Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Zelda Effect

So, yesterday I decided to go back to Zelda: Twilight Princess. Yeah, I never beat it. I haven't beaten Wind Waker either, that ones next. But that's besides the point. While playing today I began wondering what the next Zelda may be like, what the controls will be, and what it will look like. All of these things could be debated on a speculated over for hours, but the thing that all of this thinking made me realize is that, my favorite Zelda, hell, one of my favorite games of all time, Oot, didn't have any of the things gamers have become so used to now. Their was no voice acting, the graphics, while good for the time, aren't quite as amazing today, the plot was pretty meh, and the controls where good old standard button pressing controls.

What made this game so amazing? It seems to lack so many things on paper, yet it still holds up as many gamers favorite today. I believe what makes the first 3D zelda amazing, is the same thing that makes all of them amazing. The sense of adventure, the expertly polished gameplay, the great controls, the fun puzzles, the epic feel, and most of all, the music. The Zelda series has single handedly created the most atmospheric and unforgettable musical tracks in the history of gaming.

No gamer who has ever played Oot will be able to forget Zelda's Lullaby, Eponas song, or the Overworld Theme. These and many others just made the games experience stick with you, no matter if you want it to or not. If anybody doubts this has any part to do with the praise and loving memories of the game, just think for a moment. I dare you to find any four notes with more meaning than those you hear when opening a chest. Hell, I dare you to find any entire instrumental tune with more significance. Those four notes signify victory, and progress to an entire generation of gamers.

I'm not saying that everything was on the music here, because it wasn't. Zelda was an amazing game judging by its gameplay alone, no doubt about that. But the combination of memorable melodies and great gameplay combined to be an amazing, even life changing experience. This to me shows just how important music is in games. Every part of a game is important, which is what causes the price to be so much higher than other mediums, because its basically a combination of all mediums, plus interactivity and it all needs to be created and pieced together.

Yet, this allows games to do so much more, cause immense amounts of emotion, and tell stories in ways impossible in any other form, with details that can be felt, not just shown. Games can have a big impact on people, developers just need to stop imitating other mediums, like movies, and focus on what makes games different. Zelda does this very well, and its the reason it ages so perfectly, it blends gameplay and music, it lets you interact with the melodies, it associates different songs and tunes with different feelings, and it does it all unbelievably well. The day that all developers learn this is the day that games truly become an art form.

At the time it is still hit and miss, and developers are still trying to imitate movies and books, and it doesn't make bad games, it just doesn't make unforgettable experiences pressed onto a disc like I'd hope. We just need one game to really nail it, to surpass Zelda in this aspect, to realize video games full potential. Here's to hoping that's soon.


Wade said...

Agreed. Mind you, I zoned out on a couple paragraphs because Koh wouldn't stop saying "wade" repeatedly. And I love the little video that just goes da da da da!

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