A long way to go to lose
December 26, 2011 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Here is a video playthrough of The Legend of Zelda without a sword. It is possible to get right up to the last boss without one, although it requires knowing a lot of tricks. That is exactly what mev1978 does in his playthrough, without dying. And then he does it again in the second quest. First quest (1:61:31) - Second quest (1:13:18)

I don't think many of you will watch all the way through these things, but if you try, take my advice. In the first quest video, when he enters the Graveyard, there's going to be a lot of grinding, so start skipping ahead.
posted by JHarris (33 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Nobody warned him it was dangerous to go alone?
posted by saturday_morning at 8:52 PM on December 26, 2011 [18 favorites]

Hah, mom got a Wii for Christmas and the first thing I did was download The Legend of Zelda and play it nonstop until I ran out of keys in Mount Doom. Family was amazed at the rigorous and thorough nature of the playthrough, baffled at how I knew where to go and what to burn/push/do on any given screen. (This game occupies a weird, unfaded bright spot in my childhood memory that I discovered today on the drive home also contains all the lyrics to Pinkerton.)

With the game fresh now in my mind, this idea of playing through without a sword makes me go huh and wish I had another week in Tucson.
posted by carsonb at 9:06 PM on December 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

You misread the times. That's First quest (161min), Second quest (113min), for a total of 274 minutes - 4hr34min. That's pretty intimidating.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was always kind of terrible at Zelda and this left me awestruck and full of hate at the same time.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2011

My 11 year finally got the new Zelda game this Christmas (that he was supposed to get last Christmas) and when I show him these tomorrow I'm sure he will watch with rapt excitement the whole way through. He'll probably be holding his new foam Minecraft pickaxe while he does. Love that little dork.
posted by Biblio at 9:24 PM on December 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

You know what would make this even more awesome?

If he had really done the whole thing without a sword except for like 1 time near the middle of the video. Since most people probably won't watch the whole thing, they'll never know; even those people who do watch will probably just be glazed over. So he'll have convinced people he did something while not doing it, yet still proven that he could do it had we wanted to.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:28 PM on December 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

What does he do at 9:53 that gets that northern locked door in the lobby of the dungeon 1 unlocked just by leaving the dungeon and returning? He pops into the start menu briefly and then back out, door is locked, he leaves the dungeon, he comes back in: bam, door unlocked. Buh?

I love annotations on my tricksy runs. Is there a companion or writeup for these?
posted by cortex at 9:29 PM on December 26, 2011

cortex, apparently it's a bug in the game.
posted by knave at 9:32 PM on December 26, 2011

cortex, I have an entire annotated version of this post already written up, linking to the YouTube versions of the run. I took it out of the FPP because, well, it is 4 hours plus already, and I'm trying to write short posts right now. I'll post it here as a comment in a bit, but it is formidably long.

But yes, it's a little known quirk of the original Zelda that, if you leave Level 1 without unlocking that door, when you return it'll be open. As far as I know it's the only door in the game that does this. I think it's special-cased in the code.
posted by JHarris at 9:35 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's been years since I played Zelda, and I may not make it through even the first run, but I'm already learning of hidden locations/bugs that I never knew about. I never even knew that the blue candle could burn enemies.
posted by sysinfo at 9:46 PM on December 26, 2011

How the heck does anyone keep track of where they are on the global map?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:52 PM on December 26, 2011

The bizarre thing is that the game is easier in some ways if you forget about the sword. I never realized how easily you can take out the boomerang guys with the bow and arrow. Those rooms were always a nightmare: trying to stay full on health so you can do the sword shooty thing.
posted by knave at 9:52 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

This makes me wish I could get into any of the new 3d Zelda games so much. I miss this game. I pretty much peaked with the SNES in terms of consoles so I've never gotten into any of the new ones.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

How the heck does anyone keep track of where they are on the global map?

It helps to create little memory aids, like e.g. rebuilding the map in Minecraft. YMMV.
posted by cortex at 10:00 PM on December 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

nothing like the sound of your bank account draining for three screens as you walk through the kingdom in your brand new blue suit.
posted by architactor at 10:48 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

JHarris: I have an entire annotated version of this post already written up, linking to the YouTube versions of the run.

Sweet! Youtube's more useful than Viddler in a couple of ways - their #t=1m15s timecode URL thingamabobs are useful, & Universal Subtitles can work with it. so you can jump around a "transcript" of collaborative annotations.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:54 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Might have to do an FPP on all the insane runs people are managing to do in Dark Seouls now -- Street Fighter (shirt- and helmet-less, only fists, pyromancy OK), Captain America (fists and shields only, no proper weapons), level one runs (no leveling, ostensibly so you can have a l33t pvp character in super-great gear to troll newbs).

Good times.
posted by bardic at 11:16 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was enjoying both the idea and execution of pacifist Link. But once he bought the candle and started wantonly incinerating bad guys, I feel the nobility of his effort dropped away.
posted by bicyclefish at 11:52 PM on December 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Okay, here's a Google Docs link with the original step-by-step explication of what's going on here. It's very long, which is why I removed it from the FPP at the last second. I hope the video links are easy to follow.
posted by JHarris at 2:29 AM on December 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

These videos show why the original game is, in some ways, still better than any of the later Zeldas, because they show how it's possible to approach its challenges in a variety of ways. The game was filled to the brim with secrets. Spend a bomb against that dungeon wall and end up skipping several rooms! Try to burn a random tree and get an extra heart!

Yet there was little clue that these things were there other than, sometimes, suggestive placement, the sense that something should be hidden there. This is a powerful, but largely unexplored way to hide secrets. Later games would abandon it; Link to the Past, and later Zeldas, puts cracks in the walls in nearly every bombable spot, basically turning bombs into just another kind of key, and reducing the purpose of the player's limited bomb capacity to combat balancing. (Later games nerf bombs, too.)
posted by JHarris at 8:31 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like that the original played with those elements, and there were definitely times when I found that making a guess at a bombable location paid off in a way that felt pretty badass. But while I agree that it would have been interesting to see the later games develop that idea, it is also an idea that definitely would have needed development; as is, to earn those moments of A ha! you had to put up with some ham-handed playtime-stretching trial-and-error tedium.

Bombing every wall and burning every bush (and shall we discuss the second quest's totally unhinted blind walk-through-wall stuff while we're at it?) is dull stuff. Dull stuff in an exciting new context as a eight-year-old in the 80s, granted, but still.
posted by cortex at 8:46 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Selling my copy of that gamecube zelda disk (It had NES Zelda I and II and N64 Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask) was the worst choice I ever made.
posted by Buckt at 9:01 AM on December 27, 2011

Well once you find the map for a level, it starts to become clear that there are locations you've missed and there must be a way to get in there. Even the secret rooms that don't appear on the map are often an glaringly obvious void on the map, that makes you want to try to get there anyway. You don't really have to bomb every single wall unless your intent is to uncover every single secret passage in the game.
posted by knave at 9:51 AM on December 27, 2011

cortex, I somewhat agree (it DID take me two months to find level 7 in the second quest), but the original Zelda handled it pretty well for the most part:

1. Something like half its screens had secrets in them. With so many secrets to find, players didn't have to resort to that much trial and error before finding one.
2. Once the player got the Red Candle, it was the work of a minute to check all the possible bushes in a screen for secrets. Bombs were a bit more problematic though.
3. The game is often pretty sensible about where it hides things. Like "Turtle Rock," the round hill to the right of the desert. It's so obvious that something's got to be hidden there -- and there was, a Heart Container no less.
4. In the first quest at least, all the dungeon location secrets are clued in hint rooms in previous dungeons. All the "real" secrets are optional; there is not a single hidden room you have to bomb or burn open to proceed that you aren't given a clue is necessary, and the game is clearly designed around this principle. (Level 7, requiring the Recorder: "There are secrets where fairies don't live." Level 8, requiring the candle: clue about tree at the dead end. Level 9, requiring bombs: "Spectacle Rock is an entrance to death.") The second quest removes this requirement, but that whole quest is kind of off the rails difficulty-wise.
5. In dungeons, the player is actually helped by a limitation of the game, that passages are only ever found in the center of the wall. So, you only have to waste one bomb to find out if a bombable passage is there.
posted by JHarris at 9:55 AM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Did it really take me two months? I've always remembered it as such, but I was a kid at the time with that kind of distorted perception of the passage of time. It's difficult to imagine that I'd put that much time into finding something now. But Level 7's tree is literally the hardest tree in the game to burn that the player could still enter the resulting passage. In a way, I can see that could be its own hint. But I certainly didn't see it that way as a kid.)
posted by JHarris at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2011

Actually, now that I think about it, Second Quest Level 2's walk-through-wall is hinted; it's at the end of a walled-off passage with no other purpose. It's true there's no clue in the game that tells you you can walk through a wall, but the designers clearly arranged that passage so that players would question why it's there. That's how I managed to find the walk-through wall when I played the game originally.

Here are the things that got me stuck when I first played through LoZ without help (one of the first games I completed really) many years ago:

- The unmapped room in Level 7 of the first quest. It seems obvious that something should be there once you know it, but I resisted checking it for a while.
- The walk-through wall in Level 2 of the second quest.
- That damn tree that hid Level 7 in the second quest.

Last year I linked to the almost-complete Zelda prototype that had turned up, and one of the interesting differences between that version and the one that got released is that it had a walk-through wall as a necessary passage in Level 9 of the first quest. Now that would have infuriated players! At least, playing the second quest, there's that sense that you're off the map, that there are strange trials at hand.
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on December 27, 2011

(Oh, and if you're still reading this cortex, pronoiac is correct about the times, there shouldn't be a colon between the video lengths in the FPP. The lengths of the videos are 161:31 and 113:18, respectively. I'm wondering what I was thinking as I wrote those now -- why would an hour have 61 minutes?)
posted by JHarris at 12:19 PM on December 27, 2011

Having an NES when Zelda came out meant you were a "rich kid". The kid with the pantry full of Oreos and Rice Krispies and stacks of Shasta six packs. The kid with a TV in his bedroom, and no sibling to share it with. The kid with the complete set of Elf Quest graphic novels. Find secrets in Zelda? Ha ha! He only lets me play it for about 15 minutes. I killed three nasties and got a rupie.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:41 PM on December 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Having an NES when Zelda came out meant you were a "rich kid"

Whaaat? I had been saving my allowance and yardwork money for MONTHS to get that when it came out. Hard work! Real rewards! A child learns the value of jobs and cash.

The kid with the pantry full of Oreos and Rice Krispies and stacks of Shasta six packs.

I mean, we had those every now and again, but it wasn't like an ever-flowing reservoir..

The kid with a TV in his bedroom, and no sibling to share it with.

That TV was in the basement, and my sister got to use it to when she wanted to watch her My Little Ponies or whichever. Two TVs in a house isn't rich!

The kid with the complete set of Elf Quest graphic novels.

Well... yes. I was rich in SPIRIT, man. Those books were great...
posted by FatherDagon at 1:36 PM on December 27, 2011

The copy of Zelda I played on was borrowed from a cool cousin with lots of NES games.
posted by JHarris at 1:50 PM on December 27, 2011

"allowance and yardwork money" = cash in hand for rich kids, especially if it was your own yard. Seriously, allowance? That's the mystical thing that Theo got from Dr. Huxtable once a week.

Don't stress, I'm just bitter. We were so fucking broke all the time...my mom would splurge on Cheerios and I'd get so excited that I couldn't sleep the night before eating it for breakfast.

Sorry for the derail, but those are the kinds of memories that get dredged up by original Zelda. That fuckn rich kid and his fuckn laser tag and his name brand toothpaste.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:59 PM on December 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Awww Brocktoon. You could play it now if you wanted.
posted by JHarris at 8:29 PM on December 27, 2011

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