After swapping Ocarina of Time for Twilight Princess with Rachel yesterday, I asked myself this question. If I really think about it, every time I’ve ever played a Zelda game it has ended in some negative emotion. Looking back, I can vividly remember all of the times a Zelda game caused me to either send it back to the shop or put it down for a few years.
So why do I keep going back to this series? Am I a masochist or are these games that good? I’ve yet to hear anyone viciously rip this series apart, despite how easy it is to get lost, stuck, or lose interest. I don’t particularly find wandering around in circles for hours enjoyable.
I played four hours of Twilight Princess yesterday, actually hoping to encounter some frustration and figure out the answer to this pressing question. The last time I played Twilight Princess was almost exactly four years ago (a couple of months off). Oddly enough, I lost interest at about the same part in the game; four hours in. To be fair though, I was playing on a borrowed GameCube at the time, so combat wasn’t nearly as involved. And by involved, I mean sitting on a bed and flicking my wrists to perform horizontal and spinning slashes all afternoon. It’s much more involved than tapping away on a controller.
There were a few parts that I got stuck at, namely finding Talo in Faron Woods and catching a fish. I asked around and it appears that I’m not the only one who had a bit of trouble catching a fish. Every friend I talked to also had a hard time. Now, this is a bit troubling for a game as linear as Twilight Princess. You can’t progress unless you complete an action. I knew what I needed to do, but doing it was another thing. I caught a few fish but I still didn’t know what I was doing. There I sat just shaking the Wiimote back and forth.
Another problem occurred when I found what I thought to be the correct way to progress. I came across a ledge with two thin rock pillars bridging a gap to a path made in the trees. Setting out to put my platforming skills to the test, I spent a good half hour attempting to access an area that wasn’t meant to be accessed until later. I guess I should’ve gotten the hint when Link kept sliding off or jumping too far to the left or right. I found another way to progress and was able to revisit that area about an hour later.
Now, I have played (and own) other Zelda games and haven’t beaten any of those either. For example, Ocarina of Time. That may be the farthest I’ve ever gone in a Zelda game. I somehow made it through the first three dungeons, traveled through time (you can’t even call this a spoiler, it’s alluded to in the title), and went through the Forest Temple. From there, I simply lost interest. Wandering around in the same areas for hours will do that to you.
It was while I was wandering around, listening to Midna’s giggling blend into the background music, that I realized something. I finally figured out why I actually bother to play this game, or at least what gives me the energy to keep persevering.
The most enjoyable aspect of these games are the characters. I’m not particularly fond of Midna but the way she talks down to you.. it’s kind of charming, in a way. And I’ve always loved Epona, even if she can’t talk. She’s silent, gentle, and unnecessarily loyal, what more could you ask for in a companion?
I like puzzles and everything but the series isn’t really about that for me. It’s more about the dopey Fado and his inability to keep goats within his ranch, not beating down goblins before they have a chance to react (though that is a plus). I’m a fan of the guards cowering in the sewer beneath Hyrule Castle.
I know I’m not the only one to have a hard time with The Legend of Zelda games. What puzzles/areas have you been stuck in? Did you ever drop a title and come back to it later?