Well, if ever one has played through Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one might think there are a few things left to be desired… that or one could have simply been floored by the graphics, and the sheer breadth of the world in which one could explore.
The latter is the most likely, but almost twenty years removed from the release of that iconic Zelda game, one has to look at it with a critical eye, and recall the things a gamer wished could be done during game play.
And that could be a great range of things. Anywhere from having a truly open world (like many so-called sandbox games today have), to just not sitting there and waiting for every little thing to happen in the game before a player can actually… play! There are many and more things gamers wished could be done in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but here are just fifteen pretty important ones, that could have made this great game (at the time of its debut), a stellar game even now.
15. You Can’t Explore A Truly Open World
What’s interesting about Ocarina of Time is that it almost didn’t have any semblance of an open world, simply due to rendering, and processing issues. So the great plains that Link either has to begrudgingly run across, or joyously ride Epona over, almost didn’t even make it into the game. Thankfully the developers saw the error inherent in stealing away the open world concept from the gamer. However, the open world afforded gamers in Ocarina of Time, is certainly not as desirable as say… the original Zelda! That’s right, the comparison has just been made that a thirty one year old game for the NES has a better concept of an open world than that of a not-quite-twenty-year-old game for the N64. Why is this? Well, in Zelda, a gamer could just explore… anywhere. And if there was a place that couldn’t be explored, there was a good reason (needing a raft, or ladder to cross or reach a place). In Ocarina of Time, gates, and fairly short walls bar a gamer’s way quite often, and all so that Link can take a letter to this person or that to open the damned thing. Link can climb walls, jump chasms, and blow up so many things… and a gate and a single guard stop him from climbing up a mountain? That’s no open world.
14. You Can’t Kill Navi
How many times do gamers have to hear Navi say “Hey! Listen!”, when something important is nearby? Does any gamer remember a time when games forced you to think for yourself, to discover what was ahead, and reason what could or couldn’t be done, through a series of trial and error? Any gamer? Once upon a time, the NES was the hardest gaming console in the world. Why? True it did have a great many games that actually just made no sense… but the games that were (and still are) amazing for that console are amazing because they force gamers to actually take in their surrounding, and take stock of their abilities. Any gamer who just wants to walk around aimlessly, until something hits them over the head and say “Hey! Listen idiot! Important story stuff over here!”, needs to walk away for a bit. Then maybe after a calming period, that kind of gamer should sit and play Dragon Warrior all the way through. Good luck finding anything while waiting for an annoying sprite to come at you with pertinent information. If only ‘Z’ targeting worked on Navi… At least Ocarina of Time would’ve been quieter.
13. It Would Be Nice Not To Play As A Child Half The Time
Ok, it is kind of cool that Ocarina of Time is all about time travel, and one starts out when Link was a child, and then grows up to be the hero of Hyrule, and all that. But the amount of time needed to be spent as a child “learning the ropes” is just silly. In the original Zelda, gamers woke up, had no idea what was going on, and discovered for themselves just what to make of the world around them, and what they could or could not do in that world. Spending so much time in the infancy of Link’s abilities does make one appreciate much more the awesomeness of Link as an adult… but there is no sort of linear progression with regards to being an adult. The number of times a player has to go back and forth is so incredibly annoying, and the time it takes to sit through the cut scenes each time one travels through time. By the end of the game, the game could’ve been beaten once over again with the amount of travel time between childhood and adulthood. Imagine how happy people would be if they could just travel from childhood to adulthood so many times…and then have a whole other go at life because of the amount of time it took to do that! If a child Link has to happen… at least make time linear.
12. We Can’t Kill The Cameraman
This is certainly one of the most absurdly annoying things about Ocarina of Time hands down. And this is also part of why Navi is such a pain, because the cameraman cares more about what she has to say than about what a player wants to actually do. In addition to that pain, when climbing, fighting, jumping, riding… almost every action, especially when in close quarters, the camera swing in the game is completely counter-intuitive to the manner in which one might choose to actually look at the task at hand. If, like in Mario 64, there was a little cameraman in the clouds, following the gamer about, and messing up every aspect of a gamer’s play, it would be so much easier (especially if that camera man could then be shot down by an arrow, or grabbed with the hookshot and pulled in close to be told how to do his job). What a better solution than to have to sit and seethe with rage at the developers for not knowing how a person actually looks at things… presumably the developers looked at… things, while developing the game. So how is this such a problem in the game?
11. Everyone Dreads ‘Z’ Targeting
This is something every gamer did: dreaded ‘Z’ targeting. What is ‘Z’ targeting for those readers who haven’t played this game, and are either interested, or are being frightened away from it now? ‘Z’ targeting is the adding of the Z axis (given that Ocarina of Time is a three dimensional game) to combat targeting in the game. This was a cool idea, that was ultimately rendered a complete pain in the ass. When fighting only one enemy, it’s great. It locks on to that character so a player doesn’t have to waste time manually aiming any attack (like in every Zelda game before). However, if there is a group of enemies, and a player may be looking at one to attack, if there is a closer enemy, the line of sight will completely change, and the ‘Z’ targeting will automatically hone in on the nearest enemy (battle plan ruined). This is especially a pain if fighting a boss with multiple targets to hit. A player may want to hit one spot, but is forcibly targeting another because of its proximity. Games after Ocarina of Time made it much easier to switch from target to target in order to streamline the combat process.
10. You Can’t Jump At Will
To be fair, jumping has not been one of those staple Zelda abilities by any means, so having an auto-jump function is actually more innovative than a number of the predecessors to Ocarina of Time (unless of course one recalls the roc’s feather from Zelda: Link’s Awakening). However, there was, in development, an active jump function, but it was removed for the preferred auto-jump feature. What is frustrating about this is, in a world that is already purported to be completely open (but obviously not), a manual jump function might just allow gamers to say a good ol’ “f— you” to developers, going where they want to in the game, when they want (though this would likely glitch out the game at some point). Being able to roll, and attack, are very useful functions in battle, but imagine being able to jump as well: dodging, or reaching up to bats in a fight, rather than using the slingshot, or waiting for them to get down to Link’s rather short level. It would also add a complexity to sequences where a gamer must jump chasms, from platform to platform. It would be the responsibility of the gamer, not the developer, as to whether or not a player made a certain jump successful.
9. No One Wants To Mow The Lawn To Make Money
This is a very typically Zelda trope, to be sure, but there is so much more to life than throwing pots, and cutting grass for money, is there not? In a game that’s mean to be based on exploration, why not just have a greater number of chests, buried in certain areas, or hidden in certain caves? Why not have the character awarded money not only for mini games, but for helping townsfolk out with their problems (which should never be a core part of the story, but a choice for the player to make — depending on how heroic the specific player decides to be)? Admittedly, this is something the original Zelda got the ball rolling on, and each subsequent sequel has followed suit in the ridiculous smashing of clay, and mowing of lawns, via sword. It’s silly, but now a Zelda staple, but it needn’t be. Ocarina of Time, in its three dimensional awesomeness, could have made the entire game a re-imagined Zelda, but all it did was render a once upon a time two dimensional game (with occasional Z axis play) into a three dimensional game. This arguably made Ocarina of Time all the worse for the playing.
8. How About Actually Having Complicated Puzzles?
Pushing blocks together, until they match, like a kid’s eight-piece puzzle… is not difficult! It’s unsure whether the developers though that children were stupid, or thought that there’s no way teenagers, with a little more understanding of how pictures come together, might play their game. Either way, the puzzles found in Ocarina of Time are simple, and silly. Sure, one has to now look for an eye on the wall to shoot, in order to open up a door, and yeah, the pushing together of blocks is occasionally timed… but there is no difficulty level progression. Each puzzle is a rehashed version of the last. What might have been nice, is to have even a slow gradient of increasingly difficult puzzles to work up to, and figure out. Again, back to letting the gamer think, and make decisions based on what is available. True, once upon a time, one could see the entirety of a room in a Zelda game in one go, but puzzles could still be difficult. The three dimensional world adds a complexity that begs puzzles to be more challenging, having to search, climb, leap, fight, and reason all at the same time. Unfortunately, the developers liked playing with blocks (not just polygons).
7. Hunting Skulltulas
This is probably one of the biggest wastes of time in Ocarina of Time (aside from waiting for everything). There are Skulltulas all about the realm, but only a certain amount of Gold Skulltulas. Should a player capture all one hundred of these huge wastes of time, the player is essentially rewarded with unlimited money. That sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want unlimited money? Unfortunately, there is nothing one could really need this money for, rendering the prize ultimately useless. Sure, there are things one can buy, but by the time one hunts down one hundred of these things, the game is likely near over, and the best gear likely acquired. This task is really more of a bragging right than anything, and a pointless one at that, as nothing difficult was actually done to complete it. All that has happened is time has been wasted. Say it takes three minutes from any point on the map, to find a Gold Skulltula, then say it take about thirty seconds to capture the damned this while you wait for it to turn around to be vulnerable to attack. Now do that one hundred times. That’s six hours! The average time it takes to beat the game is about twenty four hours. The fastest time the game has been beaten is just under nineteen minutes… so one quarter of a full day of real like is wasted on acquiring a prize that no Link needs by the time the prize is acquired.
6. We Want Actual Strategy
Gamers can buy walk-throughs for Ocarina of Time, and can pour their heart and soul into every little extra, all they want, but when it comes to planning anything, or sorting out just how to go about getting anything, there is no real strategy to it. So to purchase a strategy guide for Ocarina of Time for any reason other than to say that one owns the likely now collector’s items, is pointless. In the original Zelda battles, for example, had to be strategized, and in the moment, because one screen was different from another. Thankfully, if a player died, the setup would remain the same, so one could then think about how to go about succeeding. But the initial foray was always heavily based on strategy. In Ocarina of Time, all one has to do is wait for an enemy to come close, then hit it, or wait for it to turn its back, then hit it, or wait for it to open its eye, then hit it. At least the Iron Knuckle enemy added some degree of complexity (but that’s another entry). This all comes back to the developers making a sandbox game in a true and false sense of the term: the world isn’t fully open, but the simplicity of the world is much like that of a child’s sandbox castle.
5. You Can’t Just Get The Damned Item
Another colossal waste of time is found in the opening of chests in the game. Not every chest, thankfully, but every chest with some degree of pertinent item (or not) opens with a cinematic that takes, on average, fifteen seconds. This is dependent on how much information there is to read about an item, but once the item is in hand, the dialogue boxes must be gone through as well, and then game play can continue. Can’t a player just get the item and go (like every other Zelda game before)? With over one hundred chests to open in the game, that’s almost the amount of time it took the world record holder to beat the damned game… which means he must have beat the game properly in about four minutes. If the prize isn’t all that exciting, why does anyone want to see a huge cinematic? For rupees? No thanks. Just give the player the damned treasure, so that adventuring can continue, and gaming can be enjoyed.
4. You Can’t Fight New Bosses
To quote Egoraptor, Zelda is full of repetitive enemies like “Mister-glowy-eye-mc-weak-to-arrows”, and this has not changed, from Zelda to Zelda… ever! There are always the same elements used to fight each boss. Some games change it up a little (like Link to the Past not giving items in every dungeon for every subsequent fight), but the same tropes persist. If there’s one thing that would have made the first fully three dimensional Zelda game way more amazing? It would have been to have new, innovative bosses that don’t just require the same arrow to the eye, or bomb down the throat shtick. It’s been done, and gamers aren’t as stupid as all that. Franchise lovers will buy the games anyway, but don’t think they’re always happy about it. Stop making gamers sad, and put on those thinking caps for some original thought about how the third dimension could dynamically alter combat, and open the door to new boss battles that would shock gamers!
3. Stop Waiting… For Everything!
In case the… case… hasn’t been made clear enough during this article, perhaps the biggest flaw of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, is the amount of waiting a player must do… for everything! Waiting for chests, waiting for enemies, waiting for dialogue, waiting to travel through time, waiting for cut scenes, waiting to learn songs, waiting to play songs… so much bloody waiting! It is actually exhausting. There’s a reason why the average leisurely play time of Ocarina of Time is up in the fifty-hour range. Gamers have to walk away, and come back, and then try and remember what they were doing. Then once they remember that they were waiting for something, they finally slog through that bit, and put the controller down when waiting starts again. If all of the waiting was cut out of this game, it is conceivable that the average game time would be much closer to the world speed record of just under nineteen minutes. And doesn’t that go to show of how little importance adventuring actually plays into the story? Any adventuring is due to side quests that give pointless prizes like infinite money. All of the story work is based on waiting. If only one didn’t have to wait for a good Zelda game again.
2. Make The Gorons Interesting
It might be a bit much to pick on the Gorons, considering they are a starving people who live off of rocks… but no, screw them because they live in a land of nothing but rocks and, like the panda bear, it’s their fault they don’t want to get down to business. Other than playing a song for these guys (once they start paying attention to the player, once the player finally gets through that gate at the bottom of the mountain), there is not much to them. In a rip on Ocarina of Time, Egoraptor made mention of a really cool way to incorporate the Gorons into the gameplay. The idea was to have a Goron companion for a time (even if one hates escort quests, it’s a cool idea here), and as Link and the Goron travel together, the Goron must eat rocks. But as the game plays out, rocks are more and more scarce in the specific dungeon or map area the two go to, and one must strategize just how to ensure the safety of the Goron friend. If only gamers like Egoraptor were in charge of building this game. What an adventure it could have been.
1. More Dynamic Enemies Like The Iron Knuckle
The Iron Knuckle is the enemy that should have been the foundation of how enemies worked in Ocarina of Time. This enemy forced the player to time attacks, and pay attention to the surroundings. And not in the same way skulltulas made a player time attacks. It’s not just a simple waiting game. The Iron Knuckle attacks when provoked, and that means that the pace of the battle is based on the actions of Link, not of the enemy itself. Typically, when finding these enemies, there are pillars or other objects that can be destroyed by the massive axe he wields. Usually this produces hearts in order to continue fighting, and eventually take down the heavily-armoured brute. If this sort of dynamic was built off of for a number of other enemies, it would totally change the dynamic of the game: needing to be aware of surroundings, and needing to properly time attacks in a way that keeps Link safe, and makes the enemy hurt. Just swiping at bats is nothing. Waiting for “glowy-eye-mc-weak-to-arrows” to open his one eye, is nothing. Being made to create a strategy based on enemy encounter could have been an incredibly innovative combat dynamic… but maybe it was just a waste of time to the developers.