When the Nintendo 64 was announced, one of the first questions on everyone’s mind was when the next entry to the Legend of Zelda series would be released for the new console. After all, the previous entries were heralded as classics by critics and fans alike the second they were released. Other games had jumped into the new 3D textures and graphics with varying results, but Nintendo really seemed to know what they were doing after the gigantic success that was Super Mario 64 being released earlier. But a fantasy-adventure title never really seemed to be a good idea.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released on November 21, 1998, in North America and Japan. Upon opening the box the usual materials for a N64 game were included like the game manual and the cartridge. This cartridge was bold, however. It was practically bragging that it would be an instant classic with the gold exterior it was sporting. There wasn’t a game on the system that was ballsy enough to be gold, save for the tacky yellow of Donkey Kong 64. Looking at the Ocarina of Time cartridge was like looking at a piece of treasure that would be found in a chest hidden deep in the caverns of Hyrule. Popping that game into the N64 and gripping the three-pronged controller would change the lives of many gamers across the globe.
The game would boot up with a medieval melody with the prodding of a horse in the background, steadily getting louder until you see our hero riding into dusk through a field. Gamers couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Was that Link? Riding a horse? In 3D? And the music, oh the music. It would be the start of a beautiful journey throughout Hyrule, one of dazzling visuals and a euphoric score composed by the one and only Koji Kondo. Press “Start” and a journey through time will begin.
The first scene declared that this wasn’t like any Zelda game before. It was dark. Moody. And above all, scary. But that brief moment was only a dream that our hero had, being awakened by the fairy Navi. From then on, the adventure begins. The game was an instant classic, being raved about by gamers and critics, claiming that this is the best that Nintendo has ever put out. It was. Nothing had ever achieved the same amount of depth, detail, and passion that Ocarina of Time did, and no game has quite captured that magic since.
Ocarina of Time was a revolution in the gaming industry. 20 years later it is heralded as the greatest game ever made, and for good reason. Everything was nearly pitch-perfect. It’s gameplay, music, graphics, characters, and story were all incredibly unique to the Zelda series and there were and will be endless imitators trying to replicate that same magic and awe that this game made way back in 1998. Today, it’s not too hard to pick up a version of the game whether it is through the virtual console or the remake on the 3DS, but if you are one of the lucky few to have access to the original Nintendo 64 and a copy of the game, plug in that gold cartridge and rediscover the treasures within.