Retro STrife wrote:As I've said before, I'm with you on this Sut, despite being from the US. But don't look at the NES Zelda games as the source of the US's obsession with the series. In my opinion, Ocarina of Time was when the series fandom really boomed. My guess is that a large percentage of Zelda fans have never even played the pre-Ocarina games. And I bet very very few have played the NES Zelda games, or at best played them briefly out of curiosity.
The thing about Ocarina of Time
is that just about everyone with an N64 played it, whereas the NES and SNES installments had far less ubiquity. For one thing, the N64 had a much more limited library of games, so big names like Ocarina of Time
had scarce competition, and for another, Ocarina of Time
was a much
bigger deal in its own right than any Zelda game before it. Link was the face of the N64 in the late '90s even more than Cloud or Snake was that of the PlayStation - Ocarina of Time
preorders more than tripled previous industry records.Ocarina of Time
's overnight attraction of its monolithic following had some pretty stupid effects over the coming years. The hullabaloo over "Celda" purportedly ruining Zelda's "maturity" when The Wind Waker
was announced would have been unthinkable if the excitable fanboys involved had ever laid eyes on the equally cartoonish A Link to the Past
. This is also why Twilight Princess
got such insane hype that a critic was all but crucified for giving it a score of "only" 8.8; it was the first "serious" one since the N64. The series has since managed to find happy tonal and aesthetic compromises with Skyward Sword
and Breath of the Wild
, but if any game has been canonized as defining Zelda, it's still Ocarina of Time
Retro STrife wrote:It's hard to say how it happened, but, for whatever reason, there is something about Zelda that transcends the games themselves. In nerd culture, Zelda is like the video game equivalent of Star Wars (or Harry Potter books, or Batman comics, etc.). Good movie for sure, but no one in their right mind would say that Star Wars is objectively the best movie ever made... yet millions of people will tell you it's their favorite movie, and it's probably the most popular movie franchise in the world. But if you're not one of those crazed Star Wars fans, then you watch the movies and wonder: "Ok, that was a solid movie, but for the life of me I cannot understand how people are obsessed with this." Zelda is the same way... No one can quite put their finger on it, but something about it hypnotizes gamers into loving it, growing attached and developing a bond with it, and then thinking it's even better than it really is..while the non-spellbound among us just stand around and wonder what everyone else is drooling over.
What all of these have in common is that they're very basic, easily digested stories that are told with complete sincerity and investment. They have Good Guy underdogs fighting big bad Bad Guys and flashy action set in extravagant locations, but underneath the fluff are very relatable emotions that anyone can connect with, along with the sense that the story matters enough to deserve that connection. The emotions may be simple, but they're crucially real
enough that people don't outgrow them after childhood. On the other hand, that simplicity means that they don't offer a whole lot to grown-ups looking for something substantial, so the age when someone is introduced makes a lot of difference.Ocarina of Time
- the Zelda game relevant to the question - is a bit more complicated because, while it's a model example of this kind of storytelling, it's not a story itself but a game that has one. Does the gameplay work on the same level? I'll be honest: I have no idea how anyone could be bored by a game with as much stuff to do and discover as Ocarina of Time
, but for the sake of discussion, I'll assume that I and the other 99% of people who have played Ocarina of Time
are wrong and that it really isn't all that. Even discounting the quality of the gameplay itself, though, it is undeniably effective in corresponding to the game's intended impressions - everything about how the land of Hyrule is presented and how Link interacts with it emphasizes the scale, physicality, and diversity of a real world, from the open plains that Epona gallops across to the dungeons below and the ever-changing sky above. Link runs, jumps, and climbs not with Mario's cartoonish ease but with the effort of human (Hylian?) weight. His challenges both proceed from and are surmounted with the elements of his environment, whether in obvious cases, like bombing or hammering rocks and navigating water, or in more obliquely devised ones, like a certain use for a chicken that I refuse to spoil here. All of these elements (and many more that I don't have the time, space, or patience to list) work together to put the player into
the game's story, and that's not even taking the cutscenes into account. For a game to produce this kind of effect is always impressive, especially on the N64. To a kid, it's nothing short of magic.
In not only presenting a sincere (if not especially substantial) story but in being sincere through the presentation itself, Ocarina of Time
captures exactly the kind of escapist draw that popular media so often strive for. Its popularity, and consequently that of the series around it, is only natural.