The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best games I have ever completed. My tenuous excuse is that I was often stuck and it takes time to understand dungeons. As a kid raised in the internet-less wilderness of rural West Wales, with sports and school taking up my time, my progress in Ocarina of Time has been freezing.
While I was browsing this N64 game in a fragmented way, the original PC and Xbox games arrived to grab my attention. Then I left my childhood home, leaving my N64 behind, Link waiting to confront the boss of the Temple of the Spirits. I was so close to the end, yet so far. Until the relative freedom of university life, I had always played games in spurts. Yet despite my bizarre approach, Ocarina of Time is etched in my memory.
And rightly so. Back then, Ocarina was a stunning game. Even today, it still offers a different experience from so many modern games that took inspiration from it.
I remember, probably with an intoxicating dose of nostalgia, coming out of Kokiri Forest and entering Hyrule Field. This green space with pure blue skies and multiple roads to explore seemed vast to my young mind – a mind untouched by the open worlds of The Witcher 3 and Skyrim.
The sheer volume of things to watch, explore, slice and hook with the grappling hook was incredible back then. And no doubt, they still feel amazing.
I remember zipping over the roofs of houses in Kakariko village, over a decade before blinking at the roofs of Dunwall townhouses in Dishonored.
Ocarina of Time is stuffed with Zora gills with some memorable moments. From getting your horse, Epona, to the zombie horror the Hyrule Castle town becomes after you draw the Time Temple Master Sword, to the incredibly catchy tune of Gerudo Valley.
But more than that, Ocarina of Time felt like a properly advanced game. Not only did you have to apply a whole host of items to solve dungeon puzzles, but you could also use various tools, or even songs from the titular Ocarina of Time, to dispatch enemies. A grappling hook could stun a particularly mobile enemy, allowing you to slice them up.
Ocarina of Time’s tone was also incredibly varied, but in a way that made sense rather than feeling disjointed. The refreshing brightness of Hyrule Field by day transformed into a menacing expanse at night, with skeletal enemies rising out of the ground at every turn.
Hyrule Castle Town is a bunch of joy and color as young Link. But for adult Link, it’s a ghost town filled with ReDead zombies that still gives this 34-year-old writer chills. (And I just remembered the Wallmaster. It’s even scarier.)
A host of exciting and clever boss fights, as well as a series of challenges, like the one to get Biggoron’s sword, sprinkle even more magic on Ocarina of Time.
While the Legend of Zelda games have a rich history and a rich legacy for new titles to build on – looking at you Breath of the Wild 2 – I would say Ocarina of Time is one of the most popular Zelda games. influential. There’s a clear Ocarina guideline to Breath of the Wild, which is another easy contender for the best game ever.
Thanks to Eon Gaming’s Super 64 unit, I can now operate my N64 on my 4K TV. And as we’re now celebrating Zelda’s 35th birthday, I think it’s about time I got another stab at Ocarina of Time. Now I can finally finish it.