Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ocarina of Time's 20th Anniversary

20 years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time got released in Japan, creating a new era for the Zelda series and gaming as a whole. The game's 10 Anniversary was one of the first highlights on this blog, where at the time we already looked at what made the game so great and how it positively influenced the success of the Zelda series with many titles to follow. I took the liberty to update said post (fixed some spelling and markup), so go check it out.

Now, let's continue the list from the original post with all Zelda releases since the 10th Anniversary of Ocarina of Time to see how its legacy continued in the last 10 years:

This is certainly a big list, though a big part of it is made out of spin-off titles, DLC, re-releases and also remasters. The latter started with nothing less than Ocarina of Time 3D on the Nintendo 3DS, which gave the Nintendo 64 classic a pretty overhaul. Thanks to this version the game is still very enjoyable today.

Anyway, the previous list back in 2008 ended on the notion that hopefully the next game will have the same impact as Ocarina of Time, which didn't came true with titles like Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword. But by now, ten years later, we can finally claim that Zelda found its next big milestone with Breath of the Wild in 2017, which quickly became the most successful Zelda game by now and really made the franchise fresh and exciting again.

With that it even feels difficult to go back to the older 3D Zelda games, including Ocarina of Time, because they feel so very limited in comparison. For example, you can't freely explore the world anywhere you go, so you can't just climb the hills around Kakariko to look what's behind them. Or the combat feels very clunky and enemies are rarely found...

But at the time Ocarina of Time was the Breath of the Wild of its generation. In 1998 you've never experienced an open world like that and the game was ground-breaking in almost every aspect. Compared to the world of Breath of the Wild, the Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time might feel dull, but back then it cleverly created a never before seen sense of freedom in video games. It created a feeling that there's always something to discover behind the horizon and for the longest time the Zelda series struggled to capture the same sense of freedom (except for the Wind Waker), until Breath of the Wild finally came along.

Still, there are a couple of things, where Ocarina of Time outshines Breath of the Wild, like the dungeon design, or the music, and use of ambient sounds. So, it's not like everything has been surpassed yet and like there's absolutely no reason to return to Ocarina of Time, ever.

Also, you can't dismiss the influence that Ocarina of Time still has on the franchise, even today. Despite its innovations for the series, even Breath of the Wild wasn't able to fully move out of its shadow and builds upon the nostalgia that Ocarina of Time brings. It already starts with how you visit the ruins of the Temple of Time early in the game, a constant reminder of the days of the past.

Afterwards you find your way to Kakariko and while the village is vastly different from the old windmill place in Ocarina of Time, you still have some influence here like a minigame, where you have to bring a number of Cuccos back into their stable. And this is a part, where Ocarina of Time is still a lot more fun and rewarding in comparison.

And one of the biggest things that Ocarina of Time established were the different tribes of Hyrule: the Sheikah, the Gorons, the Zora, and the Gerudo are still very prominent in the new Hyrule after all this time and make a big part of the story, where especially the Zora storyline reminisces in the tales from Ocarina of Time.

At least Breath of the Wild managed to get away from the timeline that Ocarina of Time had created. By looking at the classic Zelda timeline you quickly realize how important Ocarina of Time was to the series even in story, since it's essentially the pivot point of the timeline. It's probably one of the reasons why they set Breath of the Wild loose from the old timeline. But it still didn't manage to entirely escape Ocarina of Time's shadow, which just shows how the N64 classic is still important to the series after all this time...

No comments: