Do You Enjoy Old-School Zelda Puzzles?

Do You Enjoy Old-School Zelda Puzzles?


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Frostorm

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I've read various threads in the past and many have voiced their dislike of puzzles in general. I'd like to discuss what people find fun and unfun about dungeon puzzles. I specifically pointed out the old-school Zelda games because their dungeon layout is what my maps are based on. Specifically, dungeons are split into smaller, self-contained rooms. Do you guys enjoy this style of dungeon/puzzle? Why or why not?

There's a great set of videos on the subject:
 

Finnuval

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I voted other and here's why :

I do like some logic puzzle solving in games however it can also cause me to drop a game rather quickly for the following reasons :

1 - frequency : If Im playing any other game then a hardcore puzzle game im not playing said game for the puzzles. They are a nice distraction but if I am more engaged with solving puzzles then doing what the game supposed to be about i'm quickly going to move on to something else. Afterall I chose to play X game for what X game is about not for something else.

2 - Complexity : Simillarly as the above point. Puzzles shouldnt be too easy but also not too complex (highly subjective I know) for the forementioned reasons. I didnt chose to play a hardcore puzzle game. If I was in the mood for that I would play one of those

3 - non-sensical : I like things to make sense in a game and the gameworld. Sure some things get overlooked for the sake of fun and gameplay (torches already burning in an abandoned cave or chest littered across the world that nobody but the player opens lol) but weird, intrecate puzzles at places that make no sense whatsoever or mechanics that seem out of place will ripp me out of the experience in a heart-beat.

As for specifically Zelda styled puzzles - most are okay tho i do think they tend to be a little too many of them. However that's also part of the game with a huge emphasis on this aspect. Your game is a bit different which is why I gave a more general answer xD

and that's my two cents :)
 

HexMozart88

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I'm pretty much in the same boat as Fin. I'm super bad at Zelda, so if I play an RPG with puzzles, they've gotta be straightforward and shouldn't take me an hour. If you want a lot of puzzles in your game, I'd suggest making it a puzzle game/RPG hybrid.
 

Aoi Ninami

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I'm not entirely sure what you are asking about, because your OP and poll seem to be split between several different topics -- splitting a dungeon into lots of small rooms; having the rooms linked in a way that requires solving a puzzle to reach the end (e.g. the wheels in Oracle of Seasons/Ages); having small, self-contained puzzles in the individual rooms.

I would enjoy any sort of puzzle, but it would be easier for me to talk about if I knew what sort of puzzles you are thinking of including in your game :)
 

Frostorm

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Sorry, I just meant that certain mechanisms are self-contained, but they obviously can affect other parts of the dungeon, as is often the case. The part I mention about it being "split" is mostly regarding the camera. As in, the player's view is limited to that room only, in contrast to the camera following the player throughout an entire dungeon, as if the whole place was 1 big room. Different design styles.
 

Milennin

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I like the 2D Zelda games, but making a variety of puzzles that are interesting, intuitive and also not frustrating is very difficult. In the RPG Maker games I've played that had puzzles, you see common problems, like puzzles being either too simplistic or too vague to figure out, lacking variety, easy to get a fail state and having annoying reset routines, requiring you to read tutorials, to list some.
Ideally, you want something that is easy to understand at first glance, requires some thought to figure out, but also not so much that the average player is likely to get stuck on it. The 2D Zelda games strike the perfect combination of all those aspects.
 

Quexp

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I like some puzzles but hate it when you have to complete tough ones in order to progressin the main storyline. Keep them short, optional, and not too difficult..then I'll probably like them.
 
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alice_gristle

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I like a good puzzle if it makes me feel clever. :biggrin: So Imma vote yeah, 'cept if you gonna make puzzles that are like, putting four colours in the right order, then Imma throw your game outta the window... I like physical stuff like pushing blocks and throwing blocks (and jars) and feeling clever, so if ya gonna give me that we good. :biggrin::biggrin:

(Ya not asking, but Imma tell you this anyway: the kind of puzzle I most like is where I hafta talk to everybody in the village to figure out who slept with Mariah six years ago in order to find out who's responsible for the little kid I'm escorting.)
 

AssumedPseudonym

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 I do enjoy puzzles, but not ones that are so impenetrable that the only way you’re going to solve them is by random chance or looking up the answer online. I plan on having puzzles in my main project (once I get back to it; it’s… been kind of a rough month or so), but I’m not planning on recreating with Water Temple levels of complexity.
 

rpgLord69

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"Dumb" puzzles where you have to drag around boxes and it's immediately obvious where they belong are really annoying. Particularly if you have to go through the area multiple times or there are multiple rooms with the same "puzzle". On the other hand too hard puzzles are even more annoying. So best playtest your puzzles with more than one friend. And make hard puzzles a part of an optional dungeon or something.
 

Tai_MT

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First off:

I'm not sure what you mean by "Oldschool Zelda Puzzles". We've got nearly half a dozen to choose from here, going as far back as the NES and as far forward as probably Majora's Mask.

Generally speaking, what I think makes a good Zelda Dungeon (and a good Zelda game in general!) is a few factors.

1. The dungeons themselves are split up between puzzles for side content and an "overall" puzzle for the whole dungeon that needs to be solved to progress.

2. The item received in the dungeon plays a very large part in solving the "overall" puzzle. Older items are expanded upon for side content, or are a required usage for the side content (to be clear, side content is extra treasure chests with money, collectibles, etcetera).

3. Mechanics aren't a "one and done". The best are ones that require some form of logical thinking. The game constantly iterates on items you've already obtained to tackle new mechanics and new puzzles are born from this. Sure, you get the Pegasus Boots to run really fast in Link's Awakening, but it's only through experimentation (and seeing so many 3 hole gaps) that you put together that you should slot the Roc's Feather into your other button so you can jump REALLY FAR. Sure, you can use bombs to kill Pol's Voice, but if you know they hate noise, you can play your Flute or Ocarina, or Harp, or whatever, and it kills them instantly.

4. Easy concepts, difficult mastery. Put simply, it shouldn't take long to figure out what I need to do. But, doing it to any degree of "mastery" should take me a while to learn and should be executed through extended usage. That means, when I replay the game (if I find it fun enough to replay), everything I learned on the first run can be used to totally destroy the second one. Not just a "I know where I have to go and what to do" thing either. I mean a "I have mastery of this technique or mechanic, and knowing that, I can now cheese these early game puzzles that would attempt to teach me something I already know". So, I can get items early. I can get collectibles early. I can go around the intended path of the puzzle and solve it in a less tedious way.

5. Not hyper linear. This was largely my issue with Ocarina of Time and many of the Zelda games afterward. Don't get me wrong, I like SOME linearity... But, I play Zelda to primarily explore. If the game has a single intended path through a dungeon... I don't want to do it. I'll go grab a guide to finish it as quickly as possible since it's boring. What I liked about Ocarina of Time was everything EXCEPT the dungeons. What I hate about Skyward Sword (which I picked up the HD Release for since I'd never played it) is basically every single dungeon is so hyper linear that it doesn't feel like I'm accomplishing anything and am merely doing what the programmers told me I need to do. If I have nothing to explore because I'm limited to a single path through the dungeon... Then I can't get lost. I don't have to remember where I've been and what I've done. I don't have to search out other locations for items I may need to keep going. I don't get a sense of discovery. Instead, it's a sense of being on rails. Look, some of the most fun I've had was in A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening because those games were basically 100% exploration. Especially their dungeons. My favorite dungeon across both is either Level 6 or Level 7 in Link's Awakening just because of how long I was "lost" for in those two dungeons. Level 6 was basically a maze until you got the Item in the dungeon and then you could break that maze and cakewalk through it. Level 7 was a maze in that you had to figure out how to break the pillars and that involved being very perceptive about where each hole dropped you and where the switches were and paths to get to the pillars you needed to smash. Once you smashed the last pillar and the tower collapsed, you were given super easy access to basically everything left in the dungeon as well as to the boss room.

Meanwhile, you play something like Ocarina of Time and there's like exactly one path to complete the Forest Temple. One path to beat the Fire Temple. One path to beat the Water Temple (though the ability to really screw yourself bad due to the maze and needing to mess with water height REALLY screwed a lot of players and made it the hardest dungeon). On and on. Stick to the hallway. Don't tread too far.

The super linearity of current dungeons is just not my thing. I miss exploring. I miss figuring the place out. I don't like going, "okay, have to go this way" every single time.

I mean, I get the linear design exists because of all the kids who grew up with "instant gratification" and cellphones so they can't be bothered thinking about something for more than 5 seconds before giving up (or even engaging with something for more than 10 seconds before giving up), but I do rather miss the way the old games were designed where you were REQUIRED to actually learn and pay attention and look around and figure things out. And, even better, the devs found clever ways to teach you these things without making it super overt!
 

The Stranger

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No, I don't enjoy puzzles in general, least of all in RPGs. I play RPGs for the story, that's where my interest lies and where my fun is derived. Puzzles just get in the way, preventing me from experiencing the thing I actually enjoy about RPGs.
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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yes, I do, but I'm super terrible at coming up with them
 

Frostorm

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I'm not sure what you mean by "Oldschool Zelda Puzzles". We've got nearly half a dozen to choose from here, going as far back as the NES and as far forward as probably Majora's Mask.
I simply meant the 2D Zelda games. Sorry for the confusion. Once Nintendo got around to Ocarina of Time, the 3D-ness changed the experience considerably. Not in a bad way or anything, just a bit different. Although Nintendo did start worrying about "accessibility" after the N64 era, making everything Windwaker and onwards easy and linear. Such a shame really.
 
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Aoi Ninami

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If I have nothing to explore because I'm limited to a single path through the dungeon... Then I can't get lost. I don't have to remember where I've been and what I've done. I don't have to search out other locations for items I may need to keep going. I don't get a sense of discovery. Instead, it's a sense of being on rails. Look, some of the most fun I've had was in A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening because those games were basically 100% exploration. Especially their dungeons.

I find it strange that you complain about Ocarina in particular, because for me, some of the most fun I've had in a Zelda game was getting lost in the Water Temple and exploring, and that sense of discovery as my understanding of the structure gradually came together. (And not just the Water Temple -- all the adult dungeons felt like this to an extent.) Sure, there's a linear sequence in terms of the actions the player is required to take to progress, but they are hidden all over the map and you have to look around, nudge in various different directions to see where you can progress now and where is somewhere to come back to with a new ability, and then complete a mini-challenge to get the next key or switch, and then try to work out how that helps you, and so on.

Maybe you are just better at "reading" the 3D dungeons than I was :)
 

Tai_MT

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I find it strange that you complain about Ocarina in particular, because for me, some of the most fun I've had in a Zelda game was getting lost in the Water Temple and exploring, and that sense of discovery as my understanding of the structure gradually came together. (And not just the Water Temple -- all the adult dungeons felt like this to an extent.) Sure, there's a linear sequence in terms of the actions the player is required to take to progress, but they are hidden all over the map and you have to look around, nudge in various different directions to see where you can progress now and where is somewhere to come back to with a new ability, and then complete a mini-challenge to get the next key or switch, and then try to work out how that helps you, and so on.

Maybe you are just better at "reading" the 3D dungeons than I was :)

The Water Temple for me was bad because there is basically "one way to solve the dungeon". The Oracles games did the Water Temple FAR BETTER (I think it was Oracle of Ages with the same raising and lowering of water requirement).

The problem I had with the Ocarina dungeons was the fact that they felt so linear. Nearly every Zelda game (save for many of the very early ones) has a series of events you need to trigger in the dungeon to unlock the path to the final door to beat the dungeon. This is fine. I do not mind this.

What I mind is how "linear" this experience feels. Ocarina's problem was that it didn't mask the linearity well at all. Or rather, didn't even try to. It was often very obvious which route was the one you NEEDED to take to get to the boss. It was very obvious usually from the moment you stepped into the "main room".

Here's what I mean:

2D Zelda games up to Oracles:
-There are two or three paths immediately that you can explore and collect treasure on. Some keys. Maybe a map. A compass too, if you get lucky. A few chests full of Rupees. Maybe a room or two with an individual puzzle for the room to get the treasure or staircase or whatever to appear.
-Most paths "loop back around" on themselves so that you don't have to backtrack all that much. Very few end in a "dead end".
-Many paths are blocked off by needing the Dungeon Item. You can sort of see parts of these where you want to go and need to go, but your goal is to find the Dungeon Item in order to tackle these blockades (pits, blocks, whatever).
-The "Boss Key" is hidden somewhere in the dungeon, you usually need the Dungeon Item in order to obtain it, but where it is... Who knows? You might find it early through exploration or it might be the last chest in the whole dungeon you open.

3D Zelda Games:
-Opens up into a "main room" pretty early. Usually within the first two or 3 screens. This is your "Hub", you'll be coming back here a lot.
-A single branch off the HUB is your "main path". It is usually the one that goes straight forward from the entrance.
-All other branches tend to end in "Dead Ends" rather than loop back around on themselves. Sometimes, you get lucky and it "loops around" somewhere, but most often it doesn't. Most often, you need to backtrack through the series of rooms you just cleared. What is at each "Dead End" is typically a chest of Rupees. Or, maybe you get a Map. Or a Compass. Or a Key. If it contains a "Key", then this exploration is part of the "Main Path" rather than you actually exploring.
-You don't typically need or even get the "Dungeon Item" until you're fairly close to the end of the dungeon when it's required to move on. This item is rarely used for "Exploration" purposes and is typically used just to cross the barrier about 3/4 of the way through the dungeon so you can get the Boss Key and access the Boss Room. There really is zero incentive to go back to earlier parts of the dungeon to see if the Dungeon Item can be used there... and in fact, early rooms have nothing in them to use the Dungeon Item on them. Early paths aren't even blocked by needing the Dungeon Item to progress.
-Backtracking is a matter of course rather than an act of exploration and Agency. There's no reason to come back to this room as nothing new opened up, your Dungeon Item doesn't do anything in it and can't be used for any interesting effect, and there's nothing "out of the way" to get here. You can get it on your first entrance of the room and you don't need to come back.... except it ends in a Dead End with a key, so you need to backtrack now.

Here's what we got:
Deku Tree - First room contains the path you need to go to. It's obvious. Big spider web on the floor. Go up a little bit and discover jumping down on it makes it go down and maybe close to breaking, so the goal is to climb up the central room to jump down. Pretty linear path both ways with only a couple side paths to get a Map and Compass and a few keys. I don't even think you get the Slingshot until after you've gone down the hole and only a few rooms from the boss.
Dodongo's Cavern - Walk into the main room and it's obvious you need to go through the giant face. Path to the left and the right. Need to traverse both paths and if I remember correctly, you can't go left until you've gone right. Get the Bomb Gauntlets, I think, and then you can climb up above the head so you can light the torches with bombs. Once that's done, hop down, boss fight. I think the Dungeon Item isn't even gotten until close to the end of this one too.
Jabu Jabu's Belly - Interesting gimmick in this one, though it is annoying. Move NPC to put her on switches. Very linear path. You can't do it out of order due to the mechanic. Then, I think two rooms before the boss, you get a Boomerang... which I think is used to solve one puzzle and defeat the boss... and then you never use it in the game again. I guess they couldn't figure out how to get this to work correctly in order to use it on complicated puzzles, so they ditched it and made you haul around the NPC instead.
Forest Temple - This map actually does "loop back in on itself", which is fantastic and makes this Dungeon less tedious. But, the Boss room is literally 1 room under the HUB you walk into. The goal here is... Defeat 4 Poes. You need the Bow to do it. The order you defeat the Poes is basically set in stone. Not a lot of options for choosing which ones to defeat first.
Fire Temple - This map "sort of" loops back on itself. Kind of. A little. Walk into the main room, and basically your goal is to traverse up/down this room here in order to obtain the hammer. Once you have it, you can get the key in a short room offshooting this room and then enter the door to the left of the entrance here for the boss fight. This level has a TON of backtracking.
Water Temple - This is a maze. A big freakin' maze. There is one way to complete it. Just one, as far as I know. It's less "exploring" and more "where am I?" and "Where do I go to do anything?". I've not seen this design before and I don't think I ever will again. It's a lot of "Oh, crap, missed that tunnel, now I gotta go all the way back around and reset all the water to go into that tunnel". It's a map that would've been better served without "currents" in the first place, if we're honest. If it were just straight up moving water up and down and noticing the differences in the dungeon based on the water level, I don't think anyone would've had a problem with this dungeon at all. Unfortunately, all the current nonsense requires you mess with TWO mechanics in a dungeon and try to remember it all when it's a maze.
Shadow Temple - I don't remember much from this one. I think you get the Mirror Shield here which isn't really used all that much except to beat the boss? Or was that the next dungeon? I remember this dungeon not even having a HUB and being insanely linearly with basically no backtracking at all. Cleared a room, keep moving forward. Was it designed as a kind of gauntlet? I can't remember? Or was this the dungeon that required the floaty boots to do it?
Spirit Temple - I... don't remember this one at all. Was this one linear too? I remember it being VERY short. Like... 10 minutes to beat or something? Was it small? What was the Dungeon Item here? The boss?
---
I dunno, I just compare these to the 2D games I've played where the Dungeon Structure requires a lot more exploration and interaction and linearity is avoided when possible... and I just can't help but feel the "World Exploration" in 3D Zelda games is better while "Dungeon Exploration" in 2D Zelda games is better.
 

ericv00

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Puzzles in a game that is not strictly a puzzle game are quite variable. Some people do them well and some do them badly. As others have said, they shouldn't detract from the experience of the rest of the game. It's good to know who your market is and make it clear to them that your game is what it is. In a game where story is the focus, certain types of puzzles will drag me out of the experience very quickly. But if there is a heavy focus on puzzles, they better be GOOD; difficult but satisfying. I imagine a good guide is to see how long it takes the average person to solve the puzzle and compare that to the time it takes them to finish other types of challenges. If puzzles make up a small part of the game, but command a large amount of the time, it's probably a bad sign.

They should logically fit in the environment. Shifting tracks for a mine cart in a mine to progress into the mine makes sense. Pushing a specific sequence of buttons in a lava cave to open doors in a volcano to get to the other side does not. Reading inscriptions on tombstones for clues to figure out where the secret entrance is for a mausoleum makes some sense. The infamous rock pushing puzzles NEVER make sense. Who resets them? Who would build a contraption to reset big boulders? Why would a puzzle actually meant to challenge 'guests' work THAT way? In a game with a focus on puzzles, this isn't the worst thing. But in a game where the world is intended to feel real, it kinda sucks.

Most of all, PLEASE don't give me an obscure and obtuse puzzle in an area with random encounters. That is a recipe for frustration.
 

Finnuval

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Most of all, PLEASE don't give me an obscure and obtuse puzzle in an area with random encounters. That is a recipe for frustration.
Oh god... This. Combine it with having to run from one room to another to check things that still dont make anything clear and... Yeah, putting it down in a heartbeat
 

ericv00

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Oh god... This. Combine it with having to run from one room to another to check things that still dont make anything clear and... Yeah, putting it down in a heartbeat
Pretty sure a couple of these scenarios gave me PTSD.

Oh... OH! Okay this might be worth mentioning. So, I am a very experienced adventure game player. Lucasarts, Sierra, etc. Part of what you need to do in these types of games is get in the mind of the creator. Puzzles often have to do with HOW the creator of the puzzle thinks. Pun humor? Pun solution. Deep tech knowledge? Deep tech answer. Alcohol aficionado? Alcohol knowledge answer. If you don't know the material, but understand the mind of the creator, you have a chance. If you don't know the material, and there is no good indication on the mind of the creator, you have no chance. AVOID PUZZLES THAT REQUIRE SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE. ...unless you present that knowledge in-game.

So yeah, no light refraction puzzles where you have to place a ruby, a diamond, an emerald, and an opal in specific places to compliment different sources of light, if you know what I mean. Unless the player is made to acquire a book that plainly states this information.
 

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