Posted on July 19 2010 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
The title alone of this article may bring a big red alarm shining over the world of gaming. Ocarina of Time isn’t the best Zelda ever? It’s not the best game ever? What is this blasphemy from a Zelda fan site? On top of that, there is going to be commentators that wont even bother reading the context of this article. That’s fine, I get it. Zelda fans are extremely passionate, and in that fandom, Ocarina of Time fans are out for the blood of human sacrifice to prevent anyone from speaking against the gaming giant.
For starters, Ocarina of Time, or any other game being the best, is completely subjective. That means that just because I am presenting an argument for Ocarina of Time not being the best, that doesn’t mean that for you, personally, it isn’t. In fact, it doesn’t even mean it’s not the best. What it does mean is that I whole heartedly feel that Ocarina of Time is not the gaming god it is made out to be.
One of the biggest reasons Ocarina of Time is considered so great is what it did for Zelda, and what it did during it’s time period. Ocarina of Time certainly did a lot for the industry. It was one of the few 2D adventure games to successfully transfer over into a 3D environment, something that Sonic wishes it could of mimicked. Not just that though, it had a very in-depth and involving story, characters that are etched in our memory forever, some mystery, some excitement, time travel, and most importantly it was a lot of fun.
Me saying Ocarina of Time isn’t the best isn’t even about me not being from that era – I am smack dab in the middle of it. While it wasn’t the first Zelda game I played, it was the first I beat. In 1998 I was 12, an age I am sure many people reading this piece are not far from. I grew up with it, and yes I thought the game was the best thing ever for many years. Nostalgia gripped me, and nothing could compare. I was young and had a hard time grasping how anything can be better than the best game ever.
Well, Ocarina of Time is a great game. That hasn’t changed. It is what it is, and it will remain one of many must play classics for any gamer before they die. However, sometimes we are so blinded by our youth, so blinded by what we think Zelda is suppose to be because of what Ocarina of Time was, that we harp a bit too much on games that have come out since.
Yes, Majora’s Mask, I feel today, is a better game. When I was 12, I didn’t think so. My copy of Majora’s Mask had a game ending glitch in the Stone Tower, so any love I had for it died when I lost my game save file. I think it’s also a telling of growing up. As a child, Ocarina of Time was perfect. The story made sense, the action was there, and the puzzles were just right for my age. Not too hard, not too easy, just a nice balance for that early teen age. Majora’s Mask was a staunch contrast to that. It was far more difficult, had a much more engrossing world and along with it, a far more complex story that was hard to understand at the time.
So, part of this is simply a tale of growing up. Majora’s Mask is better than Ocarina of Time to me today for the simple fact it does so much with so little, and does it in a way that requires a more experienced mind to really appreciate it. However, this isn’t really about why Majora’s Mask is better than Ocarina of Time – We have beaten this topic to death at Zelda Informer. As an example, I fully believe that Twilight Princess is also superior to Ocarina of Time in every which way. Same with The Wind Waker, and yes, even some of the hand held games such as Spirit Tracks.
The thing about all these games is that Ocarina of Time was a foundation of which there have been severe improvements to the series. Both in story pacing, game play progression, complexity and simplicity mixed together, and in overall feel. Twilight Princess may seem “too easy”, but it’s still just as hard, of not slightly harder, than Ocarina of Time ever was. I was 20 when I played Twilight Princess. I was 12 when I played Ocarina of Time. Eight years of experience has cheapened that childhood glee.
Yes, I do still enjoy Ocarina of Time, but it’s not a game of choice for me anymore if I am looking at replay value. Once I peel back my nostalgia of being 12 again, I find a good game that is made for a younger audience. Essentially, an adventure title for kids. Lets face it, Zelda itself pretty much fits into that category. Most things we have asked to happen in the series to progress it further is to take it away from a series for kids to a series for young adults. That makes sense – we want Zelda to grow up with us. No, that doesn’t mean a bunch of violence and blood either.
I could start listing reason after reason why most Zelda games since Ocarina of Time are vastly superior, but the fact remains that your opinions are already formulated on the matter. You either are unable to budge of the Ocarina train, or you are completely fixated on another Zelda game that you don’t give the rest fair shakes. We are like that at Zelda Informer with Majora’s Mask. We love it so much we have a hard time giving other games any credit for doing similar things better.
When we talk about Ocarina of Time being the best ever, that is most likely the biggest subjective opinion known to man. I love Zelda, but I would still put many games individually ahead of this entire series. I may not have a single series that goes ahead of Zelda, but I don’t think any of it’s individual games deserve the #1 spot. With greats out there from Mario, Pokemon, Metal Gear, Half-Life, etc… it’s really just “what game genre or series do you like better?”. There are way too many games that it is unfair to say any one game is the best.
So what is this articles purpose? To peel back the eyes for a second. Ocarina of Time is a great game, but does that mean all the things done better than it are cheapened because Ocarina of Time had it first? If that was the case, isn’t Ocarina of Time itself cheapened because much of what it does, fundamentally, was done in A Link to the Past? Are the bombers articles at ZI cheapened because they originally wrote for Zelda Universe? So many games both in this series, and outside of it, have done everything Ocarina of Time did, but better. Unfortunately we just have a hard time noticing it, because hey, we didn’t grow up with x game. Don’t believe me? Just look around the internet. Twilight Princess fans who think it’s the best Zelda, possibly best game, ever are running rampant. To them, Twilight Princess is their Ocarina of Time. Is the best? To them it is, but if were being honest, we can never claim anything is the best for anyone other than ourselves. All things in life seem to leave bigger impressions, and impact us more, when we are younger. That’s why how you were raised has such a big affect on who you are later in life.
That, my friends, is the true message. Game on. Oh, and in case your wondering, we are going to bring the game sections back sometime later this year. Until then, be sure to check out our Spirit Tracks Walkthrough and check back in 2011 for our Skyward Sword Walkthrough.