Until recently, I held quite the grudge against the Nintendo 64 and all of the proponents of Ocarina of Time. Due to my (shitty) memories, I felt it was inferior in uncountable ways to A Link to the Past and especially Twilight Princess. While I’m still not a champion of the console, I have to admit I have been wholly swayed into a bias for the 3D Zelda games. The atmosphere capable of being manifested in the 3D space completely eclipses that of the earlier titles and while the characters are not deep or fleshed out by any means, they are quirky, endearing, and sometimes surprisingly creepy despite their mostly momentary screen times.
The unease stemming from some characters (as well as certain locations and events) comes in small bursts, but still manages to outshine Twlight Princess in this regard, entirely. Nothing in that game comes close to touching my spine the way Ocarina now has. These moments (and all the rest) can be experienced in a way that feels surprisingly free-form in spite of the obvious, staggered exploration tropes of the series. I deliberately wandered without a guide as it had been so long since I had last experienced Ocarina. The vast majority of secrets are intuitable, the mini-games skew to the easy end of the spectrum, and the collection system can be milked of all its significant rewards in the course of normal play, if you have attentive ears.
The only negatives I can bring to bear are an aspect of the z-targeting system and the Water Temple. The targeting works fine for keeping the camera on enemies and allowing one to strafe, but Link’s movements feel a bit haphazard and I found myself striking air or facing backwards while attacking, early on. Mayhaps there’s a bit more homing to Link’s actions in the subsequent games? Still, it was the first use of the system and does far more good than harm. Regarding the temple, I personally had no problems whatsoever with changing the water levels, but was left stuck by the trollish placement of a time block.
As hackneyed a sentiment as it is, I now truly understand why this game is so highly regarded. It is the definitive, classic Zelda experience and it’s no surprise that it is still played, speedrun, glitched, and revered to this day.
Buyer’s Guide: Originally available on the Nintendo 64. Rereleased as part of the The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition (with its Master Quest iteration, the original Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, and Majora’s Mask,) on the GameCube. It was recently remade for the 3DS, as well. The cheapest and easiest route for most will be the Virtual Console, however.
4½ Inexplicably Ginger Villains out of 5