I have a peculiar eye for pity.

For some reason, I feel there is nothing sadder than the fact that some people take pains to produce something beautiful... and then, some little-minded ungrateful person decides to proverbially flatten the thing completely.

It was only last week when I got my copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for GameCube. Now, I'm already nearing the end of the game. I've enjoyed the game a great deal.

But there was one big issue that put a great big dent in my enjoyment.

Basically, The City in the Sky had one big design flaw that's rather common in modern games. I was banging my head on the wall: I knew exactly what to do next to proceed, but I had no idea how to do it in the game. My day was growing long, I had almost finished the game without any spoilers at all, and now I was here and had spent good five hours trying to figure out how the hell to proceed.

In the end, I had all the information in my head. I just couldn't connect them.

(SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING)

Basically, just before the end of the level, there's this disco-ball you need to latch on using clawshots. The thing is too high to reach from the floor. Just too high.

I had arrived to some logical conclusions BEFORE looking at the FAQs:

  1. To get to the north tower, I had to activate the giant big fan on the main structure. It just sat there, and the turning panes on the way leading to the north weren't turning, and the turning panes could be climbed on but it was impossible to get to the north tower that way.
  2. There's no obvious way to start the thing on the way leading to the north tower. It had to be elsewhere.
  3. The fact that the fan on the ceiling of the main room can be turned off has to be significant, and the fact that there's a clawshotable wine going to the second floor is significant.
  4. There's no obvious way to turn the thing on the main floor, apart of the disco-ball which I hadn't tried because I couldn't get to the disco ball.

I tried everything: Figuring out how to get on top of the nearest colums by jumping from the above using the birdmen. (Aggravating - the birdmen move and are always out of the clawshot range). Tried hanging from all possible places to get somewhere to the clawshot range. Tried scouring all places. I tried crossing the north way without making the panes turn. Tried hopping on top of the walkway from the roofs of the main building, which was a bit far-fetched.

The FAQ explained the lead on point 4 was the key: The idea was to latch on the grating on the room above the fan, lower down, then clawshot to the ball on the roof of the main room.

In retrospect I had ignored one major clue: The room above the fan had grating ceiling that I had not used before, and using clawshot to hang from there was, at this point, still counterintuitive...

(END SPOILERS)

So what went wrong? Basically, there was not enough clues, and some of the ones that were present were misleading.

Now I hate myself for reading the FAQ and not trying hard enough. I hate myself for getting annoyed at the whole map and cursing the creators of the level to the third generation. I hate myself for hating the concept of the level - if there's one thing I dislike in games, it's the "crumbling floor" or "no floor" levels. I hate myself for letting anger take better of me.

I should have rested. I should have went to some forum and ask "am I on the right track with this?" Because that's another flaw of this game, and modern games in general, and heck, all game FAQs in general: Lack of InvisiClues-like approach to hints, lack of some protocol through which I could get information on how to get forward without getting the complete solution.

I also hate myself for having to rationalise this. Or do I need to? Should I hate myself for saying "Well, it's not bad, I would have figured it out in 5 more hours"? Do I need to get over the "GAMEFAQS = DEATH" line of thinking? Should all Serious Gamers™ accept "okay, you're allowed to look up a spoiler from the FAQs once, and it's not that bad"? Do I set my bar of seriousness too high?

It also brings me to the point of this article: The folks at Nintendo made an interesting level. I hate myself for hating them for making it aggravating at times. It's a fine dungeon. I should be grateful for them for making such a nice dungeon and putting a lot of thought to that.

So what do I think of the game? At first, I was thinking of calling it better than Ocarina of Time, but because the end dungeons seem to be considerably more aggravating than the ones in OoT and The Wind Waker, I'm not so sure. I'm not saying the game is fun; it's just spectacularly frustrating when you're not moving forward. At least in TWW, you could roll around in circles and hope things would get better (okay, I also had the walkthrough at hand for TWW, but I mostly consulted it for locations of the heart pieces). Here, on the other hand...

And what do I do now? Well, I'll finish the game WITHOUT any spoilers at all. My enthusiasm is gone the way it is now, but I hope I'll regain it. I just hate it that there's so few games I've finished without any spoilers; Max Payne comes in mind, as does (within recent years) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney, Star Fox Adventures... and I think I haven't looked at plot spoilers for Baten Kaitos yet, though I did look at the card descriptions and checked that yes, there's Lupus constellation in the game.