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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Old 11-21-2023, 12:20 PM   #1
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Default The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time was released in Japan 25 years ago today, November 21st. It didn't come out in the US until 11/23. I didn't played it until my birthday, 11/30.

My first Zelda memory was when I was younger. I went with my mom to someone else's house. I don't remember who they were or what the relationship was or why we were there. But I do recall they had some kids a little older than me and they were played The Legend of Zelda on the NES. This had to be a been a few years after that game released, early 90s. Later Zelda games were certainly out, but this was the one they were playing. I recall feeling very confused by it. I had only played side scrolling games and similar, so the top down view was disconcerting and I didn't understand how you could defeat enemies if you couldn't jump on them. I didn't like the game.

The tried out several adventure and RPG type games when I was younger via rentals and other (Sega) channels, but always bounced off of them. I wasn't ready to understand anything much more complicated than "run right". The 3D exploration of Mario 64 after the N64 came out was the closest I got. I even rejected Mario RPG (not knowing then what "RPG" stood for).

I remember seeing the ad for Ocarina of Time somewhere. It was the coolest thing I had seen to that point. I asked for the game for my birthday. My parents did have some reservations, suggesting that perhaps this wasn't my kind of game. I remember back then thinking back to the then recent experience I had of Quest 64 which had also had a cool commercial, but I thoroughly disliked the actual game. I insisted on Ocarina of Time though.

OoT clicked for me. It was like nothing I had ever played or, rather, I wasn't prepared for games like this until that moment I guess. What really clicked for me, I think, was the storytelling and the emotions. The bit where Link is leaving Kokiri Forest for the first time and Saria gives him the Fairy Ocarina is the first time I ever felt a connection to a video game character. Zelda wasn't necessarily the industry pioneer in cinematic storytelling and remained fairly simple compared to contemporaries like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy VII, but it was a first for me.

It took me a long time to beat it. I don't recall that I made a ton of progress until I got a guide for Christmas. But that made it feel all the more epic, in retrospect. It felt like a real adventure. Five years ago for my birthday (the 20th anniversary) I beat it in a single (long) sitting.

(i don't do great at birthdays, okay, don't judge me)

We gained easy access to to the internet around this time and OoT inspired a lot of my early searches. I wouldn't have put it in these terms back then, but this game is really what made me interested in video games as an art form rather than just as toys. I cared about where these things came from, how they got made. Majora's Mask was the first game I anticipated as it was being developed; following along as rumors spread of "Ura Zelda" and "Zelda Gaiden". That was the first game I pre-ordered myself. This interest lead me to discussion forums and eventually to Nintendose (which of course lead to here).

It also sparked interested in other games. Pokémon came along around this time and I fell heavy into that. I subscribed to Nintendo Power which provided me additional exposure to other games I may not have heard of. Dragon Warrior I & II for the Game Boy was a big one that continued my path to getting more into RPGs and adventure games. For Christmas 2000, I asked for the NES and SNES (which we had had before but had traded in) along with older, seminal games I hadn't been old enough to really appreciate. Final Fantasy and Metroid, etc.

I'm not exactly happy to think about OoT being 25. Its a little distressing to think about how the "older games" I wanted for Christmas 2000 were barely a fraction old at that point as OoT is now. Video games as a commercial product only barely have a longer history before OoT than they've had since. But c'est la vie.

I'm a little bittersweet now on the impact OoT has had on my life. I'm only now in my thirties, just a few days away from "late thirties", pursuing some of my own, new adventures. I feel like I've coasted on easy mode for a while. In some low moments I tell my wife that maybe I should get rid of my PC and consoles so I can focus more on my personal goals. I haven't yet. Probably won't. Because then I couldn't play Ocarina of Time.
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