With the hype of future Zelda games, sometimes it’s easy to forget where the series began. Cinemassacre editor and content producer Mike Matei still remembers the origin of The Legend of Zelda, and has created several videos involving glitches, swordless challenge runs, and even reviews. However, he always keeps in mind how the series began.
Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with Mike Matei about his role in content on Cinemassacre, his thoughts on several Zelda videos he’s produced, and what he hopes to see Zelda do in the future. I enjoyed the interview and feel it went very well, thanks to Mike and his articulate answers. Although Zelda was the overall theme of the interview, I could tell that Mike genuinely loves gaming in general.
In the course of the interview, our guest discussed many key points he’s made in past videos, what has inspired him to create Zelda content on Cinemassacre, and why he enjoys the series so much. Read on and learn more about the Zelda content featured on Cinemassacre as well as the reflections of an original Zelda fan, Mike Matei.
Please note: The following videos contain profanity.
First off, for those who may not know what you do, how would you describe your work for Cinemassacre?
Hey, thanks for asking! I’m the editor for several Cinemassacre web series, such as Monster Madness and James & Mike Mondays. I do the illustrations for You Know What’s Bull-[expletive]!? I help James come up with ideas and record gameplay footage for The Angry Video Game Nerd web series. I occasionally play character roles in some of our web series such as “Mother-[expletive] Mike” on Board James, And I also manage the Cinemassacre YouTube channel, website, and social media pages.
I also occasionally dress up as Dark Link.
What first inspired you to create Zelda content for Cinemassacre?
Well, Zelda is my favorite video game franchise. So it’s only natural I’d make Zelda-related videos. I believe the first Zelda video I wrote for Cinemassacre was “The Angry Video Game Nerd is Chronologically Confused About the Legend of Zelda Timeline”.
After that video was released, Nintendo decided to finally put out the “official” Zelda timeline. Which hasn’t changed my opinion on the matter.
Here’s why: when we were kids (in the late 80’s/early 90s), nobody thought much about a timeline. It wasn’t until later (after Ocarina of Time) when all the timeline theories really started. You know why The Legend of Zelda was named The Legend of Zelda? Because, it’s a legend!
A legend is an unverified story handed down from earlier times. Often changed as time goes by, because different people remember the story in a different way. Nintendo releasing a timeline was a reaction to the fan outcry that there needed to be one. When originally, no such thing was ever even considered. The point of the Zelda games is to explore and figure out puzzles. To me, the timeline stuff is totally irrelevant. The real focus should be on the gameplay.
In your Zelda Swordless Challenge Run video, you mentioned how you’ve been playing Zelda since you were a child. What were your first impressions and how does the game stand in your eyes today?
Well, my very first memory of Zelda was listening to some other kids talk about it on the school bus. Another kid already had the game, and brought the Zelda map on the bus. I was fascinated by the map, and begged my mom to get me the game. I remember going into Toys R Us, and seeing the game behind the glass. It stood apart from all the other NES games, since it was gold. It made you feel like it was special — which usually would only be a marketing tactic, but in retrospect, the game literally deserved to be gold.
In the same video, you briefly explained how arduous it is to defeat a room full of Darknuts in Level 5 with bombs. Would you say there is anything more difficult or annoying in the series than accomplishing this task?
Well, first of all, that’s not something most people would normally ever even encounter. I was doing the swordless quest, which is a special experiment only for Zelda experts. So while killing Darknuts with bomb smoke is annoying, it’s my own fault for trying to do something so absurd. Can’t blame the game for that.
But if you want to talk about annoying things in the Zelda universe, we could just talk about Tingle. Or the CD-i games. Or the wristwatch game.
A Link to the Past is a game which you’ve described as great today as it was when it was originally released. It recently received a sequel on the Nintendo 3DS, known as A Link Between Worlds. Have you had a chance to pick up and play this sequel?
Yes. I played A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS and beat it. It’s one of the best games Nintendo has made in the last decade and one of the best Zelda games ever made. I just don’t understand why we had to wait so long for something like that. I feel like a sequel to the SNES game should have been done several times over by now. At least they finally wised up.
You’ve produced two glitch videos for the series; do you have any plans to showcase glitches in other Zelda games in the future?
Well, I’m mostly done with my glitch series now that I’m busy doing James & Mike Mondays. But I will say, if I ever did another glitch episode, the one idea I have left is for a Zelda title. It’s just that it would take me a really long time to record. So, we’ll see. Maybe someday.
What would you say has been your favorite glitch to display?
I was most proud of the Technodrome glitch I performed for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES. I did nothing but play that game for a week straight trying to get that glitch to work. The crazy thing was, every time I wanted to try the glitch out, I had to make it nearly to the end of the game for each attempt. Completely nuts!
Your two Zelda-related glitch videos feature games that have an interesting point of contrast: one is a 2D game while the other is a 3D game. In your opinion, how has Zelda changed (if at all) with the evolution from 2D to 3D?
Well, solving puzzles from an overhead perspective, compared to having to look around corners in 3D, is a very different ballgame. A Link Between Worlds got it right. When I played that game, it was the first time since probably A Link to the Past where I felt like I was playing a proper Zelda title. It just got every single element right. I loved the Oracle games and Minish Cap. Those are great in their own right. But it can’t really be a proper Zelda title without Ganon can it? And yes, I know he’s in Oracles if you link the games or whatever. But the majority of those games it’s Vaati.
My short answer to this is, I prefer my Zelda 2D overhead.
Ocarina of Time, one of the games you covered glitches for, is one of the most famous games of all time. It is also the most popular of the Zelda franchise, having sold over seven million copies of the original game on the Nintendo 64. Do you agree with all the hype associated with the game?
Let me start this off by saying I love Ocarina of Time. It is, without a doubt, one of the best Zelda games ever. That said, it is not my favorite Zelda game, and it’s definitely overhyped. Many factors go into why that game became so overhyped. I think these are the big reasons.
First, age. People that had the N64 as their first console are going to say Ocarina of Time (or Majora’s Mask) is the best because that’s what they had. Plain and simple. Secondly is the jump to 3D. When Nintendo moved to 3D everyone lost their [expletive]. It was cool to see Mario and Link in 3D for the first time, sure. But what makes games great are the gameplay, not the graphics. So the 3D thing was always a moot point to me. It’s all about gameplay, and I prefer mine overhead.
And the last big thing is the timeline. I already stated my opinion on that. People got all excited over the whole timeline thing for some odd reason. I never cared about that. I care about solving Zelda-style puzzles. Who cares when some Moblin I killed was born or whatever.
Majora’s Mask, a game released for the Nintendo 64 shortly after Ocarina of Time, has a very vocal fan following behind it. What Zelda game are you most vocal about?
The original for NES. Ocarina of Time seems to always get the most attention. I understand that the original is way more simple, but to me, it just can’t be beat. It’s perfect.
My favorite Zelda games, in order, are:
- The Legend of Zelda
- A Link to the Past
- A Link Between Worlds
- Minish Cap
- Links Awakening
- Wind Waker
- Ocarina of Time
- Adventure of Link
- Oracles of Seasons / Ages
- Twilight Princess
- Skyward Sword
- Four Swords
- Majoras Mask
- Links Crossbow
- Phantom Hourglass
- Spirit Tracks
- Hyrule Warriors
- CD-i Zelda
- Zelda wristwatch
Related to Majora’s Mask is the recently announced Majora’s Mask remake for the Nintendo 3DS. What Zelda game would you like to see remade and for what console?
I’ve always wanted to see the original NES game get made into a 3D version. And now with graphics being what they are these days, it’d be exciting to see them do that. Some people have said that it can’t be done, because the original Zelda map and dungeon layout doesn’t work in a real 3D world. But that’s [expletive]. It can be figured out with a bit of creativity. Admittedly, if they did actually make that, it would be more for the novelty of seeing it that way. I would always prefer the original game.
You’ve said that you like both the cel-shaded graphics of Wind Waker as well as the realistic graphics of Twilight Princess. However, you also mentioned that you feel the graphics of Skyward Sword somewhat help mask the lack of graphical limits of the Wii. Nonetheless, of these three games, which do you believe the graphics play the largest role in?
Probably Wind Waker. That game is so colorful and cartoony, I can’t see it any other way. The original NES game and the SNES game were both so colorful.
I’ve always thought of the Zelda world as a really colorful place. I think that’s something some of the later 3D titles dropped the ball on. When you’re playing A Link to the Past, even if you’re in one of the deepest, darkest dungeons, it’s still colorful. If you’re in a dungeon in Majora’s Mask, sometimes it looks muddy and depressing. And that’s not what Zelda should be.
Within your review of Skyward Sword, you felt that the exposition was too drawn out within the first hour or so of the game. In what way do you believe this could have been handled better?
I don’t like when they baby us. I grew up with arcade games and the NES which threw players immediately into the action. Even the first Zelda game was like that. Just grab the sword from the old man and go. There it’s a 45-minute tutorial on how to swing the sword. Just give us two seconds and we can figure it out on our own. They need to give players more credit and just start the damn game.
Also, I understand they do all that extra explanation stuff these days to help little kids learn how to play, and that’s a nice thought. But it’s just not needed. When we were little kids in the ’80s, we figured it out. I think kids today can too if they were just given the chance.
But to answer your question specifically for Skyward Sword, they could have just started Link standing in front of the first dungeon.
One of the items that came with Skyward Sword was the The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD. Were you able to attend either the 25th Anniversary Symphony or Symphony of the Goddesses?
I didn’t go, but I have a copy of the CD. Good stuff.
Recently, Zelda has seen a lot of crossover material, including a Dynasty Warriors crossover, Hyrule Warriors, and even Mario Kart 8 downloadable content. What are your thoughts on Zelda crossing over into other gaming franchises and are there any crossovers you’d like to see?
Let me put it this way. If Nintendo decided to make “Zelda Kart”, where the whole game was just Zelda characters racing around, I think it would [expletive] me off. That just sort of cheapens the characters to make an entire game that totally deviates from the core Zelda gameplay. That said, I do not have a problem when they throw Zelda characters into a game like Smash Bros. or Mario Kart, because it’s just a few Zelda characters along with other characters from other franchises.
Now when we look at the long list of Zelda titles, Hyrule Warriors is going to be in there. And it just shouldn’t be there. The gameplay is nothing like a real Zelda game. It shouldn’t be a real Zelda title. They should’ve just had Link make an appearance instead.
“The original [Zelda] … just can’t be beat. It’s perfect.”
With Zelda U recently presented at E3, is there anything you believe Zelda U should improve on in comparison to previous Zelda titles?
One of the main things I’ve been complaining about with the Zelda franchise for years was addressed in that E3 presentation. Lets go back in time to when Twilight Princess was about to be released. I was really excited for that game because I thought it was going to be like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where you could roam around in an open-world environment. I was majorly let down when I played Twilight Princess and it still had loading between areas. I was even more let down when this was still the case years later with Skyward Sword. I don’t understand how it’s taken this long to get an open-world Hyrule.
Also, I don’t like how Link looks in the Wii U Zelda trailer. Can’t they just keep his design more like how it was with Twilight Princess? He looked fine there. Now he looks like a woman. That aside, I am very excited for the Wii U Zelda. I’m sure it’ll be awesome. I just hope we can play it with the Wii U Pro Controller. Not swinging our arms around like monkeys like with Skyward Sword.
Is there any particular Zelda content you’d like to cover for Cinemassacre in the future?
Yes. I plan for us to do a whole bunch of Zelda games for James & Mike Mondays.
What do you believe has made the Zelda franchise as successful as it is, and what do you believe will keep it successful in the future?
I think Nintendo has always been scared to death to be called out on doing the same thing over and over. They need to get past that, because honestly, that’s all a lot of people want. In a sense.
A Link Between Worlds was exactly the type of thing I’ve been wanting to see them do for the longest time. Essentially, it’s the same thing as A Link to the Past. And that’s not a bad thing. Where it can become new is in how they design the dungeons, overworld, weapons and characters. Just put that creative energy into the level design. But give us the same basic game.
Same thing goes for the Mario franchise. I love New Super Mario Bros U. They can keep releasing those forever and I’ll buy them and long as they just make cool level designs. And that’s all I want for Zelda. Just make games like A Link Between Worlds with new dungeons and items. I know a lot of people want something much grander for Zelda. But whenever they deviate too much, it just starts to suck. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
They’re also behind the ball with F-Zero and Metroid. They need to do the same thing with those series. Just give us more of what we like. I think they finally are starting to get the idea though.
“Start with the original NES game and move on from there.”
Why would you recommend gamers check out the Zelda franchise?
I’d recommend playing it simply for the gameplay. I can understand not liking puzzle games, but Zelda gives people a unique puzzle-solving experience that can’t be found anywhere else. I think a lot of people get intimidated by the Zelda franchise, because they’ll hear about how great Ocarina of Time is. I don’t think that’s the best Zelda game to start out with. Solving the puzzles in 3D can be a lot more confusing sometimes. And if someone has a bad experience with a poor camera angle, and ends up not liking Zelda because of it, it’s really unfair to the whole franchise because that’s not Zelda in its natural state. Start with the original NES game and move on from there. It’s available on the Wii U Virtual Console so there’s no excuse not to either.
Only sad part, no fold-out map!
Thank you Mike Matei for taking the time to answer our questions!
Cinemassacre is a great site dedicated to video content, whether its movie reviews, gaming reviews, or original web series, there’s something for everybody. Mike covers not only Zelda content on Cinemassacre, but an abundance of other gaming and original content as well, so be sure to check out himself and the rest of the Cinemassacre team online and on YouTube for more gaming content.