Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Unexcused Absence

I appreciate everyone's patience with me! Real life has reared its very busy head, and I haven't had the time to sit down with Zelda. Being a professional has its perks, but sometimes has its downsides as well. My company has become really busy of late and work is taking up much of my free time. I do intend to get back to Link to the Past, especially with how close I am to completion. It will happen, I promise! :)

Another thing that's taking some time, and something that I'm really excited about, is the fact that my wife and I found out that we're going to be the parents of twins! It has nothing to do with Zelda, but I'm so excited I have to tell everyone. It's thrilling, scary, and fun all at the same time. We've got a while before the blessed event (most likely sometime in January), but I've been working a lot to help save up for all the things we're going to need. Combine that with work picking up, and it's been quite a whirlwind!

Anyway, I appreciate everyone hanging in there, and I'm going to try to carve out some time this weekend (going to work at least one day of it) to finish up Link to the Past and post about it. Thanks again for reading and you'll see something new here soon!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Zelda T-Shirt

While getting ready for work this morning, I was digging through my bureau looking for something to wear, and I stumbled upon this t-shirt:

Clearly I knew what I was thinking when I picked this up! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zelda Documentary (Japanese w/American subtitles)

Just a quick note for anyone interested...At this link you can find information and a place to download a documentary on Zelda, made in Japan in 2003 and finally subtitled in English. From the accounts I've read, this would appear to be a great documentary on the entire series up to that point, and I'm currently in the process of downloading it. If anyone has had the chance to watch it, let us know what your opinions are. I'll check back in with my thoughts after watching it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Link to the Past, Part 5

In an attempt to make up for the fact that I was basically absent last week, I'm working to speed up my updates for this blog. Now that I'm back in the comfort of my own home, in more familiar surroundings, and back on a much more normal schedule, it's been much easier to find the time (and motivation) to settle down for an evening of gaming and blogging. I admit, I suffered from some gaming apathy last week, but who wouldn't, when presented with the opportunity to enjoy some downtime at the lake, breathing in the fresh air, and just generally letting the stress of real life fall away? I feel refreshed and invigorated to complete my task once again, so hopefully you'll come along for the ride...

As I started this play session, it was my intent to tackle the 6th Dark World dungeon right off the bat. Looking at the map indicated that I'd have to get there from the Light World somehow. Exploring the dead end area in the Dark World, I did notice the section of the map outlined with pegs, that caused me to use the mirror to get to the Light World. My hunch paid off with access to a monolith that (thanks to use of the Book of Mudora) instructed me to hold the Master Sword aloft. After following the instructions, I was rewarded with the Bombos medallion, which casts fire magic in my general vicinity. This would have been super helpful in the last dungeon, and would have made short work of those annoying penguin-alligator things (this info is thanks to several commenters who alerted me to this fact). Alas, I was a day late and a dollar short, but I'll soldier on...

Exploring the Light World desert area a bit further (something I didn't do when collecting the pendants originally) I came across a cave, that contained an old man. He reassured me that I would be the one to defeat Ganon and save the world. I guess it never hurts to have your own personal cheering section, even if they're creepy old men living as hermits in the desert. :) The more interesting fact about this cave was the bombable wall, which revealed a room with a lone chest. This lone chest contained a piece of heart. Very nice for just a quick stroll through the arid desert.

Warping back to the Dark World, I started scouting the edge of the impenetrable swamp area, I came upon a ring of flowers that just screamed for me to use the mirror in the middle, and hope it gets me somewhere interesting. True to form, when I emerged in the Light World, I was able to gain access to a cave that I wouldn't have been able to reach otherwise. As in the case of the old man's cave in the desert, this cave also contained a piece of heart. Just as a quick aside, it's things like this that, when put into a game, really encourage complete exploration of the game world and thinking creatively, because it's not as if there was a neon sign pointing me to come to this area. I love when game designers put things like this into their games, if only to give players a tangible reason to explore every square inch of the game that they (the designers) have put so much time and effort into creating.

Anyway, back to the game. Since I was in the area, I decided to take the path to the Dark World version of town that was previously unavailable to me, due to the presence of several boulders too heavy for me to lift. They were no match for the Titan's Mitt, though, and I was soon on my merry way. To my surprise, I found a frog trapped behind some of these boulders on the path and freed him. He mentioned that he had lived in the town, and asked to be taken back to his partner. A light quickly came on in my head...This must be the missing smith! After speaking with me, the frog followed behind me, hopping merrily along. I led him to the spot where the smithy stood in the Light World, and used the mirror to go there. Once inside the house, the two smiths were overjoyed to be reunited. They offered to temper my sword for only 10 rupees, but the only catch was that I would be without my sword for a bit. Clearly this was a trade worth making, so I left my sword with the happy smiths and wandered outside. It turns out that all I had to do was go back to the town proper and promptly return. The grateful smiths handed over my new red sword, which I now carry proudly. This upgrade couldn't have come at a better time, as I'd been really noticing that the evil beasties had been taking an inordinate amount of strikes to dispatch, so hopefully this will alleviate that problem.

I then decided to visit the fortuneteller, and again he (she?) didn't steer me wrong. I was informed that a treasure rested quietly under the graveyard, which called to mind a stone I had messed around with for a bit, but never figured out how to move it. It's located in the upper right corner of the graveyard (Light World) and surrounded by heavy boulders, that can only be moved with the Titan's Mitt. Most of the other gravestones would slide when pushed, but this one wouldn't budge. I went back with renewed vigor, to try to figure out the secret, and it eventually came to me. Out of sheer desperation, I cleared the boulders away from the front of the stone, and charged at it from a short distance away. Voila! My small elfin body hurled at it with all the force of my stumpy little legs caused the stone to shift, revealing a stairway. At the bottom of the stairway, I found a treasure chest waiting for me, which contained the Magic Cape. This cape may prove to be handy in the future, as it allows the wearer to become invisible (hmmm...maybe JK Rowling ripped off the Invisibility Cloak from this. I smell a lawsuit!), but drains magic power to use.

Continuing on with my random wandering and exploration, I decided to go back to the grove where I found the flute (with the help of its former owner). In the Dark World, I found the poor creature still sitting on the stump, and he asked me to play his flute so he could hear it one more time, as he was slowly fading. Before I obliged him, he asked me to take the flute to the tired old man in the town, to let him know about his son's fate. I played the flute, and the poor creature turned into a tree. At least he was at peace...

Heeding his final words, I made the short trip to the town (warping back to the Light World in the process), and visited the old man in the tavern, from whom I had been given the clue to search for his son so long ago. When I stood in front of him and showed him the flute, he perked up briefly, and then became sad again, as he realized he wouldn't see his son again. To honor his son, the sad old man asked me to play the flute for the 'bird' in the center of town, because he felt his son would have wanted that. The 'bird' he referred to turned out to be the representation on what looked to be a weathervane. So as not to disappoint the old man, I played the flute...and was rather surprised when the stone shattered, and a real bird took off and flew away from the weathervane.

Once again, my shadowy memory cleared and I remembered that this is how the flute truly gained its power, as every time I now used the flute in the overworld (in the Light World, at least), the bird would come and scoop me up and drop me off at the point of my choosing from eight different locations. After a cursory scan of the points, it seemed that point 6 would be very useful for me at this time, as it put me in the desert area. Sure enough, after having the bird drop me off, it became clear that this was my entrance to the swamp area and the 6th dungeon, as there was a teleport tile hidden by a boulder just a few footsteps from where the kind bird plopped me down.

After using the teleport tile, I started to explore the swamp area, to see if there was anything else of interest, other than just the 6th dungeon. I did find several caves, one that held a piece of heart behind a puzzle that required me to push blocks around in a certain pattern, another cave that had two chests (containing a piece of heart and 20 rupees), and a third that was home to a kind fairy who healed me. There was a fourth cave, proving to be the home of a monster who mentioned the fact that if I were able to move the air faster than the monster magic that currently caused this area to be a swamp, it would stop the rain.

This turned out to be an interesting point, because after leaving that cave I ran across what I assumed to be the location of the entrance to the 6th dungeon, but found only a platform with a lightning symbol on it. It appeared to be of the same general size and shape as that of the other two magic medallions I had acquired on my journey (Quake and Bombos), so that made me think that the same would be true of this, but I just hadn't found it yet.

At this point, I took a break and walked away from the game, both to do some chores and to clear my head and think about if I'd run across the necessary location to find this magic during an earlier adventure. After a while of helping around the house (vacuuming, sweeping, carrying laundry around, the usual household chores), I thought that maybe there would be a clue to what I need to find in one of the extensive number of screenshots that I'd taken (as of this writing I'm up to 332). And there it was, in screenshot number 72, a monolith that indicated I would get Ether magic if I held up the Master Sword. I've posted that screenshot here (take a look at the number of hearts I had at the time), and realized that the reason why I didn't have the magic in my possession already was because I had found that particular monolith before I possessed the Master Sword! So, without delay, I hopped back into the game and traveled to the top of Death Mountain (in the Light World), as the monolith was found to the left of the Tower of Hera. One quick reading of the Book of Mudora and a flourish with my Master Sword, and the Ether medallion was in my possession.

Flying the friendly skies with my favorite bird, I made it back to the swamp in the Dark World. Standing on the platform with the symbol (which looked very much like the Ether medallion), I activated the magic, which caused the rain to stop and the sun to come out. More importantly for me, however, was the fact that the entrance to the 6th dungeon rose out of the swamp and waited for me to enter.

Not to disappoint, I promptly entered its depths to face the challenges ahead. This dungeon truly marked the return of my arch nemesis, the dreaded Wizrobes, although they were much more tame in this incarnation than either of their two previous 8-bit counterparts. A quick run through the dungeon netted me the important items as well as the major treasure (the Cane of Somaria), which granted the user the ability to create blocks with one swing. Oh, if I'd only had that power in the last dungeon, I would have saved so much time! As expected, the Cane came in handy in one room, to hold down a switch, and soon after I was standing in front of the boss of the dungeon, one large eye with all kinds of smaller eyes in front of it. The smaller eyes launched themselves at me, and after all of the smaller eyes were vanquished the larger eye tried the same thing. One truly hilarious facet of this battle came from the fact that I didn't move the entire time, except to swing my sword. At one point, I took my hand completely off the directional pad, and it made no difference. That was, by far, the easiest boss battle I'd had to date. Considering all that, it wasn't long before I had a new heart container and the 6th crystal in my backpack.

At this point, I decided to call it a day. This seemed like a good place to stop, since it would leave exactly two more dungeons to complete, and a bit more exploring to do, if I want to find all of the heart containers and such. Hopefully you've enjoyed this installment, and am looking forward to the final chapter of this game as much as I am. Until next time, take care and be safe!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

User Comments

I thought it was high time that I addressed some of the great comments that I'd been receiving over the past few weeks. It's been far too long since I've given all of you the recognition that you deserve. Even though I've since stopped answering each one individually (not because I don't want to, but because I just don't have the proper amount of time to devote to each and every response), I still read them all. I'm going to take some time this evening and pick out some comments and talk about them here.

Before I delve into that, I want to give you all a group 'Thank You!' for all of the wonderful compliments on the blog, my writing, the journey, etc. They really are appreciated, and I only wish I could reciprocate in a meaningful way. I certainly hope that you'll stick with me as I keep going, and that I can continue to live up to your expectations.

But, without further ado, here's some of your comments!

Q: Irhardcore asks (several others have asked this as well, most recently Hec1979), "What emulator are you using?"

A: I'm utilizing ZSNES, version 1.51, which I've found very easy to use. It took a little bit of setup (mapping the screenshot key to one that was easy for me to hit on the fly, pointing the program to a good savefile location, etc.), but after that, I've had no issues whatsoever. This actually brings up a question for any of you with some emulation knowledge. Even though I own a copy of Link's Awakening, I'd like to use an emulator to provide screenshots. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good Game Boy Color emulation?

Jog brought up on the first LttP post, "Isn't the guy at the start Link's uncle? Not that it matters much -- He does die pretty quickly. And why does he say "Zelda is your ..."? Zelda is your what? Is this sentence answered at any point in this game? My limited recollection says no." This was followed later by an answer from jorge_dmtz, who replied, "It was supposed to said "... Link, you can do it! Save the Princess... Zelda is your... destiny" In the GBA version they changed it to " ... must rescue Princess Zelda. Our people are fated to do so. But do not fall victim... to fate... Link... I shall always remember... our time.....together... " I found this to be a pretty cool bit of trivia, something that I always wondered about, but never did get an answer on until now.

Here's an example of the typical fact-filled comment from JohnH: "Don't know how much I can usefully add on this game, but I'll see what I can remember....

- The old woman in Kakariko Village is unique. Try using magic powder on her (the change is not reversable however; if I remember right, if you do this she'll be gone the rest of the game).

- This is the first Zelda that clearly marks all the essential bombable walls, which greatly reduces the "discoverability" of the game. But there still are a couple of hidden bomb walls. One is in the Tower of Hera, south of the giant room one floor down from the boss.

- One thing that's easy to miss on a first playthrough is the secret fairy rooms in some of the dungeons. There's a kind of terrain feature that looks like a big (2x2 tiles) gray pot. Whenever you fall into one of those from higher up, you'll go to a fairy room. Sometimes you have to fall from a higher floor.

- The bottle merchant in town no only sells things, but also buys things too. I know he buys bees, the "Good Bee" obtained from crashing into the statue in a cave in Southeast Hyrule, and fish you carry over and throw at him.

- The "Fountain of Happiness" in Lake Hylia is the start of an unfortunate Zelda tradition: the money sink for little benefit. While the capacity extensions it provides are useful, thousands of rupees will be burnt in the drive to max them out. This is the first Zelda to supply, generally, far more money than the player can use, a trend that reaches its head in Wind Waker (the Triforce map quest is nothing more than a gigantic money sink, this time required though) and Twilight Princess (which has two money sinks: a very expensive Heart Piece and the Magic Armor)."

...and its followup: "Following up the unmarked secret bomb walls thing from my comment on the last post: The key to telling if a wall can be bombed or not is to hold out your sword (as if you are charging it up), then press into the wall to tap it. Bomb walls make a different noise.

The one exception to this is the building in the Southwest corner of Kakariko, which doesn't make a special noise but can be bombed open. There are not many unmarked bomb walls in the game (that I know of), but there is at least one."

Rereading these two comments noted some things I haven't actually done in the game yet, so I'll be sure to take care of them in the next play session.

Here's a great hint from Corey (one I haven't tried yet, but clearly should have): "For some reason I just remembered this, but if you use the magic powder on those red spinny/bouncy (I forget their name) things (Like four small orbs rotating and it bouncing from wall to wall) in the dungeons they turn into a fairy. It can become helpful in dungeons, if just to get rid of them cause they can get annoying from time to time. Also your shield you can upgrade in the fountain." Awesome hint, and clearly one I should be using regularly.

Q: (The Van Goat Ranch): "Cool blog. I've wanted to try Zelda, but haven't done it yet. I don't have a lot of time to game, but I think my son would love your blog. If you only had time to try one Zelda game, which one would it be? We're talking about a gaming rube, here."

A: Sorry for taking so long to answer your question, but if I only had time to play one of the Zelda games, I would probably choose Link to the Past. I know I'd get a lot of argument from people partial to Ocarina of Time (and truth be told, I'm a little torn even writing this), but in my opinion LttP combines everything that's great about the Zelda series into a neat little package. It combines puzzle-solving, collection aspects that don't go over the top (I love finding pieces of heart in unexpected places), item gathering, and a smooth fun graphical representation of Hyrule and its inhabitants, one that I feel still compares favorably today. The graphics in Ocarina of Time, while great for their time, don't hold up as well today, and (to be completely frank) kind of creep me out at times (the large Fairies, anyone?) With all of that said, however, I don't think you could go wrong playing either one, but my choice remains Link to the Past.

Here's an interesting comment from Malons: "Yesterday while my friend was playing TP we were talking about how bosses weren't important story wise until OoT. The bosses from the first four didn't seem to really relate to the dungeon they were the boss of. They were appropriate creatures, but there was no real reason THEY are more important than the other creatures. Until in OoT when there are real legitimate reasons." That's a really cool observations, one that I echo wholeheartedly. The bosses in the games leading up to and including Link to the Past have old-style video game bosses, which are simply there to provide one final obstacle to the current level. There's no other reason for them to be there, other than to give you some reason to use the treasure that you just found to defeat them. On that note, if you knew you had one tragic weakness, would you put it in an unsupervised chest somewhere in your house, and just hope that no-one finds it and uses it to kill you? I'd take the thing and throw it into a hole or sewer somewhere near...oh, I don't know...Vancouver. :)

Here's an account from someone who's way ahead of me, Rew: "Hey man!

As a "grown up gamer" myself (age 26), I can appreciate your blog. I'm in a similar place as you, to an extent. Last summer, after finishing up a degree, I caved in to some massive Zelda longing by firing up OoT (my favorite game of all time) for the first time in years. This was followed by MM and WW, which I played then for the first time ever. After that, I delved into the past and played the always familiar Zelda I, Zelda II, and LttP all in quick succession. A whirlwind tour through six classic Zelda titles in one summer. Whew!

In January, I experienced the awesomeness that was TP on the Wii. I subsequently became inspired to go all the way and experience every Zelda game that I hadn't played yet, starting at Easter. I played LA for the first time ever (this game is not dated in the least--it quickly became one of my faves; I highly recommend you play the DX version), followed by both Oracle games (several times--eh, good luck collecting all those rings).Now I'm playing the GBA version of LttP. Oh, you were in one place asking about differences between it and the original SNES version. This brief guide breaks it down wonderfully:

This weekend, a friend and I are going to plod through Four Swords, after which I'll trek through FSA, MC, and finally OoT:MQ. But this brings me to a question I've wondered ever since I started reading your blog: How are you going to go about Four Swords, since it is a multiplayer game only? (You must have at least two players to play it.) I've tried it by myself handling two GBAs, but it's just not workable that way.

Oh, and a side note about the Pond of Happiness at Lake Hylia (in LttP). It's possible to upgrade to 50 Bombs and 70 Arrows, though it'll cost you a grand total of 1,600 Rupees (so at least two trips) to do so. In case you thought those Zora Flippers were expensive!

Good stuff, and I greatly look forward to future entries--and screenshots! The screenshots are beautiful and rather underpraised on this blog IMHO. Then again, I'm a sucker for screenshots. =0)"

Matola, from Blogging Final Fantasy, stopped by with some kind words: "I've really got to dust Zelda off again, once we finish all the Final Fantasy games. LttP has a special place in my heart, and I might as well use the Wii VC for something, right?

Keep up the great work, it's like we're playing along with you! :)

-Matola (and Kamarile), Blogging Final Fantasy"

I've read a lot of their blog, and I've also added a link to their site on my sidebar. If you like this blog, make sure to check them out as well. It always feels good to be read! :)

These are just a (very) small sampling of the truly amazing posts that I've received since starting writing. Even if you don't see your comment here, you can be sure that I've read it. Above and beyond the amount of people who love Zelda and come to read and comment, I've been blown away by the really courteous, friendly and helpful community of folks that has appeared. It's great to hop on to the Internet, post a quick cry for help in an area that I'm stuck in the game, and come back to find 25+ helpful people who've taken the time to give me a shove in the right direction. It's that which keeps me playing the game, so thank you again!

At this point, I'm going to go and continue playing Link to the Past, and put together another playthrough post. That's what you come here for, and that's what you'll get. So I'll see you here again soon with more Link to the Past!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Link to the Past, Part 4

After a week of (mostly) technology-free vacation on a lake, filled with lots of spending time with my wife (who’s been more than understanding of the time I’ve spent playing games and writing this blog), I’m back! I’m sitting in the dark in a rather nice hotel room, the morning after the wedding of friends, ready to get back on track with the Zelda adventure. Yesterday was a rather miserable day weather-wise (lots of rain), so we spent a lot of time in the room, allowing me to take the advice of all of you and make some progress in Link to the Past.

It seems like a long time ago, but when we last left Hyrule, I had completed the second dungeon in the Dark World and received the Hookshot. Upon my return, I decided to undertake a bit of exploration, to uncover anything I may have missed, and also hopefully come across the way to get to the town in the Dark World, of which I hadn’t yet stumbled upon. I started my exploration at the home of the lumberjacks between the Lost Woods and Death Mountain in the Light World. There was a cave behind the cabin, which revealed a piece of heart, though unattainable through this entrance. A bit more exploration in the yard revealed a tree that looked different from the rest. I tried bombs, arrows, magic powder, and nothing happened, after which I dashed into the tree in frustration, which of course revealed the pit underneath. Jumping into the pit led me to the piece of heart I saw earlier, as expected.

Traveling just to the west of the cabin led me into the Lost Woods. I entered a path at the top of the woods, which took me into the home of a thief, I believe, as there was a thief roaming through the Woods, more than happy to steal items and rupees from me when he caught up with me as I traveled on my merry way. This thief offered to let me open any chest (and keep whatever I found there) for the low price of 100 rupees. Having some rupees to burn, I took him up on the offer, and in the chest I opened I found…300 rupees! I would have been more excited about this if there were more things to spend my rupees on in this game, but I guess I won’t begrudge ‘free’ rupees…

A quick wander to the south led me to a thief hideout, containing a piece of heart, again inaccessible from the obvious entrance. A quick look outside the entrance uncovered a hidden pit in the middle of a suspicious square of bushes (suspicious because of its perfect square formation). This pit led me into the thief hideout, coincidentally beside the piece of heart I saw earlier. One of the things about the Zelda games is that the developers tend to repeat the same tricks to find items, and the past two pieces of heart I’ve uncovered clearly illustrate this principle. The obvious entrance to an area reveals an item, out of reach at this point, but can be recovered upon discovery of the alternate entrance, usually very close by and easily discovered when actually looking for it. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, as the easier things are, the more likely I am to figure them out.

After leaving the Woods, I decided to go to the Pond of Happiness to get rid of some of the rupees I carried (I was dangerously near the cap and I hate to waste anything) and put them to good use. At the Pond, I increased my bomb carrying capacity to 50 (from 25), which is the cap for bombs, if I’m not mistaken. For symmetry’s sake, I increased my arrow capacity to 50 as well (from 40), and feeling good about myself, I decided to quit playing around, and go to the third dungeon…

…Which is where I got stuck. I could have sworn that I explored every avenue to get to the third dungeon, because the path to the town in the Dark World is blocked by a boulder too heavy to lift at this point, and there is no way to get over to the graveyard and mountain area, because there are no docks on those shores in the Dark World. I wandered around for quite a while, flipping back and forth between the Light and Dark Worlds, until I became frustrated. I’m not proud of the fact that I became frustrated this easily, and it normally doesn’t happen. The only reason I can come up with is that I was away from home, sitting in a cottage near the lake with wonderful weather and had no business being inside playing games anyway. I decided to take the easy way out, and ask all of you for your advice on what I should do, and use the time I would have been exploring in vain to soak up some sun and fun with my wife and parents. Don’t worry, I’ve got my priorities back in line, and you can expect that such lapses in judgment won’t occur again. How dare I let the real world intrude on my quest to save Hyrule?!?!

True to form, you didn’t let me down, and after getting Internet access once more, I found a flood of clues leading me to the one area I missed. One of the entrances to the Lost Woods (in the Light World) had an area, accessible using the hammer, that revealed a teleport tile. Sweet joy, my frustrations were alleviated, thanks to you! I appreciate the huge amount of responses and clues that you all gave, and it was a huge help. Hopefully you don’t think me ‘weak’ for going to this well, but regardless of that, it showed me the spirit of the people who read this blog, and it made me very happy!

Anyway, with all of this new area to explore, it was a no-brainer to wander around and see what I could see (and what trouble I could get into) before rushing off to the dungeon. Looking around the town provided very profitable, as I found two separate 300 rupee chests in two houses (one of them requiring a bomb to open). One of the houses contained a chest opening game, costing 30 rupees to play. Fortunately for me (or maybe it was coded that way, as I never went back to find out), I opened a chest on my first attempt that contained a piece of heart. After all of this, I had altogether too many rupees and decided to give a few of them to the fortune teller nearby, who informed me that I should drop into the well near the smith’s house. Since this referred to the well in the Light World, I used the mirror to get there and did as the fortune teller recommended. Down in this well, I found some sort of altar containing a red liquid. Trying all of the conventional ways to interact with the altar (bombs, arrows, hookshot, ice wand, etc.), it dawned on me that I hadn’t yet even tried to use my magic powder. Dusting the altar released a rather schizophrenic demon who was alternately angry and happy that I’d released him. He then ‘cursed’ me for setting him free, which consisted of casting a spell on me that reduced the amount of magic used when casting spells, throwing powder, etc. by one half. Heck, I hope I run into more angry characters like that in the future!

Enough horsing around, I have a world to save! Gathering my wits about me, I made the short journey (in the Dark World) into the Lost Woods to meet the challenge of the third dungeon. This dungeon was made interesting by the amount of entrances (both stairways and pits to fall into) from the overworld that were necessary to explore to solve all of the puzzles contained in the dungeon proper. The biggest frustration I ran into during the conquering of this dungeon was the introduction of the Hands which fall from the ceiling that, if they landed on poor Link or I was silly enough to run into them once they had fallen before they jumped back offscreen, would take me back to the screen where I had last entered the dungeon and reset everything (enemies, blocks, etc.) back to their original state. Not a really big deal, but truly aggravating when I had made a fair amount of progress or had cleared a particularly difficult room of enemies, and having to repeat those tasks again because I lingered too long in one spot and a Hand landed on me. Even with that issue, I soldiered through, gathering the Map, Compass and big key, and finally claiming the major treasure of the dungeon (the Fire Wand) as my own.

During my initial exploration of this dungeon, before finding the Fire Wand, I had accidentally made progress all the way to the final area of the dungeon, blocked by the skeleton of some creature. My unreliable and spotty memory informed me at that point that I needed the treasure to pass that point. Returning to that area with the wand in hand, a single shot made short work of that particular obstacle, and I moved on to the final area of the dungeon. The boss of this dungeon turned out to be a moth-like beast, in a room lined with spikes and a floor that moved and continuously switched directions of movement. The spikes would also launch themselves into the room and retract at different intervals, and all of this was in addition to the moth, who would fly around and emit rings of fire. In the face of all this, I utilized a combination of the Fire Wand and my trusty sword to dispatch the beast. This victory netted me a heart container and the third crystal. I definitely felt a sense of relief as I emerged from this dungeon, more so than many of the others.

The fourth dungeon was very close to the third, being in the center of the town. Instead of my usual ration of exploration between dungeons, I decided to ‘rapid-fire’ these two, instead of trekking around the overworld and coming back. The stairway down, made up of a statue of a creature holding a trident, was blocked by said trident. Going for the simple solution, I just grabbed the trident and tried to pull it off. To my surprise, it worked. With the entrance clear, I made my way in…

This dungeon didn’t really prove too much of a challenge. The rooms definitely took advantage of the ‘semi-3D’ arrangement available in this game, as nearly all of the rooms had an upper area and a lower area, with the lower area partially obscured by the upper. Wandering around and paying attention got me all of the important items and led me to the meat of the dungeon, where I discovered the major treasure (the Titan’s Mitt). There was a room in the dungeon where many of the chests contained bombs and had a bombable area enclosed by walls. This area was also conspicuous by the fact that there was a window that allowed light to shine directly onto it. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I needed to toss a bomb there, which I did. The resulting hole allowed light to shine into the room below.

Near the bottom of the dungeon, I came upon a girl who appeared to be trapped. She asked me to take her to the surface and out of the dungeon. Again, my (apparently) fading memory clued me in to the fact that this was no girl, and that the light in the room was an important feature of this dungeon. I brought the girl to this room and led her through the sun’s friendly rays. She had none of it and turned into an evil beast covered by a sheet that eventually revealed three heads flying about the room. The beast proved no match for my trusty sword, and I soon hoisted a new heart container and the fourth crystal over my head in victory. If I remember correctly, this dungeon had something to do with the old thief’s hideout mentioned in the Light World, in the building next to the elder’s home (remember that, way back in the beginning of the game?), but I could be mistaken.

Since I was nearby, I visited the smith’s shop in the Dark World, previously unreachable due to the large heavy boulders in the way. With the newfound power of the Titan’s Mitt at my disposal, I had no problem making it into the yard of the broken down home. There were an inordinate amount of stakes to be flattened with the hammer, but they really didn’t appear to have a purpose. If only to fulfill my sense of completeness (and the fact that I loved to flatten stuff with the hammer), I knocked them all into the ground, which revealed a secret passage to a piece of heart. This particular piece of heart completed yet another heart container, which was becoming more and more useful as the enemies sometimes took 3 or more hearts with a single touch.

While traveling to the magic shop in the Light World, to refill my bottles with potions, I happened to take a quick detour at the graveyard, to see if there was anything I had missed. Sure enough, there was a cave on a ledge, attainable only by using the mirror trick from the Dark World to the Light World. Exploration of that cave yielded yet another piece of heart. After a quick visit to the magic shop, I made my way down to Lake Hylia, the location of the fifth dungeon in the Dark World.

In the Dark World, the entrance of the fifth dungeon was completely enclosed in walls. Warping to the Light World, the approximate location of the fifth dungeon entrance coincided with the Pond of Happiness island. In front of the cave leading to the pond there was a block movable only with the Titan’s Mitt. Moving this block revealed a teleport tile, clearly the path to the fifth dungeon. Not to keep the creatures and boss waiting any longer for me, I made the trip and entered the dungeon, apparently made with an ice theme.

On my first (uh-oh, if there’s a first, clearly there’s a second) attempt into the dungeon, I actually overshot the way I should have gone, and advanced quite a way into its depths (this particular dungeon had six or seven basement levels) without gathering everything I needed, namely the big key. Since I had already expended a potion getting down this far, I decided to save my game, effectively exiting the dungeon. This would allow me to refill my potion and not have to backtrack through the rooms full of annoying stomach-sliding penguins and take the path I should have taken in the beginning.

My second journey through the dungeon went relatively more smoothly. I made the turns and entered the rooms I had not during my first sojourn, and found the key, map and compass. I also laid claim to the treasure of the dungeon, the Blue Mail, which served the same purpose as the blue ring in the original NES Zelda, effectively halving the amount of damage done to me by the enemies. The only serious hangup I experienced making my way to the boss involved the room where I had to push a block from above to activate and hold a switch that controlled the door to the path forward. For some reason, I had it in my head that I had to wait until the enemies respawned and get one of them to lay on the switch while I walked through the door. Well, 10-15 minutes of wandering from room to room, waiting for the respawn that never came caused me to rethink that strategy, and look for other avenues. It didn’t take long to find the room and the block I needed to push into the convenient hole, but it took a bit longer to find the way to get to that block, as it was behind some of the blocks controlled by the crystal balls scattered throughout the dungeon. A bit of backtracking later (and having to deal with more penguins, ugh!) and I had moved the right block and was on my way to the boss.

The boss of this dungeon proved to be a bumpy eye-thing encased in a block of ice. Thinking logically, I pulled out the fire wand and used it on the ice, which then disappeared to reveal three of the bumpy eye things which started bouncing around the room and dropping ice balls on my head from above. Utilizing the sword and liberal blasts from the fire wand, the weird beasts were soon dispatched, and I had another heart container and crystal (obviously the fifth) in my possession.
After this, I decided to call it a day with Link to the Past, as my wife, while being as patient as possible, was becoming slightly annoyed that we were sitting in a hotel room together and I had paid next to no attention to her for a few hours (ah, the joy of marriage!). I appreciate your patience as I haven’t had many updates of any substance in the past week, and hopefully this will get us all back on track. We’re packing up to go home as I finish writing this, I’ll be in more familiar surroundings and on a much more normal schedule. I hope everyone that had the opportunity enjoyed the holiday week (as July 4th fell in the middle of the week this year, many of us in the States took the entire week off), and I will join you again soon with what I believe will be the final installment of the Link to the Past. Until then, take care and be safe!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Independence Day Quandary

[NOTE: Thanks to all of your great info and posts, I'm back on the right track. Stay tuned for an update to my quest.]

First of all, happy Independence Day to all of you out there in the States. I hope you're out enjoying some good weather (where possible) and a good time!

I'm posting to ask for everyone's help, as I'm stuck. It's probably a complete brain cramp, or some small thing I've just missed, but I can't seem to get to the 3rd dungeon in the Dark World, because my path to the town in the Dark World is blocked by a boulder I can't lift without more strength or upgraded gloves. I remember that there's a way to do this, but for the life of me I can't figure out where or how to get it. If at all possible, a small push in the right direction would be greatly appreciated...

I'll check back in tomorrow (we're currently sitting in a Panera Bread taking advantage of the free Wi-fi while eating dinner), to hopefully get back on track put together a new post for you all.

Thanks in advance for the help and I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Regarding Comments and Random Thoughts

Just a quick note regarding comments on this blog:

For anyone who's submitted a comment that hasn't appeared on the blog itself, I apologize for that, but I've been trying to keep the comments central to the Zelda theme. There have been some comments that I've rejected just because they were random comments (a couple of my personal favorites were 'U r a verbose prick' and 'kewl man...I have to fart') and had no bearing on the discussions or Zelda itself. I'm really not big on having comments on the blog that are simply pimping out another blog, and don't have any relevance to the subject at hand (in this case, the Legend of Zelda games, obviously). Maybe it's because I'm new to the blogosphere and don't know how to play the game, but for me this practice just seems silly. Most likely I'm just cutting down the potential audience by not following that same thing myself, but it feels too much like shameless self-promotion for my liking. I also apologize to any of you who've submitted comments regarding review exchanges, but I'm not super interested in that for the same reason. Again, this clearly shows that I'm not into 'playing the game', and I hope everyone understands and isn't offended.

I had to get that off my chest, because it's happened quite a few times and I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression of why I post some comments and not others.

To more 'on-topic' discussions...As anyone can clearly see, I haven't had the time to directly respond to many of the comments on the blog lately. My wife and I are currently 'on vacation' (I've actually been working yesterday and today) away from our normal home, in a place where I don't have access to the Internet during my free time. I'm traveling an hour each way to an office I don't normally work from (my regular daily commute is only 15 minutes), and then endeavoring to spend quiet time relaxing with my lovely wife on a deck overlooking a lake...rough life, huh? While I'm not at work, I've been taking the opportunity to get away (as much as possible) from technology to recharge my batteries. You can expect a game update no later than Thursday of this week, as the normal flow of things are disrupted a bit by the Independence Day holiday here in the States, and the fact that the cottage I'm staying at has no Internet connection, so I'll have to search one out in the surrounding towns.

Another random thought of note: the more I read everyone's comments about Majora's Mask and how many of you want me to get all of the masks, the more I'm looking forward to that game. I played that game some when it first came out, stopped playing and then never picked it up again, not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I had other responsibilities at that time. I loved the 'Groundhog Day' vibe going on with the game, and how many of the masks are long quests in themselves hopefully will lend to interesting posts on completing them.

About Link to the Past: I'll be really sad when this game is completed, because the more I play, the more I realize why it holds such a place in my gaming heart. Nothing feels forced or out-of-place, everything just flows nicely. I can't get enough of the open-world feel of the game, and I love the items and tools you're given to complete your quest. Hopefully everyone else is enjoying it as much as I am...

Anyway, enough of my rambling. If you're in the US, have a great 4th of July (and if not, celebrate with us's a great excuse to have fun!), and look for an update from me soon!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Link to the Past, Part 3

With our hero finally back home after being stuck in the Atlanta airport for...Oh wait, that was me. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of flying through Atlanta, well, don't. My flight on Thursday night was supposed to leave at 9:15pm, we didn't board until 10:45pm, and it didn't actually leave the ground until 12:30am. I know it's not the most horrible wait ever experienced, but as anyone knows when travelling, delays are really a nuisance, especially on the return flights, as you just want to get home. My coworker and I were lucky enough to gain admittance to the Delta Crown Club Room, which is far more desirable to spend 5 hours in than waiting at a gate. Free drinks, munchies, comfortable seating, air conditioning, a place to plug in (a surprising luxury at an airport)...You can't beat it. That was where I was able to respond to as many of your comments as I did, as well as actually get some real work done, to keep my bosses happy. :)

Anyway, as someone commented, enough of my whining, you came here to read about Link to the Past, and so you shall. Before I start on part 3, I did want you to know that (if anyone's interested) I did go back to the part 2 post and insert screenshots, so that post is now complete. And now, without further ado, back to the action!

The adventure started up once more as I stood at the top of the castle in the Dark World. The map indicated that I should start my quest by recovering the first of seven crystals, in the Dark World equivalent of the East Palace (the location of the first pendant). On my way to that dungeon, I entered a cave that had a tree, which turned out to be a person, warped by the power of the Dark World, who talked about the Golden Power, and referred to it by the name we gamers know it by: the Triforce. Finding that I couldn't do anything to help this poor chap, I continued on my way to the first dungeon.

This dungeon was surrounded by a maze of hedges. I wandered around aimlessly for a bit, and eventually found my way through a part of the maze that was completely covered over. Upon emerging on the other side of this part of the maze, I found that I was being followed by a monkey, who introduced himself as Kiki. He professed his love for rupees, and asked for 10 of them to follow me. Since I was very near my holding limit of 999 rupees, I acquiesced to his request and he followed along. Not long after that, the little creep bailed out, and I arrived at the entrance to the first dungeon, where my memory (hazy as it is) reminded me that I needed the greedy little ape to help me gain entry. Back I went, and for the low. low price of 10 rupees he agreed to follow me again. This time I went straight to the dungeon entrance, where the shrewd business-monkey asked for 100 rupees to open the door. Why that little...seeing that I had no choice, I paid him and I was soon in the starting room of the first dungeon.

The first dungeon provided some interesting moments, including a long bridge that drops away every time you enter the room, as well as the use of teleport plates. A thorough sweep of the dungeon netted me all of the important items (map, compass, big key) and I quickly worked my way to the big treasure chest, accessible through a maze lit only by the lantern and containing fire-breathing little dinosaurs. The major treasure for this dungeon turned out to be the Hammer, which allows the banging of pegs and other items to grant access to areas previously unreachable otherwise. Of course, the hammer can be used as a melee weapon as well, and turned out to be very effective against the turtles who were prevalent throughout this dungeon and impervious to regular sword attacks. One swing of the hammer knocked the turtle on its back and exposed its soft underbelly, which then made it vulnerable to your sword or a second hammer swing.

After grabbing the hammer, it was time to go and challenge the boss of the dungeon. This boss was a lot of fun. A large creature reminiscent of a turtle wearing a metal mask and having a tail like a scorpion, the challenge of this boss was to get rid of the metal mask. I used the hammer to accomplish this goal, though it took a lot of hits to finally dislodge the mask from the beast's head. After the mask fell off, it revealed a gem of sorts which proved weak to arrows. A couple of solid arrow volleys later, and I was the victor. I grabbed the requisite heart container, and the first crystal fell from the ceiling. When I picked it up, a maiden appeared inside, who told me the entire story of how the Dark World came to be, and how I needed to save the other 6 maidens to stand a chance of returning the world to its former beautiful state. She was also kind enough to mark the remaining dungeon locations (complete with numbers to guide my decision on which order to attempt each one) on my overworld map. With that, I was warped back to the entrance of the dungeon.

After vanquishing the dungeon, I thought it would be useful to do a bit of exploring and wrap up a few loose ends before taking on the second dungeon. If you remember from my second entry in LttP, I had found a mushroom in the Great Forest. The old woman in front of the magic shop had asked for a mushroom, so I made my way back to her (by going there in the Dark World and using the mirror). She took the mushroom happily and told me to return later.

After that, I went to the forest grove where, in the Light World, there was a boy there playing a flute and surrounded by little woodland creatures. This boy, in the Light World, would disappear when I approached him. In the Dark World, however, there was a sad creature sitting there, saying that he had come to the Dark World searching for the Golden Power, but was now trapped in this form. I offered to help him, and he gave me a shovel to try to find his flute, which he had buried in the Light World. I warped back to the Light World and quickly found the flute. I traveled back to the Dark World and continued on my merry way. [NOTE: One thing I forgot to try before leaving the area was to go and play the flute for the poor creature in the Dark World. I don't quite remember if this did anything, but during my next play session, I'll go back and check, just in case.]

After this little excursion, it dawned on me that there would be a piece of heart ripe for the taking, if I were to travel to Lake Hylia, which is exactly what I did. During my first exploration of that area, in the Light World, there was a piece of heart sitting on an island that was inaccessible. Using the 'travel to the location in the Dark World and then utilize the mirror to warp to the Light World' trick to great effect, finding myself on the previously inaccessible island, taking the piece of heart as my own.

Taking a bit of time to look around the lake while in the area, I went to the cave where (in the Light World) I claimed the Ice Rod before, but this time I found...a hand? Seriously, this thing looked like the claymation hand in the all of the Hamburger Helper ads. However, this 'hand' turned out to be a former thief who traveled to the Dark World and found himself in that form. He was able to provide me with some useful info, even in that form, about a master locksmith who was pretending to be a strange middle-aged man. Clearly this information will be useful in the future, since I've already come across this strange middle-aged man (at the entrance to the desert in the Light World). On my way back from this encounter, I made a quick pitstop in the Light World at the Pond of Happiness and increased my bomb capacity to 25 (from 15) and my arrow capacity to 40 (from 30).

Having stalled long enough, I then made the short jaunt to the entrance of the second dungeon, located in the swampy area between the desert and Lake Hylia. Upon entering the dungeon, it was clear that I couldn't get very far, because of a large empty channel in the middle of the dungeon and a 'half-ladder' that restricted my access to the area beyond. There was a communication panel to the elder, who reminded me that things that occur in one world affect the other. Clearly a clue! I exited the dungeon, used the Mirror, and entered the structure in the Light World. Inside this structure were switches and a closed water gate. Pulling the right switch opened the water gate, which filled the channel. Pulling the wrong switch caused a cascade of bombs to rain from the ceiling. After leaving the structure, it was clear that opening that water gate drained some of the swamp area, as I noticed a piece of heart that revealed itself when the water drained away. Picking this up completed yet another heart, a nice boost for taking on the second dungeon. I jumped back to the Dark World, ready to face the challenge ahead.

This dungeon was fun, as it made use of the water level to great effect. There were certain areas that weren't accessible until I found the correct switch to release water (or in one case, drain it). The enemies were relatively annoying in this dungeon, especially the water-drop monsters that flew around and eventually splashed against the wall. I was able to grab all of the necessary items quite quickly, including the major treasure of the dungeon, the Hookshot, one of my all-time favorite items in a video game. Then I got stuck. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get to the boss room, and after wasting all of my potions running around trying to find it, I decided to leave the dungeon, take a breather to restock my potions and come back refreshed and with a new outlook.

To refill my potions, I went back to the Magic Shop in the Light World. The old woman had completed her brew, and inside the woman presented me with the Magic Powder. I look forward to using this in the future, as some of you have already hinted at its uses. I also took the time to fill my 2 bottles with blue potions. This reminded me that I need to track down the other 3 bottles (I believe) that are still out there somewhere. They're very useful, and I should take the time to go and track them down.

Anyway, also decided to take the time, since I was in that portion of the map, to make a visit to the Pond of Happiness and upgrade my shield that many of you were kind enough to point out was a good thing to do. On my way there, I traveled via the Dark World, and came upon a sign that informed me that I would be cursed if I threw anything into a circle of stones. This circle of stones referred to a ring of stones located just off the shore in the river. Of course I threw something in. A creature surfaced and offered me the Quake Medallion as long as I would stop bothering him. Sounded like a good deal to me, so I took it. I then used the Mirror to get to the Light World, visited the Pond and upgraded my shield to the red variety, which blocks fireballs.

Now, feeling reinvigorated, I traveled back to the second dungeon and continued to keep looking for what I was missing. It turns out I was just stupid and couldn't find the secret door behind a waterfall, but after looking at the map, it became pretty evident what was going on, and I was on my way again, to face the boss. The boss was a fun battle, consisting of a jellyfish covered in blobs. I used the Hookshot to pull the blobs to me, where 2 sword strikes put an end to them, and once they were all gone, the jellyfish started swimming around the room, which caused me to strike him in the eye as he ricocheted all over the place. A few well-placed hits later, and I had my new heart container and the second crystal. The maiden trapped in this crystal explained about Ganon, and pushed me to continue my quest to save all seven maidens and end the evil reign in this once-beautiful land.

This seemed to be a good place to stop for now. Hopefully it comes through in my writing how much fun I'm having going through this game all over again. The graphics continue to amuse me, the sheer amount of areas to search and things to discover (in relation to the first two games), as well as the open-world feel keeps me coming back time and again. Next time I'll tackle the third and fourth dungeons as well as do some more in depth exploration of the overworlds, now that I have a few more implements at my disposal.

As always, thanks for reading and I'll talk to you all next time!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Please Bear with Me!

Hi again! I think the title of this post says it all, as I beg you all to be patient. I'm sitting in an airport, trying frantically to catch up with all of the comments that you've left (as of this moment I'm about 60 comments behind, encompassing the latest 2 posts before this one). I'll continue to respond as I have time (and Internet connection), and tomorrow is the day that I'll make more ingame progress for your reading pleasure. This Atlanta trip really threw off my schedule, but I do appreciate everything that you all have said in the comments. Tomorrow will also mark the return of pictures to the posts (I'll update the part 2 post as well as the new one), so it should be BAU (business as usual) after that.

Again, it's a great feeling to check in on the blog as I have connectivity to find new comments (I really do read them all!), so please keep it up. Barring something terrible happening, you'll see a new Lttp post tomorrow evening. Until then, take care and be safe!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Link to the Past, Part 2

Well, here I am at the airport, waiting for my flight to Atlanta. That’s going to be my excuse if this post seems a bit disjointed or out of place with all of the others. I’m sitting at a TGI Friday’s table, typing this on Word, as hundreds of people file by. Not exactly the place I normally do these updates, sitting in peace at my kitchen table, with only my wife or our cats to interrupt the writing process. Hopefully this will fit in (more importantly, I hope this imports into Blogger seamlessly) with the rest of the entries and you won’t notice a thing. :)

It’s been a busy couple of days, which is consequently why I haven’t posted or responded to everyone’s comments. It’s great to see that so many of you are sticking around for the next installment in the series, and I know I’ve said it before, but the turnout has been absolutely jaw-dropping, as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for the great comments and compliments on the blog, they’re most definitely appreciated. Between Sunday night, when I posted part 1 of Link to the Past, and this afternoon, you had contributed 37 comments to that post, as well as several others on past entries. If anyone had told me that I would have 37 comments on my blog when I started this, I would have a) assumed they meant for the entire blog, and b) been absolutely ecstatic. There have been so many comments that, as much as I don’t want to, I don’t believe I’ll be able to respond to them all individually, as been my practice. With that being said, please be assured that I read every single comment, and do my best to incorporate what you say into how I do things or how I write (when applicable). Combine that with the fact that I’m going away on business for the next couple of days, which completely throws off any normal schedule, and it doesn’t bode well for time to write. However, I do have both the emulator loaded up on this laptop, as well as my trusty Super Nintendo controller and USB adapter with me, so I at least hope to squeeze some gaming time in while at the hotel. The post may have to wait until I get back, but you can be sure I’m continuing on my mission, and you won’t have to wait too long between updates.

When we last left our hero, he had acquired the first pendant from the East Palace, and was ready to tackle the second palace. I decided to attempt the desert palace, and made my way there. Once at the entrance, I was confronted with a blocked path and a monolith covered in strange symbols. Whipping out my trusty Book of Mudora (everyone should have a copy, as far as I’m concerned), the mysterious glyphs suddenly made sense, and lo and behold, the obstruction that previously prevented me from entering the palace shifted, granting me access.

This palace had a distinctly sandy theme (go figure), and featured both the plant creatures that rose out of the ground (seen in the two previous games), as well as earwigs that appeared out of a sand whirlpool and sometimes threw fireballs at me. You know, you usual vacation getaway. The palace itself was broken into two separate sections, each with their own entrance. Of course I didn’t know that, and I spent a decent amount of time wandering around the first portion of the palace (after retrieving all of the items of interest, including the gloves, the palace’s major treasure), trying to figure out what I’d missed. You can imagine how much of an idiot I felt like when I finally decided to look outside and quickly found the other entrance. (The gloves I found, by the way, allowed me to lift some of the stones found on the overworld map, thus opening up a few more options for exploration, which I’ll definitely have to follow up on).

With that big mystery out of the way, I quickly made my way through the rest of the dungeon, and found myself face to face with the boss, or bosses in this case. Three worms jumped in and out of the sand, so I had to be on my toes, dancing around and trying not to get landed on while stabbing at their heads as they floated by. It was a fun battle, and after the last worm succumbed under the force of my onslaught, I claimed the second pendant and a heart container as my rightful rewards.

After being generously transported back to the start of the palace, I spent some time exploring the desert area. While doing so, I was lucky enough to come across another piece of heart, my third. Only one more and I would have yet another heart to help keep me alive. (As an aside, I really liked the addition of the pieces of heart to the Zelda series. It added yet another collection aspect to the game, which only encourages exploration of the entire world, and allows game designers yet another outlet for subtle little puzzles and obstacles for players to think their way through.)

After a bit more exploration, it was time to leave the dry, arid desert, and what better place to go after being in the desert? You got it, the water! Since I’d already wandered around Lake Hylia, it was off to the northeastern corner of the map for me, up where the Zora people were rumored to live. Sure enough, I found a lake area teeming with the aquatic people, and at a dead-end in the path, what I believed to be the king of the Zoras popped up out of the water. After a quick conversation, he offered to sell me a set of flippers for 500 rupees. It just so happened that I had 500 rupees (plus a fair bit more) burning a hole in my green tunic pocket, so it wasn’t long before I was the proud owner of those crazy flippers. Before leaving that area, I used the flippers to gain access to a bank that held a piece of heart. That piece completed one heart so I was now even more prepared for what waited ahead.

Using the flippers on the way back, I came upon a hidden room under one of the waterfalls. The only thing in the room was a pool, and the game asked me if I wanted to throw anything in. Yet again, I vaguely remembered being here before, so I tossed in my trusty blue boomerang. A very nice (and pretty, at least to a pre-pubescent elf) fairy appeared and asked me if I’d lost a boomerang. Neglecting to inform her that I had, in fact, tossed the boomerang in willingly, but had actually lost a boomerang (I wasn’t actually lying, just omitting a bit about the story, something that soon to be heroes of the world are allowed to do from time to time), she returned it to me more powerful, faster, and a nice red color. Hmmm, that’s interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t hang around too long after that to see if she’d repeat the process with anything else. On that note, if any of you feel that it wouldn’t be too game breaking, I’m all ears to hear what else benefits from a dunk in the Waterfall of Wishing. If you feel that it’s cheating, I’ll go back and throw everything in at some point, but I do remember that at least one more thing benefits, but for the life of me I can’t remember what.

From here I started walking west toward the base of the mountains, where I assumed I’d have to go to start the trip toward the third palace and the third pendant. On the way, I stopped by the graveyard and tried pushing some of the gravestones. One of them, protected by stones that I could lift, revealed a pit that I promptly jumped into. At the bottom, I found myself in familiar surroundings: a section of the path used to escape the castle to Sanctuary. Nearby there were several bombable walls, which I quickly cleared away. This revealed a room with some arrow, hearts, bombs and a chest containing 300 rupees. Very nice.

After this minor detour, I finally made my way to the base of the mountain, and entered the cave I found there. It was completely dark (the lantern I swiped from the house at the beginning was coming in handy again, who says crime doesn’t pay?), but after taking my time I found my way to the exit of that particular cavern. At this point I found an old man who had lost his lantern, and I agreed to help him through the rest of the cave. He proved to be very helpful (and chatty), and once we made it out of that cave, he took his leave of me, but did give me the Mirror. The Mirror is one of the most useful items in the game, as we’ll find out later.

During my journey to the top, slowed by the boulders bouncing down the mountainside and the annoying Goomba-looking creatures that turned to stone after striking them, I managed to find a piece of heart in one of the subsequent caves. At one point on the trip up the mountain, I found myself at a dead end, except for the option of using a mysterious portal. Being the ever adventurous elf that I am (at least in this game, and I’m pretty sure no-one would mistake me for an elf in real life), I jumped into the portal and found myself in the Dark World, although it wasn’t the fact of revelations, considering the fact that I was a rabbit! Near the portal were a couple of creatures that indicated that they were once something else (as I was) but after traveling through the portal, they were now stuck in those forms and in the Dark World itself. Feeling badly for them, but not being really able to do anything for them, I continued on. Noticing that I seemed to be in an area that was inaccessible back in the Light World, I decided to use the Mirror, which opened a portal back to the Light World. Sure enough, I was now able to move forward in my ascent to the third palace, but not before grabbing the piece of heart that conveniently was now within my reach.

Near the tower palace, I found another monolith that was only decipherable with the Book of Mudora (see how handy those things are?), which talked about the Master Sword and the power of ether, when held aloft. After enjoying the view up there, I decided to enter the palace, known as the Tower of Hera. This palace introduced the crystal balls that controlled blocks strategically placed to either help or hinder your progress throughout the palace. When the crystal was blue, blue blocks were raised and tan blocks were lowered, and this was reversed when the crystal was struck and the color changed to red (I may have the exact order reversed, I didn’t note it while playing). All of the crystal balls were linked throughout the castle, so if one was red, they all were red and vice versa. The treasure for this palace was the Moon Pearl, which allows the owner to retain his original form when in the Dark World. This sounds like a pretty handy little item to have, considering I have the feeling that I’ll be in the Dark World a lot (just a hunch).

After battling my way up the tower, I was met at the top by the boss, a segmented worm type of beast, similar to that which were found scattered throughout the palace, only this monster had only one weak spot: his tail. To make matters even more interesting, the battle takes place on a platform where it’s easy to fall off, and when you do, the battle starts again. Also, the boss (either when struck in the wrong spot or makes contact with you) throws you a fair distance, so if you’re near the edge, watch out. I was knocked off several times before finally landing the requisite number of blows to the beast’s tail (I believe the magic number was six), and it was with great relief that I was able to leave this palace with a new heart container and the third pendant.

After that ordeal (well, it really wasn’t too much of an ordeal, but I’ll use some artistic license anyway), I decided to do a bit of exploring. Not too much, mind you, just a bit to break up the quests a little bit. The target of this exploration was Lake Hylia, as I now had the flippers, which made the entire lake available, not just the shorelines. In the middle of the lake there were two islands, one with no access (at least from the Light World) that contained a piece of heart, and the other had a cave on it. In that cave was the ‘Well of Happiness’ (at least that’s what I think it was called), where you threw in rupees to eventually increase the carrying capacity of bombs or arrows. Since I had a few rupees with nothing to do, I tossed in 100 of them and increased my bomb capacity by 5 (to a whopping 15). Satisfied with that for the time being, and knowing that I could come back at any time, I decided to stop stalling and make my way to the forest, and claim the Master Sword.

In the forest, I quickly stumbled onto what looked like the Master Sword…but it turned out to be a fake. The very next path I chose led me to a clearing filled with cute furry little animals and an elaborate shrine. Clearly this had to be the place. I walked up to the sword, pressed the button, and voila, I was the proud owner of a shiny new Master Sword, with no money down, no less. :) On my way out of the forest, I was contacted by the elder, who encouraged me to go to the castle and defeat Agahnim, and then I was contacted by the old man at Sanctuary, who informed me that they were under attack! While rushing to the aid of Zelda and the old man, I managed to trip over (and pick up) a Mushroom. That will be important later on, methinks…

I made it to Sanctuary, and as expected was too late to save poor Zelda or the old man, who passed away before my eyes. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have taken the time to pick up the Mushroom after all. Regardless, I soldiered on to the castle, and quickly made my way up to the top floor, where a door stood sealed by some arcane magic. That magic proved to be no match for the Master Sword, and I gained admittance without an issue. I eventually found myself at the top of the castle, and entered a room where Agahnim stood over Zelda, who was lying on some sort of altar, apparently unconscious. Agahnim laughed at me, made poor Zelda disappear before my eyes, and announced that he had opened the seal created by the seven wise men. After that he blurred and vanished.

A quick search of the room revealed a secret passage behind the curtains, where Agahnim awaited me again. This time he was not in such a charitable mood, and a battle ensued. He would fire solid magical globes at me, alternating those with what looked like a cluster of snowballs, and also chain lightning. The trick to defeating him was to dodge the ‘snowballs’ and lightning and use the Master Sword to knock the magical globes back at him. After several minutes of tense combat, Agahnim fled, and I was then transported to the Dark World. The elder spoke to me telepathically once more, revealing that my mission was to travel to 7 dungeons located throughout the Dark World, and recover the 7 crystals of the wise men, and use those to seal the portal Agahnim had just reopened. As I stood there, overlooking the dark and dangerous world before me, my mission was clear…

It was time for bed! At least, it was at that point time for the real me to get some sleep, because even though I’m on a personal mission to vanquish Ganon (or whoever else the developers can throw my way) as many times as I can, I still have a wife and a house to support, so I had to be ready for work the next morning. It also seemed like a good time to stop, as I now have a clear goal, as well as a lot of new exploring to do.

Thanks again for reading. Hopefully you’re looking forward to the next installment as I am to playing it. Until that time, however, please take care and be safe!