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Zelda64: The Ocarina Of Time Review
Matt - 06/07/00
Before we get into the wonderful world of Hyrule, I just want to thank The Ron & Fez Show of WNEW 102.7 for having me on Monday night. And a big thanks to their guest coordinator, Donna, who set it all up. I was there to talk about X-E, so I wanted to say a quick hello to our new readers out there. Enjoy...
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About a year and a half ago or so, I got heavily into video games again. I really don't know what triggered it, I was probably just reading too many online newsgroups. Anyway, I was never a gamer. I only really enjoyed platform games of the Mario and Sonic variety...anything that required taking real time or throwing footballs or slicing necks with axekicks never really did it for me. Still, I was convinced I was a gamer.
So I went out and bought every system. Yes...every system. I had more game systems than I had games - the table in front of my television lined with an Atari 7800, Sega Master System, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/CD/32X, Sega Saturn, Nintendo64, and Playstation.
WTF? Okay, I really played only one of these systems at this point. The N64. I never liked the controls for PSX. The only game I had for it was Resident Evil 2, and I scare too easily. Nights for Saturn was a cool game, but I didn't want to have to search through Toys R Us bargain bins only to find out that the only available Saturn games left to purchase had 'John Elway' in the title.
I only bought the Sega CD so that I could play Double Switch since it stars Blondie and Corey Haim. Other than that, I never touched the thing. It just sat there looking outdated.
It was pretty much the same with the other systems, but I always liked the N64 for some reason. It was simple enough for my feeble gaming mind to handle, and after all, Nintendo was always good to me. So I chose to run with the ball on that system...
At the time, doing that meant you had to engulf yourself in the hype that was Zelda: The Ocarana of Time. Hey, I liked the original Zelda. I was sure I'd like this. So I started reading the online gaming newsgroups...these people were hyping the game like it could turn water into wine. However they did make one thing very clear to me - I had to get the gold edition of the game.
Some odd number of the first games were made with the same kinda gold plastic that the original NES version had. Seeing as how I can justify spending 30 dollars on a Pokemon movie when I'm not even a Pokefan, shelling out the 75 bucks to get the gold cartridge special-ordered was no big deal.
For those of you who haven't played the game - a quick review:
In true RPG-style, Zelda64 gives you a lot to do. In my view, the best part of the game is the exploration...you could certainly beat the game even if you don't find every last secret room or talk to every person you come across in the villages, but you'd really be missing out. Essentially, there's about a hundred mini-games Link can venture through in his quest, ranging from putting chickens in a coup to riding horses to fishing and playing 'carnival' games. With that, there's a ton of playback value. Unless you play the game with a strategy book out in front of you at all times, chances are you missed something cool worth going back for.
The storyline is pretty creative too. The 'Ocarina' is an updated version of the magic flute we all know from the old NES Zelda game, and you use it to learn and play songs that help complete your quest. Of course, there's all sorts of special weapons & swords that you'll have to find. It's definitely an adventure game.
Graphically, the game is terrific. For the type of gameplay this cart has, I haven't seen much better. The attention to detail is phenomenal...and again, if you keep looking around, you'll find things that you would've never guessed were there. For example, the first time you meet Zelda in the castle, check all the windows. One of them has characters from Mario64 in it.
I don't consider myself a versatile gamer by any means, but for someone that usually only plays simpler platform-type games, I had no trouble at all adjusting to the controls. A lot of work went into making them easy to handle and extremely beneficial to the actual game.
On top of the sheer fun and great action in Zelda64, there's definitely an 'epic' feel to it that'll keep you hooked. When you beat a level, you won't just see Link smile and your score go up. Many times, you'll get an animated story progression, and a lot of the times, it'll totally change the face of the game. I played the first half of the game without reading up on strategies and shit, so I was completely floored when all of the sudden Link was years older and the entire world was full of screaming zombies.
It's definitely a keeper. But now I want to go through some of the best parts of the game, which of course, are usually the strangest parts as well...
* In Goron City, the part where you get that King Goron guy to do a wild dance by playing the Ocarina. For some reason, I didn't just find this funny...I found it hysterical. I would tell my friends who had no interest in video games about it, and make them watch this unprecedented dance sequence. I'd start giggling, and they'd call me an asshole for wasting their time and refuse to hang out with me for weeks on end. Truly, the only two people on the planet who got so happy about this dancing Goron was me and my two-year-old nephew, which I guess is a pretty sad commentary on yours truly. But I still like it...
* Chicken Slicing! Zelda64 didn't just give you the chance to save Hyrule from an evil force like the world has never seen...it gave you the opportunity to kill chickens. When I first realized that my sword could actually hurt chickens, I knew Zelda64 was going to be one of my favorite games. The best is when you continually slice them...eventually they'll form a big chicken gang and beat you to death. I'm not kidding...Link could get killed by disenchanted chickens!
* Waking up Malon's father. Nothing could prepare me for this. First, you get an item known only as a 'weird egg'. When it comes time to use it, it hatches into a chicken and screams loudly enough to wake up Malon's sleeping father - who will do one of the craziest, wacked out things I've ever seen in pixelated form. He proclaims that he's late and starts running - but Malon's dad is no normal runner. Truly, he looks more like he's practicing his robot dance.
* The fucking fairy. The fairy seems to serve a purpose when you start the game, but after about 20 minutes, most of your sword swings will be reserved for her. You'll be in the middle of battling giant monster skeletons, when the fairy will jump in and say something totally unrelated, like, 'Hey! I wonder what Saria's doing!', or, 'We really should invest in canned goods!'. It gets annoying real quick.
* Staring contests. Go up to any villager, and just stand directly in front of them. I assume that Link blinks once every 12 seconds, so if your opponent blinks before that, you are the victor. Unfortunately, most of the villagers' faces wouldn't change expression even if you put a bomb at their feet, but on a few occassions, a makeshift staring contest can be fun.
* Lastly, we have the owl. The owl's really interesting feature is that he gets his own special theme music. Whenever you start hearing music that makes you think of helping old ladies cross the street, you'll know that the owl is just about to appear. Aside from turning his head upside down, he'll offer a lot of useless advice. Including, but not limited to:
- 'Be careful!'
- 'Your clothes are primarily green.'
- 'I can fly.'
- 'You must save Hyrule.'
- 'Crayons may contain asbestos.'
The owl is the true star of the show.
In conclusion, if you own an N64 but don't have this game, you're really missing out. It's an obvious must-have. I know people who were PSX enthusiasts that bought the N64 simply for this game and weren't dissapointed.
Overall Rating - 16.2. Out of..hmmm..17.7.
The most important thing that happens for Link when he gets older isn't his bigger sword or more chiseled cheekbones. It's the fact that he's allowed to wear pants.