The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Monthly Archives: July 2009

American Dad Volume 4 review

It’s finally here, the egarly awaited follow-up to my huge Family Guy review, which is the most popular page on the blog. So I hope you enjoy this even more. So without further ado…

Disc 1

Written by: Jonathan Fener

The One Where: Stan is called upon to stop a diabolical film producer whose fiendish plot involves celebrity robots and a movie that will cause audiences to cry themselves to death.

Verdict: An excellent start to the DVD. The whole episode is a parody of James Bond movies and copies them almost down to a tee (apart from Stan’s a virgin) It rockets along nicely and there’s great running joke involving a contractor. However, it’s a bit of a shame to give the Moneypenny and Q characters to Steve and Hayley, only for them to be in there for about 5 seconds . 9/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Tearjerker, evil film producer and Oscar Golde, a mentally challenged jewish child during WWII

Trivia: all the celebrities in the background have been used in Family GUy or American Dad.

Gaffes: Monsters Ball was made in 2001, not 2002

Bullocks To This: Stan’s boss, B. Dresses up as a Geisha informing Stan that they’re “Secret Asians”

Best Line: Roger – Then.They.Will.Cry.And.Then.They.Will.Die.Pie?

Reference this: The whole episode is a James Bond parody. However special props go to Greg and Terry’s Sgt Pepper outfits.

Oedipal Panties
Written By David Hemingson

The One Where: Stans Mom is dumped by yet another boyfriend, so Francine and Roger go undercover to find out what’s going wrong. Meanwhile Klaus and Steve share a common disease – ick!

Verdict: It’s an episode that starts very strange and escalates, from Stan’s disturbing relationship with his mother to the revelation about her dates. It’s quite funny, but doesn’t feel anything special. The B story with Steve also doesn’t get going until right at the end of the episode and that when it ends.

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Cousin Phil, a Kurt Cobain look-a-like with glasses. Also, a fat school teacher from the south.

Trivia: Roger’s predator costume from Joint Custody is in his wardrobe.

Guess the Guest: Stan’s mum is voiced by Swoosie Kurtz, Aunt Lily from Pushing Daisies!

Reference this: Betty goes to see the movie Click, he doesn’t understand any of it.

Best line: Francine – “I Missed You”, Stan – “And I’m Horny”

Written By Keith Heifler

The One Where: Roger plays shrink as Francine pressures Stan to open up to her emotionally. She gets more than she bargained for, however, when she learns that Stan has killed her friends husband.

Verdict: There are some good moments here and some great dialogue. As a plot though, it’s not that interesting and needs Roger as the fake psychiatrist and Steve’s B Story to carry it. It’s also a very complex episode, with many twists and turns that don’t become clear until the end. If you can look through the dull narrative, you can try to guess what happens at the end, you won’t, but you can try. 5/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Pretend Psychiatrist, operator, clip-clop the horse and a fireman.

Trivia: Steve is referred to as Ginger, although it’s never mentioned again. Also, Stans celebeartions from American Dream Factory are on a shelf in the basement.

Bullocks To This: appears during the 1000th vagina joke celebration.

Best line: Roger – I’ve been consumed by another patient, he’s a run away teenager, who’s being molested. By me.

Red October Sky
Written by: Steve Hely

The One Where: Stan is shocked to discover that his new neighbour is a former KGB agent who maybe turning Steve into a communist. Elsewhere, Klaus and Roger take a vacation to Europe.

Verdict: Communism is a tricky subject for comedy (odd that) but this episode really pulls it off and the way the two stories seem to mesh together is excellent. There’s also a great B story, where Roger and Klaus visit Europe. However, like other’s it remains too short, maybe they’ll take another one in the future… 8/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Ninja, canadian tourist.

Trivia: Roger drives a Smart Car in Germany (If they’d visited Britain, they almost certainly would be driving a mini)

Bullocks to this: Gives Stan a mission, then goes on about his awesome air pumped trainers.

Reference this: Francine calls Steve “Disney’s The Rocketeer”

Best Line : Roger – Hey everybody, I’m a ninja, I do Ninja stuff now.

Office Spaceman
Written by: Laura Mcreary

The one Where: After being named head of the CIA’s Alien Task Force, Roger becomes Stan’s new boss and frames Stan in order to protect his own identity. Meanwhile, Francine must come to grips with being left-handed.

Verdict: A Roger centric episode is always good and this is no exception. The CIA plot is excellent, allows great chemistry between Bullock, Roger and Stan and it moves along nicely with unpredictable results. The B Story once again seems too small, but it doesn’t slow or bring it down. 9/10

Roger – Master of disguise: Photographer, eccentric, CIA agent and a stud.

Trivia: The title sequence cuts out at the start.

Francine creeps me out: Went to a convent orphanage and was beaten with kippers because she’s left handed.

Bullocks to this: Leading the Alien Task Force, telling the staff about an incident at PJ Changs and general ass admiring.

Reference this: Parker Peters (Rogers photographer disguise) is a reversal on Peter Parker of Spiderman and his fake back story is Mulder’s from the X Files (which is even pointed out)

Best line: Mama – She usually beat her with a side of beef, but it was a Friday.

Disc 2

Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold
Written By: Erik Sommers

The One Where: After a near death experience after a pudding truck accident, Stan decides to leave his mark on the world and goes in search of Oliver North’s buried treasure, even as the Smith house crumbles around him.

Verdict: The show lives up to its name. It’s a very American episode, this. It has a bit of US history (whether it’s all true or not is uncertain and I can’t be bothered to look it up), all summed up in an excellent little tune, showcasing both MacFarlane’s vocal abilities and his ability to sing with Stan’s voice. It’s got some interesting animation as well, that’s very nice to look at. Narrative wise, it’s got some great moments, although it feels stupid at times, but brilliant all the same. 8/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Laura Vanderbooben and Luke Fondlebury, his plan to get money from Sexual harassment charges.

Trivia: Hayley’s middle name is Dreamsmasher.

Reference This: Stan mentions Francine’s muffin business from Finances With Wolves.

Best line: Stan – Your face will remain Metal free, like a good radio station.

Spring Break-Up
Written by: Nahnchaka Khan

The One Where: Roger gets the party started at a wet and wild spring break at the Smith house. With Francine out of town, Stan falls for a sexy booze cruiser, whilst Steve hopes to lose his virginity.

Verdict: This is almost a perfect episode, it’s brilliantly written, it’s got heart and it’s utterly hilarious. The jokes come thick and fast, but at the same time, it knows when it has to be emotional and perfectly balances them together, which rounds off a neat package. Only downside, however, there’s no Bullock (he would have fitted perfectly within the party atmosphere)

Roger – Master of Disguise: Scotch Bingeington, king of spring break.

Trivia: The Strippers from Stan Knows Best appear late in the episode

With Friends Like Steve’s: Plan on cracking Number theorem, but then get distracted as they become possible candidates for the love of some drunk girls (to which they leap out the window)

Reference this: Carmen Selectra is a parody of Carmen Electra (who actually voiced Lisa Silver in the pilot episode). And Donkey Kong throws barrels at some of the kids.

Best lines: Steve – I’m Going to hit that.
Snot – I’m going to tear that up
Barry – I’m going to kill that with a bottle.

1600 Candles
Written By: Rick Weiner and Kenny Schwartz

The One Where: Rogers birthday celebration is derailed when Steve announces he’s finally going through puberty. Rather than facing the specter of raging hormones, Stan and Francine opt for an experimental treatment.

Verdict: I love that Stan and Francine can’t handle their kids puberty and the chaos that ensues. The results are hilarious and pretty clever. There are a few plotholes, but they’re easily forgivable and it does have a lesson on the importance of growing up. 9/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Boy next door.

Trivia: the CIA scientists maybe based on Mike Barker and Matt Weitzmann, two of the shows creators.

Francine creeps me out: Francine was brutally attacked and scrubbed clean in the high school shower rooms.

reference this: The ending (and title) is a reference to the movie 16 Candles.

Best lines:  Roger – I like spying. My fanny is so high in the air right now.

The One That Got Away
Written By: Chris and Matt McKenna

The One Where: Roger suspects that his identity has been stolen, so he sets out for his own brand of street justice and is shocked by what he finds. Meanwhile, the Smiths face an old-school addiction. Board games…

Verdict: This episode has a brilliant concept, it really showcases Rogers disguises. The split personality is a great narrative and adds to that extra emotional bite. You really feel for Sidney, even though he’s actually Roger. 8/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Mexican, AT&T worker, Southern Belle, Pakistani, Mountie, Charles Bronson and Sydney.

Trivia: Roger owns an iPhone, lucky git.

Reference This: The poster on Sydney’s bosses wall is the same picture of God as on a pin-up calendar in an early episode.

Best lines: Klaus – DAMN YOU, Hasbro!

One Little Word
Written By: David Zuckerman

The One Where: After a promotion at work, Stan is willing to do anything for his boss, but when Francine’s Valentine’s day is ruined as a result, she teaches him just to say no.

Verdict: It’s not a bad episode, but it feels like 3 episodes condensed into one. Of course, Patrick Stewart steals this episode and it’s nice to finally meet his wife, but it feels too much, too soon. It all concludes nicely, but it just misses small touches. 6/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Attention seeking child.

Trivia: The title is a reference to Stan and Bullocks last adventure “Four little Words” Where he gained his son, AJ.

Bullocks To This: Owns the executive dining room, with salad tossing emperor penguins and goes partying in hip clubs, goth clubs, furry clubs, line dancing and college parties in order to pick up girls.

Reference this: Bullocks love of fat asian girls is brought up again from Stan Of Arabia.

Best Lines: Stan – This weekend is about you and me. Gotta Go.

Disc 3

Choosey Wives Choose Smith
Written By Matt Fusseld

The One Where: After meeting Francine’s long-lost ex-fiance, Stan feels like second best and forces Francine to make a choice.

Verdict: The episode feels like the narrative doesn’t have enough time before throwing you into it. On top of that, the main plot isn’t great, it relies on Roger to liven things up and Steve’s B story make it a bearable episode, but otherwise, it’s pretty average. 5/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Bartender, Pilot and Marooned islander.

Trivia: Stan wears a shirt not dissimilar to Quagmire from Family Guy.

Reference this: Stan’s fear of seagulls comes from American Dream Factory.

Best lines: Roger – Strap me on. Did I say on? I meant in. You know, either works.

Escape From Pearl Bailey
Written By Dan Vebber

The one where: Steve vows to get revenge after his girlfriend is the victim of a ruthless smear campaign in the high school student council election.

Verdict: This has to be my all time favourite episode. Maybe it’s my nerdy outcast background or my love of Steve’s friends, but it’s really relatable. The plot moves along brilliantly and is chock full of references to pop culture, it’s almost cinematic, it’s also hilarious. 10/10

Trivia: The 30-year-old show Debbie refers to is Doctor Who (although, that is from its American debut and only the fourth and 6th Doctors are shown)

With Friends Like Steve’s: Behind the whole webpage, planning visiting the renaissance fair as the pilots from Battlestar Galactica and Barry’s parents take a lot of drugs.

Reference this: Steve’s revenge is introduced in a similar way to in Kill Bill (and various Kung Fu movies) the shop he sells Toshi’s sword to is a spitting image to one in Pulp Fiction.

Best lines: Steve – They beat me up because I wouldn’t give them an “O” I already gave them a “G” what am I, made of letters?

Pulling Double Booty.
Written By: Brian Boyle

The One Where: When Hayley’s boyfriend breaks up with her, she falls for Stan’s CIA body double, who in turn sets his sights on Francine.

Verdict: It’s a haunting idea and granted, it’s unique, but there’s no emotional crux in there. It relies more on shock humour. It has some good lines, but it’s the B story involving Steve and Roger that makes the episode worth watching. When Steve’s chickens are hit by cars, it’s utterly tragic. 4/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: German tourist, redneck cock fight owner.

Trivia: Steve references famous fictional couples such as Romeo and Juliet and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes whilst sorting chickens.

Bullocks To This: Reveals personal sex secrets regarding a body double.

Reference this: Hayley’s insane rampage is identical to King Kong’s.

The Most Adequate Christmas Ever
Written By Jim Bernstein

The One Where: After dying on his quest to find the ultimate Christmas tree, Stan finds himself in Limbo, fighting for his family and a second chance at life.

Verdict: Christmas episodes are very difficult to write and to a bigger extent, do well. After last years brilliant Xmas episode, it’s got big shoes to fill. Does it compete? Well, no. Stan dying doesn’t seem great when you consider he’s done it a few times now. The whole idea of heaven is very fun and has some good ideas, but begins to lose itself towards the end. At times, it feels preachy and Seth MacFarlane voicing god (who else…) turns out to miss more than it hits, he starts off with his regular voice, then move into something else. These are just small annoying blips that bring down a perfectly fine christmas episode. 7/10

Roger – Master Of Disguise: Xmas Sweater drunk.

Trivia: Roger mentions his cold home planet.

Klaus’ history: Klaus’ grandfather was a train driver at Auschwitz Zoo (It’s a big place you, know…)

Reference this: Francine giving birth to Hayley is similar to the Lion King.

Best Line: Stan – Halo, and goodbye!


Majora’s Mask is darker than you think…

Majora’s Mask. A highlight of the Zelda franchise and my number 11th game of all time, is a very dark game. Zelda games have been known for moments of bleakness and lack of hope, from the start of the adult saga in Ocarina Of Time to the Dark World, Zelda games have a habit of making the player feel like they’ve messed up and brought on the end of the world. Majora’s Mask has the end of the world staring back at you. The game contains little details that if you dwell on, make the game fairly unpleasant, but at the same time, more interesting and incredible, potentially Majora’s Mask could be the darkest game ever in it’s own weird way. With the help of my good friends at TV Tropes, I’ve compiled a list of all the sinister, strange and downright weird stuff that you may have overlooked in the game.

. The Redeads and Gibdos (essentially Zombies and Mummies) don’t fade when defeated, like other enemies. They lay on the floor motionless for all to see…Also, if you kill one and leave others alive, they’ll walk over to it and go down near it. Is that to give respect or have lunch?

. The Happy Mask Salesman. He wants Majora’s Mask. Everyone who’s evil wants Majora’s Mask…

.He has a Mario mask on his backpack. Fun little easter egg, right? How does Link get his masks? People die, he plays the song of healing and then their faces become masks (that’s pretty creepy in itself), so effectively, the Happy Mask Salesman has killed Mario.

.At the start of the game, having just restored link to his normal self, he says, “And now, that which you promised me.” and he holds out his hand. And Link obviously doesn’t have it. to which, the salesman, still smiling, says: “Don’t tell me… That you… didn’t… you have it… don’t you..?” Suddenly, his eyes turn into horrific red demon eyes and he starts throttling Link, screaming “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME!!!”

.You fail. Moon falls. Wall of flame engulfs you character, destroying him and the world. Majora’s Mask appears, and fades out- the screen fades to black. You hear a laugh. It’s not the Skull Kid, It’s not the Majora’s Mask, it’s the Mask Salesman’s laugh. He says: “You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?” And the game is over.

. Transforming is a horrible experience. Link puts on the mask and you hear cracking sounds, Link’s mask has become one with his face, his mouth wide open in pain, blood shot and veined eyes and a piercing scream. It’s terrifying to watch. So here you go…

. The transformation at the start where Link is forcibly changed into a Deku Scrub, horrible…

. The fact that the Link in this game is 10 years old. If he was the adult incarnation, that’s slightly less worrying, but he’s not. Think about how petrifying that must be for him, as a child, lost, alone and turned into a bastard chimera. Also, watch the movie of just after his transformation into a Deku Scrub at the start and watch his reaction, it’s pretty haunting.

. The alien abduction mini-game on Romani Ranch. Basically, Aliens come on the first night and abduct cows (???). You, with the help of Romani, have to fend them off. If you don’t bother or you fail. She gets abducted as well. Basically, that’s quite a motive, a little girl gets kidnapped if you fail a mini-game??? Insane. Come back the next morning, and she’s there, well kind of. She’s a completely different person, eyes drooping, unable to talk and with her mouth hanging open. Something happened to her, and I don’ particularly want to know what…

. As I mentioned briefly before, the transformation masks were created by healing the souls of the deceased (one of whom died in front of you), meaning you literally become that Goron (Darmani) or Zora (Mikau), and take their place in society. That’s not the disturbing part. The disturbing part is… what happens when you leave? Mikau vanishes off the face of the planet, leaving his band high and dry and Darmani, who’s been elected the next Goron chief, and who everyone thought survived after all…You literally stamp on the tribes dreams.

. With that in mind, where does the Deku mask come from? If the Goron and Zora mask came from a deceased Goron and Zora, then what Deku Scrub was the Deku Mask taken from? Well. There’s a lonely tree stump at the start of the game. Not to mention the Deku Butler’s missing son (who isn’t a side quest), who, according to him, bears a resemblance to Deku Link. and of course the butler visiting said lonely sad dead tree at the game’s end.

. Despite the entire Ikana Valley part of the game being incredibly eerie, no one would ever suspect the pure, unadulterated horrors that could arise from inside the creepily cheerful sounding Music Box House by the river. You enter to what seems to be a normal looking home…until you go downstairs. Having a distorted half-man, half-Gibdo leap out at you, groaning in unholy agony, then limping across the room is hardly what you would call a treat. Let’s not forget that before you can even enter the Music Box House, it’s surrounded by a group of circling Gibdos moaning for the inhabitants of the house to come out and become one of them. It doesn’t make it any better that when you burn the Gibdo’s mummy wrappings with a Fire Arrow, it reveals the ReDead underneath. It also takes four Fire Arrows to kill them.

. The sequence in the moon is creepily eerie, yet utterly incredible. You’re warped into the moon, but inside, it’s a giant, blissful field with kids playing tag wearing the masks of creatures you’ve killed. It’s creepy, because it’s so idylic. A creature of such violence and destruction leaving in heaven just terrifies me.

. Skull Kid calling out to the moon. He shivers violently and gives out this horrible scream, as if it’s being ripped out of him. It’s bone chilling to the core.

. My favourite line in the whole game (nay, almost videogaming in itself) happens to be the creepiest. The giants stop the moon, but Majora’s Mask has other plans. The moon awakens again, his eyes suddenly glow red and he begins to move more violently accompinied by the immortal lines. “I Will Consume…Consume Everything!” It’s horrible and sends shivers down my spine, but it is just incredible.

. The moon is potentially the scariest thing in Nintendo history. Maybe more than Earthbound’s Giygas. It’s terrible enough that its on an impact course to Clock Town that will inevitably destroy all of Termina with it, but it now has the most horrifying of all faces added to it: fierce, glowing red eyes, and a mouth bared, showing a set of grayed teeth contorted into a grimacing expression. Hell, it almost looks as if its angry and in pain at the same time, eager to wipe the town clean, as if it’s caused it so much panic. Freaky…. Here’s an idea: When you’re heading to the Swamp to beat the Woodfall Temple, on the way there, go into first person view mode, look toward Clock Town and look upward. Your reward? That lunar body STARING DOWN AT YOU.  If you’re able to stare straight into its face for more than a full minute without hurriedly exiting First Person View mode and shuddering, you are the bravest person in the world. Worse is that there are certain cut scenes that end up featuring that Moon right in frame, even when they’re not specifically focusing on it. The worst part is that if you have the guts to stare straight up at it for extended lengths of time, you can actually see it descending… inch by agonizing inch.

. Elegy Of Emptiness, this song allows you to create a statue clone of yourself, regardless of the form you’re in, which is what makes it horrible. The Goron statue has white, dead eyes and a scar from shoulder to waist. The Zora form looks like it’s screaming…

. If you fall off the Inverted Stone Tower Temple, you fall into the sky, fall forever and ever and ever and ever and ever….

. When you met the ghost of Darmani, he’s so happy because the wise owl Kaepora Garbora said you can resurrect him. You can’t. When he realizes this, he is so full of disappointment. Also, when you wear his mask, all the Goron’s think Darmani survived and are so full of hope…and who’s Link to crush that hope? In some ways, that’s worse…

. The owner of the Swordsman School claims he will chop the moon in half. Go back in on the final evening, the dojo is empty. He leaves a note saying he’s gone on vacation, however he’s hiding in a secret room, curled up, rocking back and forth and is scared witless saying “I don’t want to die”.

. There is a monkey being held prisoner to the Deku Scrubs early on in the game, it’s all fairly harmless until you realized the Deku King has ordered him to be dunked in boiling oil.

. The All Night Mask. It apparently stops the user from sleeping. Now, why would anyone not want to sleep, as punishment, perhaps? A gossip stone even refers to it as a torture device. It’s a horrible prospect.

. Spider houses. No matter where you go in them, you can hear the scratching of the skulltula’s. Not to mention the Stalchildren (effectively child size skeletons) sitting at the table for no reason…maybe they’re awaiting a meal that will never come…

. On that subject. The Stalchildren were once soldiers of Ikana….WAIT! Ikana used children as soldiers and sent them to their deaths?

. The mirror shield has a screaming face on it that STARES AT YOU when not in use. As if there’s something trapped inside…

. If you fail the Anju & Kafei quest at the point when you have to retrieve the Sun Mask, you have to leave Kafei in the hideout. Locked in a room forever. Anju meanwhile is waiting for him to come back in Clock Town. Both will die in several hours…

. The fact that in the 72 hours that you’ve been given, you can’t do everything. If you Save Anju and Kafei’s marriage, but the poor monkey was boiled alive, the Gorons went extinct, the moon took out the city (Unless you made the mother of all speedruns to the clock tower to confront Skull Kid/Majora with all boss masks in tow), the ranch girl was abducted by aliens, the bomb shop’s shipment was stolen, and Pamela’s daddy became a zombie and ate her. Go back and fix one of the those things and Anju and Kafei’s marriage fails.

. Pamela lives in the aforementioned Music box house. She’s 10 years old and is trapped inside because of the Gibdos outside. To make things worse. Her dad is half a gibdo and locked in the wardrobe…

. Odolwa, the boss of Woodfall Temple is creepy if you dwell on him too much. He is constantly chanting something in a bizarre language, performs special attacks by tribal dancing, and will even spontaneously dance for no reason, not even attempting to attack you. And he keeps chanting through the entire fight. For beginners, he’s also ridiculously hard.

. A comment posted on this article before interested me on this subject. The Happy Mask Salesman mentions an ancient tribe, it could be related to Odolwa, it could be the Majora tribe. Maybe, Majora locked Odolwa in the woodfall temple for all time as punishment for something.This is purely speculation on my part, but maybe…

. What about Majora’s Mask (i.e. the item) itself? A cursed mask that posesses whoever wears it, basically bringing out and acting on the wearer’s hidden fantasies and insecurities – to the point where a lonely child missing his friends will feel compelled to destroy the entire world? And that, even if the person wearing it triumphs over these desires, the mask will have already gained enough power to function on its own? ……Plus, it just looks creepy as hell, just look at it, it stares into your soul…

Interestingly, it doesn’t look dis-similar to the markings of the Twilight Interlopers of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Finally, cruelly unplaced in the first edition, I must discuss with you one character. And his name is Tingle. Tingle is a 40 year old man with rosy cheeks. That sounds harmless, right? He wears a one piece outfit (complete with hood) pants on the outside and floats in a balloon. He also spends his days hunting for fairies. Want a picture?
I would not trust him with a ten year old boy, even one as brave as Link…

Finally I turn your attention to the hand. If you’ve played the game, you’ll know what I mean. For those that don’t, The Stock Pot Inn has a dark secret (well it has couple to be honest) but the creepiest turns up at about Midnight. Go to the bathroom (still the only one I’ve ever seen in a Zelda game, typical…)  and a hand comes out of the loo, asking for paper….

Whilst this next section has little relevance to the game you’ve played or will ever play, I feel it’s important to mention this story as it purposely exposes those darker elements of the game that this article has mentioned. In September 2010, this was posted on the Paranormal board on 4chan;

“Guys, I need your help with this. This is a long read, I’m sorry for that, but I feel like my safety or well-being could very well depend on this. This is videogame related, specifically having to do with the Zelda game called “Majora’s Mask”, and this is the creepiest shit that has ever happened to me in my entire life.

I recently moved into  my dorm room starting as a Sophomore in college and a friend of mine gave  me his old Nintendo 64 to play. I was stoked, to say the least, I could  finally play all of those old games of my youth that I hadn’t touched in  at least a decade. His Nintendo 64 came with one yellow controller and a  rather shoddy copy of Super Smash Brothers, and while beggers can’t be  choosers, needless to say it didn’t take long until I became bored of  beating up the computer.

That weekend I decided to drive around a few neighborhoods about twenty  minutes or so off campus, hitting up the local garage sales, hoping to score on some good deals from  ignorant parents). I ended up picking up a copy of Pokemon Stadium,  Goldeneye (fuck yeah), F-Zero, and two other controllers for two dollars.  Satisfied, I began to drive out of the neighborhood when one last house  caught my attention. I still have no idea why it did, there were no cars  there and only one table was set up with random junk on it, but something  sort of drew me there. I usually trust my gut on these things so I got out  of the car and I was greeted by an old man. His outward appearance was,  for lack of a better word, displeasing. It was odd, if you asked me to  tell you why I thought he was displeasing, I couldn’t really pinpoint  anything – there was just something about him that put me on edge, I can’t  explain it. All I can tell you is that if it wasn’t in the middle of the afternoon and there were other people within shouting distance, I would not have even thought of approaching this man. He flashed a crooked smiled at me and asked what I was looking  for, and immediately I noticed that he must be blind in one of his eyes;  his right eye had that “glazed over” look about it. I forced myself to  look to his left eye instead, trying not to offend, and asked him if he  had any old videogames.

I was already wondering how I could politely excuse myself from the  situation when he would tell me he had no idea what a videogame was, but  to my surprise he said he had a few ones in an old box. He assured me he’d  be back in a “jiffy” and turned to head back into the garage. As I watched  him hobble away, I couldn’t help but notice what he was selling on his  table. Littered across his table were rather… pecuiliar paintings;  various artworks that looked like ink blots that a psychatrist might show  you. Curious, I looked through them – it was obvious why no one was  visiting this guy’s garage sale, these weren’t exactly asthetically  pleasing. As I came to the last one, for some reason it looked almost like  Majora’s Mask – the same heart-shaped body with little spikes protruding  outward. Initially I just thought that since I was secretly hoping to find  that game at these garage sales, some Freudian bullshit was projecting  itself into the ink blots, but given the events that happened afterward I’m  not so sure now. I should have asked the man about it. I wish I would have asked the man about it.
After staring at the Majora-shaped blot, I looked up and the old man was suddenly there  again, arms-length in front of me, smiling at me. I’ll admit I jumped out of reflex and I laughed nervously as he handed me a Nintendo 64 cartridge. It  was the standard grey color, except that someone had written Majora on it  in black permenent marker. I got butterflies in my stomach as I realized  what a coincidence this was and asked him how much he wanted for it. The  old man smiled at me and told me that I could have it for free, that it used to belong to a kid who was about my age that didn’t live here anymore. There was something weird about how the man phrased that, but I didn’t really pay any attention to then, I was too caught up in not only finding this game but getting it for free. I reminded myself to be a bit skeptical since this looked like a pretty shady cartridge and there’s no guarentee it would work, but then the optimist inside me interjected that maybe it was some kind of beta verison or pirated verison of the game and that was all I needed to be back on cloud nine.  I thanked the man and the man smiled at me and wished me well, saying “Goodbye then!” – at least that’s what it sounded like to me. All the way in the car-ride home, I had a ningling doubt that the man had said something else. My fears were confirmed when I booted up the game (to my surprise it worked just fine) and there was one save file named simply “BEN”. “Goodbye Ben”, he was saying “Goodbye Ben”. I felt bad for the man, obviously a grandparent and obviously going senile, and I – for some reason or another – reminded him of his grandson “Ben”.
Out of curiosity I looked at the save file. Eyeballing it, I could tell that he was pretty far in the game – he had almost all of the masks and 3/4 remains of the bosses. I noticed that he had used an owl statue to save his game, he was on Day 3 and by the Stone Tower Temple with hardly an hour left before the moon would crash. I remember thinking that it was a shame that he had come so close to beating the game but he never finished it. I made a new file named “Link” out of tradition and started the game, ready to relive my childhood.  For such a shady looking game cartridge, I was impressed at how smoothly it ran – literally just like a retail copy of the game save for a few minor hiccups here and there (like textures being where they shouldn’t be, random flashes of cutscenes at odd intervals, but nothing too bad). However the only thing that was a little unnerving was that at times the NPCs would call me “Link” and at other times they would call me “BEN”. I figured it was just a bug – a fluke in the programming causing our files to get mixed up or something. It did kind of creep me out though after a while, and it was around after I had beaten the Woodfall Temple that I regrettably went into the save files and deleted “BEN” (I had intended to preserve the file just out of respect of the game’s original owner, it’s not like I needed two files anyway), hoping that that would solve the problem. It did and it didn’t, now NPCs wouldn’t call me anything, where my name should be in the dialogue there was just a blank space (my save file name was still called “Link”, though). Frustrated, and with homework to do, I put the game down for a day.
I started playing the game again last night, getting the Lens of Truth and working my way towards completing the Snowhead Temple. Now, some of you more hardcore Majora’s Mask players know about the “4th Day” glitch – for those who don’t you can google it but the jist of it is that right as the clock is about to hit 00:00:00 on the final day, you talk to the astronomer and look through the telescope. If you time it right the countdown disappears and you essentially have another day to finish whatever you were doing. Deciding to do the glitch to try and finish the Snowhead Temple, I happened to get it right on the first try and the time counter at the bottom disappeared. However, when I pressed B to exit the telescope, instead of being greeted by the astronomer I found myself in the Majora boss fight room at the end of the game (the trippy boxed in arena) staring at Skull Kid hovering above me. There was no sound, just him floating in the air above me, and the background music which was regular for the area (but still creepy). Immediately my palms began to sweat – this was definately not normal. Skull Kid NEVER appeared here. I tried moving around the area, and no matter where I went, Skull Kid would always be facing me, looking at me, not saying anything. Nothing would happen though, and this kept up for around sixty seconds. I thought the game had bugged or something – but I was beginning to doubt that very much.
I was about to reach for the reset button when text appeared on my screen:  “You’re not sure why, but you apparently had a reservation…”  I instantly recognized that text – you get that message when you get the Room Key from Anju at the Stock Pot Inn, but why was it playing here? I refused to entertain the notion that it was almost as if the game was trying to communicate with me. I started navigate the room again, testing to see if that was some sort of trigger that enabled me to interact with something here, then I realized how stupid I was – to even think that someone could reprogram the game like this was absurd. Sure enough, fifteen seconds later another message appeared on the screen, and again like the first one it was already a pre-exisiting phrase “Go to the lair of the temple’s boss? Yes/No”. I paused for a second, contemplating what I should press and how the game would react, when I realized that I couldn’t select no. Taking a deep breath, I pressed Yes and the screen faded to white, with the words “Dawn of a New Day” with the subtext “||||||||” beneath it. Where I was ported to filled me with the most intense sense of dread and impending fear I had ever experienced, the only way I can describe the way I felt here is having this feeling of inexplicable depression on a profound scale. I am normally not a depressed person, but the way I felt here was a feeling that I didn’t even knew existed – it was such a twisted, powerful presence that seemed to wash over me.

I appeared in some kind of weird twilight-zone verison of Clock Town. I walked out of the Clock Tower (as you normally do when you start from Day 1) only to find that all of the inhabitants were gone. Usually with the 4th Day glitch you can still find the guards and the dog that runs around outside the tower – this time they were all gone. What replaced them was the ominous feeling that there was something out there, in the same area as me and that it was watching me. I had four hearts to my name and the Hero’s Bow, but at this point I wasn’t even considered for my avatar, I felt that I personally was in some kind of danger. Perhaps the most chilling thing was the music – it was the Song of Healing, ripped straight from the game itself, but played in reverse. The music would get louder, building up so as if you should expect something to pop out at you, but nothing ever did, and the constant loop began to wear on my mental state. Every now and then I would hear the faint laugh of the Happy Mask Salesman in the background, just quiet enough so that I wasn’t sure if I just hearing things but just loud enough to keep me determined to find him. I looked in all four zones of Clock Town, only to find nothing…. No one. Textures were missing, West Clock Town had me walking on air, the entire area felt… broken. Hopelessly broken. As the reverse Song of Healing repeated for what must have been the 50th time, I just remember standing in the middle of South Clock Town realizing that I had never felt so alone in a videogame before.
As I walked through the ghost town, I don’t know whether it was the combination of the out of place textures and the atmosphere and the haunting melody of the once peaceful and soothing song being butchered and distorted, but I was literally on the verge of tears and I had no idea why. I hardly ever cry, and that’s not just some macho guy front I’m putting on, but something had gripped me here and this powerful sense of depression that was both foriegn and crippling took hold of me through a TV screen and I didn’t know how to cope with it.
I tried leaving Clock Town, but every time I attempted to zone out, the screen would fade to black and I would just zone in to another part of Clock Town.  I tried playing my Ocarina, I wanted to escape, and I did NOT want to be here, but every time I played the Song of Time or Song of Soaring it would only say “Your notes echo far, but nothing happens”.  By this point, it was obvious the game didn’t want me to leave, but I had no idea why it was keeping me here.  I didn’t want to go inside the buildings, I felt that I would be too vulnerable there to whatever I was terrified of. I don’t know why, but I came up with the idea that maybe if I drowned myself at the Laundry Pool (I had the Goron Mask, and if I lost enough hearts by falling in water I’d die) I could spawn somewhere else and leave this place. As I zoned in and ran towards the pool, that’s when it happened. Link grabbed his head, and the screen flashed for a brief moment of the Happy Mask Salesman smiling at me – not Link – me with Skull Kid’s scream playing in the background and when the screen returned I was staring at the Link Statue from playing the song Elegy of Emptiness. I let out an audible yelp as the thing just stared back at me with that haunting facial expression. I turned around and ran out of the Laundry Pool and back into South Clock Town, and to my horror the fucking statue followed me in the only way I can compare this is like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. Every so often, at random intervals, the animation would play of the statue appearing behind me like I was summoning it with my Ocarina. It was like the thing was chasing me, or – I don’t even want to fucking say it – haunting me.
By this point, I was on the verge of hysterics, but not even once did the thought of turning off the console occur to me, I don’t know why, I was so wrapped up in it – the terror felt all so real. I tried to shake the statue, but it would literally appear right behind me every single time. Link started to begin to make weird animations I had never even seen him do before, he would flail his arms around or spasm randomly and the screen would cut to the Happy Mask Salesman smiling again for a brief moment before I was face to face with that fucking statue again. I ended up running into the Swordmasters Dojo and ran to the back, I don’t know why, but in my panic I just wanted some kind of assurance that I’m not alone here. To my dismay I found no one, but as I turned to leave the statue cornered me in the cubby in the back. I tried attacking the statue with my sword but to no avail. Confused, and backed into a corner, I just stared at the statue waiting for it to kill me. Suddenly, the screen flashed again to the Happy Mask Salesman and Link turned to face my screen, standing upright mirroring the statue, looking at me along with his copy. Literally staring at me. Whatever was left of the 4th wall was completely shattered while I ran out of the dojo terrified. Suddenly the game warped me to an underground tunnel and the reverse Song of Healing queued up again as I was given a brief moment of rest before the statue started appearing behind me again… this time aggressively – I could only take a few steps before it would summon behind me again. I hurrily made my way out of the tunnel and appeared in Southern Clock Town. As I ran aimlessly – in a sheer panic – suddenly a redead screamed and the screen faded to black as “Dawn of a New Day” and “|||||||||” appeared again.

The screen faded in and I was standing ontop of Clock Tower with Skull Kid hovering over me again, silent. I looked up and the moon was back, looming just meters above my head, but the Skull Kid just stared at me hauntingly with that fucking mask. A new song was playing – the Stone Tower Temple theme played in reverse. In some sort of desperate attempt, I equipped my bow and fired off a shot at the Skull Kid – and it actually hit him and he played an animation of him reeling back. I fired again and on the third arrow, a text box appeared saying “That won’t do you any good. Hee, hee.” and I was picked up off the ground, levitated upwards on my back, and then Link screamed as he burst into flames, instantly killing him. I jumped when this happened – I had never seen this move used by ANYONE in the game and Skull Kid himself didn’t HAVE any moves. As the death screen played, my lifeless body still burning, the Skull Kid laughed and the screen faded to black, only to have me reappear in the same place. I decided to charge him, but the same thing happened, Link’s body was lifted off the ground by some unknown force and he immediately burst into flames again killing him. This time during the death screen the faint sounds of the reverse Song of Healing could be heard.

On my third (and final try), I noticed that there was no music playing this time, that all there was was eere silence. I remembered that in the original encounter with the Skull Kid you were supposed to use the Ocarina to either travel back in time or summon the giants. I attempted to play the Song of Time but before I could hit the last note Links body once again horrifically exploded into flames and he died. As the death screen neared its end, it began to chug, as if the cartridge was trying to process a lot of something…. when the screen came to, it was the same scene as the first three times, except this time Link was lying on the ground dead in a position I had never seen in the game before, his head tilted towards the camera, with the Skull Kid floating above him. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t press any buttons, all I could do is just stare at Link’s dead body. After around thirty seconds of this, the game simply fades out with the message “You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?” before kicking you out to the title screen.
Upon getting back to the title screen and starting again, I noticed my save file was no longer there. Instead of “Link”, it was replaced with “YOUR TURN”. “YOUR TURN” had 3 hearts, 0 masks, and no items. I selected “YOUR TURN” and immediately when I did I was returned to the Clock Tower Rooftop scene of my Link dead and the Skull Kid hovering over, with the Skull Kid’s laughing looping again and again. I quickly hit the reset button and when the game booted up again there was one more save file added, below “YOUR TURN”, entitled “BEN”. “BEN”‘s save file is right back where it was before I deleted it, at the Stone Tower Temple with the moon almost crashing. I turned the game off at that point, I’m not supersticious but this is WAY too fucked up even for me. I haven’t played it at all today, hell, I didn’t even get any sleep last night, I kept hearing the reverse Song of Healing music in my head and just remembering the sense of dread I felt exploring Clock Town. I drove back to the old man’s house today to ask him some questions with a buddy of mine (no way I was going there alone), only to find that there’s a For Sale sign in the front yard and when I rang the door no one was home.

So now I’m back here writing down the rest of my thoughts and recording what happened, sorry if some of this has grammatical errors and whatnot, I’m running on no sleep here. I’m terrified of this game, even moreso now that I relived it a second time writing this all down, but I feel like there’s still more to it than meets the eye, and that there’s something calling to me to investigate this further. I think “BEN” is something in this equation, but I don’t know what, and if I could get ahold of the old man then I would be able to find some answers. I need another day or so to recooperate before tackling this game again, its already taken a toll on my sanity I feel like, but next time I do this I’m going to be recording my footage all the way through. The idea to record only came to me towards the end, so you see the last few minutes of what I saw (including Skull Kid and the Elegy statue), but it’s on youtube. I’ll update you guys tomorrow when I play again.”

As the weeks went on the story progressed (I’m not going to copy the whole thing, this is already long enough, but I’ll link you to the site in my references) and took freightening, haunting turns, the likes have made players terrified of little pieces of dialogue. Lines that were supposed to reassure players like “You’ve met a terrible fate, haven’t you?” and just a simple song played backwards now have made people fearful of the game itself. I’ll leave you with the Judasable videos that he made to go with the story. I’ve tried here to define a creepy, yet masterfully created game and Judasable has has taken that and elevated it to the extreme, they’re fantastic pieces of work and a perfect conclusion to this tale.

“Exactly 108 minutes later, a new video was uploaded to Jadusable’s Youtube account, simply entitled “free.wmv”. Jadusable changed his Youtube profile picture and added the quote, “Now I am everywhere” to his profile. Viewers were made to draw their own conclusions as to what this video signified.”


The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000), dir. Eiji Anouma, Nintendo
TV Tropes – Majora’s Mask (funnily enough, this page contains a link to the 2nd edition of this post, when a friend of mine copy and pasted it on a Zelda forum)

Mouthing Off#2: Sitcom

I love Situation comedy, or Sitcom, as it’s better known. There’s something so incredibly enduring about it, no matter how many journalists try to destroy it, it always comes back, admittedly 90% weaker, but that’s where our American friends come in.

Before I make a start on British Sitcom, I want to discuss the American variation. Sitcom in America and Britain can never be the same thing. For a start  in America, a lot of sitcoms in the 90’s were based on, written by and starred comedians, meaning the main character isn’t really…well, a character, he’s more the actual person (Seinfeld, Rosanne, Everybody Love Raymond) Also, the premises of sitcoms tend to be slightly, well dull…Take the admittedly excellent comedy, 30 Rock. It’s about a head writer on a popular sketch show. The creator of the show, Tina Fey, was head writer of Saturday Night Live, a popular American Sketch show, points for originality, zippo.

Another thing is they’re not afraid to “go there…” If you know what I mean, obviously due to budget (which compared to a British Sitcom is huge) they can’t just man a spaceshuttle and film a sitcom in space set in space (although that does sound a very American thing to do) Usually, they’re pretty bog standard and set in a basic house, it’ll be a family affair or friends constantly visiting (Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons). Usually there will be some twists, be it a hot girl moving in next door (The Big Bang Theory) perhpas even a dysfunctional realtive staying (every other sitcom…) that’ll make the sitcom different, but otherwise, it’s a pretty generic carbon copy.

Another thing that I love about American Sitcom is the way it’s written. A writer writes a first draft. He submits it, then a team of writers (including the original writer) will sit down and re-write jokes, add jokes, add more to the storyline, etc. until you get the basic version of the dialouge you see on screen, personally, I love the team effort, but it doesn’t help you sympathize with characters. It’s a common problem that a team of writers will make something funny, and then loose characterization, because it’s not how that character would act. Which I suppose is the charm of the single writer.

Now, before I continue, I’d like to point out that American sitcom is very good and I thoroughly enjoy it, the writing on something like the Simpsons is genius (and a personal high that I would like to reach one day) and The Big Bang Theory shoves many geeky refrences in there, I feel it’s aimed directly at me and me only at times.

And now we move onto the Brits. Being British, I have a love of our own home grown sitcom. Now, as I was saying before, British Sitcom can never be American sitcom. It can try to emualte it with big, quick laughs (Not Going Out), but it gains it’s own little, slightly insane charm. In America, you couldn’t have a character fall through an open bar or go through a wall, because the door was locked. The last one was a reference to The Young Ones, a mental, anarchic 30 minute romp that would never work in America. Another thing we do well, is the slight originality in our settings, we’ve had sitcoms based in book shops (Black Books) IT offies (The IT Crowd), Hospitals (Green Wing), The Somme (Blackadder Goes Fourth) and even on a spaceship in the distant future (Red Dwarf).

Moon mini review

I went to go see Moon today. It’s a sci-fi thriller, very much in the vein of 2001 and Silent Running. And I highly recommend it to people. It’s the directorial debut of Duncan Jones and stars Sam Rockwell, whompretty much has to carry the film all by himself.

The movie is set on a mining station on the moon. Sam has been alone on the base (except for Gerty, his robot assistant voice by Kevin Spacey, who communicates with smileys in a really quaint fashion) for 3 years, collecting H3 and shipping it to Earth and is 2 weeks away from leaving to go back to his wife and his 1 year old daughter. However, he begins to hallucinate, he see’s a girl both on the station and out on the surface of the moon, the latter causing him to crash into a harvester. I can’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it.

The film rockets along at a good pace, the film has a very atmospheric and has a very claustrophobic feel to it and plotwise, it’s utterly incredible and twists and turns all over the place. I can not praise Sam Rockwell enough. This is his first leading role and he has to carry the film all by himself. Everyone else is stuck behind a computer screen for about 2 minutes in total, whereas Sam is on screen for the whole duration talking to himself, becoming ill and in the early stages of the film, slowly going insane. It’s a tour de force and I really hope he gets some kind of award nomination for it.  It’s a beautiful, emotional, powerful rollercoaster ride and deserves your money. It’s easily the best film I’ve seen this year and is an utter joy from start to finish.

My top games round-up 25-11

25. Pokemon Red and Blue
Platform: GB
Release: 1996 (JP)/1998 (EU)

The game that started it all still holds up well today, it’s simplistic graphics and funky 8 bit music is loved by nostalgia fiends and core gamers all over the world.

24. The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Platform: Gamecube/Wii
Release: 2006

has it really been nearly 3 years? The latest home console Zelda games takes a realistic, yet much darker step and proves that the 10 year old forumla still works.

23. Mario Kart DS
Platform: DS (duuuh)
Release: 2005

Mario Kart DS took the already perfect Mario Kart forumla and made it even more perfect. Excellent level and character selection and some great online features, surely the best in the series?

22. Goldeneye
Platform: N64
Release: 1997

The greatest film License game ever? Perhaps. Goldeneye still looks and plays well even now, Invincibility, all guns and infinite ammo never gets old.

Not what you want to see when you come out the loo…

21. Lylat Wars
Platform: N64
Release: 1997

“Do a barrel roll” The pinnacle of the Starfox series, epic dogfights, incredible music and cheesy dialogue. Utter brilliance.

Wait til you see his true form…

20. Pokemon Diamond & Pearl
Platform: DS
Release: 2007

It takes more a leaf from Generation 2’s book and improves the series. Better story, more monsters and the return of day and night. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, clean the dishes isn’t an option…

19. Perfect Dark
Platform: N64
Release: 2000

Takes Goldeneye, shoves it in a sci-fi setting and you have the greatest FPS ever made. Includes aliens called Elvis!

18. Resident Evil 4
Platform: GC/PS2/PC/Wii
Release: 2004

The European boxart is better…

Shaking up the RE name, gone are the slow zombies and chilling atmosphere and in is an excellent action adventure. Worth it just to watch Leon die.

Recession hits Toni & Guy.

17. Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Platform: N64
Release: 2001

The funniest game ever made it maybe, but under it’s cutesy exterior is a vile, rude, dark and unfair platform adventure.

16. Super Smash Bros Melee
Platform: Gamecube
Release: 2002

Takes the original and simply improves it in every conceivable way. More characters, more levels and Pichu.

15. Resident Evil
Platform: GC
Release: 2002

The GC re-make is the definitive RE game, scary, atmospheric and an utter delight.

The kissing booth is not what it used to be…

14. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Platform: SNES
Release: 1992

2D Zelda hit a high point here. Paralell worlds, rabbits and unforgivable difficulty. Oh and a great story to boot.

13. Super Mario Bros. 3
Platform: NES
Release: 1990

Super Mario Bros. 3 is the essential NES game, you can’t call yourself a platforming fan unless you’ve played this gem.

12. Jet Force Gemini
Platform: N64
Release: 1999

I think it’s all summed up here…

Pest control at it’s best!

11. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Platform: N64
Release: 2000

The darkest and most original Zelda game in a long time, it’s beautiful, sinister, funny and horrifying. Absolutely essential.

I shall Consume….Consume EVERYTHING!!!