Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

We dissect each and every game in this legendary franchise

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time | N64 (1998) | GC (2003) | Wii (2007)

There are two kinds of gamers in the world: those who think Ocarina of Time is arguably the best game ever, and those who are wrong.

The legend: Another young Link embarks on a quest to save the Triforce from a pre-monstrous Ganon, now called Ganondorf. He manages to sneak with Link into the Sacred Realm, steals the Triforce and plunges the land into chaos. After a seven year slumber, Link awakens as an adult to reclaim the Triforce by bouncing back and forth through time via an enchanted ocarina. After an arduous journey, Link and seven powerful sages seal Ganon inside the Sacred Realm.

Master swords: Translating an established franchise into 3D is no easy task. Plenty of respectable series have faltered after their trip into the third dimension, but Zelda made the jump completely intact and improved in just about every conceivable way. A brilliant targeting system kept the camera where you wanted it. Jumping was solved by having Link leap automatically wherever he needed to go. Familiar items, like the boomerang, slid into the third dimension with ease. A vast Hyrule Field acted as a hub that connected all other areas of the game world, a decision that both made practical sense and also made Hyrule seem like a real place, with fields that bled into mountains and creeks that exploded into waterfalls. And on top of everything else, the sun rose and set. Such a simple addition made all the difference, as it immersed you completely in the realm of Hyrule.

Even though Ocarina was a technical breakthrough, its storytelling and soul grew along with the bits and bytes inside the cartridge. Actual cinemas, with intense camera angles, moody lighting and relevant dialogue, unraveled a tale that seemed so much more important than any of the previous titles. You didn't just want to beat the game - you honestly wanted to stop Ganon and restore the dilapidated future to its happy origins. And when you finally made it to Ganon, after all the long hours and countless trips back and forth across Hyrule and time itself, you were treated to one of the coolest final battles in the series' history.

Best moment: Finally claiming the Master Sword and becoming an adult. The time shift gave you new weapons, new abilities and new areas to explore.

I AM ERROR: Hey! Listen!

It's a secret to everybody: This was the first game since Zelda II to come with a gold cartridge. Savvy buyers even managed to bag a special box as well - Ganondorf makes his first appearance, though by the end of the game he morphs into the corrupt pig monster we all know - Well-known Japanese magazine Famitsu gave Ocarina a perfect score. It was the first perfect score the magazine ever awarded - If our number crunching skills are correct, this is still the best-selling Zelda of all time, easily recouping its multi-million-dollar budget - GameShark codes can unlock, of all things, a Star Fox Arwing enemy. Hit up YouTube for tons of clips claiming to have bested a miniature Fox.

Hero of time? This was a damn near perfect game in 1998, worthy of the highest possible praise. But today, after the advancements of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Ocarina feels like a stepping stone. Everything that was introduced here has been improved upon greatly, from camera control to dungeon design to inventory management. Just like the first Zelda can't be the best 2D version (as its formula was perfected in LttP), Ocarina no longer carries the mantle of "best Zelda ever" in our eyes. But don't think for one second that we're denying this game a place among the greatest, most influential titles of all time. 9/10

There are two kinds of gamers in the world: those who think Ocarina of Time is arguably the best game ever, and those who are wrong.

The legend: Another young Link embarks on a quest to save the Triforce from a pre-monstrous Ganon, now called Ganondorf. He manages to sneak with Link into the Sacred Realm, steals the Triforce and plunges the land into chaos. After a seven year slumber, Link awakens as an adult to reclaim the Triforce by bouncing back and forth through time via an enchanted ocarina. After an arduous journey, Link and seven powerful sages seal Ganon inside the Sacred Realm.

Master swords: Translating an established franchise into 3D is no easy task. Plenty of respectable series have faltered after their trip into the third dimension, but Zelda made the jump completely intact and improved in just about every conceivable way. A brilliant targeting system kept the camera where you wanted it. Jumping was solved by having Link leap automatically wherever he needed to go. Familiar items, like the boomerang, slid into the third dimension with ease. A vast Hyrule Field acted as a hub that connected all other areas of the game world, a decision that both made practical sense and also made Hyrule seem like a real place, with fields that bled into mountains and creeks that exploded into waterfalls. And on top of everything else, the sun rose and set. Such a simple addition made all the difference, as it immersed you completely in the realm of Hyrule.

Even though Ocarina was a technical breakthrough, its storytelling and soul grew along with the bits and bytes inside the cartridge. Actual cinemas, with intense camera angles, moody lighting and relevant dialogue, unraveled a tale that seemed so much more important than any of the previous titles. You didn't just want to beat the game - you honestly wanted to stop Ganon and restore the dilapidated future to its happy origins. And when you finally made it to Ganon, after all the long hours and countless trips back and forth across Hyrule and time itself, you were treated to one of the coolest final battles in the series' history.

Best moment: Finally claiming the Master Sword and becoming an adult. The time shift gave you new weapons, new abilities and new areas to explore.

I AM ERROR: Hey! Listen!

It's a secret to everybody: This was the first game since Zelda II to come with a gold cartridge. Savvy buyers even managed to bag a special box as well - Ganondorf makes his first appearance, though by the end of the game he morphs into the corrupt pig monster we all know - Well-known Japanese magazine Famitsu gave Ocarina a perfect score. It was the first perfect score the magazine ever awarded - If our number crunching skills are correct, this is still the best-selling Zelda of all time, easily recouping its multi-million-dollar budget - GameShark codes can unlock, of all things, a Star Fox Arwing enemy. Hit up YouTube for tons of clips claiming to have bested a miniature Fox.

Hero of time? This was a damn near perfect game in 1998, worthy of the highest possible praise. But today, after the advancements of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Ocarina feels like a stepping stone. Everything that was introduced here has been improved upon greatly, from camera control to dungeon design to inventory management. Just like the first Zelda can't be the best 2D version (as its formula was perfected in LttP), Ocarina no longer carries the mantle of "best Zelda ever" in our eyes. But don't think for one second that we're denying this game a place among the greatest, most influential titles of all time. 9/10

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