Ten Features in Zelda Games that Should Never Have Been Used
Ever since I was a child, I have been a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series. I have played many of the games in the series, and I am excited about the upcoming Zelda Wii coming out in 2010 or later. While many of the games’ features are amazing, some of them are a bit underwhelming. Whether they are useless items, boring side quests, or things that make you feel frustrated, they tend to put a damper on some otherwise impressive games. I shall take ten of those features and include them on the following list. Only canonical Zelda games will be considered: the CD-I games are automatically out of the running. This list is as follows…
The Wind Waker: The Triforce Side Quest: Perhaps the single most annoying quest-related task in the entire series to date is this journey in which you must search the entire Great Sea for the Triforce charts that will lead you to the locations of the eight pieces of the Triforce of Courage. Just finding the charts by solving puzzles, defeating enemies, etc. is not enough, however, as you are unable to actually read them at first. They must all be taken to Tingle, the annoying man who thinks he is a fairy, as he is the only one who can decipher them for you. Tingle turns out to be quite greedy, requiring 398 rupees to translate each chart. That is almost 3,200 rupees in all, and it is impossible to avoid giving Tingle your hard-earned cash. Add the fact that the quest is too long and boring to begin with, and you have a quest-related job that Nintendo should never have created.
Twilight Princess: The Wolf Transformation: Having Link change into a wolf is a neat idea…until you realize just how weak he is compared to Link’s human form. Wolf Link’s attacks are not very strong, and unlike his human self, they never become any better or stronger. At times when you must be the wolf for a while, this is especially annoying. While being able to change from human to wolf and back at will later on sounds cool, it is limited as you cannot do it when humans are around, which can be inconvenient. If the wolf transformation returns in the next game, let’s hope that Nintendo makes it into the wonderful feature it was meant to be.
Zelda 2: Returning to North Castle After a Game Over: The second game in the series is notorious for being quite challenging, and one of the reasons why it is so hard is what happens when you lose all of your lives. When that happens, you are sent all the way to your starting location in North Castle. This happens even if you were in a palace or fighting a boss, and restarting at the castle means all of the experience points accumulated toward the next level are lost. Traveling back to where you were can take a lot of time, and the enemies and traps that you meet along the way can drain your health. While you do get the option to restart at the Great Palace if you die there, it only makes not having a similar option for much of the game all the more tragic.
The Minish Cap: The Mirror Shield: In many Zelda games, the Mirror Shield is very useful, with the power to reflect sunlight and enemy attacks. It also pops up in the Minish Cap, but in the worst way possible. In your quest, you can meet a Goron who will offer to eat your old shield and turn it into the Mirror Shield, but only after you defeat the final boss first. By that time, the Mirror Shield is pretty useless, especially if you have done all of the plot-related tasks and side quests along the way. This begs the question: why bother to include an upgraded item if the times when it would be most useful have already occurred?
Four Swords Adventures:Inconsistent Level Design: Several features brought down what should have been a wonderfully nostalgic game, including the formats of the level. Some of them are more linear, albeit with hidden areas and small amounts of backtracking. Others, however, can be easy to get lost in, and require a lot of backtracking. They make being unable to save until you clear the levels that much more frustrating. Nintendo should have stuck to one basic level format instead of having them be all over the place, so that the game might have been a little bit better instead of being a convoluted mess.
A Link to the Past: The Magic-Draining Dungeon: Turtle Rock represents the place where you must save Princess Zelda from the wicked monster Trinexx. It is also where you can use up a lot of magic, and I do mean a lot. In fact, the game advises against venturing into the dungeon without magic-replenishing potion, and you will need to refill your magic often as you use your magic items to progress. Run out of magic and potion at a crucial point, such as the fight with Trinexx, and you must leave the dungeon to accumulate more magic potions. Having to backtrack for magic so close to rescuing the princess can be quite a headache.
Ocarina of Time: Putting On and Taking Off the Iron Boots: The only problem that I have with this amazing game is small, but still a bit noteworthy. In the Water Temple, you will be spending a lot of time alternating between exploring on dry land and walking underwater, which requires the Iron Boots. Putting them on requires you to pause the game and equip the boots, whereas to take them off, you must pause the game and remove the boots. This must be done over and over, and it gets a bit monotonous after a while. Nintendo would improve upon this feature by having you put on the Iron Boots with a single button press, but here, you can prepare yourself for some repetitious boot-wearing actions.
Link’s Awakening DX: The Game Boy Color version of this classic adventure includes a side quest in which you can take pictures of characters and events and print them out with the Game Boy Printer. However, a few pictures can only be taken at a certain point of the game. For example, three pictures can only be taken when Marin is with you prior to the fourth dungeon. Once Marin has left you, and if you have not taken the pictures, you are out of luck. Having items that can be permanently missed is annoying, particularly for those who want to complete everything in the game.
Oracle of Seasons/Ages: Planting Seeds: One of the side quests in these Game Boy Color games has you collecting seeds and planting them throughout the lands of Holodrum and Labrynna. These seeds will grow into trees that hold many useful items. However, the seeds can be tough to come by, and they can be quite expensive to buy. Also, if you are looking for every last piece of heart in the game, one of them appears in a tree on a completely random basis, so much so that you might spend many hours planting seeds and checking out each tree until you find the elusive heart piece. Getting heart pieces should be challenging, but not like this.
Majora’s Mask: The Time Limit: Exploration in a Zelda game should be something that can be enjoyed at a player’s leisure. In Majora’s Mask, however, that is not the case. The game’s 72 hours tick away the time it takes for a giant moon to crash into the earth, causing death and destruction. What this means is less time for free exploration, and thus you are basically forced through a strict schedule. This schedule can also put a damper on side quests that must be completed at certain times, as you must go back in time and start over if you mess up. This causes a lot of needless frustration, and it makes me wonder why people praise the game to begin with.
There are other bad features from Zelda games that I could have mentioned, from excessive sailing in The Wind Waker to too many forced battles with the twilit creatures in Twilight Princess. These ten, however, stand out as features that should have been better thought out before seeing the light of day. Some of them represent rather minor quibbles, while others can really wreck part or all of the game. No Zelda game is completely perfect, but these features are still a disappointment. Hopefully when Zelda Wii is released, it will be absolutely flawless and not be plagued by anything that could bring all or part of the game down.