Ocarina of Time: 20 years on

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time anniversary

It’s the 20th anniversary of one of the best video games of all time.

The year 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s a game that’s regarded as one of the best of all time. It’s won a multitude of awards. Broken Guinness World Records. And in the words of Shona Johnson, the Project Manager from Zelda Universe:

Two decades later, it is still considered one of the best games of all time. It has also been incredibly influential on the games industry.

With the 20-year anniversary, the team from Zelda Universe thought it would be fitting to put together a panel at PAX Australia. They wanted to look back at the game — what it had built, and how it had influenced all video games that came after. It’s a game that’s touched many people’s hearts. Here’s what they had to say.

A first for 3D games

When we look back at Ocarina of Time, it looks very blocky. Blockiness was something the team talked about at the PAX Aus Smash Bros. panel too. Whilst these games look primitive now, at the time they were revolutionary. Ocarina of Time was one of the first games to incorporate 3D into a role-playing game. It was developed at a time when 3D games were still a new concept. Cody Davies, the Community Manager for Zelda Universe, said many of the developers didn’t know what they were doing.

Yes, we had Doom before Ocarina of Time, but that wasn’t a third-person game. DOOM is a first-person shooter. This means the camera is always fixed. But there’s a whole new set of controls players need to worry about when it comes to third-person. Many challenges were faced, challenges that weren’t a problem in the previous top-down 2D games. These include elements like combat and aligning the character with different aspects of the in-game world.

Even if you think back to the Nintendo 64 controller, there was no right thumbstick. Thus, how does a player use camera movement? The team who developed Ocarina of Time had to think about all these things. It really revolutionized gameplay forever.

Z targeting

One of the newest elements of gameplay that Ocarina of Time bought in was Z-targeting. Whilst this seems trivial nowadays, again, it was revolutionary at the time. According to the panel, the developers built Z-(or L-)targeting after watching a samurai fight. One samurai would wrap the other in chains and walk around them whilst being connected by a direct line. Z-targeting has persisted through games ever since.

Z-targeting came into Ocarina of Time to help with combat and camera movements. (Image: Zeldapedia)

It was fairly seamless in Ocarina of Time. Other games, like the original Tomb Raider, tried to implement this feature. But it was never as smooth. Once the developers had found something that worked, they stuck with it. Other games tried to deviate from these aspects. The gameplay was never as realistic.

Imagine if you tried to play a game now without Z/L targeting and no camera movements. It would be a rather difficult thing to do. These elements of video games are part of how we currently play games.

In-game tutorials

Ocarina of Time was one of the first games to really use in-game tutorials. Unlike the games of old, you played, died, and learned. Then manuals came out. David Johnson, the Publication Director of Zelda Universe, talked about how he would buy games and pore over the manual. Charlotte Scott, one of their contributors, said reading the manual in the car on the way home was the best thing about buying a game. But Ocarina of Time changed this. According to Davies, this was okay due to the new nature of 3D games:

…but I think it worked really well for Ocarina of Time, because 3D was so new. And then Zelda fans got more and more frustrated because by the time Skyward Sword came around, it was like ‘Oh, you picked up an item for the 35th time. Hold on, let me just tell you what it does again.’

Tutorials changed the way people played games (Image: HiddenTriForce)

So yes, the games sometimes take tutorials too far. But when Ocarina of Time came out it was crucial to gameplay. They probably need a slight balance now with in-game tutorials. Half the audience nodded in agreement when asked if Navi was annoying. Maybe not so much “Hey, listen!” and we’d be okay.

Is an Ocarina of Time remake on the Switch coming?

Whilst the team at Zelda Universe doesn’t really know the answer to this question, it was interesting to see them put this to the audience. There’s already a remaster on the 3DS. So why would fans want it on the Switch? There’s probably something about the increased visual fidelity on Switch that fans are wanting. The chance to play Ocarina of Time on the big screen again. There’s no confirmation on whether a remake will ever be in production for the Switch. Lots of fans were excited about the prospect, however. What about you? Do you want to see a remake on the Switch? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out all our other coverage from PAX Aus with the Ultimate Super Smash Bros. Panel, the Nintendo booth, and a look into Necrobarista. There’s also the Ocarina of Time highlights panel in video format for you to take a look at:

Michelle Mannering
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen”, you’ll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, esports, and gaming. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into gaming world and draws on many of her research areas.