Today, I’m pleased to announce to you that we have another exclusive article: Z-Targeting, written by none other than our very own.. Alter? Yes, yes; I’ve decided to pump out a mini article myself. Didn’t know I could play with words? Well, you may be right…
Z-Targeting; the idea was quite original. Although it may not be too noticeable these days, it was quite a new and innovative concept back when Ocarina of Time was released for the Nintendo 64. The concept was basic: the player could hold down a button which would in-turn focus the camera on the nearest enemy (or other targets, in some cases). Doing this would also cause the player’s character to automatically cover the enemy, matching his position. Doing so would prevent the character from being flanked, arguably making the game easier.
However, that fact was not lost on the critics; many argued that it was too easy, saying that it removed the possibility of any sort of disorientation. They also claimed that it was an attempt to cover up the fact that the enemy’s artificial intelligence was somewhat poor. (An example being that monsters would only be able to correctly attack in a front-to-front stance with their opponent, as opposed to being able to modify attacks from the side, block, etc.)
The end result is that many felt as though Z-Targeting made the game far too easy, and thus took away from the gameplay elements in Ocarina of Time, as well as its sequel, Majora’s Mask. I would argue that this is an incorrect fact. Although it certainly took away from the difficulty that would have stood in place of the Z-Target system, I would like to point out that the said “difficulty” is as unrealistic as a real-life “personal targeting system” would be.
Think about this for a moment: If you were in a real life combative situation, would you really be spinning around in a desperate attempt to locate your opponent? Chances are, no. Even after turning around a time or two, you’d still have a good idea of which direction you were facing, as well as your attacker’s location. You naturally have a decent sense of direction, and taking away that realistic ability to make a game more “difficult” is pointless. Just to cover myself, I’m on the bandwagon that thinks that the Zelda series has become far too easy. But to take a look from a different angle, there are far better ways to increase the difficulty within Zelda, as well as the general gaming sphere. As a side note, without Z-Targeting, the player would be dashing madly about trying to get his camera fixed behind him.
Some of you may be asking “what does an auto-target system have to do with the handheld games?” I’m asking “why doesn’t it?” You see, as of now, the handheld games have been devoid of a legitimate targeting system. Part of the reason is that they take place from either a top-down or angled viewpoint. As previously mentioned, the idea of Z-Targeting was to prevent unrealistic and unnecessary disorientation; implementing it in such a mode would be pointless, and would add in the “easy” factor, rather than the realistic factor.
From Oracle of Seasons & Ages all the way through Spirit Tracks, I can’t think of the last time I used my shield for a non-quest purpose (i.e. deflecting a Deku Nut or pushing through a wall of flames)! If Nintendo decided to take a step forward, and make future handheld games more combat-friendly, they could implement this realistic, adventurous feature. The best we’ve seen so far is the Zora Warriors in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Why are we missing the legendary Darknuts? Why haven’t we had a Dark Link appearance recently? Where is the fearsome, nail-biting competition that had us stuck for days in Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and even A Link to the Past? It’s gone, my friends. It’s gone.
However, there is still an opportunity for Nintendo to regain ground in the action/adventure genre for their handheld titles. They need to stop having their gamers run around Hyrule on fetch quests, exploring endless, similar dungeons, and attempting to reach the final boss. What Zelda needs is a total overhaul. Nintendo has claimed that they’re doing this for the upcoming Zelda Wii game; I sure hope they are, but regardless, they need it even more desperately for the handheld games. They need to be challenging like N+, as fun and enjoyable as Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, and as innovative as Animal Crossing: Wild World. If they fail to do this, well, they’ll still be making more money than Sony and Microsoft. But we, the fans will be disappointed.
The 3DS will open new doors, and I say that there’s a chance we’ll even see a fully functional 3D combat system. Seems a bit odd to think of for a handheld video game system, but it’s coming. On a somewhat unrelated note, have any of you noticed that we still refer to te system as “Z-targeting”, even after the “L” button replaced “Z” for Wind Waker and the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess?