The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan and North America in November 1998, and in PAL regions the following month. Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in The Legend of Zelda series, and the first with 3D graphics.
It was developed by Nintendo EAD, led by five directors including Eiji Aonuma and Yoshiaki Koizumi, produced by series co-creator Shigeru Miyamoto, and written by Kensuke Tanabe. Veteran Zelda series composer Koji Kondo created the musical score. The player controls Link in the fantasy land of Hyrule on a quest to stop the evil king Ganondorf, by traveling through time and navigating dungeons and an overworld. The game introduced features such as a target-lock system and context-sensitive buttons that have since become common in 3D adventure games. The player must learn to play numerous songs on an ocarina to progress.
Ocarina of Time received widespread approval from critics and consumers and won several awards and accolades. Reviewers praised its visuals, sound, gameplay, soundtrack and writing. It has been widely cited as among the greatest video games of the 90s, the best game in the series and one of the greatest video games of all time, with numerous publications ranking it as the greatest video game ever made. It was commercially successful, with more than seven million copies sold worldwide. In the United States, it received more than three times more pre-orders than any other video game at the time and was the best-selling game in the country that year. It is the highest-rated game on the review aggregator Metacritic.
A direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, was released in 2000. In the early 2000s, Ocarina of Time was re-released as part of The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition promotional disc for the GameCube and for the iQue Player in China. An enhanced version of the game for the Nintendo 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, was released in 2011. Both versions feature Master Quest, an alternative version of the game including new puzzles and increased difficulty.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a fantasy action-adventure game set in an expansive environment. The player controls series protagonist Link from a third-person perspective in a three-dimensional world. Link primarily fights with a sword and shield, but can also use other weapons such as projectiles, bombs, and magic spells. The control scheme introduced techniques such as context-sensitive actions and a targeting system called “Z-targeting”, which allows the player to have Link focus and latch onto enemies or other objects. When using this technique, the camera follows the target and Link constantly faces it. Projectile attacks are automatically directed at the target and do not require manual aiming. Context-sensitive actions allow multiple tasks to be assigned to one button, simplifying the control scheme. The on-screen display shows what will happen when the button is pushed and changes depending on what the character is doing. For example, the same button that causes Link to push a box if he is standing next to it will have him climb on the box if the analog stick is pushed toward it. Much of the game is spent in battle, but some parts require the use of stealth.
Link gains new abilities by collecting items and weapons found in dungeons or in the overworld. Not all are required—Ocarina of Time has several optional side quests and minor objectives that the player can choose to complete or ignore. Completing the side quests usually results in rewards such as new weapons or abilities. In one side quest, Link trades items he cannot use himself among non-player characters. This trading sequence features ten items and ends with Link receiving an item he can use, the two-handed Biggoron Sword, the strongest sword in the game. In another side quest, Link can acquire a horse. This allows him to travel faster, but attacking while riding is restricted to arrows.
Link is given an ocarina near the beginning of the game, which is later replaced by the Ocarina of Time. Throughout the game, Link learns twelve melodies that allow him to solve music-based puzzles and teleport to previously visited locations. The Ocarina of Time is also used to claim the Master Sword in the Temple of Time. When Link takes the sword, he is transported seven years into the future and becomes an adult. Young Link and adult Link have different abilities. For example, only adult Link can use the Fairy Bow, and only young Link can fit through certain small passages. After completing certain tasks, Link can travel freely between the two time periods by replacing and taking the sword.