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Plight Of A Disc Drive
By: Zachary Lewis
Legend of Zelda games are well known for their inevitable push-backs in development. Though people complain, it's generally true that these shifts in time-frame are used to add detail, perfect localization, and eliminate even the smallest of bugs in the programming. An expansion to one game in the series - through no fault of its own - was postponed indefinitely with the stoppage of work on the Nintendo 64's disc drive. However, in his wisdom, Shigeru Miyamoto decided to release the game as a bonus to anyone willing to pre-order the newest game in the saga. 5 years after the fact, and with the added power of the GameCube, Ocarina of Time's Master Quest hasn't arrived completely in the new generation.
The series is nothing if not action oriented and it translates well into a battle system where using your sword, shield, L button to target enemies, and swinging madly will get you a long way. Many of the boss creatures - and even some of the smaller baddies - will require a bit of extra strategy, however. Trying combinations of items - which can be assigned to the C stick or its counterpart X, Y, and Z buttons - in all manner of ways is paramount to being victorious not only in combat but also in the game in general.
And on that note we come to the true power behind this game. Puzzles. The Master Quest, although much more challenging by only the sheer number of enemies, lends virtually all its force to making the simple puzzles of Ocarina of Time a shadow of the past. Nearly every item can have a use that was never even utilized in the original quest, and possibly because of this, you will come to either love or dread using the menu system. The dreaded boot-switching returns, along with the new annoyance of not necessarily always knowing what item is required to solve a puzzle. To the benefit of anyone trying their hand at a zero deaths save - considered by some to be the mark of mastery in a Zelda player - the ability to save anywhere and reset all your accidents has been retained although at the cost of 15 blocks on a memory card.
Sadly, the game goes steadily downhill by today's standards after the well done menus, battle system, puzzles, and localization. In an identical vein to all the currently existing Zelda titles, the story behind Link's battle is a tried and true mixture of the evil Ganondorf stealing the Triforce of Power and head-strong Zelda goading you into helping stop him. The only small enhancement is some minor background history of Hyrule finally thrown into the mix. But the inconvenient lack or originality aside, the game makes a decent attempt at keeping you enthralled out of the sheer difficulty involved. Many puzzles involve a timing element than must be absolutely precise, or a combination of items and aiming that you must have crackshot capabilities to complete. Some of these can become very tedious and time-consuming without an extra set of eyes to view it from another perspective. Because of the frustrating nature of the game in general, replaying the title will likely be distant in your mind.
The one area that the game is truly divided with itself on is in the audio. Whereas the sound effects are well done with few exceptions, the music is basically just enhanced quality midi without red booking, and is even missing the classic Zelda theme songs. The only possible redeeming mark for the musical score might be the tunes you can compose on the Ocarina in your free time. However, because of the limited nature of the instrument itself, don't expect to compose the grand melodies that even Mario Paint can produce. The audio aside, the games graphics suffer from no division. Even with the obviously enhanced colors, Hi-Res textures and noise reduction, and super-enhanced lighting effects of the GameCube, it's extremely obvious that the game is not from the current console generation. By comparison to nearly any game released recently the game is extremely unattractive on a purely graphical level. The polygon models are poorly detailed and extremely blocky, the game uses the same few item models for every resized variation, and the game is still generally colorless and bland. Back in the day the game was gorgeous, but a direct port from the time-of-long-ago doesn't make a game prettier today.
Had the original release of Ocarina of Time included the Master Quest, or even had it been released on the 64DD hardware expansion, the game would have been fantastic; a testament to the Zelda saga. But, in today's realm where the likes of Skies of Arcadia Legends, .hack//Infection, and Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind rule the minds of gamers, the expansion to Ocarina of Time seems sorely out of place. But, as long as it's free - after a fashion - who are we to complain?
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