Wednesday, September 08, 2010
A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It's 1998, and we all know what happened in this legendary year. Of course, what else? Exxon announced a $73.7 billion deal to buy Mobil, thus creating Exxon-Mobil, the second-largest company on the planet by revenue! Other than that, I can't really think of anything. No, seriously, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released! A game that needs no introduction, Ocarina of Time is probably the video game community's collective Best Game Ever. From the moment the emotional title screen showed the hero Link riding across a moonlit field on his noble steed, you knew you were in for an experience that had never before been seen. Ocarina of Time acted as the Mario series' Super Mario 64. All the familiar elements that built up the Zelda franchise were there, including multi-layered dungeons, bombs and arrows, rupees inexplicably hiding inside tufts of grass, and all that stuff. By using the mega-awesome power of the Nintendo 64, however, Hyrule was utterly transformed into an eye-opening world of 3D wonder. Using the Z-targeting system, combat was also changed for the better, granting Link a rigorous set of fighting techniques. Dungeons, of course, took on a new atmospheric life with complex and brilliant designs that took advantage of Link's new dimension. Indeed, this installment of The Legend of Zelda made everything new again and had enough fresh ideas to reboot a series several times over.
I was going to make a Navi joke, but I'm really sick of those. Instead, I'm just going to say that this game is RAD.
Ocarina of Time was all about exploring; exploring, adventure, and all the elements that make a great fantasy quest so great. The tale of the three goddesses of the Triforce, the evil king Ganondorf, and the shocking time-traveling plot twist will always be remembered, and the epic scope of Ocarina of Time ensured this fact. Hyrule came to life with its incredible 3D setting, allowing the player to truly experience the world through Link's eyes. You, the player, could scale the fiery Death Mountain itself, leap from the sparkling waterfall of Zora's Domain, explore the puzzling Lost Woods, and gallop across the vast plains of Hyrule field. It all felt magically real and is quite honestly one of the most amazing experiences in video game history. It didn't hurt that the game looked excellent, and sounded just as good. The soundtrack ranged from happy shop ditties to haunting ocarina songs, leading you through each location and story sequence with the proper tone. Some genius at Nintendo HQ even had the idea to let the player use an ocarina to play songs and affect the world in highly interesting ways, thereby granting the game its very name. This revolutionary and important game was a quality product from start to finish, and it's hard to forget the battles, journeys, and characters encountered along the way. There's no denying it: whether you compare it to any other game from 1998, be it Banjo-Kazooie, Pokemon, or StarCraft, there's no topping Ocarina of Time.