Posted on October 31 2014 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Two years ago we posted a touching fan short film called
“Escape”, which dealt with some very difficulty moments some children go through almost every day and how The Legend of Zelda can be some true escapism from that life. This was true for many of us growing up, but a recent discussion really made me realize how Escape was not only a touching short film that featured The Legend of Zelda, but that it perfectly defined what Zelda is. This realization came in a topic over at neoGAF, where user strobogo said the following:
“This makes me a bad person and/or gamer according to other threads. Of all the major franchises in gaming, it is the one I least understand the popularity of. Before you say, “have you played them”, I have. I’ve played 1, 2, ALTTP, OoT, and Twilight Princess. I’ve tried to like the series. But every time I play, I’m so bored. Running around poking grass, jars, and chickens with my sword isn’t fun. Never ending dungeons that look the same aren’t fun. The generic story isn’t fun. I just…don’t get it. I’ve tried, more than I have for probably any series I’m not interested in or don’t like. Elves and high fantasy stuff aren’t cool. Definitely not fun in game form. Someone please explain to me what I’m missing. Or why you also don’t like the series.”
As I am someone who comes from what I would consider the very heart of the Zelda fandom, I figured I would try to enlighten him, while letting him know it’s just fine to not like a series. Here’s what I told him:
“There is actually nothing wrong with not liking Zelda. There are folks who don’t like Mario, don’t like Final Fantasy, don’t like Call of Duty, don’t like Assassin’s Creed, and believe it or not… don’t like The Last of Us or the Uncharted series. The nice thing about the game industry is there are different strokes for different folks. It’s perfectly okay to not like a big gaming series, but I totally understand why you want to like it. Why you tried. For those that do enjoy it, for many it impacted their lives directly or you see the joy they are getting out of just talking about the series and you want to be part of that. You want to feel that excitement or feel that involved in the series. However, sometimes it just isn’t for you.
As for what you’re missing out on, it’s hard to say because you’ve tried to like the series as much as you have. Elves aren’t really what it’s about, nor is grass, jars, or chickens. While series staples, no game is actually about those aspects.I can best sum up Zelda as this:
It’s about being a kid that against all odds defeats an evil and saves the princess. It’s the ultimate little boy child fantasy as it were, saving the girl and defeating something that would otherwise make you crap your pants. It’s about going on those adventures you always see in those shows you watch and actually experiencing it yourself and making an impact. The stories are simplistic, the puzzles are generally not that difficult, and the combat/dungeons are always a “like or dislike” ordeal, but at the end of the day it’s about being a kid and going out on an adventure. Going back to the story – while simplistic, they often offer life lessons and depending on the game and when you play it, these life lessons have helped many get through different tough parts of life.”
This finally lead to the original poster understanding, at least from my viewpoint, what the Zelda series really is all about:
“So basically what I’m getting is that people like the series because it touches into a sense of wonderment of a child? The most simplified, base level interpretation of the thread, of course.”
This remark really got me thinking because while that was what I was saying, I never realized the impact this would imply. I and many others have spent years trying to adequately explain what exactly
The Legend of Zelda is, but maybe we were over-thinking it all along. I started to think of how I could better explain why this series, despite being something that touches a wonderment of a child, could actually have any real impact. I felt like just accepting that as the lone explanation for what Zelda is wasn’t sufficient, though it was a great start. That’s when I quickly remembered “Escape”, which you can watch below:
As I explained when we posted this two years ago, it had a real personal touch because this is what Zelda was to me, and arguably still is today… just under different circumstances. Oddly enough, Zelda is even an escape from my work (and occasional stress) at Zelda Informer. This film, in nutshell, without even showing one ounce of actual gameplay, summed up exactly what this series is. That doesn’t mean you need this sort of tough background to like the experience, but it really explained why Zelda is the series it is today. Why we are Link, and what makes this series important. How it impacts our lives and can actually teach us valuable lessons to get us through real world hardship. It’s a video game, but one that offers us a place we typically can only go to in our dreams.
That’s what Zelda is. It seems so obvious looking back on it now, but my adult brain just seemed to forget.