In the winter of 1998, there was no game more coveted than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Highly anticipated as the franchise’s first foray into 3D gameplay, Nintendo has set itself an even higher bar with the promise of an open-world design. The stakes were high; a hardware issue had delayed development for an entire year, and Nintendo was pressured to continue its critical success with Super Mario 64 and 1997 Star fox 64.
Upon its release, the title exceeded all expectations. Nintendo has produced a masterpiece that will inspire the imagination of the world for decades and will be remembered as much for its unparalleled gaming experience as for its innovation in game design. In this way, it may not be possible to number the ways in which Ocarina of time influenced the gaming industry because its reach has been so vast. In terms of mechanical, narrative, and performative innovations, however, several examples stand out as ways in which this particular Legend made the gaming world a little better.
9 Open world game design
Between titles like Auto grand theft 5 and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, it’s easy to take for granted the open-world gameplay mechanics that dominate prestige gaming titles. This immersive style of game design hasn’t always been so intuitive and nuanced, due to both the limits of technology and the imagination of developers. With Ocarina of timeNintendo shattered expectations of what was possible when it came to world-building and game mechanics. To do this, they built on the existing excellence of previous games, such as the semi-open world of 1996 Super Mario 64 and the ingenious integration of memorable side quests into a central narrative they launched at the very beginning The Legend of Zelda securities. The result was an immersive experience that paved the way for the open-word genre and, more specifically, the widely acclaimed open world of The breath of nature.
8 The power of the arts
Too often the The Legend of Zelda the franchise isn’t getting the appreciation it deserves for embedding fine art into its titles. Whether with a conductor’s baton in Wind Waker or the outfit of a deceased dancer in Majora’s Mask — one of the strangest objects in the Zelda series — Nintendo treats these artistic elements with respect, and Ocarina of time is no exception. Although evil is ultimately defeated with a sword, the central element of the game is undoubtedly the enchanted ocarina given to Link by Princess Zelda.
It is with this musical instrument that players can influence the environment, summon allies and travel through Hyrule. It speaks eloquently to the franchise’s central themes of peace and kindness, while respectfully acknowledging the raw power of the arts to impact the world. This quality is exceedingly rare in games, and few enduring franchises have so masterfully implemented song, dance, acting, and visual art into their titles.
7 Narrative tutorials
Rather than presenting players with disconnected stages in which to learn game mechanics, Ocarina of time leads players to learn by doing. The game’s first mission, while meant to teach players the basics of this 3D adventure, never feels disconnected from the game’s narrative in the way that many of the OcarinaContemporaries of cared for tutorials. This quality continues throughout the game, forcing players to explore and innovate with each added tool, item, or game mechanic.
Instead of having to resort to the manual or in-game strategy guides, a fairy companion could provide contextual advice, directions, and tidbits of lore, allowing game immersion to continue uninterrupted even when players didn’t know how to proceed. Yoshiaki Koizumi’s ingenious “Fairy Navigation System” was even reflected in the name of Link’s fae guide, Navi, who urged players to “listen” and “pay attention” at key moments.
6 Complex narrative structure
In conjunction with its revolutionary open-world design, Ocarina of time employed a deceptively complex narrative structure. This 1998 title was the first game in the series to use time travel, sending Link from the halcyon Hyrule of his youth to a desolate and corrupt land ruled by Ganondorf seven years later. This mechanic becomes increasingly important throughout the main campaign, especially in the Temple of the Spirit, one of the most underrated dungeons in the game. Zelda series – where Link must solve puzzles in the past to find his way into the future.
The conclusion of Ocarina of Time’s The story also represents a branching point for at least three canonical franchise timelines. Perhaps most impressive is how the story doesn’t get bogged down in this complexity. On the contrary, it feels remarkably natural and straightforward even when played casually, while offering plenty of lore threads for more curious players to follow.
5 Combat Targeting
An often overlooked impact Ocarina of time had on the gaming industry is its implementation of an enemy targeting system. By pressing the Z button below the Nintendo 64 controller, players could lock their perspective on nearby enemies using their Fairy Guide.
In addition to making combat easier, this revolutionary mechanic allowed a whole generation of gamers to experience the nuances of 3D gaming, avoiding excessive spatial frustration or the woes of unflattering camera angles that continue to plague games today. . Ocarina of time was the first 3D game to implement such a system, and its legacy can be seen tangibly in the targeting systems of modern games from dark souls for Red Dead Redemption 2.
4 Representation of identity
According to Gamer.comit’s a well-known meme in the The Legend of Zelda community that Link is perpetually confused with Zelda. It might seem inconsequential or even a rare design flaw, but in a design landscape dominated by patriarchal portrayals of old-school Doom Guy and Lara Croft, Link’s androgynous traits have empowered an unprecedented audience to see themselves in the Hero of Hyrule and have a richer and more cathartic gaming experience. Zelda herself even received a narrative overhaul that flipped the “kidnapped princess” trope on its head and placed her in a franchise-defining role as a warrior-ruler indispensable in defeating the forces of evil. While it’s unlikely that Nintendo made these choices with a progressive identity ethic in mind, they are nonetheless enabling elements of Ocarina of timeit is design that has had a lasting impact on its success and is reflected in the inclusiveness and reach of its modern community.
3 A dark story
Even though he does not descend into the depths of darkness illustrated by games like silent Hill and resident Evil, Ocarina of time presented a particularly dark story for franchise standards up to this point. Mid-game, for example, Link is sent seven years into the future and witnesses first-hand the devastation caused by Ganondorf.
For players young or old, it’s a sobering moment emerging from the Temple of Time to see Hyrule destroyed, masterfully superimposed on Link’s coming-of-age story arc. In an instant, the bustling square of Hyrule Castle Town is dilapidated and infested with zombie-like undead. Monsters roam the vast fields and new dungeons full of enemies await you. It’s both devastating and compelling with an aesthetic that doesn’t compromise its obscurity for its audience.
2 State-of-the-art game engine utility
Despite the hardware and software issues that plagued the early stages of its development, Ocarina of time overcame its technical difficulties with an eloquent set of code that packed a staggering amount of content into the game’s 32MB cartridge. Additionally, Nintendo set itself up for long-term success by creating reusable in-game assets decades before Unreal or Unity asset libraries existed.
This has paid continued dividends in Ocarina after, Majora’s Mask reducing the development time to two years. Certainly, the cognitive dissonance of seeing the characters of Ocarina as totally different characters in its sequel lend to why Majora’s Mask is considered the strangest Zelda game of all time. Yet even in this realm, it’s widely assumed that this theatrical alienation was intentional – a surreal gaming choice that no one but industry-defining Nintendo would dare to implement.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Ocarina of time has been forging a fanbase that spans over two decades. With such a large audience, this classic title has transcended legendary status itself with new and veteran players of all ages continually returning to Link’s 1998 adventure for fun, study and metagaming.
From speedrunners to cosplayers, this community continues to thrive and grow, bringing new generations to Hyrule on a next-gen console to create their own memories. With the highly anticipated sequel to Ocarina most direct spiritual successor, breath of the wild, slated for release in 2022, fans can only wonder what’s next for this legendary franchise. Either way, the results promise to be legendary.
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