Practice Makes Perfect


Two consecutive Sunday nights at home for the first time since March. And, wouldn’t you know it, I wind up falling annoyingly sick last Thursday. “Annoyingly” in the debilitating sense: unable to concentrate for long periods due to a fogginess in my skull, I found myself stuck in the shitty position where I couldn’t work, couldn’t read, and – more importantly for this blog – couldn’t game. Most such afflictions last three days with me, and this instance was no different; I awoke this Sunday morning with a clearing head, and the drizzly weather outside made me think of only one thing: fishing.

But let’s take a step back.

Prior to falling ill, the week was all about Zelda, and my parallel playthroughs of Ocarina of Time and its close cousin, Master Quest. Progress had been steady on both; most side-quests wrapped up, dungeons falling relatively quickly, referring to a walkthrough for only the most troubling of Gold Skulltalas in Master Quest. I intended to step through the pair dungeon-by-dungeon, but I’d often skip ahead on one, then overshoot on the other, eventually wrapping up the bulk of the reworked rendition a good three dungeons before the original. A bit of catchup, and suddenly all I had left were the problem points, the bits I knew were always going to be a problem: the Hylian Loach. The Gerudo Archery.

And here, if you hadn’t already guessed, is where the title of this post comes in.

I had really suffered over the Gerudo archery challenge when I’d 100%-ed my Collector’s Edition copy of Ocarina; many thousands of Rupees were spent before finally hitting 1560 points, just enough to acquire the Biggest Quiver. This week, though, my first attempt yielded 1430 points. Another four attempts netted a round 1500, a new Quiver, and a raised eyebrow of incredulous disbelief. Sensing a mental zone, I swapped to the other version; this one took thirty-six attempts, but most of those were aborted very soon after acknowledging that I’d buggered up by missing too many pots at the start of the run.

Somehow, my fingers had remembered all that training late last year, twitchy controls be damned. Needless to say, I was pretty bloody happy.

And that brings me to today. Dopey, drizzle… fishing.

I’d blown a huge chunk of time netting my only Hylian Loach. So imagine my surprise when the first one was landed within an hour, with the second taking a tiny bite less.

And there I sat, somewhat hungover with sickness, amazed that everything just seemed to be coming together. Another hour of filling my pockets with Rupees, bombchus, and Deku Seeds, and it was time to tackle Ganondorf… who, along with his über-incarnation, fell in the most emphatic, one-sided battles I’ve ever had against them. One of the Ganon battles didn’t even yield a scratch.

And so, surprisingly, I deem Master Quest to be complete. Sure, there’s a troublesome chest (not containing anything important, probably just a recovery heart) on 3F of the Fire Temple – eastern-most room, southern-most chest – that I can’t figure out, but… Off The List.

Compared to the original, it didn’t feel as complete, as rounded; dungeons didn’t feel as holistic, with enemies sparse in favour of puzzles that verged on the annoyingly obscure. Luckily, my side-by-side playthroughs allowed me the opportunity to experience the original again; and, let’s face it, it’s bloody amazing. And it continues to surprise with all its little details; today, for the first time, I noticed the tinge of sadness in the closing movies, with King Zora and Mido sitting together lamenting the (perceived) losses of their loved ones. And, again, I marveled at the size and completeness of Ocarina‘s world.

And, at the end of the day, this is the third time I’ve 100%-ed Ocarina of Time this year… which makes me a bit sad really. Emotionally sad, sure, because it will likely be my last visit to Hyrule this year; but completing the same game three times in one year? Bit of a worry, that.

Je Retourne! (Part 2)

And so, after 6 weeks away from this blog, I returned – only to be shipped off to site for work. And site, in this case, was north-of-nowhere in Karratha, living in a project camp – the likes of which I’ve never encountered before. With nothing on the cards except working 12-hour days, eat at the mess (not as bad as I’d feared), and drink at the cheap wet-mess, the few hours up my sleeve every night were available to catch up on all the video podcasts I’d been downloading in the last five years… and to get a spot of gaming in.

The thing is, I wasn’t about to drag a console up to a mining site – which left me with the DS and the PC to choose from. I started off with my much-belated attack on Tim Schafer’s Full Throttle. Created prior to the glorious Grim Fandango, I was expecting clever writing, silly puzzles, and an all-round solid package – after all, Fandango gave me four full solid days of delight. But, whilst the writing lived up to its end of the deal (creating caricatures which managed to feel solid, with a splendidly quippy script), I found the SCUMM-based puzzles to be of the “click everywhere and hope” variety. In particular, the final section of the game unfortunately lingers in my memory, because its key was to click (essentially) offscreen – and that type of trick shits me right off. Couple annoying puzzles with a short game (something like ten hours, I reckon), and you can colour me – sadly – disappointed. It may have been just worth the ten bucks it cost me, if only to see Schafer’s progression… but Grim Fandango also only cost ten bucks, and is oodles better in every respect.

A day of airplanes and airports had me home for three days over Easter and, desperate for some retail therapy, I picked up a new Nintendo DSi. The new matte finish feels lovely in the hand, but is tempered by the fact that the serial number sticker breaks up the finish under my fingers; despite some reservations with the new interface, it’s proven itself to be a great acquisition… although I recently found the receipt for my original DS – AU$188, whereas three years later the DSi was AU$299. And, as I’ve previously mentioned, the very idea of a freebie game horrifies me – despite trying to barter for some Points Cards instead, I had to plump for Sight Training; another blight on The List, though hopefully not a long-lasting one. The DSi has also got me looking at Electroplankton and Rub Rabbits again, too…

Finally, one of the videos I consumed whilst on-site was a “History of Zelda” documentary (acquired, possibly dodgily, through Zentendo). Seemingly released around the same time as Wind Waker, it features interviews with a bunch of Nintendo fans and luminaries (including Shigsy himself, and Eiji Aonuma – who, I was somewhat disappointed to discover, directed both Majora’s and Wind Waker). And it’s a great doco, but it had the effect of stoking the flames of passion for Zelda again… and so, on Easter Saturday, I broke out my Limited Edition of Wind Waker, popped the bonus disc in the Wii, and started playing through both Ocarina (again) and Master Quest, side-by-side… and I admit to being surprised just how much harder Master Quest is compared to the original: even the very first dungeon offers a significant challenge. So, with essentially two Ocarina playthroughs being attempted at the same time, and further opportunities for work-related travel in the near future, it’s pretty safe to say that the rest of April is taken care of, game-wise. And May. And probably June, too. Bloody Gerudo archery.


After my flurry of posts over the New Year, I would’ve given myself a break if I’d not managed to get something out this evening; but it’s been a good couple of days off work, I’ve got plenty of gaming in, and I’m feeling like a boast ;)

After snaffling the Biggest Quiver in Ocarina of Time last week, I proudly mentioned this on one of my friendly gaming forums – to which a pal slyly replied “But have you caught the Hylian loach?”

Shit. I’d completely forgotten about the Ocarina fishing component. I knew the Loach was supposed to be a prick to catch, but I figured that I’d get away with just seeing it – something I managed quite quickly. But then I cast my eyes across an Ocarina Guide that mentioned…

Are you THE MASTER? If you are, you can get the following:

100 Golden Skulltulas
36 Heart Pieces
Have four Bottles (fair and square)
Tons of Secret Grottos/Areas
Lots of Golden Rupees
Own a cow
Get 1500+ points on the Horse Archery Game
Caught a 20 pounder
Caught the Hylian Loach
Have all the weapon upgrades
All Masks
Big Goron’s Sword
…and like to torture chickens.

Bastard. It’s almost like he was goading me.

So a-fishing for the Hylian Loach I went. And, I must say, everything you’ve heard about the Loach is true. Four hours of gentle teasing, waiting, quiet chasing, and lip biting before I got the bugger to bite – but then, when he bit, he was landed without too much fuss…

...and all he gave me was 50 fucking rupees.

Another couple of items collected, a slight mis-step (taking Fairies, rather than Blue Potions, into the Ganondorf fight), and Ocarina of Time was struck off The List. And it goes without saying that it’s still a magnificent game – utterly deserving of all the plaudits afforded it over the years and, I’ll posit, better than any other game I’ve played in the last year.

With Ocarina complete, I gently eased myself into Majora’s Mask – and after a handful of hours, I have to say that I’m not overly impressed. I don’t like the repetition (especially that fucking Deku animation when I stray too close to the Deku flower), I don’t like the dark tone, I don’t like the implied time restriction – and right now I’m just feeling a bit out of my depth. There almost seems to be too much information on offer, too much to do – and I don’t feel able to even chip away at it. Here’s hoping there’s a breakthrough soon, lest I reluctantly resort to GameFAQs – something which I’m trying to do less and less these days – but I’m buoyed by the fact that Ocarina also started slowly, and I’ve grumbled about the opening of Twilight Princess before, and they both ended up being corkers.

Whilst the second day of the New Year saw a Zelda game Completed, the third day saw the Completion of a Suda51 game – Flower, Sun and Rain. Whilst the story was great, the gameplay – being little more than an interactive story, requiring you to move from one location to another & click through pages of dialogue, and never presenting the opportunity to fail – left a lot to be desired. Very hard to recommend, unfortunately; thankfully, it didn’t trouble The List for long.

Finally, there was another visit to Burnout Paradise this week, pootling around with friends and snaffling a few more Challenges (385 of 490 complete, now). Fabulous stuff, and a handy reminder of this game’s online strengths.

Next week: more Majora’s. A scheduled return to Ridge Racer 6 with my old racing chums. Given that it’s a return-to-work week, that’ll be plenty :}

BraidMarbleNukem: OcarinaOfRain

We’re halfway through the traditional end-of-year holidays – no break for me, though, back into work tomorrow. Still, here’s hoping that you all received the games you wanted over the break – and managed to give some gaming love, too. I did my bit, educating my nephew with Super Mario Galaxy for his new Wii :)

I finally Pete-Completed Duke Nukem this week – all secrets, all levels, all Duke-isms. There was one level I wanted to re-visit after having mopped up all the Achievements but, once I restarted it, I became quite aware that I simply didn’t like this game. It’s not fun. The level designs are, for the most part, cheap and full of surprises – the Doom monster closet philosophy. Great sense of humour, though – but that’s not enough to make up for the icky gameplay. Still, it’s been appropriately OC-ed now, so that’s another one off The List – the fifth for the month!

As Duke was wrapped up (and I proudly looked at another 200/200 on I noticed that the Agoraphobia Expansion Pack had been released for Marble Blast Ultra. Another 200 MS Points to purchase, this doesn’t seem to be as good a deal as the previous Marble Fu Expansion Pack – the new maps are a bit of a pain in the arse, to be honest, but the final Achievement was easy enough to snaffle… once again, MBU doesn’t really trouble The List.

Searching for another XBLA game to work on – and desperately trying to avoid a return to Texas Hold’em (I haven’t built my patience up yet) – I elected to have another look at Braid, just to see what was required for the Speed Run Achievement. Another playthrough reminded me what a stonkingly great game it is, and a peek at some speed-runs on YouTube yielded some great tips… buggered if I know how I finished the game the first time without them! The Speed Run still looks hard-as-nails, though – and the hidden stars look even harder. Long term project, that.

As mentioned before Christmas, I snaffled Suda51’s “latest”, Flower, Sun and Rain. A re-imagining of the 2001 Playstation 2 Japan-only original, it’s… really odd. Essentially a point-and-click adventure, it’s not so much a game as a Groundhog-Day-esque interactive story – you’re never put in a situation that you can’t get out of, so there’s no sense of danger. The writing is fantastic, displaying the darkness of Killer7, the humour of No More Heroes – and there’s plenty of puzzles and collectibles to keep the OC in me happy. Mind you, I’ve already resorted to GameFAQs once – but I felt dirty doing it, especially when I realised that I’d passed over the solution because I didn’t want to think through it, didn’t want to put the effort in. Lesson learned – and the internet will be ignored for the remainder.

FSR has some really odd production values, though – for a 64MB game, there’s some very expansive videos… and horribly angular 3D models. And the controls are thoughtful in places, and fucking annoying in others: the theatrical approach to puzzle solving (when accessing Catherine, your problem-solving computer pal) is brilliant the first time, but horribly button-mashingly infuriating thereafter.

The last bit of action this week saw me resurrect The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I’ve already finished this magnificent game, but I’d started an OC-friendly 100% run aeons ago on the Gamecube (with the Collector’s Edition disc that included Zelda, Zelda II, Ocarina, and Majora’s Mask). It’s mostly complete, except for a couple of collectibles – the most galling of which is the Biggest Quiver.

Remember how to get that?

Gerudo Fortress, archery on horseback.


Now, I’ve heard that this was quite doable on the N64, but the sensitivity of the analogue stick on the Gamecube port is insane. Regardless – as an OC Gamer, it’s something I need to complete, so I fired up my old save and gave it another bash. Another 36 bashes, actually. I scored 1080 points of the 1500 required once, but that’s cold comfort – this is going to be a prickly assignment.

Only a few days left before the end of the year, and the inevitable year-in-review post. I’d better get writing… :}