Let us begin with a classic…
BY THE POLSKI SAMURAI I JUNE 13, 2008
IMAGE PROVIDED COURTESY OF THE VIDEO
The still growing entertainment industry has been producing video games for almost 40 years. And every once in a while, a new game release sells out in a weekend and makes a
middle-aged mother whip out her brass knuckles to take out anything that stands in the way of her getting that one game
little Billy wants
in time for Christmas. Well, there was a time when I was little Billy and I was fortunate enough to get the Red Rider BB gun of my childhood. In 1998, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in time for the holidays and today the game remains arguably the greatest game of all time. Seeing it’s the game’s 10th anniversary and my personal favorite video game, what better way to kick off the review
Assuming many of you are very familiar with this epic, I’m not going to go over every little technical detail and dump you into impenetrable tediousness. Let’s face it,
everyone has heard, played or seen this game. The Legend of Zelda is to video games what Citizen Kane is to films. But why does this game always appear in greatest top 10 lists or stand out among the best of the best? The Nintendo 64 was coming off a blockbuster release with Goldeneye 64 and needed something else to help its cartridge based system. With a bizarre yet friendly system controller and the classic characters Nintendo’s been known to revive (Mario 64, Super Metroid), the adventures of Link needed to be awakened from the past.
The story not only brought Zelda to a whole new beginning but reinvented classic themes to new media. For the few of you who don’t know, Zelda is not the hero but the princess in distress. The protagonist, Link, is our main man whose story is nothing new. From his childhood hometown to discovering his true past and rescuing the captive princes, Ocarina of Time was a common hero’s story. But the way small pieces of the puzzle came together and make the gamer want more is what made Ocarina of Time special. Ganondorf - taken from the original NES villain Ganon - was the main antagonist who did not appear often but stole the stage whenever on screen. What sets Ganandorf apart from, say, Boswer or other classic villains, was his arrogant stature and relentless persistence. Character development was deeper and more insightful than most games to date and forced players to create new friendships, which proved beneficial as the game progressed (Darunia was my main man). The bottom line is that players could not stop thinking of the next temple to conquer or how questions from the past were to be answered in the future or which new items to wield, and how awesome that last boss
IMAGE PROVIDED COURTESY OF THE VIDEO
GAME MUSEUM |
The gameplay was simple, quick to pick up, and brought something new to the table. With Link’s new friend Navi (a squeaking blue fairy), Link could lock onto any enemy with the simple click of the Nintendo 64 controller’s Z (trigger) button. The new analog stick was very responsive and sensitive to the touch while the secondary items were easily accessible with the yellow C buttons. Almost every button had a purpose but was evenly proportioned so no button mashing or one-button pressing was necessary.
If someone was to look at Zelda today, the cubical anatomies and pointy extremities would be comical for the newbie gamer. Lucky for them, Link doesn’t go Din’s Fire on everyone who knocks his game. But back 10 years ago, these graphics were top of the line. 3D worlds and seeing distant horizons was hardly imaginable in the Nintendo 64 days. Players jumping back and forth to first person views while witnessing blades of grass dissipate after slashing bushes were details way ahead of their time. Enemies from the original 1987 Zelda reappeared with new looks but similar annoying tendencies (damn Leevers and their twirling). Bosses, with their intriguing text descriptions, had a look and feel that suited the climax of their themed temple. With a game this visually captivating, the player wanted to explore and see as much as they possibly could. Along with unlocking secrets and hidden goods along the way, players just wanted to see and do more…
The musical score was nothing short of breathtaking. The triumphant yet soothing traveling music while riding on Epona’s back in Hyrule field, the monotonous chants in the Fire Temple, and Ganandorf’s organ while ascending the final castle’s staircase - all sounds large and small contributed to realistic affects that made the game a musical work of art. Link’s voice from charging up a sword spin to falling off a waterfall varied in every situation, not to mention the return of the original score from 1987’s The Legend of Zelda. The ocarina Link played had an array of songs which, when played, either warped you halfway across the map or simply made it rain (the Temple of Time theme ruled!). Instead of half-assing old sounds and music, the creators pushed the limits and added a variety of harmonies to create a musical world inside the platform.
Main storylines are the focus of the game, and rightfully so. But having players want to come back for extras is always the tricky part. In Ocarina of Time, the hours accumulated from trying to catch a Hylian Loach in the fishing hole, archery practice on horseback, and finding all those damn golden skulltulas was delightfully frustrating! But like the main quest, every side quest or mini game, controls were quick and simple. Players wanted to obtain as much as they possibly could for bragging rights, but more importantly, for maxing out
So after countless awards, perfect scores, and record sales, I could go on and on. We all know the game, the story, and the milestone. It’s difficult for me to write about something that has been done hundreds of times since Ocarina’s release, but I feel like I need to say my share. Maybe this brought back some memories, and you’re not going to stop thinking about it. You’re probably going to whip out that dusty old 64 and start a new game for the 137th time! Like the original Super Mario Brothers transformed video games into a powerhouse industry, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time set a new standard for what it takes to create a masterpiece of storytelling and visual scope.