Posted on April 10, 2013
My Top 100: #2 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Whenever Nintendo Power compiled “best of” lists in its last few years of existence, Ocarina of Time always seemed to end up somewhere at the top of the heap. Nintendo had a lot to be proud of, and their flagship publication definitely did their best to hammer the point home; “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the greatest games of all time, and we’re not going to let you forget about it.”
The game was indeed damn-near perfect, but there was no need to brag about it… jerks.
Much like I wanted to explore the unseen sides of the Mushroom Kingdom when playing Super Mario Bros., I had been wanting to explore Hyrule the same way after enjoying the hell out of Super Mario 64. Ever since that kid in Grade 1 told me you could climb a tree in The Legend of Zelda for NES, I tried to imagine what doing such a thing in a Zelda game would be like. I knew the kid was full of it, but he really got me thinking.
Lo and behold, the world got its hands on Ocarina of Time in November of ’98, and the first level had us climbing through the guts of a giant tree.
Words couldn’t express how pumped I was to play this game! I put it on my very short Christmas wish list (yeah, I still did that at 15 to help with gift ideas), but never expected to find the Collector’s Edition with the gold cartridge under the tree that year.
Best Mom ever!
Anyway, the game not only looked and played great, it felt like Zelda was supposed to feel, looked like it was supposed to look, and sounded like it was supposed to sound. It felt like a lifetime since A Link to the Past had come out, but playing Ocarina felt like you were meeting up with an old friend; even though you had both grown up, nothing else had changed.
What else can I say? It was Zelda, it was 3D, and it played so well, I’ve bought it and beaten it more than once on four different consoles. I keep saying “OK, that’s enough Ocarina for me”, then I just find myself sucked right back in.
It’s just that good.
For the first little while after this game came out, I was desperately trying to find a way to play it. For some reason, Blockbuster Video had no copies for rent, and the only thing I had to whet my appetite was the November ’98 issue of Nintendo Power. There were maps and screenshots galore, and I spent most of my “reading periods” (the five minutes every day before classes actually started) trying to imagine what the levels actually felt like.
My friend Tyler found a rentable copy of the game somewhere, and I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t necessarily want to go over to his place and play it – instead, I brought a VHS cassette to school, gave it to him and said “record what you can, and bring this back to me tomorrow!”
He was nice enough to do that for me, and as he gave it back the next day, he said “the game is good, but it’s really nothing special”. I was slightly disappointed, but I was still looking forward to going home and checking the tape.
My sister picked me up from school that day, and told me that she’d just gotten back from Houlton, Maine. She had gotten some groceries, as well as a few music CD’s. We were in the New Maryland “woods” part of the drive when she popped a CD into the car stereo, and said “this girl is apparently hitting it big in the States right now… it’s catchy song!”
At that point, I had just recently started listening to Korn, and was beginning to appreciate lots of bands from an entirely new (to me) genre of music – Rock. Much to the dismay of my parents and two older sisters, my interest in Pop and Country music was waning, and this girl singing a song about “hitting it baby one more time” really wasn’t my cup of tea.
She looked so damn pretty on the album cover, though… erm, I mean, nothing. The song was awful.
I got home, watched the Zelda tape Tyler had recorded, and was mesmerized by what I saw. I wasn’t sure why he didn’t like it all that much, but it sure looked like fun. I kept the tape, and watched it over and over until I got the game that Christmas.
You lucky kids with your YouTubes and Vimeos and other video-watchin’ doo-dads don’t know how good you’ve got it.
I also think about Anita whenever I play this game. I was on one of my many playthroughs, the first since I met her, and I evidently had to open lots of doors with Zelda’s Lullaby one day. The next morning as we both sipped our cups of coffee, she told me; “I had dreams about that Zelda song last night… it wasn’t fun. I kinda hate it.”
So now, whenever I play Ocarina of Time 3D and have to prove my so-called “connection to the Royal Family“, I crank the volume on my 3DS. The glare I get from doing that is priceless!