The phrase ‘nothing is quite like the first time’ can be applied to our lives on so many levels. Whether it is the first time you walk, the first time you go to a football match as a kid, the first time you have….. even the first time you play a video game. No playthrough it ever quite like the first one. Yes, in subsequent playthroughs you do notice things you didn’t the first time, and embark on sidequests you overlooked the first time, but overall, the experience, the gameplay, the graphics and the progression of the story is just something that will never quite give you the same feeling again. It is the joy of discovery. The thing is, Nintendo often used a method to make subsequent plays that little bit more exciting than usual, but where is it now. Where are ‘second quests’?
With the original Legend of Zelda, upon completion of developing the game, the programmer’s released that only half of the memory capacity had been utilized, and so they decided to fill it by creating a second and slightly altered quest. The second quest could be accessed by either completing the first quest, or by naming the file “ZELDA”. This second quest involved dungeon locations being changed, and the difficulty being increased, as well as the shop locations becoming more difficult to find. While not reinventing the game entirely, it gave players something new for the second playthrough.
The Adventure of Link also contained a second quest, most likely due to the developers wanting the Zelda series to have something special and consistent, especially when these first two games varied so much otherwise. This second quest was only accessed by completing the first quest, which was already hard enough itself. Luckily spells, and the skill, life and magic levels were carried across into the second quest. Once again, there was something new after the experienc of the first play.
Then came the time where Nintendo abandoned the second quest idea for quite a while. It was not until the Oracle games, where we saw something similar, though not a second quest. You could say that there are many different Oracle’s quests. Using the password-linking feature, the games varied greatly. There is the individual endings and then the linked ending. Across the two game files things such as the file name, Bipin and Bossom’s child’s name, the Strange Flute and Link’s current sword were maintained. Though not in the established and standard second quest mode, the Oracle duo offers plenty of alternatives to make subsequent playthroughs a very different experience.
Many will say that no Zelda game has used the second quest quite as masterfully as The Wind Waker. The second quest version of The Wind Waker isn’t dungeon locations being changed, or harder, it is simply more of an insight into the story. It may have less changes than the original two games, but perhaps they are better because they are somewhat story-based changes. Yes, Link gets to wear his starting outfit, and not the traditional green tunic. Aryll gets to wear her pirate dress too, but they aren’t the big changes. The notable difference is the translation of the ancient Hylian dialect spoken by Jabun, The Deku Tree and Valoo. It added insight into the game’s story, character’s motives, and gave players a better understanding overall. That, readers, was a brilliantly used ploy to instantly enthrall people in the second quest, and at the same time, make it something new after the first playthrough. Not only that, but there was the Deluxe Picto Box thrown in, for the completion of the Nintendo Gallery: an extravagant multiple-quest sidequest involving taking a picture of most characters, and getting them carved into figurines.
Even better than the standard Wind Waker is the limited edition. It includes all of The Wind Waker’s goodness, but also Ocarina of Time along with Master Quest on a second disc for the GameCube. Now Master Quest, whether you really see it as harder or not, gave us something new. We’d been playing Ocarina of Time for five years, and now, although the story is the same, it is different in regards to dungeons. Players had to stop and think, figure things it. It was in essence, a second quest. It made some optional items and collectibles necessary for completion. Master Quest, in a way, brought back the feeling of that very first time.
Second quests are clearly one effective way to give the players a sense of something new in playing something that they’ve done so many times. Maybe we’ll see it again in the future, but there is another way to accomplish the very same thing and make it more exciting. Unarguably, the most interesting aspect to change is the chain of events. It comes as unexpected and intriguing. Majora’s Mask used this slightly by altering what Tatl says each time Link mounts the Clock Tower and prepares for the final battle. Spirit Tracks gave players the option of selecting a future career for Link which gave three different ending sequences depending on what you selected.
It is things like second quests, options and different directions to go that make more replay value. Imagine a Zelda game where you don’t just get to select out of three ending sequences, but you are making choices right through. Do you save person A or person B first? That leads into two alternative stories, before they refocus back onto the next dungeon. Modern gaming technology allows for such things, and makes each playthough a new adventure. Enter the Matrix, on the Gamecube let players choose from two characters, Naobi and Ghost, who often fought together, but often went their separate ways, making replay value increase significantly. Yes, just like the Oracle games, such implementations may cause the struggle of determining exactly what is canon, but honestly, ask yourself: is canon really more important than subsequent gameplay value?