Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Super Adventures at Christmas 2012 - Game 2:

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time title screen logo
It took me forever to decide what shot to use from this title screen sequence.

Okay it's taken me a decade or so to get around to it, but today I'm finally going to have a look at Ocarina of Time, the fifth game in the main Legend of Zelda series. Actually to be honest I did play this back in the day, though not for long. It didn't exactly win me over then, but I think it's about time I gave it a second chance.

The game starts with the Deku Tree, guardian spirit of Hyrule, explaining that the Kokiri forest folk each have his or her own guardian fairy. Except for one.

Then it cuts to our hero Link (the boy without a fairy) having a prophetic dream of Princess Zelda being kidnapped by this evil man in black. Or maybe she's escaping from him, it's hard to tell.

Ocarina of Time Link is shocked
I'm pretty certain this is a vision of things to come, not astral projection or whatever, as our hero has got a fairy with him here.

You can tell right away this is an N64 game by the blurry, ultra low detail textures, but he definitely looks better than Cloud Strife and his paintbrush arms in Final Fantasy VII. He has a nose and mouth for one thing.

The Great Deku Tree has summoned you!
Well, looks like Link's footloose and fairy-free days are already over, as he's woken up by one telling him she's his new partner, Navi, and he has to get his ass out of bed and go visit the Great Deku Tree. People really seem to like speaking in colours in this. We don't get to hear what red sounds like though as there's no voices besides an occasional 'hey!'

It's weird how they've used a pre-rendered background for this bit. It doesn't look like anything that the N64 would struggle with rendering in realtime, geometry-wise anyway. I'm sure the textures wouldn't look as sharp.

Wow, he's not even going to put on some real clothes? Just gonna save the world in his pyjamas, cause he doesn't give a fuck. Hey, someone's carved a knight fighting Godzilla into his tree. Or maybe that's what the final boss looks like and this is foreshadowing, I honestly have no idea.

I'm liking the ladders in this by the way. I just walked close to it and he automatically moved around to climb down. So many games make getting onto a ladder way more of a hassle than it needs to be. (I'm looking at you, every first person shooter)

I don't know who this green haired elf is, but she sure likes saying 'Great Deku Tree'. That was three times in the last three sentences by my count. But okay, I get the hint, I'll go visit the tree already.

Link doesn't actually say a word himself, but the characters respond as if he did. It's like the designers expect players to start talking out loud to the screen or something.

Hole of "Z" Let's go through this small hole!
Someone told me that now I've got my fairy I should come up here to this corner of the village to practice, but I think I've already mastered the art of having a little glowing ball follow me around, so I'm gonna go investigate this mysterious hole instead. Hey, the sign says it's legit! What could go wrong?


Ocarina of Time You Got the Kokiri Sword
Well I got a little bit flattened by a rogue boulder along the way, but exploring the hole of 'Z' has definitely paid off. This isn't just any old boring sword, it's actually a hidden treasure of the Kokiri. I'm sure they won't mind me taking it though.

Right, now I'm equipped to go rescue the Princess! Wait, no, I'm supposed to go visit a tree aren't I.

Okay first, I'm actually called the boy without a fairy, okay? In red, get it right. Second... get the fuck outta my way kid or I'll introduce you to the spiky end of a priceless Kokiri treasure.

Mean old Mido refuses to move out of the way and let me see the tree unless I'm equipped with a shield as well, and unfortunately I just can't afford it yet. Looks like I'm going to have to go cut up every bush in town looking for 23 more rupees.


Man, I suck at finding rupees. But I'm finally through to the Great Deku Tree! And it turns out that he's one of those creepy video game trees with a face. He's even got a moustache.

...and a mouth?

I'm sorry mate, but there's no way I'm going to climb into your mouth. Navi stay back, he wants you for dessert.


Eventually I gave in and went inside the tree. Then, after a tutorial on how to use doors, it threw me into a locked room with a monster I can't hit with my sword. So the game trusts I can figure out how to defeat this guy without a ranged weapon, but thinks I might struggle with the concept of a door.

I did manage to work this out all by myself, though it took me a minute. The monster spits stuff out at me, so I just need to reflect it back with the shield, using the Z-targeting system to make sure I'm facing directly at him (because there are no other camera controls).

After climbing up a bit further I solved another puzzle involving lighting torches to unlock a door. But now I've run out of tree, I have no idea where to go next.

Well I apparently came into this room to learn about fire, so logically whatever I need to do next will probably involve a bit of arson. Hey, I remember walking over a spider web when I first came into the tree, covering a big hole in the ground. That should burn pretty good I think, hopefully without setting the whole Deku Tree on fire.

Doesn't matter how many times I try jumping down the middle of this tree, the fire always burns out well before I make it to the web at bottom. Obviously I'm doing something wrong here.

Ironically the web I tried to destroy was the thing that broke my fall.

In the end I got tired of climbing back up this tree, gave up, and asked a friend what to do. They basically replied 'oh, you just have to fall through the web in the floor'. And yeah, of course the next time I tried it, Link smashed through the web no problem. The game's just trying to make me look like an idiot on the internet, that's what it is.


Oh shit, it's Parasitic Armored Arachnid GOHMA! (Or so the on screen text claims.) No wonder the Tree called me in to help him out, having one of these scurrying around in your gut would make anyone sick.

This is a fairly well designed boss battle, with the enemy switching between crawling across the ceiling, dropping off baby enemies, and coming in to attack me personally. Link has plenty of options available to him, such as shooting him down with a slingshot when he's creeping around above, or stunning him with a flash of his magic nuts when he gets close.

But I'm still struggling, and I think the reason is the camera controls. Or total lack of them. The camera moves around of its own free will as I walk, and locking onto anything with the Z-targeting is hit and miss. Mostly miss for me.

I think I've been spoiled by dual stick controllers, and mouse and keyboard. I'm used to being my own cameraman.

Alright, the boss is defeated and the Deku Tree has sent me out into the world to go to Hyrule Castle and speak to Princess Zelda. The only problem is, the castle isn't marked on my map!

I guess I'll just go wandering around Hyrule Field and hope I can see it in the distance. I'll at least recognise the drawbridge from the dream at the start.

Damn it gets dark quickly on this planet. Though only when I'm outside the forest for some reason.

This place is called 'market' on the map, but it's clearly the place from Link's dream. I keep waiting for the drawbridge to open and Zelda to be carried out on a horse, but nothing's happening.

Nothing but zombies bursting out of the ground that is. Hyrule Field must be one big mass burial ground, the amount of these things that come crawling up at night.

Eventually the sun returned and they opened the drawbridge. It really was just a market inside, though eventually I found a road leading to the castle. But of course it's blocked by a gate. Sadly the Deku Tree wasn't able to phone ahead and let them know I was coming.

In Link to the Past I got into the castle through a shortcut under a bush, so maybe there's a similar trick here. Though of course in Link to the Past I only found the shortcut because Zelda told me where it was.

It took me until nightfall, but I've finally found a sneaky way into the castle.

Are those guys facing me, I can't even tell from here. I'm honestly not sure whether I can keep going this way without getting caught.

Turns out that they were facing me. Fortunately it turns out the punishment for trespassing isn't execution. At least not for the first time. They may change their minds when they realise I'm not going to give up.

Hey, she wasn't here the last time! Well now I know her dad's inside, maybe he can help me out.

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Hyrule Castle
Well there it is, Hyrule Castle. It's bringing back fond memories of Smash Bros. It turns out the sneaking isn't such a pain in the ass at all when you know the route, though I wouldn't want to have to keep doing this.

Oh fuck, I've found the girl's dad and he's not going to be much use to me after all. In fact he's sleeping in front of where I need to push these boxes! I tried hitting him with a sword, pushing crates into him... I even tried talking to him! Nothing's working.

Well now I'm stuck again, and I don't think this problem's gonna be solved by jumping on it from the top of a tree. But hey, Navi's trying to get my attention, maybe she has a clue.

I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate being reminded of what I'm supposed to do next, it's definitely a step up from having to visit the fortune teller in Link to the Past, but I'm kind of TRYING TO VISIT THE PRINCESS RIGHT NOW. This is the castle, we're actually at Hyrule Castle you dumb fairy, how can you not have noticed?

Okay... drugs. I'll find some wake up drug or something in the market. Maybe an old fashioned alarm clock. And if this doesn't work then I'm out of ideas.

Fuck, all the shops are shut. And time doesn't flow in towns so I'm going to have to go back outside again, wait a bit, then come back in.

Whu... why didn't you give me this before?

Don't tell me you have to sneak into the castle grounds twice before the game gives you the object you need to get inside the door. I must have just done something wrong here, because that makes no sense.


What, should I make him an omelette breakfast or something?

That's it. I just give up. I am so sick of this game messing me around. I just want to go into dungeons, and complete quests, and collect new gear etc. I just can't figure out what it wants me to do here, and I'm not sure it's entirely my fault.

But then as I'm leaving, a chicken hatches from the egg by itself, waking the guy up. Old fashioned alarm clock. Turns out I just had to wait a bit. Well fine... I'll keep playing, but if I don't find anything to win me over by the time I reach a proper dungeon, I'm out. I'm turning it off.

Ocarina of Time Triforce
After a bit of MGS style sneaking, I finally got to see Princess Zelda, and recieved a huge info dump.

It seems that the evil looking man from my dream is an evil man, and that this Triforce is a magical wishing triangle that I really want to be getting my hands on before he does. For the sake of the world I mean, I wasn't thinking of wishing my fairy away or anything. Though I suppose I could...

After the exposition was over, Zelda's bodyguard taught me a song for my ocarina! Link's looking at the thing like he's thinking 'why the fuck did this just start sparkling?'

I know that songs in this have certain powers, but I can't really see what good a lullaby will do me, unless I need to send someone to sleep at some point. Actually, considering what else I've been doing that doesn't seem unlikely.

Anyway my mission is now clear. I'm to head up to Death Mountain and hunt for one of the spiritual stones I'll need to get to the Triforce. Seems straightforward enough.

I'm getting a weird feeling of deja-vu. Why is this game so keen on always sending me back to where I just came from? Couldn't Zelda's bodyguard have told me I needed a shield before I left the town which sells them.

Well the shield costs 80 rupees and I'm 31 short (this is really familiar somehow), so I guess I'm going to back out to Hyrule Field to mug zombies for a while. It's not grave robbing if the corpse carries their valuables out with them.

Or perhaps Navi has a plan...

What would Saria say, hmm. She'd say "That sounds dangerous, good luck Link! Great Deku Tree. Great Deku Tree." Either way somehow I think I can live without knowing.

Also, thanks again for being entirely useless.


Ocarina of Time menu equipment screen
Well it took 25 minutes, but I have finally got the bloody shield and can proceed up Death Mountain! Yay.

I like this inventory screen by the way, and the way it lets you map items to the C buttons. Personally I would have mapped the camera to the C buttons, and stuck the inventory items onto the D-pad but I dunno, maybe that would have turned out awkward.

These Goron guys in Death Mountain seem alright, though they're not very happy. They've been cut off from their food supply and are too picky to find another source, so it's up to me to sort this situation out! Just as soon as I find a way through this door to speak to Big Brother.

The unlit torch outside seems to be a big clue, but I can't find any fire in this place.

In the end I gave up and asked a friend for help. They said 'the carpet outside the door is the clue that you're supposed to play Zelda's lullaby to open it'. I suppose I can see that, considering it was a lullaby for royalty and he's waiting for the Royal Family's messenger. I never would have figured it out myself though. Whatever, let's just get this over with so I can go to the dungeon and get the stone.

Oh come on! You've got to be shitting me.

Right, I'm looking at a walkthrough, because this is just ridiculous. I can't even imagine what I'd need to do to get this guy to allow me to to HELP STOP HIS PEOPLE STARVING TO DEATH.

The walkthrough says 'go visit Saria all the way back in the Kokiri Forest'. The bloody fairy was right!

Wait... I thought you were Saria! Oh right, she was the one with green hair.

After searching through the entire town, and then the entire forest, I eventually found where Saria was waiting for me. Which turned out to be pretty much as far from the entrance as you can get in this place, at the end of a maze. Anyway she taught me the song of Saria, which has the magic power of... basically being able to phone Saria up wherever I am. Well that's awesome, for a second there I was worried that I was wasting my time here.


Well I have nothing else left to try, so I might as well play Saria's song for the Goron chief. Maybe Saria can have a chat with him about the importance of not letting your people die of hunger, and he'll let me into the dungeon.


Okay, didn't really see that coming. Saria's song cheered him up enough to let me into the dungeon to get the stone and sort out his food supply. Strange, it has the opposite effect on me.

Uh, I stopped playing the song ages ago, you can stop dancing now.

And then he finally let me into the dungeon! But I've already taken way too many screenshots so I'll end this now. I only made it a couple of rooms in before getting killed and kicked back to the entrance anyway.

I'm not going to say that this is a bad game, or even that it's overrated, especially after only giving it a few hours. Even today it's rare to find a 'best games ever' list without it showing up near the top, and the recent 3DS port has been getting great sales. So assuming the game's perfectly fine, what's wrong with me? Why can't I like it?

Maybe I'm just too much of a 'modern gamer' who needs his quest arrows and journals, and the idea of having to be patient and explore puts me off. Maybe it's designed to encourage players to buy the walkthrough. Or maybe I've just got an aversion to fairies and forest elves, I don't know.

I guess I'll come back to it in 15 years and give it another shot.

If you've got any opinions about Ocarina of Time, those dumb things I wrote about it, the site in general, etc. please leave a comment.


  1. Have you tried giving Majora's Mask a try? I'm interested to hear your take on it.

    1. In retrospect it should have been blindingly obvious to me that today would've been the perfect time to put up a Majora's Mask post, but I'm dumb so I didn't think of it. Though I probably will check it out sooner rather than later as I'm interested to see what I think of it myself.


  2. You get a journal during the first day recording the interactions of every character you come across (and thus serves as a hintbook), dunno why no one ever reads the thing.

    1. Interestingly, there's two ways to get the notebook: 1) Replay the Gang's initiation test, or 2) (Often overlooked) Enter the passcode you got earlier, walk in and out of the hideout and BOOM Notebook acquired. But the notebook serves as an idea on who to talk to for the sidequests, no Main Quest help. At least Tatl is less of an annoyance. She tells you the recommended direction to go in after you beat one of the 4 dungeons. You always start off heading in the Swamp, however.


Semi-Random Game Box