The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time - Retroview

Something Old, Something New


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 10
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 6
   Plot 6
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

8-25 hours


Title Screen

   Even the people that truly dislike Nintendo must give them one thing; when they set out to make a masterpiece regardless of time constraints, monetary cost, project personnel requirements, or public opinion, they always succeed. Ocarina Of Time is probably the greatest achievement in N64 history... Maybe even the most important step in 3D gaming. It showed more intuitive development engineering, technical know-how, and all-around gaming industry genius than has been seen in a lot of entire developing corporation line-ups in the last three system generations.

   Although there's nothing exceptionally new about how Link fights as compared to his previous forays into Hyrule, there is one aspect of the battle system that deserves a moment in the sun. That integral portion of any well-made 3D game is the targeting system; in this case Z-Targeting. By simply pressing the 'Z' button on the N64 control pad, you'll automatically 'lock-on' to the closest targetable object. These things can range from rocks, to townsfolk, to signs, to enemies. And... If you decide that instead of focusing on the Keese' fluttering around your head annoyingly, you'd rather turn your attentions toward the lurking Stalfos... Well... Just press the button again. Easy as that. There is one slight drawback to Z-Targeting... Occasionally, you'll get the camera in an angle that it passes through something in the background or the edge of the walls. This will prevent you from seeing properly and can get you killed from time to time. Although this apparent drawback might be kinda time consuming, it is by far less a problem in 'Ocarina of Time' than in 'Majora's Mask'. Aside from Z-Targeting, the battles are highly action based and you can switch from item to item in your pack searching for the bane of each creature... Also keep in mind that things that wouldn't even normally seem to be a weapon, such as the hookshot, can be used to stun or even kill things just as the Fairy Bow or the Master Sword.

   I'm probably not alone in my estimation of the menu system in OOT. I will say up front that it's the best one I've ever used. It's very easy to navigate, everything is clearly marked, you can save anywhere at any time simply from the menu, everything is ordered specially so as to be easy to find, with all similar things grouped together on one page or another. Using the map can be of prime importance in the game, so get used to navigating to it effectively. Outside the game itself, OOT also utilizes the Vibration capabilities of the controller to help you locate hidden items. Although it isn't absolutely necessary to have a controller capable of shaking or to even find and defeat enough Skulltulas to get the 'Stone of Agony' (the item that lets the controller vibrate) it certainly helps later on in the game when you go to look for the 'Lens of Truth'.

More Realistic Than FFVII Was
More Realistic Than FFVII Was 

   The sound effects in Ocarina of Time are simply amazing. They are clearly the limit of N64 technology and are perfectly obvious as to their meaning. The musical score on the otherhand, is somewhat of a disappointment. Granted, what music there is is wonderfully composed and designed as midi goes, but the total lack of most identifiable 'Zelda' music is discouraging for hardcore fans of the series... None of the map music, and none of the main themes have returned excepting Kakariko Village, which was never really one of my favorites.

   So no Zelda game is really that original. They're all basically just retellings of the original story (sounds like a lot of retarded anime I've heard of...) in a slightly different setting with vastly changing dynamics. But, where the other games lack any type of cohesion to their sub-title, Ocarina of Time literally deals with said object. You pack it around with you for a good two-thirds of the game and use it's magical/musical properties throughout the entire game. It can have innumerable effects on your surroundings or can warp you from place to place at will. A good many sidequests will revolve around the usage of one song over and over again so get into the game and find them all before you need them.

   The plot of OOT is pretty much the same as every other in the series. Ganon wants to conquer the world and hence sets out to obtain the almighty Triforce from the Golden Land. Link, the silent protagonist, sets forth to stop him on his quest through destiny. Ultimately, it turns into the typical Nintendo 'rescue-the-princess-and-save-the-kingdom' story that we've all heard fifty umpteen million times before. But the game isn't really about story. It's about 'Zelda', which is something that this game accomplishes quite nicely.

An Energy Field Of Death & Entropy
An Energy Field Of Death & Entropy 

   Nintendo has always made it their trademark to enforce high quality translation and localization values to the games they publish. OOT is no different. What text there is was translated perfectly. The only thing that kinda irked me was that Link still doesn't talk. Although I read somewhere that Shigeru Miyamoto said, "I make my characters mute so that they're believable in any locale", I personally think that it's just foolishness. No character that has to undergo such hardship should have nothing to say about it. It doesn't make any logical sense.

   Zelda games are short, shrift, and to the point. That being said, they're perfect RPG replay material. If you've gotta go through a game again, why not make it one that's short and easy and relatively mindless? It'll keep your headaches away and should protect your controllers from being flung to the floor in sadistic savagery... Oh... Is that just my habit..?

   The visual aspect of Ocarina Of Time is without a doubt the high point of the game. Most RPGs undergo quite a bit of artistic reshaping when they switch platforms. OOT takes the best aspects from each of the earlier games and morphs it over to 3D in fine style. Compared to the FMV in games like Final Fantasy VII, the graphics aren't that great... But when you compare the modelling styles from FFVII to OOT, you'll notice that the N64 does, in fact, do a much better job. The textures are better, and the characters move more realistically. Not only that but the forest temple rules and the sleeping forest drools  ;)

   There are really only one or two difficult parts of the game. All of them can easily be worked around if you have a couple bottled fairys to revive you. Foremost among these is Bongo-Bongo, the Spirit of Darkness that resides deep beneath the graveyard, behind the closed doors of the Shadow Temple. Keep your chin up and remember that not everything is as it appears.

The Single Coolest Screenshot The N64 Is Capable Of
The Single Coolest Screenshot The N64 Is Capable Of 

   Short is the only way to describe any Zelda game. The most complex and frustrating one I've played is Majora's Mask... But, let's face it. We don't play them for their challenge. It's all because we like to be entertained... And last time I checked, being frustrated out of your mind because you miss something by five minutes of Terminian time wasn't fun OR entertaining.

   Although I would tend to say that A Link To The Past is the best Zelda game of all time, OOT gets a higher score because of all the things that were done right. But you can't fake heart and for some reason Miyamoto's heart just didn't seem in this one... Maybe he was already contemplating the GameCube? Who knows, really. But as long as we've got the N64 miracle cure on hand why not test it, 'eh?

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