Let’s Play

Wait, what?

In case you don’t know what I mean by “Let’s Play,” let me explain.

In a nutshell, a “Let’s Play” is a walkthrough and/or commentary on a video game, sometimes done via screenshots and text (as in a forum), or (more often these days) via video (e.g., YouTube). If you enjoy watching DVDs with director commentary, you might like watching a Let’s Play video.

Basically, you watch someone play through a game as they provide commentary. While this might sounds somewhat boring on the surface (and it certainly can be), it can also be absolutely awesome (think: Mystery Science Theater 3000, but for video games).

YouTube is absolutely chock full of Let’s Play videos, and sites like lparchive.org  (along with others) keep archives of older Let’s Play series (many older ones are screenshot/text instead of video). Some of these are true gems, witty and fun to watch. It takes a bit of effort to make a quality Let’s Play video, because you have to:

  1. Set up the recording (usually involving screen capture or video capture for best quality)
  2. Edit the recordings (often to take out boring stuff, such as random battles in RPGs)
  3. Provide some sort of running commentary which needs to both be interesting (harder than it sounds) and usually be done in real time, as you are playing the game; and,
  4. Typically, you also need to not suck at the game you are playing

Now, where am I going with all this?

Well, basically I’ve been watching a lot of these sorts of videos of late. It’s fun to watch people play through all the old games I used to enjoy as a kid! But more than that, it sort of inspired me to give it a try – I mean, how hard can it be?

Well, as it turns out, it can be pretty hard. As I said, YouTube is absolutely chock full of Let’s Play videos, which means just about every game you can think of has already been done by someone who is probably better at it (both the game and the commentary) than you. Plus, as I pointed out above, you have a bunch of other, let’s call it “production related” stuff to deal with as well. So it’s not just “sit down, play a game, and talk about it.”

Nevertheless, I decided I was going to give it a go – I even decided on a game to start with, a game which has surprisingly little coverage (at least, as of the time I started – it seems like there are more videos now). The game I decided to play? The Legend of Zelda. That’s right, the original NES classic.

I mean, hey, I used to be pretty darned good at this game, and I do still remember where pretty much all the secrets are, so it shouldn’t be too hard for me to do.

Well, it took a bit longer than I thought, and I learned a few lessons along the way (surprisingly, balancing the audio is really hard, especially if you don’t have an external mixer), but in the end, I finished the game, and the videos.

So, here it is – my first (and, honestly, probably my last) attempt at doing a “Let’s Play” video series – featuring the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube here if you prefer.

(Please excuse the crappy framerate and volume for the first 4 videos – I did all of them at once, just to try things out, and they were before I really got the hang of what I was doing.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, or at least find it somewhat amusing!

By Keith Survell

Geek, professional programmer, amateur photographer, crazy rabbit guy, only slightly obsessed with cute things.