Ok, I learned my lesson this time, Skyward Sword will not be part of this poll. I'm just curious to see how we feel about the games leading up to it. Of course Ocarina of Time will win this poll, probably by a landslide, but I'm still curious.
Majora's Mask for me. It's been years since I've played any of the others though (5 for TP, 8 for WW, 11 for OOT). Even Majora's Mask was three years ago for me, so it's not like any of them are fresh in my mind. Never played any of them more than once, either...
Ocarina of Time! The game successfully brought a venerable series into 3-D, and did it magnificently. For the elements that were lost in translation (such as difficulty and density of the overworld), plenty of others were added in its place--Z-targeting/lock-on, horseback riding, the auto-jump, a new level of scope and vastness to the series, an origin story that tied into the rest of the series, and what I feel is always overlooked, the transition of older items and weapons into the third dimension (boomerang, bombs, bow, hookshot). It's easy to take a lot of these things for granted, and I feel OoT added more series' staples than any other game in the series outside of the original. The world as a whole wasn't as tightly designed as ALttP and LA overall, but what the game lacked in density it made up for in immersion and atmosphere.
Not to say that any of these poll options are bad choices.
I'm going to have to go with Ocarina of Time. Not to be a fanboy or anything, but I think of those games it's just the most well rounded.
-Majora's Mask has too many areas in the game that kind of bother me. I think on more than one play through I've gotten to Stone Tower and just stopped playing because I feel like it's such a pain in the ass. I also don't think the story is that compelling. I didn't really form any bonds to the characters because they all just felt like clones of their OoT selves.
-Wind Waker just bothers me more and more every time I try to play through it. I think the dungeons are largely kind of crappy. The bosses are all pretty disappointing, even the final fight with Ganondorf (despite it's very cool finale). The illusion of the Great Sea is lost on me quickly, and eventually just feels like a giant blue loading screen. There are parts in the game, especially before warping, that drag on and on and on, as the game has you traversing the map numerous times for what feels like little reward. Mapping the world out is a complete and utter pain in the rear end. The game is stupidly easy, and showers you with hearts upon killing certain enemies. The item collection mechanic never felt compelling at all to me. Overall the sound design was too Looney Tuney for me (just a bit on the wacky side).
However, I will say that the parry mechanic is fun, and there are some amazing story moments in the game. Amazing enough that they've made me forget about my issues with Wind Waker enough to play through the game again.
-Twilight Princess has a very slow beginning. On the Wii, the waggle controls are annoying, but the pointer helps (despite its odd lag). The rupee overflow in the game is kind of a killer. Some plot points feel a little shoehorned in (I almost feel like you get the Master Sword in the game because "it's a Zelda game and you're supposed to get the Master Sword"). Zelda was kind of nonexistent. Some gameplay between dungeons felt a bit filler-ish (though I think SS is guilty of this as well at times). The game suffers from a lack of identity to a degree. It is very much Ocarina 2.0 to some degree.
Ocarina has a pretty good build up from simple to more complex as the game goes on. The music is largely awesome despite some shitty sound on the N64. Dungeons vary from being slightly ethereal to creepy to wondrous. Time between dungeons never feels incredibly long (looking at it now, I'm sure it doesn't take long at all to get from dungeon to dungeon). Of the 3D Zeldas, I think the game still has the most memorable characters. I don't know, it just doesn't seem to have many glaring flaws to me.
I don't get how people can say that about the ocean... it's like the real ocean... open water... and with that music, it feels epic. Sure, Pirates of the Caribbean films have all that "lousy" stuff cut out but damn if it's not how it is to sail on the open seas. Plus every single square had something to do or see, which is more than can be said about the wonderful Sky in Skyward Sword. So, fuck it, I'm against the grain apparently but I love the ocean in Wind Waker.
I just didn't find the ocean very engaging. It feels epic at first, sure, but after 10-20 hours of gameplay?
There's a section between the second and third dungeons that drives me absolutely crazy in that game. If I remember, it involved something like this:
- You sail to Greatfish Isle. It's a mess! Pretty cool actually (one of the few times I felt really vulnerable in the game) This area isn't too far from Outset from what I remember? Maybe a couple of squares? - You sail to Windfall, I believe to acquire bombs? You then have to do the rope swinging minigame on the boat (this is also assuming that you remember which house is the bomb shop) - You then sail all the way back to Outset to bomb the cave. - You acquire the third pearl from Jabun. - You sail to all three triangle islands to insert the pearls. - You play through the Tower of the Gods (why do I remember people saying they liked this temple? It's one of my least favorites in the game)
I just remember it being a very tedious sequence of events. This also does not take into account any time that you see a nearby island and want to visit en route to your destination, or any time spent having to track down and feed the little map making fish. There are other parts of the game that feel this way to me as well. I was always discouraged from doing any sort of serious sidequest that involved lots of travel. Even warping kind of becomes a pain, especially if you haven't properly mapped out a good number of islands.
I want to look back at Wind Waker and remember only the parts I truly loved (the story, the visuals, the core, tried and true Zelda gameplay), but after playing it a few times, the main word that comes to mind is tedium. Sorry guys but I honestly think I'm retired from that game for good. I've tried to love it a few times but it always leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Wind Waker was the first "Big 3" Nintendo game that I grew tired of and couldn't wait for it to be over, until Other M came out. Despite the fact that it's one of the shorter Zelda games, it was crammed with so much filler and repetition. I was high on the game at around the midway point of my first playthrough, but things really snowballed from there. It's easily my least favorite Zelda game.
It had so much potential, too. Even though the style isn't what I prefer for a Zelda game, the game is jaw-dropping all around, had a pretty compelling story with some neat twists and turns. There were a lot of good ideas there. Pretty unfortunate byproduct of a game being rushed to release.
Yeah I remember being incredibly excited about Wind Waker, and I thought the first dungeon was great. It's still honestly my favorite dungeon in the game. As a "first dungeon" I didn't think it was terrible at all. I had a lot of fun up until that point. I also liked the combat system a lot. It's actually something I was thinking about in regards to Skyward Sword, because you really don't get any new cool moves or anything as the game goes on. I would've loved to combine the swordplay in SS with the parrying from WW and advanced moves from TP.
Edit: I should say, I really liked Dragon Roost Cavern, and I typically am not a fan of the fire areas in 3D Zelda games.
Majora's Mask gets my vote for sure. I loved that game. It took everything that Ocarina of Time did and made it better, IMO. I absolutely adored my time with the game and I think it's the best 3D Zelda game yet. (we'll see if that changes after I complete Skyward Sword!)
I usually don't like games with a time limit, but for some reason I never really felt rushed in Majora's Mask. I was too busy having fun to worry about the time limit, I suppose!
Wind Waker was the prettiest, but also the only one I even bothered to beat because I didn't enjoy the others at all. Though to be fair, I never played MM. Because I didn't like OoT so much, and I figured it would be just like that at the time.
Ocarina of Time is amazing. Majora's Mask is amazing. The Wind Waker is amazing. Twilight Princess is amazing (although slightly less so, maybe).
Best series ever, am I right guys? The only games that didn't step up were the DS ones and Zelda II. Everything else ranges from "great" to (see above). And Skyward Sword seems to be sticking to that tradition of butt-kicking.
Unfortunately 3D Zelda games don't do it for me in nearly the same way that 2D Zelda games do. As much as I love Ocarina of Time, and I love it a lot, it is mostly for reasons completely different than my love for the original Zelda and its progeny. The other 3 were usually somewhat enjoyable while I played them but I doubt I'll play through any of them again and they do not resonate like the best gaming has to offer. I still haven't picked up Skyward Sword so maybe that will change.
Anyway, the answer is Ocarina of Time. Amazing soundtrack, presentation, cutscenes, and for better or worse really delivered the first 3D gaming experience based on cool cinematic moments.