Graphics: The graphics are fantastic, and feature stunning, vibrant colors. The detail of individual objects, animals (especially Kaepora Gaebora the owl) are inspiring. Zelda 64 has definitely issued a cucco call wake-up to the rest of the video game world, and it’s a loud one. The amount of detail in this game is unrivaled, right down to the facial hair on Ganondorf. It takes full advantage of the 64-bit console power, with use of volumetric fog, colored lighting and brilliant texture mapping. The terrain in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are huge, detailed, and designed extremely well with logic in mind. The transformations from day into night and night into day are also a big plus to the visuals. I had given this game a five-star rating for its well deserved graphical achievements, but then I played Turok 2, a testament to the fact that no one is king for very long in the fast-paced world of video games.
Interface: The interface is easy to understand and a breeze to use. However, even though the aforementioned auto-jump feature is welcome for many, I have never gotten used to the lack of a jump button. I especially like the way hints are given as to what actions can be taken. Control is excellent and the easy-to-assign button configuration is genius. Saving is a no brainer, but having to start back at the beginning most times when you restore, a la Mario 64, is annoying. But overall a very well done interface that has a friendly and intuitive feel.
Gameplay: Playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is highly addicting; I found myself in front of my television for weeks at a time. It grabs your attention, pulls you in, and keeps you interested – never a dull moment with frequent surprises. You will find yourself playing just to complete that ONE thing, thinking then you’ll quit, but that never happens. The size of the game is also worthy of special mention. It took me a long time to finish this game, and I used the official strategy guide more than I’ll admit to if you ask.
Sound FX: The sound FX are outstanding. From the crow of the cuccos announcing the coming of morning to the insects, frogs and birds of the night forest reminding you that you’re not alone, this is a sound experience for the ages. I was taken back to Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark by the sound of the huge rolling boulder I saw coming toward me in the Lost Forest. The sounds of the market made me a little giddy each time I entered. The multitude of people and animals you see, hearing the dogs barking, the chicken cackling as it’s being chased, and snippets of conversation is utterly realistic. Each animal, enemy, or weapon has a unique sound. How they did this on a cartridge is unknown to normal people, only the suits at Nintendo know.
Musical Score: The music in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is divine. So often in video game adventures the music has one style — happy go lucky. That isn’t the case here. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of happy songs in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but some of the music definitely has ominous overtones and leaves you with a sense of foreboding. To my delight, I was able to play many different songs on my ocarina, thirteen of which played an integral part in the game a la the pied piper. I loved the way music was used to help you find your way in the Lost Woods, and I must admit I would have never found Saria without it. The music adds so much to this game and is good enough to be sold all by itself.
Intelligence & Difficulty: This game achieved the right balance between outrageous fun and utter frustration, taking you to the edge of puzzle solving. Some of the puzzles are time based, some can only be completed as a child, others as an adult, and still others just take a steady hand. The enemies vary from the man-eating Deku Baba and the stinging Leever, to Dark Link (your alter ego), Volvagia (the lava dragon) and Ganondorf himself. The hint icon is especially helpful in defeating your enemies as it tells you what their weaknesses are. Each time however, like some magical spell, just when you seem to be at wit’s end, you solve the blasted puzzle that has been the source of two sleepless nights. Then it’s on to the next, and the addiction is in full force.
Overall: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the complete package appealing to one and all, and is the definitive accomplishment in game design. When the audience age of a game ranges from 1 1/2 to over 75 how can it have competition? With awesome graphics, beautiful music, great sounds, good control, and fun, fun, fun Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a must have for all owners of the N64. Is it the greatest game of all time? Well, that’s always a subjective opinion, and one that can be answered each way. But I will say this, I don’t know where my copy of Goldeneye is.