Virtual Farming At Its Finest

Harvest Moon. Either you’ve played it, or you should play it.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series (and seriously, please go check it out, preferably one of the games I discuss) I shall outline it briefly. You’re a farmer. You farm things. Outline complete! What…This doesn’t sound fun to you? It’s a bit of a weird premise, I’ll give you that. I mean, who wants to water crops and milk cows? Before I heard about this game, I certainly didn’t want to. Just hearing that it’s a farming game sounds dull and unpleasant. But I was bored and had a four hour car trip to my cottage, with nothing to read but an issue of Nintendo Power. An issue which happened to feature a large section about the new Harvest Moon for the Super Nintendo. So I read it, and the more I read, the more intrigued I became. It also included a little journal kept by the main character, describing some of the things that was happening to him at the farm. And to my surprise, it did not read “Watered crops, fed chickens, went to bed”. Instead, it was about meeting townspeople, attending festivals, having a picnic on the farm, and other things that I would not have thought would be in a game like this. And as I continued through the article, it became the only thing in the magazine that I read. Over and over again. For the car ride and most of the next two weeks at the cottage. Okay, slight exaggeration, I may have read other stuff, but Harvest Moon was always on my mind. I knew I had to have it. I literally had dreams about acquiring the game while on my vacation.

Look at that. There's a cow there. And a dog. And a horse. How do you not love this already?

I’m not really going to be able to do this game series justice in this one post, so I hope that if any of this appeals to you, you’ll check the games out for yourself. At least, the earlier ones. It kind of got weird after that. I haven’t really played any of the latest installments. But I played the CRAP out of the old ones. So let’s talk about those ones! We’ll start with the very first one, Harvest Moon, released in 1997 on North America. It’s also available on Virtual Console…I’m just saying. At any rate, this game dumped you into the life of being a farmer. The game doesn’t have MUCH of a story, but as best as I can tell, your family owns a farm. Your parents are leaving for two and a half years (heck of a vacation), and have entrusted the farm to YOU. And that’s all you had for story. You’re dumped into this world, you have the tools and things explained to you, as well as giving you a few seed packets to start you out. Turnips, if I recall correctly. And it’s your job to plant them seeds and grow them crops. Are you up to the task?!

This guy went with a farming method I don't like. You give up 1/9th of your crop!

Rhetorical question, don’t actually answer that. So you start off, and you really can go a few places from here. You can get to work, or you can wander around, exploring and meeting the various townspeople. I generally spend the first few days focusing on clearing the land around my farm. It’s in pretty bad condition, with sticks and rocks and bushes EVERYWHERE. So I smash the rocks, cut the branches, and slice the bushes. Or if I don’t want to expend precious energy, I just pick them up and toss them into the lake. Except the bushes, you can literally just pick them up and drop them and they will disappear, because you are mightier than some stupid bush. Yeah, how do you like me now, bush?!

Bushes pop up goddamn everywhere.

You really don’t need to clear much of the farm to start planting, just a small section, ignoring the large rocks and tree stumps that you can’t destroy without shinier tools. Each seed pack will plant in a 3X3 area around where the farmer is standing. So you just need to clear out a few sections, making sure to space them out, because you can’t walk on plants once they’ve sprouted. This also means that you won’t be able to water the plant in the middle of the grid. You can decide how to deal with this for yourself. I know people who left one of the squares blank so that they could reach all of them, but I personally just let it grow a bit slower and still harvested it in the end. Once you get the hang of farming, it’s pretty easy. You don’t even have to worry about it right away when you wake up unless it’s harvest day, in which case you’re trying to get as many crops in the box as you can before…I think it’s 6PM that the dude comes and takes them away in exchange for sweet sweet money. You need the money. First you get the money, then you get the cows, then you get the women. Or I guess you can just skip straight to the women, but they won’t marry you if you live in a shack.

Yeah, that's more like it. Wife, kids, parents. You even bought paint and painted the house pink. You're on the ball, dude. You know what you're doing. You know what's up. You freakin' won.

Oh, didn’t I mention? You can totally get married. Which leads me into the next part of the game, the social aspect! There are five girls that you can marry in this game. Eve the hot bartender (hot for a 1997-era pixel-lady, anyway.), Maria the pious church-going girl, Nina the air-headed pink-haired daughter of the flower-shop lady, Ellen the daughter of the local livestock dealer, and Ann the daughter of the guy who runs the toolshop. You pick one of these girls and woo the crap out of them. And how do you woo a lady? Presents, of course! Each one has certain things that they like and dislike, so you find whatever it is that they like, and give it to them as often as you can. Whether this is harvesting certain crops so that you can keep her happy, or foraging in the nearby mountain for mushrooms and wildflowers, that’s what you have to do. You can check their affection towards you by reading their diaries. Creepy, I know, but what girl simply writes down the name of a boy she knows and an arbitrary number of hearts beside it? I think SHE’S the creepy one. Also, you proposed by giving her a Blue Feather. No rings necessary. Just feathers.

Hey baby. You and me? This feather? Let's do this thing.

So now we’ve covered farming and relationships, now we reach the festivals. Harvest Moon loves its festivals, whether it’s the Easter festival where you go on an egg hunt, or the harvest festival where everybody tosses something random into a pot to make what I can only assume to be a TERRIBLE stew. And these festivals are weirdly fun. As you get through the game, you start to look forward to them more and more. And you can win prizes and things! Everybody loves prizes, right?

Oh, and you can also keep animals. In the first game, this is limited to cows and chickens. Animals are a little tougher to acquire, because you have to keep them well fed, and this means planting grass seed and harvesting it when it grows with your scythe so that you have fodder. Luckily you don’t have to replant grass, it just keeps growing, but it’s a bit of an investment at the beginning of the game, especially since it takes a while to grow. Once you start getting chickens, however, you will soon be knee-deep in them. Fail to feed them, and they won’t give you eggs, keep them happy and you’ll be rolling in them. The eggs, not the chickens. Although I guess you shouldn’t really be rolling in either of those things. The chicken pen has a little incubator, so you can keep breeding your own chickens for free! Cows take a while longer to breed, but you can do that too. You can also buy brushes to keep your animals happy and clean. Happier animals, better quality milk and larger eggs! Oh, and you get a horse. He just shows up at some point and chills with you. You can later buy him a saddle and ride him around, but other than that, you don’t have to feed him or anything. I think he eats your dreams.

Yeah, I look nice now, but at night I come into your house and eat your dreams.

Also you have a dog! I think he also just shows up. You don’t have to feed him either. But he’s adorable. Doesn’t do much though. You can pen him up in the yard if you want. I usually carried him around with me everywhere, and occasionally tried to make him eat gnomes. He did not eat them. Yeah, there are gnomes. We’re not getting into that.

Okay, so we have crops, ladies, festivals, and livestock. I guess you could use that to sum up the game, but it just…Doesn’t do it justice. There’s something that just feels good about planting seeds, watering them and watching them grow, and then selling that shit. And the social aspects, the festivals, the flirting with ladies, the variety of weird characters, it all gives the game more depth than one would expect from something like this. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there IS an end. When your parents come back, you are judged based on your social interactions, wealth, how many crops you’d harvested and sold, and even how many babies you had.

Festivals, yo.

And this was only the FIRST in a series that is still making games now. The next game in this series that I played was Harvest Moon for theGameboy. And it was -awful-. I mean, just terrible. It had the farming elements and had stripped ALL social aspects out of the game. You couldn’t go into the town and wander around, it brought up a menu, you picked what store you wanted to go to, and it took you directly to a shopping menu. No interesting characters, no ladies to woo, no festivals. Eff that.

The next game MORE than made up for that failing, though. At least, I’m pretty sure it was the next in the series. It was the next one I played, anyways. Harvest Moon 64. New characters, new ladies, a new town, and fancy graphics. You now had all sorts of new options of things you could do. It kept the basic mechanics but with a better view, and now instead of just holding one item above your head like an idiot (which is how the original played), you now have a proper backpack to store your things. It revolutionized the way I farmed. Aside from that, it introduced sheep as livestock, so you could harvest their wool. The new characters were also a lot more interesting. I found myself again going for the girl who worked at the bar, this time her name was Karen. Ann was now the girl at the livestock place. Popuri is the new flower shop girl. Elli runs the bakery. And Maria is still a church-going girl who spends most of her time at the library. And this game made it a lot more difficult to woo your prospective mate. Not only is it more difficult to increase their relationship score, but you now have competition! That’s right, if you don’t woo them yourself, other dudes will swoop in and steal the ladies. Jerks. This game also added unique events for each of the girls, a lot of which involved you helping them in some way and them being grateful and liking you more. Oh, and you can dance with them and stuff at various festivals.

Yeah it does, man. Yeah it freakin' does.

Speaking of festivals, this game took a big leap in those. Now instead or just a few, there are even more, and they tend to be more interactive! Ranging from fireworks, to flowers, to Thanksgiving, you can now interact with people a lot more, and in a lot of cases bring things in to enter various competitions and win assorted prizes. And there’s horse and dog races! Yes, you of course get a horse and a dog in this game, and now you can RACE THEM against other horses. And other dogs! Although you can’t race dogs AGAINST horses. I think the horses would have a slight advantage. At any rate, I lost a lot of money gambling on the horse races. Much fun was had, though. It’s basically everything the first Harvest Moon had, but more of it, and better. Which is awesome. It even added a feature where you can upgrade your house and get a proper kitchen, and then you can cook food. And the ladies love cooked food. It was a fun little added thing.

Horse, if you don't win, I'm selling you for glue.

The next game in the series that I got really into was the Gameboy Advance title, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. And this one was awesome. Basically the same sort of thing as Harvest Moon 64, but different graphics. It featured many of the same characters from the last game, including all of the same ladies to woo. Lots of festivals, cooking, farming, everything we’ve grown to love and expect from a Harvest Moon game. It’s kind of hard to talk about this one after discussing the last two, there weren’t a LOT of changes made to the basic ideas. You now can spend time mining in the local mine to get minerals to upgrade your tools, and you can get better relationships with more of the townspeople, instead of just the ladies. This is the game I’ll talk about the least on here, simply because there isn’t enough to talk about after discussing the mechanics of both previous titles, but I honestly think I put more time into this game than I did into both of the other ones combined. By the time I got tired of it (after MANY hours), all of the ladies were in love with me, I was loaded, and even the townspeople loved me. I had gotten close enough to all of them that I could have run the town if I wanted to, really. I mean, it wasn’t an included mechanic, but they loved me. They wouldn’t fight me. In fact…I could probably wipe out the whole town of the mood struck me. I had an awesome upgraded axe and sickle…I’m just saying. I’m just saying.

Ride into town on my doom horse and cut them down, I shall.

After this, I haven’t played much of the series. I tried a couple titles for the PS2 and the Gamecube, but none of them really did it for me. It wasn’t as magical as it was back in my early days of learning that farming could be fun too. That’s not to say that all the later games are bad, though. I have some friends who enjoyed some of them, I just never got the chance to try those particular games out myself. And they’re still making them. So they’re doing something right, at least. In fact, they even released a strange blend of RPG and Harvest Moon elements. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon is the only one of THAT series that I’ve played, but it was awesome. Not only do you farm, make friends, woo ladies, and everything that made the previous games great, but you venture into caves, fight monsters, even tame monsters to work your farm. It was awesome. It was released on the DS a few years ago, spawned two DS sequels, as well as two console sequels, with another planned for the 3DS.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, they also released a version of Friends of Mineral Town for the Gameboy Advance, called…Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. It was exactly the same as the other game in every way, except now you play as a lady farmer instead of a dude, and you can now marry the dudes instead that would otherwise end up with the girls. So hey, if you’re into that, here you go.

I do not have a witty caption for this picture.

So that’s Harvest Moon in a nutshell. It shouldn’t be fun. But it is. It’s so much fun. So please, check it out if you haven’t before. Maybe try one of the newer titles, but be careful, some of them get a little weird. And if you’ve tried any of these later ones, let me know how they are in the comments. Let’s talk about farming. Let’s talk about virtual farming. You and me. Let’s do this.

Why Beating Ganon Was Better Than Losing My Virginity

Hey there fellow Ogeeku. It’s been a little while since I’ve written, hasn’t it?

Sorry about that. It’s just, I ran into a little roadblock in life. Something that snuck up on me and drained my will to go on until I finally surmounted it.

No, not Dukekataron.

I call it Dark Souls.

Dear lord, Dark Souls.

I mean, I missed Demon’s Souls due to a kerfuffle with my PS3 ownership (had one, didn’t, shared one, don’t again, thinking about getting another) so all I knew about it really was that it was hard. But you know, that’s coming from today’s audience of supposed “gamers” weaned on auto-saves and regenerating health who I sometimes hear complaining about games like Viva Pinata, so I was a bit incredulous about how hard it could actually be. Especially from the PS3 audience, which I remember bitching about my beloved Bionic Commando Rearmed being so hard that they actually patched it to make it easier just for them.

So yeah, picking up the game I was a bit, shall we say, cynical?

Challenge Accepted Dark Souls

Me, at the beginning of last month.

But that sure got shoved back in my face and fast.

The game is brutal, and in every way imaginable. Archers snipe you when you try to fight off warriors who can easily kill you as is. Subhumans push you off shaky wooden platforms into deathdrops over a swamp of vile infection. You’ll get poisoned and die seconds before you reach a bonfire, multiple times. Assassins appear from blind corners to stab you in the back. Frogs curse you to half health for some reason. Ghosts kill you with impunity while laughing after you swing your sword through their intangible bodies. Bosses with 20 foot wide sweep attacks appear in rooms fifteen feet wide. There’s a TON of grinding. Treasure chests turn into monsters and eat you. Players occasionally show up just to commit acts of assholery and jet. You can’t pause. And you’ll lose tons of time dying on your way back to your bloodstain. Oh, and the ending? BULLSHIT.

It handed my ass back to me so many times, took so long to conquer, and generally forced me to start acting like a horrible asshole who uses the cheapest tactics available to succeed rather than how I preferred to play that I think it actually broke me a bit. When it came time to write my review I think it ended up more a dazed therapy session, me purging myself from this damnable evil the game had wrought upon my psyche than any form of objective criticism.

“Show us on the doll where the boat sized wolf touched you . . . with his tree sized sword.

But, and here’s the thing, this is EXACTLY what I wanted out of the game. For it to be this unforgiving, for it to be this callous with my feelings and my time. For as long as a game is fair (and Dark Souls is fair), I WANT it to punish the hell out of me. To eschew all the molly-coddling conventions and hand holding traditions that games have been delivering in the past decade or so.

To smack me in the face when I make a mistake, so that when I finally master it and claw its eyes out of its sockets in our final Pyrrhic sortie, I get that crazy adrenaline rush that can only come with having bested a foe better than yourself, and bathing in their blood while you scream a howl of glory over their vanquished damnable carcass!


But why?

I mean, really. Why? Unless you’re playing L.A. Noire all games provide some sense of accomplishment, and without nearly the level of frustration, anguish and soul crushing. Am I, as one friend of mine likes to claim, some sort of “gaming masochist?”

Well, yeah. Perhaps in part. I think most of us who grew up in the 8-bit generation are to some degree or another. Back then, the big games were the ones in the arcades, and the guys making the games knew that to maximize profits, a game better kill you a lot so you’d keep putting in more quarters, while the console guys knew that in order to emulate the “arcade experience”, they had to likewise make games that basically gave you a map that led to Murdertown.

Main export: surprisingly decent office furniture.

But for me, it’s not just that. I think like plenty of others, and obviously plenty of folks making lots of games, I would have moved beyond the occasional need for these digital hazings. Except for my experience with one game. A game that left such a strong impression on my still developing mind that it became THE gold standard for all others to beat, and in every area, from graphics, sound design, combat mechanics, level design, puzzle implementation, music, everything.

That game?

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Zelda Box


You see, kiddoes, like the guy in this commercial, I’ve been down with Zelda from the very start. I started with the first game, The Legend of Zelda (obviously), on my NES and played the ever loving hell out of it. It was a glorious adventure, and in my recollection, the very first game I actually managed to beat. Though in all likelihood that probably had something to do with the game’s miraculous invention of saving your progress without the need for an easily lost password more than my actual skill.

I followed that up with Link’s next adventure, the aptly titled Zelda II: Adventure of Link. And though it took some doing, and perhaps a smidge of help from NINTENDO POWER, it too was defeated. This was a series I knew and loved right from the beginning, and it was helped along by the fact that it was tied in with the greatest cross promotion ever that no self respecting Nintendo fan could live without!

Nintendo Cereal System Ad

Breakfast Cereal! Delicious, teeth rotting sugary goodness! Though that last line in this ad, “Beat ‘em and Eat ‘em?” That . . . that, that’s rather unwholesome. Glad I don’t remember that.

Oh wait did you think I was referring to that cartoon? The one that aired every Friday during the Super Mario Super Show? The other thing that no serious Rad Awesome Nintendo fan couldn’t skip?

Well . . .

Excuuuuse Me Princess

ExcuuuuuuuuuUUUU — NO!
Yeah, that’s been done. Let’s move on shall we?

Yeah, I was TOTALLY down with Zelda, and Nintendo and everything they did or could do since I was but a wee lad. And why the hell not? Back in the late eighties, games were pretty much exactly as they were shown in the advertising: Awesome, Intense, and your parents helped you hook it up. All this crazy love for video games of course being bolstered by that beautiful propaganda machine that was NINTENDO POWER. I was a good little child soldier in the console wars!

When I first heard (through NINTENDO POWER of course) of the third installment in what was my first favorite series (though I’ll admit it had a lot of competition from Mega Man and Bionic Commando for that spot), and on this glorious new system coming out, the SUPER Nintendo, I could not be anymore excited. I’m pretty sure all I wrote in my Christmas List that year were the words “Super Nintendo” and “Zelda” over and over and over in increasingly bizarre combinations with each other, like “Super Zeldendo” and “Zelper Nintenda”. I knew what I wanted, and begged and pleaded, and prayed with Santa to deliver unto me this second (or I guess third) coming of Link.

So it’s Christmas Day, 1991, and my seven year old self was stoked.

I woke up bright and early, ready to open that obviously console sized box up, stick in some sweet, sweet, Link to the Past since there was also that obviously game pak sized box next to it, and get down to some . . .

Sonic the Hedgehog ??????!?!

My parents – or more specifically – my father, proudly exclaimed that Santa had brought me the “New Nintendo”, and I kid you fucking not: THIS WAS HOW I KNEW FOR SURE SANTA WASN’T REAL.

I mean, I had begun to have some doubts by then, but I had managed to hold onto some form of blind faith. But this?

Santa couldn’t fuck this shit up this badly if he had been drunk on the ‘nog and blinded by chimney soot while he ran his rounds! This was the ANTI-Nintendo, and the only man with facial hair that I knew who could have blundered this badly, was good old dad (he sported a mean Burt Reynolds ‘stache back then).

Oh and the other game? The one I had hoped was LttP? It was the OTHER reason I was beginning to question everything I believed in that Christmas morn. It reeked of poor parental perception even worse than the “New Nindendo” did.

What the hell- Boats?! Who wants to play with some damn boats?! Oh right. My dad.

At first I think my dad’s take on the stunned silence was that I was too joyous to talk. Man, I wish I could say I could contain my first combination of over-entitlement rage, disappointment, and shock, said “Thanks a lot!” and continued with a Christmas without incident. But I was seven. With my emotional skill set, that simply wasn’t in the cards.

Instead, I think what happened, cause it gets a bit fuzzy here, is a tantrum tirade so terrible that I might have passed out, and not because I held my breath on purpose, but because I thought walls were things I could break with my head. Swiftly followed by a series of punishments over my ungracious and ungrateful behavior that I won’t get into because I’m not entirely sure what the statute of limitations are for certain laws.

Which frankly, I totally deserved. I mean a Sega Genesis was nothing to sneeze at. I had even played it before at a friend’s house and thought it was as sick nasty as it was claiming in all the EGM ads. Strider was the business. Altered Beast was fu- OK, Altered Beast was never fun, but Golden Axe was killer. It’s just I had bought into the obviously inspired by the Hitler Youth propaganda Nintendo had been putting out so hard that I might as well have worn a Mario armband.

Point was, though I eventually got over it and learned to enjoy him (and my Genesis), Sonic The Hedeghog (and freaking Bimimi Run) stole my glorious Zelda triumph from me.

That finger wag was like he was making fun of me. FUCK YOU SONIC!

Temporarily, anyways.

Because for the first time in my memory, I now had a serious goddamn goal to work toward. My parents (rightfully) wouldn’t get me a Super Nintendo after I explained their little error. In fact, after my lousy behavior at Christmas over this, I was promised that they’d never buy me another video game, ever. And they never did again, actually.

But I knew how fucking money worked. I learned that shit in school! And I was at the top of my class, since, well, obviously I was a huge nerd who played video games.

So I began saving. I calculated how much it would cost me to buy a core Super Nintendo sans Super Mario World and the extra controller and whatever else the more popular bundle pack came with, and a copy of Link to the Past. I didn’t spend a dime of any Christmas money I had, and made a rough projection of what my birthday money might be, if I asked for nothing but money, and even then it wouldn’t be enough.

Nintendo Power Zelda Cover

I needed more since my subscription to NINTENDO POWER kept sending me little “reminders” like this.

So I saved anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t buy comic books, or other gaming magazines, or toys, or any of the other random stuff kids squandered whatever cash they could grab on, mostly anyways (self control over candy is pretty hard at that age). In the meantime, I learned to enjoy as much as I could of this enemy console, and actually found the “Blast Processing” to be just that, a blast.

Still, I kept on it. I washed neighborhood cars for a buck or two at a time. I sometimes skipped eating lunches so I could pocket the lunch money. I was as determined as I would ever be for any future project, cause, job, or group I’d join later in life.

Gordon Gekko

Turns out it was saving for Zelda that brought out my inner ruthless businessman.

Come my birthday, though I still received lots of socks and a few gifts from friends, I got JUST enough cold hard cash from distant relatives well wishing cards to claim victory. Which I did only hours after the cake crumbs had been cleaned up as I begged with my mother to take me to the nearest store that had a video game section.

Coming home from Target’s electronics section directly, I immediately set up my hard won prize, popped in that beautiful cartridge and moved that power switch forward, cause it was time to get my Link to go back . . . to the past!








Unfortunately though, the story doesn’t end here. Oh no, there’s a bit more.

You see, there was a problem I was having after stomping around Hyrule and the Dark World in my Pegasus boots for a couple of months. This problem had a name too, and it was GANON.


This badass mofo right here.

The problem simply was: I couldn’t beat him.

See, though it might be hard to believe after later games like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, the original trio of Zelda games, like almost all games back then, were friggin’ hard. Each of them in their own unique ways too.

The first had been tough, mainly due to how confusing it could be to navigate. A lot of it was basically, “Wander around aimlessly until a crazy old man gives you a vague, poorly translated clue about smoke and how dodongos dislike them” and then keep wandering until you eventually figured out where everything was and what everything did. It wasn’t reflex hard, it was mentally challenging.

Again, this advice is freaking USELESS! They dislike smoke alright! From the BOMBS they’re weak against . . . which don’t emit smoke! Brain aneurism!

The Adventure of Link on the other hand, WAS reflex hard, but the hints were a lot better and the leveling system and magic helped you get through most other obstacles. It was the battle system, which I consider the best “dueling” system on the NES, and it formed the basis of some of the better fights of the later 3D games, that made this game both interesting and challenging. Carefully blocking incoming high and low attacks at a split second of notice when fighting Ironknuckles while looking for openings to get your attacks in, often while dodging a bunch of other crap in a room always proved grueling.

These dastardly foes gave plenty a young gamer nasty “Knight”mares! At least until you got that sweet downward stab.

But Link to the Past? I mean, sure, it wasn’t exactly easy. It had a couple of brain-stumper puzzles, a few incredibly obscure things to find, and wasn’t afraid to throw a nasty boss or two at you; but it wasn’t either ludicrously taxing on your reflexes, nor that hard to figure out. If anything the most common method of death was from attrition: it would throw a ton of enemies at you for the duration of a dungeon, slowly whittling away your reserves of fairies and potions and hearts, so that by the time you got to the boss you were probably low on supplies and they would become legitimate threats. But even this wasn’t too bad, mostly.

No, the really dangerous thing in this game was when enemies booted your elfen butt into pits. Not because the pits would instantly kill you, oh no. But because it forced you to do everything over again, while keeping your status the same as when Link would fall screaming into the blackened depths! Thus amplifying the attrition factor!

Link falling

Pretty much exactly what’s happening here.

And this is what made Ganon such a humongous bastard. Cause once you do enough damage to him during the final confrontation, he stops the fight, says a little speech and does a floor stomp – which erodes all the edges of the arena!

He then turns completely invisible, which in LttP also means invulnerable, and starts slide teleporting around the room, only pausing to shoot fire bats at you!

In order to make him visible, you need to shoot your fire rod at the two torches in the bottom corners of the now edge-filled arena. If one’s lit it let’s you see where he is, but you still can’t touch him, so both need to be lit in order to hurt him, and the two torches will go out rather quickly, AND the fire rod is going to drain your magic so you’re probably going to want to bring in some magic refilling potions. All the while, if you’re near an edge and get hit by one of the bats, or Ganon himself (both of which do solid damage even with fully upgraded armor), it’s GANON-BOOT! Off ya go! AND YOU HAVE TO RESTART THE ENTIRE FIGHT.

While he’s vulnerable, you have to temporarily stun him with your sword, then nail him with a silver arrow while he’s stunned. If you blow the timing and take to long to switch from your fire rod to arrows, he often charges right at you again and GANON-BOOT! YOU HAVE TO RESTART THE ENTIRE FIGHT!

Or maybe you’ve got the shot off – but a torch goes out while the arrow is flying at him, and when you move to the edge to re-light it he tosses that bat and GANON-BOOT! YOU HAVE TO RESTART THE ENTIRE FIGHT!

And each time you have to restart this fight, it either means rushing right back in with your missing hearts, potions, arrows, magic etc. Or spending time to restock and recover! When you do rush in, you’re now peeved from the last cheap knock-out that you attack blindly and GANON-BOOT! YOU HAVE TO RESTART THE ENTIRE FIGHT!

So you try to take the calm path, being careful around the edges but taking other hits so you don’t fall and THIS TIME you actually DIE die! Which at this point is just another form of GANONBOOT! YOU HAVE TO RESTART THE ENTIRE FUCKING FIGHT!!!!!

The GANONBOOT as translated by Sakurai in SSBB. Bet that Link ALSO HAS TO RESTAR- no he probably just lost a stock.

This, as far as I’m concerned, is the original Gannon-Ban. It’s just done with his boot, Link’s face, and a pit of do-over purgatory. A purgatory, I’m going to add, that I was stuck in once I had reached this ultimate conclusion to the game . . .


That’s right, I got stuck with the freaking GANONBOOT for two. Whole. Years.

I’d play other games of course, got on with my life, went to school, did all the normal stuff. But at least once a week, and sometimes once (or more) a day, for TWO YEARS, I’d give Ganon another shot. But I would just get too frustrated, and my sense of timing on multiple factors wasn’t fully developed then. I couldn’t deal with the timing of the torches, the timing of the stun, and the timing of the attacks all at the same time! and then it was GANONBOOT! Aaaaaaarrrggh!!!!! *Shut off SNES in rage*

I just couldn’t do it. I’d give up for weeks, sometimes a month, simply knowing that somehow, this ONE boss would defeat me every time. I felt like a total failure – which didn’t help my emotional state when I then moved to a new town and a new school.

But eventually, something finally clicked. Sometime around when I was discovering AKIRA, I finally managed to pull it off.

In a grueling, twenty minute battle some time after school one day, I dodged enough attacks, hit enough times and got the timing right to gauge when I needed to move exactly where I needed to move and . . . that was it.

Link to the Past Comic Arrowed Ganon


Ganon was dead.



I had done it! I was triumphant! The Triforce was mine!

I watched every sweet moment of that beautiful ending sequence in such rapt awe that I then truly knew I had been misappropriating the word my entire life. The slowly joyous credits music that filled my ears as pastoral Hyrule passed by my eyes was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. The final shot, of the Master Sword being placed back into its stone, left an indelible impression on my still young eyes.

It was complete and utter JOY. How could I do anything but Dance around like a loon for the next hour or so? Before finally collapsing in a mad, giggling heap on the couch moments before my mom got home from work.

Pretty much this. Which, if I ever get married, I am going to dance at my wedding.

Here was a game. One that I had anticipated highly, and been denied. One that I had to actively strive to get in real life, learning valuable lessons about setting goals and saving money along the way. One that had denied me finality for even longer once I had it, and for quite a long time at that . . . and I had done it.

No game since has even even come close to the sense of triumph and satisfaction that I beheld that day. Except, of course, the ones that have come close to recreating such continual resounding defeat.

So that’s it. It’s not the punishment that I like in a game like Dark Souls, or I Wanna Be The Guy. That just NEEDS to exist in order to create the sense of hopelessness that’s required in order to THEN create a true sense of accomplishment afterward. When you stop giving up on yourself, say “No More!”, and just man up and master the thing already.

It’s really hard to not want that from a game once you’ve had it, but unfortunately it gets harder to find as you get better, especially if games get easier at the same time. This is why I think the slow turn the gaming industry made toward easier to finish games last decade was so disheartening to me; others might not get to feel this sense of accomplishment if the rewards were handed out too freely. Thankfully it seems that trend is reversing somewhat these days, or at least evening out.

Oh, and believe me, I am aware now that it was my skill level at the time, and not really the game itself that made Ganon so damned hard; these days he is merely a trifle, and I’ve faced far worse with less sense of accomplishment gained. But for me he was just hard enough at just the right time to instill in me an concept.

It’s the romantic ideal of the hardest chase bequeathing the greatest reward. I learned of this ideal early on in my life. Not through books, not through movies, not through poetry; but through Zelda. It’s this ideal that led me to find the beauty in other things, other people, music, poetry, art.

Totally amazing Zelda Painting.

Especially in beautiful Zelda Art.


In a very fundamental way this game changed how I perceived the world for years to come, while at the same time providing me with a moment I’ll never forget until the day I die.

So yeah, that’s why beating Ganon was better than losing my virginity (in case you were wondering about the title). I mean, come on! Your first time’s always really awkward . . . and usually involves at least one person freaking out and/or crying. Heck, usually your second go isn’t that great either, and there’s all that pressure . . .

It’s like, the third, or fourth time you have sex, that’s when you can place it behind the digital pig-wizard wielding a trident.

No sooner.

Ogeeku Live – The FFII Broadcast to End All FFII Broadcasts

James feels really bad about not being able to get the broadcast system to work last Saturday for the scheduled Ogeeku Live.

Sad Keyboard Cat James is Sad.

So bad, that yesterday while we were shooting some test footage for an upcoming SMBC Theater sketch, he proclaimed words that made me extremely happy:

“Jon, I want to do a broadcast earlier this week to make up for Saturday. I want to beat Final Fantasy II.”

Well, I think he said something to that extent. I’m not quite sure as I was (by that point) completely overtaken by several Theraflu pills and a permanent coating of Vicks Vaporub due to the typical post-convention sickness.

Actual photo of Jon on October 17th, 2011

So this Wednesday, starting at 2pm 12pm PST, James Ashby and I will be going on the air for Ogeeku Live! with the goal of finishing Final Fantasy II (aka IV) for Super Nintendo. From what we discussed, we will be playing it until we can beat it.

Can we do it? Maybe. Should you tune in to see us attempt? ABSOLUTELY.

Be sure to tell all your friends to join us and engage in the chat room during this broadcast – A fun time will be had by all!

Brocobos Unite!

Ogeeku Live! – Spooky Specials

Hey Interwebs! It’s October – a month filled with ghosts, goblins, and risque Princess costumes!

Damn you (and Thank You), Leg Avenue!

I personally would love to celebrate Halloween every day in October, so I demanded yesterday that we begin a Spooky Specials series for Ogeeku Live!

Each Thursday night, we’ll be playing classic Super Nintendo games that go bump in the night… Our first for this month was the unbelievably awesome (and difficult) Capcom title, Demon’s Crest!

Watch live video from Ogeeku Live! on

We have three more Spooky Specials broadcasts to finish out the month, so we want to know what horror/thriller/scaryish-themed SNES title do you want to see us play? We discussed rocking some Castlevania or Zombies Ate My Neighbors action, but we are open to suggestions! Think of your absolute favorite and post it in the comments below!

We look forward to seeing you at each broadcast, and on Saturdays as well!

If you don't show up, we will send Fail Master Chief out to find you.

ALSO: Invite all of your friends to join us here on Ogeeku and at the live casts, because we want every Thursday night from here until the end of the month to be a Halloween party! As an added incentive, you will earn 20 Ogeeku Points for every person you invite who signs up on the site! BAM!