Friday, December 27, 2013

What Zelda Taught Me About Life

I'm very picky with my Zelda games; I prefer the ones on the Gameboy. I watched my brother play through Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, so I never felt the need to play them. Later in life, I was content to watch my sister beat Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.

Basically, I only played the Zelda games on Gameboy because it's a very personal, private experience. It was MY adventure the same way the Harry Potter books were.

My first Gameboy Zelda love was called the Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. I look back on the game with glee. I liked everything about it. However, I have a terrible secret.

I only beat the game because I had the guide.

Because of this, I always knew where to go. The strange thing about game guides is that you quickly become completely dependent on them. When I played Seasons at the tender age of twelve (half my life ago), I remember thinking, "I'll try this dungeon without the guide." It never worked. The guide flew open the moment I felt the unpleasant rub of uncertainty.

Fast forward to 2013. Christmas day. A Link Between Worlds sits in my hands. As the game loads, I think, "there will be no guides this time."

My first moments in this new Hyrule are a little scary; I feel like a bird pushed out of its nest. I go where I'm told but I nurse a quiet longing for the comfort a walkthrough provides. Despite this, I soon find myself exploring and enjoying the sense of discovery. I realize that the game is meant to be played this way. Having a huge map of every area with all the secrets exposed isn't fun; it's a chore. This is an adventure game, after all. If you take away the adventure, what the heck is the point?

It's kinda like skipping to the last page of a book.

In many ways, playing the game blind is similar to real life; sometimes I feel that I don't know where I'm going or what I'm supposed to be doing. There's a slight sense of being lost or overwhelmed in life, but learning how to push back against uncertainty is a big part of growing up.

When I was twelve, I craved the omniscient guiding hand of a walkthrough. Now I know that uncertainty, and persevering in spite of it, is what really separates adults from children.

Plus, the game is really fun.


  1. Good for you for playing without a walk through! The only Zelda I played was Minish Cap, and I got hopelessly stuck halfway through. There was a sequence of puzzles and I couldn't find the starting point. Alas!

  2. What a lovely post!! I love reading how your 12 year old mind reasoned and how much you have grown up now. I am so thankful you have discovered the thrill of the game. Life is an adventure and as you said, to push back. I think is part of the secret to a happy life. We do have a game guide, but it never tells you what to go to get the extra points, but it does help you get around the bosses. You are such a wonderful writer, I enjoy reading your thoughts so much.

  3. That is a life lesson there, good sir.

    I've never been much for guides, though I will occasionally pull one out for side quests (How else was I supposed to get all the Big Poes in Ocarina of Time?) but there is nothing quite like running through a game without anyone to tell you how to do it. It makes you feel ALIVE!