I remember my first experience with Ocarina of Time. I was sat in front of my old scanline-laden CRT TV. I was 3 years old. The cartridge was hanging out of my Pikachu N64.
I loved roaming around the Kokiri Forest. Taking in the greenery, talking to the elven children and collecting rupees. I recall getting lost in the aptly named ‘Lost Woods’ and struggling to ever conquer the Deku Tree.
Back then, it seemed like an impossibility that this game had far more hiding behind its first area. I was content to explore and enjoy my surroundings, with no idea of the scale of Hyrule, the land I just finished saving 18 years later.
Of course, this game is known to be hailed as one of the greatest of all time. So when it came out of hiding to be re-released on the 3DS, I initially jumped at the chance. But even back in 2011 on my blue tiny handheld, It still couldn’t grab me. It wasn’t until my second purchase of a ‘New’ Nintendo 3DS XL that I found my feet.
Ocarina of Time on the ‘New’ 3DS had me from the start. The size of the screen lends to its crisp textures, making the gorgeous hubs from the desert of Gerudo Valley to the dastardly Water Temple look inviting, and hold a sense of character that just oozes Nintendo.
For a 6 year old remaster of a 19 year old game, you’d be surprised at how well the title actually looks. The bare bones of the N64 title are there, Nintendo have just iterated on the visuals to make them appealing.
Even though I never finished it, I don’t feel like they’ve changed the look too much either, and have been faithful to the source material. There are moments in this game that slide through my head like gorgeous postcards even when its ending is so fresh in my mind.
Escaping the Gerudo prison, dealing with Volvagia in the Fire Temple, and even the (kinda gross) whale belly I found myself in for a time. None of these places are forgettable, and they all have their own quirks that define them.
There are moments in this game that slide through my head like gorgeous postcards even when its ending is so fresh in my mind.
The Audio is another clear highlight. If you’re even slightly plugged into the gaming consciousness, I’m pretty sure you will have heard Lost Woods or the Song of Storms. The remaster adds small inflections to the music that make them sound gorgeous even coming out of the 3DS’s small speaker. The Audio in this game is so captivating that I found myself enjoying each of Link’s grunts, or the satisfying deathcry of an enemy.
Hell, even smacking a wall with my sword to find where I could place a bomb was fun! The rising organs as you ascend Ganon’s Castle set the scene, and audio cues are used in many of the boss battles to round it off as a tense, unforgettable experience. The look on my face as the audio flared and Twinrova became one beast transported me back to the difficulty in the games of my childhood, and gave me that special sense of wonder that only video games provide.
At the start I thought they would, but each Ocarina jingle never grated on me either. Despite the constant repetition it was just long enough in between that I’d forget the command and delight in hearing the tune again.
The story is basic in structure but in the same vein as Dark Souls, the world is built around it and you feel attune with your environment when you explore and chat to its inhabitants. The dialogue lent itself to some memorable quotes and was even quite funny at more jovial times, like in the Goron city of Death Mountain. It doesn’t try to be a huge, powerful emotional story (as I don’t think that was the focus) but the concept of the entire game effortlessly makes it so.
The look on my face as the audio flared and Twinrova became one beast transported me back to the difficulty in the games of my childhood, and gave me that special sense of wonder that only video games provide.
You’re a small child named Link who has to venture through countless dungeons to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda. You travel through time and fill the boots of both Young and Adult Link, which allows for a unique and ultimately powerful experience of growing up.
Some of the best puzzles are created by this disconnect, like planting Magic Beans or draining a well, and you must solve them by thinking logically about the world in chaos or serenity, and which one would fit the situation best.
This is absolute proof of Nintendo’s unique design philosophy, which is why this game deserves all of its high praise. Each dungeon I entered was entirely different to the last, and was genius in its ability to test my creative boundaries, allowing me the freedom to solve a number of puzzles in different ways. Some of the games items are optional, yet this doesn’t make you feel walled off or like you’re on the wrong path!
Its a known fact that people hate the Water Temple too, but despite its structure I ended up enjoying the physics based puzzling. There was no dungeon that really let me down and I can remember key moments from each, like the genius Invisible Scythe Room in the Shadow Temple or the upside down chambers of the Forest Temple.
Fighting the Iron Knuckle as both Young and Adult Link really sticks out to me too, and is emblematic of what this game attempts to put across with its story. The journey that you embark on is inherently powerful, and by the end, not through a feeling of exhaustion but a feeling of pride do you finish the game and restore peace to Hyrule.
Gameplay wise the game never drops the ball, and Nintendo really nails each item. Using your Longshot to grip to wooden objects and the Hover Boots to save yourself from a ‘Road Runner-esque’ death improve the variety of conundrums you can get stuck in and make the whole experience that much more engaging.
You simply cannot finish the game without mastering some of its mechanics, and that elevates Ocarina of Time’s gameplay and puzzles in to a grand achievement for Video Game Design. The variation in enemies and bosses keep you constantly on your toes, and the z-targeting does not feel outdated… in fact, i’d stake my claim that it is easily one of the best fighting mechanics ever produced, and easily manages to grip you in to tense battles as much as anything in 2017.
You simply cannot finish the game without mastering some of its mechanics, and that elevates Ocarina of Time’s gameplay and puzzles in to a grand achievement for Video Game Design
It was honestly quite moving to finally defeat Ganondorf and be thanked by all the Sages. Zelda’s final words about returning “Home… where you are supposed to be… The way you are supposed to be” stick out to me.
Its a bit of a double edged Master Sword that Link has to go back to being a kid after all he’s been through. He could stay and be with the Princess and his new friends, but he must learn to grow up naturally instead of this high-intensity Temple of Time trickery that robbed him of his adolescence.
The moral in the end is that you shouldn’t grow up too fast, or spend so much time dwelling on the future. Even though I sometimes feel that way in the 19 years since I was sat tottering about in the Kokiri Forest, this games ability to stay in my consciousness that long lends to its own merit.
Ocarina of Time is one of the best games ever made, and if you’re looking to find out what all the fuss is about, this remastered version is your designated entry point.
This copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was purchased digitally on the Nintendo 3DS Eshop by our Editor In Chief Jordan Oloman. He spent 20+ hours learning a new instrument and slaying countless business scrubs…