Monday, January 23, 2017

Replaying Ocarina of Time on the Wii U

Feels like having the same thing twice...

Until the end of the 30th Anniversary on February 28th and until Breath of the Wild gets released on March 3rd, I want to replay all 3D Zelda games on my Wii U again. The Nintendo 64 Zelda games break the first ground, where today I've finished my usual 100% playthrough of Ocarina of Time.

Last Summer I've already replayed the Nintendo 3DS remakes, which included both Ocarina of Time 3D and Ocarina of Time 3D Master Quest, so I've had quite enough Ocarina of Time goodness lately. Part of the reason, why I also wanted to play through the Virtual Console releases again, was to see, how well the original games hold up, when compared to their remakes... In case of Ocarina of Time not very well.

In fact my motivation was so low that it took me over two weeks to get through this, which was certainly too long for my plans. But if you have Ocarina of Time 3D, there is no real reason to ever go back. The 20fps are simply bad. I don't mind the graphics as much - of course the 3DS version looks much better without losing any of the original charms, but the original is still fine. However, the frame rate really takes you out of it. And the text boxes. They are either too fast to be readable after pressing B or they are super slow...

But the worst is probably the aiming with the analog stick. Gyro aiming is one of the best things that happened to the series, it's just so much faster and more precise, so that going back to analog stick controls is pure pain. With the N64 games on the Virtual Console it has this annoying threshold, where you either aim very slowly or super fast... It's essentially like the text boxes, there's no good middle here, and everything with aiming just ends up in frustration. Luckily there is the 3DS version, where all these problems don't exist.

I tried to make use of the Virtual Console features to get some value over the Nintendo 3DS version, but this seemed negligible in the end. I was actually exited that for the first time ever I can play the game with the rumble feature on. I didn't have a Rumble Pack for the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube versions suffered from slight lag with the rumble, while the Wii Virtual Console version and the 3DS remake didn't have any rumble effect. So, for the first time I could really try out the rumble effects and how it feels to use the Stone of Agony after all these years... It was also quite helpful with the fishing, thanks to the rumble effect I could tell much better in what direction to hold the analog stick. However, riding with Epona is utterly annoying with the rumble, it feels like Epona keeps stomping on your GamePad, so I turned it off in the end...

Also, Restore Points didn't seem all that helpful. I was mostly using them early on, getting the Heart Pieces at the Zora River by using Cuccos is a good example, because it can be frustrating, if you mess it up. With the minigames I also used it for the Bombchu Bowling and the Horse Race (after the first lap). But later on I never really used Restore Points again except for having one exactly at the Ganon fight, which is a nice bonus, if you ever want to quickly replay this fight (should have been part of the Boss Challenge mode anyways).

That you can change your input was also useful for the Frog minigame at the Zora River, because playing this with the analog stick can be quite difficult, so I temporarily mapped the C buttons to A, B, X and Y, while the "+"-button served as "A".

So much for the Virtual Console version. In general I have to say that while Ocarina of Time is still one of my favorite Zelda games, if I put nostalgia aside, there are quite some issues noticeable with the game. It all feels kind of slow and boring, especially traveling through Hyrule Field. Yeah, there are the Peahats around, but they are something that you tend to avoid, because they can be quite lethal - they are basically like the Guardians in Breath of the Wild on a small level. But otherwise you only get some Stalchilds at night and they are not really that entertaining. Other enemies on the overworld then tend to be more annoying, like the Tektites, the Guays, the Octoroks or the Leevers.

Also, the gameplay itself can be quite slow thanks to the Ocarina and other slow actions. Often you have to play a song to get stuff done, even if it's just moving a block. At the time the Ocarina felt like a great feature, but today it just feels slow, where some quicker mechanic would be welcome.

Thankfully Breath of the Wild takes this all into account. The Sheikah Slate as the main item seems to be fast and dynamic, while there are lots of Bokoblin-like enemies to play around with. But going back from Breath of the Wild to Ocarina of Time will most likely make the N64 classic feel even slower and less interesting.

So, in the future I will probably need some real replay incentives to ever return to this game again after Breath of the Wild. This time I just did a silly thing, where I completed the game without ever seeing the Lake Hylia intro sequence once:

This can be achieved by always taking the routes over Gerudo Valley or Zora's Realm. As a kid I usually do this anyway, because you want to fly through Gerudo Valley at least twice to get everything there. This is even how I got the idea in the first place - I wondered, if it's possible to beat and complete the game without seeing this little sequence. You only have to remember this as an adult, when you deliver the Eyeball Frog to the Lakeside Laboratory. Going over Gerudo Valley in that case can be quite close, but it's still possible. Otherwise you can just teleport there and skip the sequence that way. And if you did all that, you can have the joy getting introduced to Lake Hylia after beating Ganon...

I've also did the dungeons as an adult quite out of order to mix things up yet again, though it's possible that I've tried a similar route in the past:

  • Gerudo Fortress
  • Ice Cavern
  • Fire Temple
  • Water Temple (Longshot)
  • Forest Temple
  • Bottom of the Well
  • Spirit Temple
  • Water Temple (2nd half)
  • Shadow Temple

I like playing the Forest Temple with the Longshot, because it gives you more options how to navigate the dungeon. Going all the vines up with a single shot can also be quite satisfying, so it's worth to play the Water Temple first. Sadly, you can't complete the Water Temple without the Fairy Bow, but I've complained about this several times in the past already...

By the way, I also tried for the first time, what happens, if you go to the Gerudo Fortress without the Hookshot. In that case they will simply drop you off by the tent in Gerudo Valley, instead of putting you in the cell.

I guess, in the future I could try things like Minimal / 3 Heart Runs for some fresher experiences, but I usually just have too much fun collecting everything and trying to get everything early as possible. For example I won't become an adult, before I haven't done everything possible as a child. This is important anyway, if you don't want to miss the one Deku Nut upgrade at the Forest Stage, but this also includes planting eight possible Magic Beans, getting 44 Gold Skulltulas and 20 Heart Pieces (21 is possible, if you try your luck at the Treasure Chest Game). Thing is that you can't teleport yet, so you have to make good use of the gateways and the owl to avoid crossing Hyrule Field all the time. Like getting from the Forest to Hyrule Castle feels actually faster, if you use the gateways to Lake Hylia and then fly with the owl to the town entrance...

And as soon as I became an adult, I usually do everything possible before the temples: get Epona, get the Hookshot, get the Goron Armor, clear Gerudo Fortress, beat the Ice Cavern, get Iron Boots and Zora Armor, half of the teleporting songs, etc.

That's it for now. Next will be Majora's Mask on the Virtual Console, but this should be somewhat more interesting thanks to the downgrades the game has seen with its 3DS version and a lot more potential to use Restore Points.


Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I'm facing that very problem while playing Donkey Kong 64, a game I missed out back in the N64 days. That game is unforgivably slow-paced, taking the weaker aspects of Super Mario 64 and dialing them up to eleven. Too much backtracking and too much of a barren world to explore.

Zack Normandin said...

I'll always love Ocarina of Time. One of my favorite Nintendo titles.

Nintendo Switch E3 Presentation is right around the corner though!