The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) Second Opinion Review

By Ofisil 03.03.2016

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; seven simple words that frequently manage to make it to the top ten of various "Best Game Ever" lists - and usually in the number one place. What is to blame? The heavy name it bears, the result of good marketing, hype, fanboy/girl love? No. There's no chance for a video game, no matter how successful or popular, to remain relevant even after 15 whole years, while still being regarded a gem of the industry, without truly being one. In other words: welcome to a second trip back to 1998, and to one of the very best in The Legend of Zelda saga. Hiiyaaaa!

All Zelda games have a pretty simple plot, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is no exception. There are characters to interact with, cut-scenes to enjoy, and lore to learn, but, despite everything being great, the plot is not why everyone keeps coming back. The protagonist of the show is none other than this fantastic sense of immersion that is provided here, because, while it's easy to describe this simple land in a few paragraphs, it's actually impossible to explain how this cartoony, yet oh-so-real, place grabs the player and never lets go. Being absorbed in an immense, non-linear realm has always been the strength of The Legend of Zelda series, and this doesn't disappoint one bit. In fact, after the initial, tutorial-like chapter, where our hero Link will learn all the bells and whistles of his first three-dimensional adventure, he will be completely free to go wherever his Kokiri heart tells him to.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64

Stepping out from his small neighbourhood, Link will have the chance to gaze upon all sorts of beautiful scenery. Dense, ancient forests full of flying fireflies, an underground lake that gets reflected on the walls, bizarre ghost mansions, a desert where the sandstorms never end, a menacing mountain with a ring of clouds orbiting its peak, and much, much more. While the graphics are great, it's the actual atmosphere of it all that takes the cake. The Shadow Temple is spooky, Jabu-Jabu's belly feels (and is) alive, the simple plains of Hyrule give a wonderful feeling of freedom (and transform when the night falls), Ganon's Castle is imposing, and so on. Even the enemies manage to look cool, in all their cartoony glory.

Gameplay-wise, it's the typical Zelda adventure; a game of exploration where no stone should be left unturned, since this mystical land is full of surprises. In essence, that means talking with people, gathering money, taking part in all sorts of mini-games and side-quests, and much more, with all having the same purpose, which, besides having fun, is to make Link as strong and well-equipped as possible - and, boy, are there things to add to his arsenal here. From simple boomerangs and bows, to reflecting shields, spells, and magic lenses, there's lots of experimenting to do with the available tools of the trade, and, thankfully, apart from the controls being flawless, item selection is a piece of cake, since it's possible to assign three of them to a C button.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64

The whole quest is designed in such a way that it resembles A Link to the Past, since it's divided between two parts: the smaller (and easier) young Link phase, which has him being able to use only a few items and enter only a small amount of dungeons, and the adult Link phase, where he can wield stronger weapons and gadgets, and enter the "true" dungeons. The great thing about this is that it's not just a silly gimmick, since it gives a wonderful sense of progression, and even has many puzzles that require going back and forth in time. How is this done, though? The answer: through the use of the eponymous ocarina.

The Ocarina of Time is a fantastic tool. Throughout his journey, Link will get to learn various songs; songs with which he will be able to call out his horse, communicate with a helpful NPC, create rain, change day into night (and vice versa), warp to the many different locations, and, of course, bend time at will. Want to compose an original tune? Go ahead! It's actually possible to fool around with this instrument and create some unique and nice sounding music. Speaking of which, very few can compete with Ocarina of Time's high quality, and surprisingly varied, soundtrack, with melodies that range from easy-going country, emotive Spanish flamencos, and soothing flute fanfares, to the typical epic orchestrations of the franchise.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64

The overworld in The Legend of Zelda series has always been about exploration and escapism, but it's the dungeons where the real deal is at; take them away from any Zelda game, and it won't be a Zelda game anymore. This is the place where Link must use everything at his disposal to solve the hardest puzzles, face the strongest enemies, and defeat gargantuan bosses - and, luckily, the dungeons are at their best here, with all having their unique set of enemies, their unique set of hazards, and their unique set of riddles. As a side note, dungeons are where more of the Skulltula spiders are found, which are a part of the best and biggest side-quest available - a quest that is as challenging as it is fun and rewarding.

As for the bosses, just take the already perfect epic battles of the first-rate SNES title, and multiply the pleasure, coolness, and sense of achievement tenfold. Besides simple nods to the past, like the classic Dodongo fight, Link will face giant flaming dragons, elemental witches, ghost riders, strange amoeba-like entities, and much more, with the final two confrontations being a lesson in climatic finales… a lesson that the gaming industry tends to forget a bit too often. In conclusion: dungeons are fantastic, each one feels completely new, and they are a good enough reason to come back to this wonderful video game classic from the past.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

A franchise's popularity can sure help in making a product popular, but it's only up to time to pass on the final judgement, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has passed the test. It's not perfect, and it won't really make those who've hated the previous titles give it a try, but it is, without a single doubt, one of the greatest games ever, and, surely, amongst the top three of the series. Want to escape into a beautiful world of might and magic? Look no further, because the first three-dimensional iteration of Hyrule is the best place to experience it.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (176 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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