Thursday, September 3, 2009

Master Quest and the Virtual Console

By now we already have five Zelda titles available for Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console:

  • The Legend of Zelda (NES)
  • Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)
  • A Link to the Past (SNES)
  • Ocarina of Time (N64)
  • Majora's Mask (N64)

You might say, that with Majora's Mask we finally got all Zeldas for the Virtual Console systems. But that's not entirely the truth, one is still missing (not counting any possible remakes of the BS Zeldas). I'm speaking about Ocarina of Time Master Quest, which was only released on a bonus disc for the Nintendo GameCube. Some say, "Master Quest won't make it to the Virtual Console, because it was a GameCube game", which isn't correct. Master Quest was emulated the same way Ocarina of Time was, since it is a Nintendo 64 game.

Originally Nintento developed two Zelda games for their Nintendo 64DD AddOn, both of them being expansions of Ocarina of Time. The first one, called Ura Zelda ("Reversed Zelda" or "Another Zelda"), was supposed to be a 2nd Quest for Ocarina of Time using harder dungeons and new enemies. The second one, Zelda Gaiden ("Zelda Side Story"), should offer a new overworld and new quests. However, Nintendo early stopped supporting the Nintendo 64DD in the believe, that it would be a commercial failure, and most games developed for it were either scrapped or ported to the Nintendo 64. Zelda Gaiden evolved then into Majora's Mask, but the Ura Zelda project was cancelled.

However, fans demanded, that Nintendo should release Ura Zelda as well, and believe it or not, from time to time Nintendo listens to their fans. It was then bundled as "Master Quest" together with the original Ocarina of Time on a bonus disc for the GameCube, that came with the Limited Edition of The Wind Waker. The bonus disc is now only available as a premium of Club Nintendo and on ebay of course. But since the Ura Zelda project never really was finished, Master Quest only featured the 12 modified, more challenging dungeons, no extra content.

I personally love Master Quest. It adds huge replay value to Ocarina of Time and comes with some really smart puzzles, that try to screw with you, if you know Ocarina of Time too well. And consider, Nintendo did make this for the Zelda fans and Zelda fans only. This one is for the fans and that alone is reason enough for every Zelda fan to love Master Quest, even if it doesn't feature any new items or enemies.

Back to topic, Master Quest is a Nintendo 64 game and was emulated like one. The bonus disc only contained a Nintendo 64 ROM of the game and an emulator shipped with it, much like Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the Collector's Edition. And unlike Majora's Mask, the emulation of Master Quest was already perfectly stable at that time. Also, every Virtual Console game gets its own emulator, so there shouldn't be any problems in case it uses slightly more RAM than other Nintendo 64 games do. So, there's no technical reason, why Master Quest shouldn't appear on the Virtual Console. And on the other hand there are some good reasons why the game should appear on it:

  • It's a rare Zelda title. People tend to have a huge curiosity when it comes to Zelda and probably check it out. The Zelda games are the most popular games on the Virtual Console after Super Mario.
  • It's a special version of Ocarina of Time. Everyone loves Ocarina of Time. It was called the best game of all times often enough.
  • They already successfully emulated it on GameCube, so they should't have any work with it.
  • It was never a retail game and it's "hard" to get nowadays, which makes it as special as for example The Lost Levels.

So, the real question is not, whether Master Quest will appear on the Virtual Console, but when. I don't think, it will be released in the near future. My best guess would be, that they're going to save it for the time, when Zelda Wii comes out, to celebrate on the Virtual Console the release of the newest Zelda game. They did the same with Metroid and Super Metroid, when Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out. And Master Quest doesn't have any priority right now, there are still many demanded games left and we already have the original Ocarina of Time, so they can save this for later.

For me personally this would be more or less just for my Virtual Console collection, since I already have the bonus disc. But I tend to replay the VC games more, because I don't have to swap the disc to play them. Which is why I like VC games. Still I'd say, a lot of Zelda fans would pass on this download, because of various reasons including the typical whining, that Nintendo just wants money from rip offs and that Master Quest only offers modified dungeons with different puzzles. However, for new Zelda fans, who never experienced Master Quest before, this download would be an absolute must.


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