Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 13: Final Battle and Conclusion

This is the conclusion of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here
Part 13: Final Battle and Conclusion

Ganon: Final Battle

Perculia: While the chase sequence after Ganon destroys the castle gave me an opportunity to watch Link and Zelda interact, the sequence felt out of place. We haven’t had a timed escort event like this in Ocarina and it comes across a bit jarring tacked on at the end. Most puzzles have focused on unlocking rooms cleverly and exploration–this is just a timed obstacle course.

Hamlet: Yeah, it’s not that interesting of a sequence. It is out of place in Zelda; for one, it’s something people associate with Metroid. But the latter had enough of a jumping/platforming element to make an action-style escape work. Ocarina‘s core movement and control wasn’t made for that; it was made primarily to serve the combat. And this was recognized in the final sequence; it’s nothing more than some timed combat. Maybe that could have been interesting if they’d put in something unique, but it would have been hard due to some of the combat limitations I’ve mentioned before.

P: As for the final encounter, after the variety of tools used in Ganon’s Castle, it was refreshing to see this final fight hinge on Zelda and Link’s signature items–the Master Sword and Light Arrows. Defeating Ganon simply required stunning him with Light Arrows and slashing at his tail, until he was weakened enough that Zelda opened a portal and you had enough time to grab the Master Sword and finish him off. The chance at failure is high–if you’re not sure what to do at first, taking a hit from Ganon can be costly. Like the previous Ganon fight, it’s possible to restore resources mid-fight, but it’s much more stressful here. To get more items or health, you must kite Ganon into some rubble and have him smash it to bits while dodging it–much less soothing than jumping down out of harm’s way and leisurely breaking pots. The drama is also heightened by the ring of fire separating Link from Zelda during the fight, as well as Ganon knocking the Master Sword out of Link’s hand. The final boss is also notable because it’s the one time Zelda and Link are actively working together to take down a boss.

Legend of Zelda The  Ocarina of Time_May27 0_25_01

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 12: Ganon’s Castle

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here. Part 12: Ganon’s Castle

Sage Barriers

Bridge_to_Ganon's_Castle

Perculia: Returning to the main storyline, the six mini-puzzles in Ganon’s Castle left an impression on me–I liked picking out which signature elements from each temple were used in each puzzle to create a distinctive atmosphere in just a handful of rooms, and where the atmosphere felt muddied due to mixing up elements from different temples.

Hamlet: Like I mentioned in the Spirit Temple post, it’s the final dungeon where you expect to find a recapitulation of everything that came before. But I always found the layout of this one a little uninspired: here are 6 mini-dungeons, now go do them. Zelda is about exploration, and dungeons in particular are meant to be explored. A final dungeon that presents you with a few disjoint tasks and then opens up a linear path to the final boss, with a few combats, doesn’t feel like a summary of what Zelda is about at all. Link to the Past had a large and complex final dungeon that built on the puzzle elements in the dungeons that came before it. In Ocarina, by the time you get to Ganon’s Tower, it’s more of a trip down memory lane than a final challenge.

P: Forest Barrier: This puzzle heavily relied on wind tunnels, which was puzzling as wind tunnels were really only used in the Shadow Temple and core elements from the actual Forest Temple were missing, such as the Fairy Bow and hostile paintings (H: You really liked the paintings; I remember when I said that Phantom Ganon was pretty disconnected from the dungeon he was in, you pointed out that “shooting at paintings” was a thematic link). The second room also relied on Hoverboots and Hookshots to maneuver around floating islands, which was challenging but not thematically related to either the Forest Temple or the maze in the Sacred Forest Meadow. The rooms were brown and stark, without any greenery or jeweled windows I had come to love in the Forest Temple.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 11: Side Quests

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 11: Side Quests

Perculia: With only the final dungeon remaining, I’ve found myself looking for all sorts of diversions…even going so far as to fish. I was initially upset, upon becoming Adult Link, that the minigames from the child world were now cut off forever, but upon discovering I could simply replace the sword to warp back (Hamlet: another story element that doesn’t totally make sense, that I think we just don’t think about too hard), I found myself frequently taking breaks between dungeons to clean up all the storylines. From what I understand, I’ve ended up poking at most of the side-quests, so it’s interesting to see both what interested me initially, and why I wasn’t interested in pursuing a select few things.

Magic Beans: When I first met the Magic Beans vendor by Zora’s River, I wasn’t interested in buying any of them–not even for 10 Rupees (H: Heh, I suppose it is true that “magic beans” are something people are usually skeptical of. With a bit of genre savvy though, you can guess the in-game ones are probably not as useless as the real-life variety). However, when I couldn’t access the vendor as Adult Link before learning the Prelude to Time, I suddenly had to know what the beans did.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 10: Spirit Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 10: Spirit Temple and Gerudo Valley

 

Gerudo Fortress

Perculia: Gerudo Fortress quickly establishes itself as a fresh area–you’re stuck in prison immediately. The thieves, seemingly without a leader, have thrown terrified carpenters into prison, and if you get too close to them or fail to block their signature attack, you’ll end up back in prison too. While the guards are hostile, they don’t seem wholly evil from the start–it’s more that they’re testing you to become a better fighter, up to their standards. I admit I struggled with this part at first, trying different combat moves against them and getting discouraged when I was sent to prison before I really knew what happened. I ended up being able to defeat the guards in contrasting ways–gaining distance, side-stepping attacks, and slashing right after, as well as staying in close range, cornering the guard, and waiting for the right moment to attack. I also paid attention to the large commonrooms in between the passageways and cells–by jumping onto a floating block via hookshotting the ceiling, I learned I could avoid patrolling guards below. I also dodged the patrolling guards, but I was curious about the presence of the stone platforms and their function. As it turns out, hookshotting the ceiling was the solution to bypassing a hallway blockage leading to a rooftop chest and heart piece.

Hamlet: One stealth sequence in every adventure game or RPG is a trope that’s about as old and pervasive as they come. Ocarina’s isn’t bad. The game is not exactly cut out for that sort of hide-and-seek gameplay, but they keep it short and come up with a few distinct obstacles. The Hookshot is your only heavy-duty non-combat tool (Hover Boots are pretty unexciting), but they definitely get some mileage out of it here.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 9: Shadow Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 9: The Shadow Temple

Kakariko Village

Perculia: Seeing Kakariko Village in flames, the one zone that’s remained relatively stable through Adult Link’s explorations, sets the tone for this creepy segment.

Hamlet: Especially going back to some much earlier comments on the Village, and how it’s the oddly peaceful area with random goofy characters set off from the world. It was always a very comfortable place (interesting distinction from Link to the Past, where Kakariko is transformed and no longer safe in the Dark World).

P: This instance gave me the most initial confusion, even more so than the Water Temple (which was easy to figure out once I mentally reorganized the Temple’s map by water levels instead of the actual map floors). Much of this was due to being able to enter the Shadow Temple and obtain the Hoverboots and Dungeon Map without the Lens of Truth–it didn’t cross my mind to return to this segment as a child because I hadn’t needed to when prepping for the other three temples–Forest, Fire, and Water. It’s logical that the Shadow Temple would build upon the complexity of the Water Temple, and part of that would be elaborating the mini-instance required to access the actual Temple. The Forest Temple required you to race Dampe in the Kakariko graveyard, the Fire Temple had you meet Goron Link, and the Water Temple really kicked things up by sending you through the Ice Temple, a mini-dungeon with a map, compass, and loot chest at the end.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 8: Water Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.

Part 8: The Water Temple

Perculia: Outside of Hyrule Castle Town, Zora’s Domain has the most striking visual changes in the interim seven years–it was saddening to see how it was all frozen over. The frozen lake, slippery sounds, and total lack of life turned this zone from gorgeous to creepy instantly. While Kokiri Forest had frightened villagers huddled away from menacing enemies, the basic life of the town was recognizable and there was still hope it was inhabitable. Goron City was abandoned, but Child Link brought warmth to the narrative and an explanation as to why the villagers left of their own accord. In Zora’s Domain, it’s just empty, save for King Zora encased in ice. There’s no sign of any life, not even hostile monsters. I was disappointed not to interact with Princess Ruto at least (and was curious to see what became of her engagement agreement).

Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 7: Fire Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 7: The Fire Temple

The Fire Temple

Perculia:Entering the Fire Temple required specific items, like the Forest Temple–but with a more sinister twist. If you didn’t have the Red Vest on, you would eventually burn to death. You could also easily kill yourself improperly exploring the area outside of the Fire Temple, by falling into lava or executing a jump imperfectly. Acquiring the Red Vest wasn’t as complicated as winning the hookshot from Dampe, but it held sentimental value as Goron Link gives it to you as a gift.

Hamlet: I never thought the vest mechanic amounted to much. Need the red one for Fire Temple, need the blue one for Water Temple–never anything interesting about it. I guess what I’m really saying is that the whole equipment system in this game never pulls any weight (worth pointing out especially since it’s the first Zelda game where they do something like it). The only exception is Master Sword vs. Biggoron’s Sword, which is an actual decision based on the combat situation. Once you learn to manipulate the controls to instantly pull out your shield even after using the two-hander though (keep a one-handed item like Hookshot equipped, mash Hookshot and block in quick succession and you’ll block, even if you had the two-handed sword out a moment earlier), even that’s degenerate. The whole equippable-items system is bloat in this game.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 6: Forest Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 6: The Forest Temple

Forest Temple

Perculia: I’m liking the aesthetics of the Forest Temple, from the first moment where I had to hookshot off a tree to enter–stained glass, lots of sinister gardens, passageways that are relatively empty, paintings, dignified stairs. It seems mysterious and overrun, yet strangely welcoming. I felt that I was constantly in danger in Jabu-Jabu’s belly, but in the Forest Temple I get the impression that I’m in a foreboding, yet not openly-hostile, environment. It felt peaceful just exploring and getting keys due to the soothing environment, shady coordiors, and pastel doors. If I hit a dead end, I was trained now to retrace steps and the scattered monsters in each room weren’t overwhelming.

Hamlet: The Temples are really the fully-formed Zelda dungeons of this game, which the child dungeons as a sort of training sequence. This is what I was discussing a bit in Jabu-Jabu’s Belly–now you’ll be expected to navigate around on your own, retraverse areas multiple times, find where to go with particular items, etc.

They’re fully-formed aesthetically too, as you notice immediately. I think you’ll enjoy all of them that way, although Forest is really one of the best.

P:  The center room looks awesome, all dark grey with the neon fairies floating away in the center. It’s funny, I really do get a sense that it’s in a peaceful sunny forest and this is a cool and shady central room. In exploring the side rooms, I liked seeing the hearts above the columns, the vines, and levels/doors above me. In the left wing, I notice how there’s an eyeball I can’t interact with just yet–the hookshot doesn’t work.

H: Yup, getting the hang of every (properly made) Zelda dungeon. You’re always presented with some things that require the dungeon’s main item, before you have it.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 5: Seven Years Later

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 5: Seven Years Later

Perculia: The moment where I first stepped out of the cathedral and saw how the surrounding gardens withered was powerful. It sunk in that the whole world was completely changed and I unwittingly played a part in it, making me feel guilty.

Hamlet: The light/dark world duality was introduced in Link to the Past and reprised here. The world having two layers, a friendly one and a dark one, works very well for the story of this game. We’ll be talking later about how the second act using adult Link is a sort of coming of age for the player as well–going out into a new menacing world, actually alone this time, with the skills you learned in the first act.

P: As for the Temple of Time itself, the classical medieval architecture with the sombre music is quite epic, as well as the presence of the mysterious Sheik. (what’s the backstory with them again–are they an extinct race?) Neat parallel how he gives advice and teaches Adult Link songs, while Impa similarly told Child Link about Kakariko/Death’s Peak and taught the Lullaby.

H: The Sheikah are a new addition in this game. Meant to be some kind of ancient race of protectors of the Royal Family and the Triforce (and you see the ninja-like aesthetic–a bit unusual for Zelda but works well here). Impa is the only one that you knew so far, and now Sheik. We’ll be talking more about him, you can already tell you’ll be seeing more of him. Fun side note: if you look at the adornment on the totally sweet (ahem) collector’s edition 3DS you’re playing on, you’ll see Link’s Ocarina and Sheik’s harp. (P: I noticed this :P )

P: At this point, I have a ton of anxiety–everything is changed, my weapons are greyed out, the mask (which I forgot about, oops) is also greyed out. How am I going to learn more about the guy with the red knapsack in Hyrule Castle Town, or go back and get the Magic Beans by Zora River, or boomerag the first Skulltula off the wall in Dodongo’s Cavern? Even my room of pots is changed.

H: Interesting how intimidated you were by the new world of Adult Link. You actually took a few days’ break at this point before you finally dove into the new world and got your bearings (and got rolling pretty briskly again). I think I was mostly just excited the first time. One thing I had mentioned to you before starting is that Zelda games rarely to never have permanently missable items, one of their really nice design principles. So you don’t have to obsess over finding any possible thing along the way; at each point you can meticulously explore or just plow forwards as you feel like, knowing you can find any secrets later. I wonder if you kept that in mind when you were thinking about the things above. (P: You did mention this, but I wasn’t sure how quickly I’d access the previous world, or if you were just referring to NPCs/shops transplanted like some Hyrule Castle Town ones to Kakariko Village.)

But maybe this says something about not having played non-MMO games before. You’re not used to the idea that the world can actually change.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 4: Jabu-Jabu’s Belly

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 4: Through obtaining the Master Sword

 

Perculia: When we last left off, Link was fleeing the warm yet crushing embraces of the Gorons. After seeing their reaction, I went to check the city back out. As expected, they were very happy to see me–apparently I am their brother now. (Hamlet: if you think gaining some brothers is nice, wait until you see what happens after the next dungeon). With a stash of bombs, I was now able to bomb open a secret vendor that had some adult armor pieces and bombs sold at discounted prices. I also learned how to make a vase move with fire and *still* failed at the rolling guy giving me a reward. (H: we talked about this puzzle last time and it’s even less clear than I’d remembered–you have your Bomb Bag now, and he still won’t give you the reward because it only works if you stop him at a certain point). These are two things I want to investigate at a later point still. However, it wasn’t completely a dead-end trip: I was successful at getting a heart about the Cavern through a backflip (H: unintended method, incidentally. The game never expects to you to use sidehops/backflips to solve jumping puzzles–that Heart Piece is also reachable with an item you don’t have yet).

Side Quests

P: Death Mountain: Exploring the mountain began by practiced more advanced bomb throwing on the ledge to lodge a stone, then bombing some easier rocks for fun, which rewarded me with a secret well with a cow, hearts, and rupees. There’s a hint that I’ll return to this area at a later point–Navi tells me that an instance I zone into is ‘too hot’ and I start to lose health. It’s nice that I was still able to have the option to enter, instead of feeling like the world was cut off. However, it was a bit overkill that the owl had to chime in and tell me that I was too young for part of this area in addition to Navi.

The Great Fairy has an…interesting outfit. It’s pretty different from what we’ve seen characters wear so far–traditional tunics, leggings, dresses, hair colors. She’s almost menacing with her laugh though. Again, I like the blend of discovering her through using a tool (bomb) and music (Zelda’s Lullaby).

H: Character designer Yoshiki Haruhana has said in interviews that he wasn’t given any particular direction with the Great Fairies, and simply wanted to do something different from the generic fairy everyone would expect. I think everyone who’s played Ocarina would at least agree that Haruhana-san accomplished that much.

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