My mom bought me a SNES and Mario Paint at four so I would stop using so much damn paper when drawing. She then promptly started playing Super Mario World and was addicted to every action/adventure/platforming game out there. I grew up with the sounds of her playing Tomb Raider in the living room. When I was old enough to play more than My Little Pony, we had multiples of each system because sharing was too hard.
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I have often strolled with friends down the Memory Lane that is Ocarina of Time. Remember chasing cuckoos in Kakariko Village? Or playing the Sun Song right as a skeleton charged at you and watching it disappear? Yeah, good times. But I never earned those moments. In fact, I never got past the Deku Tree.
It's not that I didn't want to get further, mind you. It's that I was absolutely terrified. When my cousin got past each new checkpoint on his file, I immediately picked it up and played around. I adored the characters and the exploration, but the monsters were just too much. Okay, it wasn't just the monsters. Anything with the slight possibility of killing me was in the realm of Too Scared to Move. You know how you have to follow a moving boulder to get your first sword? Yeah, even that. I watched that boulder roll for a good fifteen minutes before I got up the nerve to follow it, and getting that sword felt like a major accomplishment.
It wasn't just Zelda, either. I didn't get very far in a lot of games, and if I did, it was because I called in my mom to beat the bosses for me. The first game I ever beat without help was Final Fantasy IX, and that's partially because I was always overleveled. It also helped that turn-based combat slowed everything down and couldn't surprise me with enemies jumping out of nowhere.
I tried to tell myself that it was the graphics. Ocarina of Time had some pretty intense graphics for the time, and I was only ten when it came out. Yes, that was definitely the issue! After all, I got pretty far in The Minish Cap before I put it down. There were seven years between Ocarina of Time and The Minish Cap. My desensitization to older graphics would certainly help me play it now! Even then, I still didn't give it another shot. I knew I didn't put down The Minish Cap because I got bored, or even too busy to play for a while. No, I put it down because I was afraid to go into the final boss fight.
I haven't told many people how few games I've actually beaten. I've played a lot of them, yes, and I've gotten pretty far, but there are so many that I put down because I was just too much of a weenie to keep going. Whether it was the idea of being ambushed by enemies or simply fighting a really creepy-looking boss, I just couldn't do it. It's hard to admit to being afraid of games, especially to gamer friends. For the longest time, I had a hard time even telling people that I hadn't beaten a game, let alone why.
I still don't handle these things well. I get nervous before I go into a boss fight, and I can't watch scary movies without freaking out. The difference now is that I'll watch a scary movie with friends, and I'll actually go fight the boss instead of panicking and turning the game off. Sure, sometimes I need a minute to psyche myself up, but never too long. I've stopped being completely terrified of everything. With the release of Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, it felt like it was time to try again.
I received the game as a birthday present, but it took a couple of months to get started. This was partially having crazy hours at work, and partially that old fear returning. What would happen when I got out of the forest and into that sick old tree? Would I balk before jumping into the webbed floor? Would I get too scared again? I don't have the excuse of being a kid anymore! There are only so many times you can “put down” a game before you really don't have an excuse anymore. Yesterday, I decided enough was enough. It was time to play.
Nervously, I popped the game cartridge in and started a new file. I'd done this part plenty of times before. As I got into actually playing, I realized something: it was...easy. The platforming I'd struggled with as a kid was simple, the action puzzles I'd been afraid of were over instantly, and, most shockingly to me, the monsters weren't scary. They were actually pretty cute! I breezed through that first dungeon and watched the cut scene signaling the beginning of the quest I'd only watched before. I did it: I beat the Deku Tree.