platforming with link

Yesterday was my second “No Work, Just Zelda” day, and it was good. I didn’t make as much plot-based progress as I had the day before; I only beat one temple. Instead, I spent nearly the whole day mapping the gameworld. Think about that: I spent hours sailing thea sea and drawing maps of the islands. In the process, I found a few heart container pieces, which was good.

I don’t think mdxi totally groks my point on continuity. While it was always clear that Links varied from game to game, it was never clear if the games were related in-world, of it they were just distinct games with the same naming convention. Maybe that was clarified at some point, but I never caught it. Z:WW makes it very clear that this is one world. Yes, yes, Hyrule is a legend now. Later in the game, all is made much clearer. My earlier speculation that we are in part three of a trilogy (or perhaps a larger set) seems confirmed. Confirmed, in fact, in a way that makes me declare: “This is the best Zelda ever.” In one brief sequence, this game blew Z:OoT out of the water. I spent nearly half an hour just walking around looking at walls and zooming in on models. Later, a fish told me there’s a “Nintendo Gallery” somewhere in the game. I really hope it lets me revisit things like this, but I’m not too hopeful.

I’m not sure I agree that Z:OoT could’ve been 2D without loss of playability. The water temple would have become completely impossible, if nothing else. Still, though, mdxi is right: this is far more 3D than any previous installment. Nintendo has taken everything they learned from Mario64, Zelda64, and Mario Sunshine and built further upon those foundations. As for his desire that it become a platformer, I think it already is. Just because Link can’t wall jump, it doesn’t mean that Zelda isn’t a platformer. I think Link is an unusual platformer character with an unusual set of abilities. I reached this determination as I played through the first through levels. It was only when mdxi said that Zelda wasn’t a platformer that I realized that Zelda64 really hadn’t been – at least not to the extent that Z:WW is.

Link swings on ropes; I thought, “This is just like Ico!” Link sidles and hides in barrels; I thought, “This is just like Sly Cooper!” Link does the things he’s done for a while, now, like jumping and gliding. He certainly does platform jumping, and I’ve found myself doing a lot of platform building to prepare for the jumping, in Z:WW. I’m not sure what’s left to make this a PL3D.

In fact, there’s another element of platformers that’s really pronounced in Z:WW, even more than it was in Zelda64: collecting. Zelda64 had the gold skulltulas. I hated them; going back to find the one you missed deep in the lava pits of Doom Mountain just sucked. Z:WW has “spoils,” a collection of objects that can be collected from various enemies and later cashed in for prizes. As far as I can tell, they are not limited in quantity, but they are not trivial to obtain. This means that there’s less swearing (“Which !@$% skulltula did I miss?”) and more collecting, /and/ the collecting feels more natural. I cannot possibly explain how unnatural and, frankly, awful the collecting in some platformers has been. (q.v., Star Fox Adventures)

The time between islands remains incredibly annoying, but I’ve finally gotten the ability to warp. It’s not as efficient as I’d like, but it’s worlds better for crossing the map.

Exploring the seas has really enhanced the illusion of non-linearity of the game. As far as I can tell, most of the game is, indeed, linear. All the cool islands use the same kind of clever blockers that M’ and Zelda64 used: sure you can get to the island, but the cave entrance is blocked by a stone, and you need the Gloves of Might, which in turn require the Hero’s Bow, and so on. Meanwhlie, my boat keeps telling me where I’m supposed to go next. I don’t mind, though. I appreciate some linearity in these games. It’s much better than “what do I do next?” syndrome.

I get the feeling that I’m about a third of the way through. Like Z:OoT, Z:WW seems to have a “get a few key items, then get a larger set of items” structure. In Z:OoT, Link had to get the three stones and then rescue the seven sages. I’ve finished my small set. I’m not sure what the large set will contain, though. (Well, I have an idea what /three/ of the items will be!)

Written on March 26, 2003
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