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This game was a freebie given out by Nintendo with copies of their upcoming 2003 Zelda game for the GameCube, for people who pre-ordered the game in the US. It features a re-release of their Nintendo 64 title the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, as well as an altered version of that game, from whence this node gets its title (and which I'll talk more about below).

Known as Ura-Zelda in Japan, Master Quest was an add-on to Ocarina of Time for the Japanese-only Nintendo 64 add-on called the 64DD (64 Disk Drive), though it was never actually released. The fact that the 64DD (which, largely, sucked) was never released to the US didn't help. That it is now a bonus for The Wind Waker is quite cool. It is considered by the fan community to be one of the hardest Zelda games.

The bonus disc comes in a standard DVD case, like all the GameCube games. The cover features both the Ocarina of Time logo (the standard Zelda logo with "Ocarina of Time" underneath) and a second logo with "Master Quest" underneath, along with various other bits of info that describe what a great bonus disc this is and how honored you should be to have it. Opening the case reveals that it is, indeed, a single standard GameCube minidisc. There are three manuals, as well: the standard GameCube minidisc user manual that comes with all GameGube games, what's bascially a reprint of the Ocarina of Time manual, updated with the GameCube control scheme, and a preview of the upcoming Zelda game.

The disc also contains demo movies of several GameCube games and one Gameboy Advance game (the re-release of the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past). The demo movies are:

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - A very nice demo movie, which, combined with the printed preview, makes me want to play the game even more.
  • Metroid Prime - I already own this one, but it's a nice demo nonetheless.
  • F-ZERO - Rather stunning, graphically; for a racing game this fast (and I mean fast), you really need a high framerate at all times. They do this and throw in some pretty fancy graphics to boot.
  • 1040: Avalanche - Another incarnation of the snowboarding game; looks fun, but it's not really my thing.
  • Wario World - Honestly? This looks like ass.
  • Hot Clips - A clip show, showing short clips from all the above games, and several others besides.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - The Gameboy Advance re-release. It seems like a perfect conversion of the SNES game, and the multiplayer addition looks very fun.

After the startup screen, one is greeted with a little menu asking them to pick which game they want to play, and is presented a glorious rendition of the Hyrule Overworld Theme (which is a little odd as neither game actually has this theme in it, but I'm not complaining). This writeup doesn't cover the version of Ocarina of Time on this disc as it is, for all intents and purposes, indentical to the original version. I will, however, talk about the Master Quest version (if I didn't, this node would have a different title, heh).

The control scheme is just a conversion from the N64 control scheme. The C-buttons on the N64 controller map onto the C-stick on the GameCube controller; thankfully, the item buttons are also mapped onto the GameCube's X, Y, and Z buttons, so you don't have to mess with the stick to use items. The lock-on button is the L button, and the shield button remains the R button. A is the action button and B is the sword button. A decent control scheme, which isn't suprising considering the GameCube controller inherits a lot from the N64 controller.

All those parts of the game outside the dungeons are the same; the only things changed are the dungeons. And what changes they've made. Things are harder, mostly because one is used to the way they used to be. The first level, which one could run through in mere minutes, took me half an hour on my first play-through. Many of the puzzles are much trickier. Here's an example: in the original, there is a room with a rotaing metal pipe with spikes on it, which is over a pool of water. Going back and forth over this pool is a wooden platform. The water level is too high to jump on the platform directly without getting knocked off by the spiky pipe, so you have to lower the water level first, by pushing a button on the bottom of the pool. Simple enough.

The new version of this puzzle is much more complicated. Not only is there no way to lower the water (you now have to roll under the pipe while on the platform), but you need to light a couple of torches on the other side. You do this by lighting a stick on the side you start on. To light the stick you push a button, which turns on a torch just long enough for you to light the stick. The stick will only burn for a short while, so you need to time all of this with the platform. You must light the stick just before you're able to jump on the platform, then roll under the pipe while on the moving platform, jump off the platform, and light the torches on the other side. This isn't easy, even if you know what to do.

All the puzzles have been changed like this, though apparently the bosses haven't (the level 1 boss is still a complete pushover). The enemies in the dungeons have been mixed around, too, and some new ones added (a giant version of the Deku Babas, those biting plants, for instance). In my writeup for Majora's Mask, I mentioned that I liked that game better than Ocarina of Time because it was more challenging; I think, once I have played this version a little more, Master Quest may come out looking better than that game. (A Link to the Past, however, remains as my favorite entry in the series as a whole.)

This bonus disc is not something I'd pay money for. This doesn't matter, however, as it was free; I'd recommend pre-ordering The Wind Waker for this disc (I think it's not too late to do so as of this writing). I know it will tide over my craving for Zelda until the actual game comes out (exactly as the printed preview says they hope it will), but I doubt I'll play it much at all once I get my hands on the real game.

The "Master Quest" edition of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time began life as a project known as Ura-Zelda. Intended as an expansion pack for the Nintendo 64's OoT, the game was to be a reimagining of the game with several items, puzzles, and event sequences tweaked and rejiggered. The whole thing would have been released for the 64DD as the unit's "killer app" when the machine was released around the world.

However, things almost never go to plan in the video game world. Release of the 64DD was scrapped in the USA and Europe, with only Japan receiving the unit in 1999 (and even then it had a low user base). Production on the game was set aside and eventually scrapped to make way for another game pak-based Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.

Fast forward to 2002. Nintendo was preparing to release the first Nintendo GameCube Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, in Japan and the company wanted a killer app of a preorder deal. The decision was made to dust off the original OoT and Ura-Zelda (which was complete), adapt them for the GameCube, and give them to everyone who preordered the new game. When American gamers heard about the deal that Nintendo was offering in Japan, many began requesting/demanding that Nintendo offer the same deal in the USA and Europe (although in Europe the game comes with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker instead of being a preorder requirement). While at first many speculated that this would not happen because the Ura-Zelda portion of the disc would have to be translated (and there was no way Nintendo would do this only to turn around and give the game away), Nintendo did decide to go ahead with the offer. Beginning February 16, 2003 and running through the date of the game's release, gamers who preorder The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker received a bonus disc with OoT, the completed and translated Ura-Zelda project (renamed to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest) and a handful of previews of upcoming games (many of which were featured on the Nintendo Winter 2002 Preview DVD).

Seeing as how the bonus disc will is no longer available in stores, many gamers bought the new Zelda game just to get a copy of the old one and the canceled project of legend.

Tips for completing Master Quest, if you've already been through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:

  • The only things different about the game are the dungeons and sub-dungeons. A dungeon is one of the "levels" you have to complete in order to get one of the McGuffins (here, Spiritual Stones and Medallions) needed to access Ganon's Castle. A sub-dungeon is one of those little dungeon-like places that has no McGuffin, but some other important item to collect. They are: Ice Cavern, Bottom of the Well and Gerudo Training Ground. In particular, the Ice Cavern has some nasty tricks. I've not made it to Ganon's Castle yet, but it's probably changed around as well.
  • Dungeon bosses, and almost all sub-bosses, are completely unchanged.
  • The layouts of the dungeon rooms are unchanged. When you collect the map in the dungeon, you'll see that it perfectly matches the map from Ocarina of Time. The actual level geometry is exactly the same. What's changed is the contents of the dungeons.
  • The order in which you explore dungeon rooms has been greatly changed. Usually, you now have to take a completely different path through the rooms in order to proceed. Sometimes this is minor (Inside the Deku Tree has almost the same exploration order), sometimes it's seriously messed up (Dodongo's Cavern is almost backwards now, and you find the Bomb Bag much later, so the level becomes much trickier). Often there will be a place in a dungeon that cannot be explored until the item is obtained from a later dungeon, but these are never required in order to collect its item or defeat the boss.
  • All dungeons still have a Map, Compass, Boss Key and Special Item inside them, and the special items are the same ones in each dungeon that were in OoT, but they are often found in different places than before.
  • Special dungeon features, such as the weird wobbly "tongue blocks" in Level 3 (Jabu-Jabu's Belly), are sometimes used in more places. Also, once in a while you'll encounter a new feature. The weirdest of these, by far, are the "Cow Switches" in Jabu-Jabu's Belly. They look a little like a bug in the game, but rest assured, they're supposed to be there, and you're going to be making heavy use of them. They give milk, too! Oh, and switches are very often in different places, as are Hookshot blocks.
  • More on that note: the dungeons look a bit less polished, but they tend to be much more devious in terms of blocking you off from certain places. Most dungeons have at least one non-essential room that can't be entered without equipment from a later dungeon.
  • There are more treasure chests in Master Quest. Some of them are red herrings now, in that you complete a puzzle and your reward turns out to be some arrows, a heart (not a Heart Container or a piece of one, just a heart!), or even a blue rupee.
  • Understand that the enemies in each dungeon are not necessarily harder. The Water Temple, for example, has many fewer monsters to fight, and those evil oysters seem to be gone entirely. There are still places with hard monsters, however: many of the dungeons have extra Lizalfos and Stalfos scattered around, and in places I've had to fight four lizards at once, or three skeletons. There are now monsters from different dungeons in unusual places, too: there are a few holdout Gohma Larvae in Dodongo's Cavern.
  • A few traps and puzzles are easier as well. The area in the Water Temple, with the rushing water and the vortices, after the (unchanged) fight with Dark Link is easier. Most of the invisible holes in the Bottom of the Well sub-dungeon are now simply uncovered and open, and that entire area is considerably less difficult than before (with a couple of notable exceptions). Indeed, considering that the Lens of Truth can be obtained fairly early (after getting the Bow), I was surprised that more dungeons didn't require it; it's used here in much the same ways as in the first quest, a lot in the Shadow Temple, a little in Spirit, though there's one optional room earlier with invisible enemies.
  • There are many more places where the Song of Time must be used to make blocks appear and disappear, and a couple of puzzles make use of some of the more arcane rules regarding this feature. (What these are is described here, but since it's a spoiler, I'll save it for the end of the writeup.) However, the places where you use the Scarecrow Song to create a Hookshot target seem to be entirely gone, which I consider a good thing.
  • Collectable supply items, which were great in number in Ocarina of Time to the extent that you rarely had to buy anything from stores, appear with the same frequency, but because you find them less in chests in the middle dungeons, and because they're all used a bit more, you tend to run out of them in the mid-to-late game. Din's Fire is needed a lot more often now, so magic shortages are to be expected. (This, in turn, makes Green Potion more useful, and by extension the extra Bottle from catching all the Big Poes.)
  • Now we come to the puzzles. These take advantage of every weird, yet then unnecessary, trick in Ocarina of Time. There are switches that look like scenery, and one particular switch in the Ice Cavern in a very, very hard-to-see spot (described in the spoilers below). Ocarina of Time had one switch that could only be hit with the spin attack – you needed it in order to get one Skulltula. Now there's one dungeon where you have to use it to proceed with the game. Din's Fire, which was required in only one place in OoT, is now used extensively throughout the game leading up to the Fire Arrows, and is still very useful later on. Any ability that can work through walls will more than likely be called upon to do just that at some point in the game. In one place an arrow must be used through a grate. In a couple of places you'll need to use the Hookshot to travel through a flaming barrier. And beware, especially, of things that look just a little "funny." Lots of places are scattered about where you have to use bombs, and finally Bombchus seem useful for more than just taking out Iron Knuckles (which are more numerous now).



***SPOILERS***:

The Song of Time never makes blocks appear or disappear, but merely moves them around, though sometimes the places they're moved in from or to are "outside" the dungeon. So sometimes making a block appear somewhere will make it disappear from a place you may have wanted it. Navi always homes in on a spot where a block may appear. And the Song of Time never removes a block you're standing on.

Where there are two or three switches in the Ice Cavern that are cleverly placed in order to look like scenery, by far the trickiest switch is in the room where, originally, you first got Blue Fire. The Heart Piece trapped inside the ice blocks won't melt easily. To open it up, you have to look for a switch *buried in the floor*. The ground in this room has a transparent surface, and opaque ice a couple of inches below that. The switch is barely sticking up out of the opaque layer, but beneath the transparent one. The only way to hit it is by placing a bomb directly above the switch. The explosion will penetrate the transparent layer and activate it.

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