I’m doing things a bit different with this review because I’m lazy right now, not to mention a bit preoccupied with other matters. Anyway, I stumbled across an old review I’d written for my high school’s “newspaper” reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time not long after it came out. I figured, how neat would it be (and lazy and time saving) to format it into a Friday Review article and post in on my blog. That way people can see what my original thoughts on the game were, and believe me, they haven’t changed that much. Without further ado, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Plot Overview: Does the plot change much? Ganon wants to take over Hyrule, again, but this time he has to find the three chosen ones who carry the Triforce symbol on the back of their hands, kind of like in the second game, The Adventure of Link. This game takes some of the best elements from the previous games and forms a more complicated plot than we’re used to seeing. The second-most complicated Zelda plot, that is. A Link to the Past is still more complicating than the others.
Artwork: The artwork in this game is some of the best we’ve ever seen in a Zelda game! Link’s new look is great! We know that the characters change somewhat in appearance for every new game, especially Princess Zelda, but the new designs fit the game perfectly! Plus, we finally get to see what Link looks like as an adult, which has never happened before. Miyamoto says that he sees Link as being youthful, and I agree that the stories of all the previous games have been kind of youthful, with Link being only 16 years old, but this story takes a different road, and it’s a little more appropriate for Link to be older than in the previous games.
Link’s age has always been about 15 or 16, but now he goes from being really little to being an adult! It was a really neat change. Link has always represented a young boy living an adventure, which is the dream of most young boys. I know I dreamed about that kind of stuff when I was little. However, this story calls for a more mature Link.
As for Link’s actual appearance, he no longer has dark brown or light brown hair that flops down in front of his face. Instead, he has neatly combed blonde hair that sort of resembles mine. His tunic is kind of different. He’s always worn a brown shirt with matching pants and a green vest. This changes slightly throughout A Link to the Past, but you get the idea. In Ocarina of Time, he was a white undershirt with a green tunic and white tights. He also has a little blue earring and gauntlets that you can upgrade throughout the game.
As a child, he wears something similar, but no white undershirt and no slacks. No gauntlets either.
Zelda looks great in this game! She’s been blonde before, but her bangs looked more like new Link’s in, at least, A Link to the Past. She’s been seen wearing almost peasant-looking clothing, very beautiful gowns, and a matter of things. She’s also gone from blonde, to red-head, and back to blonde.
As a child, we don’t ever see her hair. She keeps it tied back in a turbine thing. However, her face looks child-like and yet full of wisdom. I enjoyed seeing her like that. She wears a pink and white dress with the symbol of the Triforce on it and some family symbols. It’s not really fancy, but it’s not too plain, either; it’s the perfect gown for our favorite princess.
As for her adult design, I didn’t like it as much. I enjoyed it for the most part; she wears the same dress as she did as a child, and her blonde hair hangs loosely on her head, held out of her eyes by a gold head-piece, which was really nice looking. However, the problem was in her face. It didn’t look full of wisdom like the child version. It wasn’t smooth or anything. If I could combine her new look with an older version of her face, then she’d be perfect!
She has another look, too, that looks really cool, but I won’t tell you what it is because it’s a key plot point.
Impa’s back, and while she still has white hair and is Zelda’s caretaker, she’s thin, muscular, and fights like a professional! It was a dramatic change, but not a bad one. It kind of makes you wonder, though, why the king would want someone who is obviously trained for battle rather than nannying (my new word), take care of his daughter. Therefore, I like to think of Impa, in this game, as being more of a protector than a caretaker.
As for the ears in this game, they’ve changed. The people of Hyrule used to look like they popped out of Santa’s workshop. In this game the ears and much longer and more pointed, kind of like Deedlit’s ears from Record of Lodoss War. I really like the way the Japanese draw pointed ears, and Link and Zelda, as well as the other Hylians and Kokiri (one of the new races), look absolutely marvelous!
Ganondorf will surprise you. Remember that overweight pig Link used to fight? Well, Ganondorf is much more man-looking now, but still intimidating. Although I’m fond of both looks, the more human-like look is much more appropriate for this game. I kind of wish that they’d keep this look for a while. He looks like bad guy should, and looks really scary when he comes riding his steed through Hyrule, pillaging villages and setting flame to everything in his path. You see this in the introduction. He looks really wicked!
The Zoras look and act much different in this game. Since they were evil before, it was only natural to give them ugly faces with mouths big enough to shoot fireballs from. However, since they’re not evil in this game, the creators decided to give them a more peaceful atmosphere. Zora’s Domain looks stunning; just like I’d expect an underwater paradise to look like.
The Zoras are slim creatures with fins coming out of their arms and other parts of their body. Their heads are very narrow, although Princess Ruto’s is quite large. The only Zora that is terribly bad looking is the king. He’s HUGE! I don’t mean to insult people’s weight, but this guy can hardly move, and it makes a certain scene take a considerably long time to complete.
The Gorons are very large and heavy, but muscular. We’ve never seen the Gorons in any other game, and they’re a nice addition. They live on Death Mountain, which we’ve seen before, but this time it’s inhabited by Gorons. Not my favorite race, but still really cool.
The Kokiri are a race of children who never grow up. They look like anybody else, though. The leader of their tribe is Saria. Some of these kids are really weird looking, like the Know-it-All brothers.
Another new race are the Gerudos, female bandits who work for Ganondorf, at least until Link shows up and shows them who’s boss! If it weren’t for their undying hatred for men, this would be every guy’s dream! However, they all look the same! The only girl who looks different is Nabooru, the leader. That was kind of disappointing, but still a cool race of people. They wear Asian clothing and live almost a Mexican lifestyle.
The bad guys look absolutely frightening in 3D. I was kind of hoping to see a Moblin, but those were left out. Goma, while her design has been changed to make her a giant spider rather than a giant crab, she is still a part of this game, and her design is stunning.
The landscape is equally beautiful. Hyrule’s plains can be explored thoroughly, and who wouldn’t want to live in Kokiri Forest? I’m done talking now.
Animation: The animation is also really great in this game. I was kind of hoping that Link would still shoot beams from his sword when his life was completely full, as that would have been really cool to see in 3D!
Link’s body moves very gracefully. He has some great body expressions, especially when he’s a kid and running from Ruto, Gorons, and other people! He has some facial expressions, too, but that would be too hard to animate on a 64.
All of Link’s moves are executed with great timing! It was a thrill to see exactly how Link fights, and it’s fun to try and copy him. The battles are really cool looking because of this.
Some of the movements of minor characters, like in towns and stuff, are really stupid, though. The dancing couple in the Market are stiff, but the running child chasing a chicken looks real enough to stick out. There’s these two guys who are talking, sometimes they’re juggling with each other, but their movements are kind of choppy and stupid-looking. They repeat the same thing over and over!
Some of the best animation scenes, like cut-scenes, goes to Ganondorf. The expression on young Zelda’s face as Ganondorf rides madly on his horse, nearly running Link over, as he heads off into who-knows-where, is priceless! Her face expresses utter fear, and some of the best facial expressions are used in this scene, considering adult Zelda shows little expression. Link looks worried, Ganondorf looks more determined than ever, and Impa pursues them with confidence that she’ll get Zelda back. It’s great!
The horses move very realistically. I was looking forward to seeing how they would pull off horse riding, as it’s never been done before, but they did it! Plus, you can even shoot arrows from Epona’s back! When you shoot it goes to first-person view, so that saved the creators the time it would take to show Link on the horse’s back with a bow and arrow, and it also makes it easier on the player.
Epona, and Ganon’s horse as well, moves majestically. Although you might find yourself screaming at Epona for being one of the dumbest horses alive, there’s still a lot of detail in her movement. I still wish that I could’ve had the privilege of riding Ganon’s horse.
One of the best parts of the game is how seemingly useless things behave. It’s really fun to go fishing, because not only are the camera movements enticing, but just walking in the water is fun. The water ripples and forms small waves as Link wades, and even the lily pads and cat tails bend and move over. We were all staring in amazement at this. It’s also fun to throw the owner’s hat into the water!
Sound Effects: There’s not much to brag about in this department. However, the sounds that they have are better than all the previous games! Link’s sword hitting a wall sounds really cool, however the sound doesn’t change in pitch or anything when you hit a rock or barrel.
Epona sounds like a horse should, and her whinnying is one of the best sound effects in the game!
I guess all of the sounds and pretty good, but nothing spectacular.
Oh, but Link screams battle cries and whimpers when he’s hurt, which is neat. I like listening to it.
Music: This game is full of fun and captivating music. Some of it’ll get old after a while, and I’m sure I liked the old Ganondorf theme, but it’s easily made up for by the other pieces.
Zelda’s theme is now called Zelda’s Lullaby, and it sounds wonderful in this game! The ocarina sounds almost real, and the keyboard sounds that created the majority of this soundtrack is a huge step from using computers to do the work. It’s not exactly Squaresoft material, but it’s just as fun to listen to.
The overworld theme is amazing and almost captivating! It fits perfectly, and I know that not all of the Zelda overworld music fit.
Zora’s domain is very nice to listen to. It’s soothing and enchanting. It literally takes your mind away from all of Hyrule and you can only focus on this underwater kingdom. I was very impressed.
I didn’t care for the Goron music, but I really liked the Mexican-style Gerudo music! I’ve found so many remixes of it, it’s hardly funny, but most of them are worth downloading.
The music in Kokiri Forest is great! It grabs from the start of the game and never gets old! I really enjoyed the Lost Woods music, but some people get annoyed when it plays over and over. I used to sing it in the car whenever we got lost, but that was put to a halt right away.
The opening music will ring a bell. Remember the tune the recorder played in the first Zelda? Well, that’s the opening, only remastered with string instrument sounds in the background. Also, the ending music is very moving, so be prepared.
Is there a flaw to the music in this game? I missed the Zelda theme! How can they not include that familiar tune that has played throughout every game since the beginning of Zelda? I was mad that they didn’t include this tune in the game, so I hope that they put it in later games.
I recommend buying the soundtrack, but not the American one; it doesn’t have all the songs. The Japanese were sure to include every last piece of music in their soundtrack, so get that one. They left Sheik’s theme out of the American!
Gameplay: Riding horses, using a large variety of weapons and accessories, and even being able to fish and goof off – who could hate the gameplay? It grabs you from the minute you start playing and holds you captive until the end of the game. It makes the game addicting, and you’ll find yourself playing it for hours. There’s also so many side-quests that anytime you get bored of the overall plot, you can just complete one of them. Sometimes side-quests in this game are just as fun as the overall game. The only disappointing part is the stupidity of the guards. They are very easy to trick.
Characters: The characters here are very much like in every Zelda game. Some of them you will hate, some you will laugh at, and you’ll really like the main characters.
Character Development: For a Zelda game, this has a lot of character development. I think a lot of the development revolves around the many plot twists this story has, which makes it all the more entertaining. Link’s past is explored a little more, mostly by the Great Deku Tree, and we even learn quite a bit about the royal family. The past holds many secrets, and some of them will be revealed. Maybe one day we’ll know everything about Link and Zelda, but I like to keep part of them secretive. It’s nice to know more about them, but I don’t want to know too much. After all, I’m sure the series hasn’t ended yet.
Tone: This story has pretty much everything. It can be funny, dramatic, suspenseful, and even slightly sad. It’s an adventure story, not much of boyhood dreams anymore, but a classic adventure story with many other elements. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
Dialogue: Some of the characters say funny things, and sometimes it’s fun to frustrate them! Like when Zelda tells you about her dream and, if you choose not to believe her, she will get really frustrated with you. Ruto has some funny dialogue because she’s obsessed with Link, and Malon has some funny things to say as well. Some of the townspeople say funny things, too.
Link doesn’t say much other than “yes” and “no”. He’ll say other things sometimes, and you have to pick what you want him to say, but there’s not much.
There’s no swearing in this game, which is good. I hate playing a great game that has swearing in it. A lot of really good games with wonderful stories have language in them, and that deducts the quality of the game.
Villains: I still say that Ganondorf is the perfect video game villain because he’s so evil. You can hate him and not feel bad about it. Ganondorf represents greed, and isn’t just satisfied with gaining the Triforce of Power; he wants them all. He has a new, and really neat, look in this game.
I was a little disappointed that there were no Moblins, but the Redeads make up for it. They’re some of the scariest zombie creatures I’ve seen in a game; even putting Resident Evil to shame! Take that Squaresoft!
You will certainly see your favorite bad guys coming back, though some of them aren’t. I was hoping to see a bunch that just didn’t appear, but was really thrilled with the ones that did show up.
Recommended: Definitely! The best part is, you don’t have to be a Zelda fanatic to like this game. You’ll understand it without playing any previous Zelda games, because this is the start of the story. Unlike some games, Zelda’s chronology is really screwed up. Ocarina of Time is, obviously, supposed to take place before all the other games. What I like about Zelda is that when you rearrange the games, they create one big story, but you have to think about what order the games are supposed to go in because the games aren’t created in order. A Link to the Past is, so far, the very end of the series, and this made known with the words “and the Master Sword rested again…forever” that appeared on the screen at the very end. This game is a must-have for everyone!
*Shoots back to the present*
A quick note about the re-release of the game in 3D, it’s tons brighter. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it’s so bright, it takes the edge away. I particularly hated the Shadow Temple and the final fight with Ganon. It’s supposed to be dark and gritty! I hated being able to clearly see Ganon’s final form. So, just a head’s up.
Oh, and it’s also version 2 of the game. That basically means that the blood is now green (I didn’t think red blood would bother little kids, as there’s hardly any at all), the mirror shield is different (it looked Islamic before), and the Fire Temple music is different.
Kudos to everyone who actually reads the whole thing. Can you tell I was really excited for this game? Anyway, since I was growing a bit nostalgic while reading this, here’s docjazz4′s excellent tribute to the game on its 10th anniversary. I can’t believe so much time has gone by!
This video is pretty cool because a lot of the people interviewed were a bit younger than I when the game was first released, so they were able to play it before hitting that cynical age that Angela Lansbury once referred to as the “age of not believeing.”