I have a pretty nasty cold right now. Lucky me, I just got over a nasty cold a couple of weeks ago. Ugh. So last night I wanted to do nothing but lay on the couch. I decided I'd do so with the 3DS remake of everybody's GREATEST OF ALL TIME list #1, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. And before I even talk about the game itself, I think I really need to give some background on my own experience with Ocarina.
You should know that while it seems like Ocarina is a series favorite for many gamers, it's always been kind of a black sheep for ME personally. I had played the first two Zelda's in the late 80's and adored them both. And A Link To The Past was seriously one of my absolute favorite games of the early 90's. After that I bought a Super Game Boy just so I could continue playing Link's Awakening on a TV. To say that I was a Zelda "fan" would be an understatement. If anything, Zelda was one of the biggest most important game series that shaped my early gamerhood.
So then what happened? Well in the late 90's I had moved on to the Playstation. And actually most of my friends had done the same. I had one weird friend who had decided on a Nintendo 64, and another weird friend who had decided on the Saturn. Anyway, the weird N64 friend would show me the games he was getting and the vast majority of them looked bad to me. No wait, don't stop reading in disgust (yet). I should clarify: I don't mean that they looked like bad GAMES. But my own eye, I never really cared for the way that most N64 games looked. Those polygons and color pallet I guess. I don't know.
Over the years - I'll admit - I've been rather harsh on the N64. I do think that the controller is terrible, though. I never liked that thing. But the truth is that I avoided Ocarina Of Time for many years because I just thought it LOOKED bad (visually) and because I had grown a certain aversion to the majority of N64 games. There were outliers, sure. But as good as Mario Kart 64 was, it was definitely replaced by Double Dash and MK8 for me.
When I did finally get around to playing Ocarina Of Time, it was years later via the Zelda Anniversary Collection on Gamecube. Mind you, this was after I had played Wind Waker, Oracle Of Ages, and Minish Cap. And so I struggled with Ocarina Of Time... partly on the bias I had already built in my head. Partly because I found the camera to be a pain in the ass. Partly because I spent so much time just in that opening village trying to figure out how to leave. I don't remember having much patience for the game and eventually I found myself far more drawn to Majora's Mask on that compilation because at least Majora had an insane nightmare Groundhog Day vibe going on.
So here we are then. 2019. People still call Ocarina one of the best games of all time - if not THEE best. Metacritic says that it's the best reviewed game of "all time." Or at least as long as Metacritic's been tracking. And I know if you were to check any other subjective bestie lists in Nintendo Power or Game Informer or on IGN or wherever else, you'll find Ocarina probably in the Top 10 (or 5?). So fuck it, I'll try again. Because remember I'm sick and cranky so why not?
First up some very preliminary thoughts on the 3DS remake itself. Okay, the game LOOKS so much better than it did on N64. And that's going to help me out a lot. I am struggling with the camera a bit though. My brain wants this to just be something that takes advantage of two analog sticks, y'know? There's a gyroscopic camera thingy that you can use when you Z-target or when aiming or whatever in first person. It.... works, I guess. But my mind has a tough time feel comfortable with when this can be used or not. I don't know. I've just played 3D Zelda games since that all seem to handle the camera thing better so again, I feel biased. But I'll do my best here.
The opening of Ocarina feels like such a slog to me. I'm sure if you're familiar enough with this game then you can just breeze out of the village in 15 mins or whatever. But if you're playing with no guide and you don't have the game memorized than it can take you upwards of an hour to talk to everyone and figure out where to get the sword and shield and all that. Let's contrast that with the opening of A Link To The Past which is exciting as F. Or how about even the original Zelda which is like "hey, here's the world! Go explore!"
But now I'm in the first dungeon which inside the tree. And it's pretty good. It's also bigger than I remember. I haven't actually made it to the boss yet, so I'll hold off on proper thoughts for now beyond saying that it was cool to see the lighting of the stick to bring fire to other torches thing which is still a staple in Breath Of The Wild all these years later. I'm still very early in the game obviously, but at least for now - and now that you know my history with the game and series - for now, Ocarina remains sort of mid-tier Zelda for me. Let's see if that changes as I progress...
...and ten days later I've still not had any urge to fire this game back up. It's actually really weird in a way. I'm a longtime Zelda fan, right? I've played and loved the majority of the series. And this - THIS game is the one that many fans claim is the best in the series. And yet I just can't seem to get into it. There's something about that N64 era that just doesn't click with me. And I sort of wish I could get over that. At least with Majora's Mask there's a more compelling story that can suck me in.
I just feel like I'm supposed to like Ocarina Of Time. And yet, each time I try - often separated by many years to see if my tastes have changed - I just can't. I suppose I'll hang on to this cartridge for now. Maybe I'll try again in another few years. Sigh.