Review by: Chris Harding
Published: January 15, 1999
Memories. It seems like just yesterday I was wasting my first year of college playing 8-bit Nintendo from dawn to dusk. It was the dawning of a new generation of video game systems, and a title was revolutionizing the “home” frontier. No longer would games have to follow in their “stand up” cousins footsteps. Fading was the idea of corner coin-ops and having to head to the local mall for video game fun. Eleven years ago, Nintendo took charge and paved the way for video gaming in the home. Their idea, one that would break all known barriers in the video game world, was to offer all the glitz of the arcade and add a never before seen element of depth and story.
In 1987, The Legend of Zelda was born, and with it came the age of video game enlightenment. Zelda brought more than a plotline and an in-game save feature, it had vision, style and staying power. Two hardware upgrades, four games and twelve years later Nintendo has culminated their efforts with what some say is the greatest video game of all time. Zelda and Link are back with more beauty and spice than ever before in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and with it are more innovations for the series than all four previous games combined. It’s been updated with a 3D, third person perspective set in one of the most complete, fully fantastic three dimensional worlds ever, and includes an H.G. Wells time travel option to boot. Yes, I did say time travel — we’ll get to that essential piece of the game later.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time takes place in the land of Hyrule, a mystical realm full of various types of terrain, people, animals and monsters. Hyrule and its neighboring lands were formed when three goddesses — Din the Goddess of Power, Nayru the Goddess of Wisdom, and Farore the Goddess of Courage — combined to shape the world and breath life into it. As a token of their holy bond with the world, the Goddesses created a magical artifact called the Triforce. Kept hidden and protected, the Triforce is said to stand on sacred ground. The promise is, as long as the Triforce endures, so will peace, harmony and prosperity in the land of Hyrule.
With the protection of the Triforce, Hyrule has become a prosperous kingdom. One of the neighboring mystical lands near the kingdom is a huge forest called the land of the Kokiri. A land of forest dwellers, druids if you will, each of the Kokiri has a guardian fairy to guide them through life. That is, all but one of them, and his name, your name, is Link. Link hasn’t been sleeping very well, dreaming of an evil horseman riding by with a frightened girl clasped in his arms. A plea for help is the lasting memory he wakes with each day.
This is the premise for the largest adventure to ever cross your television. The game begins one day as you awaken to a small voice telling you to get up. It’s the fairy Navi, sent by the Great Deku Tree, father of the forest. She’s here to help you and take you to him. In the forest, you’ll learn from the fellow children how to sidestep, swim, climb, drop from great heights, grab, throw, dive, open things, speak, read and jump. Nintendo has listened to a growing complaint about the jump factor in video games and has adapted Link so he automatically jumps when close to an edge. You can say good-bye to days of endless jumping frustration, and for many people, this is a welcome feature.
In the forest training grounds you can learn basic combat techniques, such as the thrust attack, horizontal and vertical cuts, roll attack, backflip, targeting and the jump attack. The know-it-all brothers will teach you how to use the icons to change your view, equip items and use maps. Granted, they are a little wordy in the telling, but what can you expect when they know it all? The entire interface is taught to you by characters on screen. It’s enjoyable, easy to learn, and allows players of all ages and abilities to feel right at home playing 64-bit Zelda. Once you get a sword and shield and face the Great Deku Tree, you learn of the great threat facing the land of Hyrule. You begin your journey to defeat Ganondorf, the dark figure from your nightmares, who is quite real.