Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 13, 2014

Email: WTF happened to Zelda?

Greetings to you good sir,I understand you are receiving many emails at this point, and I do apologize for cluttering your mail box with even more. However, I have been reading your blog since I first discovered it two years ago and you are to my knowledge, one of the very voices in the minority of unhappy fans that voice their frustrations out on the way Zelda has been destroyed by Aonuma. I have been wanting to write you this message for 9 months now, so it will be pretty long.

I first started playing Zelda with Link To The Past. I grew up with that game, and I can fondly recall when the N64 came out during my childhood and how it was not this big happy festival of great memories like people claim today. I could go into long details about how much it sucked only having a few great games on that system but I’ll leave that to another story.

I never could get Ocarina of Time back in the day cause for one, the N64 games were so expensive. We often bought our games used cheaply, and many times we would get the junk games that really did suck. So during the mid to late 90’s, I actually was buying left overs of the SNES more than I was for the N64. I had a huge library of great SNES games that were cheap used since the big thing at the time was the Playstation and N64. Ocarina of Time was impossible to find when it was fresh back in those days, and when you did find it used, it was always at a high price, so I never got the game until I was much older and an adult.
I always heard rumors about how the game was so amazing, and it looked fascinating. To see Link grow up from a young kid into this bad ass hero adult swinging a sword and defeating evil, it seemed like the ideal perfection of Zelda.

I did however get my hands on Majora’s Mask when it first was released. It was actually very hard to believe that I found a Zelda game used and for half the price when it was still “new”. It’s still almost hard to believe to this day over a decade later, cause game stores don’t like selling a Zelda game cheaply, even if it’s old. They are still incredibly popular.

Majora’s Mask was the first biggest disappointment I ever felt from video games. I used to argue with myself in my thoughts over this “how can it be a bad game? It’s a freaking Zelda game!”. My frustrations with this game began with the opening scene. If it’s a sequel to Ocarina of Time, then where is the adult Link that he grew up into? You have to excuse my ignorance but at the time, I had never played Ocarina of Time, so I just assumed the game ended with you as a grown up Link.
So this game starts with me turning into a Deku Scrub who is down right useless and don’t have a sword. Right away, I knew this game was going to be very stressful to play.

For one, I don’t care for this at all. I believe if the game has an open world, then I shouldn’t have a time limit on what I do and how I do it. Rushing through a dungeon is not very fun, cause you are stressed on the time limit, and I play games to relieve stress, not build to it. Then when the day cycle repeats and I lose all my bombs, arrows, rupees, etc, this became frustrating. I should not be forced to do the same thing over and over and over again. The story is the least of my concern, I play games to have fun. If I want to watch non playable characters having dialogue and then having to do fetch quests for them, I can watch a movie or better yet sit down with a good book. I play video games to have fun playing them, not go through that stuff.

I played Majora’s Mask up to the second temple, and that was the last time I played the game. I can’t even remember the name of the dungeon, I just remember it was in the ice area of the map, and you had the Goron mask. This one pissed me off to no end cause the timer was so frustrating, and once I figured out everything in the stupid dungeon, it’s on the final day and I have to hurry up as quick as I can to beat the boss and reset the clock. But oh no! I forgot those stupid fairies in the dungeon! I missed a few and I have to do it all over AGAIN! That was when I finally got pissed off to the point I turned the game off and said “I’m not playing this anymore, this is not fun”.

Another thing that really stuck out to me was the puzzles and the fetch quests. You have to go from point A to point B to point C with the non playable characters and do things for them to get item X which you trade for item Y so you can find out how to do something or get somewhere. This was just exhausting and boring to the point it did not make me want to play anymore. The way the day cycle also plays into this and forces you to wait till the second day or night to do something with the non playable characters was another stressing factor, cause I didn’t see the point in this other than to stress you out even further.

Finally was the puzzles. A lot of my frustration here had to do with the 3 day cycle, cause I did not play this game with a strategy guide, and for the record I do not enjoy playing games with a guide cause it’s basically following a step by step walkthrough which isn’t very fun when you know what to expect thanks to reading the guide, it can take away that surprise element of a boss fight or finding something for the first time. It took me four complete tries before I even figured out how to get past the first part as the Deku Scrub, and the first dungeon took me four whole tries to go through including that stupid stealth game you have to play at the village place. I played the game based on trial and error, where each time, I would get closer and closer and eventually

I will never understand the hardcore’s obsession with this game. When I finally owned a computer, I got the shock of my life reading message boards, blogs, and journalist talk about how this is a great game and even go so far to call it one of the “best Zelda games”. It totally blows my mind, cause I remember when this game first came out and EVERYONE HATED IT. They hated it so much that the game stores sold used copies half the price when it first came out cause so many people were trading it in. Zelda used to be the center of greatness among everyone that played video games. No one ever badmouthed Zelda, but when Majora’s Mask came out, all my friends hated that game, and we would make jokes about it quite often about the creepy stuff in the game. I have never in my life met someone in person that told me that they enjoyed Majora’s Mask.

The same can kinda be said about Ocarina of Time. I never knew anyone back then that ever finished that game without buying the strategy guide. When you said on your blog some time back that most people did not finish Ocarina of Time, I find that to be true, cause all my friends that ever beat that game have told me that they had to buy the guide (this was before internet walkthroughs) to finish it cause they got stuck somewhere.

But after Majora’s Mask, then came Wind Waker and that is when everyone I know, officially started to despise Zelda all together. We already were disappointed enough with Majora’s Mask being this frustrating cycle of 3 days over and over and over again, but I can still remember the day that Game Informer magazine came in the mail and the reaction I had to seeing Toon Link for the first time. I was left speechless and didn’t know what to think for weeks. Zelda as a freaking cartoon? Is this serious?

Just like Majora’s Mask, no one I know liked Wind Waker either, they absolutely hated Toon Link. It was the reason I decided not to buy the Gamecube after the horrible experience with the N64 and only having a handful of good games (mostly the Star Wars games that I loved)
A few friends of mine did get the Gamecube and Wind Waker and I don’t remember them ever saying one good thing about the game. if they weren’t furious about the art style, it was the stupid puzzles. Link missing his sword in the first dungeon blew my mind, cause how the hell do you play Zelda without the sword!? It makes no sense at all! Wind Waker totally turned me off from Zelda soon after.

Soon after, the Oracle games on the Game Boy Color were released and I must admit, I really enjoyed them. But those were made by Capcom though and had no involvement from Aonuma, and what do you know? They are fun! They also look like Zelda and don’t stray too far away since Link never loses his sword and all the fantasy elements are brought back. It felt like a return to form, and I never had more fun with Zelda since Link to the Past (remember I had never played Ocarina or the original NES classics at this point). There was some stuff in the games that I did not like such as the rhythm based Goron dance mini game, but for the most part, the Oracle games were very fun.

I do not understand where all this hardcore love for Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask comes from. My guess is that the hardcore love it cause they’re told to, and/or these people are so young, this is the only version of Zelda they know of. I remember quite well when those games first came out and how they were rejected from everyone that wasn’t a kid. I don’t remember anyone telling me they loved Toon Link and the art style to Wind Waker, everyone I know hated it. Everyone I know got frustrated with the time limit in Majora’s Mask, and everyone I know would even admit that Ocarina of Time was impossible for them to beat without the guide book.

Soon later I managed to play the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. I bought the “Classic NES Series” version for the Game Boy Advance and I have to say, I fell head over heels in love with that game. I loved how it threw you in this maze environment and just gave you a sword and let you roam around not knowing where to go. I had a very tough time going through the game without a guide cause I had no idea where to go at first, but that was the beauty of it! The game is this huge maze and if you don’t have a map, it can be hard to follow through for a long time. I spent hours just playing it to get used to the map.

One thing I loved though about that game was that it was fun to go around and slash your sword. I could spend all day just practicing using the sword and timing the enemies just right. There’s no need for dumb tutorials or any of that crap. When you start the game, that’s the only thing you have is the sword. I cannot ever imagine playing Zelda without the sword, and that is what turned me off from Wind Waker with the first dungeon taking the sword away, and then the crap in Majora’s Mask with the Deku Scrub early in the game.

The dungeons in the original Zelda also were spooky and just the music alone added to the sense that you were stepping into danger. That’s one of the best things about Link To The Past, sure there is some “puzzle” elements there like putting the arrow through the statue’s eye, but other than that, the dungeons were loaded with enemies. I didn’t get that from playing Majora’s Mask or Wind Waker. The most threatening enemies in Majora’s Mask’s first dungeon was those annoying bats, and the first dungeon of Wind Waker only has like 5 total enemies.

I don’t agree with the idea that Zelda was always about puzzles. I grew up with Link to the Past and I never seen where the game really had puzzles in it. I guess the stuff was puzzles, but they weren’t something that made you sit down and get frustrated with cause it was stupid. Stuff like dashing into the book shelf, shooting the arrow through the statue’s eye, and using the magic cape to get past the spiked floors, etc. That kind of stuff was possible to figure out with a little thinking. The original NES Zelda had some hard stuff in it, but that game never made me want to give up while playing. When I beat the dungeons in that game, I felt like I really was accomplishing something. When you bomb an entire screen looking for secrets and find those staircases, you get all excited over it.

The over world in the original Zelda is NOT a puzzle. It’s a maze! With a puzzle, you piece something together and then move forward. With a maze, you have to figure out how to work your way around it, which was the case with that game.

Eventually I did get a hold of Ocarina of Time over 10 years after the original release, and I must say, I really did enjoy the game. Before, I didn’t believe that Nintendo games molded well into 3D after my disappointment with the fetch quests in Mario 64 and then my hatred for Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker, but some how, Ocarina of Time really transitioned nicely into the 3D world. Like my friends, I too needed a guide to get through the game in a few parts.

There are some things I have to say that irritated me with Ocarina of Time. For one, the puzzles in the dungeons. Not all of them are bad, but some of them are totally overkill like the water temple, and then the desert palace temple that requires you to go back and forth between young Link and adult Link. That was about the only thing I really hated from the game. Other than that, I did not like the trade quest for the Big Goron sword since it could be so stressful but I did LOVE the fact there was a third sword in the game and it came in handy at the end of the game.

Ocarina of Time did a great job balancing the story too. I normally hate a big story in games cause I just want to play a game and have fun, but like Link To The Past, Ocarina really makes you feel like a bad ass hero and the threat of evil is everywhere. In the original NES game, you felt the evil close at all times in the dungeons cause they were so dangerous. Hell, the over world in that game is dangerous too! In Link To The Past; you just about die from everything in the dark world when you first enter, and in Ocarina of Time, in the future as adult Link, everything is so dark and full of evil. It really added to the sense that you were fighting a battle against evil since half way through those games you were thrown in these gloom filled environments.

My favorite parts of Ocarina of Time were the shadow and forest temples. When you go back to your home as adult Link, you’re thrown right into a dimension of hell and getting your butt handed to you by these mean monsters in the forest maze. The forest temple itself was like something from the past, cause the technology there seems more advanced. The shadow temple was a trip for me, cause it had the gloom elements that I love to games. The whole illusions and shadow usage, and not to mention that episode with the abandoned well that you had to go in as young Link before doing the dungeon.

You are right in your blog posts about technology regressing in fantasy fiction. That’s one of the main problems I see with the Aonuma Zelda games. The robots and toilets in Skyward Sword seem very out of place and TRAINS???? Seriously!? When Spirit Tracks was released that was when my hope for the series to get better died in an instance. I could not believe anyone would try to put trains in a Zelda game. A series that is built on sword slashing is reduced to stupid pointless puzzles and fetch quests for non playable characters.

I recently bought the 3DS so I could try to catch up on handheld games. I don’t play a lot of video games anymore, as I mostly just stick to the handheld. In this process I got a copy of Link Between Worlds as a Christmas present from my girlfriend. This was the most recent Zelda game that I had played since the Oracle games, so I really had no idea what to expect.

I was interested in Link Between Worlds cause the original Link To The Past is still a favorite of mine and from time to time, I’ll play through it again, much like how I’ve went over the original NES Zelda on my Game Boy Advance version various times over.

Right away playing A Link Between Worlds, I knew this game wasn’t going to be that fun. The puzzles come up very early, and the game just drives this edge even harder as you progress. My biggest problem with the game though was the renting/buying the items. I do not believe that acquiring all the items is what makes Zelda fun. You can have endless fun in the original game with just the sword!

The dialogue in the game is really stupid. I think they tried to add this sense of choice in RPG material cause when you are asked questions, you have the choice to answer with a lie. But even if you do lie, it eventually leads you to doing what the game scripted you to do, so why even bother putting this illusion of choice in?

One thing I never heard anyone complain about with Link Between Worlds was how the puzzles get bigger and bigger as you progress. The final ones in Lorule castle are incredibly overboard, especially that one with the pillars raising from the lava I never played Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess so I really don’t know bad the puzzles have gotten over the years, but I got incredibly frustrated with the ones in Link Between Worlds. There is barely even any enemies in the dungeons, it’s nothing but these stupid crazy puzzles that go way over the edge.

The one thing besides the puzzle crap that really bugs me more than anything about Zelda is how Link has been reduces to this crappy character that does everything for everybody, and never refuses anything. He’s basically a pushover for these stupid side characters who use him. Why can’t Link just be a bad ass again that does whatever he wants? That’s why I love the original game so much. There’s no stupid Non playable characters to do fetch quests for. Link To The Past had the characters in it, but you never were required to go out of your way and do things for them. I don’t care at all about what a stupid character thinks or does in his day.

They’ve also dumbed Link down incredibly. I noticed this right away with Majora’s Mask when he lets the stupid Skull kid turn him into a useless Deku Scrub. Like seriously!? Why??? In Wind Waker, he’s even more stupid with the way he tries to jump off the cliff when his sister is taken from the bird, and then this just gives a reason for the pirate girl to be an ass to him even further. It seems in every game under Aonuma, there is some characters that treat Link like crap and then you have to just put up with them cause without them, you can’t beat a dungeon or advance further.

From the way I see it, every game since Majora’s Mask has used a gimmick. That’s basically what the Zelda “style” is besides puzzles under Aonuma. This is pretty much how they’ve done it since then. Majora’s Mask introduced the gimmick of the mask transformations, and every game since then has followed some kind of gimmick. Even the Oracle games had it with changing seasons and time. With A Link Between Worlds, the gimmick was the wall movement, which is pretty cool at first, but becomes incredibly tiring as it goes on cause so much of the game depends on this one gimmick. You will use that wall thing way more than you do any other gadget Link buys in the game.

I also have to say that the stamina meter was really stupid to add to the game. I remember how frustrating it was in the original Zelda to run out of arrows and bombs and then spend the rest of the dungeon using only your sword. This is such an easy game when it comes to enemies, all you have to do is wait for that stupid meter to fill back up and then you’re on your way.

After seeing the recent Zelda Wii U trailer at E3, I am never going back to this series. I only wanted to try Link Between Worlds to see if it was anything at all like the original classic, and it clearly wasn’t.

Many things were wrong with that trailer to the point, I think you have been proven right on your case. You accurately predicted that Aonuma would scrap the original tech demo and replace it with Wind Waker graphics.

One thing I have not seeing people complain about is that stupid robot. Robots in Zelda? Aonuma flat out hates fantasy period. It looks like some kind of futuristic time traveler sci fi game with the robot popping up and then the laser beamed bow and arrow.
Technology is supposed to regress in fantasy fiction. You’ve said that before and you are totally on the money with this. This was even in the older Zelda games where the temples would have better technology that seemed to come from an ancient civilization that was more advanced than the current generations.
Aonuma does not understand this at all with the way he tries to add stupid crap like trains and robots into these games.

Oh, and Link without a sword just defeats the purpose of Zelda all together. Aonuma has been hard pressed to remove the sword from Zelda and I think he’s gotten to that point.

I don’t get why Link looks like a girl either, but then again I think this is an anime thing. You have said it before how in Japan Anime is like Hollywood, and Aonuma has been trying very hard to turn Zelda into an Anime with his crappy art styles. Skyward Sword could have passed for a bad anime, and now the graphics to this new game look very much like a crappy anime.
But for my opinion, I don’t think they turned Link into a girl, they just made him look more like one by going the Anime route. This is a problem with the Fire Emblem games. There are many male characters in those games that look like girls. This is such a problem that in the last game, they made a female girl named after Marth who looked very much like the character himself. Most fans often confuse many of the characters as girls cause it’s so hard to tell.

The return of cell shaped Wind Waker graphics is enough to make the fan boys go nuts. No one has ever accepted the Wind Waker style graphics, I don’t care what journalist claims it and the stupid hardcore that claim to love that stuff. I can recall when it first came out, and no one liked it back then. Giving us more of it, is not going to make us all of a sudden accept it out of nowhere.

You know, the remake of Ocarina of Time had brilliant graphics. Personally, I think those were the best graphics I have ever seen on a Zelda game. Ocarina of Time 3D totally rocked! I have no idea why Nintendo didn’t just stick with those graphics, cause they were greatly received. No one was turned away from them like they were with the Wind Waker style. Everywhere I looked, people praised Ocarina of Time 3D for the new graphics, cause they really do look beautiful.

If they make Majora’s Mask on the 3DS, I am not buying it whatsoever. People demanding that game, are insane. I think it’s a very small crowd of hardcore fans. I even see them claiming it’s the best Zelda ever. I just am guessing they never played anything before it, cause to me, that was the game that ruined Zelda forever to me. I doubt most people at the time it was released, even finished the game, cause it was so frustrating and not fun at all.

Had Nintendo just went with the Ocarina 3D graphics for Zelda Wii U, or better yet, kept the tech demo they teased us with a few years ago, everyone would be happy. This is Wind Waker all over again.
Retro did such an amazing job with Donkey Kong Country Returns, I don’t get why Nintendo won’t just fire Aonuma and then hand the series over to Retro or some other smaller company. It says a lot about the success of Zelda when the Oracle games are the best ones since Ocarina of Time, cause Nintendo didn’t even make the Oracle games, and it proves that they don’t need Aonuma to make a good Zelda game (the old ones prove this anyway).

I think you have been proven right way too much on this subject, and at this point it should be accepted as a fact. Nintendo don’t care about the customer, they only care about what they want to do. In their minds, they are geniuses and Aonuma is the greatest thing to ever happen to Zelda. It don’t matter what we think by not buying and playing their crappy games, they will let Aonuma “announce” that Toon Link has been “accepted” and then all the stupid hardcore crowd will pretend they love Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask like they’ve done for the last 10 years in their crusade to defend those games as if they were made with their own blood.

Anyone denying you on Nintendo and Zelda at this point is only lying to themselves in denial. You predicted they would scrap the Wii U tech demo since Aonuma didn’t like it, and you were correct on them replacing it with some crappy Wind Waker style graphics. All I want from Zelda now is to crawl off and die. I do not care anymore. I hope the series sinks with Aonuma and then they can sit around and blame it on us for never accepting their glorious genius product, cause they will never admit they were wrong. No Zelda at all is much better than seeing our childhoods stomped on and ruined every few years with another crappy game of puzzle torment and an art style we hated from day one.

Thank you for writing these blogs, you’ve given this man a lot of stress relief.

Folks, THIS is how an email is done! Bravo! There are so many more emails to go, but I’ll leave yours at the top so the Unfortunate-Person-At-Nintendo-Assigned-To-Observe-This-Site will read it. You bring up a good point about why Nintendo doesn’t adopt the updated Ocarina of Time 3d art style. Why do they keep shoving anime at us? It’s not like anyone buys video games in Japan anymore so what’s the point?You might find Twilight Princess passable. The beginning of the game is terrible. Once you get the Master Sword, the game becomes more fun and stays fantasy orientated. (I did like the City of the Sky concept.) It’s like Twilight Princess was Nintendo’s effort to make a spiritual successor to Ocarina of Time. The result is mixed. Some good stuff but some bad Aonuma stuff. It is still much better than the 100% Aonuma stuff that the turd of Wind Waker was (or the DS games). Twilight Princess is the second best selling Zelda I believe (sold very well in the West but not so much in Japan). It’s incredible that Nintendo ditched all the changes people liked and went full blown Aonuma-style in later games.Did you see the Mario Maker? How’d you like a Zelda Maker? It’d be way more fun than anything Aonuma’s Team could make. But I’ve noticed that, aside from the mandatory tribute at the unveiling of each Zelda game, the original Legend of Zelda is conspicuously absent. It’s like Nintendo is trying to hide it unlike Super Mario Brothers or Super Metroid (I can agree with hiding original Metroid as that game is very frustrating with its 1986 ways). With Zelda II, if it is ever mentioned, it is only in outright hostility from Nintendo. Aonuma admitted he cannot play the original Legend of Zelda and declared how Zelda was not the game for him. He preferred text based adventure games on the PC!

In honor of your email describing your disinterest (which Nintendo told us, at least during the Wii Era when they were actually interested in selling games, that they need to listen to disinterest more than interest), here is a video that reminds us when Zelda was actually fun:

Above: Remember when Zelda was cool?.



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