I can still remember the day I received my Nintendo 64 and a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I was about 9 years old, and the memory of playing through such an epic adventure impacts me to this day.
The first time I had ever seen Zelda in action was at my friend’s house. His dad was playing the game and it was like love at first sight. I knew that I needed that game, which was when I embarked on the mission of begging and pleading my parents to buy it for me. They didn’t.
But Christmas day came, and I, of course, woke up at 5:00 AM, too excited to sleep. I woke my parents and sister up, took them downstairs and sat them down. My eyes were drawn toward the large, rectangle box under the tree with my name on it and knew that it would be my first victim of unwrapping. I ripped through the wrapping paper eagerly and saw what I had wanted, my very own Nintendo 64 with a copy of The Legend of Zelda. I threw my fists in the air and screamed, “YES!!!” repeatedly (almost like the "Nintendo Kid" except not as bad). After opening the rest of my presents and thanking my parents and Santa I immediately ran upstairs with my load of presents. I shoved the bulky plastic cartridge into the machine, flicked the black switch to "on" and was greeted with the soothing sound of an Ocarina playing while I watched Link ride Epona across Hyrule field. I hit the big red start button and was placed in the Menu setup where I oh so cleverly chose the name "Link" and started my adventure.
The Legend of Zelda is a hard series not to like. Ocarina is considered by many to be the best game of all time. I, for one, have to agree. The game thrusts you into the shoes of Link, a young misplaced fairy-boy living in Kokiri Forest. Of course, Ocarina of Time wasn’t the first game in the Zelda franchise, but it was the first one that moved into a living, breathing, 3D world. Nintendo managed to pull this off with a huge amount of success. I was too young and naive to appreciate the hard-work Miyamoto and the Nintendo team had put into the game, but I wasn’t too young to know how fun it was.
I still remember the first levels of the game: the crafty way that you get your first sword, The Great Deku Tree, Death Mountain, and the one that gave me the most trouble, Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. The levels were made so amazingly that they still compete with and influence the level-designs made today on next-gen consoles.
A lot of Zelda games are based around one item, Ocarina of Time being based around an Ocarina. With the Ocarina you could do so many things; you could warp between different levels, you could change the time of day, you could change the weather, you could call your trusty steed, you could unlock secret item–the possibilities felt endless. Then when you add in the Master Sword and the Temple of Time, you could jump between 7 years of your life, creating a unique gaming experience. When you travel between your child form and adult form, Hyrule changes right before your eyes. Ganondorf has taken control, and the happy world you once knew as a child has become a wasteland that is home to a number of different monsters and ghosts. It is your job to restore the peace and happiness and save your Princess.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time really is the pinnacle of gaming. I can confidently say that this game stands the test of time, seeing that I have beaten it a number of different times over the past several years. The ending is just so amazing, and the final boss battle with Ganon is still remembered as one of the best boss battles in the history of gaming.
Writing about it right now gives me those feelings of recollection that almost make me tear-up (I know, I’m a girly-man). I really cannot express my love for this game enough, like I said so many times in this article it really is amazing and is as good as gaming gets. No other Zelda game has come close to this one and it was the first game of its time to try something so epic. We see games like Oblivion and Mass Effect testing the limits and creating broader and wider experiences with more choice, but these games didn’t so greatly impact the way we play games the way The Legend of Zelda has. This is the real reason why The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is such a great game.
I consider myself lucky that I spent a good chunk of my childhood with Link by my side. I know that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time shaped me, and is what made me who I am today, a hardcore gamer.