10 Reasons Crusader of Centy is better than Zelda: A Link to the Past
by Kazlo

I know what you're thinking. Why, oh why would anyone on God's green earth even DARE to postulate that something could be BETTER than an officially licensed Zelda game? Oh, how I wish I could get hold of this so-called "gamer", obviously wet behind the ears and unaware of the automatic love bestowed on every Zelda game, and make him scream he's sorry through the flames of my righteous fury!

Well, I'm not sorry. Because you know something? I played Link to the Past when it was new, and even then I recognized the factor that keeps it from being a classic in my eyes: that game is goddamn BORING. I'd like to think my years of twitchy action gaming have simply made me too impatient to enjoy the game, but seriously, stumbling around the overworld and pushing blocks in identical rooms was enough to put me to sleep as a kid, and it still is. But hey, we're not here to list what's wrong with LttP and try to break the hate-mail record Polly made when she said Sephiroth sucks Vincent's dick for bus fare, we're here to talk about what makes Crusader of Centy great!

1. teh graphix!!!!

I think everyone knows the Genesis beats the SNES in this category, hands down. In fact I feel a little bad mentioning it, because LttP can't even compete when it comes to lushness of colour. But hey, we can still look at the aesthetic side, right?

Let's not beat around the bush: the environments in Link to the Past are ugly. Apart from the forest, and the rare unique overworld element, the world is bland, simple, and unnatural-looking. Crusader of Centy, on the other hand, not only looks good but has a wealth of different environments. Lava streams and cliffs in Burn Daisy, bright Anemone Beach, an ice castle, and even a snowy forest with giant Oreos you can smack the top off of and jump in the icing! What's that? Link to the Past has the Dark World? Cool. It's the same place as before, except everything is purple and brown and the enemies take twice as many hits. Just like a WoW expansion. NEXT!

2. Animal buddies!

Crusader of Centy takes on a bit more of an action tack (though there are still some clever puzzles), so it doesn't have an inventory of torches, wands, hookshots and whatnot. Instead, your little hat- donning bit gains the ability to communicate with and recruit a number of animal friends. These include the cheetah who allows you to sprint and jump like a motherfucker, the lion that adds fire to your thrown sword, or the Leviathan who doubles the speed of your sword attacks. You can "equip" two buddies at a time, including the coolest of all, Moa, who strengthens the ability of whatever your other partner is, allowing you to run and jump like a TRIPLE motherfucker or swing your sword a jillion times a second.

3. Jumping!

Yep. Early on your quest a rabbit teaches your little dude the secret to jumping (he's got problems, okay), opening the doors to more complicated dungeons and some of the cooler challenges in the game. Jumping in the same direction as the wind to cross huge gaps in Anemone Beach, bouncing over pits with wall-mounted elastic bands in the Tower of Babel, or using your armadillo buddy as a stepping stone pretty much anywhere. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but ever notice the only Zelda game that allowed you to jump at will was Link's Awakening? Ever notice that's totally your second favourite Zelda game? Coincidence? ICH DENKE NEIT.

4. The Tower of Babel!

Yep, the tower to heaven exists in Centy-world too... or maybe it's supposed to be earth... or something. In any case, it's there, and you have to climb it to reach heaven and find out how to regain human speech. The first time you can simply take the express elevator to the top, but of course things are never that simple, and the rope leading up at the very top turns out to be a kickass boss.

With the rope to heaven gone, you have to come back later once you find another way up. Centy-God is apparently more lenient than the God of Earth-1 and punishes humanity's hubris by taking the capacity for speech from everyone at the tower (thus making them LIKE ANIMALS! Eh? EH?) and breaking the elevator on his way out. Unfortunately, that means you have to put up with the perverse mind of the architect who decided to fill each floor of the tower with the game's more devious puzzles and trap rooms. It's a really tense and cool part of the game, and one of my all-time favourite dungeons.

5. The Music

Okay, I'm redeeming myself for comparing Genny and SNES graphics by trying to compare the smooth, full sounds of the SNES audio subsystem to the "twin horrors" of the Genny's YM2612 (responsible for the percussion samples that sound like they were recorded by throwing a drumset out of a truck) and SN76489 (famous for the piercing melodies that make you go deaf and forcibly empty your bowels at high volumes.) But even if the Genesis sound chips are responsible for your future children's genetic "specialness", I'll be damned if those 90's game composers didn't know how to make sweet music. Can you honestly say you'd rather listen to the tired old overworld loop than this?


6. Go-Karts!

You attain the animal buddy Flash the Cheetah by paying his raccoon manager 20 coins to race him around a track in a Go-Kart. You can sneakily pay Flash 50 more coins to get him to slow down for you... if you don't mind being a CHEATah! LOLOLOLOOOLOLOLOLOOLOL!!!!!!

7. The story!

Alright, pitting a Zelda storyline against a Zelda clone storyline is a bit like a boxing match between [REDACTED]s, but I still insist that when I was a kid, the Crusader of Centy story at least had more relevance and meaning, even if it wasn't any "deeper" than collecting the three stones of arbitrary power so I could rescue the sages of whateverfuck. In the world of (I assume) Centy, humans and monsters have been fighting each other since the dawn of time. Human culture has grown with a fixation on war and bravery, and your little dude is set to follow in his father's footsteps by getting killed fighting monsters. However, shortly into your journey of self-discovery a mysterious fortune teller takes from you the ability to speak to humans and gives you the ability to communicate with animals and monsters. Thus you begin to learn more about animal-kind, discover that monsters are perhaps not so monstrous after all, and become the hero who can go back in time to save both humans and monsters from their eternal war. Pretty deep stuff when you're 8.

8. Becoming a monster!

Your first clue that the monsters in the game might be more than... well, monsters comes in the weird oreo forest, when you see a number of tiny slimes wandering around in the snow. Any time you get near or try to attack them, they retreat into a tree stump you don't fit inside. A little while later, a strange man ambushes you and swaps your body with that of a slime! After you get your bearings by talking to your "brother" slimes playing outside the tree stump, Amon, the great hero of your people, strikes and tries to kill you along with the other slimes. You escape into the stump, where Slime Mama is waiting. The younger slimes wonder aloud why the humans passing through the forest always attack them when they've never hurt anyone. Slime Mama can tell you're not really her son, due to motherly intuition (and the fact you're still wearing that ugly hat). It turns out her son Slimey (the slimes are a people of tradition) fell in love with a human girl and convinced the local magician to swap his body with yours so he could get some action. At least, I hope so, for your sake. Slime Mama hates you, like the rest of the bloodthirsty humans, but agrees to help you if it means getting her son back.

It's nothing amazing, but it's a cute detour, and the first step the game takes to indicate the monsters may not be as evil as they're cracked up to be.

9. Footprints in Anemone Beach!

That's right... long before your "Crysis" or your "Unreal Engine 3" Crusader of Centy was pushing graphical and realism boundaries that to this day we haven't conquered.

10. Sonic!

Sigh... Okay, I swore I wouldn't talk about this because it's something EVERY review of the game mentions. But it was a genuinely neat surprise back in the day. From time to time, visiting a certain location in Anemone Beach will yield Sonic the Hedgehog, relaxing in an armchair and waggling a finger at the player in contempt. Talking to him will yield such pearls of wisdom as the following:

Radical. And what better note to end a tribute to my favourite Sega Genesis game?

In all seriousness, Crusader of Centy is a great game, whether you believe... no, whether you accept it's better than Link to the Asst or not. I regularly lost myself in replaying it just to take screenshots, and I recommend everyone at least give the game a shot. It's my fondest memory of the venerable ol' Genny.

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