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!

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