Flashback – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for N64

Our flashback features will look at games from today’s perspective and are a bit different from regular reviews. With the soon to be released Ocarina of Time remake for the 3DS looming ever closer, I decided to revisit the original from the faithful Nintendo 64. Why? Because it’s one of my favorite games of all time.  Also, because it was fun then and, surprise, it is still loads of fun now.

It had been several years since my last playthrough and I was really itching to take the reins and see if I still loved this adventure as much as I use to, especially with all the excitement surrounding the release of the remake.  What I found was a great, enthralling adventure that spans time itself, with just a few rough spots around the edges.  Against the test of time, Link’s ocarina stays in tune and holds up better than most.

Ocarina of Time is probably one of the most popular Zelda titles in history.  It’s the classic formula we all know by heart now; adventure/puzzles, Link must rescue Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon and save Hyrule.  This time he has the special Ocarina of Time to help him.  This ocarina, as you probably guessed by the name, plays a very important role in both progression of story and gameplay.  With it, you learn different songs using the C buttons.  If played at the right time, these songs will open up paths, teleport you places, let people know who you are, etc.  Other than that, like I said before, it’s the same formula, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This installment of the Zelda series plays out like most of the others; you work your way through a series of dungeons, collecting keys and items that help you on your way, solving puzzles to progress, finally fighting the boss at the end of the dungeon.  As with most Zelda games, the puzzles and dungeons are where the fun lies.  The puzzles aren’t necessarily brain busters (I remember them being harder when I was 10) and some of them are downright laughable.  However, the majority of puzzles and dungeons will have you, at least, stoping when you enter a room, looking around, and thinking “ok…that could go their; if I hit that then…let’s see…maybe it will…” and so on.  The puzzles in recent games aren’t necessarily any harder or more challenging but Ocarina of Time does well with making the puzzles fun and adventurous to solve.  These games have always been about solving the puzzles with the items you have at your disposal and this game does well with that.

While the puzzles and gameplay have held up with the best of them, the controls, on the other hand, are something to break a controller at on occasion.  They seemed pretty spot on back in the day, but after this recent playthrough, I found myself in awe at how frustrating the controls could be at times.  They are really touchy and trying to move the slightest bit turns into you jumping the wrong direction, off a platform into…well…death.  This same thing happens when trying to aim your bow or hookshot.  Trying to get a bead on something takes some patience and a steady hand on the joystick.  The movement is hindered further by a lack of camera control on your part.  You can center the camera with Z and go into first person with C up, but other than that, the camera goes for its own.  Oh how spoiled we are now with our joystick dedicated to just camera control.

The graphics haven’t aged very gloriously either.  Although the old N64 graphics are interesting to look at and not…terrible, it definitely takes some getting used to after playing today’s games.  They can make the trek back down memory lane interesting though and it is nice to compare how far we’ve come.  Still, compared to some games, Ocarina’s haven’t aged as bad as they could have.  That could be thanks to Nintendo and their cartoony look for most games. However, set side by side with the remake’s screenshots and you really see the age of this title. It is refreshing to know that maybe the remake can give us both fun and beauty to go along with it this time.

Not surprising since this game is based around music, the audio is nicely done.  The classic music will have you swimming in memories if you have ever played this title before, and taping your feet to the great compositions, whether it be your first time (you depraved fool) or your twelfth.   Each area has its own special tune and they fit so well.   Ocarina of Time has some of the best music in the series and that hasn’t changed with time.

Aside from the minor complaints, Ocarina of Time is a great Zelda title with fun puzzles, great music, and a grand, exciting adventure that has withstood the test of time.  The graphics won’t get you down too much and controls become manageable with some trial and error.  If you haven’t played this game before…what the hell?  If you haven’t played it recently, give it a go, you’ll be glad you did, and with the 3DS remake on the horizon, the pull to play this game is stronger than ever. Give in, you’ll be glad you did.

About Tyler Lee

Freelance video game journalist, published author, nerd.

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