Throwback Thursday: Nerd Edition Week 2
by Matthew Cocozza
So this is week 2 of the Throwback Thursday: Nerd Edition were we feature games that are at least ten years old that have changed the way we looked at games and where mainly a ton of fun to play.
The game I will be talking about this week is one that allows you a huge amount of freedom even by today’s standards. It is a game that was as equally frustrating as it was rewarding. One that I have played time and time again and still get stumped on certain riddles that I have forgotten over time. I’m talking The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released in 1998 by Nintendo 64. Zelda by this time had had some games come out on the NES and was already a well known name in the gaming community but Ocarina of Time was the first version to have 3D graphics. While many games faltered while making this transition from 2D to 3D graphics Nintendo delivered one of the greatest games of all time.
To begin the intricacies of this story are stellar. You have uprisings, time travel, betrayal, love, hope and many more deep themes that where rarely seen in video games at that time especially in a game that would be considered a “kid” game by many(myself not included). The game opens with your character “Link” being given a fairy by a big tree named The Great Deku Tree. This is significant because Link is the only kid in the forest without a fairy and all the other forest kids talk smack behind his back and think he’s weird. To be fair in a lot of ways Link is weird. He never talks, he has an extremely high tolerance for pain and our boy isn’t afraid of anything to a fault. Even as an adolescent he would stare down evil monsters, tyrants, overlords and the ladies and laugh at their feeble attempt to try and kill, maim, or otherwise kiss him the cheek. To be fair link does have some great gear as a kid. I mean would you be scared armed with a butter knife some nuts and a boomerang going up against a spider five times your size? Yeah, me neither.
The game really picks up when you head to Hyrule Castle and by doing exactly what Zelda told you to do (She’s not too bright that Zelda) you inadvertently allow the Gerundo King of Thieves, Ganondorf, to sneak into the Temple of Time and steal the Triforce, a relic of great power that grants the bearer their wishes. Because of this The Master Sword then imprisons you in time for seven years to allow you to become old enough to wield it and destroy Ganondorf. You are then told by some old guy with an amazing mustache that you have to free the Seven Sages while traveling back and forth in time so that the sages combined efforts can banish Ganondorf into The Dark Realm.
After all of this goes down, the game really enters the meat of the story. This ability to travel backward and forward in time to where you are a man and able to hold up that metal shield you could only previously carry on your back while you squatted down for protection, gives you the ability to reach new areas and fight even more formidable opponents. You would think being bigger and stronger would always be an advantage but the game cleverly presents obstacles only you as a child could accomplish. These obstacles vary from fitting through a very small space to having something block a pathway that had not yet been placed there when you were a child before everything went to hell in a hand basket. This causes you to go from being the awesome man fighter that you are back the kid with the trinkets and a lot of moxy. This is a ton of fun in its own right, but still not as cool as grown up Link.
This game has a way of being so frustrating due to the fact that time and time again the end objective is placed right in front of you but there is something placed in between you and said objective. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at first but in reality it will take you 3 hours to find that bow and arrow, or bomb satchel or grapple hook that will allow you to overcome the obstacle placed before you. While finding these items through the endless riddles and puzzles can be hair pullingly frustrating it is well worth the effort to achieve the gratification when you put all the pieces together, face down the terrible boss and defeat it. These victories give you that much more power and skill to take on the next pair of seemingly impossible obstacles and enemies.
Not only did Ocarina of Time give us a great main quest but also a well-rounded word that allowed you to completely ignore the fact that the Hyrule’s fate was hanging in the balance and just run around helping people out. These tasks varied from being a ghost bounty hunter to throwing a bunch of chickens into a fenced off area. These tasks were like mini side games that also served to help shape what resources Link possessed whether it be a sweet milk hook up or obtaining one of the best companions in video game history, Link’s horse Epona. The world is vast and immersing allowing you a sandbox experience that guides you along the path to saving the world, not forcing you down a set track that is achieved through linear events. Allowing us to travel anywhere we wanted at any time they wanted (pun intended) gave us a unique experience that I feel has so rarely been replicated since.
The Third thing that made this game a classic was the detail that was put into Hyrule, the kingdom that you play in. There are multiple races all with their own respective back-stories, cultures and motives. These different races and communities drive the story along due to the fact that a lot of your time is spent making them happy and gaining their trust to attain their sacred items or services which is critical in saving Hyrule. My favorite character of the game was Darunia, the leader of the Gorons, a race of huge mean looking humanoids wearing loin cloths. He just seems like a guy that would be fun to have a drink with. He takes his work very seriously but at the end of the day if you strike up the Ocarina he eats it up.
Ocarina of Time presents its players with a tough game that is extremely satisfying. It is rich with places to explore people to interact with, trinkets to be found, and one giant kingdom to be saved. Ocarina of Time gave me a gaming experience I truly haven’t found elsewhere and that is why I have revisited it time and time again. So what is it about Ocarina of Time that you like? What parts of the game gave you the most grief? Share below because this game is so dense I could write volumes on this epic journey.