When I was a kid, my gameplay didn’t stray too far beyond Mario Kart and the occasional Star Fox game on the Nintendo 64. There were a lot of different reasons for this that I won’t go into now, but suffice it to say that my lack of game playing meant that I missed out on a great deal of classic video games when they were still new and fresh.
One such game? The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Really, I’d never played any of the Zelda games, but if you talk to any gamer around the age of 25-35, chances are high that they’ll tell you Ocarina of Time was and still is one of the greatest video games ever. My husband is one such gamer. When we got married, one of the things I brought into the marriage was my old N64. He quickly let me know that Ocarina of Time was one of his favorite games, and that he’d love to play it on our console. I happened upon a copy of the game at a garage sale, bought it for a buck, and then headed back home to show my partner the spoils of shopping.
He instantly played through it, and I watched him, trying to figure out what exactly made this game so amazing and such a piece of legendary gaming. From what I could tell, it had retro graphics, and it was your basic RPG action adventure game. It didn’t seem like a bad game, but I didn’t get the crazy fervor over the game. I also didn’t understand how you could ever figure out what you were supposed to do in the game.
When you’re playing a game like Skyrim, you have your quest journal where you can remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve. You have your directional compass on the top of your screen, guiding you throughout the hills and valleys of the world. In Ocarina of Time, from what I could tell, you were on your own. I’ll be honest, it seemed that if you weren’t someone who grew up on the game, or you weren’t a seasoned gamer, you couldn’t succeed in Ocarina of Time.
But, marriage is all about compromise and encouraging your partner to grow and expand their horizons. So after several months of urging, I finally started playing the game. I was certain I wouldn’t like it, and I was certain I’d be longing for a game I was more familiar with like Skyrim or Fable.
I’ll be honest. At first, I was.
First of all, the controls annoyed me, and I needed to find a sword and a shield to talk to the Great Deku tree because the Deku tree summoned me specifically, but that jerk Mido wasn’t letting me pass because he wasn’t convinced I was a real man without a sword and a shield. The controls annoyed me and I couldn’t figure out where to find the stuff I needed.
My husband’s only help was, “I’ll tell you if you really want me to, but think of it as a giant puzzle.” AND DID I MENTION THAT THE CONTROLS ANNOYED ME?? I don’t know what it was, but there was a huge disconnect in my brain when it came to rounding corners and trying to press x to make the camera pan around.
But then…I found the sword, and I was able to buy a shield. I flipped that idiot Mido the bird (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration), and waltzed right up to the Deku tree. I walked into the tree and found myself presented with puzzles, just like my husband said.
How do I get those skulltulas on the wall? I need a slingshot. How do I burst through that web on the ground? I need to fall on it-and I need to fall just right because, unlike what my husband promised me, I can indeed overshoot the web when I jump. I broke poor Link’s ankles more than I’d like to admit. The more I played, the more I was able to see the game as the giant puzzle my husband described rather than a vast field with confusing directions and controls that were giving me conniptions. Sure, the graphics were…vintage, but the game itself was intricate, challenging, and most of all it was a ton of fun.
I honestly didn’t think I would find the game so engaging. I didn’t grow up with it, so there wasn’t any sort of nostalgia tied to the game for me. As someone who spent a lot of her time playing modern games, I wasn’t sure that I would be up for playing a game so similar to my personal favorites, but still quite different.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Though I had a bit of a rocky start, I ultimately acclimated to the game, and was immediately immersed in the adventure and the problems and puzzles that Link needed to solve. Though there aren’t any wistful and nostalgic feelings tied up in the game, it’s easy for me to see why so many people call it one of the greatest games out there.
Ocarina of Time is a game that, despite the limits of technology at the time, manages to create a world that is dynamic and immersive. The adventure is compelling, and it doesn’t treat the players like they’re dumb. Answers won’t be handed out to you in this game, but when you solve a puzzle, defeat a monster, or unlock a new area, it’s absolutely the most satisfying thing ever.
My progress on this game has been slower than I thought it’d be. I started playing one day and I literally got one thing done after a significant amount of time roaming around and wrangling cuckoos (apparently you can’t find all of the lost cuckoos that early in the game-not that I’m bitter to learn that after spending forever trying to find and wrangle them all). Still, every time I venture into Hyrule I have an amazing time solving puzzles, defeating monsters, finding hidden treasures, and generally working to save the world.
The game may be old, and I may not have grown up playing it, but I cannot deny that the game is freaking amazing and I was shocked at how much I loved it. I take back every time I rolled my eyes when I heard Ocarina of Time was the best game ever. Nostalgia or not, it’s a solid game, and I’m so excited to have it in my life now.