Marinated for eons (in Internet Time) in the resurrecting juices of a Lazarus pit, it's the triumphant return of the Pit of Reckoning, bearing naturally little to no resemblance to the page as it were in ages past. Turns out, it was just too ambitious and laborious of a project to ever be brought to completion (meaning, I'm a lazy sack of potatoes) in its past form. Now it's pretty much just a generic (as generic as anything I ever write could possibly be, anyway... meaning, not much at all, I guess) listing of a game's distinctive positive and negative points. They all have 'em, both of 'em. Even Majora's Mask, borderline flawless gift to our entire human race though it is, is not beyond my pedantic reproach. It is the mark of a true fan that they can realize a work's flaws without letting it impact their opinion on any noticeable level. Fanboys are worse than Vaati fans. ...Well, almost.
- Without it, we wouldn't be here, would we now? Probably we'd all be hanging out on some other gaming wiki, dedicated to something dumb, like, I don't know, smartphone games or something. First and foremost, let's just all respect the game for that and for getting the essential Zelda formula right on the very first try. Things have been improved upon since, but without it... that's not even worth thinking about.
- The translation is a laugh and a half! Zero Wing wishes it were half as laughter-inducing as that infamous attract screen plot dump. Bring back "Triforce with Power" as the official name! All hail Prince Darkness "Gannon"!
- Boomerangs! No traditional over-the-top perspective Zelda game should be without 'em!
- That Overworld theme. You know the one. It's just one of those songs you could hear a million times (which is good seeing as how that's probably going to occur if you get hooked on Zelda proper) and never tire of. You can't refuse its triumphant call to adventure.
- Darknuts and their stupid broken everything! The killer of many an attempt at completing this otherwise relatively unremarkable game, comparatively speaking.
- It would be reeeeeeeeeeal nice if the game ever told you where to go or what to do. Not even the manual is of much help at all. You shouldn't have to resort to hint guides or the internet in order to complete a game without going insane from all the vagueness.
- That's probably more of a "me" problem than anything else, but I hate the idea of there not being a set amount of keys in the game. Buying a key to progress because the game failed to tell you where to find one in a dungeon just feels wrong on so many levels.
- It may not always work 100% but I really respect Nintendo trying to change the formula completely while still managing to retain much of the essence of the original. It was a rare sight in them days for sure, but there's absolutely no chance you'd see anyone change the formula of a sequel to a genuine smash hit and instant classic to this degree these days. It's kinda sad, when you really think about it.
- Leveling and gradual learning of spells and sword techniques that really make a difference is awesome. This game got about five times better after I discovered the Shield Spell (despite its horrible red colour scheme) or the Downthrust, the latter of which was awesome enough to make it into Smash Bros. Bring it back, 'Tendo!
- The puzzles are a lot more opaque than the original. There may be a whole lot less of them but it's a pretty battle-focused game to begin with. They're few to none of them unfair, but many of them are pretty challenging.
- Cheapshotting Dark Link by crouch-stabbing (not to be confused with crotch-stabbing; shadow beings do not possess genitalia, as you should well know) from the corner is the only way to prove yourself as a true man!
- THAT DIFFICULTY. It truly is the bane of this entire game. It's so rage-inducingly unfair, even if you were raised on the Nintendo Hard™ offerings of the NES era; absolutely no room for any kind of error. It's borderline unplayable without savestates, and it's not exactly a walk in the park with them, either. By all rights, the game would not be as disliked as it is if they balanced out its legion of unfairness more than a fair bit.
- The battle system does tend to get a little bland as the game goes on. Even with the added techniques and all that, it's not what I'm looking for in a Zelda game. Even worse is the borderline nonexistence of any kind of alternative gameplay like items and that.
- Ceaseless random battles that can mess up your game in seconds. It's almost worse than the original Final Fantasy in how grating it gets. The only good thing I can say about it is that you can avoid them if you're lucky enough to be on a path at time of impact but if not, sucks to be playing this game.
- This is it. This is where Nintendo truly showed what Zelda was capable of. They went back to the original game, took what worked and improved upon it approximately tenfold times, and even added a few new bells and whistles along the way. A true classic in every sense of the word. Apart from a few telltale signs of age such as a bland and faulty translation, this game feels as fresh and awesome today as it did on the day it was released almost a quarter-century ago! At time of writing, I played it last about three months ago, and writing this I feel compelled to do it yet again right now! That's pretty much all that needs be said.
- If I could marry the SNES sound chip, I would... and A Link to the Past is just one of the many reasons why. Apart from being the object of a fair few classic bits of score--not only within the confines of its own series, but the medium as a whole--everything just sounds so lush and awesome. Those synthesized strings! The London Symphony Orchestra could only ever dream of producing something as beautiful and timeless.
- Despite numerous advancements in technology over the years, the series never quite reached the pitch-perfect control over an epic boss battle as they do here. Everything is just so perfect: from the music, to the delicious hit sounds, to the technicolour euphoria of a defeated foe's explosive death scene (now we know how Michael Bay spent his childhood), it epitomizes "epic video game boss battle" to me. And these guys will also have your dessicated carcass on a platter if you don't know what you're doing. It's just you and your wits versus the giant monster, and you really do feel tiny and insignificant in comparison.
- Hahahahahahahahahaha. But seriously, there is one thing I can really say gets my goat a bit about this object of my affection. Namely, the constant opening and closing of the start menu and consequent assignment of items. It tends to break up the momentum a fair bit depending on the situation at hand. Thankfully, it doesn't happen much in the aforementioned boss fights but it's still a bit of an annoyance, especially if you get hung up on it. It would've been so much better if the button scheme had been changed to allow for two item buttons at a time. X was always a stupid choice for the map button (how often do you even use that thing?), which could've easily been relegated to Select... the save function could in turn have been moved to a combination of buttons to accommodate this. It's a pretty glaring, needless design flaw and I can't blame anyone for getting frustrated over it.
- Probably more a product of being a relatively early series installment than anything else, but from the word "Go", Link's Awakening was a refreshing change of pace from the usual series plot elements. No Triforce, no Ganon, not even any Princess Zelda! But more importantly, it's possibly one of the best series narratives, period. Grounded in relatable problems we might encounter in real life, it is a truly unique, quirky and charming game that's bound to stay with you a lot longer than your typical Good vs. Evil story. And in the end, with the adventure complete, you're left with a lingering doubt about whether you did the "right thing", whatever that is. Its cutesy art style belies a truly inspired story that I wish were more commonplace within the series... heck, even in video gaming at large.
- Taking Marin on a "date" is awesome, cute, and heartwarming all at the same time. You can go all over the place and do funny date stuff, like playing the Trendy Game, finding your very own spot the beach that's a secret to everybody, and jump into a well only to have her land on top of your head. You know... normal stuff like that. I could swear I hear the faint sound of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" playing every time I do it...
- Forget the Master Sword, forget the Masamune, forget the freakin' Keyblade; the Weapon to End All Weapons can be found only in this seemingly humble game. The winds dare barely whisper the name of the Soul-Slicer, the Godslayer, the World-Render... the object of every adventurer's innermost desire, and every villain's embarrassing fit of spontaneous incontinence... I speak of course of the almighty DOOMERANG! *Dramatic thunder* Able to one-shot almost any enemy (including the final boss!) and retrieve whatever trinkets their battered bodies leave behind, this is so infinitely much more than just a simple plank of wood. (Who are you to judge?) And the doubtlessly soul-shatteringly terrible price you must pay for you pay for the honor of wielding this source of limitless power? A shovel. Fair freakin' trade, if you ask me.
- Guardian Acorns and Pieces of Power are pretty awesome, and power-ups in the same vein wouldn't go amiss as future series inclusions (drinking potions that you have to buy just isn't the same), but that repetitive, monotonous jingle (more musically pleasing than dubstep, but let's not digress here) that plays for its duration is enough to drive a guy up the wall. Or, if playing in one of them wall-less Sky Cells of Game of Thrones repute (my sympathies, Tyrion), forcing them to turn off the sound (*gasp* Blasphemy!) for the sake of their sanity. It's pretty darn terrible, if you haven't caught on yet. This is why you don't get a deaf guy (or Dory) to playtest your game, Nintendo.
- There are no two ways about it: Ocarina of Time managed to transpose the virtues of Zelda to three-dimensional graphics absolutely flawlessly, while ensuring that one approach to Zelda gameplay never cancels out the other. Subsequent games may have improved upon pretty much everything Ocarina did and then some, but the foundations laid by this one game is as sound as that of a mountain of millennial age.
- The Hylian Shield is the greatest piece of protective equipment that has been, and ever will be. This is a fact. You'll be struck into the ground forthwith by one of those giant feet from an animated Monty Python segment if you even dare to consider the notion of opining in a diametrically opposed fashion. It's as iconic as the Master Sword itself, if you ask me.
- Hunting 100 Gold Skulltulas is still the most fun you can have smashing arthropods without being one of those creepy early-onset psychopathic killer types. Their creepy scratchy noises are like tiny feathers brushing against my soul, tickling me with gloriously endorphin-suffused satisfaction. Other games have tried to replicate its charms, but nothing can really come close to the catharsis brought on by this legendary sidequest.
- Going through the game without ever changing your tunic is the only way to play. It makes the Fire and Water Temples a lot more fun when you've got a timer for heat resistance and breath. I didn't know Ocarina's infamously easy boss battles could be as exhilarating as when I had to beat Volvagia within the passing of a little over sixty seconds. Talk about cutting it close! Not even three-heart challenges bring this level of excitement to the game.
- I tend not to let such things bother me but the nostalgia gamers at large have for this game is patently ridiculous. I have oodles of nostalgia for it myself, make no mistake, but everything this game does, other games have done better and then some. If a game is to be judged on its own merits (and you know they should), Ocarina, compared to subsequent installments, has scant little to warrant the endless barrages of praise akin to "Best game ever!" Have these people even played it since first time around in 1998-times? Have they played any game (besides, I don't know, Candy Crush) since 1998? I somehow doubt it. And even if they have, their view is so tinged by nostalgia that nary a single point of criticism can shatter their fanboyish veneer. This, of course, begs the question of why I even bother? Welp, squashing spiders isn't the only point of catharsis as can be derived from this game. In every way, good or bad (mostly "meh"), this is the Final Fantasy VII of the series. Heck, someone draw me up one of them Ven diagrams and tell me if there isn't a huge correlation between the nostalgia-blinded fandoms of both titles! Search your feelings, you know it to be true.
- I'm completely fine with the infamous Water Temple as a dungeon in and of itself. It's definitely in the top-tier of Ocarina's dungeons, with clever puzzles and devious traps aplenty. The whole water-raising-lowering thing isn't half as laborious as people make it out to be. What tends to spoil the soup though, is the constant on-off takage of the Iron Boots. This is basically the same point of contention as I brought up for A Link to the Past earlier. It just gets incredibly grating after a while. The 3DS version made this problem a complete non-issue, also failed to improve many other things that could've needed attention.
- Plain and simple, Ocarina of Time is just insanely easy. Bosses go down like they're merely supercharged mooks once you know their weak point. Even a palsy-ridden eight-year old should go kinda "meh" at the paltry level of "challenge" this game presents. It set a bad precedent that tends to plague the series to this day. It's nothing short of completely understandable how a number of blind people have managed to complete this game over the years.
- The entire game. Entertaining the notion of any other title being the franchise's magnum opus is something I wouldn't do in even my deepest of alcohol-induced stupors. And seeing as how I tend to deny the existence of ears when in such a state, that says muchly. It's not only the best game in the series, but one of the greatest video game experiences that have ever been, and judging by the way the medium is going ('t ain't exactly going great s'what I'm saying), possibly that ever will be. It's so infinitely much more than just a Zelda game. It's a game that asks difficult and demanding questions about life, death, and existence. And it does this in such a simple, disarming manner that makes every other game look like they're trying to hard. I find that I care about these little clumps of somewhat human-resembling vertices as much as I have ever cared about any fictional person, and indeed most real ones. Majora's Mask epitomizes what video games can be at their very best; an engrossing escape that can't be experienced in quite the same way in any other medium. Despite its brief development cycle, everything in this game screams passion and effort.
- The Happy Mask Salesman is love. The Happy Mask Salesman is life. My fate has been wonderful ever since I met him. All glory to the Happy Mask Salesman!
- Special shout-out to the 3DS version for fixing very few barely-existent flaws to be found, most of them related to gameplay elements closely tied to the outdated medieval torture device known as the N64 controller's control stick. The only reason you shouldn't get this definitive version of the game is that it's on a small screen. I'm still pulling for upscaled versions of the 3DS remakes on home consoles, though! And to think I was opposed to the mere idea of a port some ten years back... ah, the sins of youth.
- That The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition port is a blight on Nintendo's relatively spotless record. It is a borderline inexcusable crime that they put their much-vaunted "Seal of Quality" on this bug-riddled, glitchy mess of a port. Hey, guys, I knew Nintendo were kinda struggling to find their marketplace with the GameCube and all that, but following the Xbox line's level of "quality control" was never going to get you anywhere. Who knows how many hours of progress I lost to its random inclinations to spontaneously crash? If I were a more positive man, I'd take it as an extended metaphor for the game's poignant message about the passing of time and all that, but nope! Never, ever again! Given the choice, I'd rather take my chances with BEN's haunted cartridge of pure evil (and inherent narmy creepypasta cliches)!
- Tingle. Freakin' Tingle. Whomever thought he was a good idea to come up with for anything deserves to have the Triforce carved into their forehead by the Bowie knife of Lt. Aldo Raine and his merry Guerilla Army with a Decidedly Family-Friendly Name Suitable for Mentioning Here. For all the pure light brought forth by Majora's Mask, it also brought us Zelda's very own Jar Jar Binks. And things would never ever again be the same. Strict import laws for archetypally annoying, effeminate characters that the Japanese people love for some inexplicable reason should have been a much higher priority in post-WWII peace discussions. Hindsight and all that.
- I've said it once (if by "once" you mean approximately 778 times) and I'll say it again, there really is nothing like post-completion gameplay (even if said "gameplay" is really just limited to talking to people) in a video game. It just really brings forth a true sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to see all the characters you've saved from apparent imminent death being able to live in peace and move on with their lives. And the Oracle games pull it off with grace and sublety. Link gets his own hero statue, how awesome is that?!? Sure, sucks for Ariel they had to demolish her statue to make room for it, but ehh!
- Veran. (My comparatively inexplicable love of Veran has little to nothing to do with her ample midriff, I assure you!)
- The Linked Game feature is nothing short of awesome when it's really cooking. It adds so much replayability to the games, and while the whole code system is a little dated and cumbersome, especially nowadays (they could probably pull off the same effect by reading save file data stored on a system these days), it's worth it for all the awesome LG-exclusive items, as well as the games living up to their series title by involving the title character in surprisingly awesome fashion.
- Even moreso than the comparatively less-annoying cynical paywall problems of contemporary times, I hate it when game content is made unavailable, like it is for the Oracle games, when you've no ability to link between games. Features such as this should always be a bonus thing which should, at best, speed up some grinding for the same items in the game. When you make things patently unavailable through any other channel (except GameSharks and suches), I really hate that. Even if I discount getting all those stupid rings as part of fully completing a playthrough, it still discourages me from replaying them at times, on a purely OCD level though it is. The very least Nintendo could do is provide some sort of code to give you what you can't otherwise get, especially in these days with Virtual Console re-releases that don't even support link cables of any sort!
- As a consequence of its re-usage of Link's Awakening resources such as graphics and, well, pretty much everything, the Oracle games are sort of denied their own sense of identity. Most egregiously, there isn't even an original overworld theme! For the record, Majora's Mask not only avoided this same problem, but danced around it approximately a hundred times (to the music of ABBA) by outshining its predecessor in every way. The Oracle games, for all their charms, don't have this luxury. It just feels a little lazy and rehashed, in the end.
(* Not a typo)
- I didn't have to pay any money for it.
- Rather than setting a record on this page for most negatives attached to any one game, I'll just say that Four Swords barely counts as a game to begin with. Aside from the unforgivable crime of introducing the world to Vaati, the Organization XIII (bland and dull, attracts creepy fanpeople, etc.) of the Zelda fandom, it just feels like a half-baked tech demo for a game that was never completed. And that's not owed entirely to its pathetic brevity. Granted, it was only tacked-on as an afterthought to the (heavily flawed) GBA port of A Link to the Past so it earns a bit of slack, but even so, its very existence is nothing less than the first huge (non CD-i) misstep in the Zelda franchise. We've all got something to learn from its intense level of suck.
- Parrying added a lot of depth to the relatively barebones and repetitive combat of earlier 3D installments. Allowing for quick battles if mastered, its mere existence tends to add a bit of tension to a good scrap.
- I love being able to crawl around on the ground, sidling up to walls, and looking around corners. It basically turns the game into The Legend of Zelda: Metal Gear Solid! Of all of The Wind Waker's innovations, this is the one I most wish they'd retained for future installments. Oh well, here's hoping, Zelda Wii U/NX!
- The Grappling Hook. So. Many. Uses! There aren't many items out there that let you replicate epic whip-hanging moments from Indiana Jones films, rob enemies blind of whatever loot they carry, and raise treasure from the bottom of the sea. There is always a button reserved for grappling--trigger button, naturally--unless gameplay dictates otherwise. I don't feel whole unless I've got it on me.
- It's not that I've got much against the sailing in and of itself: it tends to be pretty fun, especially now that the superior HD re-release increased the pace in a delicious fashion. No, I just dislike open world locations like the Great Sea in the first place. You might argue that Zelda's previous (and some subsequent) open worlds are as empty and devoid of stuff as this one (if not moreso), but this one really both looks and feels it. It just gets grating some ten hours in.
- What little we get to see of Hyrule is such a tease! It looks so awesome rendered in The Wind Waker's lush colouring, it's basically a crime that so little of the game is spent there. I would so much rather have spent the infamously lacking last third of the game searching for pieces of the Triforce in a decent-sized land area like this than sail all over the place looking for charts and whatnot.
- This is one of those rare games I really feel could use more dungeons. Just one more would've made things so much better. I'm not a big fan of when a game's very absolutely final dungeon is such a forgettable afterthought. It wouldn't have to be a huge dungeon... something akin to Hyrule Castle from Twilight Princess could have done (and did do) the job plenty well. You know... something that didn't feel like a series of hallways, recycled boss fights, and convoluted gameplay elements concocted to pad the game out just a little more.
- The Tiger Scrolls and other such skill upgrades keep the gameplay from growing stale like you wouldn't believe. It's a bit of waste of potential not to include stuff like being able to break rocks with your sword, and stuff like that, in future titles.
- Shrinking into Minish form (not that kind) is as fun as you'd think. Yep, that's right, you basically get to play a spiritual video game adaptation of An American Tail amongst all the hoopla. All these little tiny creatures and their houses found all over the place really brings a lot of depth and a sense of mystery to the game world.
- Fusing Kinstones is one of the most satisfying and rewarding sidequests in the entire series, and that's not exactly saying very little right there. I could do without the randomness of chances to fuse coming and going as they please, but let's not turn this into a negative entry right here!
- Oh, Vaati. Before, you were just a bland, interchangeable villain who existed just for the sake of it. You weren't particularly good, but not particularly bad, either. Then you were revealed to be a tragic villain with an even tragicer past, and consequently wrought the unholy darkness of creepy goth fangirls upon what was once a relatively pure fanbase. It may not your fault as much as it is that of your creators, but I blame you just the same.
- Screw figurines. Just... screw 'em. You don't lock away a Piece of Heart beyond a proverbial (and in some ways, literal) locked door made out of hours of grinding for shells and percentage-based figurine-getting. That's a borderline crime. Get money; buy hugely overpriced Mysterious Shells; get precious few figurines in return; rinse and repeat for 10+ hours, until you cry blood from every orefice, and long ever so infinitely for any kind of genuinely stimulating activity like watching paint grow and grass dry, or something.
- The GBA sound chip sucks. This is a fact. As good as The Minish Cap soundtrack is, it gets as grating as that old zombie, the Game Boy, after a while.
- The fact that it's basically Ocarina of Time done right. Aside from a few strange plot-related decisions which kind of makes me long for the straight-forwardness of Ocarina and its barebones-ilk, its release almost rendered that game entirely obsolete in areas that other games had not already done.
- Hidden Skills! Going even one better than The Minish Cap, these various sword (and shield)-related skills add so much variety to the combat system, making it probably the best in the series. The Mortal Draw is just... wow.
- Exploring the various dark and mysterious caves, where your lantern becomes your very best friend, pretty much epitomizes Zelda to me. Every time I replay it, that's what I'm looking forward to the most. It evokes the kind of ecapist feeling you can only get from video games, my (presumed) friend!
- The game takes aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages to truly get cooking. Now, I don't so much mind the early village stuff, but every time you feel as if the game just might let you finally play around in its glorious sandbox to your heart's content, BOOM! Time to get forced back into wolf form and get some blinking light tear things! It takes, at least, literally ten hours before you can roam around as you will, and even then, there's the usual Metroidvania-esque "Come back when you get a certain item" thing going. It truly is the proverbial Graug's heel of the game.
- The character designs are hit-and-miss. Some tend to help make characters more unique, or even help highlight their personality further, but the majority of the time they look kind of weird and off-putting. The strange designs, mixed with the game's infamous "realistic"-looking earthy colour scheme tends to be rather jarring on the whole.
- It gets really grating having to talk to Midna every time you want to transform into a wolf. How hard could it be to just make the Evil Crystal a usable item that can transform you at will?
- Linebeck! I love this guy as much as he loves treasure. Let's face it, you guys; if you were stuck in a struggle against enemies whose powers far surpass your own, you'd run away, take every cheap way out, or survive on pure luck if you could, too. It'd be called the "Linebeck Survival Strategy" if Hercule Satan hadn't named it first. And, can you really blame him? He knows he's in a stinker of a game and wants as little part of it as possible!
- The fact that not only did this game reek of less effort than a half-baked fan game, but it inspired a sequel of only marginally better quality, too! So this is how handheld Zelda gaming dies; with thunderous applause...
- Gimmick-base controls, in 99% of cases, are not cool. There, I said it. Nobody in the entire world has ever thought gimmicks were preferable to a good old-fashioned button-based control scheme. Except, apparently, whatever headless rubber chickens designed this game...
- For all its faults, the sailing in The Wind Waker was at least manually controlled. No such luxuries here. You draw your path and do nothing while waiting to arrive at your destination... except, I don't know, dodge a few obstacles, shoot some enemies, contemplate how Nietzsche would have used this game to affirm his notion of a godless universe, and kill some innocent seagulls because the mind-numbing boredom of it all might have just provoked in you a sociopathic psychosis of indeterminate length. ...It ain't fun.
- ...At least it's not Phantom Hourglass.
- Trains are actually pretty fun to ride. At least you get some manner of control over it.
- ...It's still basically Phantom Hourglass all over again.