Ocarina of Time & Majora's Mask - Does It Hold Up?
If you own a Wii and you're not playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I really don't know what's wrong with you. I mean, I guess there are a bunch of other awesome AAA titles currently out, but Skyward Sword is a grand masterpiece and a true testament to Nintendo's prowess as far as that legendary series is concerned. You don't have to be a biased gamer to see that Skyward Sword is a game worth experiencing.
After spending some time with Link's latest adventure, I decided to revisit his two glorious Nintendo 64 escapades. Would they stand the test of time? Of course they would! But how would they hold up after the recent release of Skyward Sword?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Link's jump to 3D was a practically flawless fantasy romp through a massive Hyrule that starred amazing characters, featured a lovely soundtrack, and looked absolutely stunning for its time. It's no longer 1998, though. Standards for games have increased dramatically, and the bar for what separates a good game from a great game has been raised exponentially. That said, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of those games that never gets old, and my recent run through this title proves it.
What's so remarkable about Ocarina of Time is that you can take elements that may not exactly hold up to today's standards and then argue why they do hold up or what aspects of those aged elements still hold up fairly well. The visuals, for example, are littered with plenty of blurry textures and polygons, which isn't exactly acceptable these days. Even then, there's a distinct art style that really stands out. Designs on walls, architecture, and character models all have a wonderful aesthetic charm. No, the game may not be beautiful like it once was, but it's still refreshingly artsy.
As for the music, yes, it's super MIDI-based, but the soundtrack in Ocarina of Time is still one of the best collections of music ever put together. Every song in the game is memorable, and whether you're listening to the serene music in Zora's Domain or the eerie theme in the Spirit Temple, each song hits the right notes. Simply put, the music in Ocarina of Time is some of the best of its era. Hell, it's some of the best of any generation.
It should be noted that the mechanics in the game have aged a bit. This is a game from 1998, after all, so it would be foolish to expect Ocarina of Time to flow as smoothly as other more modern titles. Still, though there are some distinct '90s quirks, the game is almost entirely solid by today's standards. If I were to nitpick, all I could really complain about are the slightly stiff animations and issues with switching Link's boots using the pause menu. Other than that, Ocarina of Time is still the grand adventure it once was.
This is the Zelda title that revolutionized the series and laid the groundwork for what we see in Zelda games today. It was practically perfect back in 1998, and in 2011--after having experienced what Skyward Sword has to offer--Ocarina of Time is still an incredible, amazing, and practically perfect journey through Hyrule. Its age shows ever so slightly, but that doesn't take away from the grand experience that this golden package has to offer.
The verdict: If for some reason you never played Ocarina of Time, please take the time to experience this wondrous journey. This is still a truly special game that should be seen, heard, and played.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
Following my quick look back at one of the most iconic games in the history of the medium, I decided to take its direct sequel for a spin. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is one of the most unique games in the series, but it's also one of the best. Featuring a much darker storyline than previous entries in the series, Majora's Mask was equally impressive and chilling.
The game runs on a slightly updated Ocarina of Time engine, which pretty much means its shortcomings are mostly the same as far as presentation goes. That said, Nintendo really managed to pump out a bit more juice with Majora's Mask, offering a greater draw distance, less fog, and improved animations. It's still not too advanced when compared to modern games, but Majora's Mask has the same strong points as Ocarina of Time, and those strong points are actually plenty richer as far as quality is concerned.
Majora's Mask is a unique Zelda game. It's much shorter than most other entries in the series. Its emphasis on time limits creates a hectic vibe, and it's arguably the darkest game in the series. Those qualities make Majora's Mask worth playing. If you have yet to experience this one-of-a-kind Zelda adventure, you'll be glad to know that it's still totally relevant and one hell of a ride from start to finish.
The verdict: Majora's Mask is easily one of the most risky entries in the Zelda series, but as a result of the risks taken, it's also one of the best. It holds up arguably better than all previous entries in the franchise to release before Skyward Sword.