Which came first, the Spider Boss or the RPG?
Since this blog is dedicated to all facets of nerdom and fangirldom, let’s branch out of fantasy novels and talk about something entirely different.
Fantasy video games.
Cover your eyes for a sec. Covered? OK, I have a confession. I’ve never played a Zelda game before. Until last night, when I booted up the N64 version on my DS. *Uncover eyes.*
So I’m playing Zelda, and it’s of course amazing. But the very first set of dungeons and boss battle result in none other than GIANT EFFING SPIDERS. To quote Ron Weasley, “Follow the spiders? Why can’t it be follow the butterflies?!”
But think about it — giant killer butterfly? It would lure you in like, “Oh I am so pretty and gentle. I am the Mother Theresa of insects.” Then … WHA-BAM. You are dead, which in a video game somehow means you actually die, while all of the monsters around you can regen. (More on that in a separate rant-style post.)
The thing is, Zelda was probably one of the first, or at least not the last, video games to have this go-to dungeon boss monster. And it’s true for books, too. Villains become uniform, and soon you’re reading about Voldemort who’s just renamed Moldevort, and is literally just SO different. Right. Once someone establishes a great villain or creature, you see it everywhere.
Think of “real” fantasy creatures: werewolves, vampires, wizards, fae, wyverns, dragons. We all accept these as real in a fantasy world, but why do we use the same ones? I think there’s a sense of familiarity with these common species. The same goes with villains. We all understand the villain who wants power, money, dominion, immortality, etc.
It’s almost impossible to give a villain a goal that doesn’t lump itself into one of those categories, and it really goes back to human nature. Those are all ambitions we are tempted, and sometimes controlled, by.
There’s a theory that there are less than 30 plots in the entire world of literature. In a way, that’s true. Most stories involve a hero, a quest, a discovery, etc. That’s what makes them great.
The trick with writing is to make a common story unique by changing the way you accomplish that plot — and that villain’s motivation.
Zelda was never an original concept in its entirety, and though it’s an older game, its predecessors probably had similarities (obtain important items to save princess/world). The point is, it’s incredibly fleshed out with world-building, dialogue, imagery/visuals, music and more. Just like a great book.