I did not grow up with The Legend of Zelda. Blame my local rental stores who never had it available. I grew up on the SNES and I played Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and other Nintendo classics. However, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was never around. The first Zelda game I played was Ocarina of Time and at first I didn’t like it. The lack of a jump button really bothered me. However, several years later, I tried the original on the NES via an emulator and loved it. So I went back and tried Ocarina of Time again and enjoyed it. However, I never thought it was an amazing game.
Flash forward to the release of Wind Waker and I tried out a friend’s copy. I got bored during the second dungeon. I bought Twilight Princess around the launch of the Wii game and I couldn’t even get past the intro area. It’s entirely possible that I’m not really a fan of Zelda games and I shouldn’t try anymore since it’s probably just not for me. However, I feel the need to keep giving these games a try. I bought the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time and still haven’t finished it because I got bored. I got the Wii U HD remake of Wind Waker and although I’ve gotten much further than before, I haven’t finished it and didn’t really enjoy my time playing it.
However, last December, I rented and then bought The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and fell in love with it. I finished that game 100% really quickly because I just couldn’t stop playing it. A Link Between Worlds is easily my favorite Zelda game and it made me realize what my problem is with the other Zelda games.
A lot of the Zelda games, at least since Ocarina of Time, have been really linear. They go from one dungeon to the next with objectives to move the story along in between. However, they do have a field, an ocean, something for you to explore. Usually, this place in question looks really nice and inviting so you run around seeing what’s there. This is the point where I find there’s nothing. There’s no secret areas, not that many hidden missions, and the collectables that are there are usually tedious. Wind Waker is probably the best example of this and there’s nothing but blue ocean everywhere with the occasional enemy tower and cannons. Oddly enough, that is how the ocean is so you could say that it’s accurate.
Another problem is what is out in the field isn’t really that interesting or fun. Giant squid battle? Fun the first time but the fights never change. Treasure Charts? That’s a whole lot of effort to go through just for some rupees. And don’t even get me started on the gold skulltulas. A lot of these items are often hard to find too because it rarely occurs to me that I should be looking at them. Everything in Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time looks bland a farm here, a few entrances there, and then just green floor with a dirt path everywhere. Compared to A Link Between Worlds, there’s weeds to cut, cracked walls to blow up, rivers to swim through. Look! There’s an alcove that I can’t reach! How do I get there? I want to be there!
Something that it seems the 3D Zelda games have trouble with is giving you that desire to explore and to reward that exploration. The wonderment of being in an adventurous land like Hyrule hasn’t been translated well in a lot of recent games. If you think about a game like Assassin’s Creed II, you have cities like Venice or Forli, with all of the people and vendors and guards and buildings and artworks and waterways and etcetera, etcetera. I’m not saying Zelda needs to do the same thing but it does need stuff in its world. Multiple shops, people, enemies, wildlife, various paths, different land elevations, interactable items, and so on.
Apparently, I’m not alone with this complaint. Nintendo has said that they’re going to try different stuff with the Zelda series and some open world concepts are said to be integrated in the upcoming title on the Wii U. I’m interested to see what they do if anything but in the meantime, I’ll still give Zelda a try. I’ve been watching a playthrough of Twilight Princess on the YouTube channel YoVideogames. Watching that has inspired both this blog and for me to buy Twilight Princess again and give it another shot. Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading! Do you have similar complaints? Do you disagree? Are you a super Zelda fan and think you can explain the appeal of Zelda games? Should I just stop trying to play a series I don’t like and play something I enjoy? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your take on my thoughts and issues with the Zelda series. Peace and love, gamers and players! Colorwind out!