Decade Old Games – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

It’s easy to focus on the newest shiny consoles and games, but there’s plenty of merit in old games too! Decade Old Games will look to dig up and polish up some of these gems to see how they’re holding up!

The Legend of Zelda is one of those franchises. It’s been around since Adam was a lad and it’s (almost) never fallen foul to a bad entry in the series. I’ve chosen Ocarina of Time as my entry as, well, it’s a joy to behold. The fact that I could have gone back to as early as 1986 is slightly mental.

How was it received at the time?

To say that OoT (I can’t keep writing the whole thing) went down well would be a gross understatement of a gross understatement. In just over a month after release, it sold 2.5 million units; a very impressive feat even by today’s standards. It regularly wins, or takes high honours in lists with titles such as ‘Best Game Ever’ or ‘Most Awsome-est Amazing Game of All Time’ etc. With huge advances in how players controlled the game, a thumping storyline and fantastic visuals and environments, Nintendo knocked this one out of the park.

Hyrule Field
The breadth and size of Hyrule Field really was revolutionary

How does it hold up?

I’ll sum this up in one sentence; so, so well.

Miyamoto and the rest of the team who worked on OoT were so far ahead of their time with this game that the genre was not quite the same after its release. The fluid control system, which introduced new methods and yet seemed so intuitive, coupled with a sense of scale not previously seen on any console really helped define it. Even now, the first time the player sets out into Hyrule field is a awe inspiring experience. At the time, the idea that this one, massive environment could be only a small part of the locales on offer, and load seamlessly, was unheard of.

Graphics

It’s 15 years since the release of OoT and the graphics still hold up very well. It is of course not photo realistic and subsequent Zelda releases have taken the art direction down a different path, but for me the game looks great. Textures are probably where it falls down the most, as the characters themselves are well created, even though they are obviously low res. The camera can occasionally let the game down with some odd angles, however.
Ocarina of Time box art

Gameplay

The way Link handled in this game is buttery smooth. Whether it’s running through tall grass, sneak attacking spiders or running away from fire breathing bosses, the act of moving around the environments is a dream. The auto jump when coming to a ledge is great and is one example of how the game makes it easy to be Link, even if the jump itself can be less than perfect sometimes.

The progression of Link, from child to adult and his slow collection of gear is fantastic. The mechanics used for his items are fun and intuitive and some of the problem solving stemming from those items can be surprisingly puzzling. Combat itself is interesting and the variety of enemies keeps it fresh, as some techniques will work on some but not on others.

Early on in Ocarina of Time
Early on in Ocarina of Time

Story

Zelda games always follow a roughly similar pattern and this one doesn’t deviate too much. It’s linear, no option to fashion your own ending, but the twists and turns along the way keep it going. There are a couple of times where it sags a little, but in a game this long that’s to be expected. Speaking of longevity, Zelda will keep you occupied for many an hour, with plenty to explore and even more to do. I once whiled away a couple of hours just fishing. It benefits my character almost not at all, it’s just fun.

Where is it now?

The Zelda series is, of course, more popular than a popular thing, with regular releases for Nintendo’s current console. Up next is another Legend of Zelda title on Wii U; I’m sure there will be many more to come.

I want it! Where can I get it?Zelda Box Art

Want it you should and get it you must.

Do you have an N64 gathering dust somewhere? You can pick up the cartridge on Amazon for an outrageous £18, to be honest it’s still popular and not that cheap! If you own a 3DS, there’s a version there too.

If you’ve not played it, well, why not?

James Oliver

I have a keen interest in anything from the original Star Wars trilogy through to the Star Wars Expanded Universe – as well as everything that encompasses. Mostly interested in things which fly or make noise (ideally both), I like playing with new gadgets and buying phones on a whim.