You’d be hard-pressed to find a single Legend of Zelda player who doesn’t wish they had their own Pedestal of Time to whisk them back to the good ol’ days. Back when blocky characters were the norm, when an open-world setting was a new concept, and when Hyrulian adventures were in their absolute prime — the good old days.
Ocarina of Time was an entry in the Legend of Zelda series that is considered to be not only one of the best entries in the series, but one of the best video games of all time. Chalk it up to nostalgia if it helps, but this game was — ahem — a game-changer (not unlike it’s most recent entry in the series).
That said, even if you’ve already spent countless hours exploring the many secrets within Link’s epic world of fairies, Gorons, and Zoras, there’s a solid chance you might have missed some behind-the-scenes secrets that have been hidden under the radar (and almost certainly far from your concern back when you were too busy fighting off Stalchildren to care). Keep reading to check out 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Ocarina Of Time.
15. Young Link Was Almost Never A Character
One of the most significant draws to Ocarina of Time (aside from simply being a Legend of Zelda game) is that the player can play as both Young Link and Adult Link. Is the dark future setting getting you down? Simply stick your Master Sword into the Pedestal of Time and wander around a much sunnier Hyrule Castle courtyard.
The thing is though, this concept didn’t always exist. In the earlier days of production, it was going to be either one or the other. The game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, insisted that this is one element that the game would benefit from, but the game’s developers had different opinions. Not because they were ageist or cared about putting a child into harm’s way, but because it could turn out to be a technical nightmare.
14. A Whole New Perspective
One aspect of Ocarina of Time that stands out (as well as in all of the subsequent games that followed in the series) is the scenery. Adventuring through Hyrule is as majestic as it is perilous, and having an audience’s third-person view makes it all the more cinematic. But as it turns out, that wasn’t always going to be the case. At one point in time during the game’s development, the perspective was originally going to be first-person, placing the player front and center in the action, as opposed to the bird’s eye view it ultimately decided on.
A first-person view might have added to the coalescence of character and player, but with Link being such an iconic character, players would have been robbed of what makes modern Zelda games so fun to play. The Hylian Shield, the green (and sometimes blue, and sometimes red) tunic, the ability to watch Link ride Epona… this viewpoint of this game is perfect exactly as it is.
13. The Seaside Laboratory Shark
The world of Zelda is brimming with fantastical creatures. Wherever you roam as Link, you’re bound to happen upon some imaginatively designed beings along your way. However, if you take the time to go out of your way (and slip into a pair of Iron Boots), you just might find yourself face-to-face with a creature all the more terrifying on account of being actually real.
First, you’ll need to collect all of the Gold Skulltulas. Next, head on over to the Lakeside Laboratory and navigate yourself to the diving pool. Utilize the Golden Scale, slip into those boots, and make your way to the bottom. Once there, Link will discover one of the less-fantastical creatures coasting around the pool’s floor. Though not swimming in a tornado, as most modern sharks tend to do, it’s still a shark all the same.
12. Link Almost Was Able To Jump – Almost
For all of the abilities that Link is capable of pulling off in Ocarina of Time, there is one feature noticeably missing from his physical skillset: he can’t jump.
He can swim, tuck and roll, swing a sword, and yell. But the kid can’t jump. And for a specific reason, mind you. It just didn’t fall in line with the elements that the game’s creators were trying to bring to the character. Jumping added too much of an action component to gameplay, one which didn’t jive especially well with the the puzzle-solving/strategy elements.
Eventually, the ability was scrapped. But there was a point in time where jumping was considered. And whether or not it would have been a positive inclusion or not will be remain an unsolvable mystery (unless a remastered re-release ever plans on shaking things up).
11. Fixing Broken Signs
The focal point of Ocarina of Time is unsurprisingly Link’s ocarina. With it, he can possess special abilities otherwise impossible to pull off, and furthering the plot of the story is reliant on learning new songs. It’s simple, it’s magical, and at times, it’s incredibly helpful.
Take for instance any moment Link might accidentally break a sign. As the player, you’re swinging your sword around willy-nilly, and boom! you’ve gone and broken a sign. If you were already lost to begin with; you’ve now especially screwed the pooch.
Thankfully, though, you have your handy ocarina. And while there may not be a song designed specifically for sign repair, players can reverse the damage inflicted upon an innocent sign by simply playing the game’s most iconic song: “Zelda’s Lullaby.”
10. Drinkable Poes Russian Roulette
Poes aren’t the most charming creatures in Hyrule, but that isn’t stopping them from popping up and causing havoc at their disposal. They’re described as “concentrated hatred,” and when they show up, it’s especially hard not to concentrate on their hate. Being nasty is what they do best.
Still, when luck is on Link’s side, he can use them to his advantage. Fight one off and collect it in a bottle (just make sure you’ve got one on hand), and then make the decision to drink or not to drink. If you down one, one of two things will happen: it’ll either deplete Link’s health (in some cases, to nothing but a single heart) or it’ll give one of his hearts a boost.
9. “Epona’s Song” = Free Milk
There is one true enemy in nearly all video games: the health bar. Even when you’re fully-stocked on whatever component specific to whatever game you’re playing is required to rejuvenate your character, the health bar is like a bladed pendulum. Slowly, but surely, it dwindles. And slowly, but surely, it’ll be your undoing.
So, when there are game secrets that have the power to “beat the system,” so to speak, it’s best you jump on them ASAP and never look back. In Ocarina of Time, cow’s milk can do wonders for Link’s health bar. The only problem is that the quantity is limited.
Thankfully, assuming you know “Epona’s Song,” (which, don’t worry, you will), Link can fill up on an unlimited supply of cow’s milk — for however many bottles you happen to be in possession of, at least.
8. Navi Originally Had Romantic Feelings For Link
Gamers are very much split on Link’s fairy sidekick, Navi. To some, she’s an endearing personal assistant with wings, but to others… she’s a pestering gnat. Nevertheless, she’s a significant character in the story — and if the game’s creators went with their original direction, Navi would have added “hapless lover” to her list of character traits.
That’s right. Despite being nothing more than a ball of light with wings, Navi’s original depiction had her crushing on Link. This certainly would have added more layers to the character, but it would also brought their relationship into a territory that didn’t seem entirely necessary. Did anyone really want Navi to be more annoying than she already was?
7. Free Hylian Shield!
Even in video games, money can get you a lot. However, even in video games, money isn’t especially easy to come by. Not in immense supplies, at least. So, for example, when Link starts to fill up on rupees, it’s best to spend that money wisely, seeing as you’ll never know when you might be in a bind later on in the game.
However, if you’re really thirsting for a Hylian Shield, but you’re not too keen on shelling out the 80 rupees that one of them costs, then you may want to consider exploring a brief career in grave-robbing — because that’s the only other way you’re bound to get one.
6. Lon Lon Ranch Was Almost Permanently Destroyed
Of the many locations scattered throughout Ocarina of Time’s map, Lon Lon Ranch is one of the more low-key destinations. That said, it’s still a classic. And not to mention that it’s one that makes for some solid R&R whenever Link’s adventuring can become a bit too stressful. It’s a classic ranch that proves to stand the tests of time (what with time playing such a significant role in the series), so it’s revisiting value speaks for itself.
As it turns out, though, Lon Lon Ranch didn’t always have the chance to stand the test of time, seeing as Miyamoto originally wanted to turn the place into a pile of ashes.
Early on in creating the game, Miyamoto had a vision (albeit a dark and fiery vision) of having the ranch burn to the ground. However, once he realized that it served no positive purpose for Adult Link, denying players the chance to visit and ride around at their leisure, he changed his mind.
5. Catching A Rare Fish Results In A Rare Reward
Fishing may be a fun pastime in real life, but in video games, it can feel like a chore. That is, unless you’re fishing in a Zelda game.
The fishing mechanics in Ocarina of Time may not be perfect, but they’re sure as hell satisfying. Hell, even when Link only manages to reel in a guppy. However, if you ever devoted enough time (and obsession) to the pond in Hyrule, then you might have happened upon a rare breed of fish that hardly makes the pastime a simple feat. Assuming you have the patience, that is…
4. It Wouldn’t Have Existed Without The Worst Game In The Series
The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is an outlier in the series, but maybe not for the best reasons. It’s a considerably clunkier take on the Hylian adventurer, with gameplay sidestepping the mechanics of the first entry (and ultimately ignored by its successors) and feeling like an all-around slip-up in the series.
As it turns out, though, Ocarina of Time may have never been the success it ultimately became without this polarizing sequel. During development, The Adventure of Link served as solid portion of inspiration, encouraging developers to experiment with significantly upgraded takes on the sequel’s fighting style, which initially laid the groundwork for what Ocarina of Time was designed to accomplish.
3. Link Almost Wasn’t Able To Ride Epona
Time-travel. Puzzle-solving. Monster-fighting. Ocarina of Time couldn’t run short on likable features if it tried, which is precisely why it’s such a beloved video game in the first place. That said, these are hardly the best aspects of the game. They rank pretty high, but the number one spot is saved for something else.
It’s saved for horse-riding.
Simple though it may seem, the ability to ride Epona (Link’s horse) adds a special layer of splendor to the Ocarina’s gameplay, allowing players to not only explore the environment, but to explore the environment that one might imagine an actual adventurer would — on horseback. It’s freeing, incredibly fun, and even sort of magical, especially back during Nintendo’s N64 era. So, it’s especially odd that the feature almost didn’t exist.
As Miyamoto explains, according to IGN, “Making a broad landform that you could ride a horse across weighed down the processing, so we took it out for a while.” But he was thankfully able to change his mind and convince his team otherwise.
2. The Game Almost Only Took Place In Ganon’s Castle
A solid chunk of what makes Ocarina of Time such a beloved game is how vast it feels. The swordplay is fun and a shoulder-floating fairy was a nice touch, but it’s the landscape that takes the cake in the end.
So, the question stands: would the game have been as well-received had the map been not quite as vast as it was? Because in the earlier stages of development, that was the plan…
Imagine, if you will, Link trapped inside Ganondorf’s Castle. Now, imagine him inside the castle for the entire game. Before any decision was made on making Ocarina an open-world game, Miyamoto considered creating an entire world within the castle’s walls. It’d have been vast, sure, but confined all the same.
1. Twin Peaks Was A Major Inspiration
We’re in a sort of Twin Peaks renaissance of sorts with the show returning for its third season on Showtime, but it’s not the first of its kind. Not really. When Miyamoto was creating Ocarina of Time, he was also invested in another piece of fiction — albeit one in which he had no hand in creating. He was watching Twin Peaks. And as it just so happens, Miyamoto was so fascinated in the way that David Lynch crafted his characters that he used the approach as inspiration for his own characters. Despite it being a game targeted at children.
The characters are strange (almost unsettling at times), but such is the world of Zelda. Miyamoto discovered a creative way to elevate a simple hero’s journey into something that would make David Lynch proud, while still appealing to the masses.
Are there any tidbits about Ocarina of Time that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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