A few months ago, my depression and PTSD reached heights previously unknown. It was a very dark, very scary time, and I just didn’t know what to do (therapy and meds aren’t an option for me at this time). I’d been playing childhood video games for distraction, but I felt disconnected from them somehow. I longed to escape my mind, my body, my world, for just a few hours, just long enough to find relief and recenter my focus.
The last Zelda game I’d played was the original Legend of Zelda as a five-year-old. My husband, Michael, is a HUGE fan of the entire series. So, when we bought Twilight Princess for our Wii a few years ago, I thought I’d give Zelda another try. I quickly grew frustrated — I was used to side scrollers and platformers, and the controls and environment were so overwhelming that I finally quit. But then, a few months ago in the midst of my depression, I remembered more than just the unfamiliar 3D environment and difficulty of navigating in an unfamiliar world. I remembered how interested I’d been in the storyline, how amazed I’d been that a video game even HAD a storyline. And I thought, “Maybe I’ll give it another shot.”
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess quite possibly saved my life. At the end of a long day, I would come home, put on the rattiest sweatpants and T-shirts I owned, wrap myself in blankets, and play Zelda. For hours. And hours. The story intrigued me. The characters were lovable and complex. The bad guys ranged from hilariously stupid to frighteningly hard. (I may or may not have thrown the Wiimote and nunchuk across the room and gone into spasms when the boss of the Temple of Time was revealed.) I was able to completely engross myself in a world that wasn’t my world, and in this case a world that reflected the darkness I feared and the beauty I longed for. I was able to literally defeat that darkness. And that was so, so helpful to me.
A close friend, John, was delighted to learn that I had joined the Loyal Lovers of Link (I don’t even know where that came from, okay? I like alliteration). He posited that over his summer break, perhaps he would come over and we would all marathon through every Zelda game that exists in a week. Rather than terrify me, that sounded exciting — though I wasn’t convinced we could play through every game in a week. The idea stayed in the recesses of my mind.
And the two things suddenly melded together in my mind.
I wanted to play every single Zelda game. And I wanted to write about it.
But, after all, it’s dangerous to go alone…
You are invited to join me in playing through every major console Zelda game — if you write about your experiences. You can write as you go, live-tweet or live-tumbl, or write a final big review at the close of the game. It’s totally up to you. The tag we’re using to unite this particular synchroblog is Zeldathon (thanks, Paige!).
I want this to be super flexible. So here are the very loose guidelines:
- You don’t have to play every single game. The major console games alone are: the Legend of Zelda (NES), Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES), A Link to the Past (SNES), Ocarina of Time (N64), Majora’s Mask (N64), Windwaker (Gamecube), Four Swords (Gamecube), Twilight Princess (Gamecube and Wii), and Skyward Sword (Wii). You can pick whatever game you want to play. You can even play the non-major releases for Gameboy or DS. It’s totally up to you. However…
- Every major console game needs to have a full review. That’s nine total reviews. If you’re up for that, let me know in the comments which game you’d like to review. Each game can have multiple people playing and reviewing (this is where the live-tweeting or blogging as you go comes in, for sure). But a complete review of each game from someone would be fantastic. Claim your game in the comments here! (And remember, you can play as many or as few as you want, whether or not someone has claimed it or not. All reviews, tweets, and thoughts are welcome!)
- You choose what kind of review you want to write. Are you a feminist who wants to examine expressions of gender in the game? I would LOVE to read that. Are you a hardcore gamer who understands better than I do the intricacies of storytelling in video games and want to critique the story of a particular game? Do it! However you want your review to go is completely okay. If you want to go crazy and write a whole series, either about a single game or about the entire Zelda universe? Please, please do, because I will read the hell out of that.
- However you want to play is okay, too. Are you a completionist? Tell us how unbelievably hard it is to complete every side quest and find every piece of heart. Do you just follow the plot with little deviation? That’s fine. Do you get frustrated and Google that block puzzle? No shame here. (At least from me, because my philosophy is if the game gets so frustrating I’m not having fun anymore, it’s not serving its purpose.)
- Be sure to use “Zeldathon” as a tag when you tumbl or tweet. I’ll do a weekly or biweekly search of the tag on Tumblr and Twitter to pull together Storify threads or link to reviews here.
- Let me know if you’ve written a review so I can link to it here. I’ll do a weekly or biweekly post of your tweets, tumbls, and reviews here (quite probably with commentary). I really want this to be a community effort. I love playing video games with people, and since most of my friends are online (and Zelda is typically a one-player game) this is the closest we can get to all playing together.
- This is something that can go on for as long as we want it to. Starting with Ocarina of Time onward, these games take a lot of time. (I think I sank 50 hours into Twilight Princess.) I’ll probably revisit this idea again in a year and see how we’re doing and decide whether to continue to facilitate things.
Are you game?
I’m going to go ahead and claim Twilight Princess for my full review. Feel free to review it yourself if you’d like!
Please let me know any thoughts or ideas you have for this in the comments, Twitter or Tumblr. (I know it looks like there’s a lot you have to do to comment, but you should just have to supply a name and email address — I’m thinking about migrating my site to its own domain soon and with that will come Disqus for your commenting ease!)
I’ve started a dedicated Tumblr to this that will be updated much more frequently. Check it out!