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- "So what kind of game is Faces of Evil -- and is it any good? Perhaps this will answer that question: *shows screenshot of Link smiling* The title "Faces of Evil" is brimming with irony, eh? There is a reason why the CD-i games have disappeared into obscurity. "
- — IGN Hyrule Times article
Link: The Faces of Evil was developed by Animation Magic and released for the Philips CD-i in 1993, on the same day as Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. A follow-up to both games, Zelda's Adventure, arrived in 1994. All three CD-i Zelda games were the product of a compromise between Philips and Nintendo after the two companies failed to release a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The Faces of Evil is played using the side-scrolling view introduced in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. For a variety of reasons, it is generally accepted that this game is inferior to Zelda II. Problems range from the quality of the CD-i controller, to the speed of the gameplay and the jerkiness of the character animations. The player controls Link, who must find and defeat "The evil forces of Ganon", rescue Princess Zelda and become the hero of Koridai. When the player begins this quest, three areas are initially available, accessible through Gwonam's map. The player can access the areas on the map by moving the on-screen cursor over one of the areas and pressing a certain button.
Gwonam, who aids Link throughout his quest, told Link before they left for Koridai that he would not have time to pack, claiming that just bringing his sword and shield would be enough. As such, Link is only equipped with a sword and shield at the beginning of the game. The sword is used to attack enemies, fire deadly Power Blasts at full Health (but can be used anytime with a Fire Diamond upgrade), and oddly enough, interact with items and communicate with friendly villagers. Meanwhile, the shield can deflect attacks thrown at the player. The shield is automatically held when the player is not using an item, or crouching. Other helpful tools, such as lamp oil (for lighting a lamp to see in dark places), Rope (for climbing) and Bombs (which can blow up enemies and destroy some obstacles) are available for a price at Morshu's shop in Goronu. The rubies (known as "Rupees" in other Zelda titles) that Morshu takes as currency can be obtained by defeating enemies. To pick up these gems, Link must strike them with the sword before they disappear. Rubies differ from Rupees in that typically, green Rupees are worth 1, blue Rupees are worth 5 and red Rupees are worth 20, while red rubies are worth 1, green are worth 5 and blue are worth 10.
Link's health is measured in "Life Hearts". The number of Life Hearts Link currently has is shown on the upper-left corner of the screen when Link is in any given area of the island, but not on the main map. Although the player begins the game with only three hearts, there are ways to earn more. Each time Link is injured, he will lose at least one-half of a heart, and once they are all emptied, he will perish. The first two times Link runs out of Life Hearts, the player will be given the option of continuing from near the point where Link's last heart was lost. When Link loses his hearts for a third time, he will be returned to the map, and the player will have to start the level from the beginning. Returning to the map replenishes Link's Life Hearts and lives, and he will retain any items and rubies he picked up in the level.
Link, protagonist of the series, complains to King Harkinian that he is bored now that the kingdom is safe, to which the King replies that the peace "Is what all true Warriors strive for". A wizard named Gwonam visits the King and Link on a magic carpet and tells them that Ganon has taken over the far-off island of Koridai, further explaining that only Link can stop him. Link is transported to Koridai and shown by the wizard an island with giant stone statues known as the Faces of Evil, which he must conquer. During Link's time in Koridai, Princess Zelda is kidnapped by Ganon and is kept in his lair. Later in his journey, Link is sent to Fortress Centrum to retrieve the Treasure of Death for an Ice Queen. At the fortress, Link finds what appears to be a sleeping Zelda. Upon awakening her, however, Zelda transforms into Goronu, a shapeshifting necromancer who works for Ganon. After defeating Goronu, Link retrieves the Crystal of Reflection, which allows his shield to reflect curses. Link then proceeds to battle and defeat Ganon's minions, which include the rejuvenated Goronu, the anthropomorphic pig Harlequin, the armored pyrokinetic Militron, the three-eyed wolfgirl Lupay, and the gluttonous cyclops Glutko, from whom the Book of Koridai is retrieved. A translator named Ipo, who can read the Book of Koridai, reveals that the Book itself is enough to defeat Ganon. After trekking through Ganon's Lair, Link finally reaches Ganon, who attempts to recruit Link with the promise of great power and the threat of murder if he does not comply, but Link turns down his offer, leading to a final battle between the two. Link emerges victorious by imprisoning him in the Book of Koridai. With Ganon in captivity once again, Link finds and awakens Zelda and tells her that he had just defeated Ganon, to which she is skeptical. Gwonam appears and congratulates Link on imprisoning Ganon. He shows Link a vision of a recovering Koridai and declares him the island's hero, as prophesised. Link proceeds to declare himself to be the victor, but even still, Zelda refuses to kiss him as a reward.
In 1989, Nintendo signed a deal with Sony to begin development of a CD-ROM-based system known as the "Nintendo PlayStation" or the SNES CD to be an add-on to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that would allow for full-motion video (FMV) and larger games. However, Nintendo broke the agreement and instead signed with Philips to make the add-on, which caused Sony to spin off their add on into its own console called the PlayStation. Witnessing the poor reception of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo scrapped the idea of making an add-on entirely. As part of dissolving the agreement with Philips, Nintendo gave Philips the license to use five of its characters, including Link, Princess Zelda, and Ganon, for games on Philips's console called the CD-i, after the partnership's dissolution. Contracting out to independent studios, Philips subsequently used the characters to create three games for the "CD-i", with Nintendo taking no part in their development except to give input on the look of the characters. Philips insisted that all aspects of the CD-i's capabilities, including FMV, should be used. As the system had not been designed as a dedicated video game console, there were several technical limitations, such as an infrared controller that lagged behind the on-screen action. The team that created the first two games consisted of four artists, three programmers and one musician and were given a little over a year to create both games. The voice of Princess Zelda was provided by Bonnie Jean Wilbur and the voice of Link by Jeffrey Rath, while additional voices were provided by Jeffrey Nelson, Mark Berry, Natalie Brown, Karen Grace, Josie McElroy, Marguerite Scott and Paul Wann.
Wand of Gamelon and Faces of Evil were the first Nintendo-licensed games released on the Philips CD-i. The two games were given the relatively low budgets of approximately $600,000 each and it was decided by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based development team Animation Magic, led by Dale DeSharon, to develop the two games in tandem and have them share the same graphics engine to more efficiently use the budget. The animated cutscenes were created by a team of six animators from Russia who were flown to the United States for the project.
The magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly considers The Faces of Evil to be one of the worst video games ever made. IGN referred to the games' cutscenes as "infamous" and "cheesy"; other reviewers called them "bizarre" and "an absolute joke". Wired magazine said that the graphics were some of the worst ever encountered, and that the animation in the game was extremely simple and stilted. The voice acting, done by local AFTRA actors, was criticized as misdirected, amateurish, jarring, and laughable. The game did, however, receive praise for its detailed and well-drawn in-game backgrounds and "pretty decent" gameplay, making it one of the best games on the CD-i, despite its controls. The audio was thought to be "average", and not up to the usual Zelda quality.
The Faces of Evil is frowned upon by the majority of the Zelda community. As mentioned, the game was not up to series standards, to the point that the majority of the Zelda community outright rejects the CD-i trilogy as canon, something made easier by the fact that these games had nothing to do with Nintendo. Nintendo rarely acknowledges the game's existence, even practically erasing them from history in a statement connected to The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition.
The cutscenes have become a staple of "YouTube Poop" viral videos, most notably Link's "Gee! It sure is BORING around here!", the King's "My boy, this peace is what all true warriors strive for!", and Ganon's "You will DIE!" and Ganon's "IT BURNS!", due to the surreal animation and lackluster voice acting used throughout the game.
- Jeffrey Rath — Link
- Jeffrey Nelson — Morshu, Militron, King Harkinian
- Mark Berry — Ganon
- Natalie Brown
- Chris Flockton
- Jerry Goodwin — Glutko, Beer Guy
- Karen Grace
- John Mahon
- Josie McElroy
- Phil Miller
- Marguerite Scott
- Paul Wann — Gwonam, Harlequin, Ipo
- Bonnie Jean Wilbur — Princess Zelda