Going back in time

It's not uncommon for me, especially knowing how rarely I'm actually able to purchase new games, to go back to old titles and play them through again. If the game is a favourite, I might play it over a dozen times and get half decent at it, like with Banjo-Kazooie or with Donkey Kong Country. Other times I just try to see whether a great game holds up after my initial hype for it has settled. I hope to play through games like Bioshock and Resident Evil 4 again in this manner later to see whether they have held up for me, but this particular time I wanted to go back to another critically acclaimed game that many may see as the best of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time holds quite a few memories for me. I myself didn't get an N64 for a long time after it was released, but I did get to see OoT at the time it was released. It was one of my first game experiences, and was really mesmerising and yet at the time I did not feel worthy of playing it myself - it was enough to sit back in awe watching someone else grasp the controls and explore its vast lands. One of these situations would be in a shopping centre behind an older boy who seemed reluctant to give up the controller to anyone. I didn't mind, even if he had lost himself in the Deku Tree and didn't seem very good at games at all. The other occasion I got to see a bit more of the game, and was at a local holiday care centre since both my parents worked full time. I remember watching older kids of about eleven or twelve riding around Hyrule on Epona; I remember a really awesome looking boss fight with Twinrova in the Spirit Temple, and I remember the older kids sighing after the caretakers forced the controller on me during the Ganondorf fight since nobody was getting a fair turn. I didn't want to play, watching was fine. It was just one of those games that had that sort of effect on you.

I didn't play through the game myself until the rerelease on the Gamecube in 2003 packaged alongside Windwaker. Despite the graphics and some of the controls and gameplay mechanics being a little dated, it still played brilliantly and hooked me from beginning to end. There was a tonne of stuff to do in sidequests too, and while I completed a few of these, a lot of them went unfinished as I got distracted with playing newer titles from that year. I could never really conceive any true feelings for the game after giving it up prematurely - while it remained a favourite I never thought of it as highly as some of my other top games. It was a fantastic game, yes, but when others brought it up as the best game ever there was this strange sense of doubt in the back of my mind that I couldn't shake. I needed to play it again with a fresh mind to know exactly what I thought of it.

Let's jump back to the present again now, enough of this remeniscing bullshit. I've just beaten the Spirit Temple again and I'm trying to go back and collect the heart pieces and skultulas that I missed before, finish the sidequests I neglected. Truth be told, I'm having a blast, and while I'm shamed to admit I haven't played enough of the Zelda games as I should have, this is my favourite by far. But then, if I take away my perception of favourite games and try and look at this objectively, it's easy to see now why so many would consider this a contender for best game of all time. Ocarina of Time has been crafted really well, and if you're able to look past a crude exterior in terms of appearance and controls today, if you take a chance to not be so shallow, you'll see that everything here has held up really well. Not only that, but it's shaped a lot of the other titles developed today with its puzzles and mechanics, which at the time were a real leap.

While it's not a top favourite for everyone, I think it's really hard to hate Ocarina of Time completely unless you're unable to appreciate classics in general or can't appreciate multiple genres. I have talked to a couple who seem to have liked Majora's Mask and despised OoT due to the lack of sidequests and things to do outside of the main story, which is a bit confusing. The game had a really powerful and gripping storyline, and the sidequests were really just afterthoughts which added to the overall experience, so if you're looking for sidequests alone then this probably isn't the right genre for you at all. But hey, I guess every game has to have a few haters, you can never please everyone.

I guess, in the end, it's games and experiences like these that make you realise how influential Shigeru Miyamoto has been on the industry over the past three decades, and perhaps wonder what things are going to be like when he finally stops making them, whether that be from retirement (yeah, right) or finally passing on. Sure, there's a lot of good designers out there able to make some top quality games, but I doubt we'll ever uncover another personality that comes close to Mr Miyamoto, at least, not any time soon.