The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that rose to the heavens and has fallen so far below the ground. Initially conceived as the ultimate computer RPG and arcade action hybrid; that gave hours and hours of fun and entertainment to everyone (yes, everyone, from kids to grown adults) it has fallen to a status of being a joke of a series nowadays. And we have only one man to thank for that, his name, is Eiji Aonuma.
While the first 3 Zelda games were great in their own right, it is the fourth one that gets the attention nowadays. Ocarina of Time is an interesting case. In essence, Ocarina is a very well made 3D Link to the Past, yes, yes I know it’s not the same story or whatever but the basic outline is about the same. However, there’s a faint air of pollution in the so called greatest game of all time (according to the hardcore that is, and it is indeed a pretty good game, just not the greatest ever). While the previous Zeldas had some kind of puzzling layout on the dungeons, most of it was incidental and not deliberately thrown in like 3D Zeldas. In Ocarina’s case, there’s the dreaded Water Temple, which content-wise is very cool but gameplay-wise is not very well done. Starting from there, all 3D Zeldas have suffered from what I like to call “puzzle syndrome”. Let’s make a little history review.After Ocarina was released and became a big success, naturally a sequel was going to follow suit. Everyone was waiting for it, I was very eager to get it, in the meantime I played Zelda 1 and fell in love with it (yes my first Zelda was Ocarina, but I owe it introduced me to the awesomeness that is Zelda 1) and when it finally came, I was disappointed when I played it to say the least. “What The Hell Is This?” I said. Right off the bat we’re exposed to a very crappy looking Link (and I don’t mean graphically), he’s an idiot. Where’s the baddas Link became after all he went through in Ocarina? So you get this NPC who turns Link into a useless creature (Dekuscrub) which there’s nothing technically wrong gameplay-wise with it, but is by no means any fun to play; and then you’re introduced to the main game mechanic: utter, useless and ugly repetition.
Yes, that is it, the game prouds itself in that you have to do repetition. You have 3 days to save Termina (the world where you are now in) but you can rewind time 3 days back. Add to that the fact that the game is littered with NPCs (and basically not many new ones since most were recycled from the old game, just given new names) that you have to “make happy” and you got yourself a crappy fetch quest game with a Zelda skin. The Legend of Zelda Majora’s crap I call it. This is when Link passed from being a baddas warrior boy, to become the crappy errand boy we see in the later Zeldas. All the bad stuff stems from this game alone, you have puzzle heavy dungeons, annoying NPCs and their quest, collect-a-thons, etc. The only thing that is still fine is the combat, but just because it’s the same one from the last game.
Aonuma is an idiot, he can’t even beat Zelda 1, you quoted it, I can’t believe he had trouble with Octoroks, loved to cut grass in Link to the Past (by the way, when you gain control of Link in Majora’s, the only thing you can do is cut grass, I wonder why…) and loves computer game puzzles. What is this guy’s definition of Zelda? More importanly, why does Nintendo let him get away with it?
For Wind Waker we got it worse, I really don’t know where this worship talk for the game comes from (mostly the hardcore) yes yes, graphically the game will age fine due to its style, but I’m willing to bet the game itself will not. The combat is slow, there’s like 3 enemies per dungeon not including the boss, there’s stuff you get that is not what you’d think the Hero of Hyrule would use (a giant leaf, seriously?), the most lackluster selection of dungeons (I believe there’s only 4-5 total) and the most boring and empty “overworld”. And worst of all, the derailing of the combat in the first “dungeon” where Link’s sword is taken away for retarded reasons and he has to sneak on enemies, when did Zelda become Metal Gear Solid?
Twilight Princess is basically Ocarina of time Plus. What most people expected Wind Waker should have been. It’s not without its problems though, still inherits puzzle-itis to some degree, not as many NPCs as Majora’s but they could have removed a lot, the overworld is far better, there’s enemies in it, but not enough, they could have done more with it.
I haven’t played Skyward Sword, but by the looks of it, I don’t even want to touch it. The DS games are just more Wind Waker-ness.
Thanks for hearing out my rambles, and keep up the good work.
You did a really good summary of Zelda. It is interesting to me that you played Zelda 1 after Ocarina of Time. What is so amazing with Zelda 1, back when it came out, was the value it had. Zelda is already quite a meaty adventure. But then there is the SECOND QUEST. It’s like a sequel is already in it!
Have you noticed the ruse they pull with every Zelda? They’ll do something like say ‘Link can shoot bolts from his sword,” to get people to think they are looking at Zelda 1 but then we get more Aonuma crap.
I feel like with Mario, Zelda, and Metroid that the game makers are trying to get us to like the games they want to make. It’s like the games are being made against the market appetite. Superficially, before the game comes out, they say it is like what we want. But then they try to ‘trick’ us into liking something completely different than what we desired. In order to trick 2d Mario people to like 3d Mario, Mario in 3d Land shoves Tanooki tails in your face and places them everywhere. How stupid do they think we are? Or with Metroid: Other M, just because the intro sequence is the end of Super Metroid doesn’t mean Other M will be accepted as the sequel to Super Metroid. They really don’t respect our intelligence. Their games are so selfish.
This is why I like the Nintendo hardware developers. They don’t have the luxury of being selfish. They don’t get to throw in stuff ‘just because’ or try to get us to like something against our will.
Nintendo didn’t used to be like this. And it makes me really angry. Look how long it took them to make a successor to Super Mario Brothers for both the handheld (over a decade) to home console (nineteen years). Zelda is unrecognizable to me now. And I am very scared about what they plan to do with Metroid next.
Here is what I think it going to happen. More 3d Mario will come out as yet ANOTHER attempt to get 2d Mario fans to like it… as if this 3d Mario will succeed where the past five 3d Marios failed. Zelda will be fruity puzzles with an attempt to get everyone to like the fruity puzzles with some Link to the Past or Legend of Zelda reference. “Look. In our preview, it shows more action. Just like old Zelda” and the game we get is the same Aonuma formula. And with Metroid, I’m pretty sure we’re going to get another Other M where Sakamoto will try to make us like his ‘vision’.
Why the hell are we buying Nintendo consoles? Oh, wait. We aren’t.
“How dare you deny us our creativity,” bemoans Nintendo. Why don’t you make a new IP then? If 3d platforming, fruity puzzles, and ‘the baby, the baby’ cutscenes are so damn entertaining, make a new IP based on them. But stop trying to use familiar franchises to trojan horse these crappy formulas you prefer because it makes the development process “fun”. You’re not supposed to be having fun. I’m supposed to be the one having fun. I used to show off to people that I was playing Nintendo games. Now, I am ashamed to say that I was ever a fan because of how embarrassing the games are.
I don’t understand how Nintendo is not ashamed of Other M or ‘Fruity Puzzles’ Zelda.