As a modern gamer with a massive collection of classic consoles, who’s only experience with the Zelda franchise is the last 3, I’m playing through The Legend of Zelda:Ocarina of Time. As someone who bought it, in 2011 at full price, and expects a good game for today. Follow along, and we’ll see if the best Zelda really has stood the test of time.
So, back on to Hyrule field, off on the adventure! I quite like the way Hyrule field looks actually, it’s not busy visually, but the 3D does give a nice sense of scale. I’m playing with the slider at around 50% now, as I’ve had some problems with image doubling, especially in darker sections and at night in the game. I read up on this a bit and was told it’s because of the way the layering in the screen of the 3DS works, and that turning on power saving helps. It didn’t really seem to help much, and I haven’t really had this problem with other games, so I’m just turning down the slider and hoping for the best.
Now I have to mention something here that I’m pretty disappointed in: the music. The tunes are kind of catchy to begin with, but they just loop and some become very annoying very quickly. I loved the orchestral score of Twilight Princess and even the music from the Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks was much more varied and dynamic than this. The audio design compliments the game well otherwise, I’m able to locate the chickens I must catch, and the cues for picking things up and opening chests are good, but the music just isn’t doing it for me, and I was expecting a lot.
So doing a bit of exploring around before I head up to the first big dungeon, I stumble onto the Lost Forest. It reminds me very much of Bowser’s castle in Super Mario Brothers, or ghost houses in Super Mario World. I didn’t find anything that told me where I was supposed to go, so it was a whole bunch of guess and check. I sure hope it was my own stupidity, because that moved from fun exploration to ‘dammit, the entrance again?’ pretty quickly. Still, I liked the environment, but wasn’t quite sure who Sarnia was or why I should care. Platonic best friends I’m sure, right Link?
Then off to Kakariko Village, and… some builders prancing around? Man that’s friggin odd. Was really hoping there was some way to take a chicken up to the top of the tower in the village and jump off, glad chicken gliding is in the game, I have no idea why it’s as fun as it is. Of course when you think about it, those are some STRONG chickens. I’m meeting more of the colourful cast, whom I hope develop a bit as the game progresses. It’s something I’ve noticed about the few Zelda games I’ve played, aside from the core Zelda-Link-Ganon/Evil Dude relationship, the rest of the characters feel very ancillary. Even Navi is basically a little floating ball of hints. Who should shut up.
I’ve had enough, time to flash the letter and be on my way.
Up to the ominous mountain, and a wonderful reunion with the rock guys, and my favourite/most hated Zelda item, bombs! I like them because I like explosions and they’re fun to use, but I hate them because in every other dungeon but the ‘use bombs here’ dungeon, they’re essentially useless when you know they should be solving your problems. It reminds you that ‘hey, this is a game and we designed it for you not to do it this way’ which always rips you out of it. The Gorons are fun though, they’re the race I like the most in Zelda, they don’t have much in the way of outward personality, but you can tell there’s a complex societal structure and rich history of tradition there. Or maybe that’s just me. The rock-nipples are kind of weird though.
A little bit of RPG thinking to bomb the eyes of the skull, and I’m in! Pretty basic dungeon design, no big surprises or anything. The bats are obnoxious, and Link seems to have difficulty sometimes deciding between pushing a box or climbing up it. Into the boss chamber, I wonder if I’ll have to use the bombs to defeat him? Nice design on the boss, though you don’t really see it if you’re running away. Let’s see, bombs have to go somewhere, no flashing weak spots, must mean… yup, right into the mouth. Alright, a simple boss defeat after a simple dungeon. Entertaining, but I felt that was quite linear, which is something I’m coming to expect from Zelda dungeons. This one felt empty though, I wanted some more combat, more puzzles, a larger dungeon, you know? Ah well, I’ve got another stone, and I’m off to the next dungeon.