The Missing Link
First off, my fellow ZeldaBloggians, a brief announcement. Let me remind you all that the Rule about Spoilers is still in full effect. I’ve seen several people violating it, and I’ve had to edit several comments already. None of you have done anything insane like tell anyone that the Eastmost Peninsula is the secret hidden tenth dungeon or that Snape kills Ganondorf or something equally as crazy, but several of you have been posting minor spoilers. Let me repeat this so you all hear: If you have the urge to say the words “minor spoiler” before, after, or ten feet away from your comment, you should not be posting it in a non-spoiler article. On the European launch date, I will be putting up a Major Spoilers thread where anything goes, so please… keep it cool for now. That said, on with the post.
After hearing the perspectives of many people who have finished Twilight Princess (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil you), I’ve heard the laundry list of reviews from top to bottom about the game. While every fan-review of the game has given it top-notch scores, like I said in my review of the game, it isn’t a perfect game. I have my own personal, petty gripes about the game, and just about everyone else has their own. Granted, everyone is entitled to their own views, and I cannot condemn any one person for feeling differently way that I do. However, there is a slight trend that I’ve seen going on with people when they give their thoughts on Twilight Princess, and it’s a trend at which I’ve begun to cringe whenever I see it. Almost every one from whom I’ve heard has put their reviews in terms of a comparison/contrast outline against Nintendo’s 1998 classic Ocarina of Time.
Now as I’ve said before, I believe that Ocarina is a decent Zelda title. It really defined what it meant to be a 3D Zelda game. (Puzzles from Ocarina are still to this day being included in Zelda titles.) It was the first time that Nintendo could put a huge emphasis on not only plot and dungeons but characters as well. Back in the day, text was an expensive commodity in a game, but now it’s the cheapest thing in the world to add (gasp!) large amounts of dialogue. And with dialogue comes extremely deep and detailed characters… charaters that certainly inspire a love in players, if not an outright die-hard passion that makes us go completely crazy-go-nuts.
However, being a Zelda geek back in 1993 when Link to the Past was big was a very different thing than being a Zelda geek in 1999, the year after Ocarina’s release. Zelda was primarily about cool, magical items and horrifically complicated dungeons back in the day. It was literally a puzzle-adventure game with little stacked on top of it. Sure, there was plot, of course, but most of the plot was there only to satisfy Zelda’s Axiom. In short, your primary goal was to get through the dungeons to collect whatevers, don’t ask any questions about it, get ready, get set, go. As far as characterisation? Well, the character who happened to have the most dialogue in Past was Sahasrahla, and after getting the Pegasus Boots after the first dungeon, you could go through the game and never speak face-to-face with him again if you so wished. The most emotion they ever put into a Zelda game prior to Ocarina was when the preacher man in Sanctuary died… or when Princess Zelda disappeared before our very eyes… or when we realised we’d lose Marin for good when we woke the Wind Fish. But that’s it. As a Zelda geek, you primarily cared about getting past that stupid puzzle on B6 of the Ice Palace or conserving magic power and hearts in Turtle Rock.
But Ocarina went the route of making a deep story about the characters of the Zeldaverse, wrapping about the characters a rich setting… a rich world. Ocarina single-handedly created the Timeline Wars, the Shipper Wars, and fan sites the likes of which are uncountable in number. Despite my personal opinion that Past is superior to Ocarina (it always seems to be that the first one you play is your favourite), Ocarina of Time literally became the benchmark that all Zeldas—and indeed, many games outside of the Zeldaverse (Final Fantasy, cough)—had to beat to be good. Majora’s Mask? Most everyone considered it inferior. Wind Waker? Again, another game popularly viewed as inferior. The Oracle games? They couldn’t compete with Ocarina, so why don’t we just pull in several of Ocarina’s characters and races! Same for Four Swords Adventures and Minish Cap. And the GBA remake of Link to the Past? Let’s just change the words to be consistent with Ocarina while we’re at it.
Quite literally… Ocarina became the centre of our fandom. By no means have I done a scientific study on this, so please don’t quote me on the numbers, but I would reckon that at least 80 percent of all fanfiction written AND 80 percent of all fanart drawn in the Zelda series deviates from Ocarina. And personally, I believe that that guess is very significantly lower than the actual number. (And let me note that I am guilty as charged as I have personally contributed to this number.) People across the Zeldadom have eagerly ripped open their new games in hopes to find that their favourite Ocarina character–whether it be Malon, Saria, Impa, or Tingle–has made a reappearance. People are always noticing when some piece of music in a new game is the same as one of the ocarina tunes. The shipper wars practically ignore every other Zelda title ever made. And every console Zelda game released after Ocarina (aside from Four Swords Adventures) has had this obsessive need to explain just how this game relates to… you guessed it, Ocarina of Time.
I don’t know about you, but I am certainly Ocarina of Timed out. While I recognise that it is a very good game in its own right, I’ve grown weary of seeing everyone continue to exclusively feed off of the game, allowing their creative works to be limited to the scope of that singular title. For an old-schooler like me, and note that I am probably quite biased and wrong in my opinion, it seems as if (at least until Twilight Princess came around) most everyone here doesn’t even care that there were 11 other Zelda titles produced. This is, of course, a huge exaggeration, but imagine if a total Zelda virgin were to wade through the waters of our fandom and inspect it with a fine-toothed comb. I think that person would come to the very same conclusion.
By my watch, we have 27 days until the new year. I have no control over what all of you will say and do once 2007 hits, but as far as I am concerned, I’ve already have a New Year’s resolution all lined up. My goal this coming year is to party, not like it’s 1999… but 2007. Thank you Twilight Princess for giving me a great Christmas gift, something that has very distinct differences from the Ocarina story.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by The Missing Link