Saturday, September 22, 2012

Villain Analysis: Ganondorf (TP) vs Demise

Oh boy, it's time for a follow-up article! Now, if you've been around long enough, you'll remember I did a little page wherein I compared the right-hands-of-evils of two Legend of Zelda games: Zant of Twilight Princess and Ghirahim of Skyward Sword. That mostly turned into me ranting about all the things I hated about Zant and gushing about Ghirahim since they fill the same roles in the game but the execution of one was vastly superior to the other. Here, I'll bet there's gonna be a bit more neutrality since I like both these bosses, and I just felt like posting more, and a follow-up felt in order, and because I like run-on sentences.

So let's begin. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a little more spoilerific this time around since it's comparing two surprise bosses, one of which is old enough that you should know and the other being one that we, as a channel, have finished the game. In the first corner, we have Ganondorf, another go at the face of Zelda Big Bads, escaped from his prison in the Mirror of Twilight he has given his power to Zant until such a time he has regained his strength and form. In the other corner we have Demise, the most bloodthirsty, malicious motherfucker ever to inhabit the Zelda universe. He's so damn evil, apparently all Zelda evil is only evil because of him.

Let's talk about Ganondorf. As we have said before and said again a thousand times, he totally stole the villain-seat out from under Zant's feet. Now, I made a mistake last time and said we meet Ganondorf's big ethereal, flaming head moments before we fight Zant and we get a back story of the usurper. That wasn't right, but it was still weird, especially since when we actually first meet him, at his goddamn execution, he's totally corporeal. And not to mention a total badass.

Did you see what I saw? About him getting stabbed in the chest with a sword made of light, but then being so powerful he just gets the Triforce of Powerful Powerness, breaking his chain and killing a guy with his FACE? Bad. Ass. Anyhow, this also shows him in more of a beast-like light, which comes back later, so, good on you, cut-scene director. Anyhow II, the Sages then kinda have to scramble and just dump him into the Mirror for lack of a better plan. We don't see much of Ganondorf until we finally make the charge at the man himself, so let's move on.

So we meet Demise early on, we just don't know it until much later in the game. He's actually been sealed away by the goddess and it isn't until we accidentally weaken the seal that he escapes, though in a much more grotesque form, The Imprisoned.
He's a boss/miniboss we have to fight a bunch'a times and reseal him after each one. Eventually it is explained that The Imprisoned is, in fact, Demise, this super-evil, kill-em-all-ask-questions-later monster that we can't just leave under this weak seal anymore. So we get everything we need to wipe him off the face of Hyrule. Ghirahim, fabulous as he is, doesn't stand for it and goes back in time to when he still exists to perform the ritual he's been trying to all game and does successfully revive him at the cost of Zelda's life/spirit.

Let's talk about the fights now. Before, it's mostly been set-up so I promise there's a comparison coming. Ganondorf has bit of classic thing going on with a multiple-stage fight, the first of which is POSSESSING ZELDA AND PLAYING DEAD MAN'S VOLLEY. This fight isn't so much difficult as it is INTENSE, in case my all caps description didn't convey that point. After that doesn't work, he comes at you in the shape of a giant boar called Beast Ganon (oh, hey look at that, I said something about that earlier). After a few rounds of shooting him in the face with your bow, he wises up to you and starts warping as he's charging, and man, the first time I played this game, it threw me way off and I almost died. Midna suggests we go toe-to-toe and fight this guy beast-to-beast. She helps you take him on and you promptly maul his ginormous weak-spot when he's down. He's not happy about it. When it look like you've taken him down, his ethereal form shows up again but Midna warps you and Zelda the hell out of there and she takes him on alone. It apparently doesn't go well since moments after that he appears with Midna's helmet in his hand, and crunches it, conveying his brute strength over Midna's magic. Then comes the jankiest part of this fight, horseback riding. It's awesome enough, especially since horseback riding is something TP tried to emphasize. It's actually pretty tricky, we don't get much jousting, it's more you chasing him. You've gotta lock onto him while Zelda shoots him with Light Arrows, and she's a terrible shot, while the big man is throwing, like, spirits or something at you. You're gonna get hit and it's gonna hurt. Anyhow, Light arrows stun him, so get alongside him and slash him, just a few will do. Then comes the epic, ultimate showdown. A circle barrier is put up and it's just you and him. Oh, and did I mention he's fighting you with the SAME FUCKING LIGHT SWORD THE SAGES STUCK IN HIM?!
The key points here involve locking swords with him, knocking him back and slashing. He's finished off with a finishing blow, fittingly, and though he gets back up, he's killed off by some resentful feelings from Zant? It's not conveyed well.

Demise, the first goddamn thing he does is turn Ghirahim back into a sword, which looks like it hurts like hell. He is this Hulk of a dude with big, scaly arms reflecting the appearance of The Imprisoned and he's got gigantic, flaming-red, flowing-like-flames hair. It's crazy-intimidating, especially after all that time he spent as The Imprisoned. Then he speaks and his text is all red in a dark speech bubble. I'd just like to say this made me shudder since it jars you off of what his been typical of every other character in the game, even Ghirahim, AND expresses the character's bloodlust at the same time. Just thinking about it makes my insides jump around. In a good way.
Furthermore, he's so confident in his strength he sets up this, like, pocket dimension for the sole purpose for being a place where you two can fight uninterrupted. Oh, and in his pocket dimension, you cannot use Skyward Strikes, an element of the game that has established as vitally important, and can be craftily used against various enemies, as well as a gift from the goddess, so, no Skyward Strikes makes the fight feel even more isolated. As for his fight, it's fairly straight-forward. Unlike Ganondorf, he's got one stage that'll escalate after a point. It's a one-on-one sword fight. You need to block his strikes, he's gonna block yours. After a few slashes, Demise gets pissed and starts letting his sword get hit by lightning and imbuing it with electric power that will hurt you if you try and attack him wildly. you can, however, DO THE SAME THING, and if you hit him with a Lightning Strike, it'll stun him and how can hack 'n' slash him like crazy. Once you knock him down, he is also taken down with a finishing blow, (though if you're slow, he'll roll out of the way) and fades away, but not before cursing you and everything about you and promising that everything evil that ever happens ever is bits of him bleeding out into the real world again.

What both of these bosses have in spades is tone. Even though the final stage of Ganondorf is not all that difficult, it establishes an impressive feeling of finality to the fight and hatred for Ganondorf that really engages you. I mean, listen to this music!:

And in case my freaking out about my description of Demise didn't establish it, the same goes for him.
But now I have to think about what makes one better than the other. It's tough, but for one, Demise gets a leg up because of better second-in-command. Not even counting all the awful things I have to say about Zant, it's just a matter of how Demise is established as existing as early the same goddamn minute you hit New Game and Ghirahim is constantly on about his main objective. Zant was a greedy usurper who we don't know has mysterious non-Twili powers given to him by his god until three dungeons in and even then, the fact is Ganondorf just shows up as the final boss as if to say, "Who else could it possibly be?" Demise gets another point for having the better tone, not to rag on Ganondorf's but for Demise, he's just got more power, more fear, more at stake in his fight. That's ultimately the whole case for Demise and why I think he edges out Ganondorf on this one; it's not by much, so let that stand as a point as opposed to my last one where I just ripped Zant a new one the whole time. Ganondorf has more variation in his long battle, eventually coming down to what was the only thing Demise had, and actually a lot of it runs on nostalgia power, but because the stakes for Demise are raised so high having them established and expanded throughout the game is what gives him the Blue Ribbon of Baddies this time around.

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