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Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

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

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17 comments

  • thefreakysurgeon - August 27, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Let's all hope that Skyward Sword will kick so much ass that it'll be titled "Best Zelda Ever".
  • Gorlack312 - July 23, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Yo Gamesradar, Imma let you finish, but Ocarina is the best Zelda game of all time. Of all time!! Though i am a bit biased, since OoT was my video game (started at age 4) and i still have memories of watching my brother play Ping Pong with Ganondorf. Oh, and thanks for giving Majora's Mask a 9/10, not many people are hardcore enough to play through it.
  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I have always loved Wind Waker. Probably my favorite Zelda game ever. actually, one of my favorite games in general! I instantly loved the style of the game, and the cell shading. I'm very glad that they didn't do that stupid anti-aliasing affect where they put the black outlines around everything, which I see on a lot of other cell shaded games. (think the Dragon Ball Z games, or that P.O.S. FPS for PS2 "XII" (Thirteen.) I don't mind the black outlines if done correctly but they rarely are. they usually look bad due to technical issues, it looks like the outlines are jumping around the character, shaking or squiggling sort of? like those "squiggle vision" cartoons, where the all the lines/outlines are drawn in squiggly lines on purpose, so they wiggle and and jiggle and what not. (think "Home Movies," "Dr Katz," "Ed, Edd, and Eddie", etc...) anyways, I think Wind Waker is going to be one of those few games that are not only great, but will stand the test of time, pretty much forever. Even now, going back to play a PS1 game like Tomb Raider" is almost impossible, it looks and feels just so awful. But Wind Waker's style is timeless, it will always look, feel, and play great.
  • jwolf182 - November 5, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    I my opinion, The best Zelda games were Ocarina of time and majora's mask. hand down. Twilight Princess was a great game, but it just felt weird, i mean no Ocarina, no musical instrument? That's like history for Zelda. Wind Waker was a great game, but the cartooniness got old after awhile along with sailing. Idk i just didn't like twilight princess' going from wolf to Link, i just found that process stupid, and ganon turning into this giant boar thing? C'mon that's just stupid...
  • Nitemarish - October 9, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Water Temple.
  • VGFreak1225 - November 30, 2008 4:36 a.m.

    I don't know, I don't hate Tingle that much, and the Tingle Tuner, while could have been a little more refined, was a nice addition and never necessary to finish TWW. Also, I'm still going to put OoT as greatest game ever. While Twilight Princess was obviously an improvement over OoT, it didn't innovate and there were more flaws that shouldn't have been there after eight years of opportunity to refine it. While I'll welcome both, to me, innovation is more important than inevitable refinement.
  • Digidabee - November 15, 2008 8:55 p.m.

    I agree Twilight Princess was the first one of the Zelda games i played right to the end although I had others before.
  • Christrigg1 - October 15, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    they shouls make a game where vaati finds the majoras mask, puts it on zelda, and then the real link must face her, who has all 3 peices of triforce as the second to last boss. the thirs to last would be fighting and sealing vaati. the last boos would be zelda using her magic to make there two of each triforce, since gannondorf had controll of all 3 and couldnt get it away from him. she did that so link would then fight gannon 1 on 1 with an awesome swordfight, and magic fight and thw whole 9. ending with a light arrow to the chest, and the master sword lodged in the forehead
  • skyguy343 - October 12, 2008 11:38 p.m.

    agreed, tingle is innocent but did Nessrox (also agreed) just say the Water Temple was good?
  • Nessrox - October 11, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Good times.
  • BHT128 - October 9, 2008 3:06 a.m.

    Why does everyone hate Tingle so much? You dont have to love him or even like him, but I dont understand what he did to earn the loathing of an entire continent.
  • Danomeon - April 10, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I don't beleive it, you guys gave link to the past a 10 and ocarina of time a 9! Both were great games, but that may be the first person I have ever heard say anythign other than, "BEST GAME EVAR!"
  • shadowleon - April 2, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    on link's awakening did they steal the ball and chane from Mario or did Mario steal it from them
  • KatamariLovesSpock - May 17, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    I really like the artistic direction that Wind Waker took, considering cel-shading can't really go out of style or become obsolete considering it has been pretty much at It's peak since the GC and PS2. But I personally want a Zelda in which they use the cel-shaded art style but still make it a darker more adult Zelda. They could make it with an older link even... Just because it has a "cartoon" style doesn't mean it can't be more mature. Not only that but a more stylized Zelda (no offence to Twilight Princess, which was a great game but doesn't nearly have as much character.) may make it a more solid game in general. As Twilight Princess showed you don't have to have a blood-caked protagonist... So I think cel-shaded is a great direction to take but they need to make the creatures less disproportional and make an older Link. Maybe closer to the DBZ style of cel-shaded games, those look great and, although DBZ tone may be very "YAAAAAAAAAARGH IMMA CHARGIN' MAH LAZURZ, I SCREAM TO POWER UP!!!!111ONE11!ELEVEN!1!!!" It still shows how a more adult cel-shaded Zelda is possible.
  • BodyDamage - February 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I just watched the video on page 7 when the moon falls and noticed it bears a very striking resemblance to when *spoiler* meteor falls on midgar at the end of FF7.
  • Mr.Epic64 - February 16, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Whats with the skin coloured teeth in Awekening? WTF!?
  • wolyfox - January 17, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    i mostly like fire temple and twilight princess the spider boss

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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