Friday, 8 August 2008

Our Five Favourite Things About Ocarina Of Time

So what do we think are the best five things to happen/be found in Ocarina Of Time? A cunning question you have just asked, Sir! Allow us to answer in our own customary style: a top five list. (In fairness, it is hard to answer this question in any other way, so let’s ignore this mess of an introductory paragraph and just head straight for the list, shall we?) This one isn’t a countdown, just a list. It’s impossible to separate these five things.


The History of Hyrule Cutscene


We’re going to do this in order, which means that we shall be started with one of the first few cutscenes you see in the game. This cutscene slowly extends during the start of the game – you see bits of it at the beginning, then you complete part of the first few tasks and you are treated to more of it, and then you go back to playing. Once you’ve completed everything in the first area and leave the forest, you’ve learnt almost everything there is. It’s a great way to set up the mythos of Zelda for people, because at the start Link is trapped in a small area of forest where he lives. You are teased with points about the world you live in, which then leads up to the moment you leave the woods and actually find yourself in a staggeringly huge world with mountains in the distance – mountains you can actually climb up.

The cut-scene is wonderful not just for the timing of it. The main thing which drives the cut-scene into the memory is the sheer scale involved. It tells the story of how the world was created (naturally, super-powers and goddesses are involved here), and the driving force of the world is established as The Triforce. This becomes important later, as this is the power source that later gets stolen. A surprising number of games never take the time to explain the reason that the shiny is so important, but here the designers have taken a large chunk of time to detail what exactly the Triforce is, and why (oh, and how) it will come into play later on. It’s a strong, powerful touch, that sets up what becomes an epic, time-travelling saga.


The Death of the Deku Tree

And nothing makes the game more epic than the Deku Tree. True to form, he is a gigantic tree who watches over all the children who live in Kokiri Forest, Link’s home. He is a master and commander who has been around since the dawn of the World, and as such knows more than anyone else. He is wise, powerful, and a mentor to Link. And he’s ill. Your first mission proper, then, is to go inside him and find the cause of this illness. It turns out, as ever, to be a mutated insect who you have to kill. Mission completed, you return to the Deku Tree and he tells you about your true parentage (you’re not really a fairy-boy! Oh no!) Then, having saved the Deku Tree, you expect to be given a pass out of the forest so you can continue your sacred quest to, uh, collect shiny stones.

But instead he dies. It’s powerful, because this is a character you expect to be returning to often during your quest as a source for information and help – turns out, he’s just there to teach you a hard lesson: things change. And for OOT, a game where days end and nights start, and one evil Jasper Carrot impersonator can destroy whole villages, that’s an important lesson to learn.


The Chicken Revenge Squad

Heavy, man. Mondo grievance! But it’s not all doom and gloom in Ocarina or Time – there are other things going on instead. Every Zelda game is interconnected somehow, whether through location or characters. As the first game chronologically, OOT therefore has to have a few nods in to the games which preceded (follow) it. One of these is the chicken revenge squad, a team of crack fowls on the lookout for anyone who dares to commit feathery injustices. There is a farm in OOT, called “LonLon Ranch”, which is where you find your horse, Epona. There are also cows and chickens at this farm, and you can interact with all the different animals as much as you may wish (interact, we stress, and not ‘interact’. Mind out of the gutter, please). The chickens, in particular, can be interacted with through the process of stabbing them with your sword. They are invulnerable to attacks, but they feel the pain. You can shoot them with arrows or run them over with Epona, or bomb them – but if you hurt them for too long a period of time, The Chicken Revenge Squad will attack you with extreme prejudice. They’ve done this in almost every Zelda game to feature chickens, and to see it in 3D is mesmerising and terrifying.


Sweet dreams.


The Song Of Storms Paradox

Near to one of the other areas which houses chickens is a windmill, which works and everything, and is run by a man whose life has been driven insane by two visits from someone: you. You first meet him when you are an adult, and he tells you about this song he was taught by a small fairy-boy called “Link”. He hated this song, because whenever it gets played it rains inside and he gets all wet – because of this, the song is called ‘the Song Of Storms’. As with every ocarina song you get taught in the game, this is an insanely catchy little ditty, and you promptly remember it and use it infrequently during the rest of the game. In order to keep it though, you need to send yourself back in time… to have a quick chat with the windmill keeper. During this chat you play the song to him and it rains inside, driving him mad, but he remembers it. Thus he is able to teach it to you when you grow up and need it in seven years time, because it had such an effect on him.

But… if you only learn it from him because you taught it to him in the past after time-travelling… who taught it to you? Where does the song come from? You can blow your mind figuring this out, but as the fantastic and much-mourned N64 Magazine revealed – Terminator 2 is one of Shigeru Miyamoto’s favourite films. He’d be the guy who is responsible for this game, by the way, And Mario 64. He’s the most important designer in games. And he loves paradoxes. Just trying to comprehend the way this Song of Storms comes into being now, so we could write this, has given us a headache. But we love it.


Leaping the Gerudo Bridge

Speaking of Epona, who we mentioned earlier and is our favourite character in the game… she has a number of moments all to herself that are spectacular. One of the best is when you visit the ranch as an adult and find it has been turned evil, so you have to escape there with Epona by jumping over the back wall. This is just the rehearsal for what is to come later. There is an area you have to visit, a fortress run by women (I know, I know – women running things? It is a computer game though, so you have to allow it these slight leaps of fantasy) which is at the top of a small mountain. You are told to go there, so you run over and find that… hey, wait, the bridge that leads over there hasn’t been built yet! What’s up with THAT?

Apparently the carpenters who were working on the bridge have been kidnapped by these femme fatales, and you have to rescue them, it transpires. But this still does not give you any way of getting over the broken bridge, does it? If you try and run across on your own, you find yourself plummeting downwards into the stream below, in another example of how large this world is. Many games would have this be a leap to the death, and you resurrect at the top again, but in Zelda this drop leads to a river which feeds into a lake you’ll probably have visited earlier. Tis genius, but this is digressive. You try to think of a way across, but nothing comes to mind. Until you think of Epona. You call her over to you and saddle up, and then step away from the ledge. You take a deep breath, give her a carrot, and race towards the drop.

And Epona jumps it!



Those are just five of the many, many things we love about The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s our favourite game of all time, and hopefully you’ll have been reading this week and nodding, because of the memories it’s stirred in you. Of course, you might have been one of those people who shunned the N64 and bought a Playstation instead because they were meant to be cooler. To you people, I say this: YOU LOST OUT BIGTIME.

N64 is the best console ever, and had the best games ever. And the very peak of the Shiny Goodness? Ocarina of Time. We rest our case.

2 comments:

  1. The best scene is when you cross that desert that is way beyond Gerudo land, and that distant temple looms out of the swirling snad. The best visual moment. Sorry, it has been a while since I have played, and I don't remember all the names.

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  2. Oh, I don't remember that part, but there are so many amazing parts to the game that I couldn't put into this list. Personally, I'm still a little bit gutted I could put in the race down the crumbling tower of Ganon's castle, or the conversations you have with Saria where you realise she won't be the love interest anymore. Heartbreaking!

    The Desert Colossus it was called, by the way, as far as I remember.

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