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The Induction of Ocarina of Time in GZ Hall of Fame

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, or for the lack of better terms: A kid with a green tunic, a magical ocarina of time-bending abilities, a beautifully crafted world, and a mystical, legendary sword. Nintendo concocted a recipe for a game of epic proportions and it has now earned itself the first ever spot in GameZone’s Hall of Fame.

Nintendo was no stranger to grand Zelda storylines, but Ocarina was the first of the series to bring it all into glorious 3D. The story revolved around a young Kokiri boy named Link and his trusty – and not to mention annoying – fairy guide, aptly named Navi, thrust into an adventure to stop the evil Ganondorf. His quest took him from his Kokiri Forest home, to the watery lands, inhabited by the elegant Zora, to rocky caverns occupied by the burly Goron, as well as many other dangerous locations across the land of Hyrule.

Ocarina of Time was a game far ahead of its time. At the time of its release, it was the largest game by far on the Nintendo 64 (a whopping 32 MB), meaning it was packed with an incredible amount of content. Aside from the main story-line, the game had numerous optional side-quests, which unlike today, weren't the standard in the climate of 1998.

Being called the Ocarina of the Time, meant that a great amount of focus was on Link's musical device. It was the first game which required the player to learn, and playback songs for different situations that required it. Each song was meant to evoke an emotion out of the player. Hearing Zelda's majestic theme gave me a sense of hope, while the playful Saria's Song brought back my youth, young and adventurous as Link was, and when it seemed like the future world was lost, the Prelude of Light uplifted my spirits, knowing I'll make everything right again. Koji Kondo composed a memorable soundtrack that has people humming the tunes, and buying an ocarina of their own to this day.

Aside from the mystical ocarina, Link's equipment was much expanded from past Zelda games. Not only was Link able to acquire different swords and shields, a hookshot, and a boomerang, which are but a few of the many items, but he also could have a change of attire. Link could now don a red tunic and blue tunic to overcome obstacles in specific temples that stood before him. The variety of equipment was crucial; it provided access to locations otherwise inaccessible and opened a whole new world of experimentation.

Zelda, as a series, has excelled at grand dungeons and challenging the player with puzzle-solving, and Ocarina upped the ante. Each dungeon was more elaborate than the last, spanning multiple floors, and each ending in a larger-than-life boss fight. Gohma, the massive, one-eyed arachnid that towered over young Link is initially invincible to the broadsword; that is until shot in the eye with a slingshot brought the beast down, letting it be sliced up. Each boss required puzzle-solving to overcome, usually requiring an item obtained in that dungeon. Whether it was the boomerang to slash off the Barinade's tentacles, the bombs to throw into King Dodongo's mouth, or the fairy bow to shoot out the Poe Sisters' pictures to make them vulnerable, it was all a matter of exploiting an enemies’ weak point, using each of the different items acquired throughout Link's adventure.

Sure the graphics look dated to today's standards, but Ocarina's fantastic gameplay and memorable story still has gamers gripping on to their controllers to save Hyrule to this day. Even after so many years, I still recall sneaking past the guards at Zelda's Castle, and meeting her for the first time. I remember the first time I stepped into the Temple of Time, lifting up the Master Sword, and seeing an adult Link for the very first time. I remember witnessing the sheer horror of the future world ruled by Ganondorf. Why do I remember? It is because Ocarina's style of storytelling immersed me in an unforgettable world that I actually cared about.

What Mario 64 did for 3D platformers, Ocarina of Time did for the action-adventure genre. Its impact was seen in THQ's Darksiders, which was heavily influenced by Zelda's style of gameplay, but with a more mature theme attached. Whether it was from the similar weapon and item functions, or the mimicry in dungeon puzzle-solving, it was apparent that the foundation which was laid by Ocarina of Time, is still hugely successful today. The adventure that started on Nintendo 64, later ported to the Gamecube, Wii's Virtual Console, and now announced to be remade on the upcoming 3DS, has fans continuously attempting to find a way to scratch their itch to save Hyrule time and time again, in the years to come.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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