There have been a lot of nice words thrown around about games over the years, breathtaking, life changing, revolutionary, and that is only a couple. In the past each of these words have been used to describe The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, but of course this was mostly back in 1998, the games flaws could be hidden behind the major leaps and bounds that it had made in that era. Now in the present the game is really not what we used to see it as.
Time changes everything, games that once were considered masterpieces transform and show off their true weaknesses, mostly in the case of things we overlooked. When Ocarina of Time released in 1998, it truly was all the words that I have already said, but with time we can’t see it in the same way, our experiences have changed and Ocarina of Time has been bettered by each game in the series since, but it is important to not think about the newer games and see Ocarina of Time as itself and what we get with this game is a flawed classic.
For me personally a story in a game is a big thing, the story of my adventure is a big push point that keeps me going. With Ocarina of Time I had seriously hoped to find an engaging story to keep me attentive as I saved Hyrule, as the game began I held high hopes as itset me an interesting premise. Much like past Zelda games the story focuses on Link, in this particular instance Link is living as the only person in the Kokiri forest to not have a fairy. Soon enough his own companion arrives in Navi, who on the orders of the great Deku tree directs Link on his great journey to save Hyrule. This then puts Link in contact with Princess Zelda, who enlists Link to collect the spiritual stones and stop the evil Ganondorf.
As far as Zelda games go the premise is extremely simple, but at first I could at least say this was engaging. Though the story just vanishes almost completely by the time you are a third of the way through, Ocarina of Time provides some guiding words from time to time and explains history, but as far a story goes the game just loses most of what should be its notable drive, as the story becomes nothing more than the goal of defeating Ganondorf to save Hyrule.
Though it is worth noting that as a replacement to the actual story Ocarina of Time does feature some interesting subtext which does remain interesting and thought provoking. The world of Hyrule provides many moments in the general story which do require deeper thought, which is something I honestly found intriguing and pushed me through in order to find more detail and thought. I was most intrigued by following the story of Link and his childhood connections and how they change with time.
The real push with Ocarina of Time is in the games world, for the stories weakness Hyrule proves to be a magical place to explore. It’s a funny thing that even now there is nothing like first stepping out onto Hyrule field, or the first view of the Kokiri forest, time has not affected this at all. These locations in Ocarina of Time still provide a particular feel of wonder and excitement that beckon exploration and send a feeling of joy through me that makes me feel like I was a child again.
Hyrule Field still provides that magical illusion of freedom which excites so many, but in many ways this simply is that, Hyrule Field is an illusion that hides just how small it really is. The field that connects Hyrule is magical and for the early sections of the game it provides a great thrill as I felt like I was seeing it through a child’s eyes. While it still remains a great place as part of a greater world, the further into the game I got the more I grew tired of it.
The greater world is actually one of Ocarina of Times greatest thrills, places like Zora’s Domain, Death Mountain and the Kokiri Forest still look stunning even with the passing of time and the sheer improvements that have been made since. Each area still provides that wonderful sense of adventure that has made Ocarina of Time, and the greater Zelda franchise a classic.
The biggest thrill with this particular game is the sheer gameplay, most of what is found in Ocarina of Time is something long-time fans of the franchise will be familiar with. It is the classic puzzle solving which continues to be impressive to this day, arguably much of the puzzles encountered within this game are very predictable as they are things fans of the 2D games have likely encountered plenty of times before.
Ocarina of Time falls back onto some of the older games classic tropes which are used heavily as ways to get through the game. One of the biggest fallbacks is the series classic block puzzles which are a recurring trait of the game, these particular puzzles are never too difficult but are enjoyable nonetheless.
Similarly, the game also relies on the use of heavy observation in order to deal with problems. As with the classic games, Ocarina of Time asks you to think about every detail and see what can be done in order to solve the problem and move forward. The use of the classic trait is a great one but besides one particular section puzzles often seem more obvious in this game and can be solved a whole lot quicker both in dungeons and the overworld.
It is not to say their bad as it is quite the opposite, these particular puzzles are quite enjoyable and are often relaxing to try and work out. In fact, I would put it more down to the transition that affects the challenge, the change to 3D for Ocarina of Time allowed for more obvious clues to be placed which makes some puzzles a lot easier to deal with. Though arguably the game still offer a wide range of head scratcher’s which did have me stuck for a reasonable amount of time just because of a simple overlook in detail, or simply I forgot something in another room.
The jump to 3D after the previous games would not have been easy but Ocarina of Time pulls it off with style, particularly where dungeons are concerned. Many of the ones I encountered in the 2D games were often bland in the sense of design but I honestly can say this was never the case with Ocarina of Time. The game features some of the best dungeons I have seen to date and still provide a thrill when I visit them, it is the great design that lies within each one that truly helps to embody the feel the dungeon was going for as well as reference to the area of the game it can be found in.
Dungeons are a big part of the game and they have been pulled off almost flawlessly, each one provides a certain challenge and presents a great chance for adventure. By no small feat are any of the dungeons found in this game simplistic, as each features a number of varying ideas that keeps them amusing and challenges the player. One of my favorite parts of the game was exploring the dungeons and challenging my brain to solve some of the challenges hindering my progression. Best still is the Water Temple which acts as the games biggest challenge and thrill which actually gave me the most enjoyable challenge in my entire experience with the game.
Ocarina of Time does a lot that is right and is enjoyable but as I said this game is a flawed classic, on the surface things seem mostly fine but looking deeper there was a number of issues that hurt my experience with the game. One of the biggest problems I faced with this game was the constant handholding that took place, for the most part this only happened near the beginning of the game but it was constant interruption’s from my already annoying companion which bothered me most. Often with these interruptions Navi would announce something which was already painfully obvious, or with a matter of time I would have worked out for myself, it just felt like the game thought I was stupid and unobservant.
Secondly, the other issue that I came across was the annoying fiddly controls, while I could enjoy the general combat and running about the world it was the aiming mechanic that always felt off. Many puzzles encountered within the confines of the game require careful aiming in order to hit a target or an enemy. The puzzles themselves were good but it was a frustrating task trying to line up a shot when aiming with my bow or slingshot would often move past where I was aiming it, or simply I found it difficult to line up a shot with the clumsy control.
Issues don’t make the game and that is clearly the case with Ocarina of Time, among many people this is an all-time classic and I can see the appeal. What lies before us is an excellent game that must be experienced by all, but the annoying issues that exist do hold it back from ever being that great game that it has the potential to be. Time has shown this games cracks and weaknesses and while it is still a great game it just isn’t all that it once seemed to be.