For the Love of Zelda

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Recently, I’ve gotten the urge to revisit (and download) a good chunk of Brentalfloss‘ music. For the uninitiated, Brentalfloss (aka Brent Black) is a musician whose claim to fame is the “With Lyrics” series on YouTube, where he adds lyrics to popular video game tunes. I’ve been subscribed to him for ages now and first found out about him through his “Legend of Zelda With Lyrics” video. Anyway, as I’ve been going through his library of work, I rediscovered my love for his “Ocarina of Time With Lyrics” duet with DemonTomatoDave. The song is basically an overblown argument between a fanboy and anti-fanboy over why “Ocarina” is great/sucks. It’s a brilliant, funny song and easily one of my personal favorites. It also got me thinking again about how I ultimately became a Zelda fan, which I touched upon in this blog.

On the topic of “Ocarina”, I played the N64 version a couple times a few years after it was released, first by renting it and later by receiving it as a Christmas gift. I know now that it doesn’t hold up quite as well as it did then (not helped by the 3DS remake being technologically better by comparison). However, my nostalgia with the game isn’t quite the same as it is for others. Many people who played the Zelda games prior to it loved “Ocarina”, and the innovative 3D at the time was something to marvel at. But as someone who played SOME of the previous Zelda games and didn’t care for them, “Ocarina” is what I consider my true entry into the series and how I came to understand the appeal of it.

By that, I mean the adventure/quest aspect. Being able to go around a big overworld fighting baddies, solving puzzles, and traversing towns and dungeons never felt so good to me as it did playing “Ocarina.” Now, of course, other games prior to it had the same aspects, so why didn’t I like them? Well, to start off, I never had many SNES or Gameboy games growing up, so I basically missed out on “A Link to the Past” and “Link’s Awakening” (I played both well after “Ocarina”). As for the NES games, “The Legend of Zelda” and “Zelda II: The Adventures of Link”… I could never get into them. For a kid like me, they just felt too hard. Sure, exploring was fun, but I never liked how easily I died. Prior to trying the first game, I’d only played a lot of Atari fare and “Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt”. Having this big adventure to go on in “Zelda” was cool at first, but I just found it frustrating to get far in a dungeon only to get a game over and have to start the game all over again. Basically, 2D Zelda games didn’t make me appreciate the series. It was only when I experienced “Ocarina” that I finally saw what was so great about it.

Ever since then, I’ve played nearly every Zelda game to date (though I have yet to tackle those first two games again). While many have issues with the series sometimes seeming linear or repetitive, I love it mainly for the adventure-like atmosphere each game gives me. So, yes, “Ocarina” was never about the then-innovative leap in graphics or nostalgic love of Zelda for me. Whether I still consider it my favorite or not (“Majora’s Mask” and “A Link Between Worlds” are definitely up there), I still love and respect “Ocarina” for the simple reason that it’s what got me into and helped me appreciate the Zelda franchise, newer and older games alike.

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