Posted on November 20 2015 by Alexis S. Anderson
As a girl who grew up with a twin brother, I was typically either his player two or his backseat driver when it came to video games. In Zelda, I’d nag him if he passed mindlessly by a torch puzzle (even if it just gets you rupees, why not do it?), I’d cheer him on during boss battles, or I’d scold him for harming a poor cucco that never once did him wrong! I had some great times watching my brother play Zelda, so I came to wonder what my fondest Zelda-spectator memories were. I figure the best Zeldas to watch are the most visually and auditorily pleasing, the funniest, or the ones with deeper plots. Take a closer look at my experience as the player two in a traditionally single-player series after the jump!
Luckily, my brother Nick and I entered into gaming world at the perfect age, as our introduction to the Legend of Zelda series was actually Four Swords Adventures! If memory serves though, I didn’t start off playing the campaign mode with him– only the separate multiplayer minigames. I was always a little shy getting into new things when I was young, I liked to watch and get a good feel for what to expect before jumping in; I followed this trend when it came to Four Swords.
Having been so young, the game was definitely enjoyable to watch because of the comedy in it! You could burn the butts of the other Links and they’d run around like crazy trying to shake off the flames, I know we had a great time making fun of the Links different voice pitches (purple had the deepest voice and we thought it so ironic as he wears a more feminine color), and some of the NPC dialogue and sidequests were very silly. Looking back now, I loved the game’s colors too and was definitely attracted to the pixel art style, the music and areas are also memorable to me. After getting acclimated, you can bet I joined in to slay some monsters alongside my brother.
Much of my Zelda obsession has stemmed from my experience with Twilight Princess, but oddly enough I watched my brother play this game twice through before ever attempting to play it myself. It was our first entirely single player Zelda game, and I wasn’t very comfortable with that concept at the time. I was absolutely floored by Twilight Princess’ visuals, though! Never had I personally played a game with graphics that realistic before; the world seemed so big and the scenery so immersive that I couldn’t have possibly grown bored watching Nick play.
The story element of Twilight Princess is what really hooked me though, and the plot is what I care most about in Zelda games now. I loved the cutscenes and came to love the characters (the character development in this game is phenomenal), I had little interest in playing it because I figured it would take me longer to get to the meaty bits of the story than it would my brother! The gameplay to me, at the time, was fluff that I could let my brother chew through for me. It wasn’t until maybe three years after its release that I actually picked up a controller with the intent to play through the whole game; I had matured by that time and was much smarter so I felt equipped to finish it myself (it was also around that time that my brother got his first Playstation system, so he had games of his own to play and I couldn’t rely on him replaying Twilight Princess just for me to see the story develop again).
After that point, I went on a binge and played nearly all of the games in the Legend of Zelda series within a two year period (and I’ve been irrevocably obsessed ever since). My brother’s gaming life had headed down the Playstation path, so the tables turned with the Zelda series and he ended up watching me play! I remember him freaking out watching me fight Majora’s mask and he absolutely FLIPPED when Majora’s Wrath came out of the woodworks. Suffice to say the creepiness that oozed from a cute-looking game (as compared to the Call of Duty kind of graphics he’d been exposing himself to) is what engaged him.
So a number of factors go into making a game worth watching– plot, visuals, music, tone, surprises. But what it comes down to in the end is who you’re watching. I never tire of watching my brother play games because he’s one of my best friends; we joke around while he plays, he’ll hand me the controller if I think I’ve figured out a puzzle he’s stuck on, and whenever one of us feels like stopping or doing something else the other is glad to do just that. I can remember I used to read Midna’s dialogue in this annoying nasally voice, it would crack Nick up, and that kind of feedback and slight involvement in the experience made watching him play very memorable.
What do you guys think– what makes a Zelda game worth watching? Have you had a similar experience as I have? Or if you were the player one with a surveyor, did having that person with you add to your gaming experience? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Alexis S. Anderson is a Senior Editor at Zelda Dungeon who joined the writing team in November, 2014. She has a JD from the UCLA School of Law and is pursuing a career in Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. She grew up in the New Jersey suburbs with her parents, twin brother, and family shih-tzu.