Ocarina of Time is now almost 12 years old. It took the already popular Zelda franchise into the third dimension, which wasn’t entirely as common practice in those days as it is today. The dimension transition wasn’t only
successful, it revolutionized gaming, just like the original Legend of Zelda did. Today, few top-games of all time lists exclude this classic. Two years before there was Super Mario 64. It took the established Mario series to the third
dimension just like Ocarina of Time did for Zelda. It is likewise considered one of today’s all time greats. Calling this transition a success is also an understatement, because Super Mario 64 revolutionized gaming as well. Not only that, but it
revolutionized Ocarina of Time: the game said to have revolutionized gaming.
The Mario and Zelda franchises are two of the longest existing video game series there is, both being older than 20 years and still going strong. They have seen many main titles, numerous spin-offs, fan creations – the whole
works. Mario was created in 1981, by Shigeru Miyamoto. Zelda in 1986, also by Miyamoto. For decades the franchises have had games pumped out from Nintendo. In many ways the staff and developers working on the two
franchises have always been similar. Not in traits, but actually in people. The two series have gone many different ways, some of the same ways, but all along, no doubt the idea bank between the two franchises has been the
same. Similar ideas are in both, here and there, but from the original Mario, to Mario Party, from the original Legend of Zelda to Link’s Crossbow Training, there has never been two games from the franchises that match
more than Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time.
It was December last year. The holidays had just started, and so, it was time for some serious gaming – virtual console style. I had never owned Super Mario 64, borrowed and beaten yes, but owned, no. But there it was, after a
tiny download time and a few points, there was one of my personal favourite games, there and ready to play. So I begun. The memories came back, the feel was awesome, so familiar and comforting, yet again, it was too familiar.
It felt like being deprived of all knowledge of Ocarina of Time for a decade, except for the one fact that it is awesome, and then being able to replay it, in a way that was almost as enjoyable as the first playthrough. Although Super Mario 64 is entirely different to Ocarina of Time, in a way too strong to
ignore, it was the same.
No, I don’t mean the same in the literal sense of course. People are obviously now going to be thinking ‘but Mario 64 didn’t have items like Ocarina, it didn’t have a continuous story like Ocarina, you just collected stars, and
Ocarina surely didn’t have voice acting. Ocarina was way more advanced overall too.’ Yes, the list goes on of this and that of differences, but it is not that I refer to. Maybe you would simply call it borrowed concepts here and there in
subtle ways, or the overall ‘feel’ that makes the games similar. Whichever, it is a strong presence.
Super Mario 64 is known as the game that set the control stick as the default for controlling playable characters, instead of the directional pad, being that it was one of the Nintendo 64’s launch games. There was the camera centred behind Mario’s back, or loose with Lakito vision. It moved on
from the side scrolling view obviously, but also from the top down view of games like A Link to the Past. It was an experience because you started to feel like the character more. You felt, amongst the action. The A button was
jump, B was attack. Change A for jumping to rolling and there’s Zelda for you. Of course, not all of these conccepts were new and unique in these two games, but Mario 64, and even Ocarina of Time, made them what they are today. We may take such basics for granted these days, but
they weren’t so set in concrete back then.
There was the whole world, the progression. The dungeon to field, dungeon to field approach was made a reality in the original Legend of Zelda, but not in 3D until Mario 64, and then it was mastered for Ocarina of Time. Super
Mario 64 may be the first real three-dimensional open video game world. It wasn’t linear, you explored, found new and secret places. Yes, they weren’t entirely new concepts, but they were defined.
To finally get down to it, there are just some aspects that when you see them in Mario 64, there’s no denying Ocarina of Time took the idea. Take for example the Merry-Go Round in the level, Big Boo’s Haunt. It is a dead match for
the Kakariko Windmill. Both have a circular room, a pillar in the middle, a rotating floor, and, oh yeah, are all wooden structures. But wait, there’s more: the music. The Song of Storms
plays in Zelda, and in Mario, the beta version Song of Storms, circus style? It doesn’t take musical skill to notice the similar tracks. Yes, they are discernibly different, but all so similar, just like the games themselves. Both scores
were composed by Koji Kondo, so given an identical location, why not redo the theme? The soundtracks overall are similar, core themes for locations, fanfares for things like getting a star or an item, music for doing the correct
Super Mario 64 – Merry-Go Round