Game of the Week (7/16/17) – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Hey, Listen! Have you heard the story of a young boy named Link who lives in a forest in the land of Hyrule? He lives in a magical land with fairies and talking trees with a benevolent princess named Zelda, a mystical triforce that offers powers to those that possess it, and an evil nemesis in the from of Gannon or Gannondorf. Surely you must know what the Legend of Zelda series is all about after 30+ years on home consoles in North America and I don’t need to get too involved into the lore and timeline of the titular entry in the series. Ocarina of Time is an important title in the Zelda universe and arguably considered one of the best games of all time. I think that title is more commonly given depending on what system(s) you grew up playing during your formative gamer years. It was Link’s first 3D adventure and creatively designed to introduce players to a whole new way of playing Legend of Zelda games while still retaining elements of the previous titles, specifically A Link to the Past from the SNES. I appreciated the new lock-on targeting system that it utilized by the Z trigger. It assists new players in figuring out how to aim for and kill monsters in a 3D environment. I also didn’t mind that Link jumps automatically, taking away some of the more frustrating aspects of 3D games with platform elements. While the gameplay certainly was innovative at the time, the plot of Ocarina of Time tends to be one of the most memorable aspects of this title. Without giving away too many spoilers, after a certain point in the game, Link finds himself transported into the future. Townspeople he had interactions with and friendships forged in the past as a child can be revisited in the future in an effort to see how their lives have changed, for better or more likely, worse. The titular Ocarina plays an important role in the plot of the game as well and its effectiveness as a plot device and a gameplay mechanic is often divisive. Regardless, Ocarina of Time often brings out strong emotions in most people that play it.

My personal experiences with Ocarina of Time were not similar to late 90’s kids whose first console was the N64 and first Zelda game was this one. I purchased my copy several years after it’s 1998 release and had already played and finished the first 3 Zelda games on the NES and SNES extensively. 3D Zelda was clearly the way of the future for this franchise from this point on and I had to make a choice to accept it and allow myself to fall in love with the new controls, cameras and basic gameplay mechanics or I could resist and complain about how I loved my 2D Zelda’s so much better. It took awhile but I finally relented and played Ocarina of Time all the way through on my N64 about 5 years ago. I admittedly used a walkthrough/strategy guide as the thought of using trial and error mechanics to figure out all the puzzles and dungeons seemed a bit daunting for my adult sensibilities. Nevertheless, I finished it and I enjoyed my time in the 3D Hyrule universe. While the game no longer looks like the most amazing and expansive world in video gaming history (I’m just assuming certain gamers prone to hyperbole were thinking this in 1998), it still wowed me in scope, style, story and overall fun. I could nitpick about the camera or the repetitive nature of some of the puzzles or the amount of backtracking required but that’s really par for the course when it comes to Zelda games in general. What this game does provide far outweighs any negatives one might come up with when discussing the details. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best games for the N64 and I wouldn’t spend a lot of energy arguing with anyone that had it in their Top 5 favorite games of all time list.

Rating: A-

Currently in my collection: game, manual

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