Faster, Epona! Faster!
I’ve been a bad, bad gamer. *Like this post if you read that last sentence in the Red Queen from Resident Evil‘s voice.*
Why, you ask? Well, I feel like a bad gamer because I’ve only just completed Ocarina of Time for the first time. Yes, including the N64 release. I never owned a N64 and never got to play OoT. I’ve always liked the 2D Zelda games, like The Legend of Zelda, Link to the Past, Phantom Hourglass, and Link’s Awakening. But when it comes to Link’s adventures in 3D… I’ve always been, well, intimidated. My first experience with a 3D Zelda title was at my high school best friend’s house. She handed me an awkward, clunky N64 controller that I had very little experience with in the middle of a dungeon and told me to kill some monster. I can’t recall if it was Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask. Doesn’t really matter which game it was. Point is: I got killed rather quickly and figured the new LoZ games were way too hard and complicated for me. I’d settle with playing Link’s Awakening over and over again for the rest of my life.
Fast forward about 15 years (yikes!) and I still hadn’t touched a home console Legend of Zelda release since that day. Which is funny, considering I’ve watched my husband play every one except for Wind Waker. He’s currently plowing his way through Skyward Sword, a beast all of its own. When we got our 3DS a year or so ago, we purchased the 3DS release of OoT. It is one of Hubby’s favorite games, and I rationalized that this was my chance to finally get over my fear of 3D Zelda games. After all, it is on a portable console, so I can pretend it never was a N64 game.
Seeing as the general consensus among a lot of gamers seems to be that OoT is a close second favorite to LttP, I figured I needed to stop making excuses and play it. After picking up and putting down the 3DS version a couple of times (I never made it far past the Deku Tree intro dungeon) I decided it was time to get serious and finally see what all of the fuss was about.
I’m also a “bad” gamer because I used a strategy wiki for almost the entire game. Do I feel bad about it? No! Why not? A- Water Temple. B- Have you ever tried pulling out a shiny object in front of a toddler? My son is 14 months old, pseudo-walking, and LOVES anything adults don’t want him touching. Whenever the 3DS comes out of hiding he is grabbing and pulling down on the top flap. Whenever the laptop is out, he creeps over and mashes on the keyboard. Whenever the television is on, he is pounding his dirty hands on the screen. My point is, unless he is napping, I have a hard time concentrating on whatever I’m doing on a screen. Another excuse for starting this game over half a dozen times.
I am not spoiler tagging anything because I feel like I’m the only gamer over the age of 15 who hasn’t played this game. Plus, the basic LoZ formula we’ve all come to know and love is the same: adventure Hyrule, solve puzzles, complete dungeons, save Zelda.
And I can say, overall I really enjoyed this game. I feel like it aged rather well. The lock-on targeting is sloppy: but hey, at least it has a lock on feature, unlike a lot of other action/adventure games I can think of. And I like the seemingly old school inventory management. Pausing a game to equip items and tools is way easier than the ‘cycling through your inventory in real-time with a transparent menu screen’ system in a lot of games nowadays. And the story is, well… It’s a Zelda game, okay! The premise with the Triforce was really cool, as well as the sages you get to save. They’re so grateful, they give you their medallion, “Adding their power to your own”… or something. The medallion just fills an empty spot in your inventory. Really.
The Legend of Zelda series never ceases to amaze me with the completely random things the player is expected to figure out in order to advance or obtain special items. OoT is no exception, both thankfully and frustratingly. Given the game’s title, a lot of my questions sounded like “How was I supposed to know to play the Song of Storms there?” Or, “How was I supposed to know to play the Song of Time there?” I mean, really. Zelda’s Lullaby was the only no brainer because they plop that Triforce symbol down whenever they want you playing it. Sometimes there is a symbol for the Song of Time, but not always. And why is there a Sun Song but not a Moon Song? It confuses me.
I think my favorite optional item was the Biggoron sword. That sword packs a punch. Getting the Biggoron sword was such a chore. I was mainly annoyed because I was about halfway through the fetch quests when I realized I couldn’t finish because I didn’t have Blue Fire yet. I went back to what I was doing, completed the Ice Cavern (a sort of mini-dungeon) and finally melted King Zora. Anyway, it was worth it, because afterwards I only took it off for the mandatory Master Sword wielding in the final battle. I can’t believe I let that big stupid Goron talk me into giving him 200 rupees for that piece of crap sword he spent 7 years making. All it did was sit in my inventory because I was too afraid to break it.
Puzzles have always been the hardest part about LoZ games. Usually the only “hard” aspect of the boss fights is solving the “What the heck am I supposed to hit this guy with?” mini-puzzle. I hope someone out there agrees with me when I say the hardest boss fight in this game is definitely Bongo Bongo. What. A. Prick. I died more in this fight than the two forms of the final boss fight combined! I think I had like, 5 arrows left after messing with Bongo. Guess I should’ve gotten another arrow capacity upgrade. The encounter with the twin witches was a lot of fun. And killing the fire dragon would have been much more difficult if I didn’t use a strategy guide that told me I could hang over the edge and not bother dodging falling boulders.
Overall, when I beat the final boss, I had 3 bottles, 18 hearts, all three swords, and all the arrows except for the Ice Arrow. Oops. I know for a fact one of my missing heart pieces is from fishing. I hate fishing, period. Even in video games. The difficulty (randomness) of snagging a fish over 10 pounds as little Link proved to be too much for me. The last bottle I needed to get was from collecting poes for weird lady. I figured if I couldn’t beat the final boss with 3 fairies, 18 hearts, the Biggoron sword, taking half damage, and a strategy guide, there was no hope for me.
Technically speaking, the game looks and sounds great on the 3DS. Even better on the 3DS XL, I’m sure. Watching Youtube clips of the N64 version online, I always thought, “Man, that looks so dark and dreary.” The 3DS resolution is cleaned up and quite colorful. The bottom touch screen was integrated quite nicely, I think. You can use it to tap different locations on the map, swap inventory items in and out, and play the ocarina. When feeling lazy, I used my thumbnail and it worked just as well. Upon completing the game, I unlocked the Master Quest. Evidently it is harder and has mirrored dungeon designs. Riiight… Maybe in my next lifetime.
I’m very satisfied I devoted time into experiencing at least one playthrough of Ocarina of Time. I can clearly see how it earned the titles and achievements it did, and how many people consider it one of the best games ever made. Even by today’s standards. In fact, I liked it so much, I’ve decided to start on a quest of my own.
Everyone reading, or even skimming this blog post, needs to help me out! Please cast a vote below and help me decide which home console Legend of Zelda game I should tackle next! I’m already planning on downloading Oracle of Seasons and eventually Oracle of Ages on my 3DS. Those don’t really count, because they look and sound just like one of my favorite games of all time, Link’s Awakening, and don’t intimidate me like the big Link adventures do.