GAME OF THE MONTH
LEGEND OF ZELDA: Ocarina of Time/Master Quest
(Nintendo, March, 2003)
In a unusual twist of faith, Nintendo hypes their big GameCube Zelda game (The Wind Waker) by giving away copies (if you pre-order the Wind Waker) of this exclusive double feature, enter the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time/Master Quest. Not only does the famous Nintendo 64 game make a surprise return to the video game scene but this disc also comes with several bonus features like slightly improved graphics, various demos, and Nintendo even threw in the lost Master Quest game which is a minor alternation of the original Ocarina game. Zelda fans are not only going to love the price here but they are also going to love playing this old game all over again!
So you probably asking yourself, what is this new Master Quest game anyway? A few years ago, Nintendo had big plans to release a new version of the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive unit. This prototype game was code named URA and it was basically a remixed version of the original mega hit game, the idea was to increase the replay value of the Ocarina of Time by altering some of the dungeons a little. Nintendo also did this source of thing with their first original Legend of Zelda for the old NES but back then we called this the 'Second Quest'. Needless to say that Nintendo canceled this idea and game after they trashed the Disk Drive add on (the DD unit was only released in Japan but to weak reviews) and URA just disappeared in the process.
Sure, there isn't a lot of changes to the original Ocarina here in the new Master Quest (everything is exactly the same up in to some of the dungeon rooms) but if you really loved the first game then the new dungeon puzzles are more than enough here to replay this awesome adventure all over again. I easily got into Master Quest's new brain teasers, and trust me, these new puzzles will test any Zelda pro. I only wish that Nintendo would have done more to make the bosses tougher, change the places where some the items are hidden, and make money more difficult to attain. Both games look, sound, and control the same as well so don't expect Master Quest to be graphical enhanced or anything like that.
With all this talk about this new Master Quest here and we can't forget that Nintendo even threw in the first Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on this disc as well. Anybody remember the war between the N64 and Playstation? Although the Sony Playstation was the clear winner during the late 90's, Nintendo didn't give up without a good fight. On November 24, 1998 the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time was released on the Nintendo 64 and it proved to be one of their greatest creation's ever! The game won high praise (and tons of awards) for it's unique time traveling game play, stellar fantasy based graphics, and an lengthy journey across a absolutely huge landscape. Zelda came back in a big way and now we can play it on the Game Cube!
Since both games have the same story line, here's the low down on the game's plot if you didn't already know it. You play the role of Link, a young boy who lives in the forest with elves, the problem is that Link isn't really a elf but he still doesn't know his real identity yet. As Link is trying to discover who he really is, a man named Ganondorf is trying to conquer the peaceful land of Hyrule. Only the young princess Zelda knows Ganondorf's true intentions and only you can help her before this mysterious evil man takes over the entire world. It will be no easy task as Link has to worry about several factors on his mission. Things like the time of day, his interaction 6 different races, and even time travel play a role in the game. If that wasn't enough, you can play the young 10 year old Link of the present and the 17 year old adult Link of the future. Can you survive in two different realities?
Nintendo didn't just port over the Nintendo 64 to the Game Cube, they spiced up the old girl to appeal to the newer generation. If you look closely, you'll see the game's polygons have been cleaned up a little and the colours are brighter too so the graphics look a little bit better at least. Sadly, the game still runs on a weak frame rate and the pop up problems remain too, so it's not using the full power of the Game Cube (just compare this to other big games like Metroid Prime). I guess Nintendo didn't want to improve the graphics too much so that it didn't over shadow the Wind Waker. The disc also has a new 10 second loading screen before the games actually start and there are some slight pauses while you are surfing through menus now. No big deal.
Although Nintendo sharpen the graphics a little, I barely noticed any improvements with the music (if there really is any) in these games. The music tracks still sound a little muffled during certain situations despite the transfer to a disc. The music in the Super Nintendo's Zelda is way superior to what's on here. A shame really but you can't win them all. I did like the various notes and grunts found here though. The sound effects are sure a saving grace for some second rate music.
The controls of course have been altered to fit on that GameCube controller (sorry N64 freaks, there is still no way use a N64 controller on the Nintendo GameCube at the moment). Now the famous Z targeting system (when you lock on to a object) is now known as the 'L' targeting system. You use the lock on effect to keep a direct eye on opponents or if you wish to speak to someone from a distance, other than the button change, this feature still remains the same. Although the some of the buttons are in different places now, I wouldn't really call it better. Using the C stick for extra items feels unusual because it seems too far away from that giant green button. You can also use the X, Y, Z buttons for the other items but they feel even worse then the C stick. I would have also liked to have been given more camera options so some scenes were easier to see but unfortunately it still has the limited set of views that were on the Nintendo 64. Overall, despite some minor rants, the game controls fine and after a few hours it becomes second nature.
Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time/Master Quest is everything that Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 on Game Cube should have been. First off this game actually gives you a reason to play the adventure over again (a la Master Quest) even though the story is the same. Secondly, this Zelda disc is only a few bucks or maybe you could just get it for FREE!! Nintendo could have sold this separately and made some bonus cash on the side like Capcom did (SELL OUTS!!) but Nintendo is not that kind of company. Just look at the scary 49.99 each for Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, that's just wrong! Besides, you can give me Zelda over Resident Evil any day. Nintendo also included 7 short but sweet demos on the game's like the Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker (very smooth), Wario World (looks kind of good), Metroid Prime (never heard of it.......), Legend of Zelda a Link to the Past (the Game boy Advance version of Zelda), and lots more. None are playable unfortunately.
The Master Quest may disappoint some hardcore Zelda fans who are looking a more serious upgrade to one of the best adventure games of the late 90's but at the same time, beggers can't be choosers. Lets face it, Ocarina of Time is a great game and all but is there any reason to play it after you completely finished it? Not really. The Master Quest gives us another chance to play one of our favourites all over again, plus in the process you realize just how great the original really was to begin with. "That's all I really wanted!" The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is back and it's just as addictive as ever and I hope Nintendo gives me another Master Quest game next year or something (fat chance, but if enough of us complain then maybe we could something going, eh?).
For 1 player only
LEGEND OF ZELDA The Wind Waker
(Nintendo, March 26, 2003)
Since the first Legend of Zelda had made its debut way back in 1987, the series set the standard for what a good adventure game should be. Sadly we don't see a new Zelda game as often as we would like, so when Nintendo releases a new one it had better be something really special. In a very controversial move, this new Wind Waker Zelda features a very goofy looking young Link with tiny little legs and big eyes oppose to the more grown up style we seen before in the N64 Zeldas. The entire game now sports cartoon-like cel shaded 3D graphics plus there are also some new musical notes, and a great new water theme introduced to the mix. So is the new water based Zelda here any good or is it too childish in design? Here is my thoughts on Nintendo's new take on the Zelda series.
Many years have passed since Link from the Ocarina of Time defeated the evil Ganon in a epic battle and thanks to 6 sages of Hyrule, Ganondorf was sealed away in a alternate universe. Ganondorf has now finally escaped his sealed prison and he wants to get even with the descendants of both Link and Princess Zelda. The problem with Ganondorf's plan is that he is not quite sure who the descendants are so he's just kidnapping innocent girls with long ears in hopes of finding Zelda's heir.
Here is where you come in: You play the role of a young man living on a peaceful island with his family. This boy is now old enough to be dressed as the hero of time. Unfortunately, he is less than excited to be getting some funny looking green clothes for his birthday (would you wanna look like a elf?). So what is so special about these green clothes anyway? They are given to young men to symbolize the first legendary Link and they are used for finding another great hero just in case evil were to rise again. This island kid is a very unlikely hero but he doesn't have much choice as the story progresses. Things get more serious for the young boy when he sees a girl fall from the clutches of a giant bird and she lands in the local forest. Here is where a young man's long adventure begins to fight the forces of evil.
The new Link doesn't live in the same huge land of Hyrule anymore, this new mystical world as changed as the generations has passed. Now this land in covered mostly in large bodies of water (anybody remember the movie WaterWorld?). You must now travel by sea to get to a another island that may have important items or clues on your journey and that's where your new boat comes in. Your boat actually has a mind of its own and he can give you hints on where your suppose to go on your quest. It sounds really cool at first but this wacky boat can also decide not to go anywhere until you finished your objective on a certain island. This makes the game a little linear in design and some may be annoyed by this. I don't remember this sort of thing happening on the first Legend of Zelda? Speaking about the other Zeldas, there was always some form of great power that Link would be able to process to help him on his way like being able to travel through time, controlling the seasons, and much more. In the Wind Waker the new Link can control how the wind flows by a magic wand. This can help you discover some secrets or this can help you rip across the sea.
Traveling by water can be chore in itself. First you need to see if your boat friend will let you sail to begin with after talking with him, then you need to set the direction of the wind if needed, and then you have to be sure that your Sail is equipped as well. You can use the X, Y, Z buttons for your Sail that can be bought early in the game so you better be sure to have that equipped too. Fortunately sailing by sea isn't all that bad because there are many tiny huts, shops, and hidden treasurers shattered all over the place. The brings us to the other various items you can find in the game's dungeons like the usual Boomerang, Grappling hook, Bombs, and other well known Zelda goodies. You can find some newer stuff that have never been seen before like different monster tokens that serve many purposes plus your magic wand can do more than control the wind here.
Nintendo even lets you use the Gameboy Advance to GameCube link adapter here. Simply talk to the imprisoned 35 year old elf wanna be Tingle (who was first introduced in Majora's Mask) and if you free him then he'll give you a toy Gameboy Advance. You also need a Gameboy Advance for this option and if the transfer goes through you now get to see Tingle's exclusive menu on your GBA. Mister Tingle can drop you useful hints, give you power ups, and lots more but many of these services are not free so be prepared to folk over some rupees. This feature is completely optional since its not needed to complete the game but if you got the goods then this can be very useful tool.
If you already played the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time/Master Quest game that was part of this promotion, then you will feel right at home here (a smart move by Nintendo by the way). Now the famous Z targeting system from the Nintendo 64 games (when you lock on to a object) is now known as the 'L' targeting system. You use this lock on effect to keep a direct eye on opponents or if you wish to speak to someone from a distance then you can do that too, other than the button change this feature still remains the same as the N64 games. Unlike the N64 games though, the C stick is used for the game's camera. This is a good feature if you like looking at your games from multi-perspectives and you can even see the game from the traditional overhead view like in original NES Zelda. Sadly the camera does act up a lot in the overhead view so some of the nostalgic is lost, this problem is very noticeable when your indoors so the camera system is far from perfect.
This Zelda is also packed with lots of bonus mini games and tons of side quests. One great example of these mini game is in one town. There is a shop owner who looks totally bored and he doesn't seen too happy to see Link when he arrives, but if you pay to play his game then he really gets into a deep story about pirates and monsters in a very strange metamorphosis. The game itself plays like the classic board game of Battleship (tm). Link can also get some help from a friendly birdgirl with the power to guide plus you can also use other parthers like Makar and even a Seagull to solve the many puzzles.
The Wind Waker's graphics may have a super cute look and all but that's not to say they are terrible or something. With the cartoonish feel, Nintendo gave a lot attention to the game's animation and wait till you see some of the spectacular characters here. I love the look of the giant warthogs you meet throughout the game, they have stylist tattoos or body paint on their arms and back plus you can see them smell around for meat that can help in the game's strategy. From a retro stand point I liked seeing the return of the bird race to the Zelda series. I remembered seeing these aggressive falcons before near the end in Zelda II on the NES and they were tough as nails. I especially liked seeing the wild designs here of the birds because the artwork here reminds me of Native artwork I personally use from time to time. The Artist at Nintendo really did there homework here and you have to respect that. If this cartoonish look feels familiar then maybe you will remember the other games. The whole Cel Shading effect was used in games like Dragon's Lair 3D, Robotech Battlecry, Dark Cloud 2, and Jet Grind Radio (that Dreamcast game was the first to use this look by the way). After a few minutes of playing you forget all about Link's new questionable look.
You can not only admire the game's clean graphics but you can also listen to some great sounds here too. The music you'll hear in this game is what you would hear from a pirate or sea voyager type movie. Very clever. There are several borrowed sound bites from previous Zeldas like when you enter a house or cabin you hear some familiar N64 music, slightly remixed of course. Like the N64 games you wouldn't hear too many musical scores in the dungeons so don't expect anything too groundbreaking. I was very disappointed in the lack of effort placed in the voices used here though. All you get here is the occasional Link scream and girl laughing stuff, just like in those old N64 games. It surprises me that since Nintendo did not use actors for the game because it really would have enhanced the whole cartoon look here like it did in Squaresoft's Kingdom Hearts for the Playstation2.
The only major problems I have with the new Zelda is that the game is just too big of a adventure at times. The game is so large in scale that it makes sailing across the waters can be a little boring at times because the seas are absolutely massive and what makes that even worse is that the water looks kind of plain on your long journeys. I think some transparencies effects would have helped greatly here. Another thing that bugged me was that the game had it's moments were it was just too easy. I was shocked to learn that I didn't die when a fell into a pool of lava or fell off a huge cliff. I only lost a mere faction of a heart in what should have been a instant death. The same goes for some vicious looking larger enemies that look like they should kick Links tiny little butt, not so has it may an enemy a good minute to do you in but Link can mash them away half the time easily. Sure that's great news for younger children but I never had the fear of dying and that limits some of the challenge factor in the Wind Waker.
The Wind Waker is another great edition to the long running Zelda legacy and the game is filled with all new bright and very colourful new graphics with lots of character. This game also drives you to play thanks in part to all the secrets waiting for curious players and the story can get very interesting as well as your sister gets in big trouble. Not only that but we also get some good music here and there plus this is another huge quest that takes a lot of commitment. With that being said, don't forget that this is a Zelda game so those crazy puzzles are rampart here and the Wind Waker is not a very good game for the casual player. All other players who like deep adventure games should buy this new Zelda without hesitation.
*Game Link compatible
For 1 player only but a second player can use the Gameboy Advance if they wish.
Rated (E) for Everyone
(Ryan Genno) 2005
See the other Games of the Month