Running Play Time: 14 Hours 11 Minutes
Let’s start this session by weaseling around. There’s a red thing behind a cracked open door in the Sacred Grounds. I’d like to know what it is. There’s a slight chance that it’s important, but it could also just be scenery. Still, why show me something I can’t understand? Such subtlety isn’t like you Nintendo.
Directly outside, I bump into Groose wallowing in his uselessness. It’s simultaneously depressing and satisfying that he’s accepting everything. Or does he? The one good thing about the character is that he’s more honest than dense. Of course, he’s not the destined hero, so we can’t expect too much from him at this point. That’ really bugs me.
Goron dude shows up. He’s a bit annoying, but meh I’ve almost come to expect that out of NPCs. He clumsily makes certain to points out where I can find a Sheikah Stone. Directly afterwards, he mentions the Goddess Walls. Ok, that’s it! The character might as well be the overlord of the fetch quest. Why not just have Fi explain it? That would beat some completely unrelated, bumbling Goron for bumping into you after every relevant plot point. Or better yet, how about nothing? Given how much more in games are being given directly to the audience, a few more secrets would go a long way. Make some tantalizingly impossible. Make some so obscure they can never be found or comprehended. Make so many that no sane person would ever find them all.
Now you may say, “Wait! This game does those things!” Sure. On the surface, it does. There’s goddess cubes, chests, and walls in addition to the standing traditions of Heart Pieces. Oh, and on top of that there’s treasure and crafting. So why am I complaining when there are things to find just about everywhere you look?
Because it’s a secret to everybody.
You hardly get a chance to discover anything in this game without it being spelled out to you. Whether it’s Fi repeating plot points that have just been spelled out or Travelling-Idiot Goron bumbling his way to yet another “coincidental” run-in. Some of this may be nostalgia blindly spilling forth, but I remember a fair amount of items in Link to the Past being optional, obscure, and obscenely irrelevant to the plot. Some were overpowered, some were useless, but finding each one felt momentous. Sure, there may have been a few hints here and there, but there wasn’t a bumbling idiot warping from scene-to-scene for the sole purpose of telling me how and where to find these items.
On that note, what happened to the magic? I’m at the point where I get the feeling it won’t be there, but I’m still holding out. Well that’s another thing to get pissed off at, might as well get moving before I find something else.
News quickly spreads about a crying woman in the dorm at night? I’d be pissed off about having this dumped on me, but I’m intrigued. Who could it be? Groose is earth-side, so that leaves? …You know. I have no idea. At all. Let’s clear our head at the Market.
Sacred Shield? Why not, those rupees were weighing me down anyway. Self-repair, anti-electricity, and anti-fire, where has this thing been all my life? I’ve been a overly cautious with the shields at this point for fear of busting them. This one has less durability, but the self-repair just makes me trust it more. I’m now glad that I didn’t waste any time on upgrades to the other two. I’m having trouble seeing how any shield can top this. Also, I don’t think any shields have been plot-relevant to this point. Obviously, this game was designed to be sword-centric, but where’s the love for the shield? Sometimes, a game gives you freedom and you just want to be forced around. Being a fan is a sick relationship on some levels.
Remember how I gushed about set design earlier? As I traverse the Knight Academy, I catch a few more details. Amongst them is a low-quality picture of Link on Groose’s Punching Bag. I envision the Animated Series Link on it and instantly understand Groose’s deep-seeded dislike of Link. Upstairs, I find that Zelda’s room is locked, what’s in there? She doesn’t even live here anymore. She’s in the past, doing vague, anti-evil things, so why can’t I just step inside? No one actually has anything valuable in Skyloft and with a population this low, we’re all cousins anyway. Actually, that is something to note. Link has no parents and they didn’t even try to explain that one. Same for Zelda’s mother. While that makes a tale easier to tell, it puts a damper on the characters in my eyes. I’ve always liked hearing or even meeting Link’s family members in other games. The last two games in particular have given Link a lot of characters to interact with and establish him as more than just a heroic mime on a fated mission. Then again, this game plays up the Link-Zelda bond to new heights so I guess they don’t need any extra characters to emote off of. I’ll let this one go.
Night time rolls around with a little help from a nap and I get to looking for the bathroom wailer. Some kind of ghost they say? I reach the door and the bathroom ghost needs paper, but I have none. I immediately run everywhere it’d make sense to find some, but find none. That’s when I bump into Cawlin, that fat goon. I have a particularly strong hate for flunkies. He wants me to deliver a love letter, which just so happens to be written on one very eligible piece of paper. Hmm…time to scheme. A toilet paper love letter? Now that would satisfy my desires for cruelty. On the other hand, maybe kindness could solve everyone’s problems. I’ll sleep on it.
Speaking of relationships, Item Check Girl is different. I think…she’s into it? I knew it all along. An actual relationship could do Link some good. Maybe she’s moving in now that Zelda is out of the picture, which gives rise to an old complaint. Why doesn’t anyone care?! Zelda’s been missing for at least a few days in story time (not that they’re keeping count). They should be interviewing me on progress and what not. Maybe her Dad wants to keep a lid on it, but can’t they figure it out? I know better than to expect that level of interaction from a Zelda NPC, but what’s wrong with wanting to be surprised? That’s the whole reason I still play these games. Upon that thought, I realize my hypocrisy in that I’m playing a series that has become increasingly formulaic in many regards. My emotive bond deflates somewhat as the NPCs blatantly reveal themselves as such. Suddenly, I start to miss Item Check Girl’s unflappable apathy.
This little revelation gives me a change of heart and I decide to deliver Cawlin’s letter to Karane. Turns out I wasn’t that heartless after all. It wouldn’t have made good toilet paper anyway. So yes, even though I know the lard-bellied goon will get shot down and scarred for life, I’m willing to help him out. Maybe things could work out for him, just once. Maybe there’s hidden depths to Cawlin besides being a stereotypical goon cursed with Kamille Bidan’s haircut (See Zeta Gundam). So I drop off the letter. Turns out that she’s in love with Pipit. The poor freak never had a chance, so fine, I am cruel. Let’s just say it came from Pipit. Or wait, she can see it’s not. Time to mess with these fools. Pipit gets jealous and I decide to play it up. He plays it down and dance continues.
Shortly afterwards, Cawlin and Karane get to talking. Just as she’s about to tear his heart out and shred it to pieces, a jealous Pipit barges in and does it for her. His confession is well met and the games beta couple reaches the finish line. My maniacal plot to enslave all three into a permanent state of despair and inaction falls to the wayside. Maybe I didn’t accomplish anything after all or perhaps I never had a choice in the matter. Either way, I’m almost disappointed by the positivity. Cawlin runs out, doing his best Groose impression. You know, he actually cared about her and maybe there were hidden depths worth finding. Sure he’d have to stop being Groose’s flunky and get his own motivation, but he’s still young. On some level, I’m left feeling like the jerk until Karane just laughs Cawlin off, like he was some fat freak. Sure I thought the same thing, but I’m a bit more detached from it all. That’s so depressing, I can’t even take solace in the one person I did ruin. FOREVER ALONE. FOREVER ALONE.
I wait until night, only to find that Toilet Voice is gone too. The conspiracy theorist in me says it was Cawlin playing some sort of macho head game or crying about Groose. Wait, it’s still there and it no longer needs paper? Whoever it was, I hope they wiped, but I’m happy to end this here.
A set of much less interesting, yet plot-relevant, things happen and I eventually pierce the giant cloud with a spear of light.
Isle of Songs
The Goddess Statue has a weird singing animation. Fi relates a message which can be summed up simply, three more quests in three more dungeons. I’m still a bit surprised and annoyed at this, but I’ll dig in later.
I really have no desire to start with this again, so I’ll waste more time on Skyloft.
Running Play Time: 17 Hours 1 Minute
Batreaux grants me a Piece of Heart for everything I’ve done so far. Tragically, he doesn’t realize that I’ve already given up on his side-quest. After what happened with Cawlin’s Love Letter, I just want people to suffer. Well, that and I don’t want to deal with more dungeons now.
Pipit’s mom wants you to clean the house. Busy work, but at least the Gust Bellows are practical. I give up before finishing and wait until night. I now realize that I haven’t explored much at night so I head off to harass the citizenry. A few prove uninspiring, but grumpy Ruppin is awesome. I knew he had it in him.
Fledge is doing pushups and needs some Stamina potion to improve. I get some on the next day and bring it back to him. That wasn’t so hard now was it, why can’t he just take a few rupees and get some himself. Or better yet, squeeze down those Stamina fruits? Nostalgia may be amplifying this, but Zelda NPCs have taken a huge step back since Majora’s Mask. Sure, you still needed to do every little thing for them, but it was satisfying. Getting every little part of the Groundhog’s Day sequence to make the wedding work out was amazing. The most recent mainline Zelda’s have promoted wide worlds, but not widely experienced NPCs. As a single fetch quest, giving Fledge Gatorade is hollow and worthless. As part of a sequence, it could have value. I’d even take the global trading game in Link’s Awakening over this.
Now that’s some subtle product placement. I may waste away my life at the keyboard, but I recognize that Stamina potion as nothing more than Lemon Lime Gatorade. That’s the go-to flavor that everyone chooses when they have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. She probably gets via post with Beedle’s help or something. Fledge vows to get “super burly.” I don’t believe him.
I can only put up with so much non-advancement so I trudge down to the Surface and find my next objective.
Link only playing the rhythm is increasingly unsatisfying, yet it makes more sense. After all, he shouldn’t have any clue how to play well. Curse you Nintendo for forcing me to hand-waive your laziness. You should’ve made it a true mini-game.
The minor touch in using the Wii remote to thrust the sword in is good. I’d play a yet another re-release of Ocarina of Time, just to do that in the Temple of Time. After Fi shuts up, my first impression of the Silent Realm is quite positive. Better music; better style; more threatening. It’s a much better take on the Spirit Vessel fetch-fest from Twilight Princess. The immortal Guardians remind me of Phantom Hourglass. Sure I never finished that one as I got sick of the Temple of the Ocean King, but the guardians are still cool.
They hunt me and bash me down. Fi confirms what has already been confirmed; I have failed. I’d be pissed off at having to listen to her again, but she gives decent advice. Also, I get more Dusk Relics. After getting caught in a hole during my final escape, I barely make it by. It’s a simple, yet effect sequence and a highlight of the game to this point.
The goddess leaves you a Water Dragon Scale. I pause as I write this, it floats above Link’s hand; he beams with permanent amazement. A throwback to the old days when you needed help to go underwater. Big fat Kikwi Tree Thing tells me exactly what Fi just told me. This game ruins way too many moments with its you’re-too-dumb-for-this delivery.
After swimming through the obvious hole, I wind up inside the Great Tree, which type? Snidely, I wonder if it’d be better or worse as a distant relative of the Deku Tree. Too much linking shrinks the world, too little scatters it. You’ll hear more about this later. In the meantime, I must say the spin move rules. It’s grossly illogical and tremendously useful, which is exactly how artifact-acquired powers should be. While inside the tree, I discover that you sic the Gust Bellows on mushrooms for rupees. It’s strange how much that excites me.
A Madder Red Bokoblin stands on a ledge. Showing my biases, I assume he’s some sort of unique, plot character. My excitement fades as I realize that we won’t be talking, but I come around as I realize this is basically Sumo Joust. He smacks me around at first. Ultimately, there’s nothing a few bombs don’t solve. I head up the tree and eventually find the snoring Kikwi. “It’s a secret to everybody,” he says…. And I thought I was clever.
What happens next isn’t quite filler, but isn’t quite important enough for me to write about. Link couldn’t swim underwater before, yet proves to be an Olympic-Class diver; Lake Floria isn’t Lake Hylia; and The Water Dragon grants me access to the Ancient Cistern.
Running Play Time: 19 Hours 30 Minutes
Part 1 – End.
This entry’s insights will be saved for the next. I’d rather not spill my thoughts here when they fit better with the next part. Also, this post was just getting a bit too huge.