It's Dangerous to Go Alone: The History of 'The Legend of Zelda'

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.

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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.

Email or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects. 

  • Warsaw don't include little articles about Wind Waker, Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword? Though they are not as impactful as the others I still believe them to be worth at least a short article each.
  • spookyman
    Hmm a half finished article. Sounds like CNN reporting to me.
  • knowom
    The adventure of Link was actually my favorite Zelda game was a bit like Nintendo's version of a Konami Castlevania game or a bit like Metroid with a rpg theme as opposed to sci-fi.
  • tomate2
    Long live Nintendo 64!
  • Spanky Deluxe
    It feels like half the article is missing.
  • tobalaz
    A Link to the Past was my all time favorite Zelda.
    I've played LttP through so many times as a kid I've got every boss and item location still burned into my memory!
    Good times.
    Zelda never really felt the same again after that.