My most anticipated game for SGDQ last week was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I haven’t played games since I was a kid, and while I still have them on the GameCube, I’ve found some audio problems with the console that I needed to fix before playing any of my childhood favorites again. the wanted. The SGDQ run was fairly straightforward, more about customizing levels and kicking ass than making complicated glitches or breaking the game, as other speedrunners often do, and it made my memories stronger than ever. got help. I love all standoffs, especially in GDQ, but watching the Linkus7 do a thousand inputs a second through a sea of Link’s ass-first The Wind Waker doesn’t really reflect how I played it.
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The Return of the King, run by Maxillobes, was very old-fashioned, and watching him race through the iconic levels brought back the game of my childhood. He finished the entire game in the amount of time it took kid-me to do a few levels, but it was enough to remind me just how good some of those movies were.
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The way Mylobs driven through Uruk-hai’s waves with Gandalf was spectacular, his shots with Legolas’ bow were pixel perfect, and Sauron’s dazzling forever eyeballs were exemplary. What do you expect from an SGDQ speedrunner? Even with all that was going on, the one thing that impressed me the most was Sam’s level, and especially his fight at Sirith Ungol.
Samvaiz Gamgi is the hero of Lord of the Rings. Anyone who has read the books, or just watched the movies knows this. Sure, Frodo carried the Ring, but Sam carried it (often literally). While Frodo received praise, and more importantly, the catharsis of putting demonic orbs into the fire of Mount Doom, Sam didn’t get that moment. Furthermore, Frodo soon travels to the Immortal Lands, leaving Sam alone in The Shire. He had his beloved Rosie, but he and Frodo had a common experience, a shared trauma, which he was never able to overcome. He was happy with Rosie – they had 13 children (don’t they have tails in The Shire?) – but it always seemed to me that he lacked that moment of catharsis that Frodo had when he destroyed the Ring. Do it, Aragorn when he ascended the throne, or Mira when he significantly stabbed the Witch King. This movie turns the tie-in game into Return of the King.
Sam contacts the single Sirith Ungol while attempting to rescue his best friend Frodo after being captured by the Orcs. In the books, the wretched hobbit sounds the alarm to evacuate the Orcs, and in the Jackson, Walsh, and Boynes trilogy he kills a handful of Orcs before accidentally starting a major fight in which he is no more. Doesn’t play a role, but in the video game he gains the ability to fight superhuman (Superhobbit?) and decides to take on Mordor’s armies alone.
Let me get one thing straight. It’s completely out of character for Sam, it undermines Tolkien’s ideas for the character, and it contradicts practically everything about Sam’s character. But sometimes the video game is in a video game, and Sam plowing through hordes of orcs just feels so satisfying.
Sam Sirith runs headfirst onto Ungol’s Tower, knocking down orcs with Sting in hand. After playing supporting character for so long, this time is in the headlines. He doesn’t have to be a fierce warrior like Boromir or tough like Aragon, but he is brave above all, and will do anything for his friend. Raising up Sirith Ungol’s Tower, hitting Orcs left, right, and center, isn’t Completely Out of character for Sam, even if it’s unrealistic and nothing like what Tolkien imagined for him. You also need to remember that this game is based on the movie rather than the book, so accuracy is hardly paramount.
As a player, pressing the attack button and firing giant ballists to take out bridges and rack up hundreds of kills is an immersive experience. It’s Sam’s hero moment, something he just doesn’t get enough of in the books or the movies, and it feels great. We know he’s the hero of this epic tale, without him he needs to kill a million baddies, but where’s the fun in that? Sometimes we need to put accuracy aside, and that’s what video games need to be fun.
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