The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


Most Overrated Games #6

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 1998)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a game that pretty much everybody remembers fondly. We were all crazy-excited for it while it was in development (for a then-unprecedented two whole years!), everybody bought it and played the shit out of it, Gamespot gave it a perfect 10, and it provided a great source of ammunition for the "N64 does so have RPGs!" fanboys who couldn’t tell the difference between Dragon Warrior and an action-platformer.

The real problem is this. If you think about Ocarina of Time, your train of thought probably goes something like "yeah, that game was awesome. Well, except for the overworld. That was pretty lame and boring. Oh, and the first dungeon was just some dumb training level with nothing much to do. And the second dungeon was all about going through the same rooms over and over again trying to get all the elevators turned on. And I guess the third dungeon was that stupid fish dungeon with the chick you have to carry around. The fourth dungeon… oh, right, the fucking maze of locked doors with that sliding block puzzle. And the fifth dungeon…" and you’ll never ever be able to name a part of the game that was actually good. So we’re left with two options: either Ocarina of Time is a game that has some unique and magical ability to be a lot better as a whole than the sum of its parts should allow, or else it’s an average game coasting on a whole lot of hype and nostalgia. I guess it’s clear which side of the issue I’m on.

The overworld is lame, and the dungeons are lame, but what about sidequests and such? Well, yeah, it has those. Mostly they’re endless fetch chains or stupid minigames where you have to jump the horse over some hurdles, but the controls are really twitchy and sometimes it just won’t go even though you’re sure you were lined up right that time. Or maybe you have to throw the stupid bombchu through the hole in the board. Or figure out who wants which mask. Did you solve the second mask without looking it up? No you goddamn didn’t.

Also there is fishing. Just like every game.

The ocarina itself seems pretty cool — you actually play the thing using different buttons for different notes, and you can even use the shoulder buttons to bend pitches if you want to — but it doesn’t amount to much in the long run. There aren’t very many songs, and almost all of them either trigger scripted events at obvious event triggers or else just warp you to dungeons. And since the game pauses while you’re playing, it’s not even like you need to learn to play in tricky situations; ultimately, by the end of the game, you probably wish you could just pick the song off the menu instead.

Some of the boss battles are excellent; they’re definitely the game’s greatest strength. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the game’s final boss. I think the fight was supposed to be cool. It seems like it. Ganon (omg spoiler!) does his thing, turns into a big pig, and then he golfs your sword away to the other side of this wall of fire. Then you need to dodge around him until you can get your sword back and kick his ass. It seems pretty fun, but the real problem is that, for whatever reason, Nintendo left a glaring hole in the design: he knocks only the Master Sword out of your hands. So if you’ve done the endless series of fetch quests to get the Biggoron’s Sword, you’ll still have that one. And you can just kind of ignore all the actual fight mechanics and slash him to death. It’s super anticlimactic. Fuck the heck is that all about anyway, Nintendo?

The next Zelda game to come out was the truly shitty Majora’s Mask, so, compared to that, Ocarina of Time is an amazing masterpiece. But on its own, it’s about 40% game and 60% hype. And those great fairies will scare you shitless the first time you see one.

February 17th, 2010 Posted by | Most Overrated Games Ever | no comments

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