@theblue: As much as I did like the more openness of the game, I do think it makes it harder to scour every inch for hidden goodies. I played many hours of level based games like the Banjo series, Mario 64, DK 64, but in those games most of the stuff is contained inside the levels, and it's relatively easy to get from one to the next. Thus, I can spend all afternoon looking for stuff in one level. But in LttP, even if it is technically smaller in size than the overall size of those other games, it's more open, and harder to keep track of where stuff is, and where I've already searched. Especially when there's a supply of new items that open up new areas as the game goes on.
Did that make sense? While I'd have liked to explore literally every nook and cranny, I also can't remember every last nook and cranny, and I was not taking the time to draw a map or something like that (though I could imagine young me doing that).