It’s only a few weeks now, before the arrival of the Nintendo Switch.
As much as I’m counter to the preorder culture, I did buy my Nintendo Switch only minutes after watching the January presentation by Nintendo. I got my Wii U very late in its life, around Holidays 2015, so I’ve had to rush to get the games I wanted for the platform, which I’m still enjoying to be honest.
I’m in the very small group of people who get more out of their Wii U than their PS4. In my house, it’s Sony’s console that gathers dust, while the Wii U is always ready to go, and will continue to do so once the Switch arrives. I’ll just have two Nintendo consoles to play with.
It’s not long now, before I receive my new console and once again leap into Hyrule to save it from the clutches of evil, because of course I preordered The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
As we move ever closer to the console and game’s launch, I thought it worthwhile to look back at some of my favourite titles in the Legend of Zelda series series.
Let’s start with number 5: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
“What? Number 5?” I hear you ask in outrage. But yes, it’s true, Ocarina of Time is at the edge of my Top 5 list.
Many people put The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time near the top because it made the transition for the series from 2D to 3D graphics, which is true, but I look for more in games than pretty visuals—and at the time, Ocarina of Time’s were the prettiest.
Don’t get me wrong, that transition was a momentous occasion for the series and helped propel it into the future. Without Ocarina of Time, we wouldn’t have had any of the games that came after it and the gaming industry would have been deprived of the “Z-Targeting” mechanic, basically the ability to lock onto enemies and switch movement to pivot around them, yet another innovation brought by Nintendo.
I loved the story. Before Skyward Sword came along, this was the origin story for the series, the one that explained where the major players came from, expanded on the mythology, told us how the Triforce reacts when someone touches it, how it will split if the person doesn’t have balance in the three ‘virtues’, sending one piece to other chosen ones.
My first Legend of Zelda game was the Super Nintendo entry, of which I’ll speak in a future article, but for me it was great to see how Ocarina of Time linked to that title. I understood now how the Golden Land became the Dark World, how Ganondorf became trapped in it, why he sends his sorcerer, Agahnim to look for the descendants of the sages.
Ocarina of Time also did wonders for the people of Hyrule, expanding on the races, their culture often defined by how close they are to a given landmark or even temple. Kakariko village lives on the Shadow of Death Mountain, under the constant threat of an eruption, while also having constant reminders of the darkest moments of Hyrule’s past via its graveyard and Shadow Temple.
Yes, Navi and Kaepora Gaebora are annoying as hell, but in this expansive map, we needed the guidance. Sure, I would’ve preferred to have someone like Sahasrahla, who told you the important bits, marked things on your map and let you go on your merry way, but even with the incessant reminders, Navi helped fill some gaps in the narrative, and was a clever union of gameplay and storytelling.
But when it comes to the elements that make up the game experience, from the gameplay to the challenge, I’ve always felt Ocarina of Time lacks something.
Because Nintendo was making the transition to 3D with this series, Ocarina of Time suffers from “simplicity.”
Most of the puzzles are too easy, just needing you drop a bomb here, push a block there.
The Water Temple is the only one with higher complexity, and not that much when you think about it. As much as it’s kicked our butts in the past, the Water Temple is all about water level management, raising or lowering the water to open new paths, sometimes over and over as you acquire more keys.
Starting with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the series slipped into something I’m not very keen on when it comes to its bosses and it’s the 3-stun kill. Every boss has a major weakness to exploit, which leaves them open to your attacks. Even if you attack normally, without using fancy moves or speedrunning exploits, it will take you three of these stuns to kill the boss. Be it throwing bombs into Dodongo’s gullet or fighting off Bongo Bongo’s hands, three is the magic number. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule, but it is certainly a pattern. It makes boss behaviour predictable, as you know when you’re close to defeating them.
And finally and despite what I said earlier, Ocarina of Time marked the beginning of the incessant hand-holding in Legend of Zelda titles, with NPCs there to constantly remind you where you need to go, often relaying repetitive information.
So, there you have it, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is number 5 on my list of favourite Legend of Zelda titles. It did great things for the series, but it’s a bit lacking on the difficulty side.
Come back next week for another of my favourite Legend of Zelda games as we count down to the release of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.