The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

1998, Nintendo


In 1998, Nintendo released its first three-dimensional entry in the Legend of Zelda series: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 console. This groundbreaking title was met with near-universal acclaim, receiving perfect scores from the noted reviewers of the era, including Famitsu, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and IGN. Series newcomers and longtime fans alike praised its memorable soundtrack, unique characters, expansive dungeons, and detailed cinematics. More than twenty years later, Ocarina of Time retains its status as an undisputed masterpiece and is frequently cited as one of the greatest games of all time. 

Ocarina of Time’s narrative rises to the same exemplary standards set by the other elements of the game’s design. It takes the basic framework of the three-act structure and weaves the story threads between balanced periods of gameplay, creating seamless transitions between player actions and cinematics. All of the major plot points shift the narrative in new directions, especially the time-shifting Midpoint. The characters, while not particularly deep, have clear and accessible desires. The dual themes of the importance of friendship and unintended consequences are reinforced throughout the narrative, using the game’s broad cast and its motifs of music and time. These narrative elements combine to create a story that leaves a lasting impression in spite of its simplicity.