Title: Memories of Zelda
Posted: March 05, 2006 (08:35 PM)
I'm sure you all have wonderful memories of playing games. I'm sure you've all got a few special moments that really stand out, and make all the hours wasted playing these games worth it. We all do. For me, the majority of them come from one series. And so I thought I'd share just a few of them, if only to hide the fact that I meant to have a review done weeks ago and it's still not finished. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I tried to pick some not-so-obvious moments that really connected with me.
The Legend of Zelda
It's dangerous to go alone. Take this. - What can I say? Imagine being a 5 year old kid playing this hyped up game for the very first time. All you can do is move around... you don't even have a weapon. But go to the cave and a kindly old man jump starts your adventure. You sit in the cave swinging it around a few times, seeing the sword shoot out in front of you. You're suddenly more confident, more able to take on the world. Is that not super cool? In the grand scheme of things, it's a very minor thing, but I think the impact of it is rather large. The idea of spending the first few seconds getting your sword was and is actually a big deal for me, and I think the immediate reward and sense of accomplishment, however minor it may be, is part of the absolute genius of this game. And it has become a staple of the series, and rightly so. I cannot think of a better way to start the greatest videogame series of all time.
Finding the whistle in the second quest - You had the map, you saw the obvious blank space in the middle of the "A" in the second labyrinth. You've been everywhere else, you know an item has to be hidden there. The layout of the room above seems to confirm your suspicion, but still you can't find a way in. Is it a glitch, an error? In frustration, you just try to run through the solid wall - and then do just that. I can't tell you how mindblowing that was, an entirely new method of hiding rooms. It was completely unexpected, yet still doable. And when it happens for the first time, you just can't believe it. Despite the fact that puzzles have practically taken over the Zelda series (sigh...), none of them have given me the same satisfaction as this one.
The Adventure of Link
The Downward Thrust - Despite having played this game dozens of times, I still have to control myself not to go crazy downward thrusting anything and everything in sight as soon as I get it. It's just such a cool little move, and I love taking people out with it, or, for that matter, simply playing with it while running down a hallway. Getting this powerup is the turning point in the game, suddenly it goes from merely great to super awesome.
The Shadow Fight - This is it folks, the best fight in the Zelda series. Dark Link and every single instance of Ganon simply pales to the greatness of this encounter. I've played through this game dozens of times, can fly through the rest of the battles with ease... yet the outcome of this battle still remains questionable. None of my strategies and styles seem to work on him, and fighting him requires my entire concentration and all the patience I can muster. Besides, he looks so cool while fighting, from the way he deftly slides backwards to his reaction when hit to the way he merely crouches, motionless, merely staring at you as if daring you to make the next move. The idea of conquering yourself may be an overused cliche, but this is one instance where it is done with absolute perfection.
Ocarina of Time
The Forest Temple - Such a supremely designed temple (best level in a game ever? I think so) deserves all the praise it can get. From the multiple paths that lay in front of you from the moment you enter the temple proper, not to mention seeing ledges and doorways you can't quite reach in the courtyards, you knew this would be a blast to explore. Practically all the puzzles were completely and utterly unique, not to mention the numerous unique enemies. Seeing the twisted hallway for the first time blew my mind, figuring out what to do with the paintings was cool, running through the sewers was a cool reminder of the original Zelda's secret passageways, not finding a key for so long because I forgot about the temple's front yard and not being smart enough to look up was enjoyably frustrating. And the creepy music and vines growing everywhere and the ancient architecture and the constant shift from inside to outside made this temple come alive, feeling completely whole- something to experience rather than simply a level to play through.
The Final Six Hours - Holy crap. First thing's first- if I ever learn the world will end within a few hours, I'm listening to that music. It is so depressing yet mysterious at the same time, as if the world was resigned to its fate and now anxiously waiting for the end to come and discovering what would come next. And with the clock quickly running down, the earthquakes increasing in frequency, the moon so freaking huge, and everywhere you look you see people worried about the end. The different reactions from everyone really feels natural, and your heart starts to go out for these people. Before getting the game I thought seeing the end of the world would be the coolest experience, only to find it being somewhat anticlimactic after such a touching and intense six hours.
The Music Box House in Ikana - I don't know what you want to call it, but it's the one with the little girl who's frightened of Link. Everyone talks about Anju/Kafei, but this was the event that touched me the most. First, there was the confusion of what was going on, who this girl is and why she's so scared yet independent. Then, after entering the house, the appearance of her father freaked me out, being so sudden and, well, weird. After playing the song of healing (a very beautiful song), and seeing the reunion between the daughter and the father was almost too much. An extremely well scripted scene, one of the most emotional parts of the game for me.
All of these events are nice, but the truly wonderful thing about this series is how anything can turn into a memory. The Zelda games are so finely crafted, so infinitely variable, so filled with details and magic and art, that any part of playing can become meaningful and memorable. If you were to ask people what their favorite moments are in, say, Final Fantasy, chances are you'll get are Aeris' death or the Opera or whatever. In other words, the only moments that seem memorable are those that are specifically designed to be memorable. Square wants you to feel a certain way and directs you towards it. That's obviously not bad in any way (And indeed, Zelda has many such moments as well), but Zelda can also create such great moments out of anything.
Your freedom of movement and of experimentation allow you to create your own moments rather than merely watch them. I played horseback archery for hours. A friend of mine immediately started jammin on his guitar after becoming a Zora in MM. Setting off tons of bomb flowers at once made me grin. Fooling around while fighting Stalfos and Ironknuckles and Dark Link. Fishing. Riding around on Epona. Killing minor enemies until a giant one appears. Rolling around as a Goron. Jumping off cliffs while holding a chicken. Creating bomb arrows in LA. Taking out your frustrations on the old man in the labyrinths in the original Zelda. Being a pirate ship in WW. Anything and everything can be fun, can be exciting, can be a brand new experience. People praise GTA3 for its freedom so much, never seeming to realize that Zelda beat them to the punch and then some. This, to me, is more important to the Zelda legacy than actions and puzzles. Zelda represents the unknown possibilities of gaming, and one of the major reasons I value it much more than any other series in existence.
Posted: March 05, 2006 (09:02 PM)
The only Zeldas I liked were the original (probably in my top 5 games of all time, maybe even my top 3), OoT, and Link's Awakening (which I will HOPEFULLY review by tomorrow, but don't count on it). They're all amazing, and it's a shame that the others weren't as good. Seasons and Ages were ok but not anything special.
I still haven't played Zelda 2, but I hear from everyone that it's awesome.
Posted: March 05, 2006 (10:24 PM)
Preach on, Mariner. Preach one!
Seriously, those moments were great for me too. The Zelda series really is fantastic.
Posted: March 06, 2006 (06:43 PM)
Preach one! Preach two!
Posted: March 06, 2006 (07:39 PM)
I liked Zelda 2 until the final dungeon kicked my ass.
Posted: March 06, 2006 (11:56 PM)
Preach three! Preach four! Am I the only one aside from Bluberry that caught that?
Posted: March 07, 2006 (12:01 AM)
Being a hardcore Zelda fan myself, I totally agree with Mariner in every way. Do you all realize how right he is? Rock on, man, rock on. You have spoken to my soul. Touched it.
Posted: March 08, 2006 (07:05 PM)
I totaly agree Zelda rocks
Posted: March 08, 2006 (07:05 PM)