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Time Sinks – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

There was a period, during the winter of 1998, where my sleeping habits began to suffer. I went on a terrible fast food binge, started showing up to work late, and I secluded myself in my basement as soon as I got home. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time had just come out, and it had totally interrupted my life. From the outside, it might have looked like I was going through an awful bout of depression, but I was actually having the time of my life.

I was a big fan of both the original Legend of Zelda and A Link to The Past (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was just too unusual for me to wrap my head around at the time; don't worry, I've since come around to it). When I heard that the new N64 Zelda would be a large open 3D world, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the game. I wasn't going to let the fact that I couldn't afford an N64 stop me; I bought the game before I bought the system, and then bugged my friend to let me borrow his system.

Ocarina of Time didn't disappoint. The world was massive and felt full of worthwhile side quests and minigames. Where a lot of other games seem padded with filler content, everything I did in Ocarina of Time seemed to benefit me in some way. If I got the high score at the archery range in Hyrule Marketplace, I could get a larger pellet bag for my slingshot. If I rounded up all the chickens in Kakariko Village, I got another bottle. And, of course, I had to help that Goron at the top of Death Mountain make that giant sword.

Unfortunately, I couldn't play the game in moderation, Zelda was like a giant gaping hole, and I feel right in. I stayed up late playing the game, skipped class, neglected my hygiene, and started blowing off appointments with friends. It got to the point where my friends and family were getting upset with me. The game was literally ruining my life, but I couldn't stop playing. After I got through all the dungeons with young Link, I jumped into the future and a whole new world of side quests and dungeons awaited me. It got to the point where I was a little frustrated every time that I discovered something new to do, because I knew that meant it would take me that much longer to finish the game. Still, couldn't beat the game until I'd found all the heart pieces and Gold Skulltulas. I just couldn't!

After a marathon weekend, I finally ended Link's quest. Even though the last boss fights were pretty much 3D re-incarnations of previous game's boss encounters, they blew my mind. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but I was happy to finally have defeated that addictive beast so I could have my life back.

Except...I was far from done playing that game.

The next summer, on a whim, I showed Ocarina of Time to a friend. I fell into the game again. I played through the whole thing a second time. Afterwards, I thought maybe I could put the game to rest, but I would return to that version of Hyrule before too long. In 2003, Nintendo released a compilation disc called The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition, which included The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask. Better still, the disc included a version of Ocarina of Time called Master Quest, which remixed the game by altering the dungeons and making other small changes to the world. Master Quest made Ocarina fresh again, and I played through that version of the game two more times. Surely, I had gotten the game out of my system after that. However, when Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for there 3DS, I knew I just had to see how the world looked in 3D!

I'm sure I'm not done with Ocarina of Time at this point. I'll probably buy the game again when Nintendo re-releases it for holographic displays, or whatever else we're playing on in 10-20 year, but I don't mind. I can think of few things I'd rather do than ride through the fields of Hyrule of Epona's back.

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