Welcome to Games Growing Up, where I’ll be talking about games and how they age. The first game I’m looking at is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a game that revolutionized the Zelda franchise. The first 3D game in a mostly top down perspective games series did not disappoint fans and critics alike. This game has been given a lot of praise since its release back in 1998, being considered by many to be one of the greatest video games ever made. It has been nearly 18 years since this game was released, how does it hold up in 2016?
I’m going to be focusing on controls, gameplay, graphics, music, and overall quality of the game in these articles, forgoing story, as story is something that doesn’t really age. The game is an action/adventure game, and is set in third person view. The main way of attacking enemies is from swinging your sword, shooting with bow and arrow, and bombs. Link, the character that the player controls, moves quite smoothly, and the controls don’t take much getting used to. The only issue I can find with the controls is the targeting system. Since enemies are moving like you, the game implements a system in where you can lock on to them. This is very convenient, except for that Link controls like a tank while you’re targeting. This shouldn’t be an issue, unless you’re facing more than one enemy, which can lead to many cheap shots by other enemies. The game requires you to ride a horse, which is pretty simple until you take the horse into a tight location, where the hit detection with walls starts to mess up. Besides the targeting system and horse controls, the controls are solid, and still hold up fine.
Turning what was always a 2D game into a 3D game really doesn’t seem like an easy task, but Nintendo was able to do so very well for the time. The game for the time looked pretty good for N64 standards, and the graphics are consistent, with the exception of trees and bushes, which are just 2D sprites and kind of stick out nowadays. While the graphics looked good at the time, they really don’t hold up nowadays. The characters look very polygonal and jaggy, and are sometimes almost a pain to look at. The enemies don’t look as bad as the main character and NPCs, but they’re still nothing special. The game also only runs at 20 frames per second, which really stands out when most games today run at 60 plus. The graphics may have been good for the time, but today they’re nothing special.
The gameplay of Ocarina of Time was different than anything Zelda fans had ever seen before, and was revolutionary for the time. There are many different locations to explore, and a central hub of Hyrule Field connects all of these areas. As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of combat, and this is where the gameplay starts to falter. When in combat with enemies, there is a lot of waiting involved. Many times you’ll just be standing there waiting for your enemy to attack you, block their attack, and attack them. This is with regular enemies and bosses alike, and can be a bit annoying, as it slows down the game. Many of these enemies are found in dungeons, where the majority of the game takes place. These dungeons have a very simple formula: go through each room, solve puzzles, collect items, and beat the boss. The dungeon formula has remained the same throughout the Zelda series, but in Ocarina of time, the dungeons honestly aren’t enjoyable to me. Many of them are blandly designed and have boring puzzles. I can only say I enjoy one of the dungeons, and that’s the Shadow Temple, near the end of the game. The dungeons heavily rely on the item you find inside them, and once you get that item, it’s used for almost every puzzle thereafter in that dungeon. Once the dungeon is over, however, that item is seldom used ever again, with the exception of the Hookshot and Bow. Some of the dungeons are super cryptic as well, with the Fire Temple being very large and not really telling you where to go throughout. The Water Temple, which is the bane of many gamer’s existence, is the low point of the game. You are required to walk on the floor of the temple, under water, which requires you to equip the iron boots. Every single time you want to equip or unequip them, you have to pause the game, and select the boots. Along with the temple being confusing and not telling you where to go, this makes the whole dungeon a drag. While the dungeons are considered the high point of the Zelda series, they’re my low point of Ocarina of Time. The world outside the dungeons, with the exception of a few places, is very empty and boring to cross. The gameplay of Ocarina of Time is the low point of the game for me.
While the gameplay today is lackluster, the music of the game is fantastic. Each dungeon has a different theme, and many of the game’s tracks are legendary, with the highlights being the themes for Gerudo Desert, The Forest Temple, and Zelda’s Lullaby. Songs from this game are still popular in gaming today.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time suffers from being the first of its kind, and every 3D Zelda after this release improved on the formula. For the time, gamers had seen nothing like the game, and had nothing to compare it with. In 2016, I cannot say that I enjoy playing Ocarina of Time very much. With major gameplay issues that are fixed in the later installments, there’s no reason to revisit Ocarina of Time, sans the 3DS remake, which fixes some of the issues. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has not aged well.