|The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time|
|Platforms||Nintendo 64, GameCube, Virtual Console|
|Genre||Tunic Garbed Epic Adventure|
|MtAMinutes to Action||7|
|Score||10 Gameplay: 10
Fun Factor: 10
|Buy from Amazon|
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released 10 years ago this week for the Nintendo 64 and 3D adventure gaming has never been the same. Topping many gamers' all-time favorites list and sitting atop at Game Rankings, Ocarina of Time currently reigns as the unofficial Greatest Game of All-Time. I remember quite well my anticipation for this game ten solid years ago and that it actually did live up to the hype.
How much more can be said about this game that hasn't already been said? Well, no one has just played the first hour before and wrote a review just on that, so let me be the first. I'll be playing the original Nintendo 64 version, as there have been at least a GameCube and Virtual Console port so far.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select the empty File 1 on the (GOLD) cartridge and the first hour begins. Enter my name, let's just go simple and choose Link. A cutscene begins: "In the vast, deep forest of Hyrule..." Some tree is talking about the children of the forest. We see little Link from above. Link doesn't have a fairy! He shivers.
01 - Cut to a castle, its front gate is opening during a rain storm. Link is standing out front too! A girl rides by fast on a horse, then Link turns around.
02 - A man all in black on a black horse rears up in front of Link. Woah, just a bad dream.
03 - The tree is (slowly) talking to the fairy, Navi. He tells Navi to become Link's fairy to help him save Hyrule.
04 - Some fun fairy music plays as she zooms around the forest village. She finally enters Link's tree house and wakes him up.
06 - I head out into Kokiri forest, but before I can get far, a girl approaches. She's happy I finally got a fairy.
07 - Controlling Link is pretty easy, and the camera responds nicely and sticks behind me. Navi yells at me to go see the Great Deku Tree.
08 - A nice open world with no direction. I see on my mini map what looks to be a large tree, guess I'll go there.
10 - Some punk kid named Mido is in my way and won't move. Says I need to equip a sword and shield if I want to see the Great Deku Tree. Hmm...
11 - I head inside a house and kick open some chests and steal some rupees, the local currency. There's a fixed camera in buildings.
13 - I "target" a girl with the Z button and talk to her with A. "That's how you use a fairy!" She blabs for a bit then I enter a shop, they're selling a shield! But for 40 rupees, I only have 19. Time to go roll around in some bushes. They also have some arrows... can I get a bow too?
15 - Link runs into the Lost Woods but they're true to their name, every where I go leads back to the start... Well, except for a guy playing the flute and some blocked off place called Goron City.
18 - I scrounge up 40 rupees and buy the shield, hold R to crouch and defend. Sounds easy enough. I equip it, half way to getting past Mido.
20 - There's one place I haven't explored on the map yet, some weird looking maze in the bottom left. Heading there now.
21 - Some kid teaches me about Z-targeting fighting and then I guide Link into a hole in the wall. The camera goes first person as we slowly creep through the tunnel.
22 - Something sounds like it's rolling around, but I turn a corner and there's a huge chest! And the Kokiri sword is inside! I equip it and slice a sign in half with my first swipe.
23 - Now that I have the sword and shield Mido should let me by.
25 - He lets me by but as I turn the corner to reach the tree, three plants attack! I kill one with a jumping strike and I get a Deku Stick. Cool I guess. I kill them and approach the Great Deku Tree.
26 - Ominous music begins playing as the tree and Navi talk. Link is silent. Deku has been cursed and asks me to test my courage to cure him.
27 - I tell him I'm ready so he opens his mouth to let me in. Ha ha. I head inside.
28 - Link kills some more plants and I get a Deku Nut. Fighting is pretty fun. In the middle of the room is a giant cob-webbed floor. And much like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, there's an obvious climbing texture to signify where Link can latch on to.
30 - We open a big chest and get the Dungeon Map.
31 - Woah, I enter a room and the door slams shut behind me, bars and all. Inside is some little shrub who shoots nuts at me, I reflect one off my shield and then chase after him. He gives me a tip about falling from high places. Then the doors around me open mysteriously, the little guy must have been holding the switch.
33 - In the next room is another large chest, and inside is the slingshot! Awesome! Guess I should actually equip this stuff. By the way, this is the second week in a row that includes a slingshot.
34 - I have to use my slingshot to shoot a ladder down to get out of the room.
35 - Back out in the main room now, I try climbing a vine wall but get knocked down by some spider skulls. Guess I'll have to sling them down. I go into first person mode and snipe the tallest one.
38 - Heading further up the main shaft, I head into another room that locks behind me. There's a switch on the floor that triggers some blocks to rise out of the ground. I get a compass in the big chest.
40 - To actually get out of the room though, I have to light one of my sticks on fire and light a torch. Somehow that opens the gated door.
41 - Well, no where to go but down. I fall about a 100 feet and plow right through the cob-webbed floor into a pool of water. Little Link screams like a girl.
42 - I kill a twirling spider and get a Gold Skulltula token for my hardship. And hey, there's another one.
43 - Stepping on a switch lights a torch, looks like Link gets to play with some more fire. I torch a giant cobweb that was blocking a door and head through it.
44 - Another shrub, another nut to reflect. He tells me I will only beat his brothers if I fight them in the right order: "2 3 1. Twenty-three is number one!" Weirdo.
46 - I shoot an eye switch above a barred door to unlock it. We're making progress here.
47 - The next room is filled with water with a spiked log rolling around in the middle. There's also a floating platform under the log. I have to swim underwater to hit a switch, lowering the water level just enough to let me under.
49 - Another room, another couple of torches to light. After that I get bombarded with some creepy looking eye monsters. I admit, I was getting bored with man-eating plants.
51 - Still trekking through the innards of the dungeon, pushing blocks, swimming, light stuff on fire. Ooh, there's another cobweb to burn!
52 - I fall another 100 feet after torching it, luckily there's still more water. How far underground am I? Well look at what Link has got there, it's the three brother shrubs. 2 3 1!
54 - I beat them down and their secret is the how to perform the coup de grace on Queen Gohma. Strike with your sword while she's stunned. How novel. His secret opens the next door. There's a really dark and large room ahead. The giant door shuts behind me.
55 - Nothing yet, though there's some kind of scratching noise. I walk around the room.
56 - Queen Gohma drops from the ceiling! She looks ticked off! Hit her when she's stunned. I toss a deku nut which explodes in front of her one eye and slice her up. She retreats to the ceiling.
57 - Z-targeting allows me to keep my eye on her the whole time. She poops out a few eggs from her perch, I slice them before they can hatch.
58 - I stun and hit her again, now according to all known video game rules, it always takes three hits to kill a boss.
59 - Oh no! More than three! And because she fell on me I'm down to just half a heart. She is not going down without a fight! As she hides on the ceiling I collect my breath and grab some hearts from the edge of the room. She's really taking a beating, need to do more jump attacks (they're twice as strong according to a local elf).
60 - And that does it! I kill her and collect her heart, increasing my max to four. A blue portal appears that I head into. Link gets sucked into the ceiling. I land in front of the Great Deku Tree and he is impressed. And that's the end of the first hour of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Time for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 7
An excellent 3D engine coupled with some groundbreaking camera work puts The Legend of Zelda on top. Thanks to Z-targeting, no longer do you just kind of run around tapping the button hoping you hit things. This one aspect of gameplay changed 3D gaming for the better and it wasn't until the camera could be controlled much better that it was more or less dropped. Controlling Link is a breeze and using his variety of tools and weapons is even easier. Nintendo sure knew how to take advantage of their weird N64 controller.
Fun Factor: 10
There's nothing better in a first hour than navigating its first dungeon and fighting a very large boss. Zelda serves this up in spades. Not enough games do this! It should be a priority. Give me a challenge, and let me feel tough and heroic! Zelda gives you a healthy dose of action, adventure, and puzzles in its first hour, and nothing ever feels strained or boring. It even offers a nice variety of weapons and enemies to deal with. This game had me smiling the entire time, well, whenever I wasn't concentrating on the epic boss in front of me.
Graphics and Sound: 10
Ocarina of Time is undoubtedly one of the best looking pre-2000 console games. Not only that, but I can't think of a single PlayStation game that even came close to matching its environments and vibrant colors. The screenshots don't do it justice because it's just so fluid and smooth. The game's music and sound effects are equally as impressive. The Legend of Zelda series has always excelled in terms of music, and OoT continues the tradition.
Well, besides being a little wordy at times, this game moves along at a pretty quick pace. We learn that Link is the only kid in the village without a fairy, and that he is finally rewarded one when the Great Deku Tree believes it is time for him to start towards his destiny. It's interesting that the Deku Tree essentially drives the story himself as Link is the typical silent protagonist. Unfortunately, the Tree also spends a lot of time blabbing, and once he's saved, what will drive the game forward?
Zelda joins the ranks of Call of Duty 4 as my only perfect 10 first hours. Well, 10 isn't necessarily perfect, but it's definitely a rare breed. Ocarina of Time serves up an excellent balance of great gameplay, big bosses, and a really good introduction to the game's story. Oh yeah, don't forget about the graphics, ten years old and they're still more than impressive. This game set the bar for every 3D game that came after it, and it again sets the bar on the First Hour.