This may not apply to you, but will apply to the vast majority of readers. You’re already upset and hate me. The only reason you continue reading is because I’ve offended you so much, that you need to know exactly how much you hate me. If nothing else, I can guarantee that by the end of this article you will know exactly how much you hate me. I also assure you, that judging from my personality, I deserve a lot of hate. Still, my hope for you is that you can get something more constructive out of this article. This is not about OoT being a bad game, it is about it being a great game, but not perfect. This is important for us to admit, because that is how we let game developers know what works and what we would like improved. If all we do is apologize for faults, we don’t create the environment developers need to encourage improvement. OoT was a pioneer in gaming in how it translated a two dimensional game’s essence into a three dimensional space. There was no history of proven concepts for it to follow as guidelines. 3D gaming was a new concept and it would have been impossible for them to get every detail perfect. This article is about identifying those details and not allowing for their repeat simply because: “Ocarina did it, so it’s okay.”
15 How Upset You’re Feeling Right Now
I cannot understate how much the hate you’re feeling is an indicator for the game’s faults being generally overlooked and how much I, as a person, deserve that hate. There is no such thing as a perfect game. There is no such thing as a perfect anything. You learn about circles throughout your life in math class then find out there are no perfect circles in the universe and even NASA is 3 ten-millionths of an inch off from making one. Don’t get me started on the band. A Perfect Circle? More like A Good-Enough Circle (why am I picking fights with more fan-bases when I know I’m already in deep shit?). The point is, it is okay to have constructive criticism for a game you love.
14 Auto Jumping Off Ledges And Narrow Bridges
I’ve put this one early in the list because the starting area, Kokiri Village, was the biggest transgressor of this issue. The game starts, you’re in a room, but soon you step out into this mystical, multi-level, forest village. Everywhere you look, there’s something going on and you’re just let loose to explore. You want to take everything in at once, go everywhere, and see everything. However, you only have one controller stick, so looking and moving simultaneously is awkward. Then you move too close to an edge on a bridge and down you jump. Now you have to stop, find a ladder somewhere and return to where you jumped from. It’s frustrating and could have been avoided with a button mechanic that toggled hanging or jumping off a ledge.
13 Slides And Side-Hops Are Faster Than Running
It just looks silly when the main character in a game travels long distances entirely through forward slides. Or, if you’ve mastered the game and don’t need to look where you’re going, you can travel even faster with the side-hops. This is not an added feature, this is bad game design. Neither of these should be more efficient methods of travel than running. The slides, side-hops, and backflips are probably one of the best things OoT introduced. However, these are short-burst movements meant for combat positioning. The fact that they replaced running means the developers failed in balancing the design in their short and long distance movement.
12 One Analog Stick And Three Dimensions
Unfortunately, the Nintendo 64 controller only has one analog stick. The limitations of that kind of controller become apparent in this game. The game often requires the player to explore their three dimensional surroundings, but only having one analog stick makes the task clunky and awkward. This leads to many moments the player will feel like what happened to them is unfair. Bats descend vertically on top of them from off screen or they are hit by a spinning floor trap they cannot see coming. To repeat, the problem isn’t that the player is being hit from behind, it is that the game’s design provides inadequate tools prevent those situations.
11 Shooting An Illuminati Eye To Open A Door Is Not A Puzzle
I understand that, while not being the first ever 3D game, OoT was definitely a pioneer for 3D gaming. I also understand the impulse to make as much as possible about exploring this, literal, added dimension. A lot of players, at the time, had their minds blown by the concept of looking up and around for the solution to a presented problem. Until then, in 2D spaces, all the information was readily available to a player upon entering a room. Yet, looking up and shooting some illuminati eye or diamond with an arrow, in order to open a door, is not a puzzle. It is a gimmick, entirely used too often, and is never coupled with any foreshadowing elements or breathtakingly designed ceilings. The whole ordeal is bland and boring.
10 The Gold Skulltulas
Collecting the Gold Skulltulas is such a mundane task. You will not get any feeling of accomplishment from its difficulty or overcoming a puzzle to collect them. All you will get is a feeling of relief from the cessation of the constant “spider shuffle” sound. The Gold Skulltulas are just like the illuminati eye door-opening gimmick. You stop your forward progress, you awkwardly look around the room, and you shoot what needs shooting. These are investments of time, not skill, and a gamer’s feeling in collecting all of them reflects that. Having your player feel accomplished in that he invested his time, not overcame an obstacle, is not actually rewarding game design.
9 Streamlined Dungeon Formula
I want to be clear out of the gate with this one; I really enjoyed the dungeons in this game. I just think they are constraining in your creativity to approach them and fighting their bosses. Every dungeon’s halfway mark is finding the key item to fight that dungeon’s boss. This means that every dungeon boss fight the player will face will differ, because of it being centered around a different item’s mechanics. However, this also means that each dungeon boss has only one way to be defeated. You rob, from the player, the opportunity to get creative and find his own rhythm during the pace of the battle.
No matter how much you love this game or are ready to deny any criticisms, you knew that this entry was coming. Navi is a notorious example in gaming of how to annoy the player. That shrill “Hey, listen!” all who have played the game likely remember. The worst part isn’t the pitch of her voice or how often she will interrupt the player. The worst part is why she is interrupting the player. The game is presented as massive and open world. Almost everything the player can see in the horizon is a real place they can visit. Yet, there’s only one specific place they’re allowed to go and Navi is there ready to nag them if they step off the predetermined path.
7 Single Analog Stick And Flying Enemies
One of the most annoying things to deal with in the game is when a bunch of bats descends on the player while they are fighting other ground enemies. The mix-up in enemy types is a good game design and makes for a more demanding experience. The problem lies in the camera movement. The Z-targeting system is great to give the player focus and opens up new combat mechanics, but once an enemy is defeated, the game design lacks an effective method for the player to regain their bearings. The camera unlocks into a seemingly random direction and the player has to struggle to relearn the positioning of the remaining enemies. This opens them up to many, unfair, opportunities to take damage from unseen sources.
6 Enemy Combat Based On Waiting
Most of the enemies in OoT don’t ask the player for their skill to defeat them, only their patience. The combat style revolves around the enemy being invulnerable for a period of time, then opening themselves up to be attacked. Skultulla, Wolfo, Gerudo Thief, etc. They are not necessarily difficult to fight, they just demand patience to wait for an opening. All you can do is wait, because swinging at them in their invulnerable states does nothing. You also can’t provoke them into attacking, so that wait time cannot be shortened. This may not be true for all enemies, but it comes up often in the game and is a lazy game design substitute for difficulty.
5 Opening Treasure Chests Takes Entirely Too Long
I know, this one sounds more like nitpicking than an outright issue. The reason I include it is because of how unnecessary it is. I can accept how long the different ocarina songs take to time-travel or teleport. Those are classic game design tricks for masking load times for that new area. The chests are different, they take time to open because the game is trying to force suspense on you. As a gamer, it was your progress towards finding and unlocking that chest that built your suspense. Taking 10 seconds to open that chest (not to mention the time for scrolling through the item description) is not suspenseful, it’s agitating. Not to mention how infuriating it is when you want to replay the game and already know what is in it.
4 The Water Temple
The Water Temple is notorious in the world of gaming. Most people openly hate it and vent their frustrations about it, while the rest dismiss it as “not that bad” to solidify their feeling of superiority. The main reason it was frustrating was because progress keys could easily be missed and backtracking was tedious. As previously mentioned, most people missed progress keys because the game wanted you to explore a new 3D space, but the design and tools given to you to do that were inadequate. At least in other dungeons, they immediately stopped your progress and forced you to boringly look around a room for an illuminati eye. In this dungeon, you can move forward, only to backtrack and boringly look around a room for what leads to a key.
3 All The Annoyingly High Pitched Sounds
The game relies heavily on shrill, high pitched sounds. This is not a game ruining experience, but it is jarring considering how many hours players dedicated to this game and how often they have to hear those sounds. Young Link having a slightly higher pitched voice is one thing, but that yelp he lets out every time he’s knocked down is disturbing. Still, it’s not as disturbing as the Great Fairies and their entrances. Creepy character modeling on top of shrill laughs has caused many a player’s nightmares. Then there’s the Gibdo shrieks and the Wolfo howls when they spot Link, to mention a few. These weren’t great sound design choices for a game with about 40 hours of gameplay.
2 Bomb Throwing
The bomb throwing in this game is unnecessarily difficult to aim. Part of it is the limitations of a single analog stick controller, but it is also due to the lack of a throwing arc indicator. You are not given any indication of how high or far link will lob his bombs. Especially in a game where you have a fairy that nags you with hints and tips on how to do everything, why would this be the thing she doesn’t help you to do. Gamers eventually develop a feel for the distance and make it work as they have more experience playing, but that is just an example of the player compensating for a design flaw.
1 Zelda’s Wasted Time Training As Sheik
Zelda's character arc in OoT is very interesting, especially in an era where game story telling had very low standards. Zelda is not a generic damsel-in-distress like other games would lazily use to motivate player purpose. She escapes Ganondorf's grasp at the beginning of the game and shows her faith in the player by throwing the Ocarina to Link. We later find out she spends the following seven years training with the Gerudo under the disguise of Sheik. Then, nearly a decade later, her gamble pays off, the hero of time rejoins her, and she reveals her identity to him. Only for her to be kidnapped, immediately. She is built-up well during the game, only to be written out of having an impact on the endgame boss fight.