Sunday, May 31, 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Until I watched Michael Bay's Transformers movies, I was not a Transformers fan. Sure, it was something I knew existed, but as I mentioned in the Transformers review, my main exposure to the franchise has been the toys and the live-action films.
Having not grown up with Transformers, some would say that I only liked the two live-action movies I did because I've never seen anything better in relation to the franchise.
And when it was announced that Michael Bay would be working on a movie based on something that I am a lifelong fan of, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I had people telling me that I'd change my tone once I saw him "ruin" something I loved.
I've read the comics, I've watched the '80s series and the '03 series, the '07 movie, and all three of the previous live-action movies.
I haven't seen the live-action TV series or that weird "Coming out of their Shells Tour" thing, or the Japanese OVA where The Shredder looks like Wolverine, but my love of Ninja Turtles is still unwavering.
To be clear, I don't think this is a bad film. It's got some issues, but it's a decent movie. Certainly much better than the 2007 movie, and I'm not sure which continuity that's supposed to fit into.
I remember thinking that Jennifer Lawrence would have made a better April O'Neil than Megan Fox would have while I was watching Mockingjay, and while that's true....
Well, I'll go ahead and talk about the film now.
For you Ninja Turtles fans in the audience, let's round up the changes they've made to the origin. Or rather, what kind of origin do the turtles have this year?
First off, they're not going with the 1980's cartoon origin. Splinter is not Hamato Yoshi in this. Unfortunately, he also wasn't Yoshi's pet rat, and as such, the entire revenge-angle he has with The Shredder has been removed.
The only reason I mention this is because it's always been a huge part of the character. In the comics, Shredder killed Yoshi and Splinter wanted revenge for his friend's death. In the '80s TV show, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi, but called himself Splinter while he was a rat, and The Shredder had killed their Sensei and pinned the murder on Splinter. In the movies and 2003 series, Splinter was Yoshi's pet rat, who had learned Ninjutsu from watching Yoshi practicing.
In this, Splinter is just a regular lab-rat. He's got no connection to Oruku Saki, and yet he still knows all about what Shredder is and what he can do.
Yes, this is the internet-age. Yes, the Turtles are shown to have access to the internet, and television, and lots of technology. But without Splinter's Shredder history, I don't know what the point of him knowing as much as he does about The Foot in this film is.
The Turtles aren't just pet-turtles that got dropped into the sewer and exposed to mutagen, they were raised in a lab alongside Splinter, having been exposed to the mutagen by April's father.
This means that Splinter had to learn Ninjutsu from a book that was dropped into the sewers, instead of having mastered it prior to becoming somewhat human-sized.
What was the point of that, anyways? Yeah, you can make the Turtles lab-experiments. That makes some kind of sense. But Splinter's whole origin is inextricably tied to Oruku Saki, you can't just remove something like that without making something look kinda stupid.
Speaking of stupid, the voices. Splinter is voiced by Tony Shalhoub, who I really like. But the voice he uses for Splinter doesn't sound anything like any of the other Splinter's.
That's not the only issue with the voices. The Turtles themselves don't always sound right. Raph and Mikey's actors are the only ones I noticed were able to consistently keep their voices similar to previous actors.
Leo wavers back and forth, sometimes sounding like his '03 counterpart, sometimes not. And Donny hardly sounds like he should.
I hypothesized that, since this movie is a Platinum Dunes/Nickelodeon Pictures co-production, that maybe they were using the voice-actors from the 2012 Nick CGI series, but that's not the case.
Quick note about the TV series, they have two former Raph actors voicing other characters in that series.
And that leads me to this criticism. Younger fans of the current TV show will be left wondering why the characters sound different in this movie, let alone why they look so much different.
Just like I was when I saw the '07 movie. While some of the voices sounded similar, there were enough subtle differences that my ear for sound was able to tell that they weren't the same.
Hell, even fans that have less interest in the film-making process or the behind-the-scenes will probably wonder why these guys don't sound like The Turtles are supposed to.
My favorite series are the live-action movies and the 2003 TV series, so of course I wouldn't be entirely pleased unless Mike Sinterniklaas was playing Leo, Sam Riegel was Donny, Frank Frankson was Raph, Wayne Grayson was Mikey, Darren Dunstan was Splinter, and Scottie Ray was Shredder.
Hell, I'd settle for the cast of the 2007 movie.
That's not to say this new cast is bad. Far from it. They do manage to capture the personalities of the Turtles without over-doing it. My main complaint is Tony Shalhoub's Splinter, as I said before. He doesn't sound anything like any of the Splinter's I've ever heard, and as such, sticks out like a sore thumb.
Speaking of which, the new designs. I don't hate all of the new designs, but Splinter doesn't look his best here. Yeah, the Turtles look a little over-muscled and a little too big, but they look distinct, and they don't look bad.
And this brings me to The Shredder.
Oruku Saki is essentially Iron Man without the flight capabilities. The Shredder outfit is a mechanically powered suit with a lot of weapons. Yeah, it diminishes how threatening Shredder actually is, since usually Shredder has nothing but armor on, and he's still a force to be reckoned with. But I love this suit. It's glitzy and flashy, and it's a little garish, but it looks awesome.
Yes, a more tactical suit in the second movie would look cool too. But this serves its purpose as an awesome-looking suit that can stand toe-to-toe with the Turtles and come out on top, especially since they've made the Turtles super-strong.
By the way, despite The Shredder speaking a ton of English in every single appearance, he primarily speaks Japanese here. I'm not sure why. Yeah, he's supposed to be Japanese in pretty much every appearance, but he's also a crime boss in the United States.
And yes, he does speak English in this movie, but he's also got very few lines, he doesn't gloat, and he doesn't have the right kind of charisma that Shredder is supposed to have.
In fact, the main villain is't even really Shredder, it's an original character.
The weird thing is that in the original version of the script, that original character was supposed to actually be Oruku Saki, but for some reason they changed it. I don't know why, because that seems like something that would make sense. That character even killed someone who Splinter could have feasibly looked up to.
All they'd need to do is make April's father some sort of martial-arts enthusiast, and have his dojo next to the lab that Splinter and the Turtles were housed in, and that would solve all the problems with the plot. It reinstates Splinter's ties to Shredder as a plot-point, and means that they don't need to hand-wave why Splinter knows martial-arts.
Hell, to top it off, make April's father's first name Josh and make him part Japanese and you'd have the entire origin down pat.
The good thing is that they never actually identified the character of Shredder as Oruku Saki, so they might be able to still have that original character become the new Shredder eventually.
Probably not in the next film, since it looks like they've already cast the new Shredder for TMNT: Half Shell, and that original character isn't going to get any kind of payoff on that angle.
So, while it seems like they had a couple of last-minute rewrites and re-casts, the movie itself is solid, and it's well worth the hour and forty-minute runtime.
As with all the Turtles media, the movie is a hodgepodge of concepts from other Turtles media and original ideas. Some things make a little more sense than others, and some don't make sense at all.
The good thing is that I pretty much got what I expected out of a Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movie. There are a lot of good moments, great-action, and some good story to behold.
While the story has been changed a bit to make April a little more involved in the Turtles' back-story than she has been before, she was always a big part of the Turtles franchise, and she was always useful to the plot.
Sam Witwicky was an original character with an established family name who was useful for a total of one film and then lost all character as time went on. Since April has history as a character, then could mean that she's got less of a chance of having her character ruined.
All in all, while the movie has some small issues, most of which have to do with the weird production history of the film, it's still a fun movie. The Turtles are pretty faithful to their established personalities, Megan Fox actually proved she can act and be funny without making me cringe, and everything manages to keep a decent pace.
I give the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot a 9.8* rating.

Image from

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Splatoon infographic

So I woke up this morning, checked my eMail, and found this Infographic from Nintendo waiting in my inbox. It details some features of the upcoming Wii U game, Splatoon.
I wish I could say I was excited, but I don't have a Wii U, and I'm unlikely to get a game for a system I don't have.
That doesn't stop you guys from being excited, though! What do you think? Are you looking forward to Splatoon? Why?
Got any complaints about the lack of online voice-chat?
Let us know down in the comments!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

So, Mockingjay. The last book in the Hunger Games series has been made into two movies.
It finally happened. Lionsgate finally figured out that there's not enough room in one film for all of the detail, character development and intensity of The Hunger Games.
Unfortunately, they haven't taken a page out of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy and decided to turn this into three movies, because apparently there wasn't enough space in two movies to tell the story of Mockingjay unabridged.
It's not as badly butchered as The Hunger Games was, but it's still had obvious bits chopped out of it. My memory of the Mockingjay novel isn't as clear as my memory of The Hunger Games was when I reviewed its movie adaptation, but I'll do my best.
My first criticism of the movie is this poster. The imagery of Katniss with the flames and silver wings behind her is cool looking, but all they did was edit Jennifer Lawrence in front of the original poster, and they didn't even bother removing the birds beak.
Fans of Agents of Shield might notice that Katniss's Mockingjay suit looks a lot like Melinda May's outfit. Also, since this poster is in high-definition, you might also be able to tell that all of Katniss's arrows are all fletched black, like her normal arrows are in the film.
When Katniss puts on this suit in the movie, she's never seen without some yellow and red arrows in addition to her regular black ones. The only time she's seen with a quiver of all black-arrows is one time when she's hunting. And that time she was hunting, she wasn't wearing this outfit.
And that brings me to another issue. Katniss only has around nine arrows in her quiver. Three regular, with three incendiary, and three explosive arrows. And that's all the weapons she's shown having in the film.
As far as the audience knows, she's only got a single quiver of arrows, without any refills, without any backup weapons, and therefore under-prepared.
Katniss's primary strength is her ability to go unseen and unheard, and survive to fight another day. And even though her main purpose as The Mockingjay is to be the poster child for the rebellion, she's still a target for The Capitol. And as such, needs the ability to defend herself in any situation.
In the novel, it was explained that she had weapons hidden all over the suit, along with light-weight armor plating around the suit, with extra reinforcements to protect her vital organs.
Something else they cut out was the fact that Cinna, the guy who designed the suit, had included a suicide pill in the collar of the suit in case Katniss was ever caught and tied up by Capitol operatives, and rescue was impossible.
And since she's a stealth operative, it doesn't make any sense why she's only got three arrows that don't blow up, or spurt fire all over the place, both of which will reveal your location. And we know that the explosive arrows are pretty powerful, since the one scene from the trailer that everyone remembers is where she shoots down a Capitol gunship with a single explosive arrow.
I know where this plot-hole originated. In the book, Katniss had a lot more arrows at her disposal, and she also had a system for recognizing what arrows she's looking for. I had originally thought that she had a voice-activated arrow-dispenser that gave her whichever of the three types she asked for, but I'm not sure where that idea came from, since upon re-reading the book, I didn't find anything that even resembled that.
They also left out Katniss's combat helmet, as well as certain suit details from the book, but that's a bit of a nitpick.
Now, let's talk effects. They've obviously got more to spend on effects than they did in the first movie, since they spend a bit of time showing it off. While the budget is slightly smaller than that of Catching Fire, they do manage to keep the effects looking good. While I think they might have been better off with a few hundred-million more in funding, they did well with what they had.
Anyways, I might as well tell you guys what's been cut.
Most of the evidence of District 13's tight-fisted totalitarian management has been removed, along with most evidence of their bigoted attitudes and manipulative schemes. I say most, because there are some bits and pieces left of 13's evil left. But as far as I can tell, most of their evil intentions and actions have been erased. We'll have to see how Mockingjay Part 2 turns out before judging to what extent Lionsgate has whitewashed the plot. And let me just say that if they keep this up, they're looking to ruin the whole point of Mockingjay's ending.
If you'll think back to the first movie, then you'll remember that Peeta's parents were all but cut from that film. And even though they're implied to be dead in this film, the fact that they were complete non-entities in the last two movies means that their deaths are utterly pointless in this movie.
The good thing is that the display of all of the dead spread out on the road in District 12 is still a sickening sight. Unfortunately it lost some of the impact it could have had if they'd developed (Or just included) a few more characters that were killed. I remember how I felt when I first read that District 12 had been leveled. I remember exactly how I felt when I found out who all was among the dead. It was hard to read.
And again, while I do really like this scene, I feel that if they'd done a little more character development in the first movie, instead of rushing to get to the titular Hunger Games, then this whole sequence would have had an even better impact.
A lot of scenes with Gale have been cut, or shortened, as they were in the last two movies. And at this point, I know I've been banging on about this in my reviews of the last two movies, but shifting from Katniss's perspective, without any voice-over from Jennifer Lawrence to fill the gaps means that a lot of the character the made the books interesting is just lost.
At least they're not doing what they did in the first movie and having the sports commentators tell you what's going on, because that seriously broke flow.
The good thing is that there aren't a whole lot of cuts away from Katniss to what other people are doing. The one that I really hated was left in the deleted scenes, fortunately.
Just to make a quick note, I don't totally dislike the idea of cutting away from Katniss's point of view. It can be very effective if used correctly. I'll get to that in a minute.
If you'll think back to last year, you'll remember Philip Seymour Hoffman died nine months before the release of this movie. Fortunately, all of his scenes in this movie were recorded before his death, and most of his scenes in Mockingjay Part 2 were finished by the time he died. Time will only tell if his death negatively affected the quality of the last film in the series.
One of the only cutaways from Katniss's perspective in the movie is to a scene with Hoffman's character, Plutarch Heavensbee talking with a pair of other characters about the propaganda shorts they recorded. And for what it's worth, that's not a bad scene. Especially since it's one of the few scenes that actually illustrates the manipulative motives of the operators of District 13.
I remember that most of the cutaway scenes from Catching Fire were to Heavensbee making deals with President Snow, which helped illustrate what District 13 was up to, and how little they really cared about their own people.
As always, I'm sure that this movie could do with an extended cut. Unfortunately there's no way they could shoot more footage after the fact with Heavensbee, since Hoffman's dead.
And unless I'm remembering incorrectly, I believe that there were a few action scenes cut or shortened.
Now, let's talk about one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
While Katniss and her camera crew are showing the Districts what The Capitol did to District 12, Gale tells them a story about the evacuation. About how after the feed from the arena was cut, they saw Capitol bombers inbound, and he rounded up as many people as he could to break down the fence, and flee to the woods.
Some of the residents of District 12 decided to go a different route, and after Gale got all of his people into the woods, the bombers let loose, blasting buildings to rubble. And then they doubled back, and bombed the road. And then they pan over to the burned and blackened corpses.
After that, they stop for a break by a lake, and at the urging of the camera-man Katniss sings a song to the Mockingjays that was a continuing feature of the books, "Hanging Tree"
My first comment has to be that Jennifer Lawrence sounds amazing. Her voice lends a great deal to that song, which hit at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
That song becomes the anthem of the rebellion, and after they show a few scenes from the completed short of Katniss and her crew walking through the ruins of District 12, they cut to a rainy night in District 5, with the rebels marching through the darkness, while singing Hanging Tree, and charging the Capitol guards.
This scene is powerful, and is one of the best pieces of the entire film.
Speaking of which, the propo short they filmed in District 8 was an awesome short. If they didn't use that as a trailer for the movie itself, then they should have!
The level of emotion and power that Jennifer Lawrence can convey in a scene like that is part of what makes this movie good. The fact that she can bring across both the anger and frustration of Katniss, and then shift right to spent, weary sorrow in the same scene is why she's able to pull off the role. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of Katniss's thunderous personality in the first movie, and it's good to see both Catching Fire and Mockingjay making up for that. The fact that they're willing to show her weakened and injured means that they've finally realized what made Katniss a great character. The fact that she took a ton of abuse, survived even the harshest of situations, and was able to come back and keep going. That she could find a spark of defiance even after being put through the wringer.
And when she came back, she came back a changed person. Not the same as when she started.
I might as well make this clear, I'm putting all of the blame for the failure of the first movie to capture the personalities of the characters on the shoulders of the film-makers. The actors are all great, and they put on great performances in this film and Catching Fire.
For instance, Josh Hutcherson was great in the few scenes he had as Peeta. His performance really captured the essence of how those sections of the book went.
And while Sam Claflin wasn't given a whole lot of screen-time in the film, what he had was excellent. When Finnick is telling the districts about what Snow forced him to do, and how he got the Capitol back for it, I could have sworn the words were leaping right off the pages and making that scene.
There's a lot to like about this movie, but it does have some issues.
All in all, I don't necessarily think this was a bad movie. It's got a lot of good moments, but it's a little too short, and it doesn't have the same density of awesome that Catching Fire did.
In the end though, I'll give it an 8.0* rating. I might wind up going back and updating Catching Fire's rating at some point, but don't hold your breath.

Image from

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Well, The Hobbit saga concluded last December, and guess who watched it this weekend?
I'd have reviewed it earlier, but I was fiftieth in line to get the DVD at the library.
This film was originally subtitled There, and Back Again, one of the many, many subtitles that the original novel had. It made sense at first, because the other Hobbit movies used the subtitles of the novel to differentiate themselves from each other. But they decided that it didn't make a whole lot of sense, because it didn't represent the core theme of the film.
Unlike The Desolation of Smaug, Battle of the Five Armies starts off right from where the last film left off. So if you're planning to watch it, you might want to rewatch An Unexpected Journey, and The Desolation of Smaug right before this, since there's no recap at the beginning.
So, let's go ahead and get this out of the way. I'm a fan of the original novel. I love it to death. And I love this trilogy. I was a little iffy at first about splitting it into three films, since the book is about as big as a single Lord of the Rings novel, and each of those books was made into a single film each.
But they've managed to handle the expansion very well, fleshing out the story, and expanding the world.
I make a lot of fuss about pacing in movies and games, and this trilogy has paced itself out very well.
That's something that comes from producing all three movies back to back, like they did with The Lord of the Rings. Everything flows very naturally from one movie to another, with no inconsistencies between films in character portrayal or special effects.
Speaking of the effects, they're still great. They look good, and above all, they look consistent.
There's one little effects failure, where Bilbo's sword, Sting, doesn't glow when Orcs are near. But it's only in one scene, and it's fixed immediately afterwards. Aside from that, I didn't think anything was out of place.
Everything blends together naturally. Even scenes that you'd think would have to be entirely CGI look like they're taken right from Middle-Earth. For instance, the battle against Smaug looks like it would have to be a complex piece of computer animation, since a lot of it is Smaug running around, smashing things.
And when the titular battle of the five armies comes around, the sheer multitude of soldiers begs the question. Did they generate all of them with computers, or are they all people? I'd love to know.
Anyways, the issue with reviewing a film like this is that I don't know what all to say about it. What can be said about the visuals I've already said. And I don't want to ruin the film for others who haven't seen it.
Okay, the acting is excellent all around. From Martin Freeman's Bilbo, to Ian McKellen's Gandalf, to even Benedict Cumberbatch's short appearance as Smaug, to his stellar performance as The Necromancer, and beyond, the cast and direction are great. I don't think you could ask for any better casting or production on this trilogy. It's simply astounding.
Speaking of astounding, I would have sworn that the guy playing Bard The Bowman was Orlando Bloom, but he's actually played by Luke Evans (No relation to Chris Evans) who looks just like Orlando Bloom did in The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. As I'd never seen the original Lord of the Rings movies, nor looked into the cast, I didn't know that Orlando Bloom actually plays a different role in The Hobbit, that of Legolas Greenleaf.
As the movie went on, I kept wishing for it not to end. The Hobbit saga has been an enchanting experience, and I loved every single second of it. If you want to spend a day watching all three Hobbit movies, then it's one of the best things you could ask to spend eight hours on. Or nine hours if you're watching the extended cuts.
The Hobbit movies have raked in a good three-to-five times their budget in revenue, at about a billion dollars each. This particular movie was the second highest-grossing film of 2014, a scant $45 million or so behind one of my other favorites of 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction.
The fact that this movie managed to spend three weeks straight at number one and rack up enough money to cover its $250 million budget in twelve days is a testament to its status as part of one of the biggest media franchises of all time, and one of the best movie series of the entire decade, if not the century.
Now, I might as well talk about something that I've heard some people complain about. An original character named Tauriel.
Some people didn't like the fact that she was added to the film. I don't know how many people didn't, but I don't agree with them, I like her. And her relationship with Kili was one of my favorite parts of both this movie, and The Desolation of Smaug.
The added scenes with Gandalf were also a welcome addition, because I remember him simply vanishing for a while in the book with absolutely no explanation. And from what I've read, most of the material for the original scenes was taken from a companion book that Tolkien wrote, and additional bits and pieces mentioned in the other Lord of the Rings books that were just kinda there to explain why things happened the way they did in The Hobbit.
To the best of my understanding, a lot of that had been cut from the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it made sense to include it where it actually fits into Middle-Earth continuity. Always better to show something happening, rather than having to explain it in an exposition dump. Better to just not explain it than to have the characters waste ten minutes of the audience's time figuring out what the hell's going on.
And if you choose to do the latter, remember that you're depriving the audience of a good scene, boring them out of their minds for a few minutes, potentially raising troubling questions about the plot, and breaking down a movies pacing. Even if you have to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of pacing, you should always go for the best pacing you can.
Even if you need to make the movie super-long, or even make it into multiple smaller movies, the pacing is paramount to keeping the movie interesting.
All in all, this movie hits all the good buttons on the cinema machine, and pretty much none of the bad buttons. I give it a 10.1* rating.
I'll see you guys next week with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Legend of Zelda

So, after one thing and then another, week after week, I wound up deciding I needed some time off. I've only been doing the bare minimum of work for these last two weeks, letting myself get back in the Let's Playing mood.
Since I needed an article out this week, I figured I might as well review the game that I've been playing almost non-stop since I got it, the original Legend of Zelda.
While I've owned the original NES version, as well as the GameCube re-release for a while, I've never managed to beat it. But since Club Nintendo was offering it as part of their last round of rewards, and they didn't have much else I wanted, I figured I might as well get it.
Before I talk about the game itself, I might as well get this out of the way. I know that a lot of Virtual Console ports have a bad reputation for slowing down, introducing graphical issues and other glitches not present in the original version of the game, and for being relatively over-priced.
Not to mention the fact that the selection isn't exactly great. Milon's Secret Castle can see a re-release, but not Final Fantasy II, III or V.
Criticism of eShop pricing and selection aside, this port does have a few issues. As far as I can tell they're limited to a few sprite-flickering issues when a load of enemies are on-screen. And coupled with that usually comes slowdown. As someone who's extensively played the original Zelda, I don't remember noticing anything like that on the NES.
Now, let's go ahead and talk about the game itself.
Everyone remembers the first Zelda game they played. For me, it was the original on NES.
My NES was a gift from my grandmother. I still remember unpacking it, and seeing that gold cartridge.
Up until then, the only system I had ever played on was the SNES, and the only games I'd ever played were platformers, like Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country.
And a top-down fantasy game like The Legend of Zelda intrigued me. I used to spend so much time roaming around, looking for secrets, and fighting enemies with my sword.
And when I stumbled upon the first dungeon, I was a little freaked out by the music at first. But I roamed around, finding all the rooms I could, and stocking up on items.
When beating the boss rewarded me with another heart-container, I was surprised. Throughout all of Super Mario World you could only take two hits, and then you were dead. But this rewarded you beyond just unlocking a new area to explore. You got items, and extra health, and upgrades for existing items.
But unfortunately, the NES got packed away, and I stopped playing videogames for a while.
Later on, after I'd played Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask The Adventure of Link, and A Link To The Past, we got the NES back out, and I played it extensively. Multiple times, because the battery seems to be dying, and my progress was erased several times. I never beat it, though.
That's changed now, though. I know I promised an LP, which you'll get in the future, but it'll be the second quest.
So, the original Zelda is one of the most iconic games of all time. It defined a genre of gaming, it influenced gamers more than most titles could ever hope to. And it ripped off a game that hardly anyone has heard of, much less liked.
A game called Hydlide. Fans of the Angry Videogame Nerd or ProJared will have heard of Hydlide, an action-adventure game which pre-dated The Legend of Zelda by two years. It had an uncreative loop of the Indiana Jones theme-song as its sole source of music, the screen juttered when you moved around the map, and the game is full of small glitches.
Honestly, calling Zelda a ripoff of Hydlide is something that doesn't really work. Zelda is so far removed from Hydlide in concept and production (Considering that it was produced in concurrence with Super Mario Bros, which was released in 1995, which means that they spent longer on Zelda than T&E soft did on Hydlide.) that I doubt that much was even borrowed from Hydlide.
The Legend of Zelda was a revolutionary title, using extra space on Famicom floppies (For the newly released Famicom Disc System) to save the game, rather than a complicated password system, the way Hydlide did.
In addition, they made use of 128 kilobyte floppies, because the same size ROM cartridge would be pretty expensive to produce. It's amazing what used to be large and expensive. When we have 50GB blu-rays, 4TB hard-drives, and 32GBs of RAM at our disposal, and 128 kilobytes was pushing the limit!
They also made use of the extra sound channels provided by the Famicom Disc System for sound-effects, and made use of the second-player microphone as a method of killing the Pols Voice, a huge-eared rat-creature that populated later dungeons.
It's too bad they didn't include this as a way to kill them in the 3DS version, since the 3DS has a microphone. I wonder if they preserved that method in the Japanese version...
Since the Famicom Disc System was never given an international counterpart, all versions of the game released outside Japan (as well as the later release of the cartridge version in Japan) had to use the MMC1 chip, which allowed the game to switch between ROM banks, as well as allowing for use of battery-backed RAM to save the game.
The original Zelda was revolutionary in more ways that one, becoming a game that proved to the world that games could be epic adventures in exploration and puzzle-solving to a public that considered them toys.
The title-screen is one of the most famous of all time. The waterfall, the music. That music, destined to become one of the most iconic themes in all of gaming.
And when you start the game, that theme keeps playing. That very theme that's become the embodiment of adventure, and wonder.
The adventure begins in a field, with four ways you can go. Go into a cave, and an old man gives you a wooden sword, telling you that it's dangerous to go out alone.
Waxing poetic and nostalgia aside, there are some issues with the mechanics. Some of which are probably just issues with the lack of memory space for player data, rather than programming issues.
For instance, when you die in the overworld, no matter where you are, you go back to the beginning of the game. You start out with three hearts in your meter, no matter how many heart containers you've collected.
And if you die in a dungeon, you start in the first room of that dungeon with three hearts, no matter how many containers you've collected.
This wouldn't be so big an issue if fairy-fountains were a little more wide-spread, but there only exists two of them in the entire game. And odds are that you'll be too far from either of them to make the journey worth it.
This is easily overcome in the 3DS version through use of manually-created restore-points. Unfortunately, the process by which you pause the game, create a new restore point, confirm that you want to erase the last restore-point, exit the confirmation, and get back to the game.
And then when you die (Or in my case, take any damage whatsoever, because I can't stand not having the sword-beams) you have to pause the game, load the state, confirm that you want to load it, exit the confirmation screen, and then unpause the game.
It's tedious, but it gets the job done.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that it is still a great game, it hasn't held up as well as A Link To the Past did. But fortunately it still holds up better than Zelda 2 does.
Graphically, it looks pretty good. Some things do look better than others. For instance, the Zora's, the Darknut's, and Octoroks look a lot better than Link does.
But Link only looks weird up-close. From a distance, he looks fine. The fact that they managed to pack in a decent bit of detail into him, and into the other sprites in the game for NES sprites.
Unfortunately, the same courtesy can't quite be extended to the level design. All of the dungeons are mostly populated by open rooms, and rooms with two blocks in the center of them, or rooms with diamonds made out of blocks in the middle, or blocks arranged in diagonal lines.
The overworld has much more creative design, with hedges, rocks, trees, and lakes populating it. 
Not that I dislike the dungeons. The first few, and the last couple are pretty good, but the ones in the middle are a little over-populated with samey-rooms populated with Darknuts.
And the others are populated by Wizrobes.
The good thing about most of those rooms is that you can hide in the doorway, safe from damage, but unable to attack. I don't know if that's a glitch or not, but it helped me out to no end. Being able to avoid damage like that meant that I was able to clear rooms a lot faster than I would have been able to had I not known about that ability.
And the funny thing is that I discovered this without even looking it up on the internet. I've never even heard about this little thing with the door in all my time on the internet, in all my years as the Zelda fan.
Some of the bosses are repeated, and some of them are kinda easy. I actually beat Manhandla accidentally, having forgotten to assign the bow-and-arrow to the B button, and wound up chucking a bomb at it, and killing Manhandla in a single hit.
For some reason this didn't work for the mini-boss versions, but the fact that I beat the boss with a single bomb was kinda funny.

But for me, I think the final boss, Ganon was the most disappointing. For being one of the best dungeons, Level 9 lacked a great boss. You gotta run about and attempt to hit Ganon with your sword and then tap him in the head with the silver arrows. There's no real strategy to it. You just gotta stand in one place and keep hitting the A button until you hit Ganon with your sword.
Once you beat Ganon, you meet up with Zelda, and the credits play.
Then you've got the second quest.
The second quest is an arrange-mode created because they didn't wind up using all the space they had on the disc.
Any other company might have released that as another game. Nowadays it'd probably be DLC, but Nintendo added it on as an unlockable bonus if you beat the game.
And that's what more companies need to do. Less DLC, and more unlockables.
Rule of thumb. If you can include it in the base product, you should. You want to add more costumes for characters? Add it in as an unlockable. You want to add more characters or quests? Unlockable. Got extra space on the disc once you finish the main game? Add in unlockable concept-art, extra little bits and pieces of content that makes the customer happy. The kinds of things that will ship more copies of the game, and make people come back to you for more. You'll make more money in the long-run, because people will be more likely to buy your games new.
Anyways, I've never played the second quest, but I've heard it's pretty good. I do have to save something for the Let's Play, don't I?
All in all, even with the issues I have with The Legend of Zelda, I still like it. And if you're hesitating getting it from Club Nintendo, you should jump on it before they shut the website down, if you have 200 coins left in your account.
I give it, this classic game that almost everyone loves and has fond memories of....
See you next week!