For as long as I can remember playing games, I've been a Legend of Zelda fan. I have so many fond memories of nearly all the games in the series. While I considered myself a fan, there was a pretty big problem with my fan status:
I had never beaten Ocarina of Time!
Obviously this was an issue that needed correcting, but how did I get here? How did a Zelda fan whose beaten nearly every other game in the series not end up beating Ocarina of Time?
I certainly played Ocarina of Time plenty while I was young. I vividly remember playing the first three dungeons over and over again. I also remember how blown away I was when I became Adult Link. That moment was amazing, and for some reason I thought that becoming an adult was just a thing that Zelda did after that. When I was playing Wind Waker for the first time, I kept expecting to become an adult as I played. I was a little disappointed when I pulled the Master Sword and nothing happened, but then I was told to power it up and was sure that I would become an adult once that was finished. Nope, Wind Waker Link stays that way.
Anyway, back on track, as a youngster, I could finish the Young Link's dungeons easily enough, especially after playing them so many times, but Adult Link's dungeons were much more difficult. The Forest Temple was a huge roadblock for me and I was stuck there for a long time. Same story with the Fire Temple, except it was even harder and I was stuck there longer. Then came the dreaded Water Temple. That was as far as I ever got. Even later as a teenager when I was playing Ocarina of Time on the Wii's Virtual Console, I never could get past the Water Temple.
After that stunning failure, I stopped trying for years. Ocarina of Time eventually came out on the 3DS, but I didn't pick it up, probably because I didn't have any money at the time. Not too long ago however, I was browsing a local game store and saw Majora's Mask 3D and realized that I've never played Majora's Mask at all, and figured that I should play it. I bought it and then borrowed Ocarina of Time 3D from my brother to finally get this game over with.
I could probably play the first three dungeons blindfolded at this point, and I breezed past them in a blur, the adult dungeons were more challenging as I didn't have as much experience with them, but there was nothing about them that I couldn't handle this time. I don't know if I had an easier time because I'm just better at games now, or if the 3DS version's changes to the Water Temple were just that significant, but I finally got through the Water Temple. I was finally able to play through the Shadow and Spirit Temples and face off against Ganondorf. I can finally take this game off of my backlog!
So what did I think of this classic game, finally playing and beating it twenty-one years after its initial release?
Unfortunately all of the major plot points had been spoiled for me years ago. Shiek was spoiled the moment I started playing Smash Melee. I wish I could have experienced that for the first time in game instead of in Smash Brothers. So instead of being blown away by the Sheik reveal, I was able to focus on the smaller moments, like facing off against Dark Link in the Water Temple and figuring that fight out, or doing the Giant's Sword sidequest and all the bizarre implications the side quest makes along the way. Ocarina of Time has a lot of memorable moments, and even if I knew some of them were about to happen, I was still able to enjoy them.
That said I had a few issues with the game. The biggest one was how everything that went wrong in the game was explicitly my fault. What's that? Ganondorf is trying to get into the Temple of Time? Well, why don't I just gather the very specific items needed to open the temple and then leave the door open for seven years. That plan can't go wrong. The whole time I was playing as I yelling at Link for being so stupid. To be fair, Link and Zelda were basically babies when they decided on this plan, so it's no wonder that it was a completely idiotic plan in the first place, but then you realize that you can go back in time seven years. Just... just do that and close the door or something. Problem solved. Sure maybe that would create an alternate timeline where Ganondorf rules, but that wouldn't have happened in the first place if you NEVER OPENED THE DOOR TO BEGIN WITH! I kind of wish Link had taken the spiritual stones and just skipped town with them. Go visit Termina sooner than planned and bring the Spritual Stones with you. Ganondorf would never be able to open the door and would have to scour the earth hoping to find out where that kid took his rocks.
There was one other moment that took me right out of the game, and I made a QPost about it, so some of you may already know what I'm about to complain about. After finishing the Water Temple for the first time, I headed to Kakariko Village and to my surprise a cutscene played when I entered. The village was on fire and Shiek was shouting at Link to stay back. Some invisible being grabs Shiek and tosses her across town before escaping into the Shadow Temple. In order to overcome the Shadow Temple, you have to go back in time and face a Dead Hand to get the Eye of Truth.
The Dead Hand is just a mini boss, and it might be one of the most terrifying things in the game! Then you go to the Shadow Temple and it's filled with literal death traps like guillotines and spinning sythes wielded by grim reaper statues. The atmosphere of the place is dark and spooky and I was looking forward to fighting whatever horrors this dungeon's boss would be. Imagine my surprise when I enter the boss room and find a giant pair of hands playing a drum that I'm standing on, and a monster named Bongo Bongo.
Perhaps it's silly of me to get annoyed by this, but Bongo Bongo sounds like a Mario or Donkey Kong boss fight. It sounds like something colorful and funny. It does not sound like this:
I hope you'll forgive me for not being able to take this boss seriously. I had been taking the Shadow Temple very seriously, but this kind of ruined it. It looks like a terrifying demon who could burn Kakariko and beat Sheik, but then it just starts playing it's bongo. This isn't some bloodthirsty monster, it just wants to play its bongo, and then it got sealed away under a well and couldn't play its bongo anymore. It finally escapes and plays it bongo, which somehow contributes to the doom of Hyrule, so Link needs to kill it and prevent its bongo playing.
Sorry, enough Bongo Bongo ranting.
I might have had a few gripes with the plot and a boss, but other than that, the game was fantastic. It's one of those rare games that I didn't put down once I got into it. I did initially put the game down after beating the first two dungeons because of how often I've done them, but once I picked it up after that I beat it pretty quickly. The dungeons were interesting and exciting, especially the three that I hadn't played before, Shadow, Spirit, and Ganondorf's castle. That might have been because they were new to me, but I really enjoyed them. My favorite dungeon was probably the Spirit Temple. Tackling the dungeon in the past and the future was really cool, though I do feel bad that I abandoned Nabooru for seven years. The Ganon fight was tense and entertaining, and Ganon himself was definitely intimidating.
Ocarina of Time is definitely worthy of its status as a classic. Along with Mario, Link moved into 3D perfectly and made a game that isn't just impressive for a first 3D game, but is still impressive today. I'm glad that I can finally tell this game to get off my backlog.