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.
Lon Lon Ranch
P: This seemed an ideal place to start exploring as an adult, before tackling a larger zone with more changes and monsters. Sad to see the guy missing from the room with all the chickens, as well as his daughter being too afraid to say anything about her mistreatment. The mini-game to get the horse is both a neat puzzle in that it teaches you how to ride (was really not great at this at first), but also has character development for Ingo (cheating you, getting another race). (H: The horse controls aren’t ideal. Getting her to jump is pretty finicky.) This also shows why Epona is so special–she’s faster/looks different from other horses–makes sense as your character is also a hero.
H: Zelda lore: The scene where Link escapes the ranch by leaping over the fence on Epona was a visual that Shiguru Miyamoto himself specifically wanted (Miyamoto is the creative genius behind both Mario and Zelda). He tended to manage high-level game and character design and rarely handled detailed aspects of visual presentation. But he likes both westerns and horses, and when Link finally got to have a horse in Ocarina, he wanted a shot of Link jumping on the horse with the camera underneath and the sky and sun framing it. So much so that you’ll see it used again later. In fact, he was so enchanted with this shot that he told people he wanted Ingo to set the ranch on fire to make it the backdrop more dramatic, until people reminded him the player has to be able to keep visiting it later.
P: Also, chickens can be hostile? Still figuring this one out–they started attacking me in the field.
H: Haha, classic Zelda easter egg. In every game, if you attack a chicken enough, a berserk flock of chickens attacks and kills you (unless you run out the area before you die). It’s just supposed to be an amusing outcome for a player who gets bored/curious and starts hacking at a chicken for a while for no reason. Funny how they knew everyone would do this sooner or later. In your case I’m guessing you ran over a chicken on Epona and did enough damage to trigger the swarm. Bit of sloppy implementation turned a odd side joke into a weird and confusing moment for you, but hopefully you can imagine how this was intended to play out.
P: It was fun to return and see how I helped ‘purify’ the ranch–Ingo has reformed, the girl is happy. Also interesting how she vaguely remembers me–that Link knows he’s responsible in some way for everything that went on. Some people he’s interacted with remember him, but he hears second-hand from people that this ‘boy from seven years ago’ really messed things up, like a myth.
H: Malon is a reprise of Marin from Link’s Awakening. That game had a unique and oddly powerful story for the Zelda series, and Link having a psuedo-love interest (in the usual understated Zelda way) was a very memorable part. They brought back the same sort of sad-yet-friendly young girl character here. Again, given the nature of Zelda stories–no elaborate dialogue-driven character interaction–you never do get to really become her friend, just see her occasionally as you go about your adventure. It’s actually kind of depressing in its own way.
P: As expected, the village is all grown up, but at least it’s not run over with monsters. Many shops from Hyrule as well as NPCs have relocated here–I’m particularly amused by the lady talking about her puppy and the couple dancing around, now behind the windmill. I also enjoyed the quirky shop with all the items that can be put in bottles–mostly I’ve used bottles for fairies, but this shop shows the player all of the possible options, both useful and impractical. And I can finally access the potion shop, brightly hued in contrast to the browns/greens of Kakariko exteriors.
The girl that gave me the chicken minigame and the bottle seven years ago now gave me a Cucco. I start trying it out on all the NPCs–woke up the old owner of Lon Lon ranch, who runs back excitedly. I checked up on him and was happy to see he was back on the ranch and saying he would work harder. After the fact I realized that it makes sense that the Cucco would work on him as a fun side story–remembering how I used a Cucco to wake him up as he was sleeping outside Hyrule Castle. Also, the blue Cucco is cute.
Remembering how exploring the graveyard rewarded me with a shield and song earlier, I go back to discover Dampe is dead–another realization of how the world has changed in 7 years. I start exploring graves for fun–finding that the grave with flowers that yielded a Hylian shield now has a fairy well, and a grave with similar flowers yields a passageway to Dampe’s ghost.
H: Your reaction to seeing the new Kakariko really reminds of my comments a few days ago on the diminutive yet oddly captivating side NPC’s in Zelda. The dancing couple, Dampe, the windmill owner: you’ve not spoken more that a few lines with any of them and yet for some reason you start to care about them.
Part of it is the oddness of these people going about their mundane lives when the whole world outside is in ruins. It reminds me of what I think is one of the most haunting moments in Chrono Trigger: after the Black Omen rises from the ocean, if you go back to Crono’s hometown in 1000 A.D. and speak to his mom, she merely says “What a beautiful day! The Black Omen sure sparkles in the sun!” After how you’ve messed with the timeline, the Black Omen is now as familiar a part of your own mother’s life as the sun itself (and why not? For her, it’s been floating there for 13,000 years). Given how seriously you seemed to take the idea that your actions have affected all these people, I wonder if you have a similar reaction here.
P: The Dampe section was a fun chase that taught me to get more sophisticated at moving my character with constant corners and twists, as well as familiarizing myself with the Song of Time, the key to existing the grave. Being deposited in the windmill, nearby a heart piece, is an instant way to learn how to use the newly-acquired hookshot–getting rewarded for cleverness. I feeling a bit better about things now, seeing how this takes the place of the boomerang for retrieving unreachable items.
H: I always found the Dampe chase a bit clumsy, since the camera logic in Ocarina sometimes led to frustrating failures (wonder if it was changed at all for the 3DS remake).
Yup, same design trick is used here with the Song of Time as with every new item really–trap you in a room with no immediate danger, but where you have to use the thing to get out. Now you know the Song can move big blue blocks with the Time insignia on them.
The Hookshot is pretty good consolation (and more) for losing your boomerang. Now that you have it, you should feel like yourself as adult Link again.
To the Forest Temple
P: Argh, Kokiri Forest is run over by monsters too? Again, feeling sad–it was such a happy innocent place before. All the inhabitants are huddled inside and talking about how they never grow or age–something must clearly be up with Link. It’s a poignant commentary on time–so much has changed with their village, but they physically don’t age and appear deceptively childlike.
Working my way through the Lost Woods again, I’m now bombing the rocks and being rewarded with secret passageways I couldn’t access as a child–feeling pleased with that. The Lost Woods are mostly unchanged, except the final maze is a lesson on how to use the hookshot on the ogre backs–just as the child maze was a lesson on how to use L targeting/viewing and the Deku Shield. And after losing some rupees at Lon Lon Ranch, the mini-boss rewarding players with 20 rupees is a nice perk.
Reaching the entrance to the Forest Temple, it’s neat how all dungeons have a song, like a ‘port,’ as well as a clock rock and fairy well near the entrance. Also love how sheik throws Deku Nuts at you as he’s leaving. It’s sad though how Saria isn’t at her usual place, and that’s explained matter-of-factly as her destiny. What happened in 7 years that caused her to be removed from the forest?
H: So now there’s a pattern set up where each Temple has a associated song, making it clear what the bottom row of songs will be for. You’re still missing one basic song though, maybe should think about people you’ve talked to that might have one for you. And yes, Sheik now appearing as a sort of guide for you in the dark world, but only occasionally. Mostly, you’re on your own.