April 24, 2013

Why, Ocarina of Time?

Ocarina of Time is probably one of my favorite video games, ever. There’s a great playability and a nice replay value. There are lots of little sidequests, and over a decade on, I’m still finding ways to improve.

The reason I bought a 3DS was because I wanted the revamped version of Ocarina of Time.

With the kidlets easing into video games, I knew it was a matter of time before they showed an interest in it.

The game is harder than either of them were really ready for, so most of the temples/levels were completed with me doing most of the heavy lifting. But they loved the story, and so they would sit on either side of me as we played.

We beat it this weekend. I beat it, anyways. They cheered at the reveal that Sheik was Zelda all along (the Oldest Kidlet looked at me. “I KNEW IT!” And indeed, he had called it the second Sheik was introduced, and continued to refer to Sheik as a girl), and worried while I battled Ganondorf.

But we were eagerly approaching the one part of the story I dreaded- the end.

Of all the elements of the story, the very end of the game is what bothers me. Not the “non-ending” where Link is sent back in time, presumably to tell Zelda that they don’t need to collect the spiritual stones (since that would stop Ganondorf) and turn the events of the game into an alternate timeline that will never occur.

No, it’s Navi leaving. It never made sense to me. After you go through all of that, Navi’s just like:

(Sidenote: Charlie Bradbury is the best)
(Sidenote: Charlie Bradbury is the best)

And both kids were upset as soon as the fairy started to fly away. “Where is she going?” “Why is she leaving?”

Then the sobbing started. I looked over to see the Little Kidlet comforting his big brother (who is easily the more emotional of the two- LK’s tears are usually produced to try to keep people from getting mad at him), who was crying.

“Are you crying?” I’m not sure why I asked that, but

He sat up, wiping away tears. “No.”

“Oh, honey. If you’re crying because you’re sad that Navi left, that’s okay. We played this game for awhile, you care about that little fairy.”

“Do they ever get to see each other again?”

“What do you think?”

And just like that, the tears went away. The next day he started a new game, and has actually been trying out more of the game. He did almost all of the Deku Tree level on his own (asked me to beat Gohma for him) and finished up Dodongo’s Cavern (he beat the boss on that one- I just had to show him how once, and he managed it all himself).

But still, this leads me wonder- why? Why would they have Navi leave? I know that it set up Majora’s Mask, where Link and Epona set off to find Navi… but honestly, that game could have been started for any number of reasons. I’d imagine that a lot like the Pevensies in the Chronicles of Narnia, it would be hard for Link to have had this entire life and find yourself back in the body of a child. To me, it would seem like Link would simply take the opportunity to travel and look for the next adventure- no cheap plot hook needed.

I suppose that the real lesson is that if the game wasn’t as good as it was, we wouldn’t care what happened to Navi. Because frankly, Navi’s not the most helpful. When you’re in the middle of a side-quest, she’s nagging you constantly to get something done. She flies off to get near a monster that you didn’t want to target. When you fight Ganondorf, first his magic is too powerful for her give any advice, and then once he’s weakened and she’s back by your side… she has nothing. Seriously. Her tip is “I don’t know what his weak spot is.” Thanks for nothing, Navi. But for some reason, I still love you.

It’s a good lesson when it comes to writing, too. If you make people care about your characters, it’ll cover all manner of writing sins.

So tell me- what’s your favorite video game of all time, and why?

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