Thoughts on Zelda

I’ve just finished playing The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, Master Quest for the Wii Virtual console.

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I’m a huge fan of the regular OoT so I thought that doing the master quest would be a great way to revisit a classic game from my past. Before I get into Master Quest, I’ll just ramble a bit about the regular OoT.

Ocarina of Time

This game hugely impacted me as a designer on top of just being an awesome game all around. Plenty to do, perfect pacing, a great balance between action and puzzles, and well thought out dungeons and challenges. In a way, this game is part of the reason I haven’t delved into 3D games. I want to have a firm mastery of what makes a 2D game fun (Link to the Past was another near perfect game) and only then start exploring what 3D can do. OoT is the best proof that game design has little to do with technical expertise or making eye-popping graphics, strong game design is something that transcends genres or the number of dimensions. “Is this game fun?” is the only question any real gamer should ever ask, the rest is just fluff. The lack of any real academic study of 2D games and how they work is sadly not surprising, if your game isn’t 3D, I just can’t be a “AAA” title. If I can achieve a level of innovation and quality that is present in some of the older Nintendo titles, I’d love to do a 3D game (I have plenty of ideas that would only work with 3D). Until then, I’m still honing my skills as a 2D designer.

Ocarina of Time, Master Quest

As for Master Quest… I’m just not sure what happened there. It seems to suffer from a similar problem as the Japanese Mario 2 for NES (or Lost Levels on the Mario All Stars for SNES). Someone simply told the programmers to “do some other stuff” and they just programmed in some harder, unfun aspects into the game. No new artwork, just relocating objects or placing a few new ones in a room. In retrospect, I should of just replayed the normal OoT I just didn’t know any better! An uninspired rehash at best :(

Majora’s Mask

I’m one of the few people that thinks that the direct sequel to OoT Majora’s Mask, is pure genius.

Admittedly the game is dense and obviously had a shorter production time, smaller budget, and re-used a lot of assets from OoT. It’s an acquired taste for sure, getting involved in the 3 day time management system definitely could of been better explained in the game. But, once it’s understood, it opens up a lot of possibilities and most of the opportunities that the 3 day system can offer aren’t missed by the designers. This is a great game if you are a designer and like to pull apart game design ideas and figure out what makes them interesting. This game certainly changed my view on time travel. The usage of the masks and the general feel of the game is something very hard to put my finger on, but it’s something that can’t be ignored. Someday I’d love to do a game involving masks and the different gameplay and role playing aspects that they can provide.

Wind Waker & Twilight Princess

As for Wind Waker, I liked the game, but the story and artwork repelled me so much that I just can’t see past it. The “re-imagining” of the Zelda universe was something no one was really asking for, it just sort of happened for no reason. I think they tried to “correct” those issues in Twilight Princess, but unfortunately they overcompensated and lost the fun feeling of the series and didn’t focus on making things dynamic and fresh. I have high hopes that Nintendo gets their balance back for the newest installation of the series (I haven’t really read up on it though).

In closing, if you haven’t played Ocarina of Time, you’re missing out. If you’re a little more hard core, you’ll probably have an interesting experience with Majora’s Mask. Next post I’ll fully discuss the GBS games!

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3 Responses to “Thoughts on Zelda”

  1. Great blog! One thing that caught my attention, though. The abbreviation for Ocarina of Time is OoT, not OoC. Other than that, it’s great, and I now know not to get OoT Master Quest.

  2. Great article! I would agree with you on every point except Wind Waker, the very thing you criticise Twilight princess for not having (the fun aspect, which I agree with also), you criticise Wind Waker for having in abundance. I have been a huge fan of the Zelda series since I played Links awakening on the GB yet Majora’s mask still confounds the hell outta me haha. One day I must sit down and clock it

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