A Brief Retrospective on Ocarina Of Time

With the release (re-release?) of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, I began thinking about why this game is as beloved as it is. And it all boils down to it being really, really fun.

This is some really bland box art...

Ocarina of Time is the perfect example of what video games can do as an art form. That is a pretty bold statement, especially since I’m using a 13 year old game as the prime example of an argument that has only become popular in recent years. By just looking at videos and clips of Ocarina, it doesn’t seem that special. It has puzzles, it has a simple story, it has one-dimensional characters, it has relatively good visuals, it has great music, it has a lengthy adventure, it has a large open world, and it has a unique style, just to name a few things. It makes for a decent game on the outside, but it would be missing the point. But like Citizen Kane or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Hamlet, experiencing only portions and samples of Ocarina of Time cannot, in any real way, do it justice. That is the problem with so many of the critics against calling games art; the only experience small samples out of context, and base judgements on that. To any who have ever played Ocarina of Time, especially those who played it around the time of release, it is a game that stands above all its peers because of doing what video games do best. Hell, it does what all forms of entertainment do best. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the epitome of entertaining. It isn’t pretentious, it isn’t complex, it isn’t thought provoking, and it isn’t incredibly emotional. It is simple, accessible, timeless fun.

Games want to become more and more like films, with jaw dropping visuals and compelling stories. It`s a noble goal, as many great games have been released over the years that are as good as they are because they were inspired by the film industry. The problem with that is fewer and fewer games are being made for the sake of entertainment. This surge of complex and cinematic games was caused by the desire for games to be recognised for their artistic and narrative qualities just as much as films or books. However, the best thing games can do is be fun, but so many people would like to think that they can achieve more than just fun. They can do that, but they can`t do it as well as they do fun.

It is odd that Ocarina of Time was one of the first games to inspire this focus shift to more a cinematic experience; the very best of the old inspiring the new. True, Ocarina was one of the first games to have cinematic qualities. However, unlike the games of today, the cinematic qualities of Ocarina of Time were there to enhance the gameplay instead of being there just for the sake of being there. Everything in Ocarina made it more engrossing and more entertaining, and it had no other ulterior goal. Fun for the sake of fun.

Back in the day, this is as big as it got.

I’m not trying to bash modern games or make it seem like games are getting worse, because they’re not. Many of my favourite games of all time have come from the past two generations of games. But I would like to remind people that, even though games can do so much, they will always be the ideal choice in terms of artistic entertainment. They can tell great stories, they can transport you to marvellous worlds, and they can make you think and feel. But they can make you have so much fun, fun that no movie or book can hope to emulate. That is what Ocarina of Time represents to so many gamers: It is the most entertaining experience they’ve ever had with any form of media. I think developers should look back at Ocarina just one more time, and realize that making others just have fun is one of the noblest goals a person can have.

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2 Responses to “A Brief Retrospective on Ocarina Of Time”

  1. I just love this review. It reminds me of my childhood and the endless hours spent on this game. I just remember watching my brothers play it over and over again, just so I could have a turn riding Epona. Great game, beautiful characters and an incredible legacy.

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