Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Shots: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Platforms/Release:
    • Nintendo 64: 23 November 1998
    • Wii (DLC): 26 February 2007
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Players: 1
  • Save: Battery/3 files
  • Rarity/Cost:
    • N64 (Gray cart): Common (US $5-20)
    • N64 (Gold cart): Moderate (US $20-30)
    • Wii: N/A (US $10)
Back when I was still unemployed and desperately needing something new to stave off cabin fever, I decided to go back to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  I did love this game when it came out, despite having to wait quite a while to rent it.  However, I was mellowed by the fact that there was no multiplayer.  Just imagine using all the famous tools to wail on opponents, GoldenEye-style.  Ironically, I don't play a lot of multiplayer, so I wouldn't even have used it.  Bear in mind that this was my first Zelda game: I didn't know how the original game or A Link to the Past, so I had no idea what to expect.  Besides, this game provided a tankerload of iconic and memorable moments, so I should probably go back in time and tell myself to stop complaining. Now, I'm not doing a formal review for this game, although if I did it would easily get some kind of A.  The only question is how A, which I haven't decided on yet.  Instead, I'll write down some of my random thoughts from replaying the game.  They could be stuff I remembered from the first times, or things I'm realizing for the first time.

The first time I played this game, I missed out on getting two things: the Magic meter, and Epona the horse.  It turns out that while you don't need the horse to finish the story, you do need magic.  (i.e. Entering the Shadow Temple and in the final battle.)  For those who want to know, you first get magic powers at the Death Mountain summit, any time after clearing Dodongo's Cavern (level 2).  The path to this spot stands out rather well, so I'm surprised at myself for not having found it sooner.  All that time I had Navi saying the same thing to me every time I called her!

As for getting Epona, the race to win her was way tough, which at first kept me out of completing many sidequests.  However, I was unaware of a trick:  As Young Link, go to Lon Lon Ranch, meet Epona in the middle of the horse ring, and get out your Ocarina in front of her to learn Epona's Song.  Then return as Adult Link, and when you do the "test drive" before the race, play Epona's Song to call and ride Epona.  She's faster than the stock horses and is the only way you can beat the race - although it's still tough.

And what sidequests are impossible without Epona?  The big one is the trading game for the Biggoron Sword.  At some points you're given ingredients which must be delivered to their destinations within a few minutes each.  Even though you learn warp songs, you can't use them for some reason (the fourth dimension is a cruel mistress).  And some shortcuts which would help you greatly are blocked off as Adult Link, such as the one from Zora's Domain to Lake Hylia, which is frozen over.  And there's no way to un-freeze it.  I remember this being involved in one of the game's many urban legends, but now I accept that there's no way to un-freeze Zora's Domain, that you can't get the Triforce in-game, and that there is no playable Temple of Light.

Aw, man, there were so many other sidequests, too...  Collecting Heart Pieces and Gold Skulltula tokens were the big ones, because there were so many of them (IIRC, 36 and 100 respectively) and I really wanted to get their rewards (increased max health for the former, larger wallets and cash for the latter).  Being so jam-packed with this kind of stuff while not detracting from the core gameplay experience is one thing that made the game so great.  And then there's the Z-Targeting system.  If you would take the time to imagine playing the game without this luxury, it could be a lot more frustrating.  So yeah, tip of the hat again.

When I first did the timeskip and started playing as "Adult Link", the world that had to live seven years without a hero was a scary place.  Most shocking was the first "new" locale I encountered, Hyrule Castle Town.  In short, Biff Tannen would be proud.  In long, it's gone all derelict, with not a shred of life apart from the Re-Deads, rather annoying "zombies" which can freeze you by looking at you and then hump your chest to attack. 

Another scary moment: For those unfamiliar with enemies in the Legend of Zelda series, Wallmasters are giant disembodied hands which warp you to the beginning of a given dungeon if they catch you.  In this game they first appear in the Forest Temple (level 4), and the way they pop up on you (rather, they drop down on you from the ceiling) was just so scary.  Maybe it's the whooshing sound that warns you of their impending enterance, maybe it's the fact that they're invisible until you get the Lens of Truth.

I understand that later printings of the game changed the music from the Fire Temple (level 5).  Apparently, it used a recorded Islamic chant and, due to how touchy some people can be, they had it replaced.  My copy of OoT an early gray-cart version, and contains the original music.  As far as I could tell, the chanting is distorted enough that I couldn't make out what they were saying anyways.  If I were the same kind of person I am in real life, except a Muslim-American, I might not be offended, but that's just me.  And for what it's worth, bear in mind this was before 9/11.

A lot of people hate the Water Temple (level 6), and I understand why.  Progressing through this dungeon requires stopping at random points all over the place to raise of lower the water level, as well as going to the pause menu to switch on/off the Iron Boots which let you sink in deep water.  I'll admit I still get annoyed at the Water Temple, if not to the point of insanity.  The worst part of it for me is that messing up, say, forgetting one step along the way, means you have to start the process all over again.  I hear the 3DS version makes this a tad easier, with the ability to take the Iron Boots on/off through the touch screen, so if that's how you're going through the game, more power to ya.

Speaking of the 3DS, I am aware that OoT got ported there a couple of months ago.  If I were to get a 3DS of my own, I'd be somewhat interested in picking it up, only for the Master Quest version built-in.  Unfortunately, as I've read, you have to beat the original game first in order to unlock it.  And since I just beat it again within the past year, I'd have to wait quite a while for it to seem fresh again.  Incidentally, I've been debating with myself whether I want a 3DS or a PlayStation 3 for this Christmas and having weighed my options, I'm going with... the latter.  And believe it or not, the clincher that made me decide was not the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3.  I actually had my eye on a download game for the DSi/3DS, Shantae: Risky's Revenge, another long-awaited sequel.  However, I only recently heard news that a port for the iOS is being planned, and since I own an iPod Touch, there isn't much for the 3DS that I want and can't get somewhere else.

So that wraps it up for N64 Month.  Since I've set this post to be sent out automatically on midnight EDT on 29 September, allow me to be the first in the country to say... Happy Birthday, Nintendo 64!

This is IchigoRyu.

You are the resistance.

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