Ocarina of Time was a technical feat even Nintendo didn’t think they could pull off.
The year is 1996. Nintendo was showing off the Nintendo 64 with a fancy demo roll at a convention known as Space World. Included in this demo was The Ocarina of Time
Suddenly, to fans surprise, the very first 3D image of Link appeared on the screen. The rumor mill was swirling quickly. What was this game? Surely its The Legend of Zelda.
That was the beginnings of the now iconic game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A very basic fight scene between Link and an Armos. Wowing the entire crowd, many of whom are probably still in shock 20 years later. After this short demo, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed to the crowd what they already assumed was true. Yes, a new Legend of Zelda game was coming for the new console. Yes, it will be amazing.
In the month’s following this reveal, screenshots began to leak out. Showing some of the places in the world that Link our would-be hero would be set into. Nintendo is normally a very tight-lipped company, especially with regards to games in demand and in development. So the rumors began that Nintendo was simply trolling fans. The wait for Ocarina of Time was so long, but Nintendo didn’t let people forget it was coming. Three years later the final screenshots
would be leaked. This time, showing massive progress. This was quite late, considering it was developed simultaneously with Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time meant to be a launch title for the Japan only 64DD.
So What Took So Long?
1998, Ocarina of Time was assuredly coming and coming in fast. Nintendo’s leaks allowed players to remain engaged with the franchise, believing in their heart of hearts that it was real. Fans of the series were beginning to get a little rabid at this point. The Nintendo 64 had been out for almost two years and the games were beginning to feel old. Although new ones were coming fairly frequently with no shortage of great content. Fans wanted Zelda.
The game was no small feat on the slow powered Nintendo 64. Character models had to be redone and special techniques had to be planned and implemented just perfectly in order to make the game what it is today. Moreover, to get over memory limitations on the system, Miyamoto and his team had to use faux-3d to make things look like they were far away in the background and allow them to seem like they were crawling forward on Link’s approach. Some parts of the game were reworked entirely, such as the Medallions in the game were able to be equipped and added special extras to things like Link’s sword and his arrows.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still an absolutely stellar entry in the Zelda franchise. Often considered the very best. It’s long development time now long since forgotten, fans enjoy it for what it is. The Ocarina of Time also came out to great success on the 3DS console, many years later, however, we’re certain the development story isn’t quite as interesting.
Some of the information contained herein came from “Hyrule Historia” A fantastic book on the Zelda franchise. Additional information came from online sources including ZeldaElements.Net, and ZeldaUniverse.net.