I was a young kid when I played The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, the game that introduced me to the Zelda series. It was my cousin’s game on the handheld Gameboy Advance console. I started playing it and I just couldn’t enjoy it. Since it was such a long time ago, I don’t remember why I didn’t like it. I just remember not having fun.
9 years later, one of my other cousins realized that I wasn’t into the Zelda franchise. He insisted that I should experience a “good” Zelda game so he lent me his copy of Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. He told me a bit about it, specifically that it was very storyline heavy, and that piqued my interest as I am someone who loves a good story. But I never got far enough into the game to enjoy it. So why did I find one of gaming’s most legendary achievements to be such a boring ordeal?
Well to start off, I thought the game would have better graphics. It was a 3DS game released in 2011 after all, so it should look pretty good. Well, it was okay. Not really my taste though. When I look at some of the graphical effects like the backgrounds I admit they can look very detailed, but when I stare at blocky Link and the rest of the characters it ’s hard for me to take the whole thing seriously. Then I found out that the title was a port of the Ocarina of Time game that was released in 1998 with some new gameplay thrown in. The game is as old as me – 20 years old! It definitely shows in the graphics. Maybe if they modernize the visuals, smooth out the character models, improve the textures, and bring the whole thing to high definition, I’d be more inclined to get immersed in the world.
Still, my cousin had gone through the trouble of lending me the game so I decided to give it a try. Then I got lost. A lot. I had difficulty figuring out uses for certain items. I remember running around a room with a torch while being surrounded by water and getting sad whenever the flame died out. How in the world was I supposed to get the torch to light the brazier when there is WATER all around me? I would routinely get stuck in rooms with seemingly no way out except by saving and restarting the whole game which I found very annoying. Then I learned that there were puzzles you had to solve before certain rooms would let you out, but the game never effectively communicated that detail.
Since Zelda is apparently a puzzle-solving game I continuously hit these kinds of walls that stopped my progression dead in its tracks. I don’t play puzzle games. The only time I use my brain for puzzles is when I’m playing jigsaw puzzles and I Spy games – that’s about it! I wound up just looking for cheats on what to do next rather than bashing my head against my 3DS until I finally stood in the right place to unlock a door. I felt bad about using a walkthrough since most games should be played without looking up cheats, but it was preferable to the utter frustration of struggling to solve the arbitrary puzzle every room seemed to contain. Apart from using the fire torches to destroy walls of webs, every solution left me asking myself, “How was I supposed to know to do that?” rather than feeling like I figured out something smart.
Perhaps this is a little nitpick, but I was also very upset when I had to buy my own shield just to pass a certain checkpoint. Fortunately, my neighbor’s lawn needed maintenance, so I got to put my special new sword to use…by cutting grass. Doing tedious chores like this was not one of the first things I wanted to do at the beginning of an “epic narrative-focused” quest, yet the game forces you to scrounge for cash just so you can get a round piece of wood. Most games that I’m used to give you the weapons you need free of charge, so I was angrily questioning why they wanted me to spend my money on something I wasn’t even planning to use. I’d rather have just saved my money for stuff later on, but I couldn’t because the game wanted me to have a shield.
The game felt constricted and it annoyed me. I wanted to explore the world a bit before starting the main quest because it looked like there was so much to discover outside of the simple forest area. But the game just had to make me do chores and solve a bunch of puzzles first. I felt dejected, to say the least. Despite that, I knew it was normal for most games to start in this fashion so I accepted it and hoped I would get to the outside world soon.
All of this took place during the beginning stages: Kokiri Forest and Inside the Deku Tree. I asked my cousin, “How long do I have to play this for?” He told me to finish the dungeon. I did. Then the Deku tree went on an epically long rant about the three goddess and holy relics and whatnot, but I was disinterested in all of it. Then he died and I was left wondering why Link of all people was given such a big task when he never had a fairy or fought a day in his life up until now? It just made no sense! You could say “oh, he’s the chosen one”, but I was too annoyed with the game to be impressed with that overused cliché.
After the whole rigmarole in the forest, the game finally let me move on to the castle, which I admit got a bit better. I liked talking with all the people as the dialogue seemed to have picked up. There was some other cool stuff like how you could earn special items by testing your skills with certain weapons in different mini-games, but it wasn’t enough to keep me invested in the game. I stopped there, and the next time I saw my cousin, I quickly gave him his game back.
Overall, I just couldn’t connect with this very outdated game. I’m just too familiar with modern graphics and gameplay structures to feel impressed by a game that so constantly irritated me by making me do things I didn’t want to do. I can imagine that during its time this game was a huge hit and a true breakthrough in game design, but for someone who never grew up playing the Legend of Zelda, it held no nostalgic vibes for me and I was downright bored and frustrated. It might be a game beloved by many, as many of my friends and family adore it, but it is not loved by me.
So what are your thoughts when it comes to Ocarina of Time? Comment down below to tell us why you like it, or hate it.