What can really be said about one of the best Zelda games ever made? No, not Twilight Princess (which very well could match the honor with Ocarina). I am referring to the N64 classic, Ocarina of Time. The game ushered in the age of three dimensional gaming and we haven’t turned back since. Ocarina showed us that we were able to render something close to a real human being, as well as a camera that could capture Link’s adventure in a 360-degree scope. If it weren’t for the N64 (and even the Sony Playstation) and Ocarina, you wouldn’t even have a game like Twilight Princess. So, let’s take a look back at the game that started the Zelda 3-D revolution.
The gameplay of the games on the NES, SNES, and Game Boy were all fairly similar; Link would explore an overworld and underworld via one screen at a time. A very limited aspect of gaming that was limited to the system they were played on. Ocarina changed the gameplay of Zelda to include not just one screen of world but the entire scope of the land you were exploring. From the beginning of the game in the forest, until the very end battle against Ganondorf, you could explore every part of Hyrule without the limit of one screen at a time. The only time Link would really change “screens” is when he went to a new area, but even then, the areas were larger than those in the original games.
The game was also the first Zelda game to feature the “lock-on” targeting system, which allowed Link to focus on one enemy at a time. This allowed gamers to defeat enemies more seamlessly on the 3-D platform.
The game also is fairly linear, with many side quests for the player to enjoy. The pieces of heart that were scattered around the whole of Hyrule was back for players to find and increase their life. Diving games, fishing games, and other oddities made their way into this game as well.
The dungeons of course were a thing of beauty. No longer restricted to the one screen at a time rule, Link was able to go from larger room to larger room with ease and face more obstacles in his path. The “one major item per dungeon” rule was also implemented as well, with Link adding to his repertoire (but that will be for a later section).
Graphics and Sound
Compared to games nowadays, Ocarina’s graphics surely are not up to standards. But, for the first 3-D Zelda game, they are magnificent. They were the stepping stone for Zelda games to come (including the recent Twilight Princess). Link was finally shown as a 3-D model, rather than a sprite he had been stuck as for 10 years. It was a great change, as well as a much needed one.
The sounds of the game were exceptional as well. Conducted by Koji Kondo, the melodies of the game were soothing, as well as fierce, to match the situation you were put in. Each temple had it’s own theme and each reflected the element of the dungeon (uplifting tune for the Forest Temple, a somber tune for the Fire Temple, an eerie tune for the Shadow Temple, etc.).
Here is where things get interesting. The game has a very simple story, but many fans believe this is where the Zelda Timeline got very messed up.
The main story of the game is Link, a boy from the forest (as well as one without a fairy) is awoken by a fairy telling him the forest’s guardian, the Great Deku Tree, has summoned him to talk to him. Upon gathering a shield and sword from the forest, he talks to the Great Deku Tree, which his adventure truly starts. Link learns of an evil man from the desert who has cursed the tree for his own selfish needs. Upon defeating the evil within the tree, Link receives a Spiritual Stone, the very thing that this evil man wanted. Link also learns about the goddesses, as well the Triforce (a magical relic the goddesses left behind), as well as the Sacred Realm (the resting place of the Triforce, to which no one may enter without the right “clearance). The Spiritual Stone that Link holds helps him into the Realm.
Link then sets out into Hyrule to meet the Princess of Destiny, so that he may learn his own fate. Zelda tells him of Ganondorf, the evil man the tree speaks of, as well as the other two Spiritual Stones. The three stones, as well as the Ocarina of Time can open the Sacred Realm. Link sets out to gather the last stones before Ganondorf can.
Once Link retrieves them, he finds Zelda fleeing the castle, being followed by Ganondorf. Link stands up to him, only to struck down. As Ganondorf leaves, Link retrieves the Ocarina from the moat (to which Zelda had thrown it) and enters the Sacred Realm by pulling the Master Sword from the Temple of Time. Ganondorf, who had followed Link, enters with him, gathering the Triforce in the process.
Link wakes seven years later in the Sacred Realm in front of Rauru, an ancient sage. He tells Link of the evil that Ganondorf has caused in seven short years and that Link was too young to wield the Master Sword at such a young age. He slept for seven years to wake as the Hero of Time. He then instructs Link to find five other sages and add their power his own to defeat Ganondorf.
Link then travels to all the temples of Hyrule and awakens all the sages. He enters Ganon’s Castle, defeats him and is sent back to his own time to live out his life like he should have.
The reason this game caused so much “controversy” was the fact that before this game there was no “timeline”. The games were thought to be in order of release. Miyamoto stated that it would be the first in the “timeline” of sorts. To which, Timeline Theories to this day continue to be thought up.
The other “controversy” is the ending of the game. When Link is sent back in time at the end, many believe that the game splits into two separate timeline, while many believe the timeline is one straight timeline. This debate continues to this day.
We may never know the true nature of the timeline, but the game’s story is one to be reckoned with.
The items in the game are something of wonder. Not only does Link wield his sword and shield again, he also gains some 3-D versions of his favorite items. The hookshot, bow, bombs, and boomerang make their return to the series, along with new items like the Lens of Truth (an item that allows Link to see the unseen), the Ocarina (which was featured in Link’s Awakening, but this one allows Link to open up passages with song, as well as warp from one end to Hyrule to the other with just a tune), the return of magic, as well as magic items, and other minor items. This game also features changing of boots and tunics, that Link must use in order to complete some puzzles.
Once again, what else can be said about this game that hasn’t been said? It is an excellent Zelda game that launched the series into a new era. A new era that includes the newest addition, Twilight Princess, that wouldn’t be here with the step Ocarina took. This game should be played if you are Zelda fan, there is no question about that.