Warning: This post contains Ocarina of Time Spoilers.
So my copy of Ocarina of Time 3DS has just dispatched and to say I’m excited is an understatement. When I learned about this remake last year I couldn’t wait for it to be released and now I’m only hours away from actually playing it. But what makes OoT so special?
I remember way back in 1998 when it first came out, I was interested in the game but wasn’t as hyped as I am now. My first Legend of Zelda experience was a few years before with A Link to the Past so of course I was intrigued to discover the series was being brought to the N64 in 3D. It’s amazing to think how much of an impact the game would have on the gaming world and my own life, as cliché and cheesy that sounds.
I received an N64 for Christmas that year but didn’t get the game since it was in such high demand at the time. However, I did manage to get it in January where my first proper LoZ adventure began (I never played ALttP properly, just messed around). One of my earliest memories of playing involved me spending at least six hours just wondering around Kokiri Forest. Yes, I used to spend ages exploring everywhere in games. When I finally worked up the nerve to attempt the Deku Tree, I left soon after when I saw my first Skulltula. As embarrassing as it it to say, I was terrified! Of course, I got over my fear and went bravely back where I overcame the challenges within. One thing that always confused me, and still does, is the last puzzle in the dungeon. The three deku scrubs. I’m not sure how I worked it out, must have been luck since I still don’t understand it! ‘23 is number 1’? What? Obviously I know the order off by heart now but if anyone can enlighten me then great.
The first moment I stepped into Hyrule Field I was amazed. Up until OoT I was never really interested in ‘realistic graphics’ so this was the closest I’d gotten to a realistic game and the only word I can think to sum up my feelings is OMGWTFBBQGANONDORFTRIFORCEPIECES! It felt as though the real game was just beginning. I’d never experienced such a vast, vibrant world as Hyrule. It was nice to simply stand and stare at the sights of Death Mountain in the distance or listen to the sounds of the trickling river nearby.
As I progressed through the game I feel I grew with Link. As he made his way through each dungeon, it was as if I was right there too, solving the puzzles, fighting enemies, facing huge bosses and meeting what felt like hundreds of new characters. It was the characters that made and still makes OoT my favourite Zelda game. Sure, the story and gameplay add to the experience but the variety of characters Link interacts with and has an effect on stuck with me until even today. From his childhood friend Saria, ranch girl Malon, Princess Zelda herself, the ever-so-charming Princess Ruto, the Gorons, Gerudos and the rest. The time travelling aspect enables you to see how their lives change between Link’s childhood and adulthood. The ruined wasteland that is Hyrule in the future makes you actually care what’s happening to these people, it makes you want to help them. Perhaps it was how the game portrays them or perhaps it was how they developed in my mind over all these years. Either way, no other game has ever touched me in such a way as this.
When you awaken from Link’s seven year sleep and find he’s all grown up, it made me think the game was only just starting, again! I’d never played a game where the character actually ages before so this was yet another new experience. As you re-explore the Hyrule you knew so well, seeing it for the first time in its ruined state it makes you want to revisit each region, just to see how things have changed. The adult temples themselves are a lot of fun. One thing I always smile about is when people say how much they hated the Water Temple for being so hard. it’s funny because while I used a guide now and again in the other temples, I never used a guide once in that temple. I don’t see what’s hard about it to be honest. Annoying yes, but hard? All it requires is a lot of exploration which at the time I loved so had no problem finding all the keys. It’s quite a straightforward temple when you take the time to explore everywhere.
Another point I’d like to bring up is the infamous well and Shadow Temple. The first time I entered the well you can guess I wasn’t in there long. I’m not a big fan of horror games so the idea of having to go down there and explore wasn’t very appealing. It actually took me about a month to sum up the courage to get what I needed from there. Then there was the dreaded Shadow Temple itself. Situated in the back of a graveyard is the prime location for a low budged horror movie, or you know, a house of the dead. Somehow I managed to get through the temple but something I don’t often admit is that I’ve only ever played through the temple fully once which was of course the first time I played the game. I’ve gone there to collect the item needed to proceed to the next temple but have never wanted to redo the whole thing. It will be interesting to see if I can get through it without needing help in the remake.
When you finally get to Ganondorf’s castle, you get this feeling of the end approaching, as if something big is about to happen as you free each of the magical barriers stopping you from making your way up the final staircase. The final battle itself is quite satisfying if you ask me. During my first play through I managed to beat Ganon on my third try which was impressive for me and bosses at the time. It’s exciting, even now, as Link and Zelda escape from a crumbling castle, dodging boulders and fighting enemies. Only to be greeted with what they think is the end then bam, Ganondorf emerges from the rubble and another battle begins.
The sense of achievement you get from completing this game is not often matched. Even when the game is over, there are so many secrets and conversations to be found within the game that it will take you hours to find them all. Knowing that another generation will be experiencing this game for the first time this week makes me happy (for once) that Nintendo decided to do a remake. Sure, there are loads of games that do certain things, even everything, better but Ocarina of Time has a timeless charm that sets it at a level away from the rest. If Zelda games weren’t legendary before, they certainly were after this was released.