Friday, October 14, 2016

Replaying Ancient Stone Tablets, Dubbed

Well, this was certainly an interesting experience. I've played through Ancient Stone Tablets several times now, but never before with the full program. Thanks to the efforts of the BS Zelda Homepage you can now listen to an English version of the broadcast while playing the game, which includes orchestrated music from the Sound & Drama album next to the voice acting.

Unlike with the first BS Zelda game you get a larger cast of voice actors including Kira Buckland as the lovely voice of Princess Zelda, who has a lot more to say this time. (Kira is actually a professional voice actress, who already lend Zelda her voice in other fan projects, such as Zeldamotion or Four Swords Misadventures!) Even the Old Man in the form of Aginah (Sahasrahla's brother) isn't as bad as previously, but he creates a comedy duo with the really awkward sounding Fortune Teller. And this can be quite fun, even if some of the funnier parts may not be intentional.

"Master Aginah..."
"What is iiit...?!"
"I see something happening somewhere..."
"Is that sooo...?"

This dialogue gets repeated so often that you could turn it into a drinking game. The Fortune Teller always talks in a very strange voice that you just want to mock and Aginah seems constantly annoyed by everything and everyone. It gets even sillier, when Zelda takes over Aginah's role in the 3rd week and then suddenly adopts his "Is that sooo?" catchphrase. It's essentially the "Excuuuuse me, princess" of the BS Zelda games and thanks to Aginah's gambling addiction it's not even the only running gag in this. Also, just like in Hyrule Warriors you have useless soldiers calling for help. Better let a kid with a sword do the job!

Anyway, with the audio they do give you a five second countdown before the Bombos and Ether power-ups, they explain other power-ups like infinite Bombs/Arrows and they will tell you, when the Gold Potion becomes available and when the weekly minigame is open for business. The rescue missions are also part of the broadcast, so you can hear Zelda scream, when she's in danger...

They won't tell you about the Mole, however, so that's probably just something you're ought to discover at random. His position will be at a random location, but I would have expected to at least learn about his existence and at what time he's going to appear. This is the one thing that you still have to look up to get it right, otherwise you now can play the game blind without missing anything important.

The Mole on the 4th week is the worst, however, because he doesn't appear until the 34 minute mark. There is no warp point at the summit of Death Mountain (where the Mole opens a cave with 1400 Rupees inside), so you can't just go back later. You have to find the Mole and then start the Level 8 dungeon, which cuts things extremely close.

In fact it was so close for me that I experienced a very weird scenario. I beat Ganon, but right after he was defeated, the time ran out and the bad ending of the game played, where Ganon laughs maniacally about having conquered Hyrule. But he was killed! I saw it! Game, what are you doing...? Well, at least I could take a look at the funny Game Over screen:

Luckily I had a quicksave right before Ganon's Tower, so I could just try again and beat the giant pig a little bit faster, which then counted. It's my own fault, however, because I'm really obsessed with getting everything in this game, opening all the chests in all the rooms, even if it's just for a silly highscore. I didn't manage to beat my score from the last time, but it was close:

As you can see, I played as the girl and if you think about it, this game was ahead of its time in so many different ways, not just the orchestrated music and the fact that you were downloading content onto a video game console in 1997. Exactly 20 years before the release of Breath of the Wild you already got voice acting of important (and less important) characters and the choice to play as a female hero.

I can only advise everyone, who's reading this, to try out the BS Zelda games for themselves. With Nintendo's current habits of "intellectual property enforcement" they may not be available in their current fan-restored form forever.

Now the Master Sword really sleeps forever... until A Link Between Words!

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