Welcome back to The Legend of Zelda Month. Last year I took a look at The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening. So, what am I reviewing this year? Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (Hopefully make one review out of it), and Wind Waker. And hey, Breath of the Wild is out on March 3rd on the Nintendo Wii U, as well as the Nintendo Switch, so this could be a countdown to that game, but don’t expect me to review it any time soon, maybe in a couple more years time when I’ve played and reviewed the other games in the main series, spin-offs will be reviewed anytime of the year. Anyway, it’s time to start off with a game that is considered to be the most beloved games in the series…to the point that if any future Zelda games do anything new, some fans hate it…this is why I hate nostalgia.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Toki no Okarina), developed and published by Nintendo and was released in 1998 worldwide. Now I have had experience with the Nintendo 64 port via Nintendo GameCube, you see, I got the Wind Waker Limited Edition version, and since it’s the European port, the second disc is Ocarina of Time along with the Master Quest, so no separate package…no hard feelings USA. But to give the game the benefit of the doubt, I will be playing the Nintendo 3DS port, developed by Greezo and Nintendo, also published by Nintendo and was released in 2011 worldwide.
So I’m going to talk about the plot but because it’s woven through the game and there are some important plot points, there may be spoilers, so just scroll down until you see *SAFE TO READ REVIEW NOW!*
Navi is summoned by the Great Deku Tree to wake up Link, a child of the Kokiri. The Tree has been cursed and is close to death’s bed, but he asks Link to remove the curse. With a sword and shield, and his annoying companion Navi, Link goes inside the tree and does just that. Unfortunately, the Tree dies anyway, but not before telling Link about who did this to him.
The tree also tells Link a tale of the three goddesses Farore, Din and Nayru, in which they not only created Hyrule, but also created the holiest of sacred triangles, the Triforce. And here we are introduced to our main villain, Ganondorf, who wants the three pieces of the Triforce himself, and was the one who placed the curse on the Tree. The tree eventually gives Link the Kokiri Emerald, this is one of the spiritual stones out there, Link needs to collect two more to gain access to the sacred realm.
And finally, the Tree asks Link to go to Hyrule Castle and visit Princess Zelda and he does just that (but not before doing a stealth mission to get to her). Upon meeting her, she explains that she too knows that Ganondorf is a douche, so asks Link to collect the remaining spiritual stones so Link can enter the Temple of Time. Link ventures to find them, starting off with Goron City and the Gorons, beer-bellied creatures that eat rocks. And then to Zora’s Domain and the Zoras, creatures of water, though you have to save Princess Ruto.
And so far, this has essences of A Link to the Past. In that game, you had to collect three pendants to pick up the Master Sword, but in this game, you need to collect them to prevent Ganondorf from having them himself. OK, there are different reasons for collecting them, but it’s near enough has that essence of that game, and that does go on throughout the plot.
After collecting all the stones, Link is off to Hyrule Castle…and suddenly, his nightmare from the beginning of the game becomes a reality, Zelda is taken to safety thanks to Impa, Zelda throws an item in the sea, and Ganondorf, whom Link sees for the first time, is off to chase them. After that, Link goes into the Hylian river to pick up the item Zelda threw, the Ocarina of Time, the Royal Family’s hidden treasure.
Link goes into the Temple of Time and uses the spiritual stones to open the door to the sacred realm, and what’s inside that door? The one, the only, the manly man’s sword, the iconic, the BEAST, the LEGEND…sorry, it’s the Master Sword. Link waste no time and pulls the sword from the stone…
But as it turns out, Ganondorf may have let Link pull the sword, as this freezes him in time for seven years, letting Ganondorf take one of the Triforce pieces and rule the world.
Link awakens and is now an adult. Rauru, one of the ancient sages, put Link in this predicament because he couldn’t become the Hero of Time as of yet due to being too young. In that time, Ganondorf turned Hyrule into a nightmarish place filled with monsters and whatnot…well the market is a nightmarish place, Kakariko Village and Hyrule Field are perfectly fine…OK. So Link is assigned by Rauru to find the remaining sages and collect their medallions. With their powers combined, they can help Link stop Ganondorf and save Hyrule Market and turn it back to normal…everywhere else…I guess they’ll benefit from it too.
Throughout the rest of the adventure, you do just that, but you also get help from Shiek, the last of the Sheikahs…also he’s a ninja…wait, SHIEK’S A BLOKE? DAMMIT JAPAN!
*SAFE TO READ REVIEW NOW!*
And I think that’s enough for the plot, what happens next is up to you, should you want to play it.
Oh my, it seems to me that because of this plot, the word limit will probably go way beyond anything I’ve written. So…this may be my longest review so far due to talking about the plot…thanks Zelda series. But what’s funny is that despite the game being more plot driven along with a few complexities, it’s still simple and easy to understand, though Link is still a plank and you still have to defeat the evil villain from doing evil things.
Now to the gameplay, in my opinion, it’s A Link to the Past in 3D, but that’s not a bad thing. You attack enemies and such with your sword, use your shield to block projectiles. But now we have context sensitive actions because this is the Nintendo 64, you can pick up things, push and pull things and all this by just pushing one button, which is nice and simple.
In terms of combat, we’re introduced to Z-targeting, as in hold Z to target enemies to focus on them and slash and block away, and even when the enemy moves, so long as you’re holding Z, the camera will follow them and you know where they are. The combat is once again simple but effective, these are great mechanics and it’s something that people can easily learn. In terms of the Nintendo 3DS, Z-targeting is now L which makes sense, but the context sensitive mechanics remains the same. By using Z-targeting, Link can sidestep, jump slash and do a backflip. The jump slash whilst not always accurate, is effective when used in combat.
In terms of items, Link has plenty and they’re managed much better here. In terms of the Nintendo 64, you can have up to three items that you can use in game via c-buttons, though in the 3DS, you can have 4 items thanks to the touch screen. This means that you can manage how items are used during the game and prevents you from changing items every 5 seconds I’M LOOKING AT YOU LINK’S AWAKENING!
But if I have one issue with controlling Link…he’s is horribly slow, when you run through Hyrule Field, I don’t get that sense of impending adventure awaiting me because nostalgia blocks anything issues the game could have, NO, I feel like I’m slogging it all the way, rolling on and on to give the illusion that I’m going faster but doesn’t really help in the long run. Here’s a tip: when travelling through Hyrule Field, use the sidestep, it’s much faster. Thankfully, as in later in the game, you can get music for your Ocarina to teleport to other places and you get a horse named Epona and she can be fast if you manage her well…or you can simply save and quit the game, go back and you’ll be in either be in the village as Child Link or in the temple as Adult Link, it’s shortcuts but effective if you know where you’re going…LOVELY TIME MANAGEMENT WHEN POSSIBLE!!!
So the overall controls of Link are great, it’s good on the N64, it’s perfect on the 3DS, and here I was going to use the Circle Pad Pro when I simply didn’t need it at all, the controls for the 3DS are fine without it, and I guess it may have been a bit cumbersome to use anyway.
And now for the world, in terms of being 3D, it’s huge…well it feels huge, because you’re mostly a small child and running through the fields feels like you’re in a big environment. But there are several places to go like Hyrule Castle and it’s Market, Kakariko Village, Lake Hylia, Goron City, Zora’s Domain and much more, but each with their own identity, they’re memorable and you enjoy exploring these places. I’ll talk about the graphics and level design here now since this is the case. The graphics for the N64 version is brilliant, apart from some areas, it still holds up. The level design whilst spacious, is memorable, atmospheric and breath-taking. You get pulled into this world, it’s so welcoming and you have a great time journeying through it…for a while. To add to the immersion, there’s also a day/night cycle, and the transition is perfect as it slowly fades to night-time and then after a while, the sun blossoms and turns to daytime.
During your adventure, you can do side-quests, but they mostly involve doing missions that reward you with heart pieces, collecting four at a time will increase your health. There are also upgrades to your Bombs, Deku Nuts and Quiver (arrow bag). There’s also one where you have to defeat a certain number of Skulltulas and collect the tokens they leave behind, collecting them all will give you another heart piece…which I didn’t do because that would have taken a LONG time to do since you find them throughout the entire game…I mean, they’re not hard to find but should you miss one for whatever reason…would you really have the dedication to do that? If so, then good luck. OOH, there’s also the fishing game, where you fish in a pond, collect the biggest fish to win a heart piece as a child, collect the even bigger fish to win a special prize as an adult, and collect the rarest fish to win bragging rights…not worth collecting the rare fish.
In terms of difficulty and challenge, I’d say it’s balanced well where the game is easy and gets harder, especially when going through temples; What will happen there? What’s at stake here? And it’s that element that makes Ocarina of Time a worthwhile adventure…even if some of the temples can take a long time going through them…I’ll just say the Water Temple and the forgettable Forest Temple and I’ll leave it at that. In terms of bosses, the challenge can be mixed since there are some difficult bosses, but the rest, especially the final boss and the ultimate final boss are quite easy when you know what to do…but by goodness the final bosses are EPIC!
I also want to talk about Navi…I don’t know if it’s because I’m playing the 3DS port, but I never found her that annoying, even if there are moments where it can be irritating when she tells me to do the main mission when I want to do a side mission, and worse case scenario is in the 3DS version when she wants me to shut the game off and take a break I’M NOT EIGHT YEARS OLD YOU PIXIE PIECE OF S…
How about the Ocarina? Well you will collect songs throughout the game and they can be helpful, in fact, they’re mandatory to do most things to help you in the game, but to play, you can use the c-stick to pull off the notes. But in the 3DS version, you use the A, B, X, Y, L and R buttons to make music, but with the bottom screen, you can see what music to perform and with a tap, go back to the ocarina and play away, again, better management for the 3DS.
And then there’s the music…UUUHHHH! See, there are some highly memorable music like the theme song at the Title Screen, Navi going to see Link, Hyrule Field, Gerudo Village (OOOOOOHHH YEEEEAAAHHH) and a few more oddities, but the rest I can’t exactly hum until I hear it, but the soundtrack is fantastic nonetheless.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a classic…but not perfect. It’s similar to A Link to the Past which isn’t a bad thing at all, but I feel like they took that game and overstretched it, I mean, I could play hours of A Link to the Past but I take breaks playing Ocarina of Time due to how long it is. But I think it’s because I played the N64 port and felt like that but on a handheld, it was there but more manageable. But for what it is, it’s a great Zelda title, but to me, not the best in the series (here comes the hate train).
But I do recommend the 3DS port, it’s so much better in my opinion and the fact that it’s on a handheld device is perfect even for me. The graphics have been scaled up, level design’s atmosphere has been amped up, framerate is much smoother, the inventory system is WAY PAST BETTER, everything you need is on that screen, from maps to how items are placed, it’s managed much better here. Heck, you can even use gyroscope to aim with a bow, boomerang, hookshot, longshot and slingshot…BUT GYROSCOPE IS FOR SCRUBS, NOTHING COMES CLOSE TO USING YOUR ANALOG STICK LIKE A REAL BLOKE!
But am I going to play the much harder Master Quest? HELL NO! I’m done here! Next up is Majora’s Mask.
You can get it on the Nintendo 64, GameCube via Wind Waker Limited Edition (should you have the second disc), Wii U Virtual Console and the Nintendo 3DS.