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.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by The Missing Link