The Legend of Joy: Hyrule Field
It is 1998, my brother brought in this magical device of blue and white. It is something you plug in your tv and has these things called ‘controllers’ (what ever that means). I have no idea what I am watching, but suddenly I see Mario jump into a painting and I am captivated (because what the flip, right?). Every time my brother turns this device on, I sit next to him and for the first time in my tiny baby life he and I have something to talk about (me and my brother are 4 and a half years apart so a 4 year old and an eight year old mostly don’t mash well. Imagine how cool I felt I could have some semblence of a conversation with him). Other games enter our house, one is called: the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I am intrigued, fascinated and addicted. My heart starts going ‘doki doki’ at the sight of this little fictional character with his iconic green hat and dress-like tunic. In this little series I will touch upon all things Zelda that pulled my heartstrings.
At first I was too young to fully understand the story, so I was dependent on my brother to explain it to me. He told me of the mysterious sickness of the deku tree and the sages that bestow an epic quest upon you. Even now, when we go back to 2019 I can still get giddy and excited when I ride Epona around Hyrule field. Althought, I assure you now I am perfectly able to read the story myself and I don’t need him anymore to explain the plot (could you imagine that phone call?).
The reason I fell in love with Ocarina of Time is hard to pin point (why do you like what you like y’know?). I think one of the strengths of this game, albeit unexpected to some, was Hyrule field. When you leave Kokiri Forest (also known as tutorial town) you enter ‘the world’ aka Hyrule field. It’s this vast grasslands, where monsters roam and, if you’re slow, takes two days (one night) to traverse. At night mysterious skeletons come to life, and during the day you might pop into Long Long ranch to chase some chickens.
Strictly speaking, the field acts in a similar way as the castle in Mario 64. In Mario 64 you have an overworld space in which you can move, interact with object, but above all: select your levels. If you look at the design Hyrule field fulfils a similar role.
As you can see below, the grasslands connect all the other regions (read: levels). The comparison isn’t 100% since in legend of Zelda there is more branching off. For instance, before you enter the death mountain temple, you must first climb death mountain and enter Goron village, but the principle still stands.
This overworld is so interesting that every time you have to traverse it, it doesn’t degrade the game. On the contrary, it adds to the experience. The simple fact that there is a day and night cycle heightens its immersive properties. You really feel that you are on an epic quest, not when you are wrecking your brain on a puzzle, but when you gallop across Hyrule Field on your trusty steed.
An interesting overworld helps knit the different elements of a game together. Hyrule fields makes the fragmented world whole in a fun and interesting way that keeps the player engaged. It might not hold up to 2019 standards, but I believe it certainly blazed the trail for other developers to think about their overworld and how to make it engaging.
Anyways, HEY LISTEN take it easy and talk to you soon!