I wrote a little while ago about the storytelling of the Legend of Zelda games, flushed with excitement for the then-forthcoming latest instalment ‘Breath of the Wild’. Well, that came out five weeks ago now, and I’m still playing it. As anyone who’s glanced at a video games review site recently will know, it’s very, very good. At some point I’ll write something about the archaeology of Breath of the Wild, which I find fascinating, but for now I want to bring all this Zelda talk a bit closer to the day job and talk about writing systems.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the Zelda series has always placed game mechanics and fun over world-building and internal consistency. It’s largely eschewed the reams of invented lore that populate the bookshelves of other fantasy games, and it’s certainly not the kind of series that would bother itself with Tolkien-esque invention of fictional language. But, perhaps curiously, it has been very willing to experiment with inventing writing systems, and in true Zelda style there’s little consistency from one game to the next, which means it offers us some remarkable diversity. Continue reading
It’s time for another under-appreciated ancient monster from antiquity – or rather multiple monsters – because today we’re looking at the Devourers (ʾaklm), demons from Ugaritian mythology who faced off against Baʿal Hadad, the storm-god and patron deity of the city. Unfortunately no pictures of the Devourers exist, so I’ve had to make do with this image of Baʿal himself, on a stele from Ugarit and now in the Louvre.
There’s a new Legend of Zelda game out next week. Those of you who don’t follow video games may wonder why that’s a big deal. The short answer is that the Zelda games are generally excellent and that, in an industry where publishers often pump out new iterations to major franchises at a rate of one or more a year, the last main Zelda game came out six years ago. I’m not going to write here about what makes the Zelda games so good – many others have done that much better than I could (this is a good account of the origins of the series, and these YouTube videos are an excellent exploration of its design choices). Instead I want to talk a bit about how the series uses time, history and myth. Continue reading
KTU 1.96. From Del Olmo Lete 2010
Everyone knows the Minotaur or the Cyclops, or the various strange creatures of ancient Egypt. In this occasional series I’m going to shine the spotlight on some of the other mythological nasties of antiquity, who are just as cool in their own ways but don’t get nearly enough love.
Today, The Sucker, or ‘Old Big-Eye’.