As cliche as it may seem, I find that they are simply some of the best games ever created. I My first Zelda game was The Link's Awakening DX on the gameboy color. Oddly, I actually didn't like the game all that much. I was about 8 or 9 and I really found the constant dodging of enemies in the 2-D format to be quite stressful. When playing it more recently, it was surprised at how easy it was, but for me as a kid, it was upsetting to see my character die over and over. (I kinda sucked).
I saw this screen often as I child.
Anyway, the Zelda games didn't grow on me until I was about 11 or 12, and I watched my older cousin play Ocarina of Time with his friends. I have distinct memories of him navigating the greudo fortress, and I remembered that it looked pretty cool. Shortly afterward, my brother and I purchased majora's mask.
As a small kid, I can remember coming home from school and playing that game. I was never really any good, but I can remember me and my little brother having quite a blast with it. Anyhow, the zelda franchise became one of my favorites from that point on.
NOW THAT I HAVE MANAGED TO BORE YOU TO DEATH WITH MY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES, LET ME ACTUALLY BEGIN MY BLOG.
I want to discuss why I feel that LoZ is such an awesome franchise from a design/gameplay standpoint.
There are a couple notable aspects that make for a good single player game:
A game that can suck you in and provide a nice environment for play is the best kind. These are the kinds of games that you can sit down and play for hours on end. In order for a game to immerse you, it needs to have responsive and accessible controls, a well thought out game progression, and some sort of "motivating" factor.
Each zelda game that I have played does a pretty damn good job of each of these. The controls are usually quite crisp (the only exception for me was twilight princess). You always have immediate response to button presses, movement was very unrestrained, and the camera is almost always placed exactly where it needs to be (if it isn't you can control it yourself).
Within the realm of controls, is the idea of a generic "interact" button. Ocarina of time did this perfectly, and it really shows, especially when you are solving block/switch puzzles. It will always function as you need it (as a PULL/PUSH for blocks, or as a OPEN for doors, and a THROW for rocks and bombs), and it will always respond immediately.
Adventure games that don't do this tend to be frustrating, and its hard for me to play them for very extended periods of time.
Pushin' and pullin' dem blocks.
The game progression is also something that is well planned out. Since the game itself is not particularly restrained by any sort of storyline aspect, Shigeru Miyamoto was able to focus on making the game-play progress in a way that is intuitive to the player.
Items are added methodically, and each item has a dungeon around which it is based. Sometimes these puzzles carry to later stages of the game, and its a nice way to add variety without changing it up too much.
The fact that each dungeon has the generic "compass->map->small keys->big key" progression is also excellent, because there is no single way that dungeon design is restrained this way. Part of the puzzles can be within exploring the dungeon, another part can be fighting for small keys, part of it can be finding chests, and many times, the boss fight is a puzzle and a battle at the same time.
If you look at all of the different kinds of dungeon designs that Miyamoto has put into his games, you will notice that this method of dungeon progression allows for gameplay to become increasingly difficult without becoming confusing or overburdening.
Finally, there is also a motivating factor for the player to keep playing. Whether it be storyline driven, or just the excitement of using a new weapon, or fighting another boss, I feel like its very easy to get lost in the game and just relax and enjoy yourself.
Holyshit, I just realized I wrote like a page just to describe LoZ's immersion factor... BUT I STILL HAVE OTHER THINGS TO TALK ABOUT :(!!
Alas, it is late so I will have to talk about the other merits of its design in later posts.
For now, just remember, zelda is fun, and accessible to anyone. HOLYSHIT IT RHYMED.
DID YOU SEE THAT. DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST SEE THAT? I MADE A RHYME. ON ACCIDENT.
Oh also, you should check out this music its pretty baddass.