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The Importance of Ocarina of Time

When video games were truly ready for the 3D era, experimenting with ideas in both console hardware and software was always what would lead to a gamble in the success of a new game. Because of this, sandbox games were slowly making their way into the format as well, despite limitations in 3D space, we would get a taste of the future of gaming. Nintendo gave a hint of that concept with Super Mario 64, but we would have to wait just a bit longer for the next big Legend of Zelda game, looking different with each update coming from magazine screenshots.

The game didn't have a working title for its first couple of years of development, but Nintendo Power readers were at least given a look at its early prototypes through photo screenshots. Other magazines simply called it "Zelda 64" because adding 64 to a title was a continuing trend on certain games that released on the system.

So, what would be the key feature of the game aside from hacking and slashing enemies, solving the usual puzzles, and finding heart pieces? Nintendo had a bit of radio silence about future information until it got closer to release, in 1998. More magazine screenshots surfaced showing the near complete progress of the game.

Link would now carry around an Ocarina flute, but it wasn't explained why he was lugging it everywhere, just that it would be an important item through his adventure to save Princess Zelda yet again.

So, what's the story?

Link, a young boy taken in by the Great Deku Tree has a nightmarish dream about being encountered by a villainous man known as Ganondorf while he's on horseback. This leads up to the events of Link beginning his adventure carried out by the Deku Tree to become a hero by obtaining the Kokiri sword and Deku shield residing in Kokiri Forest, obtaining the three Spiritual Stones across the land of Hyrule, and making friends (and enemies) along the way.

Throughout Link's journey he'll gain new inventory items such as bottles to store healing items, a boomerang and more to progress in dungeons, and, defeating common gold skultullas, spider enemies with skull faces, to reap rewards such as a bigger wallet! and his most useful item given to one of the Kokiri children, Saria, the Fairy Ocarina, to use in various ways, such as making it rain, turn night into day, and teleporting to different areas that have been found.

Link grows up!

After obtaining the three Spiritual Stones from Kokiri Forest, Death Mountain and Zora's Domain, Link heads for the Temple of Time and is given the Ocarina of Time by Zelda before escaping from the clutches of Ganondorf, playing the Song of Time to unlock the Temple's doors, and starting off his real quest to be the hero of Hyrule.

Upon taking the Master Sword, "The Blade of Evil's Bane", Link is awoken by a sage named Rauru, telling Link that he was put into a seven year sleep so he would be at the proper age to take on Ganondorf. Because of all of the years that have passed though, Hyrule has been in a state of ruin, taken over by Ganondorf and his monsters, while the children of the Kokiri Forest haven't aged at all!

Rauru informs Link that six temples have their own sage that need to be discovered and conquered, and his childhood friend, Saria is one of them, taking him all over Hyrule going places that he wasn't able to as a child, leading to his final conflict with Ganondorf.

Gameplay and sound

Making the transition to 3D, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time brings back all the familiar setpieces that fans were familiar with. Inventory management was on the pause screen, slashing with your sword was mapped to the B button, you could roll with A, and a new targeting system by holding down Z made it a breeze to manage the game's camera while in combat, while using the yellow C buttons to manage inventory items like bottles and other items.

Your fairy partner, Navi could also give information on enemies, as well as certain clues that you can target with, making for good use for even newcomers of the series to enjoy the game. As you progress, you'll also be going into a first person view to look around environments, as well as using it for slingshot and bow aiming, and riding on horseback with Link's obtainable horse, Epona.

As you play the game you'll hear familiar sound cues of past games, like opening secret doors or treasure chests to reveal items, and phenomenal music throughout the game as you explore new areas having their own unique theme. The Kokiri Forest sounds serene and fun, Hyrule Castle Town is jaunty and lively, and dungeons like Dodongo's Cavern sound ominous.

Memories of playing the game

My actual experience goes back to when I first owned a Nintendo 64 near the end of the 90s, when a friend of my older brother owned the game. He'd let us borrow it for a day, but suggested that we didn't play on his save file. We didn't get very far, and before we knew it we had to give the game back. His reasoning for such a short time to borrow was because he was planning to move away, and possibly looking into college, while my brother would be too busy while having a new job as a dishwasher.

During my short time of living with an uncle before getting a new home, I saw myself ending up at a children's hospital after getting a nasty wound on the top of my scalp that needed stitched up. While in the waiting rooms, a row of kiosks with Nintendo 64 consoles were set up for children to play on, and Ocarina of Time just so happened to be one of the games available to play while I was having a week visit of healing. I didn't even know what my progress in the game was, but I got lost in wanting to explore.

So many places just had me asking myself "how do I get over there?" "I wonder where that leads to" and "I think I can make that jump!" as time was passing around me. To this day, the game serves as a personal favorite in 3D Zelda games. To have so much content put onto a single cartridge blew my mind, and it serves as a testament to how far sandbox gaming has evolved after all these years.

What are your thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 25 years later? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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Game Joy Posted on Dec 20, 2023 at 11:26 PM

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was advertise on the gaming magazines back them as having 256 megabits of memory. For comparison purposes, Super Mario 64, the first Nintendo 64 cartridge, has 64 megabits of memory, four times less to offer. That means more textures on Ocarina of Time, more sound samples and all. Such a fantastic masterpiece! I'm glad to see you valuing the game, little brother.

And for those of you who want to enjoy this beautiful game, played by my highly skilled brother, here is the link of one of the eleven videos of our playthrough; enjoy!

https://odysee.com/@official.benny.bros:e/Ocarina-of-Time---Part-1---PC-Playthrough:4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBJ3t9pGHYw

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