I've been playing games since pretty much forever, and they are a fairly big part of my life. I mostly play games either on my PC or Wii, but I also own a PS1, PS2, Genesis, Dreamcast, N64, Atari 2600, and several handhelds, with a library of somewhere around 300 titles. I play all kinds of games, but I do consider myself a bit of a Nintendo fanboy.
Dungeons of Dredmor
Entire Zelda series
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Mario Kart Wii
Monster Hunter Tri
Mass Effect Series
In my last post I basically just raged about how Zelda II was terrible and that I wouldn't be beating it. A few hours after posting, I decided to give the game another go. I set out to beat every Zelda game in order of release, so skipping one just because I didn't like it just seemed wrong. So I went back and completed Zelda II. Here's what I have to say about the game.
So basically, the premise of the game is that Zelda (different that Zelda 1's Zelda, even though it's the same Link. Makes no sense, I know.) is under an enchanted sleep, and the only way to wake her is to go and get the last part of the Triforce. To do this, Link has to put gems in statues in 6 temples, and get the Triforce of Courage from a 7th. All the while Ganon's minions are trying to kill him, and use his blood to revive Ganon.
Alright, let's get the first part out of the way. This game has RPG elements. In other words, there are several points in the game that just turn into a grindfest, and in the early game, this is infuriating. My biggest problem with this is that when you get a game over screen you lose all exp towards your next level, and enemies that infinitely spawn in the first dungeon not only damage you, but steal your exp too. Once you gain some levels, the game picks up the pace a bit, but it was enough to make me want to put down the game forever. If I hadn't forced myself to beat it, I probably never would have.
That said, after the first dungeon, the game really did become a bit more fun. The combat was simple once I figured out that I could kill almost anything with a downward thrust or by quickly alternating high and low strikes, but it was still challenging and it felt a bit rewarding.
The dungeons were all pretty bland though. Zelda 1 at least kept things fresh by throwing new enemies at you in new combinations, but Zelda 2 was a lot more simplistic. I often found myself lost in a dungeon because all of the hallways looked exactly the same and I was without a map. Getting through the dungeons was somewhat of a chore, partly because I kept all of my keys and items found when I got a game over. The game made me think "how many of these side paths can I loot before I die" instead of "how can I loot all of these side paths without dying."
I also found that it was usually just easier to avoid any kind of combat in a dungeon and just grind somewhere else. The inevitability of a game over screen meant that all of the exp picked up while exploring would just go to waste, and I could minimize damage by avoiding conflict. Once I realized this the dungeons became completely monotonous to me. All I did was sprint through every room looking for keys or an item to grab so I could finish as quickly as possible. You could say that I was "playing it wrong," but when a game encourages you to "play it wrong" then you're actually playing it correctly.
As for towns, they were just as bland as the dungeons. Sure, there were people all over to talk to and spells and sword skills to be learnt, but I felt none of the heart that was in Zelda 1. In Zelda 1, every npc meant something, they had a purpose that was significant, and they all had a personality. In Zelda 2, all of the text was just bland and arbitrary, and I felt no need to read any of it. I'll put it this way. How many memes did Zelda 1 spawn? I can think of at least 4 off the top of my head. Now how many came out of Zelda 2? 2: "I am Error," and the game over screen, and the former was just because the character's name was silly. The lack of heart in this game astonished me at times.
I wanted to like this game both times that I picked it up. I really did. My entire experience was either frustrating, monotonous, or just disappointing. There are worse games out there, for sure, and while I wouldn't say that this is a bad game, it's not a particularly good one either.
While the game's current position is staying the same, now I know for sure where it belongs. It's definitely my least favorite Zelda game, but now it at least has a chance against some spin-offs that I haven't played yet.
1. The Legend of Zelda
2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Okay, this one is going to be a quickie, because my hour spent with this game made me remove it from my list. There will be no "the good, the meh, the bad" segments. I couldn't find much to say in "the meh," much less "the good."
I played this game for one solid hour, and every second of it was arduous. All I accomplished was beating the first dungeon, and I probably died more times than I did in Zelda 1's dungeon 6 (read the Zelda 1 article and you'll see how bad that was). I have one problem with this game, otherwise it could have worked out fairly well.
Scaling. This game fails miserably at it. Generally in a game you find a learning curve; you start out fighting generally easy monsters and the game gradually builds up, becoming more and more challenging until you come face to face with the toughest of the tough. In many Zelda games, these toughies are the Darknuts. Zelda II completely destroys that, and those Darknuts are in the very first dungeon. These guys are nearly impossible to kill. The only way that I could get past them was to run into them and use the brief period of immortality to sprint by them and head into the next area. Those enemies do not belong in a game's first dungeon.
I don't feel bad at all not even coming close to finishing this game. Maybe someday I will, but it will probably be a long time from now. The idea is decent, put link in a Castlevania-style RPG and run with it, but the insane starting difficulty just makes this game unplayable to me.
One thing that really pissed me off was how I spawned after dying to a Darknut.
Yeah. That's fair. Spawn me with an exp stealing goblin's face up my ass. Thanks Nintendo. Great job.
This one should be obvious.
1. The Legend of Zelda
2. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
It's the first Zelda game. If it wasn't made, I wouldn't be writing this, and you wouldn't have even searched the name and stumbled upon this article. Basically, all you need to know is that Ganon kidnapped Zelda and is wreaking havoc in Hyrule, and Link has to go through a bunch of dungeons to get pieces of the triforce in order to stop him. So come on, les' do dis thang.
Dungeons (when done right)
The dungeons are all incredibly similar, but each has something just a tad unique to it that sets it apart. Sometimes it's the type of enemies that inhabit it, and sometimes its in the layout of the rooms. Each dungeon, while playing almost exactly the same, feels just different enough from the last one to make you want to explore the whole thing.
I have a little dispute over what my favorite dungeon was. Dungeon 8 is massive, holds 2 items, and bosses from previous dungeons are thrown in like regular enemies. The map of dungeon 5, however, looks just like E.T. You decide which is better.
The controls are tight, both the enemies' and your hitboxes are nice and clear, and you almost never feel the need to say “there's no way that hit me!” In most cases, combat scenarios are fair and well paced. You start out fighting easier monsters on the earlier dungeons, and the difficulty ramps up as you learn. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are usually fairly manageable. The sword laser is completely overpowered, but you only have it at full health, and only one beam can be on screen at a time, so you probably won't have it long. The items, other than the boomerang, leave a little to be desired, but nonetheless combat is simple and satisfying.
At first I was a little off-put by the complete lack of direction in the game. I understand that exploration is a big part of any Zelda game, but no direction at all? Not even a hint to start off with? That just seemed a bit annoying. In each dungeon however, you can find an old man who will give you a hint as to where the next dungeon is, but sometimes it just isn't enough. I often found myself looking up a map online to find out where to go next.
On the other hand, you can enter any dungeon you want in any order, as long as you can reach the entrance (which is usually the case, save dungeons 4, 7, and 8). I found this particularly useful when I had to go through dungeon 6. I ended up saving that one for last because... Well, more on that later. The overworld is also full of secrets: caves with old men that give you swords and hearts, moblins who take and give rupees, money making games, and tons of shops. The only problem is that most of the best secrets are hidden behind indiscernible bomb walls. I never would have found half of these secrets if I hadn’t used a map found online.
The bosses in this game are very hit and miss. On one hand you have the dungeon 1 dragon, the multi-headed dragon in dungeons 4 (2 heads) and 8 (4 heads), the spider boss, “Gohma,” and the aptly named plant boss of dungeon 3, “Manhandla.”
On the other hand though, the dungeon 1 boss appears again as the boss of dungeon 7, Dodongo falls to 2 bombs and appears as a somewhat common enemy later, Digdogger dies after only a few hits after the flute is played, and another boss is so disappointing that I've saved it for the bad column.
Nothing about the items really makes them stand out. The stepladder and boomerang are useful, bombs are necessary, and the bow is kinda okay, but they just don't seem all that important. The bow uses precious rupees as ammunition, so it's really not worth it, the raft is only used twice in the entire game, and the magic rod just doesn't seem necessary. Almost every situation in the game can be overcome with a bomb, sword, or key, so the other items just kind of fade into obscurity.
Dungeons (when done wrong... AKA dungeon 6)
I have a Beef with this dungeon in particular, as it caused half of my deaths. The cause? Wizdrobes.
These little guys are really a pain in the ass, and are basically the only enemy worth shaking a stick at in this dungeon. The red ones aren't too big of a problem. When they teleport they face the way they are going to shoot their magic laser beam, charge up for a second, fire, then teleport again. They are fairly easy to take on and can only withstand one hit. The blue ones however, are the bane of all existence. You never know when they are going to shoot their magic beams of death at you, they phase through obstacles, take several hits, and are immune to everything but your sword. Also, their magic beam has little to no cooldown, meaning that while you're busy fighting off the like-likes and red wizdrobes, they can rapid fire three or four shots in your direction. If you try to focus the blue wizdrobes, they can just hit you a few times in a second when you're right next to them, as they take no knock-back at all, but still get those few moments of invulnerability. And what's worse, each beam does 2-3 hearts worth of damage, depending on your armor. That's a lot when the maximum is 16.
Why this dungeon specifically, you ask? There are wizdrobes in later dungeons too, aren't there? Well, yes and no. No other dungeon has nearly as many wizdrobes, and in most cases you can just sprint through the room, bypassing all of them. The problem here is that you have to clear some of the rooms to advance. This is particularly maddening when said room holds something like 3 blue wizdrobes, 5 or 6 reds, and a few like-likes. I was only able to beat the dungeon with 15 hearts, 2 potions, and entering with full health. Even then I died several times because of these stupid things. I have never raged so hard at a Zelda game. Not even at Majora's Mask's water temple.
Sorry about the huge block of text, but the English language holds no words that accurately describe my hatred for dungeon 6.
Final Boss: Ganon
This... Just this... Link has fought his way past multi-headed dragons, moblins with spears and boomerangs, several “THE MANHANDLA”s (they will only acknowledge their name if the “the” is included), and armies of bloodthirsty, teleporting wizards. The final dungeon is a massive labyrinth, full of more deadly enemies, underground passages, old men, and hidden passages behind bombable walls. Ganon is the evil mastermind behind all of the turmoil in Hyrule, the kidnapper of princess Zelda, and directly causing his demise is the sole purpose of your quest. Must be a lengthy and difficult duel ahead, right? Wrong. Basically, all Link has to do is stand still and swing his sword, wait for the now-invisible Ganon to literally walk into it a few times, then deliver a single silver arrow to the groin. That's it. Link just spent 2 hours wandering around the final dungeon, and Ganon goes down in less than a minute. I have no words. Just a facepalm.
This game was as full of enjoyment for me as it was with memes. Sure, there are a few areas that you just want to say “that's absolutely pathetic,” and a few times you want to say “fuck you, wizdrobe,” but the game is incredibly enjoyable the whole way through, despite the wizdro... I mean shortcomings.
The Legend of Zelda is the first in a long series of beloved games, and serves as a sort of template for those to come after it. The game established a lot of genre norms we today take for granted, and this game puts those basics on a pedestal proudly. This game shows us where the medium started and how far it has come. We see those “really? Come on!” moments here because this game is imperfect. Every time we notice these imperfections, it's a testament to developers today who smoothed out those rough patches in later games.
I found that this game is full of awesome imagery; the old man acting as a mentor, guiding the hero, a little guy with a wooden sword having the courage to best a dragon, and an evil overlord sitting on his throne atop a mountain. My favorite, though, by far, comes just after the unfortunately disappointing final boss battle. As Ganon is defeated, he crumbles into dust, leaving his segment of the triforce where he stood. Anyone who has completed this game would not at all doubt the significance of this image. The development team obviously realized this too, as they included it again at the end of the credits.
This game easily takes the first place spot on my list of one game. The competition was practically nonexistent.
So, I've been wanting to write about video games for a while, and this seems to be just the place to do it. As of right now I have nothing to write, but I soon will; I plan to beat every Zelda game in order of release before the year is up. I'm a little behind right now, as I'm only about 80% through the original, and by my timeline I should be well into Zelda 2 by now. I've already lost a month, but I still think that I can do it. If not, I can try to make it before I turn 20 (which will be February 8th, 2013).
What you will find here will not be reviews, just my thoughts on a game. If I find a dungeon or mechanic in a game I particularly liked, or disliked for that matter, I'll write about it. You won't however, find an arbitrary "rating" in any of my articles. The closest thing to a "rating" that I'll give are in lists. I'll make a list of the Zelda games as I play them and organize them from my most to least favorite. I may also do similar lists on dungeons, areas, or bosses or something, both best and worst.
You won't see just Zelda games here though. I plan on writing at least a short article on almost every game I beat while I do this, and (if I feel like putting all of that time into it) I may just do some videos.
In the next few weeks, I'll be writing about the first Zelda game, No More Heroes, and Resident Evil 4. All of which I have beaten or will beat soon. Other than that, here's a list of all of the Zelda games that I plan on playing before the year is up.
The Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
A Link to the Past
Ocarina of Time
Oracle of Seasons
Oracle of Ages
Four Swords Adventures
The Minish Cap
Link's Crossbow Training (I picked it up used for 25 cents, so why not?)
The optional games, which will most likely come after the others, but may be just between are:
Four Swords (If I can get some people to play it with)
Second Quest (Zelda 1)
Master Quest (Ocarina of Time)
Parallel Worlds (LttP mod)
Master Quest (LttP Mod)