Why So Great?
So, I’ve paraded, stripped down, and viciously searched the game for all of you happily rested folk in order to make a point. What is that point, you may ask? Well, everyone really seems to want to know what makes Ocarina of Time the magnificent game that it is. People demand to know why it’s such a big deal that tomorrow, Friday, is the tenth anniversary of a bunch of zeros and ones making it onto our television screens. And, perhaps more importantly, the real question is why this game is so important I was willing to do this review knowing I would sacrifice my sleep. Why is it so important?
Ten years ago, I had no idea what The Legend of Zelda was. To me, the series might as well have been called Delicious Romps in a Green Hat While Saving A Stranger and it would have meant the same thing. Actually, it might have meant more, since I love the word ‘delicious’. I was just a little kid who really liked sitting in front of my television playing games with my friends. Then one day I went over to my friend’s house and we played Ocarina of Time together, and it was like a light switched on. I didn’t know anything about Zelda, but I knew I had to keep playing that game. So I did, I kept playing, and six years later I finished it, almost the same chronological time it took Link in the game to rescue Hyrule. Along the way I bought more games from the Zelda series, and I became entranced by each and every one of them (okay, maybe not Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland).
Honestly, it’s difficult to classify what makes a classic a classic. Some people say it is the test of time. Does OoT pass that test? Well, the graphics are outdated, the audio is charming but old, and the physics can sometimes screw up, especially with dungeon walls. But its story, the story I’ve just explained and analyzed for you, I really think that’s what keeps people coming back to this game. It’s not the fancy colors or motion-captured imagery like the next generation of game design, but rather a timeless story that can be enjoyed by newcomers and veterans alike. And it’s one you want to relive again and again.
A contemporary example of the kind of game OoT is might be Fable. Both are action-oriented, but I think Fable fails in comparison, not because of the much more mature nature of its story or how much more intricate the character development is… Link is a different kind of protagonist. You learn through him to love the world that he inhabits, and are infused with his desire to protect it. Conversely, in Fable the quests revolve around the path your character takes, so it becomes a very character-oriented perspective, almost to the degree of narcissism. Link is a person utterly devoid of narcissism, so focused is he with helping others not for himself but for the greater good. I believe that people who love OoT see themselves in this and resonate with Link. We all want to help our fellow man, one way or another, but the selfless nature of the Zelda series’ protagonist strikes true in many.