Inducted Year: 2022
Released in 1998 for Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first of the series to feature 3D graphics. Led by Shigeru Miyamoto, Ocarina of Time set a new standard for games with its freedom of movement in a three-dimensional world that felt expansive and vast, laying the foundation not just for the action games that would follow it, but for the gaming industry as a whole.
As implied by its title, Ocarina of Time takes place in two distinct time periods. The game begins with protagonist Link, a child of Kokiri Forest, being woken by the fairy Navi, who brings news that the Great Deku Tree is cursed. The Deku Tree warns Link that the “servants of evil” are gaining strength, threatening the lands of Hyrule. Throughout his adventure, Link gains new abilities and equipment, including a musical instrument called an ocarina, which when played can help Link solve puzzles or even teleport to locations throughout the world. Upon claiming the legendary Master Sword in the Temple of Time, Link, now an adult, is warped to seven years into the future, to a world full of darkness ruled by Ganondorf. Players can travel back and forth through eras using the Ocarina of Time, with Link’s actions as a child impacting his world as an adult.
The lock-on system used in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time made targeting enemies a breeze, avoiding many of the camera issues that plagued previous 3D adventure games; similar features would be implemented by other game developers. In an interview with Rolling Stone, FromSoftware’s Hidetaka Miyazaki said, “The Legend of Zelda became a sort of textbook for 3D action games.” Hidden throughout the world are sidequests and collectables that encourage player exploration of the 3D world.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time received critical acclaim, receiving multiple “Game of the Year” awards in 1998. Initial preorders in the United States set a record, with more than 500,000 before the game’s release. In less than a week, more than one million copies were sold, with sales over the game’s lifetime totaling more than 7.6 million worldwide.
Today, critics and players often cite Ocarina of Time as one of the best games ever made. A sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)for Nintendo 64, directly follows the events of Ocarina of Time. Nintendo re-released Ocarina of Time as a bonus disc for pre-orders of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002), and later made the game available through various Nintendo online networks. A remake for Nintendo 3DS updated the graphics and took advantage of the handheld’s stereoscopic screen, but the gameplay largely remained the same. Even today, developers throughout the world credit The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as influencing the way they create games. Somehow the game’s sprawling 3D world, fluid combat, complex puzzles, and time-shifting story combined to inspire a wonder in players that they have never forgotten.
Did You Know?
Players must travel through time using an ocarina, a real-life woodwind instrument who’s peculiar, bird-head shape inspired its name, which in Italian means “little goose.”