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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
A sword and shield—the latter bearing both the three triangles of the Triforce and the bird-like Hyrule crest—are positioned behind the game's title.
North American box art
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Producer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Yoshiaki Koizumi
  • Yusuke Nakano
Composer(s) Koji Kondo
Series The Legend of Zelda
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time[a] is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was first released in Japan and North America in November 1998, and in Europe and Australia the following month. Originally developed for the 64DD peripheral,[11] the game was instead released on a 256-megabit cartridge, the largest-capacity cartridge Nintendo produced at that time. Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in the The Legend of Zelda series, and the first with 3D graphics. It was followed by a direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, in 2000.

In Ocarina of Time, the player controls the playable character Link in the land of Hyrule. Link sets out on a quest to stop Ganondorf, king of the Gerudo tribe, from obtaining the Triforce, a sacred relic that grants the wishes of its holder. He travels through time and navigates various dungeons to awaken the sages, who have the power to seal Ganondorf away forever. Music plays an important role: To progress, the player must learn to play several songs on an ocarina. The game was responsible for increased interest in and sales of the instrument.[12]

Ocarina of Time's gameplay introduced features such as a target-lock system and context-sensitive buttons that have since become common in 3D adventure games.[13][14] In Japan, more than 820,000 copies were sold in 1998, making it the tenth best-selling game of that year.[15] During its lifetime, 1.14 million copies of Ocarina of Time were sold in Japan,[16] and over 7.6 million copies were sold worldwide.[17] The game won the Grand Prize in the Interactive Art division at the Japan Media Arts Festival,[18] and won six honors at the 2nd Annual Interactive Achievement Awards.[19] As of 2016, it is the highest-rated game on review-aggregating site Metacritic, with a score of 99/100; in 2008 and 2010, Guinness World Records listed Ocarina of Time as the highest-rated game ever reviewed.[20] It is considered by many critics and gamers to be the greatest video game of all time.[b]

Ocarina of Time has had four major rereleases. It was originally ported to the GameCube alongside Ocarina of Time Master Quest, which featured reworked dungeons with new puzzles, and was included in The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition. It was also ported to the iQue Player in 2003, and was made available via the Virtual Console service for the Wii and Wii U in 2007 and 2015 respectively. The rereleases were well received; although some critics considered the game outdated even during the initial rerelease,[25][26]:2 other reviewers believed it had aged well.[27][28] A remake for the Nintendo 3DS, Ocarina of Time 3D, was released in 2011 with updated graphics and new autostereoscopic 3D effects; it includes Master Quest's rearranged dungeons, which are absent from the Wii, Wii U, and iQue versions.


The child version of the game's protagonist, Link, stands in Hyrule field wearing his distinctive green tunic and pointed cap. In each corner of the screen are icons that display information to the player. In the upper left-hand corner there are hearts which represent Link's health, in the lower left-hand corner is a counter which displays the quantity of Rupees (the in-game currency) possessed by the player. There is a mini-map in the lower right-hand corner, and five icons in the upper right-hand corner, one green, one red, and three yellow, which represent the actions available to the player on the corresponding buttons of the N64 controller.
The on-screen display shows actions mapped to context-sensitive buttons. Here, the B (green) button controls Link's sword attack, the A (blue) button sheaths Link's sword, and the C (yellow) buttons control set-specific items.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a fantasy action-adventure game with role-playing and puzzle elements set in a large open-world environment. The player controls series protagonist Link from a third-person perspective, in a three-dimensional world. Link primarily fights with a sword and shield, but he can also use other weapons such as projectiles, bombs, and magic spells.[29]:22–25 The control scheme introduced techniques such as context-sensitive actions and a targeting system called "Z-targeting".[13][c] In combat, Z-targeting allows the player to have Link focus and latch onto an enemy or other objects.[29]:11–12[d] When using this technique, the camera follows the target and Link constantly faces it. Projectile attacks are automatically directed at the target and do not require manual aiming. Context-sensitive actions allow multiple tasks to be assigned to one button, simplifying the control scheme. The on-screen display shows what will happen when the button is pushed and changes depending on what the character is doing. For example, the same button that causes Link to push a box if he is standing next to it will have him climb on the box if the analog stick is pushed toward it.[13] Much of the game is spent in battle, but some parts require the use of stealth. Exploration is another important aspect of gameplay; the player may notice inaccessible areas and return later to find them explorable after obtaining a new item, such as the bomb, to blast through walls, or the hookshot, to reach distant places.

The adult version of Link, armed with a sword and shield and wearing a green tunic, is fighting a bipedal wolf in front of the Forest Temple. Link's fairy companion, Navi, has turned yellow and hovers above the creature which is now surrounded by yellow crosshair-like arrows.
When the player uses Z-targeting, the view shifts to a letterbox format and arrows indicate the targeted enemy. The player can then circle strafe around the enemy to keep their sight on them.

Link collects items and weapons throughout the game, whose abilities allow him to access, navigate and complete dungeons to advance the story. Each dungeon is a dense, self-contained area in which Link solves puzzles and defeats enemies, and ends in a battle with the dungeon's boss, a powerful unique enemy. Each dungeon and its boss share a major item and common theme; for example Link must use the Fairy Bow to complete the Forest Temple and defeat its boss, Phantom Ganon, both of which involve trickery and misdirection. Defeat of a dungeon's boss grants Link a special item and advances the main quest.

Ocarina of Time has several optional side-quests, or minor objectives, that the player can choose to complete or ignore. Completing the side-quests usually results in rewards, normally in the form of weapons or abilities. In one side-quest, Link trades items he cannot use himself among non-player characters. This trading sequence features ten items that must be delivered within their individual time limits, and ends with Link receiving an item he can use, the two-handed Biggoron Sword, the largest and strongest sword in the game. In another side-quest, Link can acquire a horse named Epona. This allows him to travel faster and jump over fences, but attacking while riding is restricted to arrows.[29]:38 In order to get Epona, Link must learn her song while he is a child. However, he is only able to ride her seven years later when he and Epona are both adults.

Link can travel between two points in time. Part way through the main quest, Link claims the Master Sword in the Temple of Time; when Link takes the sword, he is sealed for seven years, until he becomes an adult, and therefore strong enough to wield the Master Sword. Young Link and adult Link have different abilities, and are restricted to certain items and weapons. For example, only adult Link can use the Fairy Bow and only young Link can fit through certain small passages. After completing the Forest Temple, Link can travel freely between the two time periods by replacing or taking the sword. This can grant Link access to new areas: for example, the player can plant magic plants throughout the world, and return seven years later to find the plant full-grown and able transport Link to secret places.

Link is given the Fairy Ocarina near the beginning of the game, which is later replaced by the Ocarina of Time, given to him by Princess Zelda. Throughout the game, Link learns twelve melodies that allow him to solve various puzzles and teleport to previously visited locations in the game.[29]:30 The melodies and notes are played with the C and A buttons on the Nintendo 64 controller or the C analog stick on the GameCube controller.


Ocarina of Time is set in the fictional kingdom of Hyrule, the setting of most The Legend of Zelda games. Hyrule Field serves as the central hub connected to several outlying areas with diverse topography and the races of Hyrule.[29]:7–8

The fairy Navi awakens Link from a nightmare in which he witnesses a man in black armor pursuing a young girl on horseback. Navi brings Link to the Great Deku Tree, who is cursed and near death. The Deku Tree tells Link a "wicked man of the desert" cursed him and seeks to conquer the world, and that Link must stop him. Before dying, the Great Deku Tree gives Link the Spiritual Stone of the Forest and sends him to Hyrule Castle to speak with Hyrule's princess.[29]:6

At the Hyrule Castle garden, Link meets Princess Zelda, who believes Ganondorf, king of the Gerudo, is seeking the Triforce, a holy relic that gives its holder godlike power. Zelda asks Link to obtain the three Spiritual Stones so he can enter the Sacred Realm and claim the Triforce before Ganondorf reaches it.[32] Link collects the other two stones: the first from Darunia, leader of the Gorons, and the second from Ruto, princess of the Zoras. Link returns to Hyrule Castle, where he sees Ganondorf chase Zelda and her caretaker Impa on horseback, and unsuccessfully attempts to stop him.[33] Inside the Temple of Time, he uses the Ocarina of Time, a gift from Zelda, and the Spiritual Stones to open the door to the Sacred Realm. There he finds the Master Sword, but as he pulls it from its pedestal, Ganondorf appears and claims the Triforce.

Seven years later, an older Link awakens in an area of the Sacred Realm known as the Chamber of Sages and is met by Rauru, one of the seven sages who protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm. Rauru explains that Link's spirit was sealed for seven years until he was old enough to wield the Master Sword and defeat Ganondorf, who has now taken over Hyrule.[34] The seven sages can imprison Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm, but five are unaware of their identities as sages. Link is returned to the Temple of Time; there he meets the mysterious Sheik, who guides him to free five temples from Ganondorf's control, allowing each temple's sage to awaken.[35] Link befriended all five sages as a child: Saria, the Sage of the Forest Temple; Darunia, the Sage of the Fire Temple; Ruto, the Sage of the Water Temple; Impa, the Sage of the Shadow Temple; and Nabooru, the Sage of the Spirit Temple. After the five sages awaken, Sheik reveals herself to be Zelda in disguise, and the seventh sage. She tells Link that Ganondorf's heart was unbalanced, causing the Triforce to split into three pieces. Ganondorf acquired only the Triforce of Power, while Zelda received the Triforce of Wisdom and Link the Triforce of Courage.[36]

Ganondorf appears and kidnaps Zelda, imprisoning her in his castle. The other six sages help Link infiltrate the stronghold; Link frees Zelda after nearly defeating Ganondorf, who destroys the castle in an attempt to kill Link and Zelda. After they escape the collapsing castle, Ganondorf emerges from the rubble and transforms into a boar-like monster named Ganon using the Triforce of Power. Ganon knocks the Master Sword from Link's hand; with Zelda's aid, Link retrieves the Master Sword and defeats Ganon. The seven sages seal Ganondorf in the Dark Realm; still holding the Triforce of Power, he vows to take revenge on their descendants.[37] Zelda uses the Ocarina of Time to send Link back to his childhood. Navi departs and young Link meets Zelda in the castle garden once more.[38]


Originally intended as a 64DD game, Ocarina of Time was converted to cartridge during development. Later, its planned 64DD expansion title Ura Zelda became the GameCube's Master Quest.

First shown as a technical demo at Nintendo's Shoshinkai trade show in December 1995,[13][39] Ocarina of Time was developed concurrently with Super Mario 64 by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD) division.[40] Both were the first free-roaming 3D game in their respective series. Nintendo planned to release Super Mario 64 as a launch game for the Nintendo 64 (N64) and later release Ocarina of Time for the 64DD, a disk drive peripheral for the system.[41] Nintendo eventually migrated the development of Ocarina of Time from disk to cartridge media due to the high data performance requirements imposed by continuously reading 500 motion-captured character animations throughout gameplay,[11] intending to follow its release with a 64DD expansion disk.[42] At its release the 32-megabyte game was the largest game Nintendo had ever created.[43] Early in the game's development, concerns over the memory constraints of the N64 cartridge led producer and supervisor Shigeru Miyamoto to imagine a worst-case scenario in which Ocarina of Time would follow a similar structure to Super Mario 64 with Link being restricted to Ganondorf's castle as a central hub, and using a portal system similar to the paintings that Mario uses to traverse the realm.[44] An idea that arose from this stage of development, a battle with a doppelganger of Ganondorf that rides through paintings, ultimately made its way into the finished game as the boss of the Forest Temple dungeon.[44]

While Shigeru Miyamoto had been the principal director of Super Mario 64, he was now in charge of several directors as a producer and supervisor of Ocarina of Time.[45][46] During its development, individual parts of Ocarina of Time were handled by multiple directors—a new strategy for Nintendo EAD. However, when things were progressing slower than expected, Miyamoto returned to the development team with a more hands-on directorial role. Although the development team was new to 3D games, assistant director Makoto Miyanaga recalls a sense of "passion for creating something new and unprecedented".[47] A "medieval tale of sword and sorcery," Miyamoto intended the game to be in the chanbara genre of Japanese sword fighting.[48] The development crew involved more than 120 people, including stunt performers used to capture the effects of sword fighting and Link's movement.[49] Some of Miyamoto's ideas for the new Zelda title were instead used in Super Mario 64, since it was to be released first.[40] Other ideas were not used due to time constraints.[45]

Miyamoto initially intended Ocarina of Time to be played in a first-person perspective[50] to enable players to take in the vast terrain of Hyrule Field better, as well as to be able to focus more on developing enemies and environments. However, the development team did not go through with it once the idea of having a child Link was introduced, and Miyamoto believed it necessary for Link to be visible on screen.[51] Ocarina of Time originally ran on the same engine as Super Mario 64, but was so heavily modified that designer Shigeru Miyamoto considers the final products entirely different engines.[52] One major difference between the two is camera control; the player has a lot of control over the camera in Super Mario 64, but the camera in Ocarina of Time is largely controlled by the game's AI. Miyamoto says the camera controls for Ocarina of Time are intended to reflect a focus on the game's world, whereas those of Super Mario 64 are centered on the character of Mario.[45] Miyamoto wanted to make a game that was cinematic, but still distinguished from actual films.[45] Takumi Kawagoe, who creates cutscenes for Nintendo, says that his top priority is to have the player feel in control of the action.[53] To promote this feeling, cut scenes in Ocarina of Time are completely generated with real-time computing and do not use pre-recorded or full-motion video.[45] Toru Osawa created the scenario for the game, based on a story idea by Miyamoto and Yoshiaki Koizumi.[3][4][5][6][54] He was given support by A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening script writer Kensuke Tanabe.[54][55] The dungeons were designed by Eiji Aonuma.[1]

In 1997 and 1998, the Nintendo 64 was said to be critically lacking in first party hit releases. Next Generation magazine stated that "Nintendo absolutely can't afford another holiday season without a real marquee title" and that Zelda was "one of the most anticipated games of the decade", upon which the Nintendo 64's fate depends. Chairman Howard Lincoln insisted at E3 1998 that Zelda would be shipped on time and would instantly become the company's reinvigorating blockbuster akin to a major Hollywood hit movie.[56]

Customers in North America who pre-ordered the game received a limited edition box with a golden plastic card affixed, reading "Collector's Edition". This edition contained a gold-colored cartridge,[57] a tradition for the Zelda series that began with the original game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Demand was so great that Electronics Boutique stopped pre-selling the title on November 3, 1998.[58] Several versions of Ocarina of Time were produced, with later revisions featuring minor changes such as glitch repairs, the recoloring of Ganondorf's blood from crimson to green, and the alteration of the music heard in the Fire Temple dungeon to remove a sample of an Islamic prayer chant.[26][59] The sample was taken from a commercially available sound library, but the developers did not realise it contained Islamic references. Although popularly believed to have been changed due to public outcry, the chanting was in fact removed after the company discovered it violated their own policy to avoid religious material in games,[59] and the altered versions of Ocarina of Time were made prior to the game's original release.[60]

Ports and rereleases[edit]

Ocarina of Time was rereleased for the GameCube as a port of the Nintendo 64 ROM image in conjunction with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest and as a part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition.[26] The former was released as Zeruda no Densetsu: Toki no Okarina GC in Japan, with the Master Quest side named Zeruda no Densetsu: Toki no Okarina GC Ura (ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ GC裏). The "Ura" name stems from Master Quest's origins, as an expansion to the Ocarina of Time cartridge in the form of a 64DD disk, under the working title Ura Zelda.[61] The Master Quest compilation was given as a premium for pre-ordering The Wind Waker in Japan and North America,[62] as well as in a special GameCube bundle at Walmart wherein the disc came in the same case. In Europe and Australia, the disc came in the same case as the initial pressings of The Wind Waker.[63] In Europe, it was available for a limited time through a special offer on the Nintendo website. The Ocarina of Time Master Quest box contains a single disc that includes the original game; the Master Quest version; six video demos for various GameCube games, including one for The Wind Waker; and a video demo for the Game Boy Advance games A Link to the Past and Four Swords.[26] Master Quest uses the same engine and plot of Ocarina of Time, but dungeons have been altered.[26] Collector's Edition was available in GameCube bundles in Europe, Australia, and North America, as well as by registering hardware and software, or by subscribing to official magazines or clubs.[64] In addition to Ocarina of Time, the disc also contains the original The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, Majora's Mask, a demo of The Wind Waker, and a Zelda retrospective featurette.[64] The original game is displayed on the Nintendo 64 with a resolution of 320 × 240, but the GameCube ports run at 640 × 480 and support progressive scan.[26][65]

The game was released for the Wii's Virtual Console service for 1000 Wii Points in Europe and Australia on February 23, 2007; in North America on February 26; and in Japan on February 27.[66] This particular release is an emulation of the Nintendo 64 version, true to the original except for the elimination of support for controller vibrations. Thus, an item called the "Stone of Agony", which employs physical vibrations via the Nintendo 64's Rumble Pak controller accessory during certain in-game events, has been made useless.[27] The Wii can play the GameCube compilation versions with this feature intact. A five-minute demo of the game is included as an unlockable item in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The game was rereleased on the Wii U Virtual Console worldwide on July 2, 2015,[67] this time including the Nintendo 64's original Rumble Pak feature.[68]

Ura Zelda[edit]

After the completion of Ocarina of Time, an expansion disk for the yet unreleased 64DD peripheral was developed with the working title Ura Zelda,[69] commonly translated as "Another Zelda".[70] Described as "Ocarina's second version with rearranged dungeon gameplay",[69] it contains some new content and some which had been cut from Ocarina due to constraints on development time and on cartridge storage size.[61][71][72]

We will make [Ura Zelda] once the system has been switched over to the 64DD. Fundamentally, once the cartridge version of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has been out for awhile, I'd like to bring the 64DD version out. It's too early to release just yet, and I don't want to have the 64DD and the cartridge sold at the same time. It's troubling. After we release the cartridge version of F-ZERO X, we'll release the 64DD expansion disc.

— Shigeru Miyamoto in late 1997[73]

However, Ura Zelda was delayed indefinitely since 1998 due to the uncertain and protracted development status of the requisite 64DD device,[71] and then was never released in its originally planned form due to the 64DD's ultimate commercial failure.[74] In August 2000, Miyamoto stated that Ura Zelda had "already been finished" sometime prior and that no online capabilities had ever been planned.[75]

A fairly intact equivalent to Ura Zelda, as confirmed by designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, was released for the GameCube in 2002 in Japan as Zeruda no Densetsu: Toki no Okarina GC Ura (ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ GC裏?) and in 2003 in North America and Europe as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest.[69][74] Miyamoto explained in 2002, "[Ura] didn't use many of the special [64DD] features. So it was very easy to port over to the GameCube without cutting any features. Ura Zelda isn't very different from the Ocarina of Time; it's more of a second quest ... it will not unlock anything special."[74] Aonuma concluded in 2004, "It was finally bundled in the GameCube version of Ocarina and released as Master Quest."[69]

In 2003, IGN's Peer Schneider gave Master Quest positive reviews, with caveats. Based upon Ocarina which has "aged extremely well", he likened the Ura concept to the second quest of the original Zelda game for NES. The game is "far more difficult than the original", though the integrity of some areas suffer as if "'second quest' most likely meant 'second choice' during the Nintendo design process". He found the GameCube port to be somewhat visually improved though "lazy", with a clumsy translation to the new controller and no substantial improvement in the original game's low frame rate. Summarizing it as "a sweet, sweet surprise for any Zelda fan", he recommended this complimentary compilation release even if it had been at full price.[26] Zachary Lewis of RPGamer stated that the main strength of Master Quest is in its puzzles, which require absolutely precise timing, and which find entirely new uses for Ocarina's items. He says players may be "enthralled out of the sheer difficulty" but that the tedious frustration may reduce replayability.[25]

Nintendo 3DS version[edit]

Link swims in the Water Temple while wearing the Zora Tunic, which allows him to breathe underwater.

Shigeru Miyamoto originally maintained that a version of the game for the Nintendo 3DS was merely a technical demo with the possibility of being developed into a full game,[76] but Nintendo of America announced the game in June 2010.[77] Ocarina of Time 3D was developed by Nintendo EAD in partnership with Grezzo, an independent Japanese studio headed by Koichi Ishii. The game was released in Japan on June 16, 2011; Europe on June 17, 2011; the United States on June 19, 2011; and Australia on June 30, 2011 (June 24, 2011, at some stores).[78]

New features include the ability to quickly equip items using the touchscreen and to use the handheld's built in gyroscope to aim precisely in first-person point of view while using items such as the slingshot.[79] The fixed 3D is no longer present, and is made with a full 3D rendering of previously fixed 3D areas. In addition to the original game, the Master Quest is included, as well as a new "Boss Challenge" mode that allows players to fight all of the bosses one at a time, or in sequential order.[80] However, this version of Master Quest differs in the fact that the entire map is mirrored, similar to what Nintendo did for the Wii port of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.[81][82] Instructional videos are built into the 3DS version to guide the players who are lost or stuck in certain puzzles.[83] The original Water Temple was noted for its difficulty, being described as "arguably the greatest challenge of spatial awareness in a 3D adventure game".[84] The 3DS version contains new elements to reduce this difficulty.


Ocarina of Time's music was written by Koji Kondo, the composer in charge of music for most of the games in the The Legend of Zelda series.[85] In addition to characters having musical themes, areas of Hyrule are also associated with pieces of music.[86] This has been called leitmotif in reverse—instead of music announcing an entering character, it now introduces a stationary environment as the player approaches.[87] In some locations, the music is a variation of an ocarina tune the player learns, related to that area.[87]

Beyond providing a backdrop for the setting, music plays an integral role in gameplay. The button layout of the Nintendo 64 controller resembles the holes of the ocarinas in the game,[88] and players must learn to play several songs to complete the game. All songs are played using the five notes available on an ocarina, although by bending pitches via the analog stick, players can play additional tones.[88] Kondo said that creating distinct themes on the limited scale was a "major challenge", but feels that the end result is very natural.[85] The popularity of Ocarina of Time led to an increase in ocarina sales.[89]

The official soundtrack of Ocarina of Time was published by Pony Canyon and released in Japan on December 18, 1998.[90] It comprises one compact disc with 82 tracks.[90] A US version was also released, although with fewer tracks and different packaging artwork. Many critics praised the music in Ocarina of Time, although IGN was disappointed that the traditional Zelda overworld theme was not included.[88] In 2001, three years after the initial release of Ocarina of Time, GameSpot labeled it as one of the top ten video game soundtracks.[86] The soundtrack, at the time, was not released in Europe or Australia. In 2011, however, a 51-track limited edition soundtrack for the 3DS version was available in a free mail out through a Club Nintendo offer to owners of the 3DS edition, as an incentive to register the product. The original musical theme for the Fire Temple area was altered before release of the game, due to Nintendo's policy of not including real religious references in their products, with the altered theme simply removing the chanting samples.[91]

Hero of Time, an orchestral recording of Ocarina of Time's score performed by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and jointly distributed by Iam8bit and Materia Collective, is set for vinyl and digital release in the second quarter of 2017.[92]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 98%[93]
Metacritic 99/100[94]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 5/5 stars[95]
Edge 10/10[96]
EGM 10/10[97]
Famitsu 40/40[98]
GamePro 5/5 stars[99]
Game Revolution A
GameSpot 10/10[100]
GameTrailers N64: 10/10
IGN 10/10[88]
Nintendo Power 9.5/10[101][102]
RPGamer 5/5[25]
Publication Award
CESA Award,[103] Edge,[104] EGM,[105] Games,[106] GameSpot,[107] Interactive Achievement Award,[19] Japan Media Arts Festival,[18] MMCA,[108] VSDA Award[109] Game of the Year
CVG,[110] Edge,[21][22][24] Entertainment Weekly,[110] GameTrailers,[110] Guinness,[20] IGN,[111][112] Metacritic,[113] Next Generation,[110] Nintendo Power[113] Greatest Game of All Time

Ocarina of Time was released to widespread critical acclaim and strong commercial success worldwide. In the United States, over 500,000 preorders were placed, more than tripling the number of preorders for any previous video game,[114] and more than 1 million copies were sold there in less than a week.[108] In 1998, 2.5 million copies were sold, although it was released only 39 days before the end of the year; it earned $150 million in US revenues, higher than any Hollywood film in the last six weeks of 1998.[115] In Japan, 820,000 copies were sold in 1998, becoming the tenth best-selling game of that year;[15] a reported 386,234 copies were sold in its first week there, surpassing the 316,000 first-week sales of Metal Gear Solid.[116] In the United Kingdom, 61,232 copies were sold during its first weekend.[108] During its lifetime, Ocarina of Time saw 1.14 million copies sold in Japan,[16] and 7.6 million copies worldwide.[17]

On its initial Nintendo 64 release, Ocarina of Time received perfect review scores from the majority of gaming publications that reviewed it,[93][113] including Famitsu,[98] Edge,[96] Electronic Gaming Monthly,[97] GameSpot,[100] and IGN.[88] As of January 2013, the review aggregator websites Metacritic and GameRankings respectively rank the original Nintendo 64 version as the highest and second highest reviewed game of all time, with average scores of 99/100 from Metacritic and 97.54% from GameRankings; it held the highest score on GameRankings for 10 years, when it was succeeded by Super Mario Galaxy (it has 28 reviews compared with Galaxy's 78).[93][94] The reviews praised multiple aspects of the game, particularly its level design, gameplay mechanics and sound. GameSpot reviewer Jeff Gerstmann wrote that Ocarina of Time is "a game that can't be called anything other than flawless",[100] and IGN called it "the new benchmark for interactive entertainment" that could "shape the action RPG genre for years to come".[88] GameTrailers' editors called it a "walking patent office" due to its number of features that became "industry standard".[117]

The graphics were praised for their depth and detail, although reviewers noted they were not always the best the console had to offer. Game Revolution noted the characters' faces, the "toughest graphical challenge on 3D characters", saying that the characters' expressions and animation featured "surprising grace".[118] IGN believed that Ocarina of Time improved on the graphics of Super Mario 64, giving a larger sense of scale.[88] Impressive draw distances and large boss characters were also mentioned as graphical highlights.[88] Although excelling in the use of color and the visibility and detail of the environment, reviewers noted that some graphical elements of Ocarina of Time did not perform as well as Banjo-Kazooie,[88][97] a game released for the same platform earlier that year. IGN said that the frame rate and textures of Ocarina of Time were not as good as those of Banjo-Kazooie, particularly in the marketplace of Hyrule Castle, which was called "blurry".[88]

Gameplay was generally praised as detailed, with many side quests to occupy players' time. IGN said players would be "amazed at the detail" of the environment and the "amount of thought that went into designing it". EGM enjoyed that Nintendo was able to take the elements of the older, 2D Zelda games and "translate it all into 3D flawlessly".[97] Nintendo Power cited Ocarina of Time, along with Super Mario 64, as two games that "blazed trails" into the 3D era.[119] The context-sensitive control system was seen as one of the strongest elements of the gameplay.[88] Reviewers noted that it allowed for simpler control using fewer buttons, but that it occasionally caused the player to perform unintended actions.[13][88] The camera control was quoted as making combat "second nature",[88] although the new system took time for the player to get used to.[88][97]

The game's audio was generally well received, with IGN comparing some of Koji Kondo's pieces to the work of Philip Glass.[88] Many atmospheric sounds and surround sound were designed to effectively immerse the player in the game world. Some reviewers complained that the audio samples used in the game sounded dated;[88] others considered this a benefit, calling them "retro".[118] Game Revolution called the sound "good for the Nintendo, but not great in the larger scheme of things" and noted that the cartridge format necessitated "MIDI tunes that range from fair to terrible".[118]

In 1998, Ocarina of Time won the Grand Prize in the Interactive Art division at the Japan Media Arts Festival.[18] It also won six honors at the 2nd Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, including "Game of the Year", "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design", "Outstanding Achievement in Software Engineering", "Console Game of the Year", "Console Adventure Game of the Year" and "Console RPG of the Year".[19] Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it both the editors' choice and readers' choice awards for "Game of the Year for All Systems", "Nintendo 64 Game of the Year" and "Action RPG of the Year" as well as the readers' choice awards for "Best Music" and "Best Graphics", and it was runner-up for the reader's choice "Best Sound Effects" award.[120] Edge gave it the awards for "Game of the Year" and "Gameplay Innovation" and placed it 2nd place for "Graphical Achievement" (behind Virtua Fighter 3tb).[104]


After publication, Ocarina of Time was featured on a number of compiled lists of best or most influential games, including those of Electronic Gaming Monthly,[121] IGN,[111][112][122][123] and Nintendo Power.[113] The game was placed second in Official Nintendo Magazine's "100 greatest Nintendo games of all time", behind only Super Mario Bros.[124] Game Informer ranked it as its 11th favorite game of all time and described it as "untouchable".[125] In May 2011, IGN held a tournament-style competition celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original The Legend of Zelda's release in which fans voted Ocarina of Time the greatest Zelda game; it beat Majora's Mask in the final round.[126] Rockstar Games vice president of creativity Dan Houser stated in 2012, "Anyone who makes 3-D games who says they've not borrowed something from Mario or Zelda [on the Nintendo 64] is lying."[127] Ocarina of Time has consistently been placed at number one in Edge's "top 100 games" lists: a staff-voted list in January 2000,[21] a staff- and reader-voted list in July 2007,[24] a list of "The 100 Best Games to Play Today" in March 2009,[22] and a 2013 readers' poll selecting the 20 best games released since the magazine's launch in 1993.[128] Edge concluded its 2009 list with, "Ocarina of Time is here in the list not because Nintendo had the power and wisdom to make a great game, but because it had the courage to make a unique one."[23]

Reception for the Master Quest and Virtual Console rereleases was positive; while some considered aspects of the graphics and audio to be outdated,[25][129] most thought that the game has aged well. The Master Quest version holds an average score of 89.50% on GameRankings and 91/100 on Metacritic.[130][131] IGN said in their review, "Ocarina of Time has aged extremely well",[26] and noted in regard to the game's graphics, "While the textures and models look dated, the game's wonderful visual presentation stood the test of time." Game Revolution said that although the game has "noticeably aged compared to brand new RPGs [...] it's still a terrific game", awarding 91 out of 100.[132] Former GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann gave the Virtual Console port 8.9 out of 10, writing, "Even after nine years, Ocarina of Time holds up surprisingly well, offering a lengthy and often-amazing adventure".[27]


  1. ^ The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Toki no Okarina?)
  2. ^ The readers and editors of Edge, among those of other publications, have listed Ocarina of Time as the greatest game of all time on several occasions.[21][22][23][24]
  3. ^ So named because it was executed by the Z button; Z-targeting is referred to as L-targeting in the GameCube rereleases.[30][31]
  4. ^ In the GameCube port of Ocarina of Time and the Wii's Virtual Console version, targeting is done with the L button instead of the Z button due to the position of the Z button on the GameCube controller and Classic Controller.


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External links[edit]