The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Shigeru Miyamoto has always presented the epitome of video gaming in such an incredible manner that all video games after it expand to try to meet the potential of his quality. From Mario, to Donkey Kong, to my cherished 1080* Snowboarding, Shigeru has always expanded the minds of gamers, instead of putting a gun in their hand and having them kill everything in site. So of course when the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was announced, the video game world turned over and watched Zelda's every move and delay until it's November 24th release in 1998. I was a sucker for the hype; right in the middle of it you could say. So as I picked up gold copy with my Zelda T-shirt and Zelda stickers (they were free) on that long-remembered Tuesday morning, of course I was a little skeptical on whether the game would live up to the mountainous hype it was getting. From the second I grabbed that sword I was hooked. The vast land of Hyrule blew me away.

So, yes, the game lives up to the hype and surpasses any dream I had of Zelda being. I really don't take into account the other people who state it doesn't; of course we all know they played 10 minutes at the dumb demo Zelda in their local Electronics Boutique with that worn-out controller. Miyamoto himself stated that Zelda uses 90% of the N64's power and how a game as brilliant as Super Mario 64 only used 60% of the N64's power. I think you understand what I am getting at.

From the moment the Zelda is turned on, you know something is special. The beauty of Link riding the horse at sunset with the calm piano tune playing softly in the background just shows the gamer that this isn't any ordinary game. Three slots of separate games (EEPROM saving) are available with your customary name for each one. So, if you use the name "Slink," you are called that throughout the game. Nice effect.

If you don't already know the story and are somewhat confused, I will briefly explain the purpose of this whole Zelda experience. You, the gamer, control Link as he ventures into many vast (and I mean vast) worlds and temples in order to save Princess Zelda from Ganondorf (the bad guy for you newbies out there). Of course, you have to recover special stones, the all-mighty Triforce, and play your Ocarina of Time to perform magic and special tricks throughout the game. So what's so special about this game from any other game? Depth and detail. You don't just go to each level, beat the boss, collect the "jiggy piece" or "special super star." In turn, you interact in the game in no way ever seen before. As the game is classified as an Action/Adventure/RPG, in my book, there are many times when you need to talk to everyone you meet, interact with your surroundings, or just bust out your sword to fight one of the many enemies Link faces.

When I state depth and detail, I truly do mean it. Not to be too redundant, but you travel from temple/world to the next one and so on. Though, the difference is that in this game, you will return to each level numerous times after you first leave. As you can guess, the game is quite challenging. And on the subject of challenging, Zelda is that; very challenging. An example of why Zelda is so great is in the following: As I entered the Forest Temple, one of the later levels, I found that it is extremely difficult, challenging and sometimes frustrating (yes the "Game of the Century" is frustrating at times). "So what to do? I have tried beating it for hours what the heck, I am going to go catch a lunker in Lake Hylia." That's Zelda in a nutshell.

Zelda's RPG elements are fantastic. Walk into the Market and converse with several of the people about Princess Zelda. Use items in dozens of ways; you won't believe some of the things you can do. Other activities in this Hyrule Castle Market are the Bombchu Bowling alley or the Shooting Gallery to take a break from the stresses of Zelda. Later, travel on over to Lon Lon Ranch to meet up with your horse, Epona, you can ride and do other things with (hint, hint).

As you can see the game is packed and the story, cinema scenes and challenge are all fantastic. Time travel is an incredible part of Zelda as Young Link (10 years old) and Old Link (17 years old) both are accessible to the gamer partway into the journey. You won't believe the size of the worlds and dungeons in this game as they connect to form massive areas to explore, fight and observe. Truly a magical and breathtaking experience that every N64 gamer should enjoy.

Below are the ratings of Zelda in different categories ranging on a one to ten scale with ten being the best possible score:

Graphics 10 out of 10

Breathtaking is an understatement. This game may not be as beautiful as 1080* Snowboarding or Banjo-Kazooie in some areas, but it is much larger and contains no slowdown, no fog and just beautiful 64 bit processing. Cinema scenes are fantastic; truly the greatest work of cinema in a video game, ever. From Link's dream at the beginning to the transition of becoming Old Link, the cinematic scenes will leave you drooling for more. I can not stress enough how incredible some of these scenes are. I don't want to spoil it, but when you receive the Ocarina of Time from Zelda, it's just fabulous work by the whole Zelda team.

Characters look fabulous, move realistically and just seem too beautiful for a video game. Bosses are grotesque, colossal and just plain stunning. Epona, the horse, is beautiful both visually and as it gallops along Hyrule field. Incredible animation in the game provides the gamer with life-like swings of the sword from Link, fishing in Lake Hylia, flying while holding a chicken and of course riding the horse. This game will leave you with you mouth open at every new scene. I have never just been so worked up about cinema scenes before until Zelda came. A monumental job done in the graphics department.

Music/Sound FX 10 out of 10

When the N64 was announced, it was said to be able to produce CD quality sound on a cartridge. Up until now I never believed it. Zelda is full of rich quality music that, for the most part, is calm and nice, like when venturing through Hyrule Field. When an enemy is close or a battle is being fought, a different upbeat battle melody is played. The sound FX are just about what we'd expect from Miyamoto. The clank of the sword to the yell of Link sounds great, even if Link does yell some strange things. When fighting, jumping or whatnot, Link yells, grunts and, to few, yells "Skank!" which actually is "S'raah!" As Link becomes older, his voice his apparently deeper and easier to listen to compared to his "10 year old screaming." Basically the music in this game is spectacular with most of the sound FX being suitable to the ear. Some of Link's sounds didn't impress me much. And of course I can't forget for those old-school gamers out there that some of the sound FX from the old Zelda games are here in this one as well. The special sound of finding a secret is back along with other sounds that Zelda fans will be sure to recognize.

Control 10 out of 10

A Miyamoto game always has fabulous, accommodating control; it's a given. Zelda takes some time getting used to and has a learning curve for all gamers, but soon, one will be accustomed to the control like they've played it for years. First, the camera work is fantastic and is almost flawless, finally. Pressing Z sets the camera directly behind link in a perfect manner 99% of the time. The Z button is also used as the "Z-targeting" system to lock on to objects to read, talk to or fight. The B button is for the sword; there are three that can be obtained in the game. The A button is the action button as Link's surroundings cause the button to be for jumping, crawling, diving, pushing, pulling etc. It changes on the top of the screen so you know what Link's action will be as you push the button. Jumping in the game is unique as the "auto-jump" feature proves to be marvelous in the game. It works very nicely and just makes the game much easier rather than having to time each jump. It works fine; trust me.

The C buttons are for the many items you collect as you pre-set them to your desire at the paused screen. The control stick works fine, especially with the horse. No complaints about the control system for me; it truly is easy to pick up and master. The Z targeting is fantastic and the camera work is the best seen yet. Basically, you will be accustomed to this game's control only after a little while of playing. Some other weapons and tools link obtains throughout is journey is a slingshot, bow and arrow, boomerang, hookshot and many more.

Gameplay 10 out of 10

No doubt about this score; Zelda is packed with action, mini-games and a hefty challenge that may actually turn younger gamers off. On this note, I strongly do not recommend getting this game for gamers under 10 or 11. This game is difficult; very difficult at some times in the game. I myself find the challenge extremely immense, which is a good thing if you think about it. If you do in fact get this game for younger gamers, they may become frustrated with Zelda, as it isn't easy, like Super Mario 64. Also, I disagree with many that state getting a strategy guide will ruin the experienceit won't, if you know how to use one. A strategy guide is great for younger gamers and those situations where you have been stuck for a week. I do not recommend using it throughout the game AT ALL, but I think it's a nice median for gamers who really aren't skilled in an action/adventure/RPG. And lastly, Zelda has so many secrets, that after beating the game, it's fun to get a little help. All in all, I think a strategy guide is only fine if you use it properly and maturely.

As stated before, Zelda contains incredible gameplay, with fun mini-games and secrets all over the place. Besides the fact that traveling through time is possible, Zelda is packed with massive dungeons, castles, worlds, temples and whatnot. Bosses are in every dungeon with friends and foes through out them at every turn. There are so many interactions (whether it is chickens, rocks covering secret areas or dozens upon dozens of people to talk to), that you will spend endless hours roaming around Hyrule not accomplishing Zelda's requests and/or Navi's (the sometimes annoying Fairy). Instead, you'll go fishing for a 19 pounder, go Bombchu bowling for prizes, go on the obstacle course with the horse or maybe just chat it up with some folks, or play your Ocarina for some frogs. Zelda is loaded with so much gameplay and options, that I guarantee you at least 60-70 hours of exploration, domination and most importantly, tremendous fun. Don't go and beat the game in 35 hours; enjoy the experience and take your time no matter what anyone says; you'll thank me in the end.

Of course Zelda allows you to roam freely accomplishing what you want to do, but there still is a job to be done. Just when you think you have the three Spiritual Stones, you are not even close to the end. The levels are packed with a huge challenge and a lot of puzzles and "brain-teasers" that make you think using your tools you have obtained. Also, the game's whole feel is so close to reality, you will actually feel like it's nighttime as the sun rises and sets in Hyrule field. The sound of crickets by the water, a rooster yelling in the morning and the galloping hoofs of Epona just add to the game play's feel and of course makes the whole experience more fun and realistic. Rumble pak support is the best "felt" yet; better than even Star Fox 64. The ways it is used is fabulous and I recommend you hold on to the controller at all times to see what detail this game contain using the rumble pak. As you fish, rumble pak support is nothing less than sensational as the feel of the fish tugging on your line couldn't be any better. With ever tug and pull, you will feel different vibrations implying how well you are fighting the fish. I could go on forever, but to be blunt, Zelda's game play is nothing less than breath taking, extravagant and impeccable. I have never been so satisfied with what a game offers.

Lastability 9 out of 10

No game really lasts forever, except maybe Goldeneye 007. But keeping in all realism here, Zelda is an RPG, a single-player experience and the score it received is certainly fantastic. When the game is over and all the secrets are found, then yes, it won't be played for several months. But Zelda does have tons of mini-games and so many secrets and such a massive challenge that about 100 hours of playing can get you most of the game's offerings. A multi-player mode is not needed, so don't (pardon my language) bitch about it. The game is fantastic how it is and with a multiplayer mode, we'd have never gotten such a diverse and vast one-player experience.

The mini-games in Zelda are fantastic, addictive and alone could be games of their own. You can probably guess I enjoy the fishing in Zelda, as it is so fun that a whole paragraph on my review deserves to be devoted to it. Of course, though, I don't want to ruin the experience of catching your first fish. The way it was laid out with perfect rumble pak capability, great control and big fish, it's no surprise that it has been a huge hit for gamers all over. The fishing game alone could have been made separately by Nintendo; it's a great way to get away from all the stresses of Zelda's challenge. I am hooked (nice pun, huh) and always find time to catch some fish whenever I put Zelda on. Fishing is enabled as young and old Link and gets very interesting as old Link (bigger fish). Don't forget to visit Lake Hylia throughout your journey; you won't be disappointed. Without this fishing game and other mini-games, Zelda's lastability rating would have been lowered for sure.

Overall 10 out of 10

Is Zelda flawless? No. No game will ever be flawless by any means in my opinion. But is Zelda the best game for the N64 and ever? I'd have to say yes, it is. I have played many games in my lifetime, and hundreds have excited me in ways I couldn't have imagined. Though, with Zelda: Ocarina of Time, something different is present that no game ever made can touch: Zelda's feel. Zelda feels so realistic it is truly scary at times. Along this untouchable "feel," Zelda is packed with some of the best visuals (especially the cut-scenes), CD quality sound and dynamic control that makes the game even more enjoyable.

For the game to be compared to Mario 64, Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VII is an understatement as Zelda is, no doubt, way above all three. The detail is insurmountable as well as the 100+ hour challenge it puts on the table. It is difficult at times, and will empty out your social life, but it is just way to good to pass up by any means. No matter what the case, every N64 owner should have a copy of Zelda in his or her household. Zelda has and definitely will continue to sell N64's at an unbelievable rate. If you don't have an N64, then this is the time to get one; Zelda is too good to miss. Give it the time it deserves and you will realize why it has been hailed as the "Game of the Century." After extensive playing, I can second that notion. Once again, Miyamoto has exceeded any of my wildest expectations in my favorite game of all time.
User Review




FUN: NA/10

- Reviewed by Slink
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