Way Back When
Few releases throughout the history of video games have defined a generation quite like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When it released in 1998, it was the first 3D Zelda game and was instantly seen as a groundbreaking and influential title, going on to shape the way action-adventure games were made in the following years. From its open world design to its core story of series protagonist Link and his adventure to save the titular princess, this was a Zelda game through and through, but thanks to its move to the third dimension, Ocarina of Time finally offered series fans a fully-realized iteration of Hyrule just the way they had imagined in their heads for over a decade.
This expansive version new version of Hyrule granted players a lot more freedom of exploration than 2D games had previously allowed. There was a giant volcanic mountain to climb, a calm and quiet village to visit, a fortress in a desolate desert to explore, an underwater domain in need of help, a bustling city with ancient secrets to discover, and so many more iconic locations that helped to bring Hyrule to life. By combining these enthralling areas with a stellar soundtrack, a compelling collection of memorable NPCs, and an engaging coming-of-age story through line, Nintendo had created a very affecting and emotional journey in a series that would go on to feature plenty more such tales.
And while Ocarina of Time might have initially appeared to just be taking returning items and mechanics from Link’s previous games and repurposing them for a 3D plane, it actually introduced a lot of innovative new mechanics that would go on to become standard in future Zelda titles. The most substantial of these new additions were Link’s cherished horse companion Epona, using musical instruments to solve puzzles, and a lock-on targeting system that made combat considerably more fluid. Yet even with all of these recurring features showing up in subsequent releases, a plethora of fans would still argue that Ocarina of Time managed to do them best.
Ocarina of Time was, of course, a resounding success for the Nintendo 64, going on to sell over 7 million copies and earning praise for virtually every aspect of its design. Decades after its release, it remains the highest rated video game of all time on aggregate site Metacritic and sits comfortably at the top of the many gamers’ favorite childhood titles. It was so beloved by series fans that Nintendo produced a direct sequel to the game called Majora’s Mask, and though it diverged quite a lot from Ocarina of Time in some key ways, it also went on to become one of the franchise’s most adored entries. Both games have received ports to Nintendo 3DS with a variety of additional features, but sadly, Nintendo has not revisited either of them for full-blown remakes yet.
Where You Can Play It Now
If you want the purest Ocarina of Time experience, you can really only get that via the Wii U’s virtual console. But if you want a more contemporary version, you’ll want to check the game out on 3DS, where it featured updated graphics, higher framerates, optional 3D support, a reworked equipment system, and a plethora of minor visual upgrades to the game’s locations. In other words, this 3D iteration makes improvements while remaining true enough to the original experience to make it the best way to play this classic title.
Here’s the modern platforms on which you can access The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
- Wii U (Virtual Console)
- Nintendo 3DS
Once you’ve finished this beloved Zelda entry, you’ll also be able to get your hands on a similarly improved version of its direct sequel, Majora’s Mask, also on the 3DS. If you’re not feeling the upgrades, though, you can also snag the original version on the Wii U as well.