“Hey! Listen!”
November 22, 2018 9:50 AM   Subscribe

20 Years On, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is Still Special [Kotaku] “The game begins in Kokiri Village, a training level that is also a masterstroke of simplicity. Rather than a list of instructions and commands, or dropping you in at the deep end, Ocarina begins in an eminently explorable village and tells you to explore it. There are chests to find, people to talk to, a training dungeon – it’s several hours before you even feel a need to look farther. When you do and the world opens its horizons, it is one of gaming’s great moments. Zelda games were always epic, but it was with Ocarina that they achieved a new scale: the central field seems to go for leagues, opening on to a sea, a castle, a fortress, mountains, woods, a ranch. Even the best games hadn’t presented an adventure like this before. If a modern player looks at Hyrule field now, it may seem a paltry thing. In 1998, this was the future.” [YouTube][20th Anniversary Retrospective]

• Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field changed how we think about game worlds [Polygon]
“Video game creators have spent the last 20 years trying to fill players with the same sense of wonder they experienced the first time they set foot into The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field. Some have come close. There was the slowly dawning realization that you could go practically anywhere in Grand Theft Auto 3’s Liberty City, provided you didn’t mind being shot at if you wandered into the wrong neighborhood. Riding on horseback into Red Dead Redemption 2’s breathtaking wilderness at a slow saunter. Climbing to the peak of the central tower in Crackdown and taking in the city below. Activating a quest marker in Fallout 3 and promptly walking a mile in the other direction. Such video game moments have created a sense of immersion and immediacy, placing us into vast, open virtual worlds and letting us do our thing. Still, in terms of sheer reach and impact, nothing will compare to the way millions of people felt as they struck out into the overworld of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time back over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1998.”
• Remembering Zelda: Ocarina of Time, 20 Years Later [Nintendo Life]
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time turns 20 years old today. It's older than this site; in fact, it's older than most gaming sites. Despite its age, Ocarina's influence can be found in games big and small to this day. It's also still the highest rated game of all time according to Metacritic. It's still an incredible game by 2018's exacting standards of quality and presentation, but in 1998, it was legendary. To truly understand its cultural impact, you had to be there. I was, and I want to tell you all about it. The story of Ocarina of Time begins years before its release, in late 1995. That year, Nintendo held what was then an annual event all their own, known as Shoshinkai, or Spaceworld. The 1995 show served as the Nintendo 64's coming out party: Nintendo showed off the hardware and over a dozen games, but for me, there was only one thing shown that mattered: the Zelda 64 tech demo. It was a scant 10-second video, but it was all my 13-year-old-self cared for. I decided at that moment that I had to have a Nintendo 64 and that I had to have it on day one, as I was convinced that surely Zelda would release alongside the ground-breaking console.”
• Should 'Ocarina of Time' Be Called the Greatest Game Ever? [The Hollywood Reporter]
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time hit North America 20 years ago this month. It was a generation-defining video game that pushed the boundaries of graphics and storytelling. But the Nov. 21 anniversary comes just weeks after another landmark for gaming — with Red Dead Redemption 2 already generating the sort of lavish praise that credibly raises the question … is it the best game of all time? The notion of "best video game" is perhaps more complicated than talking about the greatest movie of all time, even. Sure, you couldn't have made Avengers: Infinity War with 1970s technology, but you could make a Star Wars movie people like better than the one that came out in 2018. And Citizen Kane or The Godfather certainly didn't require 2018 technology. Video games are different. The technology changes so drastically, so quickly, that comparing games from the 1980s or even early 2000s to RDR2 just doesn't seem fair. 1985's Super Mario Bros. was revolutionary and is certainly in the conversation for best game, but can it compete in a real way with Ocarina of Time, released just 13 years later?”
• The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time is 20 and people are still trying to find all its secrets [GQ]
“Ocarina Of Time was a behemoth of its time: nothing could have seemed bigger, more complete, more impregnable. It seemed so mammoth an entity, that trying to shuffle it seemed like shuffling the pieces of a perfectly finished Rubik's Cube. But that is why I love watching speed runs: it shows that the game I had to get a friend from school to help me finish is just a bunch of polygons and mathematical equations ticking along in the background. Yet it also reminds me that it’s more than that: to see weird niches of the original game become the centre points of a new run – did anyone remember the fishing mini-game without it being crucial to the bottle adventure glitch? – reminds me of how complete this world is. To see people learn the choreography of the world so they can sprint through 100 per cent completion reminds me of every Skulltula, side quest and Poe. It feels like a supermarket sweep, a greatest hits of evocative images. It’s both a deconstruction, and a celebration, of what Zelda is.”
posted by Fizz (36 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I missed this game when it first came out. I only played a re-imagining/refined version of the game on the 3DS. And I can confirm that it still holds up. If you have a 3DS and have never played, it is worth going back to. That is one place that the 3DS system really shines. Nintendo went back and made most of the mainline Zelda games available in slightly HD/revised versions. Ugh, too many games, not enough time.
posted by Fizz at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

So triggered by the title. Fuck off, Navi, I'm smashing pots and stacking rupees.
posted by loquacious at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

I've never played this, though I have watched my partner and their offspring play it. (I never actually owned a Nintendo system; I bought Sony instead.) We even bought an ocarina just so they could play the songs, too. Why not?

"Hey, listen!" is still part of our family vernacular.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:14 AM on November 22, 2018

Every moment of the days and days and days I spent immersed in this game just came flooding back. I never finished the game (my brother did, it was his console in his room because boys play video games, according to my gift-giving parents). I did come close, though.

All those side quests. Fuck those side quests! This game really stressed me out because I never knew if I was doing things in the correct order or if I was missing something that I would need to go back to get. But it was magical. I stopped playing games after that as my brother got more unsafe to be around and never picked them up again once I was out of my parents’ house, so this game will forever be the ultimate video game to me.

I have such an urge to play it again but no desire to buy a TV and an N-64 to do so. Is it possible to recreate that experience on a Mac? Surely not?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:26 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have such an urge to play it again but no desire to buy a TV and an N-64 to do so. Is it possible to recreate that experience on a Mac? Surely not?

Pick yourself up a Nintendo 3DS. Now that the Switch is super popular, there are likely a flood of pre-owned 3DS you can grab on the cheap.
posted by Fizz at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised Z-Targeting is nothing more than a passage, considering it fixed the biggest problem with early 3D third person action games. Instead of scrambling and frantically mashing the buttons to hit something (most of the times, air), the player was more in control of the gameplay.
Sure, with the following generations things became even more streamlined and intuitive, but it was a leap comparable to when PC FPS games started using WASD and Mouse as opposed to the directional keys and shift/control/space.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:33 AM on November 22, 2018

Also, wasn't it the first game (or at least in the first group of games) to have vibration feedback (with the rumble pack add-on)? Stone of Agony!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2018

It’s the game that got me to buy an N64 ... which is now plugged in to a TV in my son’s playroom. Along with an NES Classic, a GameCube, and a Wii. Sometimes we move he Switch in there too. 5 generations of Nintendo, 4 of which were purchased so I could play Zelda. It’s definitely true that so many of the later games built on Ocarina, but each added its own thing to the mix. The game does hold up well 20 years on. Never did find all the Skulltulas but I refused to quit until I beat the damned horseback archery challenge. That took forever.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:31 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

That game is amazing just for the music.
It actually makes a great collections of songs to teach kids (or, I guess, 20+ year olds now) about intervals.

ps Saria's song's my jam.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:54 AM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have to thank my stepson for bringing me into and through this quest as a 30 year old.
posted by nicolin at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Must...resist..playing on Thanksgiving....
posted by corb at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

thethornbusheshaveroses > Is it possible to recreate that experience on a Mac?

Get a copy of OpenEmu, acquire a copy of the ROM by visiting some dodgy websites. You probably don't want to play it with a keyboard, you'll want to get some sort of controller to plug in. Maybe grab a cheap used PS4 controller, they're really easy to connect to a Mac; maybe a n64 controller reproduction with a USB plug. Total cost will be around $15, plus some piracy.

Alternatively: used n64+Zelda+about $15 for a box that'll let you turn its composite video output into the HDMI your modern TV probably expects. Or a used 3DS and the remake for that, as Fizz suggests.
posted by egypturnash at 12:13 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

For any 3D game to be as good as Ocarina of Time (and Mario 64 before it) was in an era where how to make 3D games and how to control them was still being figured out is an incredible blessing. If you haven't played it you're really missing an important piece of video game history that is still worth visiting.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:14 PM on November 22, 2018

This fever dream is critical of Ocarina of Time.
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:34 PM on November 22, 2018

Ocarina of Time (and the remixed Ocarina of Time: Master Quest) was available on GameCube, and is playable on the Wii (but not the Wii-U). I have OoT for both N64 and GameCube, and I prefer playing on the GameCube. Visuals are a little crisper, and I prefer the controller over the N64.
posted by xedrik at 12:41 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am fascinated by how Zelda has changed over various systems and periods of gaming. I wonder where the next game is going to take us, now that we've been given such an open world, will we continue to expand that or will we return to a more linear story and focus. Hmm...
posted by Fizz at 1:26 PM on November 22, 2018

If you pre-ordered Wind Waker, the bonus disc came with a port of Ocarina of Time. That was a great way to wait for the new game, since I'd never played OoT before.

There's one company that advertised sales of ocarinas in gaming magazines for YEARS after, I suspect nostalgia was their main source of income.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:32 PM on November 22, 2018

Ocarina of Time may not be my favourite Zelda (the competition is tough!), but it was a fantastic experience when it came out and most modern 3d action-rpgs of today stand on its shoulders. I should give it another playthrough one of these days; it should be a great link to the past.

I'll get my coat.
posted by ersatz at 1:49 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's not so much that Navi would shout "Hey! Listen!", although that was annoying by itself, so much that she would always shout "Hey!" or "Listen!" one more time right after you press the button to listen to her.
posted by qntm at 1:51 PM on November 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

I bought it on release and played through but hit some kind of glitch at the final boss fight. I would go for hours but he wouldn’t die. In the end I sold it and moved on.

A couple of years later I bought a secondhand copy and when I eventually got to the end it worked first time.

I still wonder what happened with that. It was really annoying!
posted by gnuhavenpier at 1:55 PM on November 22, 2018

This was one of the important games - more than that, experiences - in my life. Yeah; the water temple. THE WATER TEMPLE. PTSD = POST TEMPLE STRESS DISORDER. BOOTS ON. BOOTS OFF. BOOTS ON. DROWN. REPEAT. DAY AND NIGHT. IT WAS BAD. Several days off work to completely figure out that particularly nasty part. I did not shower during that time, did not answer increasingly worried emails or calls from work, and apparently I was only one day away from my live-in landlady asking me to leave and find somewhere else to live (because of the lack of showering).

On the positive, less traumatic aspects of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the music. My favourite piece was Gerudo Valley and ah yes did an FPP rounding up various versions of it a few years ago and most of the links still work.
posted by Wordshore at 3:03 PM on November 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

At the time I thought it was inferior to SNES Zelda, as the controls were so much less precise.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:04 PM on November 22, 2018

Okay then. Ocarina is discounted on the Nintendo store and I am venturing into this game armed with tacos, beer, and an ill-fated attempt at making tortillas. Happy Thanksgiving, motherfuckers.
posted by asperity at 5:08 PM on November 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have such an urge to play it again but no desire to buy a TV and an N-64 to do so. Is it possible to recreate that experience on a Mac?

You could buy a copy of sixtyforce, a N64 emulator for Mac. Then it only remains to find a rom of the game.
posted by Quackles at 6:31 PM on November 22, 2018

People who can't pick up cuccos shouldn't try to keep cuccos.
posted by asperity at 9:21 PM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

As far as I'm concerned, until the recent advent of VR, the last major revolution in video game structure was the N64 with its Mario and especially Zelda. For most players, Ocarina of Time was the first really, truly 3D game, the first that was fully functional, navigable, and large, with a real story and a real world to contain it. There were many revolutions before that, but pretty much everything since, straight through Red Dead Redemption 2, has basically just been iterative refinements to the basic mechanics and open-3D-worldness that was set by Zelda. When I was younger I would only buy a video game system when there had been another revolution, but I had to give up on that after the N64, since everything since then was basically just prettier versions of the same thing. Many nice games, sure, but nothing fundamentally different. VR is really the first thing to change that in 20 years, but in its own way, the small-screen flat 3D of the N64 and Zelda were at least as revolutionary, opening up the immensity of video game worlds in a way that no mere additional vastening of scale and detail could ever do. People often get confused by the idea of greatness, and often think that a sequel to a revolutionary first product that manages to do what the first was doing in a better way is somehow greater; but true greatness is essentially tied to the contingency of history, and Zelda happened to be the first truly great modern 3D game, and in that sense will always be the greatest of its kind no matter what comes after.
posted by chortly at 9:29 PM on November 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I believe I'm the only person who actually enjoys the water temple. It truly make you think in three dimensions and consider you actions that would influence things far away from you as well as nearby. And the miniboss of the toughest fight on the game and makes you think outside off simply z-target, hit, block, with the appropriate use of of the dungeon's weapon.

The rest of the game (minus the initial race to get epona) is also great, just not as fantastic as the water temple. (Ok, Jabu Jabu's stomach was annoying at times.)
posted by Hactar at 2:12 AM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Two decades, and they still haven't had a game that includes Navi's father, Felice. I guess they're just waiting for the right December to release it.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:17 AM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

As far as I'm concerned, until the recent advent of VR, the last major revolution in video game structure was the N64 with its Mario and especially Zelda. For most players, Ocarina of Time was the first really, truly 3D game, the first that was fully functional, navigable, and large, with a real story and a real world to contain it.

I disagree slightly; I find that user inputs have a lot to do with video game structure, and that the first mass market motion controls (the Nintendo Wii) and the first mass market portable touchscreen (the Nintendo DS which, of course, predates smartphones) are both fairly major innovations. (As for that matter was the N64 controller with its thumbstick).

And yes it's pretty incredible to play something like The Witcher 3, and then see that it might be a lot bigger, graphically a whole lot better, and a lot more adult than Ocarina of Time - but fundamentally it's iterated on the foundations of Ocarina.

As for following the excellent Breath of the Wild, Ocarina was followed by the amazing Majora's Mask - and I've suggested largely seriously that another "Zelda: Three Days To Live" and a very small, tight, and iteratable environment would work well as a sequel to Breath of the Wild.
posted by Francis at 5:57 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

well played, radwolf76, well played.
posted by grubby at 6:39 AM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

This fever dream is critical of ocarina of time

There's a fine cottage industry of youtube polemicist talking shit about classic games. Good work if you can get it.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:33 AM on November 23, 2018

And boom: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Announced for Nintendo Switch.

This makes a ton of sense, especially because of how much emphasis this game placed on motion controls.
posted by Fizz at 3:01 AM on November 26, 2018

A bit late to this but @FrofCroakly did a great thread on Fallouts 5 to 75.
posted by Gratishades at 2:39 PM on November 27, 2018

Oh man I'd buy Skyward Sword for the Switch. It's one of the only 2 major platform Zelda games I never played (Majora's Mask was the other).

I don't remember having any ridiculous amount of trouble over the water temple in OoT. Hmm. Maybe just the way my brain works? (meaning, I either think that way normally, OR I mentally blocked all memory of how bad it was for self-preservation of my sanity...)
posted by caution live frogs at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2018

I liked the water temple. I did stay up too late finishing it last night (saved the boss fight for today though.)
posted by asperity at 9:50 AM on November 30, 2018

It's possible that the 3DS version adds some quality-of-life improvements? I didn't find the boots on/off thing to be a problem at all; I put them in a slot I could hit with my thumb. And no drowning with the blue shirt on the whole time.

What really is super-frustrating to me: that goddamn horse obstacle course. I have given up on my dream of cow ownership. And collecting ghosts is annoying enough that I just don't care to get another bottle.
posted by asperity at 9:56 AM on November 30, 2018

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