When I finished the colossal let down that was Skyward Sword, I was left pondering the reception of the game. Why did everyone seem to think it was so good? Why were people, as well as Gametrailers dubbing it, “the best Zelda since Ocarina of Time?”
This caused me to take a good hard look at Ocarina of Time, and question whether or not it really was the best in the series. I came to the conclusion: Ocarina of Time is extremely over-rated.
Now I know many gamers have probably seen Egoraptor’s review of Ocarina of Time, and if you haven’t here it is:
Seriously watch it! It’s funny and he makes a very compelling argument. So since he’s already explained it way better than I could, I’m going to better explain my initial thought process when coming to my conclusions about OoT, although while I hadn’t thought of it at first, I do agree with a lot of what Arin has to say.
Now, to be fair I just want to say that while I don’t think Ocarina of Time is the best in the franchise, it still remains one of my most cherished games. I remember my reaction to it back when I first got it on my N64 (one of the first games I bought for myself!) I certainly think, despite its flaws, it was a landmark game when it released. It really did feel like we had this huge world to explore, in a way we had never seen before. The dungeons felt big and harrowing, and even the combat though pretty slow, seemed really intense. Plus it was just the right amount of whimsical and gritty that was a real staple of the N64 (see DK64, Jet Force Gemini, Conker’s Bad Fur Day).
I’m very aware that a lot of that is nostalgia, but that’s just it, back then it really was the best we’d ever seen, and part of what makes me love it is the respect I have for it, for what it meant at the time.
But looking back on it, as an adult, it really doesn’t hold up compared to Zelda’s that came before and even after it.
The first argument I always hear in its defense is the “it was the first 3D Zelda.” And I kind of agree with that, although I don’t think it really accounts for much considering that the N64 had been out for two years before OoT released. We had already seen what it was capable of with Mario 64, Starfox, Shadows of the Empire and Goldeneye. No one would have accepted a top-down Zelda, bad polygons or not. It had to be 3D, that was how the landscape was shifting; it had no choice.
The second argument I always hear is “Well it was the official first in the timeline.” But honestly, was that really such a big deal before Nintendo went and fucked the whole timeline up?
I mean honestly, why would there be a timeline assuming Link dies in OoT. When the player gets a game over, it is automatically assumed that the bad things happened. Why is OoT the only game that gets that consideration? Shouldn’t there be separate timelines for every game assuming game over was achieved?
But even before that, when the timeline was relatively sensible, it’s not even like OoT was the first game to be the “first in the timeline.” The first Zelda was thought to be the first in the timeline until A Link to the Past was a prequel to that.
Then people might argue “but its story was so great!” To which I respond, “What story?” Honestly, it’s not really like OoT’s story was hyper original. The evil king Ganondorf takes over Hyrule, kidnaps Princess Zelda (or is thought to anyway) so Link must beat 3 dungeons in order to get the muguffins he needs to get the Master Sword, then he needs to go to a Dark World and collect 7 more things in order to fight Ganondorf. Sound familiar? It should it’s a shot for shot remake of A Link to the Past.
So it’s not really original, it being the “first in the timeline” at the time really accounted for nothing, and even it being a 3-D Zelda shouldn’t really account for much…but it did.
Like I said before, I get a lot of the nostalgia that surrounds Ocarina of Time. It really did blow our socks off when we first saw it. Even though it was streamlined, clunky, and kind of awkward-looking, we really hadn’t seen anything like it. I conclude with reiterating, it’s a pretty OK game, but it’s defiantly overrated, and certainly not the best Zelda in the franchise. And I’m really glad more people are speaking out to this fact:
But if you read this far, I bet you’re wondering “Well if you think the two Zelda’s that everyone seems to agree are the best suck the big, fat one, then what is the best Zelda?”
Well…you’re about to find out…