It seems like everybody can’t stop talking about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and how amazing it is.
I haven’t played it myself, but from what I’ve seen of the game on YouTube, it looks like it’s worth every single bit of praise it’s received. Breath of the Wild has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike, with several publications giving it perfect scores and an intense media coverage. The response has been so huge that I can’t help but think about another game in the same franchise – the legendary Ocarina of Time. The N64 game was one of the biggest gaming-related things to ever happen, and it continues to this day to be cited as one of the finest video games of all time. While I’m not entirely sure if it completely deserves that moniker, I grew up playing Ocarina of Time and still absolutely adore what it brought to the table. So if you’re unsure whether you want to dust off that old cartridge and relive our favorite Hylian’s most beloved adventure, or if you’re a Zelda newbie and looking to start seeing what you’ve been missing, here’s five reasons why Ocarina of Time is still worth playing.
Dungeons are arguably what the Zelda series is most well-known for, and for good reason. The dungeons in Zelda games are always memorable, always tightly-designed, and always provide just the right amount of challenge. Ocarina of Time is no exception. The dungeons and puzzles in this game are just as incredible to go through now as they were nineteen years ago. The first dungeon, Inside the Deku Tree, for example, is a perfect way to start the game – it teaches you what the dungeons are all about without being too hard or too easy for beginners. And it only gets better from there. The temples are all wonderful (well, maybe not the Water Temple, though I don’t think it’s a torture chamber like everybody else), challenging you with creative and fun puzzles and providing some excellent boss encounters. Dungeons are what Zelda is all about, and Ocarina delivers us some fine ones.
The game mechanics/items
Always the most important aspect of any game, the Zelda series is known for its unique gameplay that focuses on items rather than character abilities. Ocarina of Time was the first game in the series that allowed Link to use three items alongside his sword (four in the 3DS version) instead of just one. This means that with an arsenal at his disposal, Link is more versatile than he’s ever been, as being able to quickly use two separate items, one after another, means you’re ready to face off against anything the game throws at you. It helps that for a nearly two-decade old game, the controls still feel very comfortable. The Z-targeting system is great for dealing with enemies in a 3D plane, and it’s something that’s stuck with the series since. And though Link’s not exactly Mario when it comes to jumping, moving him around still feels natural. Even though future games built upon Ocarina’s foundation, it still plays well enough to be a fun time all the way through.
The music/sound design
While Ocarina‘s soundtrack isn’t my favorite in the series, I can’t deny how great it is. It introduced a lot of now-familiar themes (the house theme, Lost Woods, Hyrule Field, etc.) and gave us plenty of background themes that perfectly capture the mood of the areas they play in. The dungeon themes are more atmospheric, which compliments the lonely and dangerous feeling you get when traversing them. Conversely, the town and field themes have a more distinct melody, giving each unique area its own special charm. Adding to this is the wonderful sound design. The classic Zelda sound effects are all there, and the unique sounds this game brings build up something that’s fantastic to listen to. Take that slashing sound that plays whenever you kill an enemy or boss – that sound is so satisfying to hear that it makes the combat feel that much better. This is a game I love listening to as much as I do playing, and you have the music and sound effects to thank for that.
There’s something that this game does phenomenally well over other games of its era, and that’s the atmosphere. The game looks fantastic for a game from 1998 – the environments and the characters designs especially. It’s the environments that really add to the atmosphere, though. All the dungeons look distinct from one another, and they all bring forth a unique and unforgettable experience. Hyrule in this game feels more like a world than just a group of maps and levels. While a game like Majora’s Mask provides better characters and story alongside a creepy and unsettling atmosphere, Ocarina‘s presentation makes it stand out in its own right. And, as you’d imagine, it looks even better on the 3DS. It may be because the next main game after Ocarina and Majora went for a more cartoonish presentation, but the mood and tone that this game has is nothing short of outstanding.
The sense of adventure
The game carries the Legend of Zelda name for a reason – it truly is a legend (in more ways than one). This game feels more like someone’s retelling the story of a hero who fought through many perils to defeat a villain and stop him from taking over the world. You start out as a young kid who knows he’s different than his friends but can’t figure out why and then learns that the fate of the entire world rests in his hands. So he must find the courage within him (hint hint) to confront the evil tyrant before he destroys everything. As you’re guiding Link, you begin to realize that he’s displaying more heroism and bravery than most adults and that everything he goes through seems to mature him really quickly. Even when he ages seven years, he’s really just a kid in a young adult’s body. Ocarina feels like an adventure you made up as a kid, fighting demons and saving princesses, only the stakes are actually real – and that feels incredible.