So I have a pet theory, regarding the wildly schismatic nature of the Zelda fanbase: People probably aren't disagreeing on the relative qualities of each game. My theory is that they just have different priorities, so they prefer different entries. I mean, is ANYONE going to say that Wind Waker has better puzzles than Twilight Princess?
So let's rank every Zelda game (that we've played) in these key categories:
2) Puzzle Design:
3) Overworld (exploration):
5) Mini-games and sidequests:
10) Game Balance (puzzle challenge vs. combat challenge vs. economy):
12) Length (Too short, Just right, Overstayed it's welcome):
13) Story (and characters):
14) Overall Grade:
If I missed any key categories, let me know. I'm thinking we can assign a score of 1 to 5 for each (5 being the highest). If you desire, you can explain your rating briefly.
Keep in mind, the 1 to 5 scale I'm suggesting is RELATIVE to other Zeldas, not all other games. So a 1 means that it would be among the worst in that category in the Zelda series. 5 means one of the best. I'm going to use .5s for the overall grade, too, but only for the overall grade.
And you don't have to do them all at once. Feel free to tackle one or two at a time. Then, at the end, maybe some statistics nerd (*cough*Zero*cough*) can compile the results and check the deviation in each category, or whatever.
Man, I'd love to do this if it wasn't so much work and/or my memory wasn't so bad. I mean, you've got us rating the economies against each other? That's really hard to remember if you didn't play the games just last week or whatever. I do remember Wind Waker's seemed pretty broken, but I don't remember which ones had good economies.
So I'll just say my three favorites are Wind Waker, Link to the Past and the Original, in that order. I value exploration, first and foremost, and don't really love being stuck 4 levels deep in a dungeon and lighting torches in a particular sequence to get the next door to open. If that's what makes Zelda great, then I guess that explains my more idiosyncratic tastes.
I've never had more fun in a Zelda game than just floating my boat and uncovering portions of the map on Wind Waker. That's where the fun was for me. ("What is that landmass in the distance? It's some sort of volcano! Awesome! I wonder how I get into that?")
I loved exploration in the original, too. LTTP isn't quite the same on that score, but it feels tightly-wound. It's a game that has no fat in it, so it's just pure Zelda through and through.
I just got Link Between Worlds, so I have no opinion on that, yet. I never finished Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess (though I got far in TP) and, while I enjoyed both, there must have been some reason I didn't come back. (I think in the case of TP it was competing with the unexpected and inexplicable wiles of Excite Truck.) But my memory is positive on both of them. Ocarina of Time was a bit of a slog all the times I played it, though it had moments of charm and undeniable excellence. I've talked all about that in many threads.
Then there are the handheld games, which I never seem to complete even though they were mostly all good.
Oh, and Adventure of Link, the deserved black sheep, which I'm proud to have finished and will never play again.
Plus Majora's Mask, the one I've never started.
My relationship with Zelda is weird. I could do this a lot more easily with Mario.
I would bet you're going to be very happy with Link Between Worlds based on what you're saying here. Some great exploration stuff and it's the first Zelda in a while that gives me the "Am I supposed to be doing this yet?!" feeling that I really love.
That's one of the things I love about the original Zelda, too. Sure, you have the dungeon number right on the screen, but there were times when I first played it where I was thinking, "Okay, this dungeon is two levels higher than the last one, but since I don't know where the others are yet, let's just go for it." And that was fun every time!
I know we've discussed this before, but I'd really like to play a Zelda that's as inscrutable as the original, again. Especially nowadays, with communities like ours, I think it'd be fun to have a game just full of near-impossible secrets and discoveries everyone was sharing with each other.
@Shadowlink You can position yourself correctly against Iron Knuckles to just crouch stab them to death. Plus if you store a jump slash first you will do even more damage.
Only problem with that is, the jump slash and crouch stab will be included in the moves Jargon says he doesn't need and won't use. Bog standard forward attack, that's all that's ever needed apparently, 3-heart or not.
I'd honestly like to see Jargon try a 3-heart challenge, with no evasion or power strikes. Should be interesting.
Ok I never said that I never use anything but simple attack. Just that all these things that supposedly make the combat superior are mostly extraneous and rarely if ever vital.
Anyway, even if they were all necessary, video games aren't about counting moves. Simpler is very often better and that's definitely the case in comparing LOZ combat vs. OoT's. OoT is fine for 3D swordplay and it certainly was better than most things at the time, but I really have a hard time considering it to be something that's really a highlight. It was serviceable and nothing more.
@Jargon@kriswright The thing is, even though I liked the whole being able to do things out of order in the original, it had a sort of basic difficulty arc... doing something out of order was actually pretty hard, and when you got to the last few dungeons there were hard no matter how many X, Y or Z you found earlier. Link Between Worlds, on the other hand, once you get to the point where things open up a bit like... almost every dungeon is the same difficulty level, you never really feel like the challenge is progressing. And in fact it just gets easier over time because you're gaining more heart pieces and such but the game still needs each dungeon to be easy enough that someone who came to it first can handle it.
I dunno, I liked Link Between Worlds but I wouldn't compare it to the original in that sense. The original had a real feeling of things getting tougher and tougher the further you got in the game.
If you're using those things, then surely they're a bit more useful than you're giving them credit for.
That's kind of my point. OoT's combat opened up more options and ways to deal with enemies. Zelda I, you were pretty restricted. And yes you can argue those simplistic combat options were all you ever needed in Zelda I, but you can't make that same claim about OoT- Just because you didn't use them as much, didn't mean they weren't useful and even necessary in some parts.
It makes for a more varied, and therefore interesting experience IMO.
@TriforceBun I agree there as well. Arkham City if a good example where you had a bunch of moves and it made it confusing as hell because they were clustered together BUT some of them were useful and well placed. Ocarina never had this problem however.
Man, I'd love to do this if it wasn't so much work and/or my memory wasn't so bad. I mean, you've got us rating the economies against each other? That's really hard to remember if you didn't play the games just last week or whatever. I do remember Wind Waker's seemed pretty broken, but I don't remember which ones had good economies
Yeah, some of this stuff is kind of hard to remember clearly. Nevertheless I took a shot at it, and put in what felt 'right'. Might be a bit arbitrary in places and I could just as well look at this tomorrow and go WTF...but here we are:
I just realized something... there is no "challenge" section. Considering that one of the things that often holds Zelda games back from hitting the next level for me is lack of challenge, this is pretty big to me!
@Shadowlink I know a score is not an average and all that but I'm curious how you came to a 1 for Spirit Tracks when you scored all of the individual categories higher than 1. You hate the pan flute that much?!
Yup! I liked most of the rest of the game (except the overworld, that's kinda meh), but that goddamn flute is a showstopper. If it wasn't critical I'd be okay, but you need it to pass certain areas. And the later songs just became an excersise in frustration- Anything with a pause or skipped notes. As a result I don't think I'll be replaying this one, which is a bit of a shame I guess.
I'm clearly just bad at flute playing, but I came here for a Zelda game, not Nintendo Rockband.
Interestingly enough, I did do a quick average last night (will have to posit it when I get home) and both Majora's Mask and Twilight Princes edged out Ocarina on average scores.
There's no category for NINTENDO MAGIC though. OoT had it in spades.