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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) artwork

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) review


"No matter how many I save, how many I defeat, the question is never far behind. Is this a burden that all heroes carry, bound before the path? Every step I take, grasping for the earth, brings me closer to death. But even as I lay beneath the silence of night, when all that trembles is doubt, music comes to soothe my soul. As my weary hand finds the ocarina, I hear the melody on my fingertips. The sound of the sky, of the rivers and fields, echoes each sweeping note. Restless in its wake, the sw..."



No matter how many I save, how many I defeat, the question is never far behind. Is this a burden that all heroes carry, bound before the path? Every step I take, grasping for the earth, brings me closer to death. But even as I lay beneath the silence of night, when all that trembles is doubt, music comes to soothe my soul. As my weary hand finds the ocarina, I hear the melody on my fingertips. The sound of the sky, of the rivers and fields, echoes each sweeping note. Restless in its wake, the sword on my back hums to the weighted rhythm. The instrument beckons to be heard. So I begin to play.

The first few notes begin like a simple tune of youth. I was a Koriki child once. The forest was my playground. I would roll around the bushes, hop along the waterside, pick up a stone with all my strength and lob it just for fun. The world beyond the village was unknown to me but I did not care. All I wanted was a fairy like all the other children, and one morning before I woke, she finally came. Navi tinkered around my head, flapping about how I was lazy and how the Giant Deku Tree was waiting for me. I thought she was lying. A boy with straggly legs and a flapping green hood was nothing special at all.

I moved to allegretto, dashing about the village. After scouring for the secret treasure sword and gathering forty rupees to buy a Deku shield, I sprinted towards the guardian of the forest. Poison had spread from root to branch. I stood bewildered as The Giant Deku Tree implored me to purge the evil planted inside him. My feet began to falter, but then, for the first time, I seized my sword. The temper of justice coursed through my hand. I did not need a voice. All I needed were my narrowing eyes to bring my courage into focus.

Only haunting noises, along ivy-skinned walls and rotting cobwebs, crawled within the dungeon. Dim and moist, this spire of toxin and sagging moss held a silent crescendo that quivered down my skin. Then as I passed, a saliva-dripping head sprung from a weed. The Deku Baba sunk its venom into my shoulder. Falling to the ground, I hollered in pain. But before its mouth lashed out once more, Navi flashed me its weak spot and I swung at its neck. My yell pierced the air, stirring the spiders back into the crevices. My first kill was a writhing head, spewing a bundle of Deku Nuts.

In that moment of battle, as blood crept down my arm, the crescendo once fearful now settled to a rhythm, to the beat of my pulse. Climbing up vines, leaping across chasms, stunning monsters with Deku Nuts, and then slaying them with swift slashes, I passed a thicket of spider webs sprawling with Skullwalltulas. Opening a far door, I crept into a room with a golden chest. As I would discover, every dungeon mysteriously kept a map, a compass, and a golden chest. Inside this one was a slingshot without any pellets. Thinking for a second, I hiked back to the thicket of webs. I grabbed a few Deku Nuts, pulled back on the rubber sling, and flung them against the sprawling monsters. They plummeted to my feet like writhing heads, spewing more bundles of nuts.

I quickly understood, with glorious intonation, that nothing served only one purpose. My slingshot could kill or it could turn on a switch. Fire could light torches or turn cobwebs into ash. Deku Sticks could swat enemies, bring fire from torch to torch, or turn butterflies into fairies. If Deku Scrubs threatened me with spitting seeds, my shield could deflect them back at their fiendish faces. By the time I stood before the last looming door, this little piece of wisdom had unraveled many of the dungeon's twists.

The Parasitic Armored Arachnid Gohma was no different. Navi knew the monster and let me follow the spider's eye in the darkness with the glow of her wings. Stunning its eye with a few well-slung Deku Nuts, I leapt into the air with a diving slash. I soon held the Kokiri Emerald, from amongst its entrails, like the final chord of a symphony.

But I never thought that this was just the beginning. Once the curse was lifted, I learned that my life and my quest would not be of the forest. The truth is said to set you free, but in that instant, I didn't want to be. I scaled the ladder to my hut, gathered my few belongings, and left the village in the cover of night. As I shuffled across the bridge that would lead me to the unfamiliar world, I paused. Calmly surrounded by fireflies, Saria bade her farewell. She handed me her fairy ocarina. Not ready to leave my friend behind, I stared at the ocarina as it rested in my hand.

I turned quickly enough to be cloaked in blinking lights.

As if caught in a strange interlude, I soon found myself in a spacious, undulating field with the sun moving hastily above. Time, it appeared, wasn't on my side. The dirt path ran beneath my feet as the free air flapped by my clothes. As I passed a high-walled ranch on top of a hill, a giant river and a drawbridge came into view. But then I heard a wolf howling in the distance, and the drawbridge began to rise. Suddenly, skeletons emerged from the ground, drawn to the gleaming moon. I tried to fend them off but I was soon overwhelmed, so I dove into the river. The Stalchilds, thwarted by the water, burrowed back into the earth. I floated on the stream until dawn, never to take time for granted again.

Trotting atop the cobblestone road, I heard the verve of the town in a medley of hustle and bustle. Throngs of townsfolk bombarded the street venders, item stores, and game booths, but I could still feel their stares and the corners of their eyes. I guess I was special after all. Fortunately, I found solitude at The Temple of Time, a place forgotten by its people. Only one other place matched its stone-walled tranquility.

Sneaking past the castle guards patrolling the entrance, the gate, the moat, and the gardens, I fell upon a secluded, circular patch. A princess was staring beyond the window. Hearing my footsteps, Zelda turned to find me bemused, the boy she saw in her dreams. She smiled and clasped her hands together, inviting me to take a look. There, beyond the glass, was Ganondorf kneeling before the king with a grin. The legendary Triforce, which is said to grant its owner any one wish, was all that gleamed in his eye. Only one who could gather the three sacred jewels from the corners of the land and retrieve the Triforce before it fell into his hands could stop him from blanketing the world in darkness. Grasping the Kokiri Emerald in the palm of my hand, I accepted the mission as if it was destiny. I entered the world with a new purpose, and with that, the interlude was over.

Yet even now, I still am not free.

Even after seven years. A staccato affair with freedom. Three jewels. Six sages. The Master Sword upon my back. Preludes that trickle like the waterfalls of fairy fountains. Nocturnes that bare my scars and the souls of the innocent dead. Of the dwarfish, earth-skinned Gorons. Of the aquatic, blue-finned Zoras. From the boleros of dragon mountaintops to the serenades of crystal lakes. The hooves of my horse galloping through the field. The pitch of arrows and hookshots sailing through the wind. The echoing cadence of magical spells. Roaring werewolves. Grunting knights. Moaning zombies and laughing phantoms. From the requiems of the dead to the minuets of the lost. And even songs that rule nature and time.

My journey, though wondrous, ageless, and revered, is yet to be finished.

The blanket of darkness still covers the world. Zelda is still shrouded behind Ganondorf, behind his stallion and his sneer. Behind thunder and lightning. Behind the fear of the town. Behind Saria and the fireflies. Behind The Giant Deku Tree. Behind my courage before the path.

The answer is close. The Master Sword speaks.

I understand now. I feared that this would end. I cannot fool freedom. I must save her to save myself. And if I must, if I befall to repeat every sword slash, block push, switch pull, and rupee hunt, I would do it all over again. I am The Hero of Time. My name will not leave my sword. The notes will not leave my fingers. My voice will become the player that beckons to be heard. My freedom will be the world composing when the last breath leaves your hand.

Rating: 10/10

draqq_zyxx's avatar
Community review by draqq_zyxx (August 27, 2006)

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