Who’s the Master Quester now?

October 28th, 2005 at 9:49 pm by The Missing Link

As I sit here at my computer and I gaze over the lovely vision of all my games within about 10 feet of where I’m sitting, I can’t help but see my GameCube copy of Ocarina of Time. I suddenly remember that, yes, Virginia, there is another version of Ocarina. It’s the version that hardly gets any talk about it because, let’s face it, it wasn’t a new game for all intents and purposes. It was a remix in the classic sense of the term, a copy of an existing game with everything changed, throwing you for a loop in the process because nothing is the way you remember it. The experience feels like a warm blanket in its similaries, yet at the same time you feel as if the game has tossed you out of your house without your key on a cold winter night when you encounter one of those glaring differences.

I am going to be blunt on this one, because it deserves to be said: Master Quest did bring some nice curse words out of me, although it hardly held a candle to what Super Mario Sunshine managed to pull out of me. (My save file for that game has not one shine more than the minimum required to beat the game, and it will forever stay that way.) At every turn throughout Master Quest, whenever I managed to solve a puzzle, the thought once again came to me: “This isn’t how I did it back in Ocarina.” Of course, it was Nintendo’s every intention to do something so cockamamy backwards, but I was completely surprised at just how much they were able to change the game even though the dungeons were inherently the same maps, rooms, and layouts as its predecessor… just with a completely different set of physics. Yet in all actuality, the real mystery of Master Quest has very little to do with this but is something else entirely.

My roommate and I are very big fans of Zelda (even though we differ quite a bit in our taste for games). He started before me way back with the original Legend of Zelda whereas I started playing with A Link to the Past, but that’s still “way back then” to most people. We had a contest with each other to see who could beat Majora’s Mask first. (He won. Not that I’m bitter that he had more time to play. Cough. ;) ) We both enjoyed Wind Waker. (I beat him hands down on that one. Ha!) And we still both maintain that Zelda was best “back in the day,” both of us quickly becoming the “old geezers” in our fandom.

We both know Ocarina of Time nails; when faced with the Shadow Temple, we could probably navigate it blindfolded, with one arm tied behind our back, without the Biggoron Sword either. Yet when it came to Master Quest, we were thwarted at every angle. For those who have played the game, I’m sure you’ll remember on B1 of the Deku Tree the room with the spinning spiked log hovering above a pool of water with a lone platform gliding across it at the water’s surface. The Ocarina answer is to swim in the water, duck down, and press a switch that will lower the water’s level sufficiently to allow you to safely pass under the log. In Master Quest the switch doesn’t do this; instead, it creates a chest which doesn’t help you. Yay. The answer to this one is a sneaky one; instead, you have to (gasp!) simply duck down as you pass underneath the log, and you’ll clear it without a problem. It took my roommate and I four hours to figure this one out. (He discovered it first, not yours truly.)

However I have another friend who didn’t know who Zelda even was until after meeting us in college. She was a late bloomer into the whole Zelda thing; she didn’t play Ocarina until 2003, several years after it was released in ‘98; were she were to play the game again, she wouldn’t remember very much about it. She can’t beat A Link to the Past, I can’t remember her ever actually completing Majora’s Mask, and Wind Waker took her a long time to finish. Nevertheless, her time spent on the above puzzle: two minutes.

We were shocked. And after the shock, we were embarassed and shamed back to our rooms to pout for the rest of the night. (Pity us. We deserve it.)

As she progressed, we kept taunting her whenever she approached the “difficult” puzzles. Our friend proceed through each one of them without difficulty (even solving the easy puzzles in a much more elegant way), and in no time at all, she had reached the end of Master Quest. We just looked at each other, and we said, “Nuh uh! I never thought of doing the puzzle that way!” While I can’t be absolutely certain about it, but I would reckon that she spent less time on Master Quest than either of us did individually. In short, the masters of Zelda were both severely pwned… by a non-master. (It was perhaps more humiliating than the time I watched the infamous Super Mario Bros. 3 speedrun in 11 minutes… while the player collected 99 lives in the process.)

Looking back on this, I have to chuckle a little bit at the experience. Master Quest really is a game that is meant to play with our minds and really make us think outside the box. All those puzzles that we thought we knew? Surprise! Zelda takes on an entirely different definition of difficulty, and just when you think you’ve got everything Zelda solidly under your belt, the next time is likely to completely revolutionise the way you think.

Twilight Princess may not be designed like Master Quest was, but at the same time, I really look forward to seeing just how that game will change the whole dynamic of the Zelda experience and structure. We may think we “know” Zelda; we have yet to realise that we haven’t a clue.

Filed under Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time

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31 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “Who’s the Master Quester now?”


    I hear you man. Master Quest remains the one Zelda game I never beat (excluding CD-I Zeldas, though I do own one of them). Heck, I didn’t even have enough paitence to beat the Deku tree training level. Maybe someday though, I’ll return to it, and finish what I know I must one day do.

    Ironic, the advantage afforded by going into that game with an inexperienced mind. Has this room-mate you speak of ever played the original OoT? Maybe that would throw her for a loop in the same way MQ did for most of us.

    As for Super Mario Sunshine, I’ll admit there were a few blue coins so ridiculously well hidden (squirt the signboard!) that I needed the help of gameFAQs.com to hunt them down. But to give up on it forever? Laaaaame. ;)

    • 3. JC says:

    Heh. To me, most of the new Master Quest dungeons were easier than the originals (Example: Fire temple, Water Temple, Shadow Temple, Deku Tree,). The ones not listed were the ones I had problems with.

    Yeah, it does leave you discombobulated and disgruntled, sure, but it’s alot of fun. When I first got MQ, it only took me 1 week to beat. XD

    I adapted my old OoT tricks to the new MQ dungeons. One thing I learend from playing this game: “From every Zelda game on, USE YOUR FRIGGING ITEMS IN EVERY ROOM!” If you do some really unorthodox things with items in rooms where you don’t think you need those items, you’ll really need a pat on the back. I remember, after I got the Lens of Truth in MQ, I was using it in every room of every dungeon. Hey! It paid off in the Spirit Temple when you’re in the statue room and you’re on the left and right staircases and the invisible Floor Master keeps ramming into you.

    Still, I found the original much more challening. MQ has more puzzle depth than dugneon length.

    I too solved the GDT puzzle mentioned above within a couple minutes. And I beat MQ in at least two weeks. In the wise words of the Curiosity Shop owner, “I kid you not.” I didn’t play my first Zelda (OoT) till 2003.

    I couldn’t figure out how to get into the Spirit Temple, until I finally remembered the entrance in the roof…I was like “no way” but that’s how you do it…Oh yeah there’s a key you have to get by opening the entrances in the spirit temple, going back as a kid, crawling under a space, then coming back as an adult…That was more annoying than difficult

    To be very honest, I thought Master Quest was way to easy. Seriously. I remember people emailing me telling me it was so hard, and I was going “What the *Navi*?

    I think its cause I was expecting it to be much harder than it was. Or that I have such a bad memory of how OOT puzzles functioned that I just viewed MQ as a whole new game.

    At least it kept me busy till Wind Waker came out.

    • 7. JC says:

    MQ came with a pre-order for TWW, right? Well, I pre-ordered on Amazon, and they had that deal, and I didn’t get it! >_

    Master Quest for the most part was never that bad. Of course that was true for me, until the Spirit Temple. Now maybe I just played through it all rather poorly, but I distinctly remember ahving to warp back and forth and try and find new things as a child and adult as opposed to the simple run the first half as a child and the second half as an adult found in original OoT. There were times when it was significanly easier, such as the fire temple where you can simply ignore a floor or two of the dungeon, unless you need the tokens. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and how to do it in a very new way.

    Hm…how strange. I’ve almost beaten Master Quest, and in less time than it took me to beat the original Ocarina of Time. unforuneatly, real life kicks in, and when it does, it kicks hard. Very Hard. I haven’t had time to finish it. Still in Gannon’s tower…two barriers left to break. hm…i need to get off the computer and get on that. I still think A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening are the hardest ones, though… which reminds me…I still need to play the first two games. I really need to keep a schedule. O.o

    Master Quest… I remember playing it back before WW came out. Really, it was harder in a lot of places, though I didn’t have too much trouble. The only trouble I can recall was in the Forest Temple with that hidden eye switch in the well. That was just sneaky, Nintendo… kept me at a lost for days. Shadow Temple was toned down so much that I laughed. Ah, but I need to play MQ again… I can’t remember the other dungeons for the life of me. With the exception of Juba-Juba, of course. ;) Who in the world could forget that? xD *shoots the cow*

    when I played master quest for the first time , I expected something significantly harder than ocarina, but when I actually got into the dungeons, especially the puzzle you just mentioned, I had surprisingly little trouble. Yes, you do have to think about puzzles on a different way, but that way of thinking is what I’m best at. I think outside of the box by default. Sometimes this ends up making problems worse. But, in a game designed around that sort of thining, it just makes it that much easier. I figured out all the puzzles in that game faster than in ocarina.

    The Japanese humour in MQ was pretty prevailent. I mean, like the cows in Jabu-Jabu. It goes to show that Nintendo were really pushing or extras for the WW bonus disk, personally I think they would have done better to release MM instead of on the limited edition disk…In my country you had to buy a new Gamecube to get it *grumble*

    It’s “Intents and purposes” not “intensive purposes”. A common mistake, but one that drives me up the wall.

    “For all intents and purposes”.


    Hey I agree with JC I thought Master Quest was pretty easy because I completed it 100% in one week (and I work eight and a half hours a day, five days a week) some of the puzzles were just a question of logic and thinking outside of the Zelda box hehehe, oh and by the way it took me ten minutes to figure out the spiked log thing in the Deku Tree, lol

    Yes, and we get “fringe benefits”, not “French benefits”…

    Hmmm do you think they will release Majoras Mask Master Quest witht he Twilight Princess?

    WORD, TML!!! I had a time with MQ but it was a BLAST!!!

    • 18. TSA says:

    Heh, I don’t think the fact I beat Master Quest in 8 hours the first time is a fair assessment of its difficulty. If you hadn’t played Ocarina of Time in a long time, or never played it at all, Master Quest would flat out stump you, moreso than standard Ocarina of Time.

    However, Master Quest is seriously flawed in design, you can beat it faster than the standard Ocarina of Time, and it honestly to me seemed the creator’s forgot giving you access to items early and not taking that into account leads to major sequence breaks. You can skip half the Water and Fire Temples, and half the Ice Cavern.

    All in all, it was cool to have new stuff thrown at the player, and the cows in Jabu-Jabu were hilarious, but because the creators were limited to using the same dungeon rooms, but just re-arranging the puzzles, it wasn’t going to be that much harder. If it were more like Ura-Zelda/2nd Quest for the original game, in which dungeon locations are changed and the entire layout of dungeons new….Master Quest probably would have created one big pile of broken controllers.

    I agree with jc master quest was easier than the original oot I finished a lot quicker.

    TSA, the purpose of Master Quest was not to force players to have a longer speedrun time. The goal was to make the puzzles sufficiently different from its predecessor so that players were forced to think about the puzzles much more in depth, even if you had already played Ocarina of Time.

    Foolsrun, typo is fixed. Thanks for catching it. :)

    • 21. TSA says:

    TSA, the purpose of Master Quest was not to force players to have a longer speedrun time. The goal was to make the puzzles sufficiently different from its predecessor so that players were forced to think about the puzzles much more in depth, even if you had already played Ocarina of Time.

    I never said that was the goal. And the puzzles, if you knew the principles of Zelda, were nothing special, in my opinion. In fact, the puzzles in Master Quest were easier than Ocarina of Time’s, playing it first time through. However, as I said before, playing Master Quest first without playing Ocarina of Time is very rare and would have provided for a much more challenging experience, and people would think Ocarina of Time was poorly designed perhaps.

    And I disagree with you about your last point. I played Ocarina of Time. I didn’t have to think much more in depth…because I had played Ocarina of Time, I didn’t have to think as much. That was the sentiment I got from the guys at Speed Demos Archives, Nintendo’s Forums, and my own forum. But that’s not the majority. But I’m saying, it’s completely an opinion, and my opinion was Master Quest was not hard, didn’t provide anything that a previous Ocarina of Time player could not handle, and was not more intensive than Ocarina of Time.

    i beat it! but i died now and then, but i beat it!

    • 23. Putt says:

    Ha! Thanks for the props. Now I know I am a bigger Zelda God than you. :) :) :) Just kidding. Although you needed me for the original Zelda game. I will always have that on you. :) :)

    Master Quest? I threw down the controller halway through the Dekku tree in fustration +I was scared of the boss. So I went back To TWW and kept beating up Gannondorf until I was content. I just really have a prob with Ooa bosses.

    I like the “cucco” on this page.

    I never played MQ. I just thought it was the same as Oot so I didn’t even bother getting the game. But the way everyone is describing it the game seems to have the same concept but different dungeons.

    Well….. slightly different Dungeons

    I got the Shadow Temple on turbo and then proceeded to hit a brick wall. There’s one stupid key missing and I can’t find it. Then again from lstening to the above maybe I don’t even need that key.

    I was one of the few that found Master Quest a bit easier than regular Ocarina of Time. Of coarse being familiar with the dungeon layouts was a plus. I kept hearing about how much harder it was, and how different the puzzles were. When I played it I had that in my head, so I was able to solve the puzzles faster than I normally would.

    I always do look at my games and see MQ there… I always wonder if I should finish the Shadow Temple. I got kinda bored of it since most of the dungeons were easier then the origanal Oot dungeons…I only really hated it when the damn keese kept flaming my deku sheild in the Deku tree!!! Everybody here says they beat MQ in about a week - two weeks tops. It is probably because they have played OoT millions of times. (I know I have) Even though I got frustated at times, I rejoiced when I put a smack-down to the dungeon boss =-).

    It took me three days