The Zelda series is beloved for many reasons. Its originality, creativeness, sense of adventure, and never ending ingenuity have kept it running strong as a forerunner in video games for over 25 years. But that does not mean it is flawless. I think it is safe to say that every Zelda fan has at least one thing that they absolutely cannot tolerate about a particular game; a moment they dread reaching when playing an otherwise perfect game. These nuisances can be small or large, but either way, they drive us crazy! Below is a list of eleven of the minimally irritating to rage inducing moments from the Zelda series. I’m certain that some of these moments do not bother some Zelda fans, and I’m sure that I’m forgetting some big ones. Make sure to comment which moments in the franchise have made you cringe!
Starting all the way back at the beginning (The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link)
As if the first two games in the franchise weren’t difficult enough, inevitable (and continuous) deaths have become much more frustrating. The NES is notorious for having one of the most challenging game libraries in video game history, and it wasn’t uncommon for its titles to start you back at the first screen upon death. The Zelda games were no exception, however the dedication and time needed to complete these gold cart classics at least allowed us to save the progress we had made. Nevertheless, no matter where you are or how far you’ve come in the game, you start all the way back to the starting screen once you’ve gotten a game over. Granted, these maps are smaller compared to those of later Zelda games, so getting back to where you were isn’t always a pain, but it is unnecessarily annoying nonetheless. The game creators should know that we’re just going to head right back to where we died, and plow through the now easy enemies in our way. It’s like trial and error without the trial. Just start us back at the dungeon we failed. Fortunately this annoyance is unheard of in later titles.
Sailing and changing wind direction (The Wind Waker)
Probably the most common complaint people have with The Wind Waker is the sailing aspect. It takes too long to reach destinations, there’s little to occupy you on the way, and if you want to do something as simple change direction, you have to pull out your Wind Waker and conduct a song. This was so irritating that Nintendo blessed us with ways to ease our pain in the beautiful remake for Wii U. The Swift Sail was the answer to our prayers and conducting songs is now faster. Even the grappling hook mini-cutscene was sped up. Even with these positive changes, you can’t help but be reminded that the more they changed the remake, the more that was apparently wrong with the original.
Saving your progress (Link’s Awakening)
One word sums this one up just fine: WHY? Why, Nintendo? What was going through the programmers’ heads when they implemented this save system? If you were unfortunate enough to not figure this one out, you either had to beat this game in one sitting or replay the beginning repeatedly. And keep in mind that this game came out long before everyone had internet access and you could easily look up the solution online. I just don’t get it. Why would the game creators do this? What was the point? Even if you figured out how to save, actually pushing every button at the same time did not always work the first few tries. It’s especially difficult on the 3DS. The programmers must have known this was going to tick players off, so why do it? It’s not like they were implementing a save system to a video game for the first time, and this was the only way to do it. A Link to the Past had a fine save system, so just copy that! WHAT WAS THE POINT?! Was it a joke? Did they want us to beat the entire game in one sitting? Did they want people to stop playing the game altogether? There’s simply no logic here. I’m sure the answer is not a good one, but if anyone knows why the game was programmed this way, please tell me, because it hurts my head to think about the sheer stupidity of this one.
Losing track of time (Majora’s Mask)
Majora’s Mask is one of the most simultaneously loved and hated games in the series. I personally love it. But it seems that no matter how many times I play through this game, the time constraints are going to find at least one way to infuriate me. Take my latest play through, for example: So starting at 6 AM on the first day, I start and finish Snowhead Temple from scratch. I then proceed to obtain the Powder Keg license and destroy the rock blocking the racetrack. Then after a handful of tries, I win the Goron Races and win the Gold Dust. Awesome, now I can get myself the Gilded Sword! But hold on: by this point it is the dawn of the Second Day, and to upgrade to the Gilded Sword, I needed to have given the blacksmith my weapon by the end of the first day. So now I have no choice but to play the Song of Time, beat Goht again, blow up the builder to the racetrack again, win the sometimes challenging Goron Races again, and recollect the necessary number of rupees to upgrade my sword. Talk about annoying! There are several other ways the time constraints can delay or ruin your progress, so if you have one, please share your story in the comments section.
Playing the Spirit Flute (Spirit Tracks)
I applaud Nintendo’s recent attempts to make these games more interactive. Skyward Sword‘s motion controls could be a hassle from time to time, but overall they were fun and worked well. But wow, the Spirit Flute in Spirit Tracks was just an awful idea in my opinion. The instrument itself is not the issue, it’s the interactivity Nintendo incorporated to its use. Selecting the correct pipes in not only the right order but also the right rhythm was annoying enough, but to add insult to injury the game forced you to blow into the tiny microphone on the system. Yeah… I suppose to simulate the feeling of actually playing a flute (Spolier: It doesn’t). Initially, not a terrible idea. But once executed, there had to be some nay sayers among the Zelda team that thought it was just too ridiculous and irritating. Yet it was implemented anyway. Players have to bring their face right up to the system, make sure their mouth is aligned with the mic, then cock their eyes toward the touch screen while their hand is in the way, and play each tune with the right rhythm. Having to keep my eyes on the screen rather than the tiny mic hole has made me move either my head or the DS slightly, therefore throwing off my alignment with the mic, making this already ridiculous mechanic even more frustrating, and, frankly, stupid. If you thought Skyward Sword‘s motion controls made you look ridiculous while playing a video game, you clearly haven’t played Spirit Tracks.
Cutscenes cannot be skipped (multiple titles)
While gameplay certainly comes first when it comes to video games, a good story with engaging cutscenes doesn’t hurt a thing. Unless you’re forced to watch them. Look, I understand that many gamers enjoy playing through any given game once, and never play it again. But for gamers like me that enjoy several play throughs of the same game, cutscenes really should be optional. Some Zelda games, such as Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass, let you do this. But Skyward Sword, which came afterward, doesn’t. Why not? It has some of the lengthiest cutscenes in Zelda history. The intro alone has about a half an hour’s worth. As a cinephile, I enjoy these cutscenes thoroughly during my first play through. It’s like an interactive movie, and that’s awesome. But when I’m playing Skyward Sword for the sixth time, I know the story. Just let me play the game. I feel that this is a minor complaint compared to the others on the list, but really, there’s no excuse. It can’t be difficult to program into the game, and it would be optional. Why not include it?
Collecting Treasure/Rupees (Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess)
By 2006, I think most Zelda fans were aware that a blue rupee was worth five rupees, and that a red one was worth twenty. Like the save system in Link’s Awakening, this one boggles my mind. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain: When playing any Zelda game, we’re all aware that in the beginning we’re going to come across certain items for the first time: hearts, arrows, magic jars, and so on. When collecting one of the these things for the first time, the game will pause the action to give the player a brief description of the item obtained and what it does. We all learn to live with this minor hold up and understand that it’s somewhat necessary. But what in the world was Nintendo thinking when programming these little cutscenes for Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword? If you turn either game off and return to them later, certain things will show you the item’s description each time you play the game. Twilight Princess does this with rupees (except for green ones, oddly) and Skyward Sword does this for treasure. While I’m annoyed by both, at least Skyward Sword might have a reasonable excuse since these treasures were brand new to the series, but Twilight Princess, what is this crap? We’ve been playing these games since the eighties. We know what a blue rupee is worth by now. You don’t have to tell us every time we play the game.
Iron Boots on, Iron Boots off (Ocarina of Time)
Ocarina of Time‘s Water Temple has a reputation for being annoying for quite a few reasons, and this is one of the big ones. Like slow sailing in The Wind Waker, this aspect of the game was so unnecessarily irksome that Nintendo corrected it in the remake. One of the more minor nuisances on the list, there’s really not much else to say about it. Anyone who’s played the original Ocarina of Time (or a port of it) knows exactly how annoying this little aspect is.
The Imprisoned’s Toes (Skyward Sword)
I’ll admit it: I didn’t find out about the alternative (and much easier) strategy to taking this beast out until my second play through of the game. The toes seemed to be like the obvious weak point, so I never gave a second thought to it: take them out! The first time, it wasn’t too bad, but during the second encounter… well, I can’t cuss in these articles, but you all know what this battle is like. Of course, the easy way to defeat the goliath is to float one story above the boss and drop onto his head, attack the spike, rinse, repeat. But if you find yourself missing the jump or the Imprisoned makes his way to the temple too quickly, you may have to resort to some toenail clipping. And it’s downright frustrating. His steps are too large for you to keep up easily, each step releases a powerful shockwave that will knock you down, and if you manage to time things just right, you still only have time to take out one or two toes. I hate when I have to resort to this strategy, but I’ve gotten pretty good at making sure I line up my jumps to his head. But still, it happens. And it’s annoying.
Goron Dancing (Oracle of Ages)
And here we are. For me, it is hands down most infuriating part of any Zelda game (except for maybe the last one on the list; read on), and I’m sure many fans will agree. I almost don’t want to even talk about it, as that alone will make me angry. It’s just ridiculous. The Subrosian dances of Oracle of Seasons may have been easy, but at least it was still fun, and the steady increase in the speed to which you had to react made things at least somewhat challenging. It makes me wonder if the same team even designed these two Gameboy Color titles. How do you go from fun little challenge to excruciatingly difficult challenge? And what’s worse is that you have to do it twice (though, it really isn’t that bad the first time). Not only do you have to remember which sounds correspond with which buttons (not too difficult, but sometimes it’s the reason I mess up), but you must also have perfect timing. And I do mean PERFECT. Look, I’m all for fun and challenging side quests, but Link’s a warrior and puzzle solver. Do we have to risk the salvation of Labrynna to Link’s ability or inability to dance with perfect rhythm for some rock people? He’s done far more minuscule tasks in other games, granted, but Goron Dancing should have been an optional side quest, with a big prize for anyone willing to put up with it. Forcing gamers to drill through this nuisance twice is just brutal.
Pretty much everything (The Adventure of Link)
… I don’t have anything special to say. It’s just a really hard game.
What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree with the points above? What annoying and frustrating moments did I forget? What is your number one frustrating moment in the series? Comment below, and let’s talk about it!