Hello Zelda Universe, it has been a while since I’ve sat down and written an article for you to ponder about life and how many aspects can relate to the Zelda series. I had a great time writing my very first article on the subject and have finally decided to write a series in which I will explore the numerous lessons we can learn from The Legend of Zelda; video games can be so much more than just games.
This article series will be entitled “Hidden Skills” and will hopefully be published on a regular basis. This week we will explore the first hidden skill: seeing things on the big picture scale.
As I played through Skyward Sword I often felt the repetitive nature of many Zelda games: questing for multiple pieces of [insert favorite Zelda multi-part relic]. If you’re playing a Zelda game, there is an overwhelming chance that, at some point, Link will be coerced to gather a set of “puzzle pieces” that will be used in conjunction to reveal a “key” that will unlock the next part of Link’s journey.
More than likely, a specific item in a series will be acquired upon the completion of a dungeon; two perfect examples are the Spiritual Stones in Ocarina of Time and the Fused Shadows in Twilight Princess. These dungeons are the bread and butter of any Zelda title; a key aspect that cannot be ignored. When looked at in singular form, a dungeon does not sound as threatening as completing a strenuous quest like saving Hyrule. Yes, each dungeon contains obstacles that the player must overcome, but facing the task at hand lets us focus our minds and concentrate on what we are trying to accomplish.
The most obvious hurdle facing each player is the dungeon’s boss, the mastermind of the puzzling lair. Sometimes using every aspect learned in the progression of the dungeon—items gained, puzzles completed, enemies defeated—the boss battle puts everything at stake as the player seeks a relic that will allow progression further into the game. Whether trumped by its flawed weak spot, object of bane, or puzzling sequence of demise, the defeat of a boss should be marked with a feeling of accomplishment for any player.
Zelda games have a great mix of time spent completing dungeons and time spent exploring a vast overworld. However, the player can only explore and complete a limited number of tasks before continuing on to the next dungeon to acquire a necessary item or skill; dungeons really do build the skeleton of the Zelda series. These dungeons can reflect the struggles and stressful situations we must overcome; these events may not be as rigid or evenly distributed throughout our overworlds, but they do come.
If Link were to wander aimlessly around Hyrule the land would fall into despair and create a time of darkness and desperation. We can look toward The Wind Waker’s back story to see evidence of this when Link does not return to save Hyrule from the clutches of Ganon. Fleeing from or ignoring a responsibility or problem will never result in a prosperous outcome.
As mentioned earlier, a tiresome, overwhelming undertaking can be overcome easier if broken down into smaller sub-tasks. We see this reoccurring theme in the Zelda series: overworld exploration, dungeon, overworld exploration, dungeon, etc. However, when you compile each section of game play, an entire storyline where Link builds strength, wisdom, and courage is constructed and ultimately Hyrule is saved. After the final blow is delivered and the credits roll, we can look back in retrospect at the big picture and see just how much Link has grown in his cumbersome journey.
I encourage you to look at the big picture of your journey and remind yourself how far you’ve come during times of hardship. And just as Link has many companions who help him along his quest, your story will also be filled with close friendships and acquaintances that lend aid to you in your perils.