My mind was warped at a young age. Loading up the first YouTube Poop I’d ever watch was a mistake that has set me down a dark path, one where if I hear the word “toasters” I have to stop myself from chuckling, where if I pass by lamp oil at a camping store, I will say “rope, bombs!” directly afterwards. I’ve recounted the entirety of the Mama Luigi episode of the Mario cartoon, dialogue and all, to people in the past. I cried on the day Billy Mays died, because that meant no new commercials for people to source from. 

Having access to the Internet as a youth meant many things, some I think were mistakes, but there’s a few I don’t regret, and among them was discovering YouTube Poop and the legacy of the CD-i. Learning about these strange experiences, and gaining further context by researching the creation of Wand of Gamelon and Faces of Evil allowed me to appreciate those goofy edits more. I love YouTube Poop and Zelda CD-i, and so do the folks at Seedy Eye who made Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore. Both myself and the creators of this game have a fondness for the messy, sometimes embarrassing, but often still joyous aspects of both. 

However, their love runs deeper, into an appreciation of the CD-i Zelda games that goes beyond the insane cutscenes that have been edited for parody videos for almost twenty years, and into the mysterious moods, gorgeous backgrounds, and teasingly solid gameplay loops. Arzette is not just for brain poisoned freaks like me, it’s for anyone who can appreciate a fun platformer, one paired with delightful, overwhelming art and a style we haven’t seen since Animation Magic did their thing back in 1993.

If you’ve seen the CD-i Zelda cutscenes, you know the gist of Artzette’s story. A villain has re-awoken, and a hero must trap them in a book or wand of some sort. Arzette is the stand-in for Link/Zelda in this game, and the villain, Daimur, looks like the (said affectionately) shitty cousin of Ganon. 

Many of the classic characters you remember have a shadow in this title, with a pompadour’d Morshu-like running the shop, a wizard who serves as a guide through your journey by giving you a push towards bosses here and there, and a boisterous king, who smokes cigars instead of sipping a goblet (most likely referencing a classic gif of King Harkinian taking a huge pull on a cigar.) 

Many of these characters’ names are anagrams of their inspiration, but something I liked was how different they were. Yes, it’s obvious the characters are supposed to be Morshu, Gwonam, etc., but they’re all also unique designs that could have shown up elsewhere and wouldn’t have turned any heads. 

You’ll often run into quest-givers that are inspired by CD-i characters as well, but just as many are original and just as memorable as, say, Aypo the Reader from Wand of Gamelon (that is a real character. I promise). The voice acting has a few cameos, but none of them stand out as egregious. Hell, Vinny Vinesauce plays a snobbish frog, and I think he should do more voice work after hearing him here. The game leans into having varied art styles per cutscene, as in the original titles, it was apparent when a different animator was assigned mid-scene. In the CD-i games, it was jarring, albeit hilarious. Here, the joke lands while still not bringing too much attention to itself. 

If you’re really looking, you can try and see who drew what, but it’s not as overwhelming as the origins. A variety of YouTube Poop legends worked on the animation, Nicolas Walstrom (WalrusGuy), Jimmy D., and Geibuchan are all prolific Poopers who also happen to be excellent animators. Everything is a hint of what Arzette is inspired by, but it’s not consumed by its inspiration. For a game sold as “Zelda CD-i but good”, Arzette does a fine job being its own thing.

It helps that Arzette is a fun character in herself. I’m not going to pretend she’s a deep character that will be studied for years-on-end, but she’s genuinely funny and a great straight-man to the world she inhabits. She quickly discards the prophecy that led them to having to deal with Daimur again, and it’s cool to see that old “what if Batman just killed Joker?” question answered pretty definitively in this context. I didn’t expect a more grounded character to work with the goofiness of Faramore, but she does, and I loved playing as her.

Thankfully, the cutscenes aren’t the only rewarding aspect of playing Arzette. The gameplay is solid! I wouldn’t call it spectacular, but it’s a serviceable rendition of what Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon were having people do. You platform, you swing your sword to kill enemies (and to speak to friends, it’s a smart sword after all!). One major addition is a projectile weapon, which can also be used to break different colored walls. I’ve played through the Faces of Evil remaster that Seth Fulkerson, the director of Arzette, made, and there were hints of something there, but Arzette brings those hints into an experience worth having, instead of one trudged through. 

Each level is short, which makes repeated traversals to find and turn in quests far less of a hassle. Completing quests will boost your abilities, either giving you an item you need to progress, getting a higher ammo count for your consumables, or upgrading and adding skills such as a double jump or faster walking. 

It is a bit of a shame that it feels like most of the best upgrades come right at the end of the game, giving players who were especially thorough in their exploration no time to actually make use of them. I got the most powerful sword right before I faced the final boss, and it’s not exactly a fight that you need upgrades for. I had already cleared most of the game before that, so the upgrade was for naught! There were still funny cutscenes as I gained each new boon, so it wasn’t completely without merit.

Arzette is a game hinging on its style, its inspirations, and its motivations. It wants to be what the CD-i Zeldas strove to be, while still celebrating the insanity they actually were. This is a niche game, one that if you do love YouTube Poop or obscure Nintendo ephemera, you will leap and shout for its existence. It’s the best possible “spiritual successor”, one that both celebrates and improves on its source without being slavish. It is Wand of Gamelon/Faces of Evil But Good, but also stands as a game worth experiencing even if you don’t know who Gwonam is.

Check out John’s stream of Arzette here!

5 stars


"Fine gaming, indeed."

Arzette could have easily been a collection of cutscenes and nothing else, but instead, it's a solid platformer with love in its heart.

About John

John Michonski is Gamesline’s Editor in Chief. He’s a fun man who likes to do good.

See John’s Posts

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