In my humble opinion, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time revolutionized the console RPG and enabled those with a joypad rather than a keyboard and mouse to enjoy an immersive experience in a rich and detailed world. Back in 1998, you had to be a PC gamer to have access to any RPG worth its salt, and then Ocarina of Time entered the scene and changed all that for the better.
Ocarina of Time is the fifth installment of The Legend of Zelda series, which was exclusively available on the N64 at the time. Nowadays you can get it on the collector’s edition of Wind Waker for the Gamecube, download it on the Wii store, and get the remake for the 3DS. In it our hero Link is summoned to protect the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf, collect the relics that form the Triforce, and rescue the princess Zelda. Throw in some hefty dungeon crawling, side quests and an excellent system of in-game time travel, and you’ve got yourself a winner right there.
Ocarina of Time doesn’t exactly have the best graphics in the world, and they’ve not aged well. Granted, there is a definite nostalgic retro charm about it, but you can’t overlook the blocky characters and blurry textures. Nintendo had a more powerful console than its rivals, but were limited by the capacity of the cartridges. Given the massive, sprawling scale of Ocarina, something had to give, and the visuals ended up lacking somewhat.
The gameplay managed to combine the action/adventure genre with elements of an RPG that hadn’t really been seen on a console before, at least in the West. Final Fantasy brought the 3D RPG to us a year before, but Ocarina’s real-time combat and in-depth story made it a favourite amongst non-gamers as well as the hardcore. On the surface, Ocarina of Time is your basic dungeon crawler - find three magical objects to save the world and blah blah blah. But look deeper and you find that the beauty of Ocarina was that the gameplay was to an extent non-linear. You could choose to go off the beaten path at any time and explore Hyrule if you wanted, or you could spend your time running errands for the Happy Mask Shop, or finding the gold skulltulas that are tucked away in the far flung corners of the world. It was this aspect that had you coming back to Ocarina time and time again, losing sleep, weight and friends in the process. For me, it was my Skyrim before I’d even heard of The Elder Scrolls, and it was beautiful.
Jamie Gibbs is the caffeine addled bibliophile from the fantasy blog Mithril Wisdom. When he’s not nose deep in a book, he’s usually rocking out to fantasy-inspired heavy metal and playing with Lego like all grown ups should.
Thanks for stopping by, Jamie, and putting to words what makes this game so wonderful! I have such great memories of Ocarina of Time. I've gotta get this for my Wii and play it again now.