[It's time for another Monthly Musing -- the monthly community blog theme that provides readers with a chance to get their articles and discussions printed on the frontpage. -- CTZ]
While Ocarina of Time (OoT for the sake of this blog) isn't my favorite game in the series anymore -- The Wind Waker has that title right now -- it's impossible to argue that it has the most realistic and expansive world of any game Zelda game. One of the reasons for this is because it has the most well-known version of Hyrule, Link's and Zelda's turf. OoT was the first completely 3D Zelda and left the biggest visual impact of any game of its time. While Hyrule seems to change with each game in the series, most players can still recall the locations of every rock, tree, secret grotto and Gossip Stone in the OoT Hyrule because there was nothing else like it before 1998.
I remember getting to Hyrule for the first time, watching the scene as the camera showed me Hyrule Field in its entirety and I made my way to the market. The hustle and bustle of people running their errands every day, being able to talk to each and every one of them -- It was truly magical. The awesome thing about Hyrule is that I can honestly see a place like it existing in our world. It's not just some fantasy, flashy place like you'd find in the Star Wars universe. It's meant to look like the real world, and Miyamoto achieved that goal in a way no one would have expected without actually seeing it first.
Speaking of things based on reality, have you ever noticed the voices chanting in the background as you play through the Fire Temple? It's not just gibberish that's being spouted -- It's actually Arabic. Nintendo wanted to make each and every part of their game feel as real as they possibly could, and the Fire Temple was no different. It was designed to be a religious place, and words that (I believe) roughly translate to something like "God is Good" can be heard in Arabic as you wander the halls, giving off an authentic Muslim Temple feel.
The thing that I love the most about this is that Nintendo didn't even have to use a real-world language -- Hylian was already well-established, and they could have just used that, seeing as how they could have made it mean anything they wanted it to mean. But they chose to use a language that actually exists, and to make the voices speak of an actual Holy figure. Why not talk about the Golden Goddesses, Din, Farore and Nayru? Nintendo chose to put a reference to God in the game, yet again linking it to our own world and the beliefs of many of the players, rather than just the beliefs of the characters in the game.
To this day I can still recall every nook and cranny of that world, and no other game has ever had that kind of an impact on me. That's what creating an immersive experience is about.