The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the best video games ever made, and it originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. It was the first 3D adventure in the Zelda franchise, a series that made a name for itself during the NES and SNES era of Nintendo gaming. Taking place in the wonderful and varied land of Hyrule, the story follows a young boy named Link who lives in the forest. When a fairy informs him of an upcoming evil, he sets out on an epic adventure.
In many ways, Ocarina of Time set the standard for 3D adventure games coming into the new century. It was the first time that many gamers experienced a wide open and explorable world; one that felt rich with atmosphere and character. Link's quest to save Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganondorf is nothing short of an epic masterpiece, and it still stands the test of time. Nearly 20 years since its release, Ocarina of Time is still just as fun to play. All told, it's possibly one of the best examples of a “perfect” or “flawless” video game.
The main quest of Ocarina of Time is spread across two time periods; one where Link is a young boy, and another that takes place seven years later. After you complete the initial three dungeons of the game (based around the elements of earth, fire, and water), you are free to travel back and forth through time. The world is different depending on which Link you are playing as. Young Link enjoys a spotless and vibrant countryside, ripe with incredibly interesting environments and areas. Adult Link has to deal with a Hyrule in ruin, as the land suffers from the evil scourge of Ganondorf and his minions. The time travel element is an interesting dynamic, and while it's not forced onto the player too much, it's smartly woven into a handful of puzzles.
Generally speaking, Ocarina of Time constantly provides a great feeling of motivation and progress. You'll have to clear a number of themed dungeons, and each one feels entirely unique. The dungeons are full of enemies to fight, puzzles to figure out, and exciting bosses. As you progress through the game, you'll unlock new gear and weapons that boost Link's power. These new items (like the hookshot and bow) also allow you to revisit old areas, discovering new secrets and additional paths. In almost every way, Ocarina of Time is a satisfying and varied adventure. From the depths of the Shadow Temple to the heights of the Fire Temple within a volcano, each new step of Link's journey is full of life and intrigue.
Exploring the world of Hyrule is fascinating and exciting, thanks to a slew of memorable characters and side quests. You can learn new songs on your trusty ocarina, meet and tame the epic horse Epona, and purchase items at a number of shops and homes. You always feel like you're encountering something new, and every aspect feels fleshed out and polished.
Ultimately, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as the best game ever made for a reason. Whether or not you think it's the highest point in gaming history, it's hard to deny how fun and exciting the game is. It's full of life, charm, and personality. The environments are wonderful and varied, and tie in well with the various themed dungeons. Your quest to save Princess Zelda is a lengthy one, but it's a non-stop rollercoaster of quality. Few games hold up as well as Ocarina of Time does, and that's a testament to the quality of the game design. Simply put, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is well worth playing... no matter how many times you've beaten it before.
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It's been a long wait, but Zelda 64--now known as "The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time" in Japan--is finally on the way. Unfortunately for U.S. gamers, it won't be hitting store shelves as soon as we had hoped. The Japanese release has been pushed back until the last week of April, meaning a stateside release isn't likely until June or July at the earliest. The good news, however, is that we finally had a chance to spend some time with the game, and we came away more than impressed. In fact, impressed is quite an understatement. Zelda 64 is by far the bestlooking Nintendo 64 game yet, and based on what we've seen and played, it's safe to say that it may very well end up being Shigeru Miyamoto's greatest creation ever.
The Story So Far...
Much of Zelda 64's story is still being kept under wraps. Apparently, the game takes place BEFORE the Super NES game, A Link to the Past, making it the earliest game in the Zelda timeline. As a young member of the Kokiri family, Link sets out to receive his guardian fairy at his clan's customary coming-of-age ceremony, when he stumbles across an injured fairy a dark message: Don't let the man named Gannondorf gain control of the Triforce.
As the story goes, Ganon is still an ordinary man and hasn't yet become the evil SOB that you've come to know and hate in past Zelda games. The goal is to prevent him from getting ahold of the Triforce and turning into that monster, and to successfully achieve that goal, Link will have to travel through time--a first for the Zelda series.
The game's short-but-sweet intro sequence (which most likely wasn't finished yet at the show) begins with a young Link approaching Hyrule Castle at night in the pouring rain (remind you of a previous Zelda game?). Suddenly he hears a noise and runs off to the side of the castle drawbridge to hide. As the castle gates swing open, a beautiful white horse--ridden by a Hyrulian guard and the young Princess Zelda--comes galloping out of the castle at full speed, as if being chased by someone. After they take off, Link walks out to the center of the drawbridge to see what happened, only to come face to face with Zelda's pursuer, also on horseback. As you can imagine, the pursuer is none other than Ganon (err, at this point his name is Gannondorf, a mere young thief), and as you can also imagine--he looks awesome. As Link and Ganon glance upon each other for the first time, the camera heads off into the stars, setting the mood for the long adventure that's about to take place.
The version displayed on the Space World show floor was about 70 percent complete, but it was set up so that you could only try certain portions of the game through special "Tours" that were selectable on the Main Menu Screen. The three Tours, the Hyrule Tour, the Dungeon Tour and the Battle Tour, each showcased different areas of the game and let anxious showgoers get a good taste of the variety of different play styles in the game without having to play through the entire game to see them. Before we get into the Tours, though, let's take a look at Zelda 64's control setup.
Zelda's control setup has obviously been very well thought out. Moving Link around is a cinch, thanks to the N64 Controller's Analog Control Stick. Movement is similar to Mario 64, and while Link may not be able to perform Mario's infamous "Butt Stomp," his arsenal of moves and abilities far surpasses anything the stout plumber could even dream of.
Pressing Start will bring you to a subscreen that is broken up into four separate areas, each with different info. There's a Map Screen (to show the Field or Dungeon Maps), an Item Screen (where you can select your items, as well as view which Medals you've collected so far), an Equip Screen (where you can equip Link in four different areas--Sword, Shield, Clothes and Boots) and finally a Magic Screen that displays the magic spells you've collected so far.
Back at the top of the Main Screen, there are icons for each of the main buttons--B, A and the bottom three C buttons. The Top C button is used for camera control. Indoors, it changes to an overhead view that lets you see things from above, while outdoors it switches you to a first-person view so you can look up, down and all around Link. The Left C, Bottom C and Right C buttons are each used for items or weapons (like Bombs, a Boomerang, your Bow & Arrow, etc.). The A button is used for Link's sword (which can be upgraded at least twice during play). To unsheathe your sword, you press A once. To use it, you'd press A again. To put it back, you press B. Of course, there are various moves you can pull off with your sword, like charging it up, doing the old Whirling Blade technique and more. You can even put away your Shield for a more powerful (though harder to handle) Sword later in the game that requires two hands to wield. Speaking of Link's Shield, the R button is used to control it, while the L button is used for Options (such as bringing up the transparent map in dungeons, etc.).
Next up is the multifaceted B button, whose usage depends on the situation you're in. Above the icon on top of the screen is some text that changes as B's function changes. For example, if you approach someone, B will be used to "Talk" to that person. If you walk up to a treasure chest, B will change to "Open." If you're just walking around and want to search the area, B will let you "Check" your surroundings. There are several uses in all, and the ease of use makes it much easier to become immersed in the game without having to worry about which button does what. You'll be able to jump with the B button as well (usually when holding down the Z button to maintain a specific camera angle), but there will be several cases where the game will auto-jump small pits and the like for you, so you can concentrate on more important matters.
Finally there's the all-important (and completely innovative) Z Trigger button. The Z Trigger is used to "lock-on" to objects and enemies (and basically anything in the game you can interact with), so that Link can approach it and check it out without you losing sight of his surroundings. For example, in battle with the 3-D viewpoint, it would be very tough to maintain a clear view of the action if you've got Link jumping and ducking, slashing and dodging, etc. without any camera control. So, to fix this problem, you simply hold down Z to lock on to your enemy so you can always see where it is, while still maintaining full control over Link. It's an amazingly simple idea that works surprisingly well. Battles are now a treat to participate in AND to watch, and you'll have no problem becoming completely immersed in Zelda'r 3-D world because of this ingenious little addition to the control setup.
Back To The Hyrule Tour
The first of the three Tours on the demo was the Hyrule Tour. The Hyrule Tour gave you four locations to start from, including Link's House, the Hyrule overworld, a River area and outside the castle-riding Link's horse. The different scenarios took place at different times of the day too, showcasing the game's progressive time feature.
When you first exit Link's house, you'll probably be blown away by the beautiful world that unfolds before your eyes. Local villagers will explain the game's basics to you, while your guardian fairy, Navie, will lead you toward any important objects or locations (like the signpost near Link's house, for example).
The overworld and river areas (yes, Link can swim, too) are merely other places of Hyrule to explore. There are huge mountains, narrow valleys, dark caves-you name it, it's there. In the demo, you could explore the town (the game is only going to have one main town, similar to Zelda: A Link to the Past), which has several different interesting viewpoints, depending on what area of the town you're in.
Then of course there's the horse scene. There wasn't too much to do in the demo, but you could mount Link's horse and ride around the Reids near the Castle, jumping over small fences and hills and trotting around to get used to the control.
The Dungeon Tour
The Dungeon Tour allowed you to start at one of three dungeon scenarios, each of which was a little bit different from the other. Like previous Zelda games, there are traps and puzzles in the dungeons, and there's a slick map system which resides at the bottom corner of the screen that can be toggled on and off. There are huge pits and obstacles, Treasure Chests and keys and, of course, as you'll read about next--Bosses.
The Battle Tour
Ahh, the Battle Tour. Certainly the most impressive aspect of the Space World demo by far, the Battle Tour let you try your hand at three different Boss battles--against Ghoma,
Dodongo and Stalfos. The Stalfos battle is fairly simple--you fight against two huge Stalfos Knights in a big room, simply hacking and slashing until all that's left is you and two piles of bones. The Ghoma and Dodongo battles, however, are truly a sight to behold. Without spoiling too much, let's just say the cinematics before, during and after the battles are incredible, and the actual creatures themselves look amazing. Clearly battling in Zelda 64 is going to be quite a treat--both in terms of gameplay and visual splendor.
The Missing Links
--As you can probably tell from some of the screen shots here, you'll play as both a young Link and an older Link. This ties in to the central plot of the story, with the Ocarina of Time. The Ocarina will allow Link to travel through time, but the exact details of how, why and when are still a bit cloudy. We do know that a place called the Tower of Time plays a big part in all of this, and we also know that the two different Links (young and old) can wield different weapons, some exclusive to their respective forms. --The Rumble Pak will be utilized in some form, although exactly how and how much is still up in the air. --Yes, the Triforce is back, and it's the ultimate item. How will it tie in to this already awesome plot? We'll just have to wait until this summer to find out...
- MANUFACTURER - Nintendo Co., Ltd.
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
There's been more hype surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina ofTime than Christmas itself. It's certainly become the Starr Report of N64 owners--everyone's looking forward to it, and it holds plenty of surprises. Now that Zelda's here and renewable, let's look at it from a purists standpoint.
The Ink on Link
First of all, there's the classic Zelda conundrum: It's hard to classify this game. Is it an RPG? Is it an action game? Is it a strategy game? Or is it something more complex? Perhaps it's an action/strategy hybrid with RPG elements? Banjo! Err, we mean...bingo!
Of course, Zelda is all these and much more, proving that its depth relies not on overly dramatic, highly intense story lines, powerful weaponry, spells, and dazzling cinematics (like its PlayStation cousins Wild Arms or Final Fantasy), but rather on solid storytelling and challenging puzzlesolving mechanics. Ocarina of Time is not so much Final Fantasy for kids as it is Super Mario with a sword.
Comparisons to Mario and Marios predecessor, Banjo-Kazooie, are appropriate. Mario featured great puzzles, limited action, and simple but large graphics. Banjo featured head-scratching puzzle-solving, intense action, and detailed graphics. Zelda's easy-to-solve puzzles, great graphics, and intense "exploraction" (meaning "exploration and action") component put it somewhere in the middle. But Zelda never gets as intricate as Banjo or as mind-numbingly long as Super Mario 64. This game's perfect for newbies and nostalgic knights of Zelda who are playing to satisfy a ten-year-old need to know how it's hanging in Hyrule.
This also categorizes the kind of people who will like Zelda and those who won't Those on the "won't" side include gamers who become easily bored with dungeon-dwelling as well as their extreme opposites: Those who think that dungeon-dwelling should be so realistic that you can smell the dirt. Everyone in between will love this game--and that's a lot of gamers.
The Link to Link
The Zelda hardcore will be jazzed to know that this game is a prequel to the series. Link starts out as a child, hacking and slashing his way to the Hyrule Royal Family in some minor skirmishes with simple enemies. The first third of the game (see our walk-through,"Long Live the Link!" following this review) includes Link as a kid, his trip through his birth-forest, and the odd assortment of characters and places he encounters along the way. There are three main dungeons to contend with, each progressively harder and more complex. In this first trimester of his life, Link gradually learns skills and powers that he'll use later on.
Link's awakening happens when he transforms into a young teen. At this point (with the help of some timetraveling sub-stories) Link gains different abilities, like carrying stronger weapons and shields, fighting much tougher enemies, and exploring deeper, darker, danker dungeons. By the time Link grows into manhood for the last third of the game, were talking serious bosses, ass-kicking enemies, and dungeons so complex they make the labyrinths of Hell look like high school (which it probably was for a lot of us).
So. like Link,The Legend of Zelda grows up on the N64, but you can certainly still see aspects of the Zelda lineage. Fans of the series will be comforted on their journey by lots of familiar items ; and enemies, like the trusty boomerang, the sword, and the shield, as well as the Dodongos, the Octoroks, and other Ganon-commanded baddies. Even evil Ganon himself (called Ganondorf in this prequel) gets a makeover, trading in the pigsuit for armor and a haircut And while most of the action involves wielding sword and shield and solving lots of little puzzles with skills like torchlighting and bomb-placing you'll also seek out warps, shortcuts, magic, and Zelda-style adventure.
The Legend of Zelda is bigger. better looking, and more challenging than ever. Ocarina keeps the legend alive.
Basic Training: * Always look for vines, rocks, or other objects you can climb. Check out any suspicious-looking wall. * Jumping is automatic. Don't push buttons when jumping or you may end up going into a roll. * Targeting is useful, showing where enemies are lurking and setting you up for the Power Slash (press the analog joystick toward the enemy and press Button A). * Bombs can do lots of damage and have a great way of destroying odd-looking walls. When in doubt, bomb it!
Some effects are spectacular, and the character graphics are above average. Visually, Legend of Zelda shines even though there's little else in this game that hasn't appeared somewhere on some N64 game before.
Putting so many different weapons on only three buttons means lots of switching between the menus, and targeting flying enemies is harder than Ganon's heart. But novices will learn quicldy, and old-school Linksters will adapt to the controls easily.
Nintendo has finally dispelled the myth that the N64 is incapable of producing high-quality sound. Good thematic music throughout and audio surprises during gameplay make Zelda superior sonic fare. Best of all, the game features all the great original Zelda sound effects.
This is Zelda supreme. It's fun. One hitch, however, is that the skill level gets progressively harder--so hard that casual gamers might give up rather quickly. Another glitch is game depth, which doesn't match other stellar N64 titles like Banjo-Kazooie.
A return to Hyrule looks well worth the effort in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
The Legend Continues
N64 gamers are rightfully hungering for some role-playing action, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time appears ready to deliver. Even in its preview form, Zelda looks like it's going to be an epic tour de force. Be prepared to make a commitment. This game is huge, threatening to bust the 256-meg cart at the seams. As Link, you'll travel through the land of Hyrule at Princess Zelda's behest, attempting to solve the mystery of the Triforce before the evil Canondorf can subvert its power.
Even in this preview version, the graphics create an impressive-looking world with a dizzying variety of terrain and environments. You'll traverse vast plains, wade through underground rivers, climb steep mountain passes, explore dense forests, and much more.
Zelda's character pics kick, too. The bosses and sub-bosses are massive and very weird-looking. You run into scores of imaginatively designed races of creatures, like spiders with human faces. Yes, you'll probably get lost, but you're likely to enjoy every moment of it.
Zelda fires up a mighty mix of gameplay, too. You'll be able to rotate the game cam 360 degrees and play Link from any angle as you fight weird monsters and tackle intricate puzzles. A cool combat-targeting system lets you lock on to an enemy and launch precise attacks even as you circle 360-degrees around it.
In the version we played, a user-friendly inventory system handled the many weapons, items, magic objects, and treasures with ease. Beyond the usual sword swinging and shield hefting, you'll fire a slingshot with a slick sniper targeting view a la GoldenEye, which you can use to trip switches and to fight foes. You also have to play an ocarina; the tunes you blow will unveil secrets and help you communicate with certain characters. You even learn how to ride a horse. Zelda's deep, engaging fantasy action could hold you spellbound for weeks.
I can't say I'm surprised in the least at how incredible Zelda: Ocarina of Time turned out to be. I've always had extremely high expectations for the Zelda games, and I've never been let down once. Why should things be any different this time? Once again Shigeru Miyamoto and the wizards at Nintendo have delivered a truly epic gaming experience that no one should be allowed to miss. The game's creators have managed to take everything that was great about the 2D Zelda games--the exploration, the puzzles, the dungeons, the loads of hidden secrets, etc.--and translate it all into 3D flawlessly. The game's beautifully detailed world is so vast and immersive that you'll find yourself constantly losing track of the real world. The controls are excellent, too. The auto-jump feature helps add to the immersiveness (it's far better than I expected it to be), and Z-Targeting makes combat a snap. You'll have no problems with the game's length, either. It'll take an average gamer about 40 hours to beat, and trust me--there'll always be something to do, even after you've finished the game. I do have a couple of minor fanboy-ish gripes, but I'll get into them some other time when I have more space. Oh, one last thing--this game has the coolest final battle/ending sequence of any game ever.
This game packs amazing visuals, beautiful music, a superbly crafted story and rock-solid gameplay, but what amazes me most about Zelda is just how satisfied I felt after beating it. I mean, it delivers on so many levels. Aside from the epic quest, you get so many little side jobs and puzzles that you'll never get bored. And the dungeons are masterpieces of level design. Heck, even watching the sun rise over Hyrule fills me with awe.
This is a legendary game. Everything Zelda offers--the engaging story, the vast areas to explore, the beautiful music--you wouldn't believe could fit on a cart. There's not one gamer to whom I wouldn't recommend Ocarina of Time. While it isn't perfect (controls take a little getting used to, graphics aren't up to Banjo's standards), Zelda has worlds of gameplay going for it. This is one of gaming's best. Do not...I repeat...DO NOT miss it.
Graphics: wonderful. Sound: glorious. Controls: perfect. Atmosphere: incredible. Is it the finest game ever made? Quite possibly. Only Miyamoto seems to be able to bring out the kid that lives deep down inside everyone, allowing you to enjoy his games exactly as he intended. It's an incredibly enjoyable experience, impossible to play for short periods of time...you'll get sucked in so much you'll always play for hours.
If FFVII kicked off the RPG Revolution, it's surely Zelda that will run it to the end zone. With development headed up by Shigeru Miyamoto, it probably packs more gameplay innovations than the rest of the games in this feature put together.
If you've been reading recent issues of EGM, you're up to speed on much of the information that has gently trickled from Nintendo. Many of the specific details are still shrouded in secrecy. Yet we have been able to track down some new screen shots and information.
As we've said before, it's Zelda's subtleties--aside from the obvious graphical excellence of the game--that will truly set this apart from any other action RPG. The oft-reported horse scene is unique in itself, but most importantly it's the control system that will become a milestone in RPG history. The simplicity of its design, allowing action buttons to be context sensitive while also allowing a camera "lock-on" to make viewing the battles easier will no doubt be copied in other "Zelda wanna-bes" before the end of the year.
Since we last reported on the game in issue #103, we've seen that there are now weapons unique to the differently aged Links. While the older Link makes use of his sword and shield, as well as a bow and arrow, young Link has a boomerang weapon that only he can use.
We've also found that the variety of attacks Link can perform on his enemies will have differing effects on what object is revealed once the assailant is destroyed.
We have also learned that the Rumble Pak will be used to startling effect throughout the game. Rather than simply throbbing away and occasionally jolting you during fights, it will be used to convey Link's surroundings in a way similar to 1080" Snowboarding (previewed on page 30 this month). Differences in the terrain texture will be passed through to the player via subtle changes to the hummings that emanate from the Pak.
If any RPG can be described as "revolutionary" then this is it. While other games in this feature are here because of their different approaches to story, setting and combat, Zelda takes a tried, tested and familiar formula and turns it on its head. Now, if only they'd announce the official U.S. name for the game and release date (it could hit as early as October).
The latest screens of Zelda 64 (now officially known as "The Ocarina of Time" in the United States) are here, straight from E3. The playable version at the show featured many areas never seen before, as well as some new items and Bosses. Take a look at the first screens of the Hook Shot (right), as well as Phantom Ganon (below), one of the new Bosses revealed at the show. The game is due for release on Nov. 23.
To the left here are several screens of one of the areas of the game that apparently (obviously) takes place inside a giant monster of some sort. Below we see the Tree of Deku, where the game's first main objective lies. As you can see, the graphics in Z64 are just phenomenal. Without a doubt this is going to be THE game to own in 1998.
Was I right to be worried that Zelda wouldn't live up to its hype? I should have had more faith. This heady concoction of fairies, time travel and chickens is everything I expected it to be, and more. The only problem is that it's so good you'll probably finish it far quicker than you wanted to.
Playing this at ECTS was enough to convince me that Zelda is up there with Mario as one of those sensational games you only ever see on the N64. The control system, the graphics, the vast amount of incredible new ideas... People will be talking about it for years.
I've only played this twice I'll admit, once at this year's E3 show in America and once at ECTS in London a couple of months back. Both times, Miyamoto's three year opera of pointy hats was enough to convince me of one thing: Zelda is the best game on the N64.
I first played a version of the game at last year's Tokyo Space World show and even back then it looked amazing. I've not played the finished cart yet, but I'm prepared to take Wil's word for it. Can't wait.
Well, I've never had the chance to play it but who couldn't be pulled in by the hype. Never has a game been so eagerly anticipated and I'm certain that Miyamoto and his team'll deliver an absolute masterpiece.
Oh, come on. If you think that this isn't going to be the best thing since, will, Super Mario 64, then you're quite possibly mad. Having annoyed the punters at ECTS by refusing to budge from the one machine that it was playing on, I can confirm that it's... astounding.
No, stop shaking your head, it's here. It's really here. But can it possibly be The Best Came Ever? Oh, now there's a question.
Legend (and an interview from a couple of years back) would have us believe that Nintendo's star game designer and Mario's dad - Shigeru Miyamoto - always Intended Zelda to be a 3D game. Only technology had ever prevented him from realising his grand vision in hree dimensions. Not that, in the end, anybody really noticed; two great NES games and the incredible SNES and Game Boy versions of Link's adventures have more than proved Zelda's worth in the great scheme of things (although we'll draw a discrete veil over the Philips CDI attempt).
But now the crunch has come. With a whopping 256Mbit cart to play around with, and everyone bar the office sushi lady chucking in their ten yen's worth. Shigs finally has the chance to show the world just what his fevered imagination is capable of - and prove that Super Mario 64 won't be his only great technical and gaming milestone. Has he done it? Can you still hold your head high, safe in the knowledge that, despite all the delays and hype, your faith in Nintendo making the best games in the world has been thoroughly justified? The only way to find out is to turn the page, sit back and prepare to enter a world of magic, danger, fairies and plenty of chickens.
Ocarina Prelude - Important!
Okay, so how many of you have already skipped six pages ahead to see the final score? Disappointed? Feel cheated that there are none of our usual magical numbers and percentages to base that all important purchasing decision on (as if you aren't going to buy it anyway)? Fear not, there's a reason for this, and for the frst time in N64 Magazine's history it involves us splitting a review over two issues.
All the words you read and pictures you see over the following eight pages are based on one exhausting day's play with a 95% complete, English-language, version of Ocarina of Time. Courtesy of Nintendo Europe, and live from their base deep in the German countryside (it's okay, though, we were allowed to sit inside), we frantically tried to experience as much of the game as possible. And while we obviously didn't feel it was fair to write a review and give a final score based on only one day with Link and co. we also wanted to share as much of this amazing game with you as possible. Next month the whole team will be getting in on the act and we'll have had long enough in Hyrule to give you the definitive review
You also won't find any of the 'go here, get this' style playing tips that we often print in N64 Magazine reviews: we're deliberately keeping everything as much under wraps as possible Apart from the fact that even at the time of writing Miyamoto and his many minions were still busy finalising the placement of the game's many items. Zelda is very much a game of discovery And after waiting as long as we all have, the last thing we want to do is spoil anyone's fun, even before you've slotted the cartridge in for the first time.
Return To Follyfoot: You may not be able to ride Epona the horse until later in the game but Zelda's title sequence gives you a tantalising glimpse of the equestrian treats that await (would you believe they actually built a mock-up pony to help with motion capture?) See Link as he gallops majestically across the Hyrulian landscape. See Epona rear up triumphantly like something out of an old Lloyds Bank advert. Don't, however, see link knee-deep in horsey poop at the end of the day after a particularly strenuous canter.
Welcom To Kokiri Forest
Mistily atmospheric (rather than togged to save on processor power), Kokiri Forest has been home to Link for a good many years, even though he's Hylian rather than a native Kobold (it's all explained in the story, see). It's here that you start your adventures and where you're gently introduced to the controls and techniques that you'll need to play the game. You should make the most of this training' level, and talk to everyone. You won't be able to leave until you've discovered certain important items.
The single most important addition to Zelda's first N64 adventure has got to be fairies. Previously relegated to life-giving extras, they now play a significant part in the legend (and you don't even need to beep them in a bottle). If you've been following our coverage in previous issues you'll know that the most important fairy of all is Link's very own Tinkerbell - Navi. Not only does she show whether or not there's danger nearby by glowing different colours but she's a constant source of information and hints, attracting your attention with a chirpy "Hey listen!" (yep, in a real voice!). A quick tap on Top-C will then bring up whatever she's got to say.
On The Buttom
Despite an initially bewildering array of options. Link's control system is - as you would expect from Nintendo - surprisingly simple to learn. It's also the first time you begin to realise just how much thought has gone into the game. The genius that is the context- sensitive A' button makes sure that there's no fiddling about with awkward commands that you don't need all the time - if you're near someone it'll change to speak, climb a ladder and it'll give you the option to drop down, pick up a rock and pressing A' will throw it.
Welcome To The Deku Tree
As big bits of wood with faces go, the ancient Deku Tree is a pretty active lump of lumber. This old man Kokiri Forest gives you your first tasks, kick-starts the story off by relating the origin of the Triforce, and provides the first proper dungeon level of the game. Respect your elders and listen to him!
Welcome To Hyrule Castle
It's only when you're outside of Kokiri Village that the full grandeur of Link's world really hits you. You might not notice it at first but there's none of the dreaded pop-up here, at all! A clever combination of realtime and pre-rendered graphics lets you see for what seems like miles. There's Hyrule Castle looming large in the distance and Lon Ranch off to your left, but from now on you can pretty much go wherever you want.
Welcome To Lon Lon Ranch
Whether you go to Hyrule Castle first or not. eventually you'll find a trip to Lon Lon Ranch irresistible. After all, if you're hankering after some pony trekking it's the logical place to start.
Welcome To Karariko Village
Home of the Shiekahs, a tribe loyal to the Hyrulian royal family, and lots of cuccos. From here on things start to get a little more difficult for Link, especially on the Death Mountain trail that leads on from the village.
If you thought the spiders inside the Deku Tree were just a tad scary, nothing will prepare you for the rathe, distorting horror that lies within the House of Skulltula But all is not what it seems and you're soon set the first of the game's optional quests. Take them or leave them but you really won't be able to call the game complete until all those empty slots on the sub-quest screen are filled.
There are some top secrets to be had in Karakiro's graveyard and some fantastic use of weather effects as you get deeper within the sea of tombstones.
Lately in the offices of VideoGames, we've been endlessly playing Mario 64. After extended play, we can't help but think that this Mario game is now very much like Zelda. In Mario 64, our favorite plumber goes to different areas and collects stars (kind of like the tri-force) in order to access new areas. Mario walks around freely and talks to his friends and to residents of certain areas.They give him hints about star locations, or tell him a story that gives him a clue as to what must be done next. So what will Zelda be like on the N64? What kinds of special things are in the works for transforming the Land of Hyrule into a 3D expanse? The Zelda game has been in the works for four years now (most of it in planning and puzzle design) and is set to be released on the bulky drive device.There's no doubt that this game is going to look stupendous and will play to perfection (a la Moro). Original plans called for a Christmas release, but with the U.S. delay of the bulky storage device, that's up in the air. It's hard to say when the bulky device will be released, due to the shifting release date of the N64, but for all you patient Zelda fans out there, great rewards will soon be yours.