ganon's cold, dead body

Ganon’s cold, dead body is at my feet. Link has vanquished evil yet again. The kingdom is at peace. Mostly.

I bought Metroid on the day it came out, played to the very end, and shelved it for a few months before finally beating it. I bought Super Mario Sunshine on the day it came out, played to the very end, and shelved it for a few months before finally beating it. I bought Zelda: The Wind Waker and finished it in five days.

What is it about Zelda games that drives me to actually get my job done? It isn’t the gameplay. Mario and Metroid have a similar level of excellence. It isn’t the graphics – the Zelda graphics are neat, but so was Metroid, and I happily put that aside. I think it’s the story. Zelda isn’t a full-fledged CRPG, but it’s got as much plot as some CRPGs. Moreover, it has a /better/ plot than many CRPGs. Z:WW has built upon the Zelda64 story brilliantly, and its plot is really compelling.

My next goal will be to actually /complete/ Z:WW. I skipped a number of side quests, and I’d like to take care of them. There are wilty trees, untaken photographs, and probably some other stuff. I’m sure I don’t have all the heart pieces.

It’s really impressive, to me, that Z:WW has a collection system that’s both larger and less obtrusive than that in Zelda64. Because I’m not struggling to find the exactly fifty Whatevers that exist, I feel much more interested in actually getting them when possible. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s really great. Now and then, as I stole necklaces from monsters with the excellent new “grappling hook,” I thought, “This is totally boss.”

Another really boss bit of strategy results from the weapon-dropping enemies. It’s nothing new to be able to disarm an opponant in a game. Z:WW makes it really interesting, though. A disarmed opponant will run for another weapon, if he sees one. A knight will pick up a stick, if it’s nearby, and fight with it. I realized, later, that this meant it was a good idea to grab dropped weapons and throw them far away. This is an obvious, simple strategy, and it works. Some games enhance combat with dozens of special moves and exceptions. Z:WW does it with simple tweaks to the facts of life that affect everything about combat. In fact, I think the only new move in Z:WW is the parry. The parry, or counterattack, is a sweet little addition. Once I was forced to use it to fight what I think were Iron Knuckles, I learned of its total usefulness.

I’m not sure how I feel about the one other major change to combat in Z:WW. In Zelda64, only one baddie would attack at once. The others would hang back. In Z:WW, they’re all after you. I think I like this. It encourages more strategy.

As for the ending itself, it was a mixed bag. The final dungeon was pretty cool, especially the very last few bits as I approached the final battle. As usual, the final battle was split into two main parts. The first was a little too long and annoying, and the second was too short and simple. Still, it was cool, and I was edgy and excited, which is how it should’ve been. The thing that blew my mind most was the jaggies that became apparent during the endgame. Characters “yelled” by speaking in a larger font, and it was jagged. Large objects in field had rough edges. While a few jaggies here and there during gameplay are fine, the closing scenes should have been polished up a bit more. I don’t know why they were content with the graphics as rendered. Given the attention to details like embers cooling on ponds, why didn’t they care about sloppy anti-aliasing in one of the game’s most important scenes?

Still, it’s one of the best games I’ve played. I can’t imagine what the next Zelda will be like. If the next Zelda is to this one as Majora’s Mask was to Ocarina, I will still be a happy, happy gamer.

Written on March 31, 2003
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