9 Ways Ocarina Of Time Changed The Gaming Industry Forever

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In the winter of 1998, there was no game more coveted than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Long-awaited as the franchise’s first foray into 3D gameplay, Nintendo has set an even higher bar with the promise of open-world design. The stakes were high; a hardware glitch had delayed development for an entire year, and Nintendo was pressed to continue its critical success with Super Mario 64 and 1997 Star Fox 64.

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Upon release, the title exceeded all expectations. Nintendo has produced a masterpiece that would inspire the imagination of the world for decades and will be remembered as much for its unparalleled gaming experience as for its innovation in game design. In this way, it may be impossible to number the ways in which Ocarina of time influenced the gaming industry because its reach has been so vast. In terms of mechanical, narrative, and performative innovations, however, there are several examples that stand out as how this particular legend made the gaming world a little better.


9 Open world game design

Enter titles like Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, it’s easy to take for granted the open-world gameplay mechanics that dominate premium game titles. This immersive game design style hasn’t always been so intuitive and nuanced, due both to the limitations of the technology and to the imagination of the developers. With Ocarina of time, Nintendo shattered expectations of what was possible when it came to world-building and gameplay mechanics. To do so, they built on the existing excellence of previous games, such as the semi-open world of 1996. Super Mario 64 and the ingenious integration of memorable side quests into a central narrative that they had pioneered in early The Legend of Zelda securities. The result was an immersive experience that paved the way for the open-word genre and, more specifically, the widely acclaimed open world of The breath of nature.

8 The power of the arts

Link plays the ocarina in Ocarina of Time.

Too often the The Legend of Zelda the franchise does not get the appreciation it deserves for incorporating fine art into its titles. Whether with a conductor’s baton in Wind waker or the outfit of a deceased dancer in Majora’s Mask – one of the strangest objects of the Zelda series – Nintendo treats these artistic elements with respect, and Ocarina of time is no exception. Although evil is ultimately defeated with a sword, the central element of the game is undoubtedly the enchanted ocarina given to Link by Princess Zelda.

It is with this musical instrument that players can influence the environment, summon allies, and travel through Hyrule. It speaks eloquently to the central themes of franchise, peace and goodness, while reverently acknowledging the raw power of the arts to impact the world. This quality is extremely rare in games, and few enduring franchises have so masterfully incorporated song, dance, drama, and visual art into their titles.

7 Narrative tutorials

Navi tips Link in Ocarina of Time.

Rather than presenting players with disconnected steps to learn the mechanics of the game, Ocarina of time gets players to learn by doing. The game’s first mission, while meant to teach players the fundamentals of this 3D adventure, never feels disconnected from the game’s narrative in how many Ocarinacontemporaries took care of the tutorials. This quality continues throughout the game, forcing players to explore and innovate with every tool, item, or game mechanic added.

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Instead of needing to resort to the manual or strategy guides included in the game, a fairy companion could give contextual hints, instructions, and story information, allowing the in-game immersion to continue uninterrupted. even when the players didn’t know how to do it. Yoshiaki Koizumi’s ingenious “Fairy Navigation System” was even reflected in Link’s fae guide name Navi, who urged players to “listen” and “pay attention” to key moments.

6 Complex narrative structure

Zelda talks with Link in Ocarina of Time.

In conjunction with its revolutionary concept of the open world, Ocarina of time employed a deceptively complex narrative structure. This 1998 title was the first game in the series to use time travel, sending Link from the Hyrule halcyon of his youth to a desolate and corrupt land ruled by Ganondorf seven years later. This mechanic becomes increasingly important in the main campaign, especially in the Temple of the Spirits, one of the most underrated dungeons in the world. Zelda series – where Link has to solve puzzles in the past to make his way to the future.

The conclusion of Ocarina of time the story also represents a branching point for at least three canonical franchise timelines. Perhaps most impressive is how the story doesn’t get bogged down in this complexity. On the contrary, it feels remarkably natural and straightforward, even when played casually, while still providing plenty of lore threads for more curious players to follow.

5 Combat targeting

Link uses Z targeting in Ocarina of Time.

An often unrecognized impact Ocarina of time had on the gaming industry is its implementation of an enemy targeting system. By pressing the Z button below the Nintendo 64 controller, players could lock in their vantage point on nearby enemies using their fairy guide.

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As well as making combat easier, this revolutionary mechanic has helped a whole generation of gamers familiarize themselves with the nuances of 3D gaming, avoiding excessive spatial frustration or the woes of unflattering camera angles that continue to plague players. games today. Ocarina of time was the first 3D game to implement such a system, and its legacy can be seen tangibly in modern game targeting systems from Dark souls To Red Dead Redemption 2.

4 Identity representation

Sheik appears in Ocarina of Time.

According to Gamer.com, it’s a well-known meme in the The Legend of Zelda community that Link is perpetually confused with Zelda. It may seem unimportant or even a rare design flaw, but in a design landscape dominated by patriarchal portrayals of old-fashioned Doom Guy and Lara Croft, Link’s androgynous characteristics have enabled unprecedented audiences. to see yourself as the hero of Hyrule and have a richer and more cathartic experience of the game as a result. Zelda herself even received a narrative overhaul that turned the “kidnapped princess” trope and placed her in a defining role in the franchise as the warrior leader essential to defeating the forces of evil. While it is unlikely that Nintendo made these choices with a progressive identity ethic in mind, they nonetheless constitute enabling elements of Ocarina of time‘s design that has had a lasting impact on its success and is reflected in the inclusiveness and reach of its modern community.

3 A dark story

Ganon Castle towers over Hyrule in Ocarina of Time.

Even though he do not descend into the depths of darkness illustrated by games like silent Hill and resident Evil, Ocarina of time presented a particularly dark history for franchise standards thus far. In the middle of the game, for example, Link is sent seven years into the future and witnesses the devastation caused by Ganondorf.

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For players young or old, it’s a sobering moment to step out of the Temple of Time to see Hyrule destroyed, masterfully layered over Link’s story arc. In an instant, the bustling Hyrule Castle Town Square is dilapidated and infested with zombie-like ReDeads. Monsters roam the vast fields and new dungeons teeming with enemies await. It’s both devastating and compelling with an aesthetic that doesn’t compromise its obscurity for its audience.

2 Advanced game engine utility

Link travels through the city of Hyrule Castle in Ocarina of Time.

Despite the hardware and software issues that affected the early stages of its development, Ocarina of time overcame its technical difficulties with an eloquent array of code that packed a staggering amount of content into the game’s 32MB cartridge. Additionally, Nintendo prepared for long-term success by creating reusable game assets decades before the Unreal or Unity asset libraries existed.

This has paid continued dividends in Ocarina following, Majora’s Mask by reducing development time to two years. Certainly, the cognitive dissonance of seeing the characters in Ocarina because totally different characters in his sequel give reasons why Majora’s Mask is considered the strangest Zelda game of all time. Yet even then, it’s widely assumed that this theatrical alienation was intentional – a surreal gaming choice that only Nintendo would dare to implement.

1 Community

Link leaves Saria and Kokiri Forest in Ocarina of Time.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Ocarina of time has been building a fan base that spans over two decades. With such a large following, this classic title has itself transcended legendary status with new and veteran players of all ages continually returning to Link’s adventure in 1998 for fun, study, and metagame.

From speedrunners to cosplayers, this community continues to thrive and grow, bringing new generations to Hyrule on a next-gen console to create their own memories. With the eagerly awaited sequel to Ocarina most direct spiritual successor, Breath of the wild, slated for release in 2022, fans can only wonder what the next step is for this legendary franchise. Either way, the results promise to be legendary.

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