Ben's Beginnings - First Zelda Game

You know, Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. Despite being born a few days from the first day of Summer, and despite loving Summer vacation from school -- it honestly isn't my favorite of the four. Sure, you can swim and do other things outside in the Summer (and I also don't mind the heat), but there's something special about Fall I just can't fully put into words. I guess I have a lot of fond memories from the Fall months, and there's always the changing of the leaves to look forward to. Oh, and you can't forget about Thanksgiving or Black Friday! And of course there's Halloween before it all. Really, there's just a lot about Fall that I love, and thinking back on it all just gives me that "warm fuzzy" feeling inside. As cheesy as that sounds. 

Now I know, this blog isn't about Fall, but I felt like I needed to at least say this... Because, you see... Like every other season out there, there are specific games and game series that remind me of fall as well. They are games that take me back to the first time I played them, and are games I enjoy playing every Fall season when I get the chance. One such series is none other than Zelda. It's not just because of the game's settings, but rather, the points in my life where I actually played each title. Strangely, most of the games were something I was given or bought in the Fall, and before I knew it, it became somewhat of a tradition for me. And it all started back when I received my first Zelda game: Ocarina of Time Master Quest.

When I first got OoT (which is what I'll be calling it from here on out), I really didn't know much about Zelda. I had played the demo in Walmart and hit the chickens to see what would happen (we all know what happened), but that was really my extent of Zelda knowledge. I never planned on ever playing these games, and I never thought they were something my parents would get me... And I was right! It wasn't my parents who got it for me -- it was actually my cousin. 

At the time I had no idea what was going on in the world of gaming. I had the new Game Cube, and I knew there would be more games I wanted for it, but that was really it. I didn't get on the internet much back then (the world was a different place), and as a 12 year old there was really only so much I had access to. I'd go to when I was at my grandpa's house, and that as really about it. Even then, I had no idea what this new Zelda Wind Waker game was, and once again I had no interest. I was all about Mario, Kirby, Megaman, and Sonic back then. But then, that one random day everything changed.

Coming back from vacation, we stopped by my aunt's house out of state, and spent a couple hours there just seeing that side of the family. I didn't think anything of it, but when my cousin (who was 8 years older than me) got home, he was surprised to see us. "Hey I got something for you!" I remember him yelling, as he turned around and went back outside to go to his car. He came back with a GCN game, and handed it over to me. It was Zelda OoT Master Quest. Apparently WW had came out months ago, and any left over copies of it's preorder bonus (Master Quest) was up for grabs, so he picked up one for me as he was working at Target at the time. Again, I had no idea what Zelda was really, and I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was the main character was named Link (thanks Smash Bros 64), and I remembered the chicken thing... But I was excited never the less! So for the entire drive home (which was a little over an hour) I just sat there imagining what the game would be like as I read the manual.

I was pretty blown away by the game honestly. I had never really played an adventure style game like that before, but I also found myself really struggling to get through it. Playing the Master Quest version was my first mistake, and my second was naming my character QAASFQWERAF or something. I didn't feel like typing my name in, so I just hit random letters -- only to find Link being called that in game as well! So, I restarted and gave him the proper name of "Linke." Um... Yeah... Moving on...

Exploring the town, finding the sword and shield, and making it all to the first dungeon are memories I'll never forget. I felt like I was accomplishing something with every step I took, and I couldn't wait to get outside the forest and explore the giant world that awaited me. Of course, this was the first time OoT freaked me out as well, as skeletons broke out of the ground, and the gate to Castle Town was lifted right before my eyes. I should've realized right then and there that it was only going to get worse for me, but I didn't. Instead I faced my fears, pushed forward, and assumed nothing would bother me in it again.

Thankfully I had at least one friend at school who had played the normal OoT, so he helped me out in some ways, but in other ways -- I was completely lost. I didn't understand the basics of the game, and that's a big problem when the altered puzzles rely on your past knowledge of the original version! I had a hard enough time figuring out I had to light a stick on fire, but here my friend was telling me where I needed to go, and nothing he told me worked. My biggest hang up was in the second dungeon, where I kept failing at bringing bombs into one of the rooms to blow up the crates. I KNEW the key to opening the next door was within that box, but how the heck was I supposed to get a bomb to it!? I spent countless hours trying, and all I accomplished was blowing myself up.Yeah... I didn't realize you could just roll into boxes to break them, until I did it by mistake in town, and one blew up before me... I'll never forget that day either, or me waking up early on a Saturday morning to finally finish off the dungeon.

Moving on from there -- the third dungeon actually didn't cause me too many issues. I remember I sat there and played it as my grandma watched me (parents had gone out or something for the day), and I remember her making comments about how stupid it was the fish girl wouldn't do anything for herself. (Really, I think that's the only time my grandma has ever watched me play a game -- minus the VR stuff I would go on to show her years later.) I remember being annoyed as well, but overall I was just excited to finally be reaching my goal of making it to Adult Link's time. 

I shut the game off. Not even kidding. After a couple of months of working on making it that far -- I chickened out. Link stepped out of the Temple of Time and into the streets, and I completely freaked out at the sight of the redeads.. Eventually I did come back to the game of course, but it took me some time to get up the courage. I remember I basically closed my eyes, and just ran for my life to get out of town, and then told myself I would never go back in there. (Obviously... That didn't work.) 

From then on I continued to get freaked out by the temples... The well... Those THINGS... Like Likes... The hands... And just pretty much everything. OoT became my after school nightmare, yet I continued to force myself through it day after day. I didn't realize it at the time, but it had slowly become one of my new favorite series, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Heck, by the time Christmas came around, I was playing Christmas songs on the Ocarina! Eventually I did have to take a break from the game however; as Christmas eve had turned my mom against the game. Or rather, my uncle did.

The whole "Zelda is demonic" thing got brought up for who knows what reason, and she basically didn't want me to play it anymore. "What is wrong with this game!?" She asked me, and of course I didn't have an answer for that. I don't know what my uncle told her, but it was enough to get her to turn on it. Thankfully my dad (who is the much more religious one in our family in general) wasn't bothered by it, and over the years he would continue to buy me Zelda stuff as gifts. My mom always had it in her head that I "hated Zelda," and would always ask him things like "why would you buy him that?" But, my dad knew I was a fan of the series, and my love for it didn't die with OoT. Sadly I missed out on Twilight Princess at release, but I would eventually go back and play it once I had a job of my own. Games like Majora's Mask were ones I was able to play thanks to other friends and family members, and my dad himself bought me Phantom Hourglass for Christmas one year. Heck, even when I was on my Zelda "break" I didn't really even stop then. Thanks to my copy of Animal Crossing and the Action Replay that unlocked NES games, I was able to just use it to play Zelda 1. I never stopped loving the series, but I also can't say I'm a fan of all the games either. OoT will always be special to me, but it's honestly not even my favorite anymore. Rather than replaying the game, I typically prefer to just reread the manga (something I still recommend most fans read if they haven't). 

But anyway, my road with Zelda started in such a weird unexpected way, and I'll always be grateful that my cousin got me into it. Funny enough, last year he came to my house for a visit, and brought with him his two sons. They completely freaked when they saw my Zelda collectibles, and went on and on about how much they loved the games themselves. My cousin had no idea what they were talking about and seemed annoyed by the whole thing (as they bug him about Zelda non stop at home), so of course I had to rub it in that he was the reason I was into the series as well. Strange how things work out that way sometimes.

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