Have you ever played a game that made you feel dumb?
In fact, I’ve played a lot of them.
Don’t even get me started on Candyland.
All that ugliness aside, this post is primarily concerned with the evils of the Zelda franchise.
It all began in my childhood, as all things on this blog seem to blog do.
I was over at one of my spoiled friend’s houses when I played The Legend of Zelda for the first time.
Anyway, on most days we would sit around and play cool shit like Monster Party, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, but on this particular day, he had to step out for an hour or two to go to a Kumon class.
Yeah, he was spoiled and he had tutors.
Guess which one of us grew up to be retarded and socially maladjusted?
That’s right, both of us.
Normally when this would happen, only my friend’s mom would be at home, necessitating my coming with them for the trip.
However, on this particular afternoon, my buddies’ dad happened to be home early from work, so it was decided that I would hang out at the house while my friend was away.
How I wish I had gone with them that day.
I remember sitting down for a minute and pondering what to do for the next few hours.
Being unwilling to play the usual stuff without my friend, I considered playing something different, like M.C. Kids (which isn’t nearly as bad as it should be.)
Hell, I even remember playing Sesame Street Countdown for a minute or two.
But then I noticed something different, something golden.
Do you have any idea how irresistable a golden videogame is to a child?
Totally fucking irresistable, that’s how much.
I plugged that sucker in faster than you could say “Jiminy Christmas,” and after removing the cartridge and blowing on it about a billion times, I was transported to the land of Hyrule for the first time in my young life.
If you actually finished that video, you’re a fag.
Regardless of your faggot/not faggot status, I knew that the Zelda games were supposed to be crazy good, so much so that many of my friends liked to brag about their progress within them, especially in the second, and supposedly much harder game.
Needless to say, I was pretty psyched to give Zelda a try.
My first, and easily best memory of Zelda was being enchanted by the classic Zelda overworld theme.
It was wondrous, certainly one of the most memorable tracks of game music I had heard up to that point in my life, despite it’s age, even back then.
The first screen had a cave clearly visible in the background, so of course I went in.
Upon entering the cave I was greeted by an old man that told me it was dangerous outside, so I should take a sword with me.
With sword in hand, I set out into the world of Hyrule to……
Do absolutely nothing.
You see, Zelda was the first “open world” game I ever played.
The map was designed in a non-linear, explorable fashion, thus making the objective of the game to, well, stumble across your objectives.
Much unlike the games I was accustomed to:
I was not aware of this at the time, however it didn’t really matter either way, seeing as I never actually stumbled across said objectives.
I spent 2 hours killing monsters and collecting a billion fucking rupees, while never once figuring out what I was supposed to do, or where I was supposed to go.
It made me feel stupid, like I was lame for missing something all my friend’s had apparently gotten with ease.
As an older and wiser Azn Badger, one that now understands the “rules” of every Zelda game ever made (they don’t change), I could probably beat The Legend of Zelda in an afternoon with a little Energon and a lot of luck, but as a kid, I was hopeless.
Brownie points to those that got the reference.
It took me only a few minutes to understand that straying off the main road caused monsters to spawn, but outside of that discovery, I was once again dead in the water.
Zelda games had me by the balls as a kid.
Imagine growing up as a Nintendo kid and having that hanging over your head.
Zelda is one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises, and as such, every subsequent release in the series garners disgusting amounts of hype and praise.
I remember getting a sour taste in the back of my throat every time a Zelda game came out and my friend’s went nuts over them.
I remember they let me start my own save file one time.
Thankfully, the game managed to provide me with a little bit of instruction at times, thusly allowing me to progress through the adventure somewhat.
By somewhat I mean I got through the introductory Hyrule castle segment.
It took me about an hour and a half.
After that, I remember walking up to an ordinary black stone and being frustrated by my inability to pick it up and throw it at a chicken.
My neighbors said to me:
“You need the gloves to pick that up.”
“Where are the gloves?”
“It’s part of the game, you’ll find ‘em later.”
All through my childhood, I never found those damn gloves.
He loved that game, he used to play it for hours every day.
I hated that game, but I used to love watching my brother play it.
I remember it well cause he used to get pissed when my head would put shadows on the screen.
My only real fond memory of playing Link’s Awakening came in the form of abusing a chicken until his friends showed up to pwn my ass.
By the time Ocarina of Time AKA “OMG The Best Game EVER!!!” came out, I was still feeling sour about Zelda games and how they had taken my nuts without asking.
I played Ocarina of Time exactly once, at my barber’s house.
No, not the same barber that gave me my first Nintendo Power.
Her son had a Nintendo 64 that I would tool around on while waiting for my mom to get her hair cut.
I was good at those games, I liked those games; and they liked me back.
One day though, I was feeling confident and decided to plug in the ‘ole golden cartridge once more, this time on the N64.
I soon discovered that not much had changed in 10 years.
I remember being pissed off because all of the advertising material for Ocarina of Time had Link portrayed as an adult, a grown-up with a big ass sword.
During the segement I played, I was forced to control a tiny-ass Link with no sword, and no jump button.
Once again, I was unable to get my bearings in the game, resulting in me doing nothing but ride my horse around aimlessly and occasionally go fishing.
Outside of the fishing, which was admittedly pretty fun, I walked away from Ocarina of Time without so much as reaching for my stolen nuts.
After Ocarina of time, I would never play any of the new Zelda games.
A few months ago, not long before I started this blog, I fired up my Super NES one day, as I tend to do, and decided to do something bold.
A good friend of mine was kind enough to give me his entire library of Super NES games last year (he’s a really good friend), among which was A Link to the Past.
For the first time in over 10 years, I found myself playing a Zelda game.
Not only that, but I told myself I was going to beat it and get my nuts back!
True, I didn’t beat the game legit, as evidenced by my liberal use of strategy guides, and my general lack of motivation for finding all of the equipment and treasures, but I didn’t care, I had beaten a motherfucking Zelda game.
I was often bitterly frustrated during my exploits throughout the game, and in fact found very little enjoyment in the experience as a whole, but by the end, I considered my nuts rightfully reclaimed.
And not a moment too soon. I am, after all, a 20-something, handsome, (single) college graduate.
Did I mention I drew the cover for a published novel?
Honestly, I think I decided to subject myself to more Zelda torture simply because the experience promised a lengthy adventure that could not be beaten quickly.
As I mentioned in a previous post, games are like a way of killing time for me nowadays, so a playable, but ultimately confusing and frustrating game is now something that appeals to me on some twisted level.
Maybe I’m a masochist, who knows?
Currently, I am maybe 20% into Windwaker, though I haven’t been playing with the same sense of urgency or fervor that I did Link to the Past.
The game is actually very good, with responsive controls and persistent yet simple puzzles around every corner.
I do however still feel stupid from time to time, usually when it comes to figuring out which items to use in dungeons.
Despite this, I honestly like the cartoony, “island” aesthetic of the game, it reminds me of good things I remember from Hawaii.
And that’s always a good thing.
I am still using FAQs from time to time when I get stuck, and though I fear I will never be able to conquer a Zelda without the use of one, I don’t care.
“Beating” a Zelda game has never been the point.
Zelda games still make me feel dumb, but at least they don’t have my nuts anymore.