda is a fairy who Link manages to save from a band of monsters once he arrives in the Dark World.  Grateful for his rescue (and crushing on him hard), the young fairy agrees to accompany Link and help him on his quest.  What is particularly interesting about Epheremelda is that no such fairy guide existed in A Link to the Past, but the idea of a helper sprite would become a recurring piece of the Zelda universe thanks to Navi in Ocarina of Time.  It seems that Ishinomori was a bit of a forward thinker for the Legend of Zelda games.

LinktothePast5The artwork is extremely impressive in the Link to the Past comics.  Most of the character models would be right at home in Ishinomori’s other works, with expressive anime-style features and minimal line work.  Certain designs are even taken directly from previous Ishinomori models, such as Roam who was based on the character Jet Link from Cyborg 009.  The backgrounds range from dynamic splash images for action scenes to highly detailed environments that set the mood for every scene.  The color work is extremely striking throughout the entire series.  Ishinomori uses a sort of watercolor-style technique, where shading and elemental effects are accomplished through gradual color changes instead of bold lines.  The result is a mood of epic fantasy that suits the comic quite nicely.

Once the series had completed its run in Nintendo Power, all of the comics were collected and published as a graphic novel in 1993.  Now a highly prized collector’s item, this standalone version was once being sold in a bundle at the back of Super Power Supplies catalogs for the unbelievably low price of $25.  I have no idea why I never coerced my parents into getting that bundle for me as an obligatory Christmas gift.  Knowing me, I was probably too busy playing Donkey Kong Country at the time, and just assumed that since I had the issues of Nintendo Power with the comics, that was good enough.  As an adult whose video game magazines are all in storage at my parents’ house, I would love to have such an outstanding video game comic at my disposal.  Oh well, I will just take solace in fantastic sites like Old Game Magazines and spend hours pouring over my computer screen at the printed pages of the past.