Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.
Who Nominated The Game: Sean Madson, the other, other Zelda fan.
Why Was It Nominated: When we here at Diehard GameFAN first introduced the Hall of Fame, we started by using games that had won Game of the Year awards. One of these, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, was our game of the year in 2006, but almost unanimously failed in earning any votes towards the Hall of Fame honor (save for me who was the only one to vote yay). Needless to say, I wasn’t ready to give up yet.
The late 90’s were a period of growing pains for many well known franchises due to most of them making the transition from 2D to 3D. Some of them, such as Mario & Final Fantasy were able to make the transition with the elements that make those franchises so endearing intact. Others, such as Contra had to ride the struggle bus for a while (until eventually being reverted back to 2D). The Legend of Zelda was one of those franchises that no one had seen or heard from for awhile, though everyone knew it was inevitable. There had to be a 3D Zelda.
Not only that, but Nintendo was in a bit of a rough spot. Not only did Sega and Sony both have a year head start with their consoles (the Saturn and Playstation respectively), but their decision to stick with cartridges as the format in which to release their games not only alienated third party developers, but it also drove up the price of their games. Sure, during the 1996 holiday season the Nintendo 64 was as hot a commodity as the Tickle Me Elmo (even though Nintendo is notorious for artificially creating demand by way of under supplying retailers), but as time went on it continued to lose market share to the other consoles. The failed launch of the Virtual Boy didn’t help consumer confidence in the company either.
What Nintendo needed was that one game that everyone could point to and go “This is the game worth owning the system for. I would buy the console to play this game.”Â The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was that game. Not only did it succeed in bringing a long established franchise into the third dimension, but it proved Nintendo still had an ace up their sleeve. A game that you couldn’t find on the Playstation or the Saturn. Yes, you could argue that Goldeneye and Super Mario 64 made some mad cash for Nintendo and that a lot of people bought a Nintendo 64 to play those games. My response to that would be that first person shooters and platformers were just as prevalent on other consoles. But an epic action/adventure title in 3D? And a Zelda title to boot? Now that’s a tough formula to mimic.
So what made this entry of Zelda so great? Let’s start with the presentation. The visuals were nothing short of gorgeous at the time. Not only did you get to see two variations of Link in all his polygonal glory, but other familiar characters and enemies made the transition. The land of Hyrule felt so expansive that you could spend weeks exploring every nook and cranny of it just to see what you could turn up (and you needed to if you wanted to find those damn skulltulas). And what did you get to listen to while exploring this vast world? Some epic Zelda tunes is what! Koji Kondo is one of my favorite video game composers next to Nobuo Uematsu, and the soundtrack for this game is nothing short of musical genius. Take the fact that I own three different versions of this title’s soundtrack as an indication of how much I enjoy it.
The most impressive part of the game aside from the presentation is how they handled the gameplay. Not only was it littered with context sensitive actions for Link to perform depending on what he was holding or where he was in relation to other objects, but the addition of “Z-targeting”Â was nothing short of brilliant. The two biggest problems in 3D games at the time was the positioning of the camera and being able to successfully fixate your character to an object. Z-targeting solved both of these problems. Not only did it keep whatever you were focused on at the center of the screen, but it allowed you to interact with it without other things getting in the way. Throw in clever dungeons and puzzle solving, a neat time traveling mechanic, and a storyline that is still good even 15 years later, and you have what in my eyes is the closest thing to the perfect game you’ll ever find.
All in Favour:
Sean Madson – Growing up, I was always late to the party when it came to getting new consoles. I had already wanted a Nintendo 64 prior to this game’s announcement, as Super Mario 64 looked fun as hell and games like Star Fox 64 and Goldeneye were just icing on the cake. And hey, four controller ports so I could play with my friends! Ocarina of Time was the game that turned my want into an obsession.
Luckily, I knew a friend who owned a Nintendo 64 and managed to rent the game shortly after release. Myself and yet another friend went to his house to check it out. I don’t think I need to remind you just how giddy I was for this title after finally seeing it in action. It took borrowing out my NES to a different friend to get it (as you can see, I leaned on a lot of friends to get my gaming fix), but I finally had Ocarina of Time in my hands and a Nintendo 64 to play it on.
It took me several weeks of non-stop gameplay to finally conquer it, but once I did, it was one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Back then, we didn’t have the internet at our house and the only strategy guides I had access to were the ones that were published in magazines and usually split into several issues. I was on my own and while the dreaded Water Temple sucked up a considerable amount of time, I was able to finish.
When our family got a Nintendo 64 of our own, we would eventually obtain this game, and I played it again. And again. And again. I played it some more when they released the Master Quest on the Gamecube (which was originally exclusive to the 64DD in Japan) and then again on The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition. I bet you can guess what I’ll be doing once the 3DS version makes its way stateside.
Mohamed Al-Saadoon – This is a plainly obvious choice for Hall of Fame and the only reason I think this wasn’t mentioned earlier in our Hall of Fame columns was that no one wanted to look too “mainstream” by nominating it so kudos to Sean for getting to it first.
The Legend of Zelda is a series where even the shittiest (non spinoff) title has a shot of getting Game of the Year awards. That’s an amazing track record no matter which way you look at it and since Ocarina of Time is the best of the best….it must be pretty darn amazing right?
Damn straight. The graphics at the time were top notch at the time and the music was amazing.
The gameplay still hold up today (which is why Twilight Princess uses almost exactly the same type of system) and they offered us one of the greatest control methods devised by man: Z-targeting.
Z-targeting is when you hold a trigger button (such as “Z” on the N64 controller) to lock the camera and your character on a single target.
Without this marvellous invention, all 3D action games are shit. You know why GTAIII and Vice City are horrible games? because they don’t use Z targeting, instead they used manual dual stick controls that made your character seem like a half blind, drunken three legged cow. It took Rockstar six years to get the hint and add it into San Andreas.
And that’s where videogames would be without Ocarina of Time, a mishmash of poor target acquisition and movement.
Guy Desmarais – Is there anything I haven’t said yet about this game? It is probably the game I have written the most words about, and quite frankly, I am sure I could find a way to write even more. I could go on and on about everything it innovated and all its features that eventually became standards in the genre, such as the Z-targeting and the automatic jumping. I could talk about the epic boss battle, the huge overworld with passing time that made the game feel alive or the story which is arguably the best one in the series. The truth is that despite all these technical perfections, the reason why I want this game in the Hall of Fame is because of all it represents to me in terms of gaming. To me, Ocarina of Time represents the absolute best. Nothing before or after was able to assemble everything that makes a game good at the same place and time in order to create something this sublime. The music, the story, the involvement… nothing will ever come close as far as I am concerned.
While I still play a lot of older games, I lose interest in most of them after a while because the nostalgia wears off. In this case, I still play Ocarina of Time from time to time, and I play it to completion. I still take pleasure in slaying the monsters, in saving the world and even in playing bombchu bowling. That’s right. This is not only the best Zelda game of all time, I believe this is actually the best game of all time.
B.J. Brown – Adventure to the n’th power!! Never finished it, but loved playing it.
Aaron Sirois – The N64 may not have been the greatest system ever, but it had some of the all time classics on it. You’ve got Starfox 64, F-Zero X, Super Mario 64, and plenty more.
Of all of them, nothing stands out like Ocarina of Time.
OoT flipped the gaming world on its head when it brought The Legend of Zelda franchise into the realm of 3D and did it better than anyone could have asked for. The lock on system revolutionized targeting in games, the music is absolutely timeless, we got to see what Link was like as an adult, etc. On top of everything else, it was simply a fun game to play. There’s a reason I consider it to be one of my favorite games of all time.
There’s no way I’d pass up the chance to vote this in the Hall of Fame.
Michael O’Reilly – This game gets far more love than it deserves, but even I have to admit it’s worthy of the Hall of Fame. The more you care about the lore of the Legend of Zelda the more you’re going to care about this game, but even relative new comers will enjoy the puzzles and adventure found within this cart’s silicone and plastic walls.
Ashe Collins – While the game hasn’t aged particularly well like most 3D games on the N64 and the original Playstation, It was a nice jump for a series that I hadn’t heard much from in awhile and rally set the tone for the Zelda games that came after it. There was plenty for everyone and lots of elements from every genre within it. When I think of Zelda, this is the first title that pops into my head and I grew up playing the original on the NES.
Aileen Coe – This is pretty much a no-brainer. Sure, graphics wise it looks somewhat dated compared to more recent games. However, the soundtrack still holds very well, and the game was well ahead of its time. It introduced some gameplay mechanisms that have been used since, such as auto jumping and Z-targeting, which respectively helped streamline the platforming and combat. It provided an expansive world to explore (and was the first Zelda to make the transition to 3D), a good amount of sidequests to embark on, and the option to choose what temples to tackle in what order. Even now it’s still used as the benchmark for similar titles, such as Twilight Princess, which aimed to replicate the overall feel of this game. This game set a number of precedents, and for that reason it deserves a spot in the hallowed Hall of Fame.
Christopher Bowen – To me, this is an obvious selection. Ocarina of Time took a series that was built with an idea in mind – exploration, finding things in a vast world, indulging yourself in a fantasy setting – and blowing it up into a 3D environment. Whether it’s been done better since is irrelevant. OoT was leagues ahead of everyone when it was released, and even today, the game is being used as the standard for 3D adventures, a notable fact coming after the releases of Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess. Ocarina of Time is so good, and so historically notable, that it’s being seen as a key launch title for the Nintendo 3DS.
I personally prefer the 2D experiences; I’d rather sit down with the original Zelda, Link to the Past, or even the Game Boy titles like Oracle of Seasons and Minish Cap than one of the 3D games. But that doesn’t obscure what is arguably one of the top video games of all time, a game that has earned universal praise, routinely finds itself on “Best ______ Of All time” lists, and a game that makes me ignore a couple of annoyances – an clunky combat system and arguably one of the worst controllers in history – to willingly sit through it. To me, there are five games that should undeniably be considered Hall of Fame games, and this is one of them.
Well, let’s see, we have… NOBODY! You know your game is pretty awesome when you get a unanimous vote from DHGF!
Result: 9 in Favor, 0 Opposed, 100% Approval = ACCEPTED
Conclusion: When Twilight Princess was up for Hall of Fame nomination, the general consensus was that Zelda deserved the honor, just not that Zelda. Looks like Ocarina of Time was the one to bring home the gold, proving that not only was it one of the best Zelda titles of all time, but one of the best games of all time as well. It’s an appropriate honor for a franchise that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Hopefully, the upcoming 3DS remake will help build on the legacy that the original release left behind.
Next Week: A hockey title is on deck for next week. But which one? Join us next week and find out!