Saturday 26 January, 2008
I began to explore the expansive world of Ocarina of Time more, and I have to say I am not disappointed. It is quite large with every zone having a distinct feel. The first area, the forest, was maze-like and was made up of different greens and many other dark colors, yet had a slightly magical feel to it. The Hyrule Field seems to go on for miles, which I imagine might get annoying later since Link does not run that fast, but still makes for tons of places to investigate. The Market is full of people - and sounds like it too, with several voices overlapping in the background - and I found myself spending a lot of time just running around and talking to everyone and trying what minigames I could. I keep finding stuff to do in this game, and its hardly repetitive, so the zones were designed very well in my opinion.
I also realized that time actually moves in this game, and that effects what or who you see in certain places. A scene you may see during the day could be completely different at night. Different monsters lurk in areas at different times of the day, ranging from zombies at night to some strange, flying plant-like things during the day. I think this is a great aspect of the game, allowing the developers to reuse a zone and have different events, minigames, and secrets depending on when the player is there. This, of course, made me spend even more time exploring a single zone.
I know I have not gotten far into the actual story itself yet, but so far I think it is written well for a Zelda style game. They make it clear what they want you to do next, with characters leading you in the right direction, but I also like that it does not force you to do the next story event right away. And with just a few lines of text, they easily give even just background characters personalities and quirks. I'm definitely looking forward to see where the plot takes me and what the new areas and dungeons look like.
I still have to say I am a big fan of the Z-targeting and the interaction display I mentioned in the first entry. But now that I've had more time to play the game, I was able to play around with some other features that were pretty good too. I like that they improved on the older games in the series, where when you got special items, you could only select one at a time. Now, they have three slots for items that you can attach to the three lower C-buttons, making it so I did not have to switch stuff in and out of my inventory as often. I would have liked if they had found a way to make even more items accessible at once, but three is still an good improvement.
I also like the way the use of the ocarina was set up in the game. When using it, the buttons are set up very similar to a real ocarina, with the four C-buttons representing the top holes and the Z-button on the bottom represent the fifth one underneath. It's a very intuitive design, simply made and easy to learn. I found myself interested to see what songs I would learn and what they would each do, since its obviously important to the game - it is in the title after all.
There are several unique items that can be gotten, as with every Zelda game. But what I like about them is how a some of them seemed to be designed to do multiple things. For example, a plain stick that Link can pick up can not only be used to swing at enemies, but also can be lit on fire, and from there can be used to set enemies on fire or used to solve a puzzle by lighting a torch or burning a web. I thought this was a smart decision on the designer's part, allowing the player to experiment with different items and see if they could find new stuff to do with old things, or possibly solve puzzles in different ways.
I mentioned earlier that I like how much there is to explore, given that there is a lot of space and that places vary depending on the time of day. The world was not only designed for exploring, but rewards its players for doing so. By finding a hidden cave or playing a minigame, you could receive a heart container or money or an upgrade to an item. I liked this reward system, it made it so exploration was not a tedious chore, but just simply fun. Even the music rewards you with a cheery tune for discovering something.