Late to the Party: Link to the Past

Do any of you remember a few weeks ago, when I wrote an article saying I was going to play A Link to the Past for the first time?

If you do, then you’re probably better at Zelda games than I am! Because I said I was going to publish it in April, and here it is May!

My first discovery wasn't the boomerang or bow, but that I'm extremely impatient when it comes to text boxes. Partly, it's just my nature. I've preferred action to words my whole life, which is an awfully funny bias to have as a writer, and an awfully ironic inclination to admit at the top of an article. It's like being a lactose intolerant cheese taster or a thoughtful person on Twitter.

The other part is pure nurture. Video games, or at least the sort I tended toward, have conditioned me to think of reading as optional. Dialog trees and in-game books and the-like are all just click-exercises until the quest log updates and you can head to the next marker on the map.

So, imagine my consternation! After automatically blipping past some conversation or other, I found myself without a map marker, without a quest log, and without any idea what I was supposed to do or where I was supposed to go. It was like Dark Souls, but with pink hair.

I never had this problem with the text in Stardew Valley, but it wasn't an action-RPG. At the end of the chirping letter-squares, there were no monsters standing between me and the rest of the game. My expectations for LTTP were set by years of brandishing a sword and running from left to right, and so I did what always do in this situation: I complained bitterly to myself while trying to find a walkthrough that wasn't a video.

Because apparently, I'm a mass of contradictions when it comes to the moment I'm willing to stop doing stuff and just read.

I got back on track before long, happily wandering this way and that, exploring places and killing monsters. I worked my way through dungeons and generally grokked the mouth music.

Then I found Moldorm, or as I like to call him, the impossible burger.

I am not generally opposed to boss fights. Done well, they can be the ultimate test of whatever skills you've spent the previous levels mastering. And mastering something is always fun.

But Moldorm is not one of those bosses. Moldorm is one of those bosses that programmers make because they don't want to fuss with creating a coherent pattern for players to figure out, so they just toss an algorithm into the behavior column. Moldorm is one of those bosses that makes you question your own abilities, even after years (or decades) of gaming. Moldorm is one of those bosses for whom the term Rage Quit was invented.

And I beat it.

But the fire was gone. After Moldorm, I found myself less tolerant of the little idiosyncrasies that make a Zelda game. I started following walkthroughs more often, started becoming less patient with the answers I found. Dungeon puzzles went from quirky brain-twisters to eliciting an unedited “who the heck would have thought of that!?” I wasn't even halfway through, but with every FAQ I read, I was more and more ready to be done.

I recall being a youngster with infinite time for games like this. I also remember the days before the internet, when infinite time was a necessity for games like this. I didn't have the right mind for LTTP back then, and I don't have it now. In fact, I don't know that I'll ever have it.

That said, I was happy to discover that I have developed the patience for Zelda-style games—at least, in generous terms. I'm not completely turned off by block-pushing puzzles, for example. I'm not good at them, mind you, but at least I don't mind being bad at them. My map memory hasn't improved, but at least I don't get angry after being lost for twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes is my limit, though. At twenty-one minutes, I'm ready to break something.

But, if LTTP isn't for me, there might be other Zelda games that are. I already know I can love Breath of the Wild, so maybe Wind Waker or Spirit Tracks would hold some appeal. There's a whole world of Hyrule out there, and maybe there's another iteration of Link's Journey that wouldn't make me quite so angry.

Something without the impossible burger in it. Or, barring that, one with enough ketchup to hide the taste.

I hear Wand of Gamelon might be up my alley.

Comments

I'm extremely impatient when it comes to

..basically anything?

GrandmaFunk wrote:
I'm extremely impatient when it comes to

..basically anything?

Who are you calling basic?

EDIT:

Oh, sorry. I kinda just skimmed your post before I posted that.

Nicely done, Greg. I'm surprised you had the patience to get through it since it does have a number of limitations inherent in it from being a 16 bit game and whatnot.

That said, if talking is something you want to avoid in a Zelda game, and I'm right there with you, then going backwards is a better choice than forwards. Assuming you aren't afraid to continue opening up FAQs and whatnot again to deal with the 8 bit weirdness of the designs, etc. BotW went back to the exploration side of Zelda that was more apparent in the original than the games after it. Once Ocarina happens, Zelda games are filled with tons and tons of talking.

BotW is such a different beast than any of the Zeldas that came before it. I didn't play ALttP to completion until I was in my early 30's, but I loved every moment of it. I also tend to like old games and don't mind the obscure logic a lot of them seem to expect.

I'm curious to see if Ocarina of Time clicks better with you, but it's basically 3D LttP with a million more text boxes. I think BotW2 may be the next time you enjoy adventuring with Link.

For what it’s worth, I went back and tried the first Legend of Zelda and found it to be very much of a kind with Breath of the Wild: it’s basically a very early open-world game with no direction at all, and I enjoyed it more than Link to the Past or Link between Worlds which are much more narrative driven than the original Legend of Zelda.