"This was the game people had been waiting long long years for. In movie sense, it is Star Wars Episode One. However, with expectations this high, Zelda 64 was bound to disappoint some people, myself included."
Zelda 64 had the dubious distinction of being hailed as the savior of the Nintendo 64. This game was supposed to make or break the system. This was the game people had been waiting long long years for. In movie sense, it is Star Wars Episode One. However, with expectations this high, Zelda 64 was bound to disappoint some people, myself included.
Originally scheduled for a Christmas 97 (haha, yeah right, like Nintendo would ever hit a release date), Zelda 64 came out finally in the cold turkey days of 1998. One might ask why Nintendo just didn't delay it until Christmas, thus erridicating any Sony and Saturn competition, but oh well, that's all past tense.
Zelda 64 is by far the best story-wise in the Zelda series, but this is not saying much at all. Zelda 1 and 2 (Nintendo) had little story unless you read the manual. Link To The Past (Super Nintendo) expanded a bit on the story, but it was not too integral in the game. Link's Awakening (Game Boy) had the best story, with twists and turns abound, especially towards the end. Zelda 64 just barely nudges Link's Awakening, but it's still not close to the top-notch story telling in games such as the Final Fantasy series.
The best way to describe the BASIC gameplay of Zelda 64 is to say it's Mario 64 with role playing elements thrown in. The perspective is very much the same, with an option to change between a fixed camera angle and a first person view.
For the most part, you attack enemies by targeting at them with the Z-Button. You then press the corresponding buttons that your sword or other speical itmes are attached to. You can bind any of the itmes to a certain button. A, B, and the four camera buttons are all used as action buttons while you're locked on to an opponent. L and R can be used to perform various moves such as sidestep and switch the camera angle.
If you're not targeting an enemy, you can still attack them, but you'll mainly just flail about and it won't be nearly as effective as the target attacking. This is considered normal mode. You can run around much more easily and perform moves such as a roll to avoid enemy attacks.
This new adventure/Mario-perspective hybrid that Zelda uses is servicable. It's not outstanding. If there's a group of enemies around you, the Z-Targeting simply won't get the job done. It's meant for 1 on 1 battles, say with bosses, in which point it succeeds. However, for other types of combat, such as riot duty (2 or more enemies on the screen), you'll want to switch to normal mode and use your sword charge attacks.
The challenge level of Zelda 64 steadily increases. The last few dungeons are very tough, and I've heard from a lot of novice gamers that they can't even beat one dungeon in the second part of the game. This is a change from normal Nintendo procedure, as most games they produce are a tad on the easy size, given that their audience has a lot of children from the 8 to 14 age range.
Part of this difficulty suffers from the awkward group fighting system, but another aspect is that the game rarely tells you what to do. While this sounds like a blessing, I'm not a fan of non-linear gameplay, and many other people aren't either. I believe that ''non-linear'' is just another way of saying ''wander around until you find something to do''. That's definately the feel you get from Zelda 64. You can wander around for 15 to 45 minutes, finding nothing to do.
As a result of the above mentioned flaws (battle system, challenge level, exploring issues), the fun factor of Zelda 64 suffers substantially. In all honesty, I had to WILL myself through this game. Never in a million years did I think I'd have to force myself to play a Zelda game. Maybe it was my high expectations that ruined this game, but even playing it a year later, I can't get into it at all without cursing.
Zelda 64 does NOT disappoint with the eye candy though. Everything has beautiful graphics, colorful and bright. Not really realistic, but it looks like a very high quality animation cartoon. There's no pixelation close-up. Zelda probably has the best graphics I've seen on the Nintendo 64.
Sound is also a strong point. Along the way you pick up tunes for your Ocarina (vital to gameplay), all of which sound very cool. There's a good orchestra score all throughout the game, and effects are effective, neither loud or soft or annoying.
The replay value for Zelda is pretty low. The only big extra is the mask game, and that doesn't influence the end of the game. You can replay dungeons, try to beat it faster, use less lives... That's the only reason to play Zelda again once you beat it.
Don't get me wrong, Zelda is still a good adventure game. But I personally don't think it's an epic. That's my opinion, and I'm sure I'll get lots of flame mail for it ;) There's not many other games that I'm aware of on the Nintendo 64 likes this though. None of them got close to the amount of fame as this one too. If you can, I'd recommend you play the other Zelda games instead of this one.
Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)
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