Posted on December 21 2014 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Ocarina of Time is arguably the most popular game in the series, but is it the best? While it doesn’t top my personal favorites list, there are several aspects it does very well – so well it could put it at the top. Like the original The Legend of Zelda and Link’s Awakening, this game marked a major point in Zelda history – but this is the best fact based analysis I can find to put the game at the top, thus those impacts don’t technically matter in this case.
Remember that the goal here isn’t for me to tell you or even convince you that any game in the series deserves the crown, but to rather point out the best aspects of each game compared to those of the rest of the series and let you decided for yourself. That being said, here is what I found to be the most profound aspects of Ocarina of Time.
An Unforgettable Story
Other games may boast better stories when it comes to particular aspects of the telling, such as the character growth of Midna in Twilight Princess, but Ocarina of Time features one of, if the best well-rounded story from start to finish. There is a lot of mystery in the dealings with the Great Deku Tree and intrigue when meeting the princess and seeing Ganondorf for the first time. This continues on to the ruined world when you become an adult to all the dealings with the various sages. The subplots with Saria and Malon and even the side quests all feed into a memorable story that you won’t soon forget.
It all ends in a rather humbling and sad moment as (spoiler) you are sent back to being a child again, since Zelda feels guilty that you missed out on your childhood. In game, it feels you are doomed to repeat history over and over, since that is the only option the story itself provides. Truly memorable, and after experiencing it once it will stick with you for years to come.
A Magical Musical Journey
Some of Nintendo’s very best work musically in any game they have ever crafted happened in Ocarina of Time. Personal tastes may swing to The Wind Waker or other Nintendo games, such as Mario Galaxy, but it’s Ocarina of Time’s music you’ll keep humming to yourself when you find yourself on a walk. Music goes beyond being catchy and easy to recall – which this game’s music is – but is entwined directly into the fabric of the overall experience.
The music draws you into the world of Hyrule and never lets you go, perfectly matching the gameplay. No amount of orchestrated music or CD quality recordings and playback are going to ensure being a fit for any title, and Ocarina of Time proved that despite inferior sound quality today, or even back in 1998. All of this makes the soundtrack stand tall above the rest of the series. This is probably Koji Kondo’s best work as a composer.
Dungeons are Varied and Fit in the World
Ocarina of Time may or may not have the best overall dungeons in the series, but there are two aspects of the dungeons themselves that do work out a lot better than all the other games in the series. For starters, they are extremely varied; it’s really hard to confuse any one dungeon as being the same place because they all give off their own unique vibe. Not many games can lay claim to that fact, so it’s definitely something worth noting.
Beyond that, the dungeons feel like a natural extension of the world. Too often in Zelda titles a dungeon or two feel almost forced – like they don’t make sense geographically or within the world itself. Why would this area exist for any other purpose but gameplay? Ocarina of Time doesn’t feel that way, as each dungeon feels like it belongs in the world, even when the game isn’t taking place. The dungeon in Death Mountain feels like it should be there even when nothing is going on to drive Link to it. The forest temple? Same thing. In fact I am hard pressed to think of any dungeon in the game that truly feels like it’s out of place.
There are many other reasons I am sure you can come up with for this game to be at the top of your list. Some of them may be personal, but many of them are completely subjective. My goal is to try and stick close to being objective about aspects the game does better than the rest.
Also, in response to some “many why is the title always the same your confusing me”, I made a slight alteration to it compared to prior works. This isn’t meant to imply anything and it states the exact same thing as the other editorials. I want everyone to understand that this is a series, so the same title aspect is part of it. Thus the alteration is me trolling, admittedly.