Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 10 VG Countdown - #3: OCARINA OF TIME

We have a guest poster with us today to tell us about the awesome Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Welcome, Jamie Gibbs!



In my humble opinion, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time revolutionized the console RPG and enabled those with a joypad rather than a keyboard and mouse to enjoy an immersive experience in a rich and detailed world. Back in 1998, you had to be a PC gamer to have access to any RPG worth its salt, and then Ocarina of Time entered the scene and changed all that for the better.

Ocarina of Time is the fifth installment of The Legend of Zelda series, which was exclusively available on the N64 at the time. Nowadays you can get it on the collector’s edition of Wind Waker for the Gamecube, download it on the Wii store, and get the remake for the 3DS. In it our hero Link is summoned to protect the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf, collect the relics that form the Triforce, and rescue the princess Zelda. Throw in some hefty dungeon crawling, side quests and an excellent system of in-game time travel, and you’ve got yourself a winner right there.

Ocarina of Time doesn’t exactly have the best graphics in the world, and they’ve not aged well. Granted, there is a definite nostalgic retro charm about it, but you can’t overlook the blocky characters and blurry textures. Nintendo had a more powerful console than its rivals, but were limited by the capacity of the cartridges. Given the massive, sprawling scale of Ocarina, something had to give, and the visuals ended up lacking somewhat.

However, just as a person with no sight is better able to use their other senses, Nintendo mastered the other aspects of gaming with Ocarina of Time. The music score, for one thing, is nothing short of a thing of beauty. I’ve got The Legend of Zelda official soundtrack, and the songs from Ocarina perfectly capture whatever area or dungeon Link is in. You’ve got the playful tunes of Kokiri Forest, the sweeping epic overture of Hyrule Field, and the downright haunting Song of Storms. You could play Ocarina with your eyes closed and know exactly where you were in the game. That’s storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, Ocarina of Time was a game that got you involved with the story. The entire scene with the Great Deku Tree is pretty heavy for your standard adventure game (I know a fully grown man who openly admits to weeping when he played that scene). It’s a game that makes you emotionally invest in the characters, even if that emotion is a murderous rage (the words “Hey, listen!”still bring out the veins in my forehead to this day).

The gameplay managed to combine the action/adventure genre with elements of an RPG that hadn’t really been seen on a console before, at least in the West. Final Fantasy brought the 3D RPG to us a year before, but Ocarina’s real-time combat and in-depth story made it a favourite amongst non-gamers as well as the hardcore. On the surface, Ocarina of Time is your basic dungeon crawler - find three magical objects to save the world and blah blah blah. But look deeper and you find that the beauty of Ocarina was that the gameplay was to an extent non-linear. You could choose to go off the beaten path at any time and explore Hyrule if you wanted, or you could spend your time running errands for the Happy Mask Shop, or finding the gold skulltulas that are tucked away in the far flung corners of the world. It was this aspect that had you coming back to Ocarina time and time again, losing sleep, weight and friends in the process. For me, it was my Skyrim before I’d even heard of The Elder Scrolls, and it was beautiful.

If you still have the means to do so, dust off that old N64, give the underside of the cartridge a gentle gust of air to bring it back to life, and settle yourself in for a few hours of pure gaming bliss. Ocarina of Time defined a generation of gamers, and it’s no small wonder that it’s been given the title of ‘greatest video game of all time.’

Jamie Gibbs is the caffeine addled bibliophile from the fantasy blog Mithril Wisdom. When he’s not nose deep in a book, he’s usually rocking out to fantasy-inspired heavy metal and playing with Lego like all grown ups should.



Thanks for stopping by, Jamie, and putting to words what makes this game so wonderful! I have such great memories of Ocarina of Time. I've gotta get this for my Wii and play it again now.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me, Allison! I've got Ocarina for The Gamecube, so I think I'll have myself a retro session of Hyrulian awesomeness this week :)

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    1. That sounds like a plan full of awesome.

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  2. Good stuff, Jamie!
    PC is still the best, but it was nice to see this game make a big change in other gaming platforms.

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    1. Them's fighting words, Alex ;)
      Not many console games could boast as much immersion into the story as Ocarina, so it rightly gets the kudos :)

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    2. I also like PC the best, but it's hard to find a fault with Ocarina.

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  3. Ocarina of Time was the second video game I ever played (the first one being Mario Duck Hunt), and the first one I ever finished. It is still my favourite game.

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    1. Actually, same here about the first game I finished. I took me forever and a day to do, but I did it, and it felt great :)

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  4. Great post! This is one of my husband's favorite games of all time.

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    1. Thanks Christine. It should be your favourite too ;)

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  5. I haven't played any of the Zelda games (yes, I know, horror!!!) but you've got me wishing that my N64 wasn't on the blink as I'd go back and give this one a try. Maybe after sitting for awhile it will magically work again? One can always hope.

    On a musical note, I do enjoy Lindsey Sterling's rendition of Zelda music:

    http://youtu.be/b3KUyPKbR7Q

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    1. Ebay is your friend, Carl :)
      Linsday Sterling is awesome! I love her enthusiasm. I saw her Skyrim duet and it was epic!

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    2. You can also get Ocarina for the Gamecube and the Wii. I've never seen Lindsey Sterling before... that was cool!

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  6. Well done bro, a pretty cool write up. Keep up the good work
    Shaun Valleys ShutterBug

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    1. Thanks muchly :) I had my fanboy hat on pretty tight when I wrote it, but I think I did it justice.

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  7. I was never a Zelda fan. Still not. Good write up though, and your point on how it changed RPG for consoles is exactly right.

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    1. Thanks Josh :) Maybe one day you'll see the light, though I appreciate it's not for everyone's tastes.

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  8. Sounds like fun. I wish I had a gaming system (loved the old Nintendo, but I was more of a Mario Brothers fan).

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    1. Good choice; can't beat a classic. Ocarina was my big switch into more epic gaming in terms of storytelling :)

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    2. I was pretty excited when the new Mario Bros. came out for the Wii.

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  9. Yes, I've pretty much liked everything she's put up on her Youtube channel.

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    1. I love her energy! Dance AND violin? What's not to like! Going to watch more of her videos...

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  10. My husband and I used to play Zelda when we were dating. Fun game.

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    1. It is fun to watch as well as play, so I could see it working for two people!

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  11. Allison, this is a great guest post from a true gamer. @Jeremy, what an awesome game. I never got to play it. I've noticed the transition from blocky graphics to 3-D took a while and some games were better at the transition than others.

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    1. Never got to play it? Well you can still remedy that :)

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  12. This is a great post! I really liked this post.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  13. Not going to comment on the post - not a gamer, wouldn't know where to start!

    But I just stopped by to tell you I've tagged you in an award. Please stop by to find out more!!

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  14. I loved the Legend of Zelda when I was a kid, but I haven't played it in years.

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  15. Some of those old games had the best storylines. Zelda was awesome.

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  16. I always loved Zelda. My mom would sit downstairs and play it at night, and I'd fall asleep to the sounds (and then play my own the next day). Of course, that wasn't Ocarina, which came out after I'd moved out and gotten married, but I played that one in my own home!

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