Ocarina of Crimes: Checkpoint
Welcome retro ladies and old school gents, today I begin a new sub-series that I think I’m going to call “Ocarina of Crimes.” Yes, I am here to bash The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Bear in mind that this is one of my favorite games and one I played growing up (despite only having finished it on the 3DS recently). However there are still many, many things wrong with the game, some of which drive me up a wall. One of those things is the game’s checkpoint system.
So you start playing Ocarina of Time, make it through the first dungeon, meet up with Zelda and start making your way up Death Mountain to the next dungeon. Let’s assume you did this in one big gaming session and are now ready to quit. You bring up the start menu and save your game. It’s not until you boot the game up on your next gaming session do you realize that the game has deceived you. It didn’t actually save your “progress,” why? BECAUSE YOU’RE BACK IN THE KOKIRI FUNKIN FOREST!!!
Yes folks, Ocarina of Time claims to let you “save anywhere” but in reality when you restart your game (either after saving or dying) you restart at pre-determined “checkpoints” within the game world. For instance if you save/quit or die anywhere in the over world as Young Link, you start back at the very first room in the game: your house in Kokiri Forest. Period. If you’re adult Link, you start back at the Temple of Time in Hyrule Castle which is practically empty and devoid of anything interesting. The only “checkpoints” that make any modicum of sense are the dungeon checkpoints. If you die or save/quit in a dungeon, you will start at the entrance to that dungeon. That’s something but still feels unfairly punishing, especially if you’re just save/quitting the game.
Previous Zelda games did this as well, for instance the original game would always start you at the Old-Man-Sword Cave or the last dungeon you completed. In fact, pretty much every Zelda game has been very vague on what “saving” actually does and where you’ll restart when you come back. This is very annoying and can either extend your gaming sessions longer than necessary (not that that’s always a bad thing, but you know, responsibilities) or prevent you from actually playing the game unless you have a large block of time to play. Starting a play session and then having to quit right after accomplishing some difficult feat or puzzle is frustrating when you know you’re going to lose all that progress.
Ocarina’s sequel, Majora’s Mask, had a slightly better idea for saving/restarting your progress. Instead of letting you “save” anywhere, the game would autosave at the start of each day. In addition, you could find “Owl statues” (someone finally stuffed old Kaebora Gaebora) scattered about that would let you save & quit and then resume at that exact point. It wasn’t perfect and Skyward Sword eventually improved upon it with its generously placed “bird statues,” but it was something.
Long story short, if you plan on playing Ocarina of Time and don’t want to constantly be retreading the same ground, make sure you have large blocks of time and never quit unless you’ve just entered a dungeon or are perfectly ok with being sent back to the Temple of Time or the Kokiri Forest. Because Ocarina of Time’s checkpoint/save system sucks.