Something which occurred to me after bouncing around a few sites was that I’m going about this process with a slight miscalculation. The elements of these games are more akin to myth arcs of heros than to the fairy tales that plague children with nightmares. What I mean by this is that they will always contain a level of action as well as exploration, rather than exploration and adventure which happens to have action. Survival horror overhaul not so much. Action horror overhaul yes.
So what’s the difference? Well, for one, the tropes that both rely on are different, to a certain degree. Vulnerability in a protagonist isn’t mandatory, and indeed, Link is nothing if not an adaptable antagonist whose vulnerabilities are downplayed as game play progresses. Vulnerability is still in place, but not at the forefront. A parallel would be Dead Space as action horror against Silent Hill as survival horror. The protagonists are both vulnerable and capable, but Dead Space’s lead is encased in armour and weilds a number of power tools while the lead’s of Silent Hill games are underpowered and mostly stay that way. The difference is the focus of frailty.
This doesn’t deviate that far from my original intent. Survival horror would have Link negotiate Koholint with a shield and a limited supply of magic powder and that’s it. Action horror gives him a full complement of tools (see below) while still keeping his frailty (and fatality) a pressing concern by ramping up the difficulty of dungeons and the damage dealt by monsters. Genre change doen with, onwards!
Legend of Zelda has become, over its many iterations, formulaic. Link goes about the over world, exploring, uncovering minor treasures (pieces of heart, rupees, etc) and talking to the many inhabitants which he meets. He is directed, after some story events, towards the first of several themed dungeons. He makes his to the dungeon. Inside the dungeon he finds a new tool or weapon which he uses to negotiate the puzzles he encounters and to defeat the boss which guards the quest item. Link’s new tool might then be used to open up new passages in the over world, allowing for more exploring.
This is something which sees some variety (Link finds his new toy before the dungeon, to gain access to it, the boss isn’t beaten using the newly acquired tool) but has, for the most part, become tradition. This game is no different. All of the tools and weapons link acquires fit into or overlap between three categories: offense, defence, environmental/ease of access. What follows is the item placement and the flow. I’ll go into detail of specific items afterwards.
Wake up/On the Way (OtW) – sword.1, shield.1, magic powder (from mushroom)
Level 1: Tail Cave – Roc’s Feather
OtW – Bombs
Level 2: Bottle Grotto – Power Bracelet
OtW – Shovel, Ocarina
Level 3: Key Cavern – Pegasus Boots
OtW – song, (date with Marin), sword.2
Level 4: Angler’s Tunnel – Flippers
Level 5: Catfish’s Maw – shield.2
OtW – bow, (reveal, life boost)
Level 6: Face Shrine – daydream cloak
OtW – rooster, shield.3
Level 7: Eagle’s Tower – Rope (hookshot replacement)
OtW – sword.3 (seashells)
Level 8: Turtle Rock – fire rod/lamp
OtW – boomerang
Wing Fish/End Game
For the most part Link’s tools fall under multiple categories. The sword itself is both ease of access as well as the primary offensive tool. Bushes that block Link’s way are cut down (ignoring the logic of just jumping over bush, of climbing about it, but that’s game logic so we’ll move past it), opening new paths. Come to think of it, most all the tools that Link acquires are used to get past broken bridges at one point or another.
- The Sword – The battered sword (fist level) does one quarter damage and is found on the beach. The steel sword (second level) does regular damage and is found in caves on the way to Anglers tunnel. The Seashell Sword (level three) is found in the seashell cottage and does double damage as well as sending out sword beams at full life.
- The Shield – Link gets a wooden shield (first level) from Marin before he explores the beach at the beginning of the game, which last fifteen to twenty hits before breaking. The solid bone shield (level two) is found in Catfish’s Maw and doesn’t break, but can still be stolen by like-likes. Link finds the mirror shield (level three) before Eagle’s Tower.
- Magic Powder – Made from a mushroom found in the Mysterious Wood, this changes a few enemies but is mostly used to set things of fire. Sources of light are valuable and finding refills are important. Fire and light plays a larger part when night comes and shadows need to be kept at bay.
- Roc’s Feather – Let’s Link jump. No change.
- Bombs – Bought from the Mabe shop, these now cause far more damage, doing a full seven hearts of damage to Link. Link is warned about their damage when he buys them from the shop.
- Power Bracelet – Pick up pots rocks and other things. No change.
- Shovel – Allows Link dig in the ground. Bought from the shop in Mabe Village. No change.
- Ocarina – Plays songs and is found in the dream shrine in Mabe Village. Link learns a few more songs, the Ballad of the Wind Fish, Frog’s Song of Soul (resurrects the dead or asleep), Manbo’s Mambo (teleports Link to different ponds on the island), Muse’s Melody (progress the time of day to dawn), Hero’s Anthem (repels monster’s), and Richard’s Requiem (learned upon Richard’s death near the end of the game, this restocks inventory items (bombs, bow, powder, etc).
- Pegasus Boots – Using the boots allows Link to dash as well as charge. Holding down the button makes Link run on the spot before charging forward. Tapping a direction without holding down to charged makes link dash in a direction, acting as a dodge backward and a strafe to each side.
- Flippers – Allows Link to swim and dive. No change.
- Bow – Buy from the shop for a very large sum. No change.
- Daydream Cloak – similar effect to the Cane of Somaria from A Link to the Past, this turns link intangible and invisible, visible only by his shadow, allowing him to bypass traps and the gaze of monsters, but not holes, or damage by contact. This is one of the items that is heavily influenced by the reveal of just before Face Shrine, where Link finds it.
- Rope – The rope is found in Eagle’s tower and, if used with the bow, acts as a makeshift hookshot. Used alone it immobilizes enemies, tethering them for a short period of time. Sword and rope makes a wide spin attack, while equipped with the power bracelet it can be used to pull, lift and throw things from a distance.
- Fire rod/lamp – The last tool Link finds in a dungeon, and the last mandatory weapon to equip before Link heads off to wake the Wind Fish, this lantern sends out a stream of fire (link the fire rod) which burns things alive. When equipped, it also produces a radius of light which repels shadows and nightmarish creatures that thrive on the dark. This makes traveling the over world far less threatening, as Link now has a constant source of light during the night periods which keep monsters away.
- Boomerang – Traded in a cave on the beach for one of the items in your inventory. No change