Why Ocarina of Time is the Worst Zelda

GuestApril 29th, 2013 by Guest

Let’s begin with a quick reminder that these “Why [x game] is the Worst Zelda” editorials are not written from the perspective of my own opinions, but instead cobbled together based on opinions and direct quotes found both in the comments on these editorials as well as the forums. The purpose of this series is not to show that any particular game is actually better or worse than any other, but instead to show that each of us has a radically different opinion on what makes Zelda “Zelda”, which then biases us towards and against completely different games than the next Zelda fan. Person A might love Twlight Princess because it has “realistic graphics” and a darker art style and dislike The Wind Waker for being cartoon-y and brightly colored, but Person B might feel the exact opposite and dislike Twilight Princess for its dark color palette and love The Wind Waker for its unique style. So there’s no such thing as “the worst Zelda” or even “the best Zelda” because there is no consensus.

Also, it should be pointed out that even “the worst Zelda game” is by and large infinitely better than most other video games out there; I don’t think any of us would say that even “the worst” Zelda game is “bad”.

But this particular editorial is meant to show why it is that a seemingly growing minority feel as if Ocarina of Time is the worst Zelda game.


From the perspective of someone who feels it is a remake of A Link to the Past
There are people out there who insist that each Zelda game is basically a remake of any other Zelda game as they tend to not deviate much from the set-in-stone formula, but no game can be faulted of this more than Ocarina of Time, which amounts to a remake of A Link to the Past. Young orphan Link ventures to Hyrule Castle, finds out that an evil force threatens the kingdom, seeks three pieces of jewelry–each locked inside a dungeon–to represent that he has the three virtues of Courage, Wisdom, and Power. Only then can he acquire the Master Sword and suddenly has the ability to switch back and forth between two similar worlds. Now he must venture into six new dungeons to collect mystical personages who will ultimately end up simply helping him break through a barrier Ganon has constructed on his base. Link defeats Ganon, saves the Princess and the kingdom. The end. The same cannot be said of the differences between The Adventure of Link and A Link to the Past, or even Ocarina of Time to Majora’s Mask. For whatever reason Nintendo copied the structure and plot of A Link to the Past for Ocarina of Time, beat for beat.


From the perspective of someone who prefers 2D Zelda
Nintendo was clearly faced with a dilemma when creating a 64-bit Zelda game: create a very beautiful and much more detailed sprite-based game, or innovate and set the standard for 3D action-adventure games. And while Ocarina of Time gets a lot of praise for creating that mold that everyone from Okami to Darksiders has since tried to emulate… the completely new style of gameplay proved to be too different for many of those who had been following the series since the first game. Top-down style was Zelda, and to be forced to play Zelda from such a completely different–and arguably overly-complicated–perspective proved too much for some of these Zelda fans who have since opted out of the series. Recognizing this, Nintendo continued to develop top-down perspective games for the handhelds… but that still hasn’t been an effective enough bate to reel those lapsed Zelda fans back in. The damage of 3D style gameplay had been done. Maybe A Link to the Past 2 will be the impetus Nintendo was looking for to hook these folks.


From the perspective of someone who prefers Toon Link
It might (or might not) surprise to you to learn that there are many Zelda fans out there who got their start playing Zelda as one of the two DS titles: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. For them, Toon Link is the only Link. Any Zelda game with more realistic proportions just isn’t Zelda to them. And reasonably so, as this is the most used art style of any of the Zelda games. The original game used an art style that has since never reappeared, and the same with The Adventure of Link. A Link to the Past, however, had an art style which was reused by not only Link’s Awakening but also by both of the Oracle games. Ocarina of Time‘s art style was only ever reused by Majora’s Mask. But then we have The Wind Waker art style: it was reused by Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, The Minish Cap, Four Swords, and Four Sword Adventures. With six games under its belt, it’s no wonder why this art style has a subset of fans who prefer Zelda games to be done in this particular version of the character.


Those who rank Ocarina of Time as not one of the best are certainly in the minority, but their numbers are growing. And they seem to place it at the end of their list of favorites for very specific and not altogether rational reasons. Disliking a game because its art style is different from one developed later just seems absurd to me. I can better understand the perspective of those who simply have no interest in anything other than top-down style Zelda, but even that seems a bit limiting.

Which game should I research for next week? Let me know in the comments!

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  • ZoraLinksaysYouShallNotPass!

    Yeah, Ocarina of time is downright the best game. Guinness has it as “Most critically acclaimed game of all time” and “highest rated game of all time”Your argument is invalid.

    • Cameron

      While it is the most critically acclaimed game of all time, that is mostly for its innovation in gameplay. This is why some people like it. While I like Ocarina of Time, when I first played it, I was a little disappointed in it after hearing all the hype that had been built up around it. Personally, I look at the storyline mainly, partially look at gameplay and artstyle, and I look at character development when I am deciding which game is my favourite, this is why Twilight Princess is my favourite, I found it have a very interesting storyline, decent character development (notable examples being Midna, Zant, and Ganondorf, though the latter has only developed from his appearance in Ocarina of Time, not within Twilight Princess), I liked the way the possibilities of the Wiimote and Nunchuk were incorporated into the gameplay (mostly), and I like the stylised realism of the graphics.
      Having said that, I suggest you deconstruct Twilight Princess next, Travis. While I felt there were more things you could’ve looked at in this editorial, it was still very good.

  • balloonofwar4

    You should do a new series after this one explaining why every Zelda game is the best.

    The only entry in this series I really liked was the MC one. That one was heartfelt and all of the subsequent ones were just “well some people might think” nitpicks.

  • MasterOfSwords1

    While I think these articles are a good idea, taking apart each game to see what went wrong, no one wants to see someone hating on their favorite game. Why not make articles like “Why blank is the BEST Zelda” Also, there are a lot of inconsistencies. In one article you hate on a certain aspect of a game, then in the next one you compliment it for the same thing…

    • Feathus

      Because it is easier to see the good sides of a game than seeing the wrong part when you really enjoy it ^^^(well, I think this is one of the reason :3)

  • Luke the Kokiri

    Personally, the only zelda games I don’t like are faces of evil, wand of gamelon, and zelda’s adventure.

    Also, next week should be Twilight Princess. I know some hate it, but I know some others like me just don’t understand why. In fact, TP is my favorite!

    • Lupine Hero

      Twilight Princess is not only my favorite Zelda, but also my favorite video game. Despite this, I could probably find an hour’s worth of complaints for the game, the difficulty being first and foremost.

  • Kablamogroup

    I’ve been waiting patiently for this one. OoT is my favorite Zelda, pretty much because it was my first. I was incredibly curious to see how people who like OoT the least feel. Very insightful. I don’t understand why people dislike games based on their graphic quality/art style. I put graphics and art style together because they go hand-in-hand in some cases. It makes sense to me that many people who like a more “realistic” art style in their games tend to like games with “better” graphics. Basically, games that take full advantage of the graphical capability of the system(s) they are played on (nowadays, it’s the High Definition graphics seen on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and just about every modern computer you can find at a retailer).

    • A Link in Time

      Yep a sad world we live in where most people only seem to care about graphics over gameplay. They want to watch instead of play and with that logic they should just give up games (which were ment to be played not watched) and watch CGI quality movies or HD TV only…

  • Whovian21

    My favorite is Majoras Mask which is the OOT sequel. I like Majoras Mask more but ocarina is still one of the best Zelda games ever.

  • Whovian21

    I like the toon link games too, I have all of ‘em.But I COMPLETLY DISAGREE with your opinion about OOT.:(

  • Stranger Danger

    Dear Editor,

    You are mistaken in thinking that there cannot exist a “best” or “worst” Zelda in virtue of the fact that there is no consensus. “Best” and “Worst” go by popularity points, therefore, OOT is the best Zelda game because it has the most people that think it is the best.

    • anonymous

      if that were true, halo would be a good series.

  • RenaldoBush

    People who became a Zelda fan from playing the DS titles don’t have any room to talk about the Zelda series in general until they’ve been playing them for at least ten years.

    • anonymous

      People who became a Zelda fan from playing Ocarina don’t have any room to talk until they’ve been playing for at least twenty-two years.
      See? I can play time on the n()()bs too.

    • sexyaussiekirkland

      That’s not exactly fair to say. I started with the ds titles, but I’ve gone back and am in the process of playing all the Zelda games (it’s gonna take a while ^^;) and I certainly don’t comment on Zelda games that I haven’t played or completed!
      Just because I’m not a middle aged guy who’s been playing Zelda his whole life, doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to have an opinion on Zelda games that I have played! And just you see, I WILL play every Zelda game, no matter how long it may take.

      • http://www.facebook.com/george.shepherd.378 George Shepherd

        i started with the ds titles but now i own every zelda game.(including ports and remakes) except for majora’s mask, the oracle games(i will when they come out on the 3ds eshop) four swords adventures and wind waker

        • audioblogs12

          They only need to remake Majora’s Mask and Four Swords Adventures and then all of the games will be playable on WiiU and/or 3DS. Too bad only the ambassadors can play Minish Cap on 3DS… I guess I will have to settle with this hardened-button Gameboy Advance…
          Or are wiiware games incompatible with the WiiU?

        • sexyaussiekirkland

          Good job dude! I think I own all the same games as you. So I can’t wait for the oracle games and wind waker HD :D
          And like audiblogs12 said, they only need to make Majora’s Mask and Four Swords Adventures and we can have every game :D

      • RenaldoBush

        I feel that I was wrong in saying that a Zelda fan is measured by their play time. It’s how much they enjoy any game in the series that makes you a fan.
        Sorry if I angered anyone with my first comment.

        • sexyaussiekirkland

          That’s alright ^^ I just felt like I needed to prove a point.
          And I totally agree :D

    • http://www.facebook.com/george.shepherd.378 George Shepherd

      If thats the case then people who started with phantom hourglass will have to keep playing until 2017 and people who started with spirit track(like me) will have to keep playing until 2019

      • Guest

        Then you have a lot of Zelda playing to do don’t you.

    • ceilingmaster87

      PH was my first Zelda but when I was little I liked to watch my bros play Alttp.

  • anonymous

    Finally an article that tells the truth about Ocarina: the overrated combination of the best zelda games released in the 90’s.

    I am talking about A Link to the Past(1991) and Link’s Awakening(1993).

    Everything praiseworthy in Ocarina, that is independent from its 3D engine, originated in one of its four predecessors.

  • Nintendo Bodyguard

    Interesting posts. I love all Zelda games except the DS games.

    • Nintendofreakcjm1

      Why? The DS games were amazing.

  • JeredenDonnar

    Yeah!! It drives me CRAZY when people bad-mouth the Ocarina of Time’s poor graphics!!! It was the best available circa 1998! They COULDN’T do things diferently! When people compare a game’s graphics from 12+ years ago to the most recent game, (which makes it pretty obvious they’re really reachin’ for stuff to badmouth it with), I want to scream! Or when people say why it didn’t utilize things from the later games (cause they were, you know, LATER IN REAL LIFE) and use stuff like that for their rationale…..AUGH!

    • Emma Mix

      “Complains about OoT’s dated graphics… PLAYS MINECRAFT.” hahaha

    • http://www.facebook.com/george.shepherd.378 George Shepherd

      Ocarina of Time 3D has good graphics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004047914984 Krishna Moorthy

    can you do “why majora’s mask is the worst zelda ” next?

  • Nintendofreakcjm1

    I wonder if there will be one for Majora’s Mask. Probably not, because apparently that game can do no wrong…:/ This fanbase…

  • sexyaussiekirkland

    Oh god, I hope people like me (who played ds Zelda’s first) don’t actually think like this! I think that this opinion is very closed minded, and if they had bothered to look into the history of Zelda and played the older games wth an open mind, they’d find that those games were bludy brilliant. And they’d know just how much the ds games took from the other games, as there were many before them… *sigh* I knew I wasn’t looking forward to this article…

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.shepherd.378 George Shepherd

    i like all zelda games apart from adventure of link. My first game was spirit traks and my second was phanton hourglass but i still thing there all good.

    • Zelda Dude

      Both DS zelda games SUCK! They r to easy

      • Zelda Dude

        (The Does NOT include Oot 3D)

  • asmith

    I disagree. Travis is bringing the conversations from the forums to a more public- um, forum. It’s very observational and has opened up more discussions about the reasons why people list the Zelda games in a particular “top 5″ order. And those conversations are always fun to hash out.

  • JuicieJ

    Your posts are always negative.

  • GSusanj

    Your list isn’t complete. The only argument I have heard for Oot being the worst Zelda is the argument that it is the easiest Zelda game with no challenge throughout the main story. I must admit that outside of the world of forums and online chats, this was the Zelda that caused many of my friends to stop playing the series because of the difficulty being so low. In fact, because of Oot I am now the odd man out in a area that used to be filled with Zelda fans.

    • Lupine Hero

      It was actually the hardest Zelda I’d played up to that point. Granted, I’d only played Twilight Princess and Spirit Tracks, but… it was pretty tough for me.

    • Ganon

      Compared to the Old school games such as LOZ and LOZ:II then yea OOT is simple but for those of us who started the series on the game it was exceedingly difficult, the compass system was the best one, it gave the game a more puzzling feel in it

  • Truth

    I didn’t even notice how similar LP and OT were until I read this…Wow

    • Lupine Hero

      Wow… it took me like fifteen seconds to figure out your abbreviations. At first I thought “Let’s Play” and “Old Testament,” haha.

  • LinkyKins

    Can’t we just say all of the Zelda games are great games and stop saying different games in the series are the worst!

    • linkasourous

      New article series: Why (game) is the best Zelda

  • zeldabosses

    i got tired of oot too. i’m at the ice cavern and need more bottles

  • Lupine Hero

    I’m sorry, Ocarina fans, but I really could not get into Ocarina of Time, though for different reasons than those listed above. Although I realize the graphics were great in 1998, they still bugged me somewhat. Navi was getting on my nerves, telling me to talk to Saria for the five thousand two hundred and eightieth time (which didn’t even help me progress, I might add). But there were two much bigger problems I had with the game. Please note that I am not saying that this makes it a bad game- it’s just why I didn’t like it.

    Twilight Princess was my first Zelda. As probably most of you know, a yellow icon on the map will show you where you are at all times. The dungeon map reveals rooms you have not yet accessed, while the compass reveals chests, key dungeon items like cannonballs and monkeys, and shows you where the boss is. Then I played Ocarina of Time. Outside the dungeon it is the same- an icon (which I think is yellow) shows your current location. However, as soon as Link is inside a dungeon, that icon disappears until you get the compass. Seriously, I don’t even know where I am in the room until more than halfway through the dungeon!? It would take me MINUTES to go through the right door in the forest temple.

    Due to playing games like Twilight Princess, Kingdom Hearts, and Legend of Spyro, I have come to expect plot and character development throughout certain types of games. Ocarina of Time, though it certainly had a good story, spent frustratingly long periods of time with little to no plot or character development. By the time I reached the Water Temple, I was actually getting bored with the game. NOTE: I am not saying that games must have storyline to interest me. My problem is when they introduce characters and plot, and then do little to nothing with it. This is how Ocarina of Time FELT to me, even if it isn’t necessarily true.

    And for those of you wondering, the other two Zeldas I haven’t beaten are Majora’s Mask and Spirit Tracks. Trust me when I say that I have reasons for both beyond not wanting to play them.

    • Kris

      This once again goes to show why you and many others of the younger generation, born in late 90s but was 00s kid most likely or younger, or just not very bright, have to be babied throughout out a game because you lack the common sense and intelligence to actually figure out a PUZZLE. Last time I checked a jigsaw puzzle didnt have numbers on the back of the pieces to help you put them together.

      I love OoT because it was hard. Hell even when downloading it for Wii after YEARS removed from playing it, I got stuck on parts of the dungeons(specially water temple which even though its hard, the best puzzle there is). But I managed through it because I had the sense to check every inch of a room and figure it out ON MY OWN in order to move on. The Zelda games since Wind Waker does not have that. I beat WW within a day the day after it was released due to how easy it was. Same with TP.

      Sadly because of how people need their hands held through games because of that lack of common sense or ability to look/do/figure out things on their own, we will never see a great Zelda game again that actually challenged your mind and at times your sanity when stumped at a spot.

  • ceilingmaster87

    I like 2D Zelda better but I still like Oot , MM, WW, and TP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003298020387 Alan Da Cruz Nascimento

    Oh man, stop this articles. )':

  • Xyphon

    I’m going to say my reason why I don’t have OoT in my top 5. It’s about half way down my list, I think number 7 or 8. This is a PM I sent to someone, with a lot of stuff cut out (deeper explanation, PM me on the forums if you want the whole thing):

    Firstly, just as a product of being old, it has a tiny overworld.The hub (hyrule field), is just a barren wasteland with a Ranch on it. This is literally the center of the game. The other places are all main locations. Using Wind Waker as an example, outside of the main locationsthere’s tons and tons of smaller areas with a lot to do.

    I think with OoT, it’s a product of oldness, not of a lack of creativity. OoT was barely small enough to fit on an N64 cartridge; I’m sure they wanted to do more. But whether or not its good for its time is irrelevant; we have to look at now. Is it still the best NOW?

    Now, another thing that bugs me is its plot. Now I don’t care much for plot but OoTs compared to TODAYS Zeldas, is mediocre. Good for its time, mediocre now. But people always say how great it is. That bugs me.

    Finally, OoT just didn’t have a big effect on me. I also wasn’t a fan of the adult dungeons(love the child ones though). OoT is the only Zelda game where I’ve gotten to somewhere in a dungeon and had no CLUE where I missed a small key. I missed two in the Fire Temple. I’ve missedsmall keys before but I always had an idea of where I missed them, OoT is the only game out of 16 Zelda games where I was seriously confused in regards to small keys. Maybe its a product of my own stupidity, but this always bugged me.

    So yeah, that’s my opinion on OoT.

    • Ganon

      Just because it’s old doesn’t mean anything. Yes it is still best, you complain about the story, it’s infinitely more better than the Toon Link games, You knew who and what you had to fight whereas in both ST and PH you had to freaking guess, which is crappy to a plot it makes the final boss look tacked on. You come from a generation that needs things shown to you obviously, while those who come from the 90’s KNEW that we had to look for something.

      These later additions to the Zelda series are complete crap in terms of difficulty, it seems nintendo thought that making the foes harder would compensate for the lack of the puzzle attribute, don’t get me wrong they had puzzles but they were crap when compared to something like the water temple. You literally get shown every single item of key location in the game. Wind Waker was the start of a puzzling decline, you didn’t see as many awesome puzzles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lancejburns Lance J. Burns

    See, the distinction needs to be made between favorite/best and least favorite/worst. These things listed, while some are factual, whether or not they are good is a debate. Personally my favorite is Skyward Sword, but I believe the best is A Link to the Past.

  • Olimar

    My first zelda was ST and I have played OOT. In my opinion the tower of spirits had so many fun and difficult puzzles that I just can’t really get into OOT (I’ve beaten the water temple). My favorite link is toon link because my first zelda was ST and because he’s like, what, eight years old and he beats up freakin demons and ganondwarf!? I like OOT, don’t get me wrong, it just didn’t give me quite the jive it gives most people.

  • Matt

    My first game was phantom hourglass (sadly). Although that was a 2d toon link Zelda game, I still find myself loving every entry to the series I’ve played. Regardless of it’s style.

  • zeldabosses

    yeah, you can get tired of oot too. for instance, i’m at the ice cavern and need more freakin bottles

  • Nippz_13

    I personally not think OoT is the best Zelda game, but you can’t argue that is took gaming to a new level and set a standard for 3D gaming. I never realized the comparison between OoT and LotP. But I can see how they can see it as a remake, even though in the finer elements they diverge completely.

    My favorite game is MM, and I remember reading somewhere that recently MM took over as the favorite Zelda game from OoT. I’m not sure how true this is, but I think MM has more replay value than OoT.

    While OoT may no longer be everyone’s favorite Zelda game, that doesn’t mean it is the worst Zelda game.

  • tacoman420

    I don’t care who you are or what your perspective is, OOT is arguably the BEST Zelda game EVER, not the worst!!! shame on you for even say the words “worst Zelda game” and “ocarina of time” in the same sentence! you can disagree all you want, but the facts still remain OOT revolutionized what future games could be! If it wasn’t for OOT, I guarantee over half the games you love that came out after it wouldn’t exist :O. Who cares if it copies the previous game’s story? So does every freaking zelda game since ALTTP AND THEY’RE ALL STILL AWESOME!!! (well most of them anyway) ANYONE WHO CALLS THEMSELVES A ZELDA FAN BUT DOESN’T LIKE OOT IS LITERALLY CLINICALLY INSANE!!!!!!!

    OCARINA OF TIME FOEVER FTW!!!!!!!!!!! (sorry I just really had to go off there for a minute, but seriously guys Oot the worst zelda game? No! no no no nooooooooo NO!!!!!!!)

    • kirbologist

      My boy, it’s what all true game journalists strive for and I actually agree that this is a great game too. Please read and understand what he is saying at the beginning, he didn’t say he was actually offending the game, but those are just reasons it COULD be the worst for the sake of this editorial. This is the Internet you know.

      • tacoman420

        Yeah I know I just saw the title of this article and couldn’t help myself from talking a bunch of crap :P I guess Oot will just always be the holy grail of Zelda games to me, no more like of all games ;)

    • lynelslayer

      I strongly disagree about oot being considered the best Zelda game. arguably the best 3d along with the majora’s mask (don’t really care for the later 3d games as they are either too frustrating or too boring), but it left behind a terrible legacy. the timeline for example is what caused this mess and I am not sure if a link to the past was meant to have any relation to the legend of Zelda (ignoring what the English translation says as it was known for making things up [e.g. a last name for ganondorf is non official]). that is what I liked so much about a link between worlds was that it returned to the more traditional formula and we saw a return of the classic blue pig ganon who was absent since four words adventures (Nintendo land does not count). although oot handled it pretty well for its time, what it added to the series got progressively worse (although some could argue this trend began with alttp). the linearity of story conflicting with gameplay to me is what lead to the biggest downfall in the series and therefore completely miss the point about the Zelda games in general. don’t get me wrong, oot is one of my top 5 titles, and although it was great back then, it has really started to show signs of aging when later titles such as the wind waker and twilight princess (which I found very boring despite some merits), where combat improved along with the gameplay mechanics.

  • kirbologist

    What about the fact that to Kaepora and Navi are extremely annoying to a lot of people?

  • http://lulles.deviantart.com/ lulles

    Interesting article and it makes sense, seeing from the perspective of those people you mentioned. But the title “why it’s the worst Zelda” is a bit deviating.

  • Milk

    OoT is my favourite Zelda game, and one of my favourite games of all time full stop. But ya, I can think of a lot more reasons why someone might not like the game from the perspective of…not liking the game.

  • Myzeldaisbetter

    This article was written by my 2 year old grandson.
    Excuse him, he doesnt know any better.