10 Years of Puzzles, Problems and One Precarious Princess
My ode to the 10th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Ten years past would have found two very eager little girls, flanking their just-as-eager father as they slowly explored the unfolding treasures of a video game. How something so nonsensical could steal away an adult and two children for very nearly a year is still something intriguing to me. And yet, looking back on those days, I realize that I was never happier. And it was all thanks to a little toe-head named Link.
When you think of the stereotypical 6 year old girl, one might picture a little girl, with dimpled cheeks stealing kisses from boys on the playground. I’d like to think my sister and I were not those typical, little girls. Bearing in mind I spent a considerable amount of time sitting in time-out during recess and my older, and wiser, twin ran around the playground (which has since been bulldozed into a parking lot, I might add, just for the irony) playing made-up games about Pokemon—we were not the archetypal first graders. And so, when Christmas rolled around that year and Santa dropped off that shiny new N64, we were captivated.
Needless to say when the massacred pieces of gift wrap had been cleared away that morning, we explored our new gaming system. When the now infamous music cued up, we didn’t know what we were in for. Most certainly not to take part in playing probably the most influential game ever made.
For anyone who has played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you know of what I speak; because you have undoubtedly spent a mind-numbing amount of time trying desperately to beat that game. As I recall, we spent the majority of Christmas vacation trying—and failing despairingly—at finding that thing they called a sword, which in retrospect was just an overgrown butter knife.
Finally, after weeks of failed attempts finding that blasted piece of metal, and trying everything imaginable, my dad crawled into that cave, and found the sword. And declared it to be too easy. He then introduced us to our good friend, The Great Deku Tree. A laughable character, because, seriously if you can’t laugh at a giant, talking tree what can you laugh at?
Even more funny was the ensuing wannabe-voice acting my father started. He gave the Tree a voice, and not just a voice, a gnarled, English accent with a hacking cough, and a slight lisp. That voice will forever be synonymous with a night full of giggles and warding off evil. I have only heard my father use that ‘voice’ for one other occasion: at a youth retreat where he was supposed to be scaring teenagers about the effects of sin, death and hell; but, he used that voice and it took all I could not to burst out laughing right then and there. But, that’s another story for another time.
As we explored the deep recess of that tree, we found that I am a complete and utter incompetent when it comes to video games. The few times we pried my dad away from the controller I died, or screwed it up so badly that it deterred me from ever being able to play video games well, even now 10 years later. Therefore, I will forever be The Technical Advisor. The puzzle solver extraordinaire, and the one who could quote the Players Guide [or “Cheat Book” as we’ve dubbed it] word-for-word. Any random bit of information about the game? I know it. The only thing I’m good at is beating Gohma. I hold the record for shortest time beating Gohma. 7 seconds, by the way.
My sister and dad have this ongoing rivalry—which goes on to this day—about who is better at playing the game. I kid you not. They race each other. They erase the two bottom memory slots on the game [they refuse to erase the so-called ‘master file’, which affectionately is comprised of all our first initials] and name the file something like “DA BOMB” or “DA REAL BOMB”. It’s utterly ridiculous. And yet so funny. They play the game neck-in-neck and talk smack to each other. And as I type this, they are bringing up past races, and razzing each other over the fact that Dad beat the game the first go round, or that my sister had to beat Bongo-Bongo for my dad during one of their numerous competitions. They keep laughing about how this time it will be The Race. Where they’ll time each other, and not die at any given moment during the game.
I don’t really know what makes Zelda the—in my opinion—best game ever. Perhaps it’s the dynamic game play, or the unforgettable characters, or some other force; but, I do know that I will forever love it for bringing my family together: for keeping us up late at night with its beguiling puzzles, and for making us spit up whatever fizzy drink we happened to be sipping whenever someone did some epic move. Whatever that unknown, and splendid force was that so adhered us to that game is something that will captivate audiences for years to come. And, I’m just lucky enough to say that it hit my generation first, and we’ve never been the same since.