The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

An Ocarina of Time Review in which I Agree with the Conclusion but Disagree with the Reasons

In ’nother entry in my long list o’ counterarguments to the idea that right conclusions equals right arguments, we have a critical review o’ Ocarina of Time which is stupid. Actually, to be fair to Ocarina of Time fans, most critiques o’ Ocarina of Time are as dumb as the praise it gets. I don’t know if I live in some alternate reality where what’s fun & good is different from everyone else, but it seems like no one can say anything sensible ’bout Ocarina of Time.

Anyway, this review starts by wasting paragraphs hyping / apologizing for how controversial his opinion’s going to seem. I was a’least courteous ’nough to wait till the end when everyone already left in seethes, & my hyping was mo’ creative ( read: insane ).

In the 3rd paragraph he finally gets to the main reason:

Well, I suppose the biggest reason is the most obvious: It’d outdated.

Fuck me… God damn it, Ocarina of Time fans: ¿are you so obsessed that you’ll create astroturf blogs full o’ strawmen? ’Cause I’m quite certain, “Duhr, it’s ol’, so it sucks” is exactly what Ocarina of Time fans make fun o’ critics as saying.

And I know what you’re gonna say, and I’m going to stop you. Yes, it’s a seventeen year old game. Yes, it was influential in the time it was made. Yes, a lot of modern gaming has been shaped by what this game did and, during the time it was made, it had no equals.

& I’m going to stop you & say, no, none o’ that is correct, & only the 1st was right @ some point.

I particularly love the “during the time it was made, it had no equals”. “¡This game that sucks had no equals @ the time!” Seems that your “Ocarina of Time is a Terrible, Terrible Game” was a “terrible, terrible” attempt @ a bit o’ false clickba — ¡God damn it, it’s ’nother fucking website I’ve read whose title is nonindicative o’ its actual content! ¡Stop wasting me time with this shit!

Anyway, we’re already “in too deep” into the anus, so let’s keep digging. ( ¿What the fuck does that mean? )

That is all very much true… if I was playing the N64 version. Which I’m not. I’m playing the 3DS version that, as far as I’ve been able to tell, changes nothing but the aesthetics and graphics of the game. Everything else stays the same… Which is in the game’s detriment, not its favour. Because while it set forth a lot of good things, it really doesn’t hold up well today.

So… ¿the 3DS game is worse than the N64 version ’cause… it only improves its graphics & keeps everything else the same? ¿Improvement & equality = worse? Usually people criticize reviews ’cause they have some subjective opinion on what is “fun” that they disagree with; my favorite are the reviews that are wrong due to basic fundamental logical flaws.

I think this reviewer’s mainly trying to say that both versions are bad today, but that the N64 version was good back in 1998… which contradicts “That is all very much true… if I was playing the N64 version”, which says that, if he were playing the N64 version now, it’d still be good. If that sentence were excised, he’d a’least have an internally-consistent argument. I’d still argue that that’s bunk: there are plenty o’ ol’ games that are still great today, e’en better than newer games. For example, every attempt to modernize Yoshi’s Island has always been vastly inferior — e’en in graphics & music — to the 1995 Yoshi’s Island. That game hasn’t aged an ounce.

Mo’ importantly, ’course, I disagree with his claim that Ocarina of Time “had no equals” back in 1998 & wish this were a praiseworthy review so he could perhaps elaborate — O, wait, they wouldn’t elaborate on that either. “Ocarina of Time was unmatched” is an argument you take on faith, nothing else.

Let’s ignore his rambling paragraph trying to defend gainst strawmen idiots who try to argue that anyone who complains ’bout Ocarina of Time must suck @ it. A simple, “Anyone who makes such an asinine argument is too dumb to argue with” would’ve sufficed. That said, I don’t think I’ve read that 1 yet, — mostly just wishing for people’s deaths & calling them “trolls” — & am bewildered by it, since Ocarina of Time isn’t exactly Battletoads. I think the problem would be less, “it’s too hard for me” & mo’ “it’s too hard for me to not fall asleep”.

Well, lets start with the story, or the lack thereof.

Let’s start with the lack thereof o’ sense in this review.

¿Lack o’ story in Ocarina of Time? O, mercy, modern gamers, ¿how art thou so? & you’re my age or older, too. ¿You think Ocarina of Time didn’t have ’nough story? “¿What the hell? I only had to mash the A button for, like, 5 minutes straight. Final Fantasy XIV would’ve been a’least 2 hours”.

Take Link, the player character that we get to name ourselves.

“¡I hate being allowed to have some semblance o’ creativity & being able to control aspects o’ my character! It’s almost as if I’m s’posed to be controlling this game or something”.

He has no personality… at all. He is a complete blank slate. Now on the one hand, this is suppose to be the point. We’re suppose to impose our own character onto him… but this always struck me as somewhat lazy story-telling.

Well, then it’s a good thing this is a game & not a novel, or that might be problematic. “It always struck me as somewhat lazy that movies used pictures to get round having to think o’ ways to represent their story in textual form”.

Rather than create a protagonist, they just pretend that we’re the protagonist and leave it at that.

That’s ’cause we are the protagonist. That’s why we push those buttons on the controller. This is a game. God, no wonder he sucked so much @ this game: he didn’t know he was s’posed to actually be doing the stuff himself. He just stared @ the TV with bewilderment. “¿So this whole thing is just the 1 text box, & nothing from the protagonist himself? Hardly Shakespeare”.

Now, true, Pokemon does much the same. Pokemon has a blank slate protagonist, leaving the player to implant their own personality. But, in that game, it works because the player character isn’t what we’re playing as. The player character is the one who gets us from A to B, yes, but the actual ‘playing’ part of the game comes from the Pokemon themselves. The Pokemon take centre stage, not the player character.

No, I think in “that game” ( or, rather, many, many games ) it works ’cause those games have actually interesting gameplay that is, unfortunately, interrupted by inane text, whereas Ocarina of Time doesn’t have any actual interesting gameplay. Surely this reviewer isn’t going to try telling me that he liked the Pokémon games ’cause he found Pikachu’s personality so compelling. “It truly tugged my heartstrings when he said, ‘Pika Pika chu’ — truly the greatest quote in all English”. Pokémon are interesting ’cause o’ what they do, the different strengths & weaknesses & strategies one can develop with them, which should contrast with most modern RPGs, which just give you pre-made characters with li’l customization, wherein most battles are just mashing A till you win, with a few healing spells when some #s get too low.

The fairy in Ocarina of Time sure has a personality. Same with the owl. Plenty o’ the characters in Ocarina of Time have personality — they’re just all annoying. The fact that Link shuts his trap is a blessing. Though I’ve heard plenty say, “I wish that damn fairy would shut up”, I’ve ne’er heard anyone say, “Gee, I truly wish I knew what Link was thinking now”. Probably ’cause we’ve learned from material like the CDi games or the cartoon that it’s usually something stupid. Think o’ how much mo’ entranced in Ocarina of Time I’d be if every so oft Link interrupted the great music with, “Well, ‘scuuuuuse me, princess” ( though now I wish someone would make a rom hack with voice clips from the cartoon & the CD-i games, ’cause that sounds hilarious ).

If anything, I’d say the fact that Link was silent made for mo’ interesting interactions & mo’ nuance — something that is viciously lacking in modern games. Link’s reaction to Ruto’s come-ons being just a horrified expression is much funnier than if he spouted out, “O, gawd. ¡What a bummer!” like god damn Bubsy the Bub.

But even if we ignore that, and look at the character themselves, the Pokemon protagonist is still more interesting than Link because the Pokemon protagonist has less personality. Which sounds conflicting, but let me explain.

I’m just sitting back in my bed with my arms folded with an expression o’ deep anticipation.

Actually, to be fair, he does offer some great criticism o’ Ocarina of Time’s story:

But even if we ignore that, Link has no motivation for his actions. He shows no interest in the story at large. He is given no reason to save Zelda and the kingdom. He is given no reason to care about what is going on. Without the lead character getting interested in the drama, how am I suppose to care?

I was going to make fun o’ his comparison ’tween Link & the main character from Pokémon games; but, yeah, the main characters in Pokémon do have mo’ believable motivation. E’en the villains have better motivation. Team Rocket may be shamelessly evil, but they’re just a average cynical, corrupt gang. ¿But how do I take seriously the idea that if Ganondorf takes control o’ the mystical McGuffin known as the Triforce that the world becomes infected with magical evil juice, ’cause “evil”. That’s the most inane fantasy tripe that only children write anymo’. Anyone who has e’er read any notable fantasy literature & actually likes that genre would be appalled @ the kind o’ mindless, outdated tripe — outdated as in “things literature stopped doing since the 50s” — video games are still spewing.

O, & hey, he has mo’ actually right criticism:

This is probably the game’s biggest flaw in the story-telling. It prefers to tell the audience everything that they need to know, rather than show them.

Mountains of text sprouting exposition in order to build up a story, rather than letting the story unfold in a more visually interesting way.

The entire plot revolves around the player collecting McGuffins in order to advance the story, but with little reason to care about what is happening.

My only question is, ¿how was this good in 1998? I ’specially find this funny considering his comparison to Pokémon ’cause the 1st Pokémon game came out before Ocarina of Time. Ocarina of Time apparently had no equals, but it clearly had superiors. The fact that any Pokémon game e’er beat Ocarina of Time in storytelling is the most damning critique you could give a game wherein storytelling is its primary “strength”.

But, phhh, ¿who cares ’bout “motivation” or the inanity o’ “magic causes it”? Ocarina of Time is “epic”, man, & that’s all that matters in my superserious storytelling.

But then we’re back to nonsense:

[I]t was revolutionary for when it was made. Which, once again, is true…

I ask ’gain: ¿how is Ocarina of Time revolutionary in terms o’ gameplay? That stupid fucking Z-targeting? Nobody fucking cares ’bout that. I don’t think video gaming would’ve gone the way o’ pogs if glorious Zelda hadn’t been there to gift us with the genius invention o’ not having to bother with aiming by holding a button down.

Take the ‘auto-lock’ camera function. From what I can tell, this was the first game to really do it.

What you can tell is wrong. ¿Have none o’ you idiots played Super Mario 64? ¿Is this some obscure gem that only few have played? It had auto-lock. Indeed, it had a better camera ’cause it gave you much mo’ control o’er it, like letting you shift it left & right. Super Mario 64’s camera has everything Ocarina of Time has & mo’, & it came out 2 years earlier.

I’m not going to judge his complaint that Ocarina of Time’s autolock is useless, ’cause he doesn’t elaborate. He just says it sucks & that he ignores it.

I’m mo’ interested in this critique:

It ends up being a very dull button-mash that ends with wild flaying since it’s hard to target anything.

¿Ocarina of Time makes it too hard to hit things? It has auto-targetting: the game babifies things for you. I’m the kind o’ person who thinks that NES games or shitty modern games that try to emulate shitty NES games are too hard, but e’en I think having the game aim for me is babifying. The only exception I can think o’ is when the camera is too fucking close to see anything round you, like with the Keese; but the only reason the Keese are a problem is ’cause they’re too far out o’ range for the Z-targeting to work & so far ‘bove you that you can’t see them, so they can just swoop down & smack you without you e’en getting a hint. But that’s a problem with the camera, not the Z-targeting. If anything, Z-targeting feels like a crutch for a bad camera.

Well, the biggest and most pressing problem is that the game never bothers to teach the player anything of any use.

God damn it, ¿why are you doing this to me?

The game ne’er shuts up. It constantly tells you how to do everything, no matter how obvious. I’m surprised the game doesn’t outright start with a text box that says, “To close these text boxes, press A”.

Now I know the modern complaint when it comes to modern gaming is that there’s too much ‘hand-holding’. The game makes everything incredibly easy so that even the worst player knows what they need to do.

Wait, ¿what? You just said that the game makes it too hard to figure anything out.

Now on the one hand, this is a valid complaint.

¡It’s your own complaint! ¡You can’t judge your own judgments!

Games are designed to provide some challenge, so taking away that challenge is a major drawback.

¿Says who? ¿Insecure people who need to be showed they can do something that a lot o’ other people can’t do, regardless o’ how li’l benefit it gives to anyone else? Mario Paint wasn’t challenging, but it certainly wasn’t garbage.

Halfway through this paragraph, I’ve realized that that sentence way back when he said “the game” he wasn’t referring to Ocarina of Time, but some newfangled game, & he was trying to contrast Ocarina of Time to those games & trying to defend modern games & their incessant tutorials.

Now, as the webseries Extra Credits pointed out, Portal is almost 90% tutorial. They teach the player something, make sure the player knows it, and makes it so that the player can’t move forward until they’ve mastered it. Most games do this, to some extent. They teach the player something and make sure they know to do something before moving on.

The difference is that good games don’t have tutorials but intuitive design. Though I would agree that not punishing the player too much for the crime o’ making mistakes would certainly mitigate the feeling that one needs tutorials. This is the kind o’ strength a game like Mario Paint has: it doesn’t need a tutorial, ’cause it doesn’t need to worry ’bout whether you know how to play it the “right” way ’cause it doesn’t punish you for anything: it just gives you its tools & says, “Go crazy”. It’d be nice if mo’ games were like this.

Now isn’t this true of Ocarina of Time?

All right, now I’m confused ’gain: ¿weren’t you arguing that Ocarina of Time doesn’t teach ’nough?

They teach you how to use your sword, throw a bomb, etc.

’Cept you just said @ the beginning o’ this long paragraph, “the biggest and most pressing problem is that the game never bothers to teach the player anything of any use”. Apparently slashing your sword & throwing bombs has no use in this game where you slash your sword gainst the vast majority o’ enemies & use bombs to solve most puzzles.

And on that level, that’s true. They teach you how to do that much. But then they leave a lot up to unintuitive and counter-productive thinking.

Then the true flaw isn’t “doesn’t teach ’nough” but bad level design.

[A] good example can be found in the Shadow Temple. In order to proceed, you need to use an arrow to shoot a bunch of bomb plants, causing a structure to fall. […] Only problem is, the game has at not point explained that this is possible.

Here I’d have to defend Ocarina of Time: basic logic tells you that if you shoot bombs, they blow up. If anything, the game would be worse if the arrows just went through them like ghosts. Compared to the kind o’ tripe adventure games o’ its era had, Ocarina of Time was quite generous. I mean, I praised the original Zelda as better than Ocarina of Time, but expecting you to shoot an arrow @ bombs knowing that they’ll blow up is better than guessing that “disliking smoke” means it’ll die if you put bombs in front o’ its face or that “grumble grumble” means, “¿Could you please give me some meat? I’m terrible famished”. Hell, that game has maps that outright lie to you & pretend that certain rooms don’t exist.

Well there is one last flaw that sticks out like a sore thumb […]

I thought everyone found “sticks out like a sore thumb” laughable e’er since the Irate Gamer mumbled it in a review.

Sorry: proceed.

[…] and drags the entire game down beyond being saved: Every time you die you get sent back to the start of the dungeon with only three hearts.

I wish I could make fun o’ this or defend him or say something interesting, but… eh… Yeah, it’s annoying — but hardly makes a game “terrible, terrible”. He should be glad the game didn’t force him to replay dungeons ’cause he lost too many lives.

Restarting the player with only three hearts defeats any need to hunt out more hearts, since they’re always going to end up being depleted anyway.

“It’s not like I can get mo’ hearts by breaking all those pots everywhere or cutting all that grass that mysteriously grows in dungeons”.

So the option is either to press on and hoping to find more hearts, or using a potion (though, given how far away the nearest store is to the dungeon entrance, it’s just as much hassle to go back and refill the potions as it is to just press forward and try not to die).

“¿Why can’t Link just call Amazon & have them deliver potions to him right in the dungeon? ¿How backward are these Hyrulians?”

Neither are very good options, since they force the player to waste time doing busywork before they get back to the part they were at.

“The part they were at” being “wasting time doing busywork”, since that’s the bulk o’ Ocarina of Time’s gameplay.

But this mechanic, the sending the player back to the start with only three hearts, is by far the worst part of any game I’ve ever played.

¿What? ¿“[A]ny game I’ve ever played”? I can’t e’en think o’ what game to tell you to play to change your mind, since there’s too many.

It kills the pacing stone dead, leaving me wondering whether I can be arsed slogging through the same tedious garbage in order to get back to where I was.

“This tedious garbage was perfectly fine when I only had to do it once”.

If you hadn’t had ’nough o’ this reviewer filling paragraphs with, “Bring on the hate”, or whatever, well… I am.

It’s annoying, ’cause it seems clear this guy just got frustrated @ this game & vented his anger, rather than providing the kind o’, ahem, mo’ cool-headed, high-level critique that I did.

All I have left to say is, if these were his problems & what he thought were strengths o’ Ocarina of Time, I’d be curious to see his opinion o’ Super Mario 64 or any NES or SNES games. Presumably he hasn’t played many o’ those games, ’cause if he did he’d see that Ocarina of Time wasn’t nearly as “revolutionary” as he thought & its frustrating points weren’t special for it, either.

Posted in Video Games