Photo Source: Thunderbolt Games
By: Danny Hovanessian
Hailed as a “masterpiece” and a “classic” for over a decade, “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” floored gamers as a revolutionary title that would change gaming forever. It was also arguably the title that put the Zelda series on the market, as it lured in an enormous amount of new fans.
The title was so successful that after its Nintendo 64 release, it was ported to the Nintendo Gamecube (twice), Wii Virtual Console Shop, and it was recently released last year on the 3DS with new 3D features accompanied by spruced-up visuals.
Even in 2012, “Ocarina of Time” still manages to provide the player with a breathtaking and unforgettable adventure, even if the “magic” of the title has worn off over the years.
Ocarina of Time begins with Link waking up in his treehouse within his hometown of Kokiri Forest, awakened by the pestering fairy, Navi, to visit the dying Great Deku Tree, as Navi has a great task for Link. Link eventually reaches the tree and attempts to prevent his death, but his efforts are in vain, as the tree dies—but not before he tells Link of an evil man trying to conquer the land of Hyrule. Link must stop him, and he must visit Princess Zelda, as it is his destiny to see her. With this, he leaves his hometown of Kokiri and begins his grand adventure.
Obviously, the story isn’t anything to write home about, even back in 1998 in its release; what makes the story enjoyable, however, is how well it is presented. The characters you meet along the way all have a unique charm. The lore, while somewhat clichéd, is interesting and is gradually expanded upon, and there are a number of electric and unforgettable moments.
The story is also supported by the excellent soundtrack and visuals. The visuals are nothing special today, but they surprisingly hold up well. The animations are fluid, the landscapes are colorful and large, and the characters’ emotions are well-expressed. Even though video games have moved on to orchestrated soundtracks, “Ocarina of Time”’s usage of MIDI is not ear-bleedingly terrible as one might expect. The tunes all prove to be, much like the rest of the game, memorable, and suitably add to the game’s atmosphere.
While the visuals and soundtrack are formidable, the gameplay is where “Ocarina of Time”’s praise was reserved. Every location is vast and sprawling, teeming with unnerving monsters, and plenty of abstruse areas to find. A number of locations are only accessible through Link’s trusty horse, Epona, and hours of fun can be had just riding Epona through the massive Hyrule fields.
In the game’s multiple villages, Link can converse and interact with many civilians, and even complete quests for a few of them. The meat of the gameplay lies in the dungeons: capacious areas that are sprinkled with puzzles and enemies. Combat, while not the prime focus of the gameplay, is entertaining despite its overwhelming simplicity.
Puzzles require the use of the dozens of items Link obtains throughout his journey. Some reveal invisible items, some can destroy icicles, and some can hit objects from far away, among other things. These items are fun to use, and are cleverly implemented within the game’s stimulating puzzles.
As expected, the game isn’t as lauded as it was before, as in the span of 12 years, many other games have surpassed some, if not all, of its qualities. This is to be expected, of course—I’d be worried if this wasn’t the case—but the game is still a great adventure very much worth experiencing. Though the nostalgia is slowly fading, the game will always be great.