The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is Regarded as one of Nintendo’s Masterpieces. The game that set industry standards, the game that at the time was so big and grand it shocked people, all while being on a N64 cartridge. The game that had so much to do and so many secrets the possibilities were endless, the game that truly is even despite it’s title, timeless. Ocarina of Time was a pioneer game that started so many ideas for future Zelda’s and future games. It was a breakthrough in 3-D gaming, with its graphics, gameplay, story and very creative and innovative ideas. I am here of course to talk about in my opinion why this game is truly the one of the best. While Majora’s Mask is one of my favourite games. Ocarina of Time is factually superior. Fun Fact this was the first game I ever played. Who else gets to say that one of the the best game in the world was their first? On with the review!
Now for those who read my review on Majora’s Mask the gameplay is very similar. Here’s a link to the past (See what I did there?) however there are still things to talk about despite their similarities because this game did do it all first. Let’s start with the most innovative thing to come from this game that almost every game has used since; the Z-Targetting technique. The Z-Targetting technique helped Link target enemies/bosses, people, signs and some things in the environment and with the help of one of my favourite fairy companions Navi she will give you info on the things she can target with this function. Z-Targetting made the game so much easier and less frustrating because with the click of a button 95% of your shots never miss their mark! You can tell Nintendo really put a lot of effort into this gameplay mechanic and it shows and paid off.
Another gameplay mechanic was the use of the C-Buttons. Now for those who remember the Nintendo 64 it has 4 C Buttons in the compass directions. While, Left, Down, and Right C could equip items (so that’s 3 items at one time) Up C was context sensitive for a First-Person view and to talk to Navi when she chirped. The A Button was also context sensitive as it made you do all the actions in the game which made the game feel like you could do a lot more all in one button. Without droning on an on about buttons to put it lightly the buttons for this game were well thought out by their context sensitivity and the above is just a few examples.
The game also had 4 sub-screens when you paused the game which kept things organized and easy to follow. You had an items screen, an equipment screen, a quest status screen and a map screen. The game also came with a mini-map that could be toggled with the rarely used L Button, but the big map was to help keep track of a whole area, not just the room. But the mini-map idea is another feature that a lot of games would start using to make exploration less chaotic and again just made the game less memory powered and more focus on getting the job done unlike games such as Super Mario 64, or Banjo-Kazooie and so on.
But no Zelda game is a Zelda game without its items. And because this game was 3-D the classic Zelda items like the hookshot, bow and arrow and bombs, got more fun than ever because of the depth only 3-D can offer. While the hookshot in previous 2-D Zelda’s is fun in theory, but swinging side-to-side on the screen isn’t as impressive as going up higher or lower in angles. Ocarina of Time also employed some original items that would come into play again in future Zelda’s like the Iron Boots. Walking down at the bottom of Lake Hylia was just so cool! No game had done something like that before, swimming underwater is one thing, but walking underwater is another. But you get many items that were original and game-changing like the Lens of Truth that revealed hidden chests and secret walls and who doesn’t like finding hidden things like that it made the game feel bigger and more magical. The list goes on and on, Ocarina of Time’s items really pushed the game and took full advantage of the 3-D environment which at the time made the game more impressive. Truly this was Nintendo in its Golden Age.
A unique gameplay element at the time was also the use of time travel. While this game doesn’t really care for actual science and continuity through the timelines. The use of Young and Adult Link just added that extra layer to the game. Hyrule is also being slightly altered through time, the use of certain items for either both Link’s or one Link just gave it more variety. Plus time-travelling is just cool!
I wanna talk about the temples now. While great in number they are in my opinion…pretty basic, and that’s not to insult the temples as a whole, because the puzzles were great, challenging even…but I’m talking more about the design and the order placement. Let me explain, the only Temples that really stand out to me in terms of creativity in the design are the Forest Temple and the Spirit Temple to a point. I mean think about it! The Forest Temple had 4 ghosts who steal 4 coloured fires and hallways that were twisted and revealed other rooms. The Spirit Temple, was the only temple that could be completed using both Young and Adult Link which also gives it that little extra creative design element. The use of light reflection is what really makes that temple. But in terms of level design Forest Temple starts at such a high with its features that again push the 3-D environments that 2-D could never accomplish, the rest seem kind of normal…while maybe harder in difficulty. I found the other temples in Ocarina of Time to be somewhat lacking compared to Forest and Spirit.
The last thing I want to talk about are the bosses. Now the bosses, were built up perfectly in strategy and difficulty and their difficulty levels were appropriate and challenging, some more than others, but that is really up to you. What makes Zelda bosses hard isn’t the strategy to defeat them…stun then attack, it’s going about doing that is what makes them hard. I’m gonna use the infamous boss Bongo Bongo for this example. Again to defeat him all you gotta do is stun his hands, stun his eye, then attack his eye. Rinse and repeat easy right? WRONG! You’re on a giant trampoline/bongo that be bounces you on with his giant hands, which makes it harder to target his hands, plus he’s invisible so you can’t see him without using the Lens of Truth therefore you have to drain magic. His hands and him are always on the move so if you haven’t mastered Z-Targetting good luck. He also does a lot of damage with any of his attacks like 3 – 7 hearts worth. Unlike Majora’s Mask where I really only enjoyed Gyorg for the way to defeat him. All of Ocarina’s bosses are hard, challenging and yet simple which makes them so alluring and makes you really wanna kill them.
The story here is classic Zelda in which it’s Link Vs. Ganon, Link goes on an adventure to 8 temples to get things that will help him defeat Ganon, while proving himself to gain the Tri-Force of Courage and of course save the Princess Zelda. This sentence in no way is to degrade Ocarina of Time. Why fix what isn’t broken right? However, this classic story is told in my opinion the best in this game. The story telling in this game for the most part is epic and grand. This is where Nintendo 64 limits show…nowadays there is more character development, more explanation on other culture’s history etc, but for what this game did at the time, it already pushed so many limits that at the time, nobody really noticed, and you could argue because this is a simpler game perhaps it doesn’t need all that complexity anyway.
The story starts with Link having a nightmare/vision of the future, of a fair maiden escaping a castle on a white horse with what appears to be a guard woman. He sees that she is being pursued by a man. Link ends up blocking the way of the mysterious man chasing the princess. The man is about to attack Link who is unarmed and frightened, this is where the dream ends. In the real world, the story starts in Kokiri Forest where the Kokiri race of kids who never grow up and have fairy partners dwell. Link lives among these children but has no fairy until their guardian deity The Great Deku Tree sends Navi to call him as of course Link’s destiny starts today…that is the actual script. Navi does as she’s told, and after gaining a sword and shield you go to the Great Deku Tree, who informs you he has been cursed and needs you to show your courage and help him to get rid of it. After going through the first dungeon Inside The Great Deku Tree you fight the cursed Queen Gohma and save the day…only to find out it is to late for the poor old tree and he is going to die. But before he does he gives you the Spiritual Stone of the Forest and requests you to find the other 2 spiritual stones and talk to the Princess Zelda of the impending evil that attacked him. After saying good-bye to a friend named Saria who gives Link her Fairy Ocarina, Link starts his adventure.
After meeting with the Princess Zelda who informs Link of her awareness of the evil trying to take over Hyrule and introducing him to Ganondorf secretly through a window, she also insists that Link get the other 2 spiritual stones from the other races in Hyrule. With her blessing and assistance with a letter Link goes. He helps the Gorons not starve, and rescues the Zoras princess and guardian deity Jabu Jabu and receives the other 2 stones. However while this was all going on…Hyrule Castle is under siege and Link’s earlier nightmare/vision comes true. Ganondorf reveals himself as the main villain and attacks Link who isn’t even close to up to the challenge. Zelda leaves behind the game’s namesake the Ocarina of Time and teaches him a song that will open a door in the Temple of Time and give him a weapon to help defeat Ganondorf.
Link hurries to the Temple of Time plays the song and places the 3 spiritual stones on their pedestals and finds the Legendary Blade of Evil’s Bane, the Master Sword.
Doing this forces his soul to sleep for 7 years, and allows Ganondorf to break into the Sacred Realm and claim the Tri-Force of Power…and during these 7 years while link slept he takes over all of Hyrule. When Link does awaken the Sage Rauru informs him he has grown up, is the chosen one and must defeat Ganondorf and rescue the other 5 sages so they can seal Ganondorf and undo the damage he’s done. Once he returns to the Temple of Time a mysterious man named Shiek is there and informs Link he has been waiting for him, and aids him with info on the sages and temple’s whereabouts. With Shiek’s aid, and Navi’s help, Link goes on the 2nd half of his journey that will force him to save old friends who are now the Sages, travel through time to complete quests and find information about Zelda’s whereabouts.
When all the 6 sages are freed it is revealed that Sheik **spoiler alert** was really Princess Zelda all along. She reveals she was waiting for you to free the Sages so that you and her can act in defeating Ganondorf together. After gracing Link with a magic arrow imbued with the power of light, Ganon entraps Zelda in a crystal prison and warps her to his castle and taunts Link to come and get her.
Link goes to the Ganon’s Castle, that 7 years ago was Hyrule’s Castle and goes to Zelda’s rescue. It is there he fights Ganon and learns that he plans to take Zelda’s Tri-Force of Wisdom and Link’s Tri-Force of Courage to assemble the full Tri-Force. In a very epic final battle against Ganon, he fails, and Zelda is freed…only for Ganon in his apparent last breath to crumble his own castle in hopes to take down Link and Zelda with him. Through many trials they escape the tower, and fight Ganon in his final form, and together destroy him and seal him away for a long time. Zelda thankful for your help apologizes you had to go through this and return you to being a child to start your life over without any of these interfering events. Navi leaves, and you go warn Young Zelda about the ordeal you’ve been through.
And thus ends…a truly epic Legend of Zelda story.
(Editors note: Man this game sounds even better than I remember… I completely forgot you fight Ganon twice. Guess it’s time to relive the dream.)
While inferior to Majora’s Mask’s graphics, when this game came out these graphics were top of the line. Especially considering it used the original jumper pack. With its attention to detail, and pretty good models, and plenty of animations, this game did pack quite a lot in the little cartridge. Nintendo also used really good techniques to make things appear bigger than they were, particularly Hyrule Field. What they did was, everything the camera doesn’t see isn’t loaded so as to make the game run smooth and seamless, while everyone is initially impressed “Wow what a big area!” that’s not what’s being loaded. Clever huh? While some environments aren’t all 3-D such as the Market or the road to the Temple of Time which are just pre-rendered, most of the game is true 3-D. For the time, these really were some of the best graphics, and although dated, to me still aren’t that bad. But if it bothers you buy the 3DS Remaster.
The music in this game really stands out. All temples have their own unique theme. One track caused controversy, the original Fire Temple music. Hyrule Field’s Main Theme had such attention paid to it, that the music sounds different when you ride horseback, run on foot, stand still and face an enemy. It really is the little things. The soundtrack composed by Koji Kondo was grand an epic, fitting for such a perfect game. These are tracks most Zelda fans remember.
In all, these are the reasons why I still think today, Ocarina of Time is one of the best adventure games ever, and will never be outdone. What do you think?
(Editer’s Note: I might not remember every aspect of this game, but I know its still one of the best games of all time. Might give it a spin again soon. I’m more surprised that Nephew and I agree on something.)
Written by: Nephew
Edited by: G