Zelda levels console market, aims at Metal Gear’s dominance

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
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Zelda 64 is the most anticipated game on the N64 platform.

For months we’ve seen it plastered in all the major gaming magazines and read about its progress at the most popular Internet Web sites. Its ratings have even earned it a segment in NewsWeek.

There have been what seemed to be hundreds of canceled release dates on this title. N64 fans have tossed and turned in their beds for over 40 days and 40 nights. We’ve stared blankly at our clocks from sunrise to sundown waiting for some sign of it’s arrival. Tick…Tock…Tick…Tock.

They tried to send us "Quest 64" to soothe our discomfort, but it was met with hordes of laughter and cruel taunts. We want Link! Not some no-named little pip-squeak with a funny hairdo and a cape! [Clenching his fist, Jevon get’s a little glassy-eyed]

And then finally one day our prayers were answered. I remember that day well. Gamers from all across the nation flooded their local retailers. Phone lines were tied up, managers were pulling out their hair and employees were doing all they could fight off the malicious crowd of slothful gamers who had carelessly NOT put their names on the reserved list!

Fortunately, with my knowledgeable insight of videogame distributors, chose the 24 hour "Super Walmart" just around the corner, the least likely store to be targeted for game distribution. I raced out to the store at 5:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, there were no "limited edition" gold copies of the game left, but they had six normal copies. I quickly nabbed one.

And so now, my fellow gamers, it gives me great pleasure to say this: Welcome home Link!

Make no mistake about it. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, developed by Nintendo of America, is a seeming flawless RPG. This gamepak comes to us loaded with a perfect balance of graphics, sound, control, gameplay and hours and hours of exploration. Players will literally be drawn into Link’s adventure as they travel across vast landscapes, uncovering hidden treasures, meeting new friends, encountering deadly enemies, discovering new skills and weapons, as well as witness Link’s ascension from childhood to adulthood.

Graphically, Zelda is absolutely breathtaking. Link sets the mood during the intro where he’s seen taking an early morning ride across the grasslands of Hyrule on his quick and nimble steed. The realistic sounds of his horse’s hooves clapping against the ground as you look out across the vast plains and watch the sun rise above the horizon is an experience that one doesn’t easily forget.

The land of Hyrule is completely free-roaming and beautifully detailed. You can venture as far as the eye can see. Visit the renowned "Lake Hylia" where you’ll spend hours diving for treasure or casting your rod off the lake’s banks trying to break the "Largest Fish Caught" record. Afterwards, travel back across the plains of Hyrule to Zora’s Domain where you and the Zoran Princess Ruto will find all types of mischievous things to get into. If you’re feeling daring, climb your way to the top of Death Mountain, where you’ll meet the Gorons, a race of rock people who appreciate good Kokori music and lots of juicy "rocks" to eat.

And if that’s not enough excitement for you, grab your horse from the Lon Lon Ranch and race down to Gerudo Valley, also called the valley of thieves. There you’ll find more trouble than you bargained for. At the end of your day, stop by Hyrule Castle and pay a visit to Princess Zelda, as you make your way back through the Lost Woods to your snug little tree-top home in the Kokori forest.

Real time day and nights add to the realism of Zelda. Watch the sunrise and set every 20 minutes as you explore the lands of Hyrule. Always keep an eye on the time, as time can be crucial to you solving a piece of a puzzle. Make sure you visit the towns during both the day and night. Lots of different things go on when the sun goes down.

Nintendo did an excellent job with the background music as they Re-mixed some of Zelda’s previous soundtracks and added some new ones of their own. Your ears will be filled with tons of melodies from the Ocarina of Time including, ‘Minuet of the Forest’, ‘Bolero of Fire’, ‘Serenade of Water’, ‘Song of Time’ and ‘Zelda’s Lullaby’. Neat sound effects and background music fall everywhere you go.

I think my most favorite place to visit is the "Temple of Time". The musical acoustics there will simply mesmerize you.

At first I was skeptical about Nintendo’s new "Z targeting system." That is, until I got ambushed by a group of skeletal knights my first time out on the plains of Hyrule. If it weren’t for the "Z targeting system" I’d be lying face down on a dirt path right now. With the new targeting system, combat is much easier as you’ll be able to dodge enemy attacks by jumping side to side or back flipping, and countering using spin swings, rolling attacks, jumping attacks or long range attacks with special weapons. This system isn’t just good for combat. It comes in handy for talking to people from a distance, making tricky jumps and getting advice from Navi, your wise personal fairy and traveling companion.

The land of Hyrule can be a very dangerous place. Fortunately, there are many weapons, items and even a little magic to help you defend yourself and get through those tough spots. Slash your enemies with the Kokori Sword, Master Sword or Giant’s Knife. Shoot them down with the fairy slingshot or bow. Stun and defeat your foes using your swift boomerang. Damage enemies and blow up walls with Bombs and Bombchus, but be careful not to get too close. Use the Megaton Hammer to thrash enemies, bust boulders, move big blocks and activate rusty switches.

In the way of items, use the Deku Sticks for torches. Deku Nuts give off bright flashes of light , temporarily stunning the enemy. Deku Seeds serve as ammuntion for the fairy’s slingshot. Acquire fire, ice and light arrows to increase the power of the fairy’s bow. Use the "Lens of Truth" to help see which walls are real and which are fake. Plant magic beans in certain locations and see what happens next. Use your "hookshot", an expandable chain, to grab onto certain objects. It’s helpful for getting to those hard-to-reach places and can also be used as an underwater weapon. Protect yourself with the Deku Shield, Hylian Shield, or Mirror Shield, which can also reflect special attacks.

You can literally get stuck for days at a time unraveling pieces of puzzles in this game. It’s important that you pay close attention to the dialogue, never carelessly walk by signs and when in doubt always listen to what Navi or Saria have to say to help make your adventure run more smoothly. You can even trust Sheik, though his or her ways leave room for question at times. Do whatever it takes to defeat Ganondorf.

Never give up. The fate of Hyrule depends on you!

There are so many things I’d like to tell you. Places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and items I’ve acquired. But alas, you must unveil for yourself all the things I have told you and allow yourself to be absorbed into the world of Hyrule. I feel I’ve actually been there.

Treasure, danger , adventure and even a little romance make this game the perfect RPG. There’s no doubt in my mind that this game is worth all five possible GIN gems. Playstation owners may have "Metal Gear Solid," but Nintendo just evened the odds with "The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time."

It’s this simple: If you don’t got it, get it! This game is go good, you will see a rush of people buying Nintendo 64 systems just to play it, much like when Mario 64 was released.

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