Before I tell you what mine is, let’s just admit it to each other: we all have cultural blind spots. We haven’t seen the Godfather trilogy, we haven’t read The Lord of the Rings, we’ve never listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. And some of us, the really terrible ones, have never played The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. I’m coming out and admitting it, I’ve never touched the cartridge or listened to the music start up. I’ve never ridden Epona or… whatever else you do in the game. I’ve heard about it, of course. I’ve been playing Nintendo games and video games in general since I could hold a controller, but for some reason the Zelda series always passed me by. I’m going to blame my friends, they were much more into the platforming adventures of Super Mario, and when the N64 came along, Cruisin’ USA and Goldeneye 007 dominated our play times. I didn’t have my own N64, so I wasn’t able to sit down with epic adventures by myself, I was playing on the PC and older consoles. They came to my house to throw down in MechWarrior 2 and I went to their houses for Pilotwings. Then by the time I had bought my own GameCube and N64, Zelda had passed me by. I had never touched the series because there were too many other good games to play, I had just never gotten around to it.
My first taste of Zelda actually came with Twilight Princess, which may make you cringe if you’re a stalwart Zelda fan. Looking for something to play on my newly purchased Wii and having been intrigued by the massive fanfare on the internet, I picked it up and was quite pleased that I did. I enjoyed it, but for some reason it never prompted me to look through the Virtual Console or dig out one of my old systems and visit eBay or a flea market. Then came the DS Zeldas: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. I very much enjoyed Phantom Hourglass, I felt it was one of the most complete DS experiences there was, and felt let down by the very ‘samey’ feeling Spirit Tracks. So here I am, with only the three most modern Zeldas under my belt, with the chance to play Ocarina of Time with a bit of a unique perspective. The vast majority of gamers will be playing this through rose-tinted nostalgia goggles. They will know how the dungeons operate (I’ve heard in passing about the dreaded water dungeon) and what you’re supposed to do. I will not. They will marvel at the updated graphics. I will not. They will see the little differences in control scheme and HUD. I will not. They will be forgiving of this Zelda because even though it has been released in 2011, it was made for a different time. I will not. So, the real question is, how does Ocarina of Time stack up to a modern Zelda? Is it really as great as you think it is, and has it stood the test of time as well as you think it has? I couldn’t just do a review for this, it didn’t quite seem right. So I’ll kick off the first of a series of ‘Play Logs’, where I’ll give you my impressions as I go so you can experience the journey along with me, to see the game that you know so well through the eyes of a modern gamer with history of his own. I know you have a gaming blind spot somewhere, maybe this will encourage you to find it.
I’ve grabbed a coffee, the 3DS is charged up and I’m raring to begin. I decide to keep Links name as Link, I must keep the experience pure. And as such, I’ll be playing it like I’ve been playing 3DS games, using the 3D unless it’s annoying or frustrating. From what I’ve heard this may happen during the gyroscope aiming, I’m curious to see if it’s true. It annoyed me in Face Raiders, but it was manageable with the slider most of the way down.
So, the village where everybody talks about buttons. Not a bad way to have a tutorial I suppose, make a starting village out of it. Gets you into the game right away. The graphics and depth are actually pretty decent, as a portable title I don’t have too many complaints about the fidelity, though its a pretty simple style. Bah, I’m being tempted to be kind as I know where it came from, but I still spent the $40 on it in 2011, and I would like more. And into the mouth of the creepy tree, this is a little odd. The climbing animation is atrocious, which is all the more jarring because otherwise they were alright. An odd decision to have it so jerky, it’s actually a little surprising when you first see it. Up into the top of the Deku tree, with probably the least dangerous spiders I’ve ever met. Do they actually ever attack you, or do they just spin around and glare? Having a few issues with the camera, it’s running into things and not keeping the action focused. The L-button recentering is nice, but the automatic camera needs to be better in tight situations, I never had these problems in Twilight Princess. Alright, so the way you figure out how to beat the Queen is that her minions are incredibly loose-lipped when they are annoyed. Sure, I’ll buy that, not that it made much difference as the ‘use what you just found’ formula from previous Zeldas is alive and well here I can see. As is the ‘hit it in the glowy bit’ from pretty much every video game that has ever been made ever. Okay, so I didn’t manage to do that in time to save the tree, surely if a tiny kid can kill the least-menacing spiders every created, that tough dude that wouldn’t let me leave without a sword could have at least attempted it months ago, and maybe saved the tree? Just saying. And the triforce? When some goddesses left Earth, they ran into each other which made a triangle of gold. How does that make any sense at all? You couldn’t come up with a better bit of back story for your macguffin? That’s just lazy. And off to the castle, where it takes me far too much exploring to realize I need to come back during the day time, so I don’t have 2 guards staring at the little hole I come in through. Why they would have patrol routes that make them stare at other walls during the day, and yet at night they stand in one place looking at a tiny hole in the wall. Zelda is a whiny kid who for no apparent reason to me other than a bad dream, thinks someone who is allied with her father is going to take over the world. Bit of a leap in reasoning there kiddo. So, I need 2 stones. Why do I feel this is going to be harder than it seems?
Ah, and it’s already been a couple of hours. First impressions are of a pretty weak story, even compared to the minimal set dressing that we got from Twilight Princess or Phantom Hourglass. I don’t mind playing the kid at all, (Clearly I’m going to get bigger at some point) but hopefully things grow up soon. I’ll be back shortly, my appetite has been whetted.