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The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
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Have you ever played a game that incorporated so many themes seamlessly, that changed the way people looked at games, that was such a grand artistic experience and that sucked you in so wholly that you couldn't help but feel "This is the face of perfection."? Such games make you feel like you're part of a living, breathing world. Or at least part of some adrenaline fueled cinematic masterpiece. For some, it's Halo 2. For others, maybe Beyond Good and Evil(The Legend of Zelda's very capable half sister nobody knew about). But for thousands upon thousands of Nintendo fans, the best game of all time came when Ocarina of Time took the world by storm. And even among this generation's big name award winners, you're still not likely to find a more perfect game. Only Panzer Dragoon Saga and A Link to the Past beat it out in my book.

Ocarina of Time was Link's first foray into the 3D world and completely revolutionized the series. It did things that Super Mario 64 just couldn't do, which only used its 3D element to go off in a sideways, not necessarily better and not necessarily worse, direction. Ocarina of Time also incorporated an ingenious lock on combat system that to this day many games try to mimic, to varying degrees of success. Ocarina of Time proved that Link was a nimble little warrior. He could block, sidestep, backflip, and lunge. However it was the grand storytelling, with the right injections of fairy tale elements and mythos, that gave this game life. For once, the Legend of Zelda characters had faces, desires, and expressions. Link still was a silent character, but the fact that he had friends and nightmare filled visions made him seem that much more human. Tack onto this game's brisk narrative, a very open style of gameplay that allowed you to do almost anything in any order you wish and a sweeping, enchanting musical score, and you've got the makings of a masterpiece. Ocarina of Time also incorporated a brilliant time travel element long before Prince of Persia: Sands of Time came along, and the said Ocarina was an item of simple beauty and the key to many of the game's ingenious puzzles.  And of course the series' masterfully crafted dungeons that made The Legend of Zelda famous are here in full glory.

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When Wind Waker came along, many people unfairly trounced it even though Wind Waker did some things far better than Ocarina of Time. Wind Waker didn't have Ocarina of Time's rather abrupt opening or its somewhat stodgy "child of destiny" motif that's apparent from the start. Wind Waker had Ocarina of Time's same combat system but also injected a keen countering system and made it easier to lock onto enemies that were behind you and to switch to other enemies. Wind Waker had better graphics, better animations, and better emotions and character interactions. No other game had character relationships that were as deep and enchanting as Wind Waker, with characters such as Link's sister Aryll, the darling Medli, and a completely new spin on Zelda.

However there's a reason why Ocarina of Time remains the number one 3D Zelda. The dungeons in Ocarina of Time were by far more clever and difficult than Wind Waker's. The ocarina was a superior element to the simplistic baton of Wind Waker. And Ocarina of Time provided a much more open gameplay with many different minigames and things to do than Wind Waker, all while keeping things in an overworld that's not quite so insanely vast as Wind Waker. The puzzles, too, were far more clever than Wind Waker's. You could see the face of a puzzle and not know its significance or how to solve it until much later in the game. And Ocarina of Time's secrets were much more varied and often more character oriented than Wind Waker's treasure hunting theme. Ocarina of Time also had far more intelligent enemies and things weren't handed to you on a plate so often.

Of course. . . both Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker share the passage of day and night element, and Wind Waker had a much more dynamic weather system.

But no matter which game you choose as the best Zelda or if you hold them equal, or even if you're not a Zelda fan at all, there's just no denying what this game did for the course of gaming. Innovation, storytelling, puzzles, music, quests, combat, and treasure. All combine to make one of the most brilliant games in existence. Few, if any, RPGs, could do what this game did. While many games lose their luster, Ocarina of Time still shines. It truly is timeless.

Grade: Legendary

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