The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the fifth installment in the Zelda series, and the first one to be released on the Nintendo 64. It was one the most highly anticipated games of its age, being listed by numerous websites and magazines among the greatest video games ever created. Released in 1998, it was the first game in the series that was displayed in 3D, its predecessors having a front or top-down view. It is generally considered to be a classic, being cited in numerous places as the best game of all time.
The Boy Without a Fairy
In the Kokiri Forest, all the children have their own guardian fairies that are bestowed upon them by the Great Deku Tree, except for one boy. This boy, who has been plagued by nightmares of a girl fleeing from a man clad in black, is named Link, and he has been ostracized for as long as he can remember. One day, the Great Deku Tree summoned him, sending Navi the fairy to lead the boy to the guardian spirit. In order to test Link’s courage, the Great Deku Tree bids him to venture inside his hollow and break a curse that was cast upon him by a wicked man dressed in black.
Link complies, but his efforts are for naught; the Great Deku Tree tells him afterwards that he was doomed before the young hero even started. With his final breath, the Great Deku Tree bestows upon Link the Spiritual Stone of the Forest, the Kokiri’s Emerald, and bids him to travel to Hyrule Castle to seek an audience with the “Princess of Destiny”.
After traveling across Hyrule Field and sneaking into the castle courtyard to see her, Princess Zelda tells Link of her prophetic dreams; she explains that she had seen him come from the forest, breaking through a veil of darkness. She also warns him about Ganondorf, the desert man clad in black whom Zelda believes symbolizes the dark clouds of her dream, speaking of his evil intention to steal the Triforce of Legend from the Sacred Realm. With the golden power of the goddesses, his desire to subjugate the world would come to fruition; to do this, he requires not only the three Spiritual Stones, but also the fabled Ocarina of Time.
Zelda insists that Link track down the other two Spiritual Stones in an effort to prevent Ganondorf from getting them. Link sets out for Death Mountain and Zora’s Domain, where he succeeds in aiding both the Gorons and the Zoras in preventing the disasters that Ganondorf had left in his wake in the pursuit of the Triforce, being awarded with the other two Spiritual Stones, the Goron’s Ruby and Zora’s Sapphire.
Link returns to Hyrule Castle to tell Zelda of his success, but instead sees those dark dreams he had come to pass. Ganondorf attacked Hyrule Castle in an attempt to steal the Ocarina of Time, and Princess Zelda had to flee with her attendant Impa in order to keep the relic from Ganondorf’s hands. As she passes Link on the drawbridge to Hyrule Castle Town, she throws the ocarina into the moat in an attempt to give him the chance to enter the Sacred Realm and retrieve the Triforce before Ganondorf could. Ganondorf charges across the bridge in pursuit, stopping only to have a minor confrontation with Link when the boy tries to stand against him. Dismissing Link as no threat, he speeds off in pursuit of the princess.
When Link retrieves the Ocarina of Time from the moat, he receives a telepathic message from Princess Zelda, bidding him to play the Song of Time within the Temple of Time, so that he may obtain the Triforce. Link makes his way to the temple, using the Spiritual Stones and the Ocarina of Time to open the Door of Time. Beyond it lay the Master Sword, the blade of evil’s bane, resting in the Pedestal of Time and serving as the last barrier to the Sacred Realm. Link draws the blade, unlocking the gateway to the Sacred Realm, and though he is accepted by the Master Sword as its master, he is sealed away within the Sacred Realm. Ganondorf appears, revealing that he suspected Link held the keys to the Sacred Realm all along, belittling him for practically giving him the Triforce. Ganondorf leaves him behind, crossing into the Sacred Realm.
The Hero of Time
The Triforce is a scale that measures the three virtues of the Goddesses; Power, Wisdom, and Courage. If the heart of one who obtains the Triforce carries all three of these in balance, they will get the sacred triangle intact, and with it the ability to govern all. If their heart is not in balance, it will split and only one of three parts will remain for the one who touched it: the part that embodies that which they most believe in. If an unbalanced heart would seek the Triforce, they must strive to acquire the lost two parts, which will reside within those chosen by destiny, who will hold the crest of the Goddesses on the backs of their hands.
When Ganondorf laid hands upon the Triforce, this prophecy came to pass; the sacred triangle split into three, and only the Triforce of Power remained in Ganondorf’s hands. Ganondorf proceeded to conquer the Sacred Realm, and became the self-proclaimed King of Evil; however, still his lust for power was not satiated, and he began hunting for those chosen by destiny who held the other two pieces of the Triforce that had escaped his grasp.
However, there was another prophecy that spoke of deliverance; it spoke of five Sages, who dwelt in five temples. Together with the hero chosen by the Goddesses, the awakened Sages would bind the evil power and return the light of peace to the world. Due to the evil power that now flowed from the Sacred Temples, those destined to become Sages could not hear the awakening call from the Sacred Realm, and for seven years Ganondorf’s dark power, enhanced by the Triforce piece he held, ran unchecked across all of Hyrule. His hunt for the other two pieces was in vain, for their bearers had all but disappeared from the world; Princess Zelda had gone into hiding and Link was sealed within the Sacred Realm. Still, Ganondorf’s power was virtually unopposed and in those seven years, the land of Hyrule was transformed from a pristine and peaceful place to a world of darkness and monsters.
When it seemed that all hope had faded, Link awakens from within the Sacred Realm. The Sage of Light, Rauru, informs of Ganondorf’s conquest over the past seven years and of the power of the Sages. Upon emerging from the Sacred Realm, a mysterious man known as Sheik, one of the survivors of the Sheikah tribe, aids him in his quest, telling him of where to begin in his search for the sages. Now able to wield the Master Sword, Link sets out to break the curse on all of the Sacred Temples. After freeing the five Sages trapped within these temples, Link returns to the Temple of Time and discovers that there is a seventh Sage who is destined to lead all the others. Sheik then reveals himself as Princess Zelda, who had disguised herself as a Sheikah to avoid Ganondorf’s pursuit, and to wait for Link’s return.
Princess Zelda had been the one chosen to receive the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link in turn had received the final piece, the Triforce of Courage; Link was completely unaware of this. In revealing herself to him, Zelda also exposes herself to Ganondorf, who has been waiting for her to appear; he promptly kidnaps her, bringing her to his tower fortress, constructed where Hyrule Castle once was. Link breaks the barrier around the fortress with the help of the other six Sages. Storming the keep, he confronts Ganondorf, and the two engage in an epic battle, the result of which would determine the fate of Hyrule and of the Triforce.
Without a strong and righteous mind, Ganondorf could not control the power of the gods, and was thus defeated. The Sages, with their power restored, are able to cast the incarnation of darkness into the void of the Evil Realm that was once the Sacred Realm prior to Ganondorf’s corruption. Princess Zelda herself closes the gateway, and thus, Ganondorf the dark lord vanishes from Hyrule. Zelda instructs Link to lay the Master Sword to rest and close the Door of Time, closing the road between times. She sends Link back to his original time, before any of the events of the game had occurred. However, he retains knowledge of Hyrule’s fate, and with this knowledge, he visits Princess Zelda in order to prevent this fate from happening. Link, who traveled through time to save the land, would be forever known in legend as the Hero of Time.
Third Dimension Transition
The gameplay of Ocarina of Time was revolutionary for its time; it has arguably made a bigger impact on later games in the series than any of its predecessors, despite having the same cores of exploration, dungeon, puzzles, and item usage. The Z-targeting mechanic introduced by Ocarina of Time has retained its core values in later 3D console games, as well as having been introduced in other video game series. Another key feature is the introduction of the “Action button,” which has different uses depending on Link’s environment; for instance, standing by a door prompt the button to change to “Open,” allowing him to proceed through the door.
The three dimensional environment, enhanced sound, and greater graphical capacity of the Nintendo 64 allowed for a truly immersive environment that was never seen before. This allowed for greater separation between cheerful environments, such as Hyrule Castle Town and Kokiri Forest, and comparatively dark areas such as Ganon’s Tower and the Shadow Temple.
Among the game’s particular mechanics, one of the most noteworthy is the time traveling system. The game is divided into two periods. In the first, Link is a child, and his mission is to retrieve sacred stones that are the key to open the Door of Time, behind which the blade of evil’s bane, the Master Sword, lies. As a child, he explores a peaceful Hyrule, the dangers he faces aren’t too concerning, and the dungeons aren’t too complex.
In the second period, Link is an adult, and has to visit temples to free the ancient Sages, whose goal is to seal Ganon away from the world of light. This is because the Gerudo King turned Hyrule into a much more dangerous land, and thus most regions of it suffer from curses that affect the inhabitants in some way. Other differences between these time periods are based on the side quests, tools, items, and treasures available. Because of this, some areas that child Link has access to cannot be accessed by adult Link, and vice versa. Most items that adult Link has access to cannot be used by child Link, and the reverse is true.
After a certain point in the game is reached, these two periods can be visited interchangeably; the only way to clear the game is perform the proper actions within each time period. This is similar to the Light/Dark dichotomy from A Link to the Past, and thanks to its notability in the game, adult Link became for most players a trademark image for the hero, despite the fact that most Zelda games feature Link as a child.
Music and Transportation
Ocarina of Time introduces the use of music to solve puzzles. This mechanic would later appear in Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Spirit Tracks. As new songs are learned, they can be used to solve puzzles, gain access to new areas, and warp to different locations. This game also introduces Epona, a horse Link can travel with after retrieving her from captivity within Lon Lon Ranch; she is very useful for traversing Hyrule Field, and there are certain side quests that cannot be completed without her. Epona can only be used in the adult portion of the game, as she is too young to carry Link when he is a child.
In this game, the player can also change Link’s equipment via the use of a dedicated subscreen within the pause menu. Over the course of his adventure, he finds different swords, shields, tunics, and other things as well. Each item gives Link a special characteristic, and most dungeons and zones can only be navigated and cleared when the hero is properly equipped. The standard equipment as a child is the Kokiri Tunic, Kokiri Boots, Deku Shield, and Kokiri Sword. The standard sword and shield change to the Master Sword and Hylian Shield as an adult, though the tunic and boots stay the same.
Adult Link, through the use of his equipment, gains the ability to stay underwater indefinitely with the Zora Tunic, stay in extremely hot places with the Goron Tunic, walk on the bottom of a body of water with the Iron Boots, and briefly walk on air with the Hover Boots. He can make full use of the Hylian Shield, can reflect light with the Mirror Shield, and both the Master Sword and Biggoron Sword are stronger than the Kokiri Sword. Although it is widely encouraged to have, the Biggoron Sword isn’t required to defeat Ganon.
Other equipment items remain stacked for a permanent effect on Link throughout the game; the include the Goron Bracelet and the Gauntlets (each allowing him to lift progressively larger objects), Zora Scales to dive deeper underwater, and an extended collection of bag upgrades for Bombs, Arrows, Bullet Seeds, and Rupees.
Ocarina of Time was originally intended to be a flagship for the Nintendo 64DD peripheral for the Nintendo 64 game console. However, as the release of the 64DD became progressively delayed, Nintendo chose to move Ocarina of Time to a standard 64 bit cartridge, with 32 mb of storage, only half the size of the 64DD disks; however, it is still the largest cartridge produced up to that time, which saved most of the important content. The shift from 64DD disk to N64 cartridge contributed to the game being delayed significantly. In early stages of development, the game was structured similarly to Super Mario 64, with Ganon’s Castle as the only setting, and various different rooms within the castle serving as dungeons.
Being the first 3D Zelda game, a new engine was used for this title; the same engine eventually went to use in Majora’s Mask. This engine was based on polygonal graphics and because of this, they would require a significant amount of memory in the cartridge; generating the graphics with simultaneity and consistency implied the sacrifice of other aspects, such as music or textures. To get around this issue, some techniques were used so that the game wouldn’t have issues in these different areas: When the camera is facing forward, the game only loads memory of what is in that direction, be it enemies, characters, or simply the space of the land there. This means that there is literally nothing currently loaded on the sides not being witnessed by the camera angle.
Despite being a 3D game, there is almost no voice acting from the characters; there are some slight exceptions, such as when Navi calls Link, when Link is wounded or yawns or falls, and a few characters scream or laugh. Like most Zelda games, Ocarina of Tie has its music composed by Koji Kondo. Surprisingly, the main theme of the series is absent, as the overworld theme for this game is new. The game also uses interactive music; more specifically, the background music will change when an enemy is close, and won’t stop that combat theme until the enemy is defeated or Link puts enough distance between himself and the enemy, as an example. Koji Kondo composed the ocarina melodies with only five tones of the first three musical notes.
Ocarina of Time is the first title in the series to show Hyrule in three dimensions. The sacred land is a vast region that houses many different ecosystems, which are populated by Hylians and other races. Hyrule Field is the central territory, and is the connector to other areas. It also surrounds Lon Lon Ranch, where milk is produced; located east from the field is Kokiri Forest, where Link lives along with the Kokiri; the forest is governed by the Great Deku Tree until his death. Found north of the field is Hyrule Castle Town, where most of the Hylians live, and where Princess Zelda is raised. It’s also the home of the Temple of Time, built to house the legendary Master Sword.
East from Hyrule Castle Twon is Kakariko Village, the home of the Sheikah tribe, until Impa opened it to the public; the Graveyard is there also, where the remains of the deceased Royal Family members rest. The village is the starting point to reach Death Mountain, an active volcano that houses the Goron race. Northeast from Hyrule Field is Zora’s Domain, a sparkling river and fountain inhabited by the Zora people, governed by King Zora until Princess Ruto takes the throne. Lake Hylia is found south from the field, and though not ruled by any race, it is the home of the sacred Zoran temple. Finally, Gerudo Desert is located west from the field, consisting of a valley, a fortress, a desert, and a temple; it is inhabited by the Gerudo tribe, and is considered isolated from the rest of Hyrule.
Initially, most of these areas are relatively safe from evil, and the few exceptions (like Kokiri Forest) have problems too specific to really affect the inhabitants; most of these problems relate to Ganondorf’s pursuit of the Spiritual Stones. Seven years later, however, every part of Hyrule is affected by the Evil King’s influence, so Link must visit the temples so that the Sages can be awakened, and the curses undone, one by one.
Changes Between Versions
Three different versions of the game were produced for the Nintendo 64, with cartridges available in different colors outside of Japan: 1.0 and 1.1 were available in gold or gray, and 1.2 was just in gray. Several minor changes occurred between each version, with a variety of text corrections and glitches fixed in 1.1. There were further corrections in 1.2, as well as the change of Ganondorf’s blood from crimson to green, and the alteration of the music heard within Fire Temple, to remove a sample of an Islamic prayer chant. The sample was taken from a commercially available sound library without realizing that that it contained Islamic references. The chanting was not removed due to public outcry, contrary to popular belief; it was removed due to a violation of Nintendo’s own policy to avoid religious material in games. All three versions of the game were made prior to its original release.
A further modified version of 1.2 was produced for the Nintendo GameCube. The Gerudo Symbol, as depicted on blocks, the Mirror Shield, and switches, was changed from an inverted crescent moon and star symbol (that was associated with Islam) to a unique design that was introduced in Majora’s Mask. Further changes and corrections were made to the game’s dialogue, along with minor technical changes. The Virtual Console version of the game is identical to the version released for the GameCube, but with Nintendo 64 button colors.
Ocarina of Time is currently the highest selling Zelda game, with 7.6 copies sold worldwide.
The game was universally praised by critics when it first released, receiving perfect scores from many reviewers. Features such as the Z-targeting system and the context-sensitive “Action button” were well-received; the GameCube and Wii versions of the game were praised as well. The game’s graphics and music also received praise; criticism on the game focused on the sometimes slow pacing of the story, such as within the Water Temple, and the use of MIDI for the music quality. Years after its release, it continues to be a popular game among fans as well, though there has been an ongoing debate as to whether the game is overrated. The success of the game has at some point overshadowed the potential success of other titles, making it a hard act to follow.
Ocarina of Time was ported to the GameCube twice. The first time was for a pre-order bonus that came with The Wind Waker, the second time being part of a special GameCube bundle that was a part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition.
Ocarina of Time was ported to the Chinese iQue Player, a localized version of the Nintendo 64, and was released in 2003. The dialogue was fully translated to Chinese, marking the first Zelda title to become available in China. The game was downloadable using a points card; the game is based on version 1.2. Lag within this version is virtually nonexistent due to the more powerful hardware on the iQue player; this is most notable in the collapse of Ganon’s Castle. In the cutscene, the castle collapses at such a speed that the audio becomes out of sync with the video. In addition, the Chinese dialogue scrolls faster than any other version of the game; due to these advantages, the iQue is desirable for speedruns – the world record speedrun currently in place was completed on the iQue.
The 1.2 Nintendo 64 (as opposed to 1.2 GameCube) version of the game is available for download on the Wii’s Virtual Console for 1000 Wii Points. The Virtual Console doesn’t support a rumble feature, rendering the Stone of Agony useless. Despite featuring the Nintendo 64 version of the game, the moon and star symbol within has still been changed, due to a patch that was put in the Virutal Console emulator and changes them.
A Nintendo 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time was announced by Nintendo during the E3 2010 conference. There are further tweaks made to the title aside from improved graphics, including a new system for equipping items, specifically the Iron Boots and the constant swapping that is needed within the Water Temple. There is also a Shard of Agony introduced in place of the Stone of Agony, which alerts Link of hidden caves using a sound effect rather than the Stone’s rumble.
1. Ocarina of Time was a first for a lot of stylistic changes throughout the series. Though art in past games has depicted Link with blond hair, Ocarina of Time is the first game that features the in-game model with blond hair. It also produced the first detailed model of Zelda’s character, namely her dress, which has been used in every game since. It was also the first title to portray a human form of Ganondorf.
2. With the release of Ocarina of Time, the original Japanese logo was discarded in favor of the western logo that was first seen in A Link to the Past.
3. The first three dungeons lacked big and small keys; the concept was introduced in Forest Temple, and the only place Link can find and use small keys prior is in the Treasure Chest mini-game in Hyrule Castle Town.
4. Ocarina of Time runs on a heavily modified version of Super Mario 64’s engine.
5. Outside of the Zelda franchise, the game caused an unprecedented impact on the gaming industry, to the point that other games and series were influenced by the gameplay from this title in the series.
6. Ocarina of Time, while not being the first in the series to use musical instruments or various songs, is the first in the series to allow the player to play these songs note by note, rather than simply selecting the item or using the song.
7. This game, like others in the series, has references to the Mario franchise; Talon and Ingo resemble Mario and Luigi, and there are painting that can be seen through the windows of the Hyrule Castle Courtyard featuring various Mario characters.
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