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!