The gold standard: "Ocarina of Time"
In 1996, Nintendo released a new home gaming console, named the Nintendo 64, for its powerful 64-bit processor. Two years later came "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," sometimes nicknamed "Zelda 64." More than 15 years later, many still think of this "Zelda" as one of the best — if not the best — video games of all time.
The first three-dimensional "Legend of Zelda" title, "Ocarina of Time" put players in the role of a young boy, again named Link, who was raised by a group of children deep in a forest. When Link leaves the forest, he meets a young girl named Zelda, who assigns him the mission of helping her to defeat Ganondorf, whom Zelda believes is planning to overthrow the kingdom. But Ganondorf tricks the children into helping him steal the Triforce, a magical object that gives him the power he needs to conquer the kingdom.
In the process, Link is knocked unconscious. When he wakes, seven years have passed, Zelda is missing and Link has grown from a 10-year-old boy to a 17-year-old teenager. Players must travel between the idyllic Hyrule of Link's youth and the bleak Hyrule of his future to free the seven sages who can give him the power to defeat Ganondorf once and for all.
"Ocarina of Time" became the gold standard for the series, as well as for three-dimensional action-adventure games in general. Every subsequent "Zelda" title, from the direct sequel "Majora's Mask" to new adventures like "The Wind Waker" and "Twilight Princess," bore the mark of this game's influence.
To play this classic video game, you can buy the original Nintendo 64 cartridge version or the re-release for the Nintendo GameCube. In 2007, the game was also re-released on the Virtual Console. In 2011, the game was remastered for the Nintendo 3DS, with updated graphics and support for the handheld console's 3D screen.