Ocarina of Time tells two important stories that puts the rest of the series in context. The first is of Hyrule’s creation at the hands of the three Goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore. The second, the bulk of the story, is of the Imprisoning War, the first time Hyrule had to face the tyranny of Ganondorf, and his eventual defeat by the first Hero and the Seven Sages.
Knowledge of both are indispensable to fans of the series, and form the core of our understanding of Hyrule. As usual, the story takes a back seat to the gameplay and is simple enough for casual gamers to digest. Final Fantasy this isn’t. 10
The gameplay is the purest slice of Shigeru Miyamoto since Super Mario Bros. It revolutionised 3D action games, with a context sensitive action button, and lock-on. Depending on your situation, the A button has a different use. So, if you are next to a door, press A and it will open. If you are next to Epona (your faithful steed), it changes to a saddle button.
The Z-targeting is perhaps the most revolutionary. Instead of Tomb Raider’s clumsy auto-lock, or many platformers “he’s behind you but you can’t see him because the camera’s stuck in a wall over there so good luck attacking him” method, Ocarina Of Time gives you the option of locking on to enemies (or an object or NPC) with Z. Once you are locked on, you can use many different fighting techniques and different jumps by using the A and B buttons. If the enemy jumps behind you, Link will still follow them, meaning fluid combat.
The control system isn’t faultless, but any minor nitpicking faults (like the lock-on distance) you can find are addressed fully in Majora’s Mask. 10
At the N64’s unveiling, Nintendo showed a demo of link having a fight with a Knight, and everybody was amazed that a console could perform something so advanced. Compared to Ocarina of Time, it was incredibly basic - more of a difference than the infamous GameCube Spaceworld trailer and Twilight Princess.
You could argue that Ocarina Of Time is the best looking game on the Nintendo 64 bar Majora’s Mask. The fields are massive, and the locations are breathtaking the first time you discover them, and pretty much every time after that. I can remember just standing in Hyrule Field and watching the sunset and how beautiful it was. Then, of course, I would heroically run to the closing Castle gate before the Stalchilds attacked me…
The bosses are equally amazing, thanks in large part to their grandeur. Big is a key word in this game, big and vast. Hyrule field is both, and it’s simply amazing how far you can see. You can see Death Mountain in the background, and it’s not until a little later in the game that you realise you can actually climb to its summit.
Another favourite of mine is the waterfall in Gerudo Valley. Standing on its crossing bridge and watching it is one thing, but diving into the deep chasm that it falls into is something else. At the time, a paradigm shift in gaming. 8
Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda to include surround sound. With it, you can literally pinpoint where enemies are around you, and that makes fighting in 3D a lot easier. Apart from that, the actual tunes aren’t really that amazing. I mean, they can still bring a tear to the eye, but when you listen to the orchestrated Ocarina Of Time album, you hear how things could have been had the N64 been able to handle more than MIDI files. 9
As soon as you step out of your ‘home’, you feel like you belong in the land of Hyrule. The place seems underpopulated sometimes, and a bit cardboard, but you still feel like you know everybody and it just captivates you.
However, if you have played Majora’s Mask and have seen Clock Town in all its real-time glory, some town scenes seems a bit lackluster. Unlike Majora’s Mask, the dungeons in Ocarina Of Time are all very atmospheric, the Forest Temple in particular having the ability to send shivers down your spine. 10
This game changed it all. Hailed as the Best Game Ever, Ocarina Of Time bought The Legend Of Zelda to the masses, boosted the N64’s sales, and took the series into the third dimension. 10
This game not only deserves its legion of perfect scores, but its army of awards. It has received many of both, and I don’t have any awards, so I’ll give it our only 10.