I don't get the massive love for the Ocarina of Time

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#1 Posted by viking_funeral (2727 posts) -

I'm not starting this topic to flame (much). I am genuinely curious if people can explain to me why this game gets the massive amount of love that this game gets. I've been perusing top gaming lists off and on today, and this game is consistently at #1 or in the top 3 for several lists.

I played the game. I played it back in 1998, when I was 15 or 16. So it's not like I got to this game late. I was even, and remain, a massive fan of A Link to the Past. I remember playing the game, enjoying it, but not really having the desire to replay it. It was fun, but that was it. I even remember being somewhat disappointed in the game compared to ALttP, for some reason. (I think the areas felt too empty or something?)

Was I too old at the time for the maximum amount of nostalgia? Maybe someone can remind me of what I forgot about this game.

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#2 Posted by Rejizzle (791 posts) -

I agree with everything you said.

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#3 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10791 posts) -

Ocarina of Time is a good game, it's just not the best game ever or even close. If you want to praise a game for innovation then praise Mario 64. A Link to the Past is substantially better in just about every way. Just because a game had a targeting button doesn't make it sliced bread. Also every 3D Zelda game after Ocarina of Time (other than Majora's Mask) is literally just Ocarina of Time again. Until recently reviewers loved every Ocarina of Time clone for whatever reason, they still like them just not quite as much.

While I don't think Shadow of the Colossus (which seems to be the new generic pick) is higher than top 20 or so it's at least a better pick than OoT. Would be nice if Metroid Prime/RE4/Super Metroid/Vagrant Story/MGS3 just became the permanent fixtures in some order with the Last of Us and Dark Souls II being slightly lower. While I do think Valkyrie Profile 2 is on par with that top 5 it's more for being flawless than for being brilliant.

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#4 Posted by Sinusoidal (3561 posts) -

It really was innovative for its time: lock on targeting, expansive, explorable 3D open world. Nothing else quite like it existed then. At least nothing nowhere near as polished and playable. Its influence is still felt across the industry today. Like most early polygonal games though, it has not aged particularly well. Just about everything it did has since been done better by other games.

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#5 Posted by viking_funeral (2727 posts) -

@sinusoidal: Mmmm. I really don't think innovation is why this game keeps popping up at the top of lists. There are a lot of innovative games that have aged better that don't make these lists. I have to imagine that people are choosing this game based on pure opinion.

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#6 Edited by Seppli (11232 posts) -

Nintendo games have that certain *Je ne sais quoi...*, which translates into *I don't know what...*. If it's real or imaginary, I can't say, but for those who feel the Nintendo magic, it's certainly real enough. I've long since lost touch with Nintendo's brand of magic, but I certainly remember how it felt to me in games like Super Mario World and A Link to the Past way back when.

I guess all you can do is accept that some people feel or felt that kind of magic for Ocarina of Time. It's quite hard pinpoint the source of the magic. It's likely no one thing, and deeply personal too. If it were easy, it wouldn't be magic.

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#7 Posted by Giantstalker (2363 posts) -

And I don't really get the massive love for A Link to the Past, but that's because I saw it as a bit of a step back from the original NES game in several ways. This is the view I've maintained to this day, but I've never particularly loved LttP and over time that certainly hasn't improved. If anything, I thought Link's Awakening was a better 2D Zelda game - but that's my own view and not really related to the discussion.

For me, there wasn't something which felt totally new or revolutionary in Zelda until 1998. It felt like I was playing something great, something original, but also still distinctly Zelda. And I think that feeling still remains in the game's structure, production values, etc. whenever I replay it. If I had to compile a quick list...

  • It's got a simple but compelling narrative, with a varied and interesting cast of characters
  • There's a fair amount of side content, making the world feel fairly fleshed out and rewarding exploration
  • Technical systems, like Z-targeting, made it a really playable and fluid experience compared to contemporaries
  • It added interesting mechanics like the horse, playing songs on the ocarina, and time travel
  • Strong level design in the dungeons, overworld stuff is a bit less so
  • I think the music is great, and the visuals were astounding for their time - but I admit these have aged the worst of all
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#8 Posted by senrat (359 posts) -

It blew my 6 year old brain away, changed everything I knew about video games at the time. It made me realize the potential of video games as a medium of entertainment. Sparked my interest in the hobby. A lot of the love could be nostalgia, but it was still a amazing game at the time.

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#9 Edited by Superkenon (1674 posts) -

I think it's still one of the most imminently replayable Zelda games (behind only ALttP, I'd say). It's well-paced, constantly funneling you into new things, and doesn't linger in any one area too long. Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and (especially, especially, especially) Skyward Sword, while being heavily Ocarina-inspired, are more sparse in their world diversity by comparison, and tend to milk and prolong sections of the game. Ocarina is also the most successful at world building, with lots of towns depicting lots of different races doing as they do... and really, lore-wise, it's the Zelda every other Zelda game since has referenced back to for their more meaningful plot points. The franchise itself continues to treat Ocarina as the most important thing, heh.

Obviously this is highly subjective territory, so it's impossible to come up with "proof" for why it's such a great game. All I can say is, for dudes still into Zelda (especially those whose sensibilities survived the transition from 2D to 3D), there's a good chance that Ocarina encapsulates everything they love about the series, and did it most elegantly. It became the standard, and for better or worse, has informed everything the series has tried to be since.

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#10 Posted by TheBlue (1033 posts) -

I agree with pretty much everything @giantstalker said. I'm the same way, I never found A Link to the Past to be that compelling of a game, but Ocarina was incredible to me. I think nostalgia has a lot to do with the reverence it has received over the years. I was 9 or 10 at the time it came out and I remember searching Nintendo Power for anything I could find on the game even before it came out. It was the right game at the right place and time for the right people.

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#11 Posted by Hilbert (347 posts) -

Have you tried cognitive behavioral therapy or maybe some meditation to understand this irrational idea of wanting to understand something about something you don't give a crap about?

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#12 Edited by EXTomar (5047 posts) -

I came to OoT "late" when the N64 was waning and found it disappointingly easy so any sense of "wonder" was immediately squandered due to being bored. I ripped through the game in hours getting all the way to the last second to last dungeon pretty quickly meaning none of it was challenging or memorable.

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#13 Edited by Superkenon (1674 posts) -

Also, I'd argue that Ocarina has aged remarkably well, particularly as early-3D games go. There's a lot of 64 and PS1 games I don't even want to touch anymore because they're such a muddy, texture-wiggly mess, but Ocarina's art direction is enough to transcend its technical limitations and keep it playable to this day. Their use of colors properly separate objects so you can tell what the fuck you're looking at is kinda beyond the norm for the time, and really, the aesthetics in the areas are still interesting to look at anyway.

As an interesting test, I had my way-younger sister (who was born about the same time as it was released) recently play through Ocarina on the 64 to see how it holds up to someone who's grown up playing far more modern games. She loved it, didn't get frustrated with it, or have trouble controlling it. Fact is, the game is just smartly designed, and more than just "the first of its kind." It remains a great example of its kind.

I think the only pre-requisite for enjoying it is that you just have to... well, like that kind of game. Preferences 'n shit.

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#14 Edited by viking_funeral (2727 posts) -

@giantstalker: You're right about LttP being a step back from the original Zelda in a way, but so has every Zelda in my opinion. The only game to come close to the original Zelda's adventure and exploration, in my opinion, has been Fez. I've kind of accepted that the original Zelda is an anomaly, and lump the rest of the Zelda games into their own thing.

Well, except Legend of Zelda 2. That game was also its own beast.

@superkenon: I think you've made the most compelling argument so far, even if I still don't understand it. Maybe it's just down to a numbers thing. Kind of like how Final Fantasy 7 will always remain the most popular game in the series based on just how many people had their sense of wonder cherry popped with that game, and the legend built up around that game will keep it popular.

@hilbert said:

Have you tried cognitive behavioral therapy or maybe some meditation to understand this irrational idea of wanting to understand something about something you don't give a crap about?

Shiiiiiit. I ended up getting a B.A. in Psychology because of my need to understand other people's points of view.

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#15 Posted by Veektarius (6237 posts) -

I think it's because if there's one thing that 3D does better than 2D, it's portray a sense of adventure, a sense of a world you can explore in all directions, and if there's a game that defines adventure, it's Zelda. Or at least it was at that time.

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#16 Posted by Fredchuckdave (10791 posts) -
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#17 Posted by micemoney (185 posts) -

Not only did I think it was a great game from a design standpoint, (as others have said, the mechanics were unique at the time) it was also the first game that completely warped my 9-10 year old brain out of this reality, and into the game. Growing up I definitely zoned out on games, but never did a game give me that extreme sense of atmosphere. I was IN the game. Even the soundtrack alone is fucking flawless. When I beat Ganon, and escaped his falling castle I was short of breath. I literally felt like I just finished a grand journey. It was a one of a kind experience I'll never forget, and I believe other people can share a similar story which is why it's always praised.

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#18 Posted by nasp (652 posts) -

people like ocarina of time so much for the same reasons people like half life.they like it because of what it did at the time.there wasnt anything like ocarina of time at that point,and it kinda started the 3d open world type of game that we see alot of now.as for me i like ocarina of time,but i like majoras mask more.ocarina of time started the 3d open world thing so it should get respect for that,but judging the game on its own merits i think majoras was better.

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#19 Posted by spraynardtatum (4369 posts) -

The reason you don't understand is because you lack a soul.

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#20 Posted by L33T_HAXOR (902 posts) -

@viking_funeral: I'm with you. I played it around the same time and around the same age. Its a great game, the 2nd best Zelda game behind LttP, but the hyperbolic praise it gets sometimes is befuddling.

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#21 Posted by CheapPoison (1057 posts) -

The reason you don't understand is because you lack a soul.

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#22 Edited by Jazz_Bcaz (272 posts) -

@viking_funeral said:

@sinusoidal: Mmmm. I really don't think innovation is why this game keeps popping up at the top of lists. There are a lot of innovative games that have aged better that don't make these lists. I have to imagine that people are choosing this game based on pure opinion.

Guys can we all stop pretending 'objective' is an adjective that deserves to exist on the internet. We'd save ourselves a whole lot of time and embarrassing questions.

Like Seppli said, Nintendo games have a certain je ne sais quoi, and early polygonal games with a lingering legacy tend to be reflections of a way things could be, and being successful. Acclaimed franchises boldly making the transition from 2D to 3D around that time tend to retain a lot of praise because that was the big deal back then. Look at FF7.

All you're asking is, why does consensus not match my personal opinion, and the real answer is because consensus and personal opinion are like oil and water. Context for both come from completely different places.

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#23 Edited by Random45 (1789 posts) -

Well, I'm one of those people who will say the OoT is one of the best Zelda games made. Yeah, everything it does has been done about twenty times better today, but there's still a charm and certain feeling of adventure that the game produces in me that I don't get in many games today. It may be because I've beaten the game countless times and know exactly what to do, but I still think it's a fantastic game.

With all of that being said though, Majora's Mask is a superior game.

Edit: However, I'd still play the Water Temple from OoT any day of the week over the one from Majora's Mask.

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#24 Posted by mikey87144 (2110 posts) -

If I had a nickel for for every post I've seen from someone who doesn't like a generally well regarded game.

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#25 Edited by viking_funeral (2727 posts) -
@mikey87144 said:

If I had a nickel for for every post I've seen from someone who doesn't like a generally well regarded game.

Sadly, you wouldn't get a nickle this time.

I like Ocarina of Time. I LIKE IT. I just don't think it's the best game of all time. I want to understand why so many people so feel so passionately about this particular game to consistently rank it as the best video game ever made.

I swear, it's like people only read headlines then respond.

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#26 Posted by animathias (1272 posts) -

I was 13 when it came out, not far behind you, and I loved it. Particularly, I loved the dungeon designs. Besides the Water Temple, they all seemed to have the right amount of challenge, and most of the boss fights are pretty memorable as well. I'll agree that Hyrule Field was a big empty landmass, but besides that I don't remember anything feeling particularly "empty." Though, when compared to Link to the Past where every screen was full of stuff, I can see where you're coming from.

One thing to point out that was mentioned earlier is the art design and control. There are many, many games from the same era, even later than OoT that are muddy messes, but the original N64 version of OoT stands up pretty well today, when compared to games from the same era. Heck, most N64 games don't hold up at all, yet Mario 64, OoT, and a few other gems do. I'm not sure exactly what that means to this conversation, but it stands out as one of the few early 3D games that holds up today, so it may have something to do with its popularity.

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#27 Posted by DiamondDog (71 posts) -

Ocarina of Time is the quintessential example of 'you had to be there'. When it came out, it was the most innovative game ever released.

I haven't played it for maybe 8 years, because I don't want to ruin the memory.

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#28 Posted by geirr (3470 posts) -

I was way older than OP back when I played Zelda OoT and I freakin' loved it. Now I can't play it though since it's old and looks/runs like crap - like myself. It also invented the a few systems we now take for granted in games so that's something.

However I theorize if I was 15-ish when I had played it I likely wouldn't like it at all since that's an age where (to me) video-games were lame and chasing girls was fun; and they were so rarely impressed by video-games in these parts.

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#29 Edited by Lukeweizer (3288 posts) -

@sinusoidal: Mmmm. I really don't think innovation is why this game keeps popping up at the top of lists. There are a lot of innovative games that have aged better that don't make these lists. I have to imagine that people are choosing this game based on pure opinion.

God forbid they use their opinion to pick their favorite game.

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#30 Posted by Brenderous (1244 posts) -

I dunno man. I felt like it (and Super Mario 64) changed my whole perception of video games. I was a dumb kid at the time, but I still get good feelings when I think back to OOT. Plus they kinda set the bar for 3d adventure games.

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#31 Edited by Budwyzer (799 posts) -

When Ocarina of Time came out, games were about "What does this game have in it to offer me?" instead of how games seem to be predominantly looked at today which is "What is this game missing that others have in them?". And so let's look at what Ocarina of Time did have to offer:

  • A massive 3-D world (and as large as the world was it was all still tied together)
  • each character you met was engaging (players actually wanted to walk up to every NPC in a town to see what they have to say, whether this was to see if they held some sort of key to an obscure side-quest or just to see what zany thing they would say specific to their character)
  • Well crafted puzzles that were just difficult enough to make you feel clever when you solved them. ( Though this could be attributed to my 10yr old mind at the time of the game's release)
  • A silent, and mysterious, protagonist
  • Bombs
  • Light Arrows (Whoever figured out how to get those without using the Strategy Guide, props to you. Your friends telling you how to do it doesn't count either. Having friends over and figuring out how to beat it, together. Another plus, this one the internet killed.)
  • The mailman ( the thought of this guy running all over world to deliver letters continues to intrigue me to this day)
  • Adult Link
  • Epona (Riding that damn horse was, itself, a mini-game )

What it was missing that other games had in them:

  • Who cares?

Boom! Ocarina of Time was awesome!

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#32 Edited by Evilsbane (5594 posts) -

All of you saying it hasn't aged well are smoking something that 3DS game was pretty dope.

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#33 Edited by spraynardtatum (4369 posts) -

All of you saying it hasn't aged well are smoking something that 3DS game was pretty dope.

Yeah, I was going to say that too. It is still absolutely incredible.

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#34 Posted by alwaysbebombing (2609 posts) -

I played it, and I enjoyed it.

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#35 Posted by Belegorm (1815 posts) -

I loved OoT, I haven't gone back to it yet over the past several years, but for me at least it felt like it moved faster and was more exciting than ALttP, which felt like it chugged along, when you hit the dark world you were slowly making your way through a thousand dungeons that I found tricky but not incredibly different or interesting compared to the first 3 dungeons.

I thought the dungeons in OoT were more varied and I didn't get tired of them as much.

Still, while I do think that OoT was revolutionary as one of the first great open world 3D games, and one of the greatest games of all time, I still probably ended up with a greater soft spot in my heart for the wind waker.

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#36 Edited by ArbitraryWater (14984 posts) -

Getting past the part where OOT is one of the most important games ever made, It's so damn polished in almost all aspects of its execution that it still holds up far better than a lot of 1998's other breakout hits. Some of it probably has to do with "you had to be there", but in some ways I still think it's the best 3D Zelda.

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#37 Posted by Slag (7593 posts) -

I don't get how you don't get the massive love for Ocarina of Time.

Especially since you played it in context, how can you not remember how much it changed how it changed the Zelda series and how games in general were played ever after?

Games with that kind of profound impact come by very rarely.

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#38 Posted by BisonHero (10948 posts) -

@slag said:

I don't get how you don't get the massive love for Ocarina of Time.

Especially since you played it in context, how can you not remember how much it changed how it changed the Zelda series and how games in general were played ever after?

Games with that kind of profound impact come by very rarely.

Are you asking him to remember the second derivative of Zelda? The rate of change of the rate of change of Zelda? [sorry, awful math joke]

Anyway, you're right, I fully expected this thread to be written by a 12-year-old. The fact that OP played it in context and doesn't remember how good it was for a 1998 game is baffling. Super Mario 64 certainly set the standard for 3D games in a way that few other polygonal games had before, but that game also had basically no story, and no consistent world. While rudimentary by today's standards, Ocarina of Time established a fantasy world that felt alive, especially when something like Morrowind wouldn't come out for another 4 years. OoT had a variety of well realized indoor and outdoor environments, character models that had distinct facial expressions (which something like Metal Gear Solid couldn't do with its character models), all sorts of quality stuff. And it translated a bunch of Zelda concepts into a 3D game, and seriously, taking any game design originally made for a 2D game and switching it to 3D is no easy feat (though some things were improved upon later, like the boomerang, which was irritating to aim manually in OoT).

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#39 Posted by ShaggE (8621 posts) -

I never liked Zelda outside of the original and LttP (and even then... meh... Majora's Mask is pretty cool conceptually, however), so I have no love for Ocarina, and I've never been able to get into it.

That said, it was a damn impressive game at the time, and it really conveys a sense of adventure in a way that was extremely rare. Best game of all time? Oh god no. But I can appreciate (from afar) its place in history as a gamechanger that deserves to be acknowledged as one of Nintendo's greatest feats.

With that in mind... ugh, I couldn't stand playing the damn thing. As impressive as it was, that franchise just bores me to tears.

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#40 Posted by Mamba219 (227 posts) -

It's my favorite game. I would probably not particularly enjoy video games at this stage of my life without it - it single-handedly got me to love them. I don't feel the need to justify its age, nor what it has to offer, since others in this thread have already done so quite well. But yes, to me it is the greatest game ever made. No other game has had such a profound effect on my life.

Like, literally. I was almost 10 years old when I got the game, back in early 1999. It took me probably a year or more to beat. I remember it better than just about anything from back then. Wallmasters abjectly terrified me to the point where I had nightmares about them, and to this day I have a hard time dealing with them. The atmosphere was at times legitimately scary, moreso than the vast majority of actual horror games, current or otherwise. Yet there was something triumphant about it, something intangible that made you feel like a true hero, a conqueror. I never feel that way about any other game, excepting maybe Majora's Mask (which is so similar).

I regularly replay it, so far I have beaten it 11 times and am currently going for my 12th. All I have left to say about it is this:

Loading Video...

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#41 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1900 posts) -

I didn't have an N64 at the time, but a friend of my brother did. I ended up playing Ocarina up to the Spider Boss in the tree and didn't care for it. F-Zero and Mario 64 blew my fucking mind though.

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#42 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

It is bizarre to think about, but Ocarina of Time was released when I was a senior in high school. I got really far into it, but I never actually beat it. The furthest I made it in was the Water Temple. The only reason I didn't get further was because I was distracted by other things (like the many hours I was still playing in GoldenEye multiplayer). Even though I never did finish the game, and I wouldn't consider it my favorite Zelda game, there's no doubt in my mind that it's a fantastic game and a major milestone in game design on numerous fronts.

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