Finally we’ve reached the final part of our retrospective series. We’ve already had parts one, two and three where it was interesting to note that our staff here at Zelda Informer really seems to be ageing. Well, we’re all still really quite young but most of us got into Zelda no later than Ocarina of Time in the late 90s. Then there’s me. The youngest of the staff and the youngest one when it comes to age in Zelda fanaticism as well. As with the other parts, I’ll begin with this little summary of myself.
Name: Dathen Boccabella (Melchizedek)
First Zelda Game: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)
Started Playing Zelda: 2001 (Age 8)
Favorite Zelda Game: Majora’s Mask
There’s no better place to begin this then from the start, so relax, grab yourself some snacks and read on. This is my Zelda story and what my past reveals for Zelda Wii.
You know those poor country families that only have a couple of TVs instead of seven, and who don’t have a computer. Well, back in 2000 that was me. That’s why you should believe me that it was a big deal at Christmas in 2000 when my brother, sister and I got a Nintendo 64. We’d only ever really played one of those at our cousin’s house. We never had a large range of games so on occasion we borrowed them. One day, the game my brother borrowed from a friend happened to be Ocarina of Time.
And so it began. The three of us somehow trying to play a single player game. There were fights, there was parent intervention leading to allocations of ‘15 minute turns’ and, as the youngest, there were plenty of times when all I could do was watch my older brother snatch the controller, tell me I was “doing it wrong” and play the game himself. There was the annoying time when my brother finally defeated Gohma and visited Hyrule castle, all while I was at school and couldn’t watch. Yeah I know, we weren’t the best at gaming back then – I mean, The Great Deku Tree a hard dungeon? We know it’s not.
There were the annoying moments where we were stuck at the tentacles in Jabu Jabu for months, and when we finally overcame that and turned into an adult it happened at the least opportune moment. “TV off, dinner time, time to get ready to go out” that mother of mine said. There were also the scary moments like when my sister was playing all alone late at night and came across redeads for the first time. She never stood a chance against so many. There were plenty of times when we had to seek my brother’s friend for help of how to do something; plenty of those coming from the Water Temple. And with the fact that I was eight, The Shadow Temple and bottom of the Well scared me beyond belief. Chains, blood and torture chambers along with my gasps if a wall master got me. But overall it was a great experience. The highlight of my childhood even. We took weeks to finish dungeons, and when bosses were defeated, it was a major accomplishment. We got to the end eventually, and my god, what an end.
At the same time it was traumatic when it ended. You see, it had consumed me. It’s all I talked about. My school books were covered in Triforces, Hero’s bows and Master Swords. Some people thought I was a bit strange. But finally we had to give the game back to my brother’s friend, and that was the end of it. I had to move on. Back to my Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day it was, and they weren’t bad games mind you, except by comparison to what I’d just left.
Then, when the Gamecube was released and people were upgrading, so also were they discarding. Another one of my brother’s friends sold him a whole stack of 64 games and amongst them was Ocarina of Time. I played it over and over myself and loved it all the same. At the same time, I really wasn’t attuned to the gaming world. I didn’t know Zelda was a series, I didn’t know there were other games out there, so you can probably imagine the ecstasy of this 10 year old in 2003 when I spotted Majora’s Mask in a pawn shop and somehow managed to convince my mom to dish out $50 for it. Unfortunately the temporarily biggest disappointment of my life followed.
Here was the sequel to the best thing in my life, and it was the worst. A three day time-limit? It took me years to figure out how to manipulate the song of time so that it was possible to complete a dungeon within a three day cycle. I was always wondering what was going on. What’s with the save system? There was also the fact the game crashed the first three times I got through Woodfall, which isn’t encouraging. It wasn’t until mid 2006, three years later, that I finished it, with the help of an online walkthrough gotten from the computer that we now had. The more I played Majora’s Mask the more I liked it; especially when I reached Ikana. Nevertheless it was an experience that I didn’t want to go through again any time soon. Majora’s Mask killed Zelda for me. Now is the time where The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess save the day.
Almost three years later. 2008. Age 14 and coming up to my 15th birthday. I was online, looking for ideas for presents my family could get me for my birthday. One thought came to me, and I’m glad it did: “I like Zelda”. It was then that I discovered I was missing a whole series. It was then when Zelda was reborn in me. Weeks later, along came my birthday with a Gamecube and limited edition The Wind Waker. I can tell you I flew through that game within a week. The graphics, I have to say, were superb. The cartoon style over the realistic one was perfect in my opinion. The Wind Waker was so new, yet so Zelda. Right until the end I was hooked, even though it was a tad easy.
Then along came the delayed birthday present: Twilight Princess for the Gamecube. Twilight Princess is known as the Ocarina of Time of the modern Zelda era, and that’s what it was. It was the same consuming game as Ocarina of Time. I was enthralled. There were sleepless nights, and it was yet again completed within the week. It was easy, but awesome. I played it the week after again, and the week after, doing almost everything there was to do. I played both it and The Wind Waker over and over. They were great games and I loved them, no doubt. But the thing is, they are no longer really that interesting. Their replay value isn’t strong. Veteran fans disliked the two games because they were too similar to the old ones. I liked them because they reminded me of Ocarina of Time and gave a rebirth to that Zelda passion in me. They took me back to the 64 classics, which I truly could play over and over forever.
In ways, the latest two console installments were lesser lights that lead me back to the greater light. They prodded me to go back and look at the intricacies of the olden games that I was infatuated with. I gave Majora’s Mask another try, and another and another. I looked at all of the sidequests, collected the masks and saw how truly great it was as a game. It was Twilight Princess’s mediocre poe and bug collecting that took me back to reunite Kafei and Anju. It was Twilight Princess that took me back to replay Ocarina of Time. While I wasn’t introduced to the series by Twilight Princess or The Wind Waker, I truly can appreciate how many fans of the series today were. Twilight Princess gave first time players the same Ocarina of Time feel I got in my childhood, it reminded dormant players like me of the Ocarina of Time feel, and made veteran players wish for some feel that wasn’t the Ocarina of Time feel.
The modern games gave me a rebirth of love for the series. I did everything there was to do in Majora’s Mask, and the same for Ocarina of Time. I am proud to say that I’ve caught the Hylian Loach and gotten a perfect 2000 in the Gerudo Horseback Archery. I conquered Master Quest easily, just like a master. But it’s thanks to the modern console releases that I’m a fan of the series to this day. They gave me the desire to find out what else the series had to offer that I’d missed; to give Majora’s Mask the second chance it clearly deserved. So I used my means to obtain the rest of the series: birthdays, Christmas and my own money. Along came The Collector’s Edition with the original Legend of Zelda. It was an interesting experience. A harder one than I liked, but I made it through. The problem with it was that with the lack of storyline or developments it was unexciting, but you really could see how the game was revolutionary in its days. The Adventure of Link was also on the disk, and admittedly, I’m yet to complete it. It is hard, and without reward. Like the original, there’s no storyline motivation or anything else convincing you to get it done. It’s not like I don’t know how it ends- YouTube is good for that. It feels like a chore to play, and so I remain only up to Midoro Palace.
And my collection has grown since then. My DS and Phantom Hourglass came next which was a fun experience. It really didn’t feel Zelda in its entirety, but it was fun to poke and touch things and stuff. I don’t write it off as a horrible game, because it was fun, but not entirely Zelda. A Link to the Past was next to join my collection, and that was simply flawless. It was the perfect level of difficulty in my opinion. I died, lots, but I was progressing. I wasn’t regressing like with The Adventure of Link. A Link to the Past had the storyline drive, the gameplay, the challenging aspect. On gameplay alone it is my favorite entry to the series, with Ocarina of Time my favorite on nostalgia and pastimes, with Majora’s Mask my favorite on morals and overall. I can only say good things about A Link to the Past, and no other game in the series can brag of that.
The Minish Cap came next for me, and it was like Phantom Hourglass. Fun to play, nothing terribly special or abundant in ‘Zelda feel’. I can’t say much for it. Then late last year Spirit Tracks came along, which was much the same, but in a good way. It lacked the Zelda feel, it had the fun gameplay, but it also had more depth in storyline than Phantom Hourglass. It improved upon Phantom Hourglass in almost every way. Most of all, it wasn’t quite as easy. I died, got stuck occasionally, but for the most part was progressing: never at a real standstill. Unfortunately it was over too quickly though.
My collection and Zelda experience is far from complete. Though I own them, I’m yet to play Oracle of Seasons and manage to get a team together for Four Swords. I’m yet to get a hold of Link’s Awakening, Four Swords Adventures and Oracle of Ages. I am still missing a big part of the series, but my journey in Zelda will continue. There was a time when Zelda was all I had in games, and then I grew up. Money came along and then there’s a wealth of great games out there you never knew about. Monster Hunter Tri, Super Mario Galaxy and my newfound pasion for Prince of Persia. In my heart Zelda Wii no longer has to prove itself against Zelda alone, but against the whole gaming industry. No doubt the feelings of others for a long time, especially with Ocarina of Time’s standing as ‘the unanimously agreed greatest game ever’. For me, it used to just be Zelda; but now Nintendo has to prove to me that I should stick with Zelda over other games, books and movies. There’s so much out there today to contend with. Zelda got me into gaming, through a wild and unusual experience, and now Zelda Wii must sustain that.
Right at this moment all my focus for Zelda is upon E3 this week. What will Zelda Wii be like? Reminiscing about my past, has really brought to the forefront what this long awaited installment needs to bring to the series for me. First is length. I don’t want to have the game finished within a week while I’m also at school full time like Twilight Princess. Secondly is difficulty. I want a challenge. Not something that I find really hard like The Adventure of Link, but something like A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. I want a challenge, but with continuous progression. Super Mario Galaxy may be too easy, but you generally always know what must be done, it’s just about doing it. People like playing it because they’re getting somewhere. I want a challenge, I want difficulty, but not so much that it hinders progression. A Link to the Past gave me that. Maybe Zelda is getting easier just because it’s the same. Different could be difficult.
Thirdly, I want the morals. Games like The Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask are full of inspiring motifs, and that’s the main reason I like Zelda so much on a continuous basis that keeps me here working at Zelda Informer. I want encouragement. Lastly and most importantly of all, I want that feel Ocarina of Time gave me the first time. No, not through a game that is Ocarina of Time again, but through something new and different. Honestly, I don’t know how exactly Nintendo could do this, but there would be nothing better than this if they could pull it off. Along with that comes the game’s replay value, which is something lacking in recent Zeldas. I take it for granted that the gameplay of Zelda will be great, so it is deeper that I desire for Zelda Wii. In the end, if nothing more, I just want that sense of accomplishment that all of the major console releases gave me as I sat there watching the credits, listening to the climax of the soundtrack.