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Mature content has nothing to do with whether a game is good

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Editor's Note from Stephanie Carmichael:
James finally played The Wind Waker after years of thinking it was dumb and for kids, and it got him right in the feels. As he points out, judging a game by its looks is a sure way to miss out on excellence.

When I was a teenager, I avoided The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker simply because it wasn’t cool to like a game that looked like it was “for babies.” What had happened to the darker tone of Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask? Curse the little purple lunchbox — the name my friends had given to my GameCube — as it had ruined Mario and now Zelda!

Even as a young adult, I still wasn’t comfortable with Wind Waker. I couldn’t look past how childish the cartoon-like world made me feel.

Nintendo took some risks with Wind Waker.

Above: Nintendo took some risks with Wind Waker.

Fast-forward a decade or so. I’ve now bought Mario Kart 8 and, at the behest of my lovely wife, redeemed my free game — The Wind Waker HD, my old nemesis and her favorite game ever created. After weeks of Mario Kart 8, I’ve had my fill of single-player and wonder what to play on my suddenly popular Wii U when my friends are not around to join me. I relent and decide to give Wind Waker HD a fair shot. I’m a grown man playing Wii U in his boxers on the couch at 3 a.m. — what do I care if the game’s a little childish?

Oddly enough, I fall in love with the visuals this time. I can’t believe how much emotion I’m seeing from a Zelda series character. Previous Links would deadpan the death of his only relative while stoically journeying through dungeons to obtain the ultimate power needed to defeat the great evil plaguing the land, very rarely making me feel that this guy wasn’t just a borderline sociopath robot who just happens to be fighting on the side of good. This Link was still a silent protagonist, but game designers would do well to study how he conveys emotions and ideas without a single word.

The face I've come to expect from my Hyrulian savior.

Above: The face I’ve come to expect from my Hyrulian savior.

By the end of the game, I had shed a single, manly tear. As a man in my mid-20s, I had just realized something. Up until now, I had missed out on arguably the greatest Zelda game made to date simply because I was too immature to appreciate a different art style and wrote it off as childish. It’s a terrible shame, and I’m sad to admit it wasn’t just Wind Waker that this happened with. I look back and see amazing games that I missed out on before and now want to play, like Pikmin and Mario Sunshine.

An alarming realization is that other young gamers will make the same mistake I did. “Adult” and “mature” have become descriptive words that are now used as synonyms for good even if the game is of lesser quality. Young people want to be seen as adults and treated as mature even if they aren’t. This has lead to the influx of dreary, colorless worlds we see today — the era of the brown shooter.

Today, it’s easier to criticize Nintendo for rehashing Mario a few times per generation because it’s not “mature,”  disregarding the fact that the latest best-selling first-person shooter will dominate the market even though it’s essentially the exact same game as before thanks to the FPS equivalent of a Madden roster update. At least Nintendo does new stuff with Mario games for the most part, like adding new power-ups and jumps that greatly alter gameplay or introducing spherical platforms with changing fields of gravity (as in Mario Galaxy).

It’s a damn shame, but I guess those young people will have to learn the same way I did. For now, though, I think I’ll enjoy my new-found maturity by picking up a copy of Pikmin 3, getting excited for Yoshi’s Wooly World’s and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse’s creative art styles, and waiting as patiently as possible for Captain Toad.


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5 comments
Daniel Castro
Daniel Castro

Ah, a manly tear... It is said that reviewers from the old times used a pen filled with them to write their articles. Very well done, sir.

Irving BigDady Eskenazi
Irving BigDady Eskenazi

I'm not a gamer at all but on a lazy Sunday reading this article ( great piece btw ) it can apply to a lot of aspects in life and is why this will be mandatory reading for my 14yo son because at that age they are more likely to listen to someone else and......... I feel one heck of a teachable moment through something my son is genuinely passionate about (Gaming).

Thanks.

Carlos Mendoza
Carlos Mendoza

if a nintendo game looks kiddy, its not and its far more mature than games like cod

Tarun Bains
Tarun Bains

I pity you.    You probably bought into the hype of the craptastic Twilight Princess too because of something as shallow as graphics and art style.

It's funny, I was a PS2 owner playing gamecube games on a borrowed system.   While I was playing "realistic looking games" like Final Fantasy X and Prince of Persia, which are excellent, I was still having a million times better time playing borrowed gamecube games like WInd Waker and Tales of Symphonia.     A gen prior, as great as epic titles like Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil were, some of the best games were Banjo Kazooie and Paper Mario.

Louie Castro-Garcia
Louie Castro-Garcia

Well done! great read and I totally agree. Hoping to play Windwaker HD later this year when I get a Wii U!

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