Monday, 20 July 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: How doth thou stand the test of time?

The 32/64 bit era was a time of dramatic change in the industry. It was the push from 2D to 3D, it was the rise of Sony with the PlayStation. New genres were made, new characters created, and it was a time where games would become legends thanks to what they bring to the table. Often regarded as one of, if not the greatest game of all time. A legend in its own right, introducing mechanics that wouldn't only be used in later installments of the Zelda series, but also games of other genre's to this day. But before I start, I must ask you. For right now, A Dark time is approaching. Willst thou run? Or Fly? Wilst thou sink? Or Swim? Willst thou finish? Or Die trying?" "Willst thou soar? Or willst thou suck?" "Willst thou flee? Or Fight? And in the end Willst thou get the girl? Or play like one?" Sexist quote from a 90's commercial out of the way (I'm not kidding, child friendly Nintendo green lit that for their commercials of this game), time to look at "the game that became a legend": The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the... I mean Ocarina of Time.
I know its not the cover, but I'd rather do one shared between both, not a version exclusive

One thing I should mention, for the purpose of this review, I'll be sticking to the 3DS remake as I prefer playing games on the systems they've been built for over emulation, and seeing as I don't have a Nintendo 64, this is the next best thing. You can however get the original game on the Wii (if that's still going) and WiiU eshops.

Let's start with the plot, A nine years old Princess Zelda believes that the obviously not the villain character Gannondorf is out to do evil things in the Temple of Time, but she's just not sure what. Upon waking up for the morning, dealing with a Giant talking Tree's spider problem, watching said tree die, traveling through Hyrule field on foot, get a special cucco egg, wake up not Mario the farmer and Metal Gearing through the castle courtyard (skipping of course all the non mandatory things), a young Link (who is the character you play as, you can change his name however he is officially known as Link, if I get any messages saying Link is Zelda, its auto delete and maybe a block, you know who you are) is given the task of retrieving the three sacred Pokemon games... I mean the three sacred gem stones, a Ruby, a Sapphire, and an Emerald to open the Temple of Time. Once the three gemstones have been found, you "receive" the Ocarina of Time from a fleeing Zelda, open the Temple of Time, and suddenly decide to fall asleep for 7 years. Once you wake up as Adult Link, you find that the world (and by that I mean the market in Hyrule Castle) has been destroyed, and its up to you to stop Gannondorf, who took the Tri-force while you were asleep, and save the world by concerning all the dungeons, saving the 7 sages and playing Energy tennis with Gannondorf before poking his super form with the Master Sword, the "blade that gets [stuff] done". Yeah I'm making fun of this plot, and while it does do the job, Zelda fans may recognize it from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. And you'd be right as, aside from a few changes, the plots are almost 1:1.

Gameplay wise, it is the standard Zelda fare, you need to get the plot meguffins to unlock the final dungeon, complete dungeons for the items you need to beat the bosses in said dungeons, do side quests for bonus upgrades like more health, ect. The major difference is the fact that its now in 3D, which in terms of raw gameplay, doesn't do a lot. Link is capable of doing almost everything he could do in A Link to the Past, with the addition of the new Z-Targeting, something introduced into this game. You hold the Z button on the N64, or the L button for the 3DS, and Link will lock onto the enemy in front of him. No matter where you move, the camera will always focus on that enemy until you get out of range. Sound familiar? It should as its something used in a lot of games even to this day, just under a different name. For the most part, I enjoy the gameplay of Ocarina of Time, especially the 3DS version, which fixes some of the problems the original game had, mainly equipped items and the map on the bottom screen (something you'll love when tackling things like the "dreaded" water temple, its not that bad guys).

However, I do still have one large problem with the game in terms of gameplay, and that being Hyrule Field. While I understand why its so big, and for the first time playing its fine, however there is this thing called running I wish was in the game. Link, both young and adult, move really slowly. With Adult Link, you can get, emphasis on the CAN, Epona, who also gets introduced in this game. While she is faster, she also can't, for the most part, leave Hyrule Field. Young Link on the other hand, can't do that and also still has reasons to be in Hyrule Field. While the warps help a bit, it doesn't help when I have to get to the center of the field on foot to catch a running man who will always outrun you unless to completely stop him. I'll bring more attention to this next week though.

Another big problem with this game is First Game Syndrome. Ocarina of Time layed the ground work for later 3D Zelda games, which I like, however this means that, once again, the later games do the job better. This is just due to the fact that Ocarina of Time is almost 20 years old. Of course though there is a flip side to it, as Twilight Princess and (to an extent) Skyward Sword are almost carbon copies of Ocarina of Time. This is more of a problem on their part, however some could blame Ocarina of Time depending on what they play first and how much research they're willing to do.

Finally, the aesthetics. While I'm fine with the art style and graphical capabilities, neither version is the best that the system has put out. I will say though that I think the 3DS is better, just because everything is brighter and it doesn't have as bad of a draw distance. Remember kids, back then, seeing fifteen feet in front of you was considered an achievement. I do however have a problem with the music, nothing stands out, nothing's really memorable that's unique to Ocarina of Time outside of the songs you get for the Ocarina (which can be, and has been, used to play other songs, here's a few examples:)

With the exception of the Ocarina songs, like the Song of Storms, nothing in this game's soundtrack really stands out. Which is a shame as it could be great.

While I do respect Ocarina of Time for what it has done, its not perfect, no game is. Does it deserve the praise it gets for what it did to the industry, absolutely. But its not the best Zelda ever made. I'll see you on Friday for Star and the Forces of Evil and come next Monday... well, let's just hope I don't meet with a terrible fate before then.

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