A Link to the Past to the Past to the Past

Okay, so I’m still playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but only just, because I actually made it to the final fight with Ganon this evening. Well, and in fact I’ve defeated Ganon. But the way that happened, and the fight through the absurdly large dungeon just prior to finding him, have been according to pretty much “cheaty” means.

Not that I’ve specifically cheated in the “cheat-code” sense – I’m not even sure that there are cheat codes for the game. But I’ve ended up making liberal use of two unfair advantages. One of those is a walkthrough. Frankly, I’m just not smart enough or perseverant enough to make it through this game without some help. The other is a major leveraging of save-and-reload.

The walkthrough stuff is nothing much to write home about – I read mostly about how to find important objects and very occasionally to understand one of the many puzzles the game provides. The walkthrough definitely wrecks large parts of my sense of accomplishment, but otherwise I’d be playing the game for the next year, and I don’t want to.

The save-and-reloading has been a bit more interesting. As I’ve progress through the game I’ve become more and more paranoid about losing any progress. I’ve become utterly addicted to this. At first, just not wanting to get screwed while I’m in a dungeon and having to redo the whole thing. Then not wanting to lose progress on a single floor of a dungeon. Then saving in individual rooms. A kind of arms race of saving against my paranoia about the amount of time it all takes. It got to the point toward the end where I was saving every time I did anything good, and reloading back every time anything bad happened.

As with all games, the save-and-reload thing leads to funny contemplation of the “real” timeline of the game itself. It’s always interesting to think about how the avatar experiences their life – presumably they just experience a more-or-less “perfect” telling of the story of the game. Maybe they get beat up a little, but they never die. Whereas the timeline for the player is much more fractured. Death, mistakes, restore, restore. In the case of my recent playing of Zelda it’s extremely jagged. There are Links who only exist for seconds at a time, then pop back out again when they lose a single bit of health or miss a crucial swing of the sword.

I wonder where they go?

26 September 2010
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