It’s dangerous to go alone – a call to analytical gamers.

The backstory.

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 Zelda II 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.

Then I was talking to Sarah about how much we love Zelda, and how nuanced it is and how even better it could be, and how we wanted to write posts about various aspects of the games.

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…

The plan.

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!)

And so it begins.

UPDATE

I’ve started a dedicated Tumblr to this that will be updated much more frequently. Check it out!

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39 thoughts on “It’s dangerous to go alone – a call to analytical gamers.

  1. I’ll head out to a used game store in the next few weeks and pick up a copy of “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.” It’s a secret shame that I’ve never beaten it, and now is the time. I don’t want to cheat with emulation, I want all the challenge, and all the glory.

    I’ll review Zelda II for you, if you’ll have me.

  2. YES! Yes! Yes! Brilliant. Love it!

    I need major motivation to finish Twilight Princess, so I will review it as a first timer attempting to get through the thing.

    I’ll also tackle Link to the Past. It’s one of my major stress relief games. Chicken butchering is an actual stress relief tactic I’ve talked to my therapist about. I’d love to run it straight through and talk about how it effected me as a gamer. We did get it when I was 12 – and I’ve been playing it on an off for twenty years.

    Can’t wait to see everyone’s stuff!!

  3. I’m gonna try to do Ocarina of time, but don’t put me down for THE review on it. i’ve never reviewed a game before and can’t handle the pressure :)
    i think that lego games – Harry Potter and the new LOTR possibly helped save my life. great games, love how the handle the story (especially HP – in LOTR the lego characters talk with lines from the movie, but HP is the older style with adorable pantomime.)

    • Hi, I’m Luke, Lana’s husband, and we are going to do the full review of Ocarina of Time together. I’m pumped because it’s such an iconic game but I’ve never played it; closest I’ve ever come to playing Zelda is Super Smash Bros. looking forward to playing and reviewing! Thanks for hosting the Zeldathon!

  4. Reblogged this on Lana Hobbs the Brave and commented:
    I haven’t played Zelda since the very frustrating gameboy game that i shared with my brothers. I had a rough time with it. But i watched cousins play games on newer consoles at family reunions and it looks awesome. i’ll be buying something to play on the wii – probably an older game, with a classic style wii controller. I’d like ocarina of time, having heard excellent things about it, but am open to suggestions.
    Have you played zelda? Will you participate in the Zeldathon?
    do you have a video game that has helped you during depression? (for me, it’s Lego Harry Potter and Lego LOTR.)

  5. I’ll take a full review of Windwaker and Twilight Princess. I’ll also play through several others just not on the main console (meaning GBA/DS games) including but limited to: Minish Cap, Link to the Past (maybe Four Swords as well, need a partner though), Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Spirit Tracks, Phantom Hourglass, and Ocarina of Time (masterquest version also an option).

    I am super excited for this. I’ll be starting as soon as my summer class ends (6 weeks now)

    And let the Zeldathon begin!!

  6. I’m thinking I’d like to grab a review of Ocarina of Time. I think it’s the only game in the series I haven’t played, which is a shame. I have Project64, but I’ll need to get the game. Any suggestions on how to do that safely?

    • Do you have a Wii? I got my copy through there, the Wii Shop channel. That’s how I have The Legend of Zelda and Link to the Past, too. Otherwise…I’m not sure, short of buying an N64 and a copy of the original game. :\

    • If there’s a used game shop near you, you can usually hunt around and find an N64 for about $25. The game’s a bit more costly, surprisingly, but there are a bunch of old ones on Ebay and the like, if you’re not opposed to spending a little bit of cash on this.

      Dani, I just hit the Desert Colossus level of Ocarina of Time and realized I hadn’t checked in on this. I love this idea. I don’t know that I have a chance to do a full review, but I’ll let you know if I can. I have Ocarina and Majora’s Mask (Gold edition) on my N64, so if I have time, I’ll do one of those. :)

  7. I don’t think I know you personally, but Clinton is a mutual friend, and I love the Zelda games, so I think I will participate! Now to decide which game to choose – the only game I grew up playing was Link’s Awakening on Gameboy, but have played several others in more recent years. I’ll have to think about it!

    • Awesome – the more, the merrier! If you have a Wii, you can get pretty much all of these games on there through the Wii Shop (or Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword are for Wii already). Otherwise, I think there’s some good online emulators. Looking forward to your contributions!

      • I actually have the Wii U… I keep waiting for one of the Zelda games to go on the monthly Club Nintendo special (because I’m cheap and I have a bunch of coins I’ve been waiting to use), but I’ve also been playing through Oracle of Seasons on a emulator, so I could always go that route for sure.

        Actually, I’m super excited about E3 because they’re going to announce the date for the Wii U HD remake of Wind Waker – and since I’ve never played it, I would love to do that one. We’ll see how long it will take to get here though.

  8. I already said this on twitter, but I’ll review Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker. I’ll get you my blog link once I have it properly set up for this.

  9. I just grabbed the two Oracle games for GBC on my 3DS, so I might diverge from the norm a bit and go the handheld route, if that’s okay. I’m also doing a playthrough of Twilight Princess, but I see you and a few others are doing that. So I’ll pass on reviewing that. Oracle of Seasons for me it is. Then maybe Ages once I finish Seasons.

    • Go for it! I’m rather sad I can’t play the handheld games, so if I can live vicariously through you playing them then I am happy!

  10. I’ll do a full review for Skyward Sword. It’s been sitting on my shelf since Christmakkah, so now I’ll have an excuse to play it. I’d also like to write a piece focusing solely on the Wind Temple in Wind Waker, and another piece on the Bottom of the Well and Bongo Bongo in OoT.

  11. Zeldathon?? I love it! I am playing Skyward Sword right now and am planning to review it on my blog anyway, if you want to link to it! link to it. pun… maybe… intended… Wind Waker’s next on my list.

  12. Heard about this from Sarah Moon, and I could really use a hobby.

    Is it alright if I start with Link’s Awakening? I’ll be playing through it with an eye on hospitality, stranger-ness, and marginalization.

  13. Pingback: Today I Begin My Zeldathon

  14. so glad you’re doing this. Video games have always been good for my soul….

    I don’t own a Wii and I was just a little too old to catch the wave of Zelda (especially since I fell into the Black Hole of Culture from 1992-2002 thanks to a particular University Which Shall Not Be Named But It’s Address Is In Greenville. ;) I always felt like I really missed out. Perhaps someday.

    For now, my personal goal is to finish a few of my newer console games and then maybe go back and replay the Mass Effect series. That story holds my heart.

  15. Pingback: The pixel drop — a roundup of cool game news: Fable Anniversary, Animal Crossing, and Tetris | Misprinted Pages

  16. Pingback: Zeldathon Legend of Zelda Play Through Part 1: Old Men With Swords | The Casual Competitor

  17. Hello! I was directed to this entry by the mention on Kill Screen, and would love to join in this event. I was planning to just start a new tumblr dedicated to playing through each and every game instead just a single review — is that overkill? Anyway, this is a beautiful idea and I’m excited to start up “Windwaker” tomorrow. Nice to meet you!

  18. Pingback: Zeldathon Play Through Part 2: Beware of the Old Lady | The Casual Competitor

  19. Pingback: Inviting You All to #Zeldathon

  20. Pingback: Zeldathon: An Early August Update. | crooked neighbor, crooked heart.

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