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Is Ocarina of Time (N64) Overrated?

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Ocarina of Time was undoubtedly a brilliant game back in its day. It was the first 3D Zelda game, and did a fair job at impressing hundreds of thousands of people. It was the most critically acclaimed video game of all time until Breath of the Wild came along. If I had a chance to play it back in 1998 I'm sure I would have been absolutely amazed by it.

I played OoT for a few hours on my N64 today. Started from the beginning and made it to Kakariko Village, (damned lady can't rescue her Cuccos herself.) stopping by at Hyrule Castle. I have to say, I wasn't particularly impressed. I found the controls to be clunky (just like any other N64 game) and the overall layout of the map to be lackluster. Having a central hub (Hyrule Field) connected to all the different areas (Castletown, Kakariko, Gerudo Valley, etc.) doesn't feel like an adventure, but just moving towards a certain destination. I can't make the dialogue text move faster and it really takes a while to wait until for the text to catch up with my eye. It seems minor but given that I'll be reading dialogues for half the game it's quite annoying. There are some puzzles here and there that are slightly trickier to figure out, but maybe that's just me. And the graphics are shit.

I can cut it a lot of break for being one of the first mainstream 3D games and especially on the N64 platform. But I don't think it deserves to be the second best game in the world either. Maybe I'm no person to judge since I haven't played it bitd nor have I beat the game yet, but I think I've played NES games that I enjoyed more that OoT.

Then there's the 3DS remake. The graphics are less shit and the controls are actually quite good. The dual screen is really helpful since you can see where you're going on the map on the go. Given that I liked the 3DS remake although I haven't played a lot of it. It really fixes most of the problems I had with the original game, and I like it. But that's not the point. What I'm saying is I didn't like the original N64 version as much as I thought I would.

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36 minutes ago, 0078265317 said:

Never played that.  I like side scrolling.  Always found the 3d stuff confusing.

You should give it (and all the other 3D games) a shot, old timer!

Edited by bluejay

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I never played it when it was new, but I went back and played it all the way through within the last 5 years.  I too had some complaints as I went through, but almost none of them match with yours - lol.

 

Mostly for me, what struck me is how similar it is to other (Pre BotW) 3d Zelda games that I had played like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.  As you noted, there is a hub world that you explore to find 3d dungeons.  Some of the dungeon puzzles are even almost exactly the same as what appears in later games . . . now that I am typing this out, I think I would advise you to just go and play WW or Twilight Princess (and probably Skyward Sword but I've never played that).  They are very similar at their core give or take a boat or a shake of the Wiimote - plus they come with some new quality of life updates.

 

I think my biggest complaint about OoT was that some of the key items were just not obvious for me to find.  Some of it was my fault.  I didn't talk to the frozen guy to get the Zora's Tunic, so I did the water temple WITHOUT IT.  I got all the way through it before I looked at a guide to discover it even existed.  I had a similar problem with fire arrows which are actually required at the end of the game, but there is nothing in the main quest to force you to get them.  Getting the big sword was also just a ridiculous back and forth operation that seemed to be padded by an extravagant amount of fetching.  There's no way I would have gotten the big sword without looking at a walkthrough.

 

On the flip side, the game reminded me that in the early days of 3d gaming there was an element of exploration that required the player to actually LOOK at the environment for clues about what to do.  This was actually a fun little reminder of what made games like Tomb Raider great, and I think OoT did it well.  I found myself stopping in a room and actually using the "look" function to look around and make sure I hadn't missed any openings or secrets.  I liked it as it kinda takes me back to solving puzzles in older adventure games where you had to type the word "look" and then rely on their description.  OoT of time brought that element of puzzle solving into 3d very well.

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Very interesting topic. Several items:

 

- It's interesting that a diehard Zelda fan says this about OoT. If it's not even the best Zelda, how can it be the best game in history?

 

- In 1998, both Half Life and Metal Gear solid are superior to OoT (can't talk about Starcraft, I'm not into strategy)

 

- The Zelda I played was Link's Awakening. When I played OoT, I noticed it lacked the magic and intuitive controls from that game.

 

- One of the main problems with OoT is that some parts are slow and visually unattractive. The first part is one of those, it's not a good way to start a game (especially when you're a contender to the best game ever). That forest is just ugly.

 

- Just like Mario, I think Zelda games work better in 2D, both visually and control wise.

 

- For reference (and I know it's a different style), Tomb Raider was released in 1996 and I consider it a better game (and it already included automatic Z targetting).

 

- (Not about OoT, but about Zelda) I'm not into RPG games, but I rather play Zelda or a similar game than a traditional RPG: I prefer action and I prefer simple stories without too much drama. The Zelda approach where your character barely speaks is great and improves the immersion, and games like GTA3, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus used this.

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3 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

Very interesting topic. Several items:

 

- It's interesting that a diehard Zelda fan says this about OoT. If it's not even the best Zelda, how can it be the best game in history?

 

- In 1998, both Half Life and Metal Gear solid are superior to OoT (can't talk about Starcraft, I'm not into strategy)

 

- The Zelda I played was Link's Awakening. When I played OoT, I noticed it lacked the magic and intuitive controls from that game.

 

- One of the main problems with OoT is that some parts are slow and visually unattractive. The first part is one of those, it's not a good way to start a game (especially when you're a contender to the best game ever). That forest is just ugly.

 

- Just like Mario, I think Zelda games work better in 2D, both visually and control wise.

 

- For reference (and I know it's a different style), Tomb Raider was released in 1996 and I consider it a better game (and it already included automatic Z targetting).

 

- (Not about OoT, but about Zelda) I'm not into RPG games, but I rather play Zelda or a similar game than a traditional RPG: I prefer action and I prefer simple stories without too much drama. The Zelda approach where your character barely speaks is great and improves the immersion, and games like GTA3, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus used this.

What??? I like Link's Awakening, but that's a pretty absurd statement haha. Link's Awakening is definitely 'stiff' and zelda 'light', even compared to the first zelda game. Where it makes up for it, is in its charm and light-heartedness (a break from the more serious tone of the series). It's a 'cute' zelda side game. Why would OOT strive to be that???

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I've purchased no less than 4 Nintendo consoles just to play the Zelda games on them (SNES, N64, GC and Switch). I would say that OoT is a great game, but it's definitely a product of its time. At the time, it was incredible, but I was skeptical when it was first announced because of the jump to 3D. A few minutes into the game, I was completely hooked. 

I have OoT on the N64, GC via the Wind Waker preorder disc, and 3DS, and have played through it completely on the N64 and GC. I don't think it's the best game of all time, best Zelda game, or even the best 3D Zelda game, but it is a great game. In context of its peers, I don't think it's overrated at all. They were still figuring out 3D games back then, and I think they did a good job given the time it came out.

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I consider myself a pretty big Zelda fan, always have been etc. And I still remember anticipating the release of Zelda 64 to the point it drove me crazy. 😛   Anyway, yes I agree. It's a good game, but my overall impression of it after playing through it was it was tedious, and not to mention it overall looked pretty dreary.  My one complaint with the gameplay was you'd have to constantly stop, switch to 1st person view, and look around. e.g. When you're in a dungeon and trying to find some obscure target high above you that you're supposed to shoot an arrow at. And sometimes you might not see it because you're standing in a bad spot with something obscuring it. :lol:  The 1st person perspective having to look around to me wasn't a fun mechanic.  That said, it's still a good game. I've finished it twice.. once on the original N64 release, and then again on the 3DS release.  I think Majora's Mask on the 3DS is probably the best of the original 3D Zeldas. 

 

My favorite's of the new stuff is Link Between Worlds. I do wish the would have given us a fresh map rather than revisiting the LttP map though. For example Four Swords on the Gamecube is such a huge tease for what could have been a huge 2D overhead Zelda world. :)   I also really really like Breath of the Wild, what an awesome game. However I do wish for a new 'traditional' style Zelda game. Overhead view if possible. :)

 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, turboxray said:

What??? I like Link's Awakening, but that's a pretty absurd statement haha. Link's Awakening is definitely 'stiff' and zelda 'light', even compared to the first zelda game. Where it makes up for it, is in its charm and light-heartedness (a break from the more serious tone of the series). It's a 'cute' zelda side game. Why would OOT strive to be that???

1) Some games just look better in pixel art. It happens to Mario and Zelda, but also to Monkey Island, Street Fighter, Abe's Oddysee or Prince of Persia.

 

2) The controls are more complicated in 3D and sometimes even the camera gets in the way. The combat system gets repetitive too. This video explains it perfectly (and with a touch of humor):

 

 

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Oh, one more complaint: lighting sucks in some of the dungeons. I couldn't see a few places even with brightness and contrast all the way up.

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1 hour ago, NE146 said:

My favorite's of the new stuff is Link Between Worlds. I do wish the would have given us a fresh map rather than revisiting the LttP map though.

I've only recently beat ALBW, and given that I haven't played much of LttP yet I found it fun to recognize a few similarities here and there. And I liked it. Speaking of which, the really overrated stuff IMO are the original Zelda and LttP(this one not as much but still.) Seriously, I'm really trying to like the older Zelda games but I just can't bring myself to it. What's fun in a game that the average person can't beat without some sort of strategy guide?

Edited by bluejay

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I think there is overrated at the time (a poor release which should not have got aclaim) and then there is nostalgia overrated. I think there is a middle ground though, the 'it used to be the pinnacle of gaming, but now its just old and tired'. I want to bring in two other games for this example, both around the same time as OoT, in the same generation. 

 

Final fantasy 7 was once believed to be the best rpg ever made. Some argued it was the best game of any genre ever made. It easily made top ten in most charts, it's iconic, vast, emotionally compelling story kept it in hearts and minds of console gamers for a long time. Play the original now. We excused the n64 style characters then, even though the battle graphics were countless times better. Yes first part of remake is out, so it Is 'replaced' in a sense, but it dropped down in top 100 charts before remake was announced. 

 

My other example is panzer dragoon saga. Long held as one of the roughest diamonds out, this was also considered for some time to be one of the best games ever made, for similar reasons as ff7. PDS featured voice overs in an era where this wasn't very common still, certainly not for rpgs, the character models had more detail than ff7 block people, and animated to convey body language. It didn't get to upgrade to dreamcast like shenmue did, and as a result it is stuck on the Saturn possibly for all time. 

 

All three games share the same fate. They look ugly on todays standards. Snes and mega drive games can still look good on flatscreen tvs. These rpgs are ruined by speed run glitches, every trick has been discovered, each corner of these games explored a million times. The magic of these games has gone. Rpgs suffer in the sense that discovery is half the pleasure, arcade style games is about skill and skill comes and goes with age of the player not age of the game. Rpgs repeat the same story again and again, they hold no new content, and become predictable. 

 

Was OoT a killer game to own at the time? Yes. 

Is OoT a "game you must play before you die?" not anymore. I think Breath of the Wild holds that mantle now, and I think in years to come it will lose it too. 

Edited by Mikebloke
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2 hours ago, bluejay said:

I've only recently beat ALBW, and given that I haven't played much of LttP yet I found it fun to recognize a few similarities here and there. And I liked it. Speaking of which, the really overrated stuff IMO are the original Zelda and LttP(this one not as much but still.) Seriously, I'm really trying to like the older Zelda games but I just can't bring myself to it. What's fun in a game that the average person can't beat without some sort of strategy guide?

LttP definitely does not need a strategy guide.. come on man :D, especially if you beat LbW ok 

 

That said, I can understand people saying the original Zelda does. But the fact is most of us who had it back in the day beat it without one. Yeah it was a different time when we had no pre-conceptions of gameplay and would still be fascinated meandering around in its world for days to discover something new, but that is the game and it was the mid 80's after all. The game is what it is. :)

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The original Zelda is definitely overrated. It's just a slightly above average NES game that was great at the time but aged poorly. A Link to the Past is much better than the original, but it's very noticeable that it's an outdated game. Same goes for OoT. I think I'll have to change the way I think about these games; I think I expected too much from them. Maybe I should take the "search every square inch of the map" approach, but I mean, it's not very exciting to zigzag across Hyrule looking for odd looking walls and rocks to blow up.

Again, the flaws of Ocarina of Time is mostly due to hardware limitations. The 3DS remake was much better than the N64 original, improving upon the flaws that couldn't be fixed because Nintendo 64. Give me a few weeks to beat the game. Maybe I'll change my mind once I do.

My Wii's probably gonna arrive today, so I'll give Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword a shot as well, and see if I like them. I'll try the Wind Waker once I get the Gamecube bits I need. That is, after I beat OoT.

Again, I'm not saying they're bad games. I can't deny that they were amazing games back in its day. But the older games have simply aged poorly and to my eyes not as good as they must have been back when they were new.

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I liked it okay, but never finished on the n64.  That probably says more about me than the game.  It's definitely a very good game, but not in my top 5 on the n64.  I tried again on the Cube rerelease a while back, but didn't finish that version either.  It liked it about the same then as I did when it was new.  I do think it's overrated, but that doesn't mean it's not great.

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6 hours ago, NE146 said:

I consider myself a pretty big Zelda fan, always have been etc. And I still remember anticipating the release of Zelda 64 to the point it drove me crazy. 😛   Anyway, yes I agree. It's a good game, but my overall impression of it after playing through it was it was tedious, and not to mention it overall looked pretty dreary.  My one complaint with the gameplay was you'd have to constantly stop, switch to 1st person view, and look around. e.g. When you're in a dungeon and trying to find some obscure target high above you that you're supposed to shoot an arrow at. And sometimes you might not see it because you're standing in a bad spot with something obscuring it. :lol:  The 1st person perspective having to look around to me wasn't a fun mechanic.  That said, it's still a good game. I've finished it twice.. once on the original N64 release, and then again on the 3DS release.  I think Majora's Mask on the 3DS is probably the best of the original 3D Zeldas. 

 

My favorite's of the new stuff is Link Between Worlds. I do wish the would have given us a fresh map rather than revisiting the LttP map though. For example Four Swords on the Gamecube is such a huge tease for what could have been a huge 2D overhead Zelda world. :)   I also really really like Breath of the Wild, what an awesome game. However I do wish for a new 'traditional' style Zelda game. Overhead view if possible. :)

 

 

 

 

I'll quote you because we mentioned the same gameplay mechanic of having to "look" to solve puzzles.  I liked experiencing that again in OoT because it reminded me of some of the early days of 3d gaming, but I wouldn't want to bring it back or anything.  The improvements that we've gotten since are amazing.  For example, the recent God of War game did Hide and Seek in a 3D environment VERY well.

 

 

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15 hours ago, bluejay said:

Ocarina of Time was undoubtedly a brilliant game back in its day. It was the first 3D Zelda game, and did a fair job at impressing hundreds of thousands of people. It was the most critically acclaimed video game of all time until Breath of the Wild came along. If I had a chance to play it back in 1998 I'm sure I would have been absolutely amazed by it.

I played OoT for a few hours on my N64 today. Started from the beginning and made it to Kakariko Village, (damned lady can't rescue her Cuccos herself.) stopping by at Hyrule Castle. I have to say, I wasn't particularly impressed. I found the controls to be clunky (just like any other N64 game) and the overall layout of the map to be lackluster. Having a central hub (Hyrule Field) connected to all the different areas (Castletown, Kakariko, Gerudo Valley, etc.) doesn't feel like an adventure, but just moving towards a certain destination.

Your criticisms and this is being totally fair and picky as hell, but I felt that way when it came out more often than not when playing.  After being so blown away by first party Mario to third party stuff like Bomberman 64/Hero type stuff, Zelda was jarring to me.  I get the point of it, but not having the ability to jump drove me nuts, it was worse than like playing bionic commando and having the dude not be able to walk over an ankle high rock needing to go out of the way to use a tool to over over a brick basically.  Zelda often felt that way to me.  The set pieces impressed, the audio did, the gameplay (not the camera, that was great and adopted often since by others) bugged the hell out of me as much as it didn't.  I think the game is at overrated and blown out of proportion as the so called highest rated/best game of the time as FF7 was for Sonys fanboys, Nintendos equally if not more so kiss Ocarina's ass and it's just sad.  It's not a mediocre game, nothing close to that, but it has gameplay design and execution problems that make it at times suck, just a chore more than a fun ride.  I just felt like I was being slogged along one spot to the next, sometimes combating dumb design choices than enjoying it.  Even the dialogue as you pointed out, even to the simple CHIME...! treasure over and over without a skip got grating.

 

I own it, I won't sell it, I've tried to replay it off and on for years, even tried the 3DS one, twice no less, hoping it had some tweaks but it didn't save it.  I made myself finish the game back in the 90s when it came out, I quit about walking into the desert away from town towards the colossus.  I shelved it for months, came back before I went back into school, and killed it in a sitting to completion in one shot as I knew if I stopped I'd likely never come back with college courses in the way.  Ever since I usually can get maybe up to or through the water temple, but not much further, sometimes as short of feeling like I'm just 'doing the motions' to get big Link, and I'm done.  I prefer most of the 2D titles to it, and I'd take Wind Waker above all in 3D and Twilight Princess over it too even if I didn't finish that, Skyward Sword maybe if the motion controls didn't ruin it.  BotW gets no vote, totally different style of game, incomparable.

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I have no intention of giving up trying to beat OoT. In fact, I really do want to beat it. But the thing is, so much of the game is more of a chore than an actual enjoyable game, and I have more fun thinking about playing it than actually playing it. I wonder if Majora's Mask will be any better.

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You could do far far worse, there's Majora's Mistake.  The rushed to market cobbled together hot mess with a central town and an odd spread of few dungeons and an asinine clock that punishes progress to a point, along with a huge tedious and obnoxious mask system where most of them have no functional use other than asinine fetch quest garbage just to pad out the clock and feed those with some pokemon like gotta get (catch) em all mentality in games.  That game makes OoT a true pleasure compared.

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I would say that your question should be.. "How well did OoT age given the state of games since then."

 

I would say Nintendo did a wonderful job capturing lightening in a bottle with that game.  I still remember playing it with my brother the day of release and many magazines being left quite quiet when they played it.

 

I cannot say it is over rated as games back then just simply were not at that level of immersion.

 

I am a Sega Saturn super fan and while many people criticize the 3D on the Saturn, I am glad it was harder for programmers to use 3D...  as 3D ages TERRIBLY in my opinion.  Link and all of OoT  look terrible by todays standards or yesterdays standards.  PS1 3D games look awful today as well at the Saturn 3D.  I am a big fan of 2D and sprites and its amazing how great sprite games aged. (Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter, Rayman, etc etc)

 

I have lots of respect for retro 3D games but 3D has come a long way and still needs to go a lot longer before I will be a fan of it.  The PS3 and 360 3D days were the days of "moist" characters, everyone looked so darn shiny on their skin and looking back at those games, they really are starting to look pretty bad.

 

I saw footage of the PS5 sports games and while it looks much better, I am sure in 2 video game cycles from now, people will be saying the same things.. 

 

I guess I am just a fan of 2D and sprites and I think that is OK., I do respect anyone's opinion that may disagree with me as well.

 

 

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This is interesting. Then is literally every single Zelda game over-hyped by Zelda fans? Because I've seen wayyyyy to many people praise literally every single Zelda game and now I'm seeing for myself what some of these games are like as well as people who aren't very fond of them.

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I don't think all 32/64 bit games have aged badly graphically speaking. Silent Hill looks awesome. Metal Gear Solid too. Ocarina and Mario look great in some places.

 

I think the problem is having that ugly forest at the start with the slow and tedious gameplay. There seem to be a few places like that in a game that zero story and should be all about immersion and interaction with the environment.

 

Tomb Raider does not look particularly well (textures are ugly), but the 3D design is realistic, fun and interactive.

 

I don't think graphics are that important anyway, or the story. But Zelda works better as a 2D game with great, cute pixel art that you can quickly start playing, and Ocarina doesn't go that route.

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