I’d be lying if I said that video games weren’t a big part of my childhood. I was there at the birth of the Gameboy Pocket and the Nintendo 64. Some of the finest video games to date were released during my formative years and very soon, Nintendo is releasing a game that reminds me of the good old days of gaming: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
I now find myself among a resurgence of Zelda love. This year of releases and re-releases has spurred two of my roommates into excited fits of nostalgia. While I myself have never played Ocarina, I, for the past few months, have been able to enjoy the effects that the imminent release of Skyward Sword is having on these two long-time Zelda fans.
My roommate Lindsay, most likely thanks to her having two brothers, can play video games with the best of ‘em. She’s beaten Ocarina countless times and knows every nook and cranny of Hyrule Kingdom like the back of her hand.
This past summer, Lindsay decided to pick up the old game again and give it a play-through. As she moved the blinking cursor over the onscreen alphabet to select a name (she took my suggestion of “Pajamas”), I felt a surge of excitement come over me as I prepared to witness the best game of all time unfold before me.
Needless to say, the game did not disappoint. While graphics have improved by leaps and bounds since Ocarina’s debut in 1998, the story and gameplay hold up nicely. Watching the hero Link traverse mountains, brave underwater depths, and travel through time is truly an enthralling experience. To Lindsay’s chagrin, I’m sure, whenever I found her in the living room of our apartment, I pestered her with an excited, “Are you gonna play some more Ocarina?” I was that eager to watch the story unfold.
My other roommate Sarah, prompted by Lindsay’s return to the game, soon picked up a N64 controller herself. She too had grown up playing Ocarina but, unlike Lindsay, she had never beaten it.
“I’ve only ever gotten to the part right after Link becomes an adult,” Sarah admitted sheepishly, “because after you’re an adult and you walk around Hyrule, there’re zombies everywhere, man! I just got too scared and stopped playing.”
The zombies that scared Sarah are actually called Redeads, and I can understand her fear of them. They are horrifyingly emaciated dirt-brown figures that stand immobile around the town square. Until you walk by them, that is. If you get too close, they pounce on you and emit a piercing scream. And don’t ask me how, but the comparatively low-res graphics make them scarier somehow.
However, what Sarah failed to realize is that the Redeads only exist at one location in the game, and that is the town square. Unfortunately, she never got any farther than that town square, so she didn’t know that. Vehemently, I encouraged her to overcome her fear of the pixilated menaces.
“C’mon, Sarah, run past ‘em, don’t stop!” I urged her. And, to my and Lindsay’s surprise, she did. After years of avoiding this dreaded point in the game, she fought through it.
And just like that, it was as if a floodgate was opened. Every time I entered the apartment, I found Sarah seated before the TV, resolutely playing through the game. She was proceeding through the many levels at an astonishingly rapid rate. While she did retain some of her instinctive flight tactics when it came to battling bosses (at first, she frantically ran away from King Dodongo with a panicked “He’s gonna kill me, man!”), she managed to struggle her way through the gamut of increasingly frightening bosses to the game’s end. Lindsay and I were incredibly proud of her.
Overcoming a personal fear and playing the game all the way through were certainly motivating factors that contributed to Sarah’s success, but underlying all that was the imminent release of a game which IGN Entertainment claims tops Ocarina of Time.
“You know, I have a Wii at home,” mused Sarah. “I think I’ll get Skyward Sword when it comes out!”
Lindsay, the bigger Zelda fan who had been anticipating this game for months, was shocked by Sarah’s sudden decision to purchase the game, but was nonetheless happy to have a fellow fan to gush about the game with.
While Skyward Sword has some big shoes to fill, I’m sure it won’t be long before I find Lindsay and Sarah animatedly chatting about the new game like little kids.