To my greatest game of all time:

Disclaimer: What follows is a rather mushy dedication to my favourite game of all time. You have been warned!

Today marks the passing of a decade since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in Japan.

I remember the release of the game well. It hit PAL territories in December 1998, on the trail of a massive advertising campaign that promoted the game not only through usual print channels but across television spots and preview features on the Internet. Using all the money I had accumulated over the holiday period, I finally managed to snag a pre-owned copy of the game on the day before New Years Eve, after weeks of failing to find the game at every Dixons, Electronics Boutique, Woolworths and independent games store I came across.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect before I started the game. Barely eleven years old, I didn’t have quite the level of appreciation for game design that I do now; my extremely limited playtime with past Zelda titles such as A Link to the Past was of little use as reference. All I knew was that both my mates and the gaming press were going bananas over a left-handed elfin named Link and his annoying fairy companion.

Although inspired from earlier Zelda games, the dual-timeline aspect was ingenius

Over the course of the month that followed, I soon found out why. I traversed dangerous dungeons, solved clever puzzles, battled epic bosses, and explored far-away lands through different time periods on my trusty steed; all in the name of a princess, a dark king, and their search for a sacred golden power. It was an awe-inspiring experience that blew my youthful little mind.

Looking back on the game ten years later, in the wake of so many incredible games that have followed it, it is easy to cast a critical eye on the title. Yet, I feel it is easier still to understand why it remains the highest-rated game of all time. From the use of an innovative Z-targetting combat system (arguably introduced in titles like Tomb Raider, but certainly refined here), to the massively-realised 3D over-world, and the now-standard context sensitive controls, as well as the incredible in-game cutscenes and narrative, elements of Ocarina of Time have found their way into almost every game from almost every genre.

However, none of these achievements outline the real reason why this particular Zelda is such a milestone in my gaming life: although titles like Metal Gear Solid and Super Metroid would later reaffirm this, Ocarina of Time was the moment when I stopped treating games as a set of gameplay goals for me to work through, and started treating them as gameplay experiences.

And for that, Ocarina of Time, I thank you.

Technically, Link should be holding the Master Sword in his other arm here. Hopefully no-one will notice.







3 responses to “To my greatest game of all time:”

  1. van-fu avatar

    This post brings out mixed messages. I remember being in Germany the year that game came out and having brought my UK N64 and UK TV with me, because german TV’s would produce pictures but no sound when hooked up to a UK N64.

    I certainly loved that game and I shared my Xbox with americans, spaniards, italians and all the other students I shared a halls of residence with.

    But the reason that this post bringsout mixed messages for me is because it makes me feel so old. 11 in 1998? Christ, I have socks older than you.

  2. Scott avatar

    @ van-fu: If it makes you feel any better, I have at least been gaming since I was three years old, near the end of the NES era…

    … Nah, probably doesn’t. 😉

  3. Lorna avatar

    I sold my copy on Ebay before I could get around to playing it as I was cash desperate….*guilty*

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