Game Review - by Randy Widell
Nintendo brings its flagship role-playing game to the next level with Ocarina of Time. Making the most out of the Nintendo64's power and increased game pak capacity, Link was brought out of the old top-view/side-scrolling Hyrule and into an all-new, fully three-dimensional rendition. A whole new storyline (seeming somewhat independent of the others) and a variety of improvements were pumped into this groundbreaking sequel.
This installment of The Legend of Zelda series boasts some significant improvements over its predecessors. Most of these improvements come from the introduction of more degrees of freedom. The player has a great deal more control over Link than before. Link is capable of defensive rolls, significant freedom in attacking, sidestepping, pointing his shield in different directions, and equipping up to five items (including a shield and a sword). The coolest feature by far has to be the ability to target an enemy with the 'Z' button, which limits Link to moving around that enemy and all weapons are guaranteed to strike in the right direction. This eliminates the parallax error in aiming caused by the camera angles. The 'Z' button also enables Link to talk to characters that are a significant distance from him. Another, sometimes annoying, feature is Link's fairy guide, Navi. Navi brings attention to points of interest and offers suggestions in battle.
Ocarina of Time also brings back some of the original enemies in their new 3D forms and such items as the dungeon maps and compasses to give it that feel we all are used to from that golden 1987 game pak.
Ocarina of Time has made the best use of the Nintendo64's rendering capabilities. I have not been very impressed with the games that have been released lately. Aside from the few really impressive sports games, most games have terrible graphics when compared to similar PlayStation games and 3Dfx PC games. The characters in Ocarina of Time are very well modeled. They fit in a happy medium between the simplistic, but fully 3D, characters of Final Fantasy 7 and the characters of Goldeneye which use textures for hair and the likes. Ocarina of Time makes very good and tactful use of lens flares (there's nothing I hate more than an over use of lens flares) to produce beautiful scenes. Unlike Mario64, Ocarina of Time has translucent water with refractive distortions and waves. The texture mapping is very sharp and significantly better than most Nintendo64 games.
Unfortunately, there is not much to write here. While the sound is much crisper and incredibly more realistic than any of the predecessors in the series, it is about on par with other Nintendo64 games.
Ocarina of Time plays much like Mario64 with improvements - excellent improvements. The camera is controlled more by the game than by the player, and the game does a much better job at controlling the camera thereby eliminating most of the awkwardness that might have been experienced while playing Mario64. The 3D gaming experience is a lot more comfortable in Ocarina of Time. I have not decided yet whether it is my new controller or if Link is slightly less responsive, increasing control in movement, than Mario.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a great game. It's a great game for those new to the series and for hardcore Zelda fans. The St. Petersburg Times dubbed Ocarina of Time "the Gone with the Wind of video games." I can not find the words to describe it better.