For many, Ocarina of Time of was the very first Zelda game that they had the privilege of playing. From the first cutscene to their first steps into Kokiri Forest, players knew that they were experiencing something magical and unforgettable. Many would even go as far to say that not only is Ocarina of Time the best Zelda game, but the best game ever created even after being succeeded by 11 titles over the last 13+ years.
The minute players turned on their N64 and watched the title-screen sequence, they knew what kind of adventure awaited them. Within minutes players were called upon by the Great Deku Tree and tasked with stopping Ganon and helping Princess Zelda save Hyrule.
Despite a lack of character development, players came across a cast of memorable characters such as Princess Ruto, Darunia, and the notorious Navi. The biggest moment of the game was when players finally managed to grab ahold of the legendary Master Sword and were unexpectedly thrust forward 7 years into the future where the land of Hyrule lay in a devastated state after Ganon’s invasion.
Players were quickly greeted with a young man named Sheik, a mysterious Sheikah who would appear at the most unexpected of times to teach Link new songs and often imparted his knowledge to help Link progress further in his journey to stop Ganon.
Throughout Link’s journey he encountered a series of familiar faces in addition to a few new ones as well, but what was most surprising to some was that all those who developed a friendship with Link or helped him in some way ended up becoming a sage in order to help Link make his way to Ganon’s castle.
The idea behind this concept is sacrifice. Throughout the duration of Link’s journey, those who become Sage’s end up leaving the world of Hryule and enter the Sacred Realm where they remain. While never stated, the ending of Ocarina of Time which depicts the multi-raced Sages in such a manner that they are presumably dead and only remain as spirits, similar to the Sages found in the Wind Waker. Each one willing sacrificing their life to become a higher being to help Link defeat Ganon.
Ocarina of Time was the pinnacle of game back in the late 90’s , since though, games have managed to improve upon the formula set for by Ocarina of Time, despite not using the same core mechanics as OoT itself.
Ocarina of Time brought forth Z-Targeting, the ability to lock-on and focus on a single enemy/target without having to worry about camera controls. One key aspect of Ocarina of Time was the game’s heavy emphasis on music. While music was always in Zelda games since the original’s flute to LA’s Ocarina and small assortment of playable songs, the Ocarina’s most recognized appearance is in that of Ocarina of Time’s, even causing the ocarina to rise in popularity in the real world.
Ocarina of Time managed to successfully bring the formerly 2D franchise into the 3D realm and it introduced a series of races to the franchise such as Gorons, Gerudo, Hylians, and the more recognized form of the Zora.
Most of the items used in Ocarina of Time were repurposed for the new 3D environment, while remaining largely the same, their functions were altered a bit. While some new items were introduced in Ocarina of Time, a small estimate of the weapons were redesigned for a new function such as the bombchus, a new bomb which could travel on its own, the elemental arrows which used magic in conjunction with the bow, and new boots which could affect Link’s weight, along with tunics that affected Link’s survival in certain environments.
The game has featured some of the most recognizable iteration of characters throughout the franchise and even featured a humanoid Ganon in contrast to his more pig-like appearance from the 2D titles of Zelda. The game’s altered structure of Link to the Past’s mechanics have served as the foundation for each following 3D Zelda title since its creation.
Ocarina of Time had a notoriously long development period at the time of its creation. The beta sought to produce a game in which the player had a permanent effect on the world around them by being able to cut down trees permanently and leaving behind footprints.
Due to the limited capabilities of the N64, there were considerations of having the entire game being set inside Ganon’s Castle which would act in a similar manner as Peach’s Castle in Mario 64 where Link would jump through portraits to travel to different sections of the world.
The beta footage shown from pre-release videos depicted a drastically different Ocarina of Time altogether. Link was shown using a design similar to his Link to the Past iteration, the bow was used in 3rd person, Link had different animations, the sword beam and option to jump were both present, and even the medallions were useable items.
What stands out the most in the beta/pre-release footage are Fado’s different design, removed dungeons, an angelic blue fairy, the Unicorn Fountain, but most of all, being able to obtain the Triforce as an actual item.
Ura Zelda was an N64 Disk Drive expansion pack which unfortunately never saw the light of day, at least the original version that is. Ura Zelda was set to feature alternate along with new dungeons and new enemies altogether.
The expansion was revealed as a special release of Ocarina of Time known as Master Quest on the Nintendo Gamecub, featuring harder and rearranged dungeons, but it lacked the new dungeons and enemies. While there is an Ura Zelda project under development from Zeth N64, we’ll never know exactly what Ura Zelda’s full contents were, but many are still hopeful that a full release will happen.
I may not hold Ocarina of Time in as high regards as some, but there’s no denying that Ocarina of Time is truly a magical experience that everyone must experience at least once in their lifetime. I remember the first time I laid my eyes on Ocarina of Time, something about it just captivated me.
The very first time I stepped out into Kokiri Forest, something came over me that was so bliss that I just can’t describe it as it was only a two-time deal. While Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask are virtually the last games in which Link was an actual avatar for the player, they did their job well.
While Ocarina of Time has been easily surpassed by all of its successors, it still remains as an unforgettable experience that stirs deep emotions within me that make me want to break down and cry from nostalgia. Beautiful, beautiful nostalgia. While the 3D remake managed to add some flair to the title, the experience remains largely the same, magical and unforgettable and the title is a must on whatever platform it is available on.