Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Gaming's great intros part III: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I think it would be fair to say that the majority of Nintendo fans will forever remember their virgin experience with the colossal Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Rarely has a game so massively hyped delivered so comprehensively, and rarely has one game singlehandedly revolutionised not only a single genre, but also the games industry as a whole. Within days of it’s release in 1998, Ocarina of Time had cemented itself in the hearts of gamers across the globe as one of the most revered titles in video game history.

Something else that most fans will doubtless remember is the first time that they fired this game up and witnessed the majesty of Link in full polygonal glory, sat astride Epona, as she gallops through the stunning vista of Hyrule Field. Watching as the two of them are bathed in the glorious pink light of dawn...even today, is a sight to behold, and then as the camera sweeps by we get a glimpse of Hyrule Castle, resplendent in all it's grandeur. By this point it was clear to most people that this game would be beyond special.

Nintendo’s controversial choice of cartridges as storage medium infamously left the N64 unable to produce the outrageous CG and FMV sequences that were proving so popular on the CD based consoles (PSX and Saturn) of the time. On the plus side however, this decision left Ocarina of Time without the unnecessary burden of CG costume jewellery, and gave it the ability to show off it's (very) ample assets in a more subtle and natural light. Nintendo's almost minimalist approach here gently alluded to what awaited the player and ensured that no gamer would be left downhearted by a flashy looking intro that the game itself couldn't hope to match...(cough Dragon Valour...cough).

The storage space (or lack thereof) afforded by cartridges did have a large effect on the N64's ability to produce quality music, and it's games were often criticised for containing very basic tunes that looped much sooner than their CD counterparts. Step in veteran Nintendo composer and all round genius; Koji Kondo, who somehow managed to eke out a soundtrack of genuine class and an intro aria fit to rival almost anything from Square, Capcom or Enix. The simple yet elegant piano and the unmistakable melody of the now series signature ocarina, make for a delicate and intensely warm harmony...in short, there was very little at the time to better it.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time showed the world and proved to Nintendo's critics that even without huge storage space, the N64 could produce cut scenes that were simply without superlative. And even though today the character models are beginning to look a little dated and the backgrounds look even fuzzier, this intro sequence is still beautiful in every way I can think of. More importantly and perhaps more impressively though, it still gives me that massive buzz of anticipation at just what is waiting to begin...and as any serious gamer will tell you, that is all too rare.


  1. Couldn't agree more sir, nice feature! :) I am one of the ones who vividly recalls first seeing this wonderful intro for the first time. It's not remotely flashy like many were in the day but it sets the mood for the game perfectly :)

  2. Many thanks my friend! There were so many games that lured us in with flashy intros back then...I can remember being conned more than a few times actually. Good honest brilliance from Nintendo eh!