I’m looking at yet another game often referred to as one of the best of all time. But there is also a bit of controversy that has come from that remake in the last decade. As those that were more fans of the 2d style Zelda, and more specifically Link to the Past, deride the changes to the games that came about because of the leap to 3d.
Ocarina of Time is a hugely important game. As mentioned above or at least alluded to, it’s the first Zelda game in 3d. The leap from a 2d game to a 3d one is always a difficult endeavour with many classic characters failing many times to make the leap. While the top-down approach of Zelda meant you were in a sense always moving around in directions the likes Mario and Sonic wouldn’t, this meant there was now a vertical angle to the games, and outside of a rocks feather you weren’t jumping in the old games.
The solution to a lot of the major issues presented by this shift came about from the Z trigger and the somewhat infamous character of Navi (hey listen hey listen!) This is a fairy that you get at the very start of the game that works as your auto targeting and many more allowing Link to focus on a target either for short or long ranged tools. While outside of the occasional annoying Hey listen, Navi isn’t that bad and it’s only later that such a character is taken to outright obnoxious levels (glares at skyward sword).
While the use of tools to get through dungeons and Hyrule to explore, the other main shift brought about that is a major divide between 2d and 3d Zelda, is the story. There is a much greater emphasis on it and the characters in the 3d games and as such the game is a lot more linear with fewer options to sequence break. You first start off in the Kokiri forest before very quickly entering your first dungeon the great deku tree. It’s after this you are allowed out into the main area of Hyrule to a large open zone which at the time was absolutely amazing to have such a large area in the game. So large that it’s almost certain the sun will go down (in game people it’s not THAT big) before you reach Hyrule castle.
After a stealth section you are then introduced to the young princess Zelda… Probably should have mentioned you play as a kid Link at the start. You also get somewhat introduced to Main series villain Ganondorf for the first time in the franchise. He was referenced in the backstory for Link to the Past as Ganon’s old self but now we meet him here (thus everyone is now having to start to work out the convoluted Zelda timeline)
After the opening 3 dungeons are completed we then get to one of the main elements of this game, you claim the Master Sword but are then whisked 7 years into the future and now a fully grown Link (who has somehow acquired an outfit that fits a fully grown man when yours was clearly child sized… don’t believe me? you weren’t wearing those white tights before)
The titular Ocarina of Time is an item you get after completing these 3 dungeons, and while you did get a regular one after the first dungeon, this instrument clearly has magical powers as you can use it to play songs through use of the controller keys to generate magical effects. Though honestly the main magical effects are better explored in the sequel, still you can also just make some fun tunes with it.
Now you get a lot more to work with, many more dungeons, many new side quests, the ability to ride a horse (have to get her first) This part is the real meat of the game. That said the ability to go back and forth between 2 different eras isn’t really used too much to its full potential. A limit of the technology at the time no doubt but you would hope for more puzzles that involve you doing things in the past to open your way in the future. There’s only about 2 times I can recall you have to go back after getting the Master Sword.
Also of note the mask side quest in the young Link offers underwhelming rewards that are only there for completions sake, rather than the equivalent for adult Link which will reward you with the Biggoron Sword.
There is also a fishing mini game.
The game’s story leads to one of the all-time top final battles in video games with a truly memorable last battle that in many ways eclipses that of most modern games and has yet to be topped thematically by the franchise. Sure, maybe some are harder or more challenging but the one in Ocarina that last battle will leave an impression and is up there with the one from Megaman Zero 3.
While fans of the more 2d era of Zelda don’t like that the 3d era has less emphasis on the exploration as it does to the story. The game is still one of those that is a must play. For Zelda fans it’s even more of a must, given so much of the Zelda mythology comes from this game as well, and it wasn’t until Breath of the Wild you got nearly as many recognizable characters introduced in a single game.
With Nintendo adding N64 games to its Switch online service (for an additional fee so it may depend on how much that fee is) this game will be even more accessible to everyone. It’s been on the N64, came with a bonus disk with Wind Walker, it’s on the 3ds, there’s many ways to check it out. There’s also the Master Quest version that remixes the dungeons to be more challenging but I don’t think that’s going to be on the Switch.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to learn how to play that Ocarina I bought in 2019… maybe I can learn the song of time and fix what went soo wrong.