Nintendo is easily one of the most influential game companies/kabushiki gaishas out there. Founded in September 1889 as history’s oldest game company (actually, it started a playing card company), the company has sold over 600 million hardware and software units as well as generating nearly one trillion dollars in its revenue to become the globe’s largest company in terms of revenue. It is known for some of gaming’s most notorious, beloved, and influential game series and consoles, and currently has over 4.9 thousand workers. Nintendo is a rough Japanese translation of “leave luck to heaven”–sorta like how Hogwarts’ Latin motto translates to “never tickle a sleeping dragon”–and it clearly sums up their history in gaming, as they’ve made lots of misses and near-misses within the fiscal portion of gaming. Some of Nintendo’s most notorious sagas include Mario, Star Fox, Kirby, Pokemon, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Punch-Out!!, and Legend of Zelda. In fact, Zelda is what we’re gonna be talking about today. Alongside Pilotwings 64, in 1996 Super Mario 64 was released as a launch title for the Nintendo 64 and was easily acclaimed for showing the console’s capabilities and is honored as one of the greatest games ever created. Two years later to continue the trailblazer Mario 64 had begun, Nintendo decided to put Zelda into the action with their own game to initiate the series’s free-roaming 3D perspectives. The rest, as lots of people say, was history.
I don’t know who you are or where you’ve been if you’ve never seen or heard about this game. Especially with all the slack that’s been cut for it critically and financially. Anyway, as the first 3D installment in Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time had rather big shoes to fill to practically decide the fate of the series. The game was actually developed initially to be released on the Nintendo 64 peripheral, the Nintendo 64DD, DD being short for “Disk Drive”. However, when the peripheral was never released out of Japan due to its commercial failure, the game was converted to a cartridge worth 32 megabytes, which was Nintendo’s largest-capacity cartridge made at the time.
Series hero Link is fooled by antagonist Ganondorf, the king of the Gerudo thieves (and the human form of classic Zelda baddie Ganon), to lead the way to the Sacred Realm and allow Ganondorf to get his filthy hands on the fabled relic known as the Triforce to turn Hyrule’s beauteous landscape into a barren wasteland. Now Link must mend the problems he aided in creating by getting help from townsfolk as well as his annoying but faithful fairy companion Na’vi to travel through time to gather the powers of the Seven Sages. These are powerful allies of Link that each have the power to infinitely seal away Ganondorf. (There is a Sage of light, fire, forest, water, shadow, and spirit.)
- “…a game that can’t be called anything other than flawless” – GameSpot, 10/10
- “A break-through title from Nintendo that deserves all the hype and praise it’s gotten” – IGN, 10/10
- Guinness holder for highest-reviewed game of all time (as of 2008 and 2010)
- Fourth highest-selling Nintendo 64 game of all time (behind Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and GoldenEye 007 as first, second, and third)
- Highest-selling Zelda game on the Nintendo 64
- Grand Prize winner in the Japan Media Arts Festival’s Interactive Arts division
- Six-time award winner at the 2nd Annual Interactive Achievement Awards
- Runner-up in Official Nintendo Magazine‘s “100 greatest Nintendo games of all time”
- Did you know that Ocarina of Time actually featured an Easter egg that took a big wink towards Star Fox 64, as you were able to press B to conjure an infinite amount of fighter planes that you could destroy?
- Did you know that Link’s horse, Epona, was named after the Celtic horse goddess of the same name?
- Did you know that four of the Seven Sages, as well as semi-antagonist Mido, were actually named after towns in Zelda II?
- Did you know that Malon, a female worker within the Hyrule Field, wears a brooch/pendant that resembles Bowser’s head?
- Did you know that she, alongside her dad Talon, are named after Marin and Tarin from Link’s Awakening?
- Did you know that the four Poe sisters in the Forest Temple are all named after the four protagonists from the novel Little Women?
- Did you know that Impa, one of the Seven Sages, was actually first seen in the instruction book and back story for the original NES Zelda?
- Did you know that Hyrule Field is practically the game’s “overworld”, as it linked all dungeons and small areas together? Since the game designers were unsure whether or not such a big 3D area could be shown within the N64 system, they instead made a castle with paintings to be the game’s hub. Link could access different areas by jumping through paintings, similar to that of Mario 64. However, when Hyrule Field was proven possible to incorporate, the castle was recycled and turned into a dungeon known as “Ganondorf’s castle”, where the painting transportation system was still used.
Now, I truly have to agree with all the critics and gamers that deemed this game aesthetically impeccable. At first, I tended to roll my eyes whenever I found Ocarina of Time being praised in a game magazine, a game countdown or list, a game review, etc. But when I got together with my friends and played the game for the first time, my eyes were really opened and I knew that this would be an experience I’d never forget. And needless to say, that’s why I believe Ocarina of Time has to be the best game I’ve ever played. It uses the finite level of eye candy it can present to a great advantage, managing to render character models, atmospheres, and even Hyrule itself at a stellar level. The relationship that the A button, the B button, and the C buttons all managed to share was innovative, interesting, and intelligent to work with. A controlled my sword, B controlled my actions (speak, grab, stuff like that), and the Cs operated select items that I had equipped like my slingshot and Deku-related items. Link’s voice acting felt correspondent to his actions, and controls were as sharp as his sword. That was a big task to do correctly, as the game included systems like target locks and buttons with context sensitivity. Never have I seen Hyrule in such pristine, adapted condition for a game of such epic proportions. But I’m not gonna spend my entire Say acclaiming the game, it did have some downsides.
As many critics pointed out , Ocarina of Time‘s visuals weren’t the best the N64 could’ve created–games like Banjo-Kazooie were said to boast better quality–as they resembled the blocky character builds found in games like Mario 64 or Super Smash Bros. I also found myself quickly bored within the premises of the Deku Tree’s innards, as there was seemingly almost nothing to do except run around, open chests, and climb vines after getting only the most vital pieces of the pie finished. And I frequently had to receive counsel from my friends as to where to go and how to obtain Rupees, since it’s pretty awkward seeing the Hero of Time running around in circles. So to conclude my Say, I have to at least say this: Ocarina of Time is the best it could’ve been, but not the most perfect.
4 out of 5 – Positive role models – Link is a kindly and polite hero that only uses his swordsman skills as well as the power within the Ocarina of Time for good, and never in a malevolently intimidating or harmful manner. However, much like in positive messages he distracts us from this with the combat he participates in. His fairy pal Na’vi may be annoying, but she is still a faithful companion who just wants to help Link on his quest to apprehend Ganondorf.
4 1/2 out of 5 – Ease of play – The game is very simple to play, as characters guide you through the status quo one step at a time, from moving around or talking to people to equipping items with the C buttons. The button system is very easily labeled by three colors: Link’s sword is located under green (A), Link’s actions are located under blue (B), and Link’s equipped items are located under the left, right, and down yellows (C). Conversing with Na’vi is located at the top yellow (also C). Upon receiving different items, you immediately learn how to apply them to Link and how to optimally use them.
3 out of 5 – Violence – Link does partake in various situations of combat throughout the game against monsters like skeletons, wolflike beasts, and giant crabs. Link uses an arsenal containing his sword, shield, boomerang, magic, slingshot, bombs, and other weapons to fight these creatures, but rarely is there blood spilled. However, Ocarina of Time‘s combat is mainly cartoonish but still seems slightly realistic through the eye of the beholder.
2 out of 5 – Product Placement – This game is the fifth in the notorious Legend of Zelda saga, and the game actually introduces an Easter egg where Link can summon fighter planes from Star Fox, another Nintendo series. (Coincidentally, Star Fox also received a Nintendo 64-exclusive installment known as Star Fox 64 in 1997.)
Entertainment: A+ (5 points)
Smarts: A (4 points)
Fun: A+ (5 points)
Style: A+ (5 points)
Aesthetics: A+ (5 points)
Play-Again Ratio: A+ (5 points)
CONSENSUS: Sure, Ocarina of Time may not be perfect, but it is excruciatingly close to it, as it introduces sharp controls, exciting combat, vigorous atmospheres, and arresting visuals that altogether are aesthetically stellar for the Nintendo 64. It provides an unforgettable experience that lots may call flawless, but despite its flaws is one of the best out there.
Well, that’s for our first episode of my new series, Insert Coin! If you couldn’t already infer, it’s where I review old games for obsolete consoles like–in this case–the Nintendo 64. I think this is a pretty dang good start for the saga, don’t you? Like this post and put in a comment of what old-school game I should review next, and you could be responsible for inserting our next coin!
Stay classy America,
Video of the Week: As today is New Year’s Eve, I suggested that I’d go out on this year with a bang. 2012 was the host to tons of great things, from the Summer Olympics to Felix Boumgartner’s supersonic freefall, and this tearjerking video from Google conglomerates all that this year had to offer into a 2-minute video full of memories that already has 8.7 million views! Well, here’s to another great year of 2S2M! What great 2012 memories can you spot?
Some Other Not As Crucial Videos: Check out a preview of the spectacular music from Ocarina of Time composed by Nintendo legend Koji Kondo!