ZeldaBlog

Difficulty (or Lack Thereof?) in Zelda

February 14th, 2007 at 11:57 pm by The Missing Link

First off, I want to briefly apologise for the recent shortage of articles on my part. I needed a small break from blogging, and thankfully many of the other bloggers were able to cover my lack of writing. A big thank you to all of my compatriots for covering for me! Also, you might notice that the Spoiler Rule topic was unstickied. Don’t be fooled; it still is in effect until May 19. That said, onto the article…

~~~

I want to share with you a very small personal story that is mildly related to the theme of this article. I was invited this past weekend—by way of a good friend of mine—to participate in a competition held at Microsoft HQ called Puzzle Hunt. The name of the event is fairly self-explanatory, but just so you get an idea of the magnitude and difficulty of the competition, let me put it in terms of this. Each of the 75 teams were presented with approximately 50 puzzles to be completed within a 33-hour period. (Yes, that is consecutive; I literally slept under a conference table there.) Our team of 12 managed to solve roughly 20 of the lot, and we were about in the middle of the pack! These puzzles came with either vague or no instructions whatsoever, and every one required multiple steps in order to crack open the code word and get credit for it. While extremely fun, I was most certainly humbled this past weekend (some people who speak the filthy language of the Internets might call me “pwned”)… but I’d easily do it again. I relished the challenge.

Long-time fans of Zeldadom will already be thinking about their most fond (and most hated) puzzles from the Zelda series. (I know I certainly am!) Indeed, those blasted dungeons filled with puzzles are one of the most memorable aspects of the Zelda series. In fact, outside of having the iconic characters that we have grown to love and hate, I would actually dare say that the dungeons are the most important aspect of the Zelda series.

Yes, while it’s true that we think we love the series because we’re figuring out the timeline or debating about who Link is going to marry, let’s face it. One of the leading questions that is always asked about a new Zelda game is how many dungeons are there going to be in the next game. We care about that; it’s epic… legendary even! It may not be the reason we obsess over the series while we’re waiting for Zelda 14, but it’s clearly why we play the game. After all, when we as players are spelunking through caverns and ascending tall towers for upwards of half the game, if we didn’t like it, we sure wouldn’t be playing it.

Yet I’ve heard over the past several years that the puzzles and challenges of Zelda are becoming less amazing, that each iteration of the Zelda series seems to dilute a little of what made the first several games so incredible. And I have to be blunt. Yes, the original games have difficulty that such titles as Wind Waker and Twilight Princess could not hope to achieve. Even Ocarina of Time pales in comparison to the challenge that The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link dished out. Somewhere in that transition from old-school 2D to new-fangled 3D, the challenge that Zelda represented has died and gone to pasture. What happened to it? Why does Zelda today seem so easy in comparison to the games of yesteryear? Are 3D Zeldas just easier that 2D ones?

No, it’s not because of 3D, but there are two big reasons for the slackening of the difficulty curve. The first cause for this trend is because players get a lot better mileage with their hearts than they once did in earlier games. Actually, this is an understatement, so let me correct myself:

The first cause for this trend is because players get a a million times better mileage with their hearts than they once did in earlier games. (Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one. :P ) Seriously, in modern Zelda games, you almost have to make a serious effort to find the Game Over screen any more. I mean, seriously, back in the day, where gamers were gamers and such, the smallest unit of life was the ½-heart. Up through Link’s Awakening, only one enemy could deal less than that, and those were the rats in the sewers of Link to the Past. And the games weren’t worried about stealing your hearts away quickly either. Ganondorf, just by touching him, would knock two full hearts off your life bar, and that’s with the Red Mail; it’d be four hearts without it!

Let’s compare this to, oh, Ocarina of Time. For some reason, Nintendo thought we’d make it a trifle easier. Now instead of talking in terms of ½-heart, all damage now is in terms of ¼-hearts. Almost instantly, you’ve doubled your life metre because the base quantity of life lost has been halved. Not easy enough for you? Well, have I got the deal for you! There’s a Great Fairy that would just love to give you double hearts. Now it’s as if you had 40 hearts… which is really like 80 hearts. And then considering that enemies don’t like to deal the massive damage we deal to giant enemy crabs to you, you’ve got a ticket to ride your way to the end of the game without feeling guilty for killing your little Link.

But outside of amazing hearts per gallon (litre for all of you non-Americans), there’s another culprit at stake here, and that deals with the puzzles. Now I’ll admit; I’m give or take 14 years older from when I first played Link to the Past, and so I’m better at puzzles now than I used to be, and I’m sure that this titbit factors into the mix to some degree. However, players of Twilight Princess will tell you that there are still block puzzles within the game. These have existed since the very first game itself in some way or another, and the block puzzles in Twilight are identical to the ones found in Ocarina! Furthermore, we’ve been pressing every switch in every dungeon since dungeons decided they should have switches. Shooting eyeballs with arrows is the same puzzle only with a different item. Killing enemies in a room to make a chest appear? Been there, done that. In every game, I would go so far as to say that we’ve seen at least 75 percent of all the puzzles from some previous game, and I actually believe that the real number is closer to 90 or more.

I hate to say the words, but what we’re looking at is the very epitome of the “Zelda Formula.” Sure, every Zelda does something drastically different from the ones before it, but it’d be quite true to make a T-shirt with the words “Zelda Dungeons: Unchanged Since 1986.” Every Zelda dungeon has some theme and a small set of enemies that inhabit it. You start by getting the map, then the compass, perhaps fight a mini-boss (now required by Zelda Law), obtain the secret item in the dungeon, use that secret item to do something totally cool, get the Boss Key, and then fight the boss… using the secret item (if it’s something that can be used, that is). Unless you’ve got a huge puzzle filling an entire room (like the Mirror Puzzle in the basement of Wind Waker’s Earth Temple) or a water-based dungeon, there’s nothing that’s too terribly difficult. We’ve seen that before, and we solve it… the same way we’ve solved it before.

But this is how the games are easier; this doesn’t explain why it’s easier, but this second question is much easier to answer than you might think: beatability.

We live in an age of gaming where every game must be beatable. No longer do we live in the days of Super Mario Bros. where that stupid 8-3 level will stymie all our attempts to get passed it, where the only reason we scrape through it is due to luck. Games today don’t require you to pour hours upon hours of practise into the games just to pass a given level. With save files, generous extra lives, longer life metres, and numerous checkpoints through each level, no longer are we required to be elite to beat a game. Simply put a small amount of time to trudge through whatever difficult areas you encounter and then the difficulty disappears for the next six hours. You might get stuck once or twice, but never will you constantly and consistently get killed over and over and over again (with rare exceptions, of course—the final boss of Mario & Luigi was just plain unfair!).

But with Zelda, we players want to see the ending. Badly. We want to know how things turn out. We don’t want to rest until we’ve seen the credits scroll by, watching as characters say farewell or end up reuniting. If we are unable to beat the game, then our interest—in general—in the whole series will inevitably falter, especially if it’s not the series we are most in love with. Once you write off a single game, the tendency to write off another is only more tempting. So the developers must cater to this need, and they must cater it to the absolute bottom denominator of skill levels. Beating a game no longer is an emblem of pride to wear; beating a game is meant to happen. If it doesn’t happen, then the developer “messed up,” or at least that’s the way we fans will look at it.

Has Zelda grown less difficult over time? That question is easy to answer; of course it has. But how much of the fault lies with Nintendo? Only a fraction of it at most. The rest of it is caused by the shift of opinions within the gamer culture. It is us who demand that games be easy enough to be beaten; how fair is it, then, that we criticise the hand that feeds us what we ask for?

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54 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “Difficulty (or Lack Thereof?) in Zelda”

    Comments

    Do you mean 8-2 in Mario? Because 8-3 was pretty easy to run through.

    As for Zelda, at least there are signs that they’re trying to give us new experiences. Twilight Princess’ 4th and 5th dungeons are perfect examples of that. Even in Wind Waker, having to form a tag team with Medli and Makar in the Earth and Wind Temples made up for an otherwise lack of originality.

    And there’s always Phantom Hourglass…

    I definently agree with you that it’s gotten too easy. I beat TP all in the Christmas break. What really gets to me is that the enemies are sooo easy. I was hoping for the level of the final boss to be even harder, so that it takes me several tries to get it. I beat him/her in one go. Pathetic.

    And if they use REAL physics in the game, you’d have more limitations (especially in a certain puzzle in TP, should physics be used in it, then I’d never get that treasure) Maybe we new gamers should try and beat LoZ and AoL (respectively) and try to become the best of the best, by beating the classical games (and the CD-i’s, Hey TML, mind if we borrow something?) I watched my parents play and beat LoZ (since we got the Collector’s Edition) so if I can get interested in LoZ and AoL, maybe we can give ourselves a bigger challenge than what Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts could ever offer. Plus, we could get rightful bragging rights (awkward) of being the videogame god in one’s family (oh sibling…)

    But the point, Mike, is about difficulty, not originality. Have you ever played the original Zelda? If you have, two words should strike fear into your heart: LEVEL SIX. At twenty-four, that place still gives me hell, so I have no idea how I got past it when I was six (and if you haven’t played the original Zelda, go ahead and give that dungeon a go. It’s in the Most Famous (Infamous?) Dungeons article, the very first listed, as Deadliest Dungeon). I agree, the fourth and fifth dungeons of Twilight were great for originality, but they weren’t difficult at all.

    I’m with you on this article, TML. Quarter-hearts and double-defense have definitely contributed to making games easier (I’ll go as far as saying that the twenty-heart max brought about by ALttP did, too). But what else has changed? Clues, for one. Since OoT, we’ve gotten guides that held our hands and told us what to do and where to go next. In ALttP, we actually had to go find the fortune teller and spend a few rupees, but again, we were told what to do. We didn’t have that in the first two games. It was left up to the player to figure everything out; I never beat LoZ as a child because I couldn’t figure out where the seventh dungeon was, and I found the eighth purely by accident. How was I supposed to know, when I’d never found the old dude that gives you the clue? Nowadays, if I were to stumble across that screen, it’d only be a few seconds before Navi/King/Midna would say something like, “HEY DUMMY. DO ____ TO GET TO THE DUNGEON. *smack*”

    Weapons have also made this a lot easier. How big was our arsenal in the original Zelda (excluding items that weren’t weapons)? Sword, boomerang, bombs, candle, bow (and arrows that cost a rupee a shot), and the magic wand. You could only carry one bottle of potion at a time, but sixty-eight rupees were hard to come by. Faeries seemingly appeared only when you didn’t need them and there were TWO faerie fountains in all of Hyrule. Goddesses help you if you were in the mountains, out of money and nearly out of life. Compare these six weapons to your Ocarina inventory (we’ll use this as our example because of the spoiler rule, and we won’t count non-weapons): either Link can use a sword, bombs and bombchus, Deku Nuts, a long-range weapon, a retrieval weapon, and Goddess magic. While that’s the same number of items, keep in mind that they did more. Four types of arrows for Adult Link, three Goddess magics, two types of bombs, and a big owl in a pear tree. On top of that, four bottles (which could be used in the final fight!) that could hold just about anything, an abundance of rupees and faeries, and several places to stop and rest along the way (think the three-heart challenge would spice things up? If you’ve gone through a game enough, not really).

    Enemies, too, have gotten a lot easier. Magic Light Ball Tennis has now become a staple of final fights, but it also decreases the chance of Link getting hurt. You know where the attack is coming from, you know when, and if you so choose, you can easily avoid it. Final fight in the first game? If you made it through that heinous maze of one-way doors and secret passages, energy balls were coming at you from every direction, while you’re blindly poking around trying to luck out and hit Ganon. And if you accidentally wandered into Ganon’s room without the Silver Arrows (which, sadly, have gone the way of the Dodongo), Goddesses help you. You HAD to take the death, as there was no other way to kill Ganon. Final fights are epic, now, which is great, and makes for dramatic stories, but they lack the difficulty they once held. But the King of Evil besides, I’ve already mentioned THE Level Six. Do I have to mention the Blue Darknuts and Blue Wizzrobes as well? You feared those guys. There was nothing worse than being stuck in a room crawling with blue enemies, unable to leave until every last one disappeared in a puff of eight-bit smoke. And there were times, oh yes, there were times, when you came in with a red potion, and had to leave because you used it all and were about time die again. It was frustrating, and we might have thrown the controllers, but it was wonderfully tough.

    I mean, really. The King of Evil wants Hyrule to himself. You’d think he’d get capable goons to put up a fight (no matter what happened in the cartoon), not let some punk kid who just woke up stomp around like HE owns the place. Even the old school NPCs would put Link in his place. Who got attacked or charged a hundred hard-won rupees for breaking down a bush door? You had to pay to get an unhelpful hint from a cranky old lady, who, two times out of three, didn’t even give you a hint! That’s difficulty, and that’s not an exhaustive list. (Oh yeah! How many times have we gotten the more difficult second quest? Twice?)

    I seem to have really run away with this reply, but I think it proves a point. Perhaps we’ve asked for other bells and whistles too much in the games, while neglecting the things that make it worth playing and trudging through at the most fundamental level. The bells and whistles are a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but there was a reason the original game worked so well without them, and managed to capture a generation of young gamers for life. TML talked about the endings of the games, but we didn’t need no stinkin’ endings in our old games (ALttP, I’m gonna point the finger at you again). Link was the hero of Hyrule in the first game. After all the blood, sweat, and tears we went through for Zelda, that’s all we got, a simple thank you, and that was enough (man, even the endings were rough!). Why, then, did everyone latch onto AoL, and ALttP? I think it was our masochistic sides coming back for more; we were entranced. The game was that good that even though it was a less-than-stellar ending, we wanted more. Of course now we all love the story or the music or the characters or whatever else we’ve been distracted by, but admit it: you’d play a truly difficult Zelda game, and you’d love every frustrating, controller-throwing second of it (don’t actually throw your controller, please).

    One last thing. This has nothing to do with the subject of the article, but to nitpick, because I’ve wasted A LOT of time on this, not only the rats did a “quarter”-heart’s damage, but so did the keese, the bees, and the patras (and there are quotes around “quarter” because in the Half-Heart Era, two hits did a half-heart’s damage). Also, Ganon took three hearts with the Red Mail, six with the Blue, and you might as well just crack open a faerie if he took twelve of your hearts with the Green. ^_^

    Yeah as cool as the end battle/s in Twilight Princess were I have to say that they were a little too easy, [TML: Robert-UK: NOT A SPOILERS TOPIC! I swear to Farore above that if you EVER post something that revealing again in a non-spoilers topic, there WILL be consequences!], I think that Nintendo is aiming these games at the kids who have just started playing a little too much, im all for new gamers and I am in no way biased against what some people would call nOObs but Nintendo really does need to wake up a little.

    BTW why did you visit Camp Microsoft TML, have you turned traitor or did you decide to become Solid Snake and infiltrate Outer Heaven… I mean Microsoft to take out Big Boss… sorry, Bill Gates?

    Mike Fireball said:

    Do you mean 8-2 in Mario? Because 8-3 was pretty easy to run through.

    No, I don’t. 8-3 was my nemesis. I usually would have lost my fire-power by this point, and Hammer Brothers are my nemesis.

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:

    …..

    I should have mentioned fairies as well. Link to the Past fairies weren’t bad since they only refilled 7, but Ocarina fairies were horrible because they filled everything… for free! That’s like extending your life metre by five times, and 80 x 5 = 400.

    I’m not so hard-strung about the clues, though. Link to the Past basically said, “Here are your dungeons one through eight. Now go.” Of course, you had to figure out how just to ENTER some of them through Light World warping tricks or casting a spell to get into the dungeon, but you were easily walked through the overworld.

    The items are still a lesser concern because, while you had a bloody ton of them in Link to the Past (which is where the huge arsenal comes from), Link to the Past scaled with difficulty by adding harder and more enemies in the latter dungeons; these are things we only see in places like the Hero’s Cave in the Oracles or Wind Waker.

    TML talked about the endings of the games, but we didn’t need no stinkin’ endings in our old games (ALttP, I’m gonna point the finger at you again)…. Of course now we all love the story or the music or the characters or whatever else we’ve been distracted by, but admit it: you’d play a truly difficult Zelda game, and you’d love every frustrating, controller-throwing second of it (don’t actually throw your controller, please).

    Change in latitude, change in attitude, I guess.

    Also, I will admit that I might have missed a few of our beloved ¼-heart beasties, but I know for certain Ganon did two hearts of damage in Link to the Past with the Red Mail (I obsess over this game), and that prevents 50% of your life loss from what I’ve read. Thank goodess we don’t have this sort of thing in modern Zeld–oh wait, Wind Waker’s Magic Armour.

    Robert-UK said:

    BTW why did you visit Camp Microsoft TML, have you turned traitor or did you decide to become Solid Snake and infiltrate Outer Heaven… I mean Microsoft to take out Big Boss… sorry, Bill Gates?

    For a puzzle competition. That’s why I was at Microsoft.

    TML, I agree with your article. Zelda is getting much too easy. I think any good game should get more difficult as the game goes on, the hardest part at the end and the easiest part at the start. After reading this article, I personally think that all enemy attacks should deal at least one heart, there should be no fairies (just potions) no double hearts, and not be able to save when you get a game over. That would be one hard Zelda game! And I agree with you, world 8-3 in mario is so annoying with that line of hammer bros. at the end of it. But I think 8-4 is even harder.

    Master Quest for the win.

    There was a game that sort of took some of the Zelda staples and put them on their head and then pointed and laughed as you tried to figure it out.

    But otherwise, yeah, you’re totally right. Games are easier nowadays, no question about that. Now excuse me while I go get schooled in Kid Icarus again.

    shadowknight said:

    I definently agree with you that it’s gotten too easy. I beat TP all in the Christmas break. What really gets to me is that the enemies are sooo easy. I was hoping for the level of the final boss to be even harder, so that it takes me several tries to get it. I beat him/her in one go. Pathetic.

    I had three hearts at the end of hmmmhmm’s hmmmm form and fought him on hmmm-back losing only two. Then in the final duel I didn’t get touched. The beeping nearly drove me crazy.

    If they could make one game where your partner was as helpless as you then that would be good. Or if they could change it up so that the switches were drasticaly different in every room. A good old “push this block that looks just like the rest that you can’t push because this one is realy a switch” puzzle would be good too. Think of it. A 75′x75′ room full of 6′x6′ marble blocks with the triforce on every side. Only one opens the door. Or a maze where you have to push blocks to move walls. But you don’t know what wall moved or what’s an the other side till you get there. And you can’t see the exit/treasure till you get there either. No bird’s eye view, no camera-tour cutscene.

    Yeah, games are getting alot easier. Challenging games are alot more fun ’cause when you become stuck you actually make your brain work and plus you start thinking about side quests like this, “is this going to help me at all in this dungeon?”

    I dont think the games are easier….there just not as hard as the older games.reason being there wasnt room enough on the nes cartriges to put information in the games.as a result a player often had to rely on luck to make it from one place to another.if you have to rely on luck than things are going to be harder…harder,and alot more frustrating.dont get me wrong,that was fine back then,but now that there is enough memory you get a much more enjoyable game,its just not as hard.and think,would you really want monsters in every corner of hyrule? ofcoarse not,then you would hear complaining that the games too strict :P .I think the games are fine the way they are,exept ofcoarse the last battles,those could use to be a bit harder.

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:
    Have you ever played the original Zelda? If you have, two words should strike fear into your heart: LEVEL SIX.

    *yawns* what is this fear of which you speak :D ?

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:(think the three-heart challenge would spice things up? If you’ve gone through a game enough, not really).

    the same could be said for any game using any style though.in the end it dosnt make the three heart challenge any easier…..stupid bongo bongo kills you instantly if he catches you :( .

    I had a problem with Minish Cap. I don’t think one puzzle in it was original.

    Windmill Man said:

    I had a problem with Minish Cap. I don’t think one puzzle in it was original.

    what about the whole shrink-to-minish-size thing? you cant say thats unoriginal.

    For me, it’s all about the hints. Yes, the 1/4 heart damage is silly, but as others have pointed out, that kind of-sort of existed in the previous games. The outrageous number of hints, as VenusQueenOfFairies said, is what completely kills the game. Maybe I’d like a nudge once in a while, but I don’t want to be smacked over the head with what to do next. This is why King of Red Lions and Navi are my two worst enemies. (Ezlo was a lot less annoying!)

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:

    Have you ever played the original Zelda? If you have, two words should strike fear into your heart: LEVEL SIX. At twenty-four, that place still gives me hell

    At older than you, I stand corrected.

    I have gotten significantly better at it recently, though, but it’s still the one that gives me the most trouble.

    I’ll have to read this Deadliest Dungeons article.

    Emily said:

    For me, it’s all about the hints. Yes, the 1/4 heart damage is silly, but as others have pointed out, that kind of-sort of existed in the previous games. The outrageous number of hints, as VenusQueenOfFairies said, is what completely kills the game. Maybe I’d like a nudge once in a while, but I don’t want to be smacked over the head with what to do next. This is why King of Red Lions and Navi are my two worst enemies. (Ezlo was a lot less annoying!)

    Yeah, at least he actually hinted at calling you stupid once in a while. If there gonna make you feel stupid then they should say your stupid. After-all, if the game has to tell you how to play it it doesn’t make you feel very good about yourself. On the other-hand, if you do it all yourself you feel like you just did something really great, BY YOURSELF!!! It’s like painting the uber ornate space marine commanders for warhammer 40000, when you look at the finished product, you sit there and say *NAVI* I did an awesome job, he looks like he could rip your head off. And with puzzles you say *NAVI* That thing was hard. I hate that f*Navi* thing. But on the inside you feel good.

    Now part of this, is that as we get more experienced and more Zelda-experts, the puzzles seem easier. I know someone who got TP at Christmas(who has played one or two Zeldas before) and he was still at the Goron Mines after 3 weeks, and it took me two hours! Partly because we know the formula.
    The other is that Zelda is aimed at more casual and younger gamers. Such as I never even found the second dungeon of Zelda 1. As for AoL, well I am just to ashamed… I do TP like you guys could probably do alttp, alttp took me a year(I was 8 and only played when my brother came home from college, but still). I wouldn’t want Zelda to get any easier, but I am not dissapointed as it is.

    For puzzles, in TP, those statues outside the door of the you-know-what, well that was one of the hardest puzzles in a Zelda game I have ever seen.

    aol is a little harder than loz mainly because its a bunch of games mixed together.its zelda,mario,and final fantasy…..its…not exactly “workable”.but the funny thing is that theres no puzzles :P (well…theres some,but not in temples)!it goes to show that the puzzles dont make games hard.

    Is there any Zelda without a boss with a big eye, that you have to hit?
    As a Zelda-fan you enter the boss-room, look for a few seconds at the boss
    and then you know how to beat him, because you did it before in several
    zelda-games.
    Sometimes I think Nintendo put all the hard-to-kill-enemies into the
    Metroid-Prime-Series. These bosses are killers! Sometimes it takes you
    several attempts and then, if you know how to beat them, you still need
    a long time to kill them. And it’s a real hard fight down to the last bits of
    your energy. A zelda with metroid-like bosses would be a challenge.

    Ah, TML, you have finally put into words which I have been trying to deny to myself.

    I was unfortunate enough to miss out on the original two zelda games, but I have played and beaten both, save the second quest in the original LoZ. I had played WW through with only two lives, but these two games really knocked me off my feet. I think I had over 100 lives used in LoZ, which was far worse than my first time through LttP (88).

    I do agree that the games seem less and less challenging anymore… I thought Adventure of Link was the hardest one in the whole series. And I only beat that one two years ago.

    My take on the difficulty thing comes from an article I read somewhere a couple years ago. The main gist of it was that the older Zelda games were hard not because of puzzles, but because of the enemies. The newer games are hard not because of enemies, but because of puzzles.

    As Ninja Lord Kakashi said, there is more memory in the games now than there was twenty years ago. This means that there is room for the puzzles, so obviously Nintendo is going to try to make use of that. The problem that I see with a puzzle-based difficulty is essentially the same as what everyone else has been saying: it’s easier to figure out the formula, beating the boss is less of an accomplishment, etc., etc.

    I, however, also blame walkthroughs. I know not everyone uses them, andI have nothing against the people who make them–sometimes a well-written walkthrough can be a life saver. However, in the older games, you couldn’t use a walkthrough. No matter how many people told you you had to kill that wizzrobe, you still had to do it yourself. No walkthrough could help you out with that. Now, though, if you’re stuck on a puzzle, you can head over to GameFAQs and find the answer lickety-split, and boom, you’re through the puzzle.

    Because of this, I think that no matter what they do puzzle-wise, evenutally it will loose its difficulty. Therefore, I am 100% in support of making enemies harder to fight. I want to die at least once in each Boss battle. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

    gaspode said:

    Is there any Zelda without a boss with a big eye, that you have to hit?
    As a Zelda-fan you enter the boss-room, look for a few seconds at the boss
    and then you know how to beat him, because you did it before in several
    zelda-games.
    Sometimes I think Nintendo put all the hard-to-kill-enemies into the
    Metroid-Prime-Series. These bosses are killers! Sometimes it takes you
    several attempts and then, if you know how to beat them, you still need
    a long time to kill them. And it’s a real hard fight down to the last bits of
    your energy. A zelda with metroid-like bosses would be a challenge.

    You mean where you have to kill a giant larva while standing on one of three islands in a lake of acid then seeing it reincarnated as a moth and then a larva? That was the second hardest boss of prime 2, the hardest was the Ing emporer’s first form. Prime 1 was the omega pirate hands down, he was insanely hard. But yeah. If the bosses in TP could’ve actually killed you then it would have been nice and hard.

    Here’s the thing though, I’ve played the first two dungeons without the use of a walkthrough. And I found them quite challenging. It took me several attempts to beat that giant goron miniboss, merely BECAUSE I promised myself NOT to use a walkthrough. I’m gonna go on and beat the game eventually all on my own, as it would make the game experience SO much better.

    Yeah, I played the original zeldas and they were hard. I would say almost impossible under today’s standards. I think the most disappointing thing about Tp has been the bosses so far with me…they look impressive, but… I mean at least the bosses could deal damage in OoT. But then again… has anyone played the GC version of TP… I was wondering if the challange rating is slightly better due to lack of wiimote. I thing Nintendo should start fixing up some things in puzzels and bosses. Make it so we actually might think it a good idea to find those pieces of heart. But how exactly would they go about making bosses harder, I wonder?

    • 25. ella says:

    The original Zelda games were hard in my opinion because there was no preamble, unless you had the manual, and there isn’t a certain way thing are supposed to happen. You can go into any dungeon and attempt to clear it in LOZ, but some are harder if you don’t do another one before it.

    I think TP was moderatly challenging. The mid boss in dungeon 2 had me stumped (I din’t hold the button, lol) and so did bits of other dungeons, but I was really dissapointed with the boss battles. The hardest part of TP was in the desert, in the Cave of Ordeals. It took me a few good tries to get through there. That and the statue puzzle.

    The Emerald Wind said:

    Yeah, I played the original zeldas and they were hard. I would say almost impossible under today’s standards. I think the most disappointing thing about Tp has been the bosses so far with me…they look impressive, but… I mean at least the bosses could deal damage in OoT. But then again… has anyone played the GC version of TP… I was wondering if the challange rating is slightly better due to lack of wiimote.

    my death count in TP must have been pretty high after a certain boss….mainly because……

    ella said:

    The mid boss in dungeon 2 had me stumped (I din’t hold the button, lol)

    yup….that same problem did me in a few times :) .but as far as TPs dificultly rating goes I would say its satisfyingly difficult.maybe it is the lack of a wiimote that makes it harder (its suposed to make aiming easier,right? ) .

    I think what nintendo has to do is only give you one bottle,ten hearts,stop putting one time use weapons in the games and focus on making a few good ones (a few…not 10,000 that you’ll never use ;) ),and make the bosses and enemies have more life and strength.oh,and give link a cape :D !

    I guess we can all agree that the miniboss of dungeon 2 was HARD.

    Oh, and it took me like 3 days to beat AoL. And after beating the game proper, I went through the game with all my powerups and it took me about two hours to get through.

    I also beat the Original Zelda, both first and second quests, with MINIMAL deaths, less than ten TOTAL.

    Dark Mime Gogo said:

    I guess we can all agree that the miniboss of dungeon 2 was HARD.

    it was the whole A button thing,my second play through I beat it without getting hit once.but yeah,it was hard.

    Ninja Lord Kakashi said:

    Dark Mime Gogo said:

    I guess we can all agree that the miniboss of dungeon 2 was HARD.

    it was the whole A button thing,my second play through I beat it without getting hit once.but yeah,it was hard.

    Wow, I always hold the button, because of nervousness, I get nervous every time I enter a new dungeon, for no good reason. I feel almost claustriphobic.

    hey TML,you said there were 30 some different puzzles right? were there any that could be used in zelda? if so what were they like?

    Do you guys want challenge? Do you really REALLY want challenge when it comes to a zelda game? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

    There’s a hack of Lttp Called “parallel Worlds” I went through the first dungeon, and for the first three hours, you DO NOT HAVE A SWORD. I’m not kidding folks, you have to do a LOT to get this sword, and navigation is rather hard…

    For those that are interested, here’s the link for the team that made Parallel Worlds.

    http://zeldaparallelworlds.googlepages.com/home

    I just hope TML doesn’t delete this, because a hard game is an ENJOYABLE game.

    • 32. Luce says:

    I’d say that one of the key reasons why so many of us are finding Zelda so much easier these days is because we’re stalwart Zelda fans. We’ve been there, played that and got the T-Shirt and loved every minute while we were at it. It’s our familiarity with the Zelda genre that makes it easy. I guarantee that my housemate would find Twilight Princess nigh on impossible because she’s not familiar with the ‘Zelda formula.’ The fact that she’s also hopeless at games would probably contribute something too! In Wind Waker, is it just me or was the final battle that much more challenging because it was a different approach to combat? You had to really think about it, and time you efforts to perfection to get that elusive hit in. I suppose I could well be referencing something else with this too, if you catch my drift.
    One thing in the 3D games has made life a lot easier too- being able to see the attacks coming and and sticking your shield up to stop them. I get owned on a regular basis in ALttP because I can’t get out of the way fast enough and it drives me nuts to the point that I boot up SSB:M and beat Ganon to a bloody pulp just to make me feel better.

    I think I’ll have to disagree with you on that last point, Luce. The 2D games (one of which I paused to check the ‘Blog), had the top-down view. You could see everything; you had to. There was no choice or say in the matter. Now think of being out in Hyrule Field in a 3D game:

    “Is that a Heart Piece I see in the distance over there? Maybe I’ll go into first-person view for a closer look. ♪Dum dum dum…♪ OW! What’s this? A sneak attack from behind?!”

    Or, how many times have you tried to line up a shot with your bow, only to be knocked out of first-person view because someone else shot you first? That just didn’t exist in a 2D game. You could see everything on the whole screen at once, and on top of that, worrying about enemies dropping down on you was (VERY) rarely, if ever, an issue. In the top-down view, you were one of the Goddesses, watching everything from above. The glass on your TV screen was a sort of ceiling and nothing could penetrate that barrier.

    But I like the lack of Spidey-sense, if you will, in the 3D games. It’s more fun that way.

    Dark Mime Gogo said:

    I guess we can all agree that the miniboss of dungeon 2 was HARD.

    That mini-boss actually was pretty easy for me. It took me only a couple seconds to figure out what to do, and I did not use a walkthrough.

    The Missing Link said:

    I know for certain Ganon did two hearts of damage in Link to the Past with the Red Mail (I obsess over this game), and that prevents 50% of your life loss from what I’ve read.

    I don’t mean to come off like an annoying know-it-all, but I obsess over the game, too. :::points to Blog moniker::: It’s my favorite. :D I just went through the game from scratch to make sure, and Ganon does take three hearts away if you’re wearing the Red Mail (you may be right about the percent of damage, though; the way I understood it, the Blue Mail halved it and the Red halved it again. I’ll have to check).

    I might be thinking of the firebats. X) (After all touching Ganon isn’t something that happens regularly.) Still, careless players will drop hearts like flies, and there sure aren’t any pots lying around the edge of the arena to get more!

    The Missing Link said:

    I might be thinking of the firebats. X) (After all touching Ganon isn’t something that happens regularly.)

    that all depends on your play style.Im usually in his face from the time I land (yes,before he talks….if you time it right you can hit him before the battle starts :P ) till the end.I figure if you kill him quick enough it dosnt matter how much health you have left.

    I think the reason why the zelda games are easier now is because they appeal to a wider audience. They really need to get the causual player, because they know we (the crazy obsessive people) are going to buy it anyway. So, they don’t want to turn off the new-kid-on-the-block people that are just starting the series by making it impossible to beat.

    You know what they should do for every zelda game from now on? Include a ‘master Quest’, available for those that really want a challenge. It’s the way they can really appeal to both sides of the spectrum.

    Including a remixed version, available on completion… I wonder if it really woulde be possible? They already have it for lots of other games out there, so why not for Zelda?

    On the topic of difficulty, I think that play style and real world experiences matter A LOT. For example, I found neither the second miniboss nor the statue puzzle difficult at all (I may have spent a whole minute figuring out both of them combined) BUT several of the bosses killed me again and again even though I knew how to beat them because fighting and reflexes are things I’m not so good at. What would really be nice is if the game could observe you and adapt to your skills, changing itself to challenge (and therefore engage) you. This is hardly an original idea. I know that several companies (such as Stardock) are trying to develop stuff like that. Some of them have managed to do it in a limited way. Someday I’d like to see enemies like the one pictured here: http://frogboy.wincustomize.com/photos.aspx?a=10&p=2&view=full&c=1 How could you incorporate that into Legend of Zelda? Easy. In fact, easier than most games because usually rooms ahead of you can’t be seen from your current location except in a very general way via the map. This gives a sufficiently fast system plenty of time to rearrange puzzles ahead of you without it being obvious what’s happening (seeing it happen might make suspension of reality more difficult. Then again, maybe not). Adding different modes might help, too — perhaps one where the computer observes you and tries to make things as easy for you as they can be (tourist), one where it tries to make things at the upper limit of your abilities (adventurer), and one where it actively tries to thwart you (hero). Other games use modes sort of like this, but they’re more or less geared towards someone who’s already beaten the game at an easier mode. Resultantly, the upper ones tend to be very hard from close to the start instead of allowing you time to bring your skills up to the challenge. Maybe you could have the first dungeon and areas of a Zelda game be easy but filled with many different types of puzzles, serving as a diagnostic to give the game a general idea of how you usually think. Who knows? If this sort of thing gets developed far enough (and Nintendo goes back to having the dungeons be mostly non-linear) you could even rearrange the order of the main dungeons to ensure that the game got progressively harder. That’s one of my annoyances with current dungeon design: if you’re going to be illogical (but marketable) and put easy bosses on the front line where they can be beaten by Link when he’s still a relative weakling, DO SO. Don’t go halfway. Some of the later dungeons in Ocarina of Time actually seemed easier than the beginning ones …

    Perhaps game producers fear that difficulty distracts from the story (which, for better or for worse, is a mandatory feature for most games these days. Personally, I like having all these background legends and preambles, but not everyone agrees). I think that having difficult monsters and puzzles makes the stories more believable. As was mentioned above, in earlier Zelda games even a primitive (by today’s standards) ending was enough. Why? Because even if no one ever pinned a medal on you, you KNEW that you’d saved Hyrule. If the Hero had so much trouble cleaning up Ganon’s mess and nearly failed so many times than it is safe to say that anyone else would be a corpse long before the midway point. But in the more recent games? New-style games have to blatantly tell players that yes, they really mattered, no one else could have done it, yada yada. It has been mentioned that the endings of the games are catering to fans, getting more elaborate. There’s a second reason for this: increasingly epic endings are increasingly necessary for the game to feel satisfying. As the monsters get weaker and the hints more like built-in walkthroughs, it becomes hard to feel that saving Hyrule was a matter of skill rather than luck and circumstance. It becomes, in fact, hard to see how Hyrule got in such bad trouble in the first place. Metagame-speaking, we players know that the reason most NPCs stand around oblivious while Hyrule falls to ashes is because of time constraints, other priorities during game making, etc. When immersed in the adventure, though, one occasionally wonders if sheep like these are worth saving. Some of the low-level overworld monsters could be killed by a drunk militia with blunt pitchforks! But the story requires that the Hero must save everyone (except for a few rare, plucky comrades) so the NPCs who ought to be out fighting stand around waving their arms helplessly and a ten-minute-long closing cinematic gets slapped on to compensate. Don’t get me wrong! I like ten-minute cinematics a lot. I would just like them a lot more if I’d had to sweat to get there.

    Brief tangent: This apathy of the Hyrulean citizens even reflects badly on Link. If we assume the basic game portrayal of the NPCs as helpless clodpoles is canonically accurate (don’t kill me on that, I did indeed read and enjoy the Song of Storms article, but despite some people’s misinterpretations it does NOT refute the worth of canon, simply points out that creativity is of equal worth and neither are almighty) then the implication is that they have become dependent on the return of the Hero (as possibly reflected in the Wind Waker opening “legend” cinematic), which would mean that the Link is inadvertently causing societal damage by his very existence.

    This isn’t just a bunch of nostalgic geezers standing around moaning about how the past is some golden age, either. In this case the original games are still around and just as tough now as they were then. The evolution of desirable traits in games could even be said to parallel the development of American society — at first the government was supposed to guarantee that everyone had equal opportunities for success (anyone could buy the game). Now the government is increasingly viewed as having an obligation to guarantee success itself (make the game beatable for anyone and everyone). Another comparison would be standardized testing: initially it was supposed to test your knowledge and ability (whether it ever actually did that is debatable). But over time, the number of students from a school who passed a standardized test became a major factor in a teacher’s salary, so teachers started spending time teaching how to pass the test. Result? More kids passed the test, but fewer kids actually learned anything useful. The analogy here, of course, being that those who pass the test are those who beat the game. In both cases, thinking is increasingly quashed while learning the ins and outs of the system is encouraged. The system becomes an end to itself.

    Eh … TML or whoever the moderator here is, it occurs to me that those last two analogies were fairly political. This is the first time I’ve ever contributed to a blog, so I lack experience. If semi-political analogies are a no-no hereabouts, just delete the above lines or whatever you do and I’ll avoid a repeat performance. Let me say, though, that our modern fear of casual political discussion (which springs from a fear of offending someone who might sue us, among other things) is unfortunate. Tolerance of political discussion and ability to listen to and think calmly about other people’s viewpoints is one of the biggest things that made America a world superpower. Of course, this too is a political belief. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that any expression of opinion could be considered truly non-political…

    Upping the difficulty of video games in general (and games like Legend of Zelda in particular due to the whole young-kid-appeal thing) would also help credibility with parents. Sure, some parents are fine with video games, but many aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea. And it’s not like making a game easier usually shortens the amount of time you spend playing — most people I’ve met either replay the game or do some other video-game instead of calling it a day when the game ends. So making games harder could help by demonstrating that our brains aren’t COMPLETELY going to mush doing this. And if your parent is skeptical, just challenge them to play through the first dungeon. (Or, if you’re fairly ruthless, give them the controller at the beginning so that they learn the controls, then take it away and load up another save file in something similar to the aforementioned SIXTH DUNGEON OF DOOM). Bwahaha.

    Does Nintendo pay attention to stuff like this blog? ‘Cause if they don’t, they should. Elected officials do. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea for them to MENTION that they’re from Nintendo, but it would be a good way to get feedback from the people who ultimately pay their salaries.

    There may be agents all around us …

    There is no conspiracy.

    Whoa … can anyone tell me why the huge number of spaces in the middle of the paragraph happened there? I know that the blog automatically justifies (I think that’s what its called) each line, but I can’t figure out what made it decide to count those four words as their own section …

    Justified type means that the left-to-right width for each line of words is always the same. Because the full URL was displayed as the link (instead of renaming the link with something shorter), it was too long for the line with the words before it, and had to be moved to the next line. Thus, the four words take up a line by themselves.

    Ninja Lord Kakashi said:

    I figure if you kill him quick enough it dosnt matter how much health you have left.

    And even then, speed doesn’t matter so much. It’s the final fight. Might as well give it everything you got, even if that includes life. As long as you don’t die or fall off the edge, it’s all gravy, baby.

    • 43. TSA says:

    The Blue Mail reduces damage you take to 3/4 of what it would normally be, the Red Mail reduces it to 1/2 of what it would be normally.

    With the Red Mail, Link takes 2 hearts of damage from Ganon in A Link to the past.

    With the Blue Mail, you take 3 hearts of damage from Ganon.

    With just the Green Tunic, you take 4 hearts of damage.

    I see. I had misinterpreted that, then. I thought the Blue Mail halved damage, and the Red Mail halved it again. (Dude, I’m telling you. It’s three hearts with the Red Mail. Two hearts from the Fire Keese.)

    • 45. TSA says:

    I watched the videos of it to confirm…

    I think games should just have a difficulty level before you start it.like in fire emblem,the modes are drastically different in terms of challenge value.for instance I can usually win FE:7 in about three days on either hector or eliwood normal mode.one day I decided to take up the challange of hector hard mode (the hardest one)….took me about a month to win -_- ( but when I did it was in the coolest way…hector criticaling the dragon with armads :D ).to my suprise…not only were the enemys stronger…but there were more and they were in all different places :0 ! I sort of lost count of my deaths :) .also in POR if you play on hard you can get a special “ending” so to speak ;) (for any under leveled units that is).if they were to do that sort of thing in zelda it would take care of any problems people might have.

    Light Walker said:If semi-political analogies are a no-no hereabouts, just delete the above lines or whatever you do and I’ll avoid a repeat performance.

    just check the rules…if its not in there your fine.

    TSA said:

    I watched the videos of it to confirm…

    I just played through the game. It’s three. I even took (crappy) video of it.

    • 48. TSA says:

    I’ve never been hit by Ganon himself…you really, no offense, have to be bad to pull that off…most people get hit by the Trident or the Fire Keese, so I always assumed since they did the same damage, Ganon’s physical body did that. But then again, in the original, touching Ganon meant massive damage, whereas the fireball did little damage (4 hearts versus 1 heart with no ring).

    So, after playing on the SNES and GBA version myself:
    Trident = 4 hearts normal.
    Fire Keese = 4 hearts normal.
    Ganon = 6 hearts normal.

    Green Tunic = 100% damage.
    Blue Mail = 75% damage taken.
    Red Mail = 50% damage taken.

    • 49. TSA says:

    To clarify; everything I said before my last post was based on being hit by the Trident or Fire Keese, which, to me, was being hit by Ganon. And not that I didn’t believe your last post, but I needed to see for myself what touching Ganon did, and your response was correct, though so was mine…and technically TML’s…just a lack of clear communication.

    Thanks for the explanation, Venus Queen of Faeries.

    VenusQueenOfFaeries said:

    Because the full URL was displayed as the link (instead of renaming the link with something shorter), it was too long for the line with the words before it, and had to be moved to the next line.

    Where would I go to find out how to “display the link as something shorter?” I’ve seen people make links out of ordinary words, so I assume that’s what you mean. I tried to look up how to do it on Wikipedia, but I don’t even know what the name for doing that is…

    TSA said:

    I’ve never been hit by Ganon himself…you really, no offense, have to be bad to pull that off…

    actually,some time in the battle he starts to throw the trident and lunge forward.as you can imagine….it makes it easy to get hit by him.

    • 52. TSA says:

    He can’t hit you when in transistion. You can only run into him when he is stationary to get hit…it’s like crashing into a parked car…you weren’t paying attention.

    TSA said:

    He can’t hit you when in transistion. You can only run into him when he is stationary to get hit…it’s like crashing into a parked car…you weren’t paying attention.

    but what fun is it to “pay attention” anyways :P ?

    hey,can ganon like…..land on you :? ? im saying if your standing where hes going…

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