Nintendo's beloved The Legend of Zelda series has a knack for roping players into its ever-expanding mythos of faeries, gorons, moblins, and zoras, but it seems that with each new sequel, players are forced to have their hands held for a prolonged period of time before the adventure actually begins. What once started out as simply "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this." before tossing Link to the wolves has turned into a tradition of hour-long tutorials and lots of expository dialogue ending with something along the lines of "Would you like me to repeat all of that? → Yes No" Matthew Martin over at Cult Of Whatever has crunched the numbers to determine just how long these tutorials have become and which games are the worst offenders.
Whereas the N64 game transitioned you from tutorial to first dungeon very naturally (you get your sword and shield and then enter the Tree, easy-peasy), Wind Waker’s first action sequence takes place, not in a dungeon, but in a forest, as you attempt to rescue Tetra from Ganon’s minions. That action sequence is first teased, when you look through the telescope your sister gets your for your birthday, but even the tease doesn’t come until after seventeen minutes of running around town “learning the basics.” After you know what you have to do (adventure!) you still have to go to the sword master (tutorial!) and “fight him” (that is, you have to learn how to do all the various sword strikes, even if you’ve played the game fifty times before). Once you’ve done that, finally, you can head off on the adventure. It’s fun the first time, but after a few more times it can be very tiring indeed.
I don't mind going alone, but just let me go! These increasingly long tutorials are part of the reason why the Zelda games are starting to fall off of my radar. I want to play them, but I also know that I don't want to sit through a long learning experience to teach me that rupees are worth money and that it's possible to throw pots. I've known these series conventions for thirty years! There really should be a way for seasoned players to bypass all of the instruction or, better yet, shape the experience so that all of the up-front training isn't necessary.
I've bought the modern remakes of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess intent on replaying them all, but whenever I look at the cartridge or disc, I think of that seemingly endless exposition and put it back on the shelf. I don't have hours upon hours at a time to dedicate to these games anymore. Often I am looking for a quick hit of action which is why when I get the itch to replay a Zelda game, I turn to the original Nintendo Entertainment System titles or the Game Boy titles which kick Link off on a journey basically right away. I'm so glad that the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild promises to follow in those old structural footsteps. I want to swing swords at monsters, not herd goats or go fishing right at the start.
Would you like me to repeat all of that?