Super Adventures at Christmas 2012 - Game 2:
Okay it's taken me a decade or so to get around to it, but today I'm finally going to have a look at Ocarina of Time, the fifth game in the main Legend of Zelda series. Actually to be honest I did play this back in the day, though not for long. It didn't exactly win me over then, but I think it's about time I gave it a second chance.
Then it cuts to our hero Link (the boy without a fairy) having a prophetic dream of Princess Zelda being kidnapped by this evil man in black. Or maybe she's escaping from him, it's hard to tell.
You can tell right away this is an N64 game by the blurry, ultra low detail textures, but he definitely looks better than Cloud Strife and his paintbrush arms in Final Fantasy VII. He has a nose and mouth for one thing.
Great Deku Tree. People really seem to like speaking in colours in this. We don't get to hear what red sounds like though as there's no voices besides an occasional 'hey!'
It's weird how they've used a pre-rendered background for this bit. It doesn't look like anything that the N64 would struggle with rendering in realtime, geometry-wise anyway. I'm sure the textures wouldn't look as sharp.
I'm liking the ladders in this by the way. I just walked close to it and he automatically moved around to climb down. So many games make getting onto a ladder way more of a hassle than it needs to be. (I'm looking at you, every first person shooter)
Link doesn't actually say a word himself, but the characters respond as if he did. It's like the designers expect players to start talking out loud to the screen or something.
A SHORT CRAWL LATER.
Right, now I'm equipped to go rescue the Princess! Wait, no, I'm supposed to go visit a tree aren't I.
boy without a fairy, okay? In red, get it right. Second... get the fuck outta my way kid or I'll introduce you to the spiky end of a priceless Kokiri treasure.
Mean old Mido refuses to move out of the way and let me see the tree unless I'm equipped with a shield as well, and unfortunately I just can't afford it yet. Looks like I'm going to have to go cut up every bush in town looking for 23 more rupees.
QUARTER OF AN HOUR LATER.
I'm sorry mate, but there's no way I'm going to climb into your mouth. Navi stay back, he wants you for dessert.
EVENTUALLY, INSIDE THE TREE.
I did manage to work this out all by myself, though it took me a minute. The monster spits stuff out at me, so I just need to reflect it back with the shield, using the Z-targeting system to make sure I'm facing directly at him (because there are no other camera controls).
Well I apparently came into this room to learn about fire, so logically whatever I need to do next will probably involve a bit of arson. Hey, I remember walking over a spider web when I first came into the tree, covering a big hole in the ground. That should burn pretty good I think, hopefully without setting the whole Deku Tree on fire.
Ironically the web I tried to destroy was the thing that broke my fall.
In the end I got tired of climbing back up this tree, gave up, and asked a friend what to do. They basically replied 'oh, you just have to fall through the web in the floor'. And yeah, of course the next time I tried it, Link smashed through the web no problem. The game's just trying to make me look like an idiot on the internet, that's what it is.
This is a fairly well designed boss battle, with the enemy switching between crawling across the ceiling, dropping off baby enemies, and coming in to attack me personally. Link has plenty of options available to him, such as shooting him down with a slingshot when he's creeping around above, or stunning him with a flash of his magic nuts when he gets close.
But I'm still struggling, and I think the reason is the camera controls. Or total lack of them. The camera moves around of its own free will as I walk, and locking onto anything with the Z-targeting is hit and miss. Mostly miss for me.
I think I've been spoiled by dual stick controllers, and mouse and keyboard. I'm used to being my own cameraman.
I guess I'll just go wandering around Hyrule Field and hope I can see it in the distance. I'll at least recognise the drawbridge from the dream at the start.
This place is called 'market' on the map, but it's clearly the place from Link's dream. I keep waiting for the drawbridge to open and Zelda to be carried out on a horse, but nothing's happening.
Nothing but zombies bursting out of the ground that is. Hyrule Field must be one big mass burial ground, the amount of these things that come crawling up at night.
In Link to the Past I got into the castle through a shortcut under a bush, so maybe there's a similar trick here. Though of course in Link to the Past I only found the shortcut because Zelda told me where it was.
Turns out that they were facing me. Fortunately it turns out the punishment for trespassing isn't execution. At least not for the first time. They may change their minds when they realise I'm not going to give up.
Well now I'm stuck again, and I don't think this problem's gonna be solved by jumping on it from the top of a tree. But hey, Navi's trying to get my attention, maybe she has a clue.
Okay... drugs. I'll find some wake up drug or something in the market. Maybe an old fashioned alarm clock. And if this doesn't work then I'm out of ideas.
Don't tell me you have to sneak into the castle grounds twice before the game gives you the object you need to get inside the door. I must have just done something wrong here, because that makes no sense.
BUT THEN, AFTER SNEAKING INTO THE CASTLE GROUNDS AGAIN.
That's it. I just give up. I am so sick of this game messing me around. I just want to go into dungeons, and complete quests, and collect new gear etc. I just can't figure out what it wants me to do here, and I'm not sure it's entirely my fault.
But then as I'm leaving, a chicken hatches from the egg by itself, waking the guy up. Old fashioned alarm clock. Turns out I just had to wait a bit. Well fine... I'll keep playing, but if I don't find anything to win me over by the time I reach a proper dungeon, I'm out. I'm turning it off.
It seems that the evil looking man from my dream is an evil man, and that this Triforce is a magical wishing triangle that I really want to be getting my hands on before he does. For the sake of the world I mean, I wasn't thinking of wishing my fairy away or anything. Though I suppose I could...
I know that songs in this have certain powers, but I can't really see what good a lullaby will do me, unless I need to send someone to sleep at some point. Actually, considering what else I've been doing that doesn't seem unlikely.
Anyway my mission is now clear. I'm to head up to Death Mountain and hunt for one of the spiritual stones I'll need to get to the Triforce. Seems straightforward enough.
Well the shield costs 80 rupees and I'm 31 short (this is really familiar somehow), so I guess I'm going to back out to Hyrule Field to mug zombies for a while. It's not grave robbing if the corpse carries their valuables out with them.
Or perhaps Navi has a plan...
Also, thanks again for being entirely useless.
I like this inventory screen by the way, and the way it lets you map items to the C buttons. Personally I would have mapped the camera to the C buttons, and stuck the inventory items onto the D-pad but I dunno, maybe that would have turned out awkward.
The unlit torch outside seems to be a big clue, but I can't find any fire in this place.
In the end I gave up and asked a friend for help. They said 'the carpet outside the door is the clue that you're supposed to play Zelda's lullaby to open it'. I suppose I can see that, considering it was a lullaby for royalty and he's waiting for the Royal Family's messenger. I never would have figured it out myself though. Whatever, let's just get this over with so I can go to the dungeon and get the stone.
Right, I'm looking at a walkthrough, because this is just ridiculous. I can't even imagine what I'd need to do to get this guy to allow me to to HELP STOP HIS PEOPLE STARVING TO DEATH.
The walkthrough says 'go visit Saria all the way back in the Kokiri Forest'. The bloody fairy was right!
After searching through the entire town, and then the entire forest, I eventually found where Saria was waiting for me. Which turned out to be pretty much as far from the entrance as you can get in this place, at the end of a maze. Anyway she taught me the song of Saria, which has the magic power of... basically being able to phone Saria up wherever I am. Well that's awesome, for a second there I was worried that I was wasting my time here.
EVENTUALLY, AFTER HIKING ALL THE WAY BACK TO DEATH MOUNTAIN.
Uh, I stopped playing the song ages ago, you can stop dancing now.
I'm not going to say that this is a bad game, or even that it's overrated, especially after only giving it a few hours. Even today it's rare to find a 'best games ever' list without it showing up near the top, and the recent 3DS port has been getting great sales. So assuming the game's perfectly fine, what's wrong with me? Why can't I like it?
Maybe I'm just too much of a 'modern gamer' who needs his quest arrows and journals, and the idea of having to be patient and explore puts me off. Maybe it's designed to encourage players to buy the walkthrough. Or maybe I've just got an aversion to fairies and forest elves, I don't know.
I guess I'll come back to it in 15 years and give it another shot.
If you've got any opinions about Ocarina of Time, those dumb things I wrote about it, the site in general, etc. please leave a comment.