Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: November 23 1998
Regions: NA, PAL, JP
Genre: Action/Adventure
Multiplayer: 1 player
Cart Size: 32MB / 256Mbits
Saving: On-Cart
Rumble Pak?: Yes
Expansion Pak? No
- Required? No
Hey! Listen!

Who would've known this game would get so popular? Ocarina of Time is considered by many to be the greatest N64 title of all time, and some even go as far to say the greatest game of all time. It sold millions of copies, won game of the year, and achieved Player's Choice status with little effort. OOT is also the game that just keeps on selling to this day, receiving several re-releases and even a 3DS remake. One must wonder does OOT really deserve all this attention? After much thought, I can say that yes it does. The N64 version of OOT still holds up, and it's one of the best games you can buy for your N64.

There's one thing that OOT is not very strong at, so we'll get it out of the way first. The story isn't exactly that impressive. Ganon is evil, he captures the Princess, something about Triforce, you must work your way up until you can defeat him, Princess rescued, etc. That's the story in a nutshell. The story sounds a lot like the one in A Link to The Past which was also similar to a ton of other adventure games. OOT was a major N64 release that spawned 4 years of development. You'd think they would've come up with something better then the cliche Hero rescues Princess from monster story. Don't get me wrong it works, but this was a next generation system and by 1998 we had expected something a little more.

What it lacks in story is made up by just about everything else, including gameplay. The gameplay is nothing short of excellent. This is a solid adventure game that has many dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve. There are 3 dungeons to go through as a child and 5 temples as an adult. These places stretch out across the large and diverse land of Hyrule. You'll find OOT is a somewhat linear game. There are sidequests and a few mini-games, which are great at first, but you'll complete those rather quickly and have to return to the main adventure. What's odd is the last two dungeons in the game, the spirit temple and shadow temple, can be done in which ever order you please. That's a nice touch, though I'm not exactly sure if that was done intentionally. The difficulty of the dungeons is usually moderate. Sometimes it isn't clear at what needs to be done next and you'll find yourself running back and forth, but this doesn't happen often. The forth temple known as the Water Temple does make an exception and can be a frustrating maze. Probably the most enjoyable temple is the 5th/6th temple, the Spirit Temple. The puzzles in this temple involve bouncing light, which became a staple for temples in future Zelda games. Exploring the entire game and collecting items is quite fun to do. There are plenty of heart pieces to collect, poes to collect, and spiders called Skulltula's to kill. OOT has enough things to do to keep you playing for a long time.

A major mechanic in this game is the Ocarina. The songs you learn for it do many things, including warp you to different areas, change the time, or pass through barriers. Though they are short, they sound very nice. The actual game's soundtrack is another strong point. Just about every dungeon has their own track which fits that theme well. Repetitive music isn't a problem; though there are a few instances you'll notice it. The music changes to one single song when an enemy is near and you'll end up hearing it a lot. The background music for the Bottom of the Well is also used in the Shadow Temple. Those are two different dungeons that really should've had their own track. Some of the best and most memorable background music would be the music used in the Spirit Temple, Lost Woods, and Gerudo Fortress. OOT's sound effects are very well done. The enemies all sound appropriate when attacking and Ganon has quite the evil laugh. The only one I found annoying was the girl laughing sound effect that's played when talking to Zelda and a few other female characters for the first time. Some classic Zelda themes were used in OOT, though it did seem strange that the overworld theme was left out.

One thing that everyone seems to universally agree on is that Navi is annoying. Having her completely removed from the game would be overkill, but an extra choice in the options menu to silence her would have been nice. Navi is quite hand holding at the beginning which can be rather helpful for getting you into the game, but she never stops holding your hand, which quickly becomes irritating.

The graphics were excellent 1998 and still hold up today. The game is colourful and there's some nice scenery to see everywhere you go. A few enemies are on the basic side but they still work. The bosses are much more detailed. Several of the NPC's such as Grog look a little ugly but that's only a few of them. OOT does recycle certain NPCs a lot. Usually recycled NPCs don't have anything to say that's useful, they're just filler.

OOTs controls are quite easy to learn. All buttons are responsive and you don't need to hold the controller in a strange way. Being able to Z-Target was a new thing for the time and it really makes it easy to attack enemies. Being able to have 3 items on the C-buttons also really cuts down on the amount of pausing you would've had to do. Not a whole lot can be said about the controls, because they work perfectly.

OOT has a ton of polish and the replay value is very high. It's fun enough that you'll likely want to play through it again sometime. It is a required title for N64 owners and is luckily available for lots of Nintendo consoles. It's considered by some to be the greatest N64 game of all time and I can definitely see why.

Presentation: 9.5
There's a big land out there waiting for you in OOT. There's lots to do and lots to see.

Graphics: 8.5
Some of the best for the time and still look great today.

Sound: 8.5
There's some good background music and the Ocarina melody's are very nice.

Gameplay: 9.5
Dungeons are lengthy and there's a good amount of sidequests.

Lasting Appeal: 9.5
This is a game you'll definitely want to play over and over again.

Overall: 9.1

Written by Kevin Ames
June 29 2012