Link trudges south across a beige flatland, his shield hoisted. Scuttling about him are Octoroks, red cephalopods with a cannon maw that identifies them as cross-catalogue cousins to Mario’s Birdo. The Hero of Hyrule draws his sword and prepares to join battle. Before he does, a greenish gray smog descends over the land. The heroic music chokes and stutters. My older brother and I moan. Our Hyrule is buggy, prone to armageddons of corrupted data. My brother yanks the cartridge from the NES and blows on the circuitboard like he’s playing harmonica, then slots it back in. I watch eagerly, waiting for Hyrule to return.
Since then, just one other game has enthralled me like that. The game was Link to the Past, because it was the first Zelda I was old enough to play instead of watch. Of the handful of other games to come close, most were Zelda sequels: Link’s Awakening in green monochrome on my half-brick Game Boy; Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.
Twilight Princess came out five years ago. In the meantime I’ve gotten tired of gaming.
After the jump, I’m getting too old for this
I’m not sure if the games are responsible — almost all of them strike me as uninspired or shallow — or if it’s me. Out of habit, I still keep up with everything, like an expatriate reading papers from the motherland, though the news has got nothing to do with him. I frequent Quarter to Three, read reviews, previews, even development blogs of games I will never play.
I’m out of school now and worried about finding work. I’m eager to avoid any part of the post-grad wastrel stereotype. When I read about Penny Arcade, Bulletstorm, and Duke Nukem controversies, I feel like gaming culture hasn’t grown up with me. I suspect it’s time to put away childish things.
Yet I’m reticent to lay down a long-standing pastime. And there’s something I need to do before hanging it up. See, in all my years of playing across the franchise’s many iterations, I have never once completed Link’s quest. Dozens of saves have been abandoned with the Princess and Hyrule definitively unsaved. So to find out if it’s me or the games that have changed, I’m returning to my favorite. If there’s one game I would enjoy, it’s Link to the Past. If not, at least I’ll have finally finished it.
Up next…could someone open the door? I locked myself out.
Erik Germani is 23 and has a pretty sparse CV. You may recognize him from such pieces as the one you just read.