Zelda Classic is a computer rewrite of the original Legend of Zelda game. Eventually, support for custom quests was added, and now there are hundreds of custom user-made quests using the Zelda Classic engine. One such quest is End of Time DX, one of the best quests I have found, and the most true to the Zelda series. Through this article I will be reviewing the game, and giving opinions from a game development point of view.
All Zelda Classic games have the same basic interface, at the top you have a minimap, health, magic, your current item and sword, as well as ammo and rupee counts. End of Time DX uses the old school version of ammunition, so although bombs and keys get their own counters, arrows are “purchased” as you use them, costing 1 rupee. Opening the menu gives you a list of items you can use, key items you have obtained, how long you’ve played, and dungeon progress. If you are in the field, then it shows your triforce pieces instead. You can also open up a full map of the world, although in most quests it will look strange because of the use of palettes. That would be the first positive to this quest, the full map looks amazing, and there are no flaws that I can see. You don’t have to travel to a similarly paletted area in order to see parts of the map. Another huge positive is the clean skin applied to the interface. Most of the games the minimap is almost unusable, and hard to navigate. Pineconn outdid the crowd with a clean, colour-coded minimap and separates the world into it’s many regions.
One of the best things about End of Time DX is that it plays like a Zelda game. Playing through this quest, you can imagine it being official, from Nintendo. The game is not overly difficult or confusing, and prevents you from adventuring too far from your goal. It does however give you a wide enough area that you may have to go hunting for whatever it is you are missing to go forward. The gameplay has many traits in common with the originals, rewarding quick thinking and good memory with heart pieces and hints. The dialogue is also very clean and to the point. The only thing that threw me off for a while were witches I found around the world who wouldn’t say anything; turns out I needed a bottle first, as they were potion shops. Either way, the game delivers the puzzling action adventure game that fans of the Zelda franchise are used to.
The game, like the original Zelda, has very little story. You are dropped outside of a shop and basically told to save the world. Yay! That also brings up another oddity, there is no main town in the game. There is a small Moblin village, but aside from that, it’s just randomly placed shops and people living in caves. The world is divided into different areas, such as the beach, desert, forest, mountains, swamp, etc. Each area has plenty of caves, secrets and at least one dungeon. There are 9 story-line dungeons and many side and bonus dungeons. There is also an underworld, flooded with lava and having a dungeon or two of it’s own. Overall the world gives plenty of diversity and adventure without being overwhelming, and the use of the ocarina allows quick(albeit, random) travel to a few select points on the map.
The dungeons have a nice difficulty curve to them, starting relatively easy and getting much harder as you move on. Much like most Zelda games though, don’t expect to breeze through the game without dying. Generally you will die at least once, if not multiple times, in each dungeon. You are rewarded though, as each dungeon provides at least one new item to use, as well as hidden secrets of their own. There is also items hidden throughout the world that you eventually need to find. You may not find them right away, but you will find a part of a dungeon and quickly realize you need to head back and look for the missing piece of the puzzle. This may turn some players off, but it gives a great progression to the game, and rewards players to thoroughly explore the game from the getgo.
Items in Zelda Classic games are generally all the same, with changes mostly being aesthetic This then leaves the changes between games when the items are given and how they are used. End of Time DX throws items at you at a feverish pace compared to most quests, giving you plenty of options to think about early on. These items are also cleanly used to restrict progression through the map, requiring new items to explore further.
I personally think the quest is near perfect, but there are a few areas that could use some cleaning up. The biggest for me is fireballs in the boss rooms. As much as I understand using them to increase difficulty, they continue after the boss fight. I haven’t had it happen yet, but it’s a weird thought that you could die after beating the boss. Also, the only other thing I can think of that needs fixing is the bosses and minibosses themselves. They are mostly just taken from the original game, and there’s nothing unique about them. One of the things I love about Zelda games is the developers trying to one up themselves, to come up with unique fun bosses unique to each game. In this quest, you get the generic Dragon, Spiders and Worms a lot. Of course a story could help the game as well, but it flows quite nicely without one, and the adventure genre is the one special case that gets away without a story.
Overall I think the quest is extremely well done. It scratches my Zelda itch, and has been interesting so far. I have not yet beaten the quest, as I have been hitting little roadblocks here and there having to figure things out, but if you look around it doesn’t tend to be very hard. Playing many Zelda games in the past definitely helps. This is the type of fan content that makes me want to attempt my own. Later this week will be what is generally considered one of the biggest and best made Zelda Classic quests there is, Lost Isle.