Ocarina of Time, Still on Top?

Published: August 9, 2009 By webmasterbob | Updated: August 9, 2009 | Comments (3)

Why is it after all these years The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is still considered the best Legend of Zelda game, let alone the best game, of all time?  In this premiere editorial I take a look back at the circumstances surrounding this very fact, and if it’s at all possible to trump Ocarina of Time.


Time and time again Nintendo has attempted to break their own record, the very record that established The Legend of Zelda as a true household name for videogame fans.  At the time of this article publication the majority of the gaming population views The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time as the best Legend of Zelda game to date; according to Gamerankings Ocarina of Time is, by review score, the best game of all time.  Why is it, or rather how is it that Ocarina of Time more than ten years after its release still holds against newer games with better graphics, sound, and arguably better story?


Rather than starting an additional debate I’m going to take two games in particular against Ocarina of Time, the games being ones which Nintendo planned would trump Ocarina.  The Legend of Zelda the Windwaker, released in 2003, was set to take the title of best game from Ocarina of Time.  Windwaker by far had a better overall story, far more creative characters, and more in depth characterization.  In addition, Windwaker even scored a 40/40 from the Japanese Farmisuta reviewers, a score previously only held by Ocarina of Time.  However, there were several contributing factors as to why Windwaker does not hold the title of best Zelda game.  First off, Windwaker’s cell-shading graphics style turned off a huge number of fans who wanted the Zelda series to stay with the realistic graphics approach from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.   When the first demo footage of the game was shown at Spaceworld 2001 audience members were quoted as stating to one another the trailer was simply a joke.  Of course, fans were outraged, surprisingly even Japanese fans.  To calm the storm, Nintendo elected to release a special bonus disk containing Ocarina of Time Master Quest (a harder version of Ocarina of Time) to all those that pre-ordered Windwaker.  Fans in the United States ended up with the same treatment after Nintendo call centers were flooded with requests for this promotion.


In addition to the graphics prospect there were many aspects of Windwaker most veteran gamers of the Legend of Zelda series opposed.  For one, they disliked the ocean traveling that, admittedly, took up large amounts of gameplay time.  Island hopping, to many, also served as a turn off.  Many gamers also complained about the lack of dungeons, Windwaker only sported 6 full dungeons with a repeated mini dungeon in comparison to Ocarina of Time’s 9 with the addition of three mini-dungeons.  Oddly enough, Windwaker was, overall, a longer game, but fans desired more complex puzzle solving found in dungeons in comparison to a large number of long winded required extra quests (triforce charts, cough).  Lastly, many viewed the game as too easy.  I must admit playing though Windwaker as a thirteen year old yielded not a single death for myself.    Now, all of this is not to say Windwaker was a bad game, it certainly wasn’t, but these drawbacks really turned off a substantial number of fans.


Shortly after Nintendo completed Windwaker in late 2002 development of a new Zelda installment began, one to address the issues brought up by naysayer fans concerning the Windwaker.  The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess was created with the soul purpose of trumping Ocarina of Time, a statement Shiegeru Miyamoto made very clear during TP’s presentation press conference in which he leapt from behind the stage sporting the Master Sword and Hylian Shield.  Twilight Princess, in a nutshell, ended up being everything fans asked for.  A darker plot, a longer game, realistic graphics, even a number of rather dark themes that haven’t surfaced since The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask (my personal favorite Zelda game by the way).  Even so, Nintendo made several errors that caused Twilight Princess to fall short of what fans thought they expected.  The biggest setback was delaying the game an additional year and a half to create a Wii version of the game for the Wii launch.  This not only served to annoy fans, but also raised expectations for the game beyond what Nintendo, let alone any company, is capable of delivering.  If Nintendo left Twilight Princess as a Gamecube game and released it on time, this editorial would not exist.  We even gave Twilight Princess a perfect score, but the expectations of most fans were gauged a little too high.


Secondly, like Windwaker, many complained the game was too easy.  Nintendo admitted to removing a great deal of the game’s challenge to accommodate gamers getting used to the Wii controls (many report the Gamecube version is more challenging), but challenge is something fans of the series expect and have expected for years. Fans were also disappointed about the choice of music in Twilight Princes, most expecting a full orchestral score as was evident in the game preview trailers.  Twilight Princess is also, noticeably, the fist major console Zelda game to not have a full original game soundtrack released.  To boil down Twilight Princess woes, waiting and time caused the demise of any hope of trumping Ocarina of Time.


So, is it even possible to take down Ocarina of Time?  Of course it is!  The first thing Nintendo needs to do is re-invent the wheel a little bit.  Ocarina of Time was released during a complete re-invention of the gaming world, and served as one of the pioneer 3D gaming experiences.  Nintendo has the tools at their disposal for creating a truly unique game out of the next Legend of Zelda, they just need to use them (and in a non-gimmick fashion).  The second thing Nintendo must do, keep the game difficult.  Zelda, whether or not they want to admit it, appeals in major part to the hardcore to intermediate audience.  A “Cave of Ordeals” can only get you so far.  The game music must be orchestral and varied.  It’s 2009+, it is rather unprofessional to continue using midi as the main source of audio in high budget game titles.  The music must remain varied, as was especially evident in the two N64 Zelda titles, to add to the atmosphere of the game.  Lastly, the game must have spot on marketing and a timely release.  All poor marketing will do is leave out potential buyers…and all an untimely release will merit is raised expectations.  The potential to top OOT is there, however it’s up to Nintendo to make the right decisions.


  1.  Dakare |  August 10, 2009

    Honestly, I agree with you on why the "OoT killers" didn't kill OoT, but there is a game that topped OoT. And that Was Majora's Mask. It may not have had as many dungeos as OoT, but it made up for it in sidequest's that had meaning.

  2.  webmasterbob |  August 10, 2009

    I completely agree, but like I said that's another argument. So, I focused on what Nintendo expected to be OOT killers. You may see an editorial on Majora's Mask in the near future though.

  3.  yoyolll |  September 24, 2009

    Who the hell rated OoT the best game of all time? It's a great game but it's nowhere near that title.

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