Do you remember the first time you fell n love with something? The first thing you felt a hopeless obsession for? A book, a movie, a video game?
And that love was born in 1998, when Nintendo released one of the most iconic video games of all time. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
My brother had gotten the N64 console not too long before for his birthday. He jumped up and down and clutched the box to his chest. He spent the rest of the day playing Mario Kart 64, as that’s what had come with the system. We had one controller at the time, but soon it grew to three, so my brother, sister and I could all go head to head.
When he got The Legend of Zelda, he was admittedly a hog. He would clock in hours and hours and I planted my butt next to him and gazed. I was about seven years old at that time, reading books about fairy tales and singing Disney songs at the top of my lungs. But this, this was so different. This was immersive, it reacted to what you commanded, it was about magic and sword fights and horses. Every so often I would ask to play, but my brother didn’t give in.
At least, not until seven years passed in The Legend of Zelda, and Link was no longer a child but a teenager. He could ride Epona, and go to the edges of the map in Hyrule. There were more side quests. My brother soon grew a bit weary of crossing the Hylian plains all day, and finally relinquished the coveted N64 controller into my tiny hands. He’d give me a direction, and I would be off, steering Epona like a pro. But once the destination was reached, the controller was passed back.
Over the course of his playing, he’d let me try out my hand at other spots, and would let me play unsupervised at the fishing spot. During these hours, not only did I bond with my older brother, but developed a deep franchise for this game. When the controller was in my hands, I had power, authority and my imagination became unhinged. Like the game makers intended, I truly was Link.
Through the years, my brother has served the purpose of providing geeky guidance. He’s subsequently bought my countless Legend of Zelda merchandise, from hoodies to Hyrule Historia and even the games since.
I fell in love with the game just by watching, and that game hatched in me a lifelong love. Some time after, he let me play all by myself on my own account. I started life everyone else in the Kokiri Forest, received my ocarina from Saria and went on to age up and power through each temple, dungeon and big boss that got in my way. And yeah, my brother helped. The echoing footsteps on the bridge when Link meets with Saria still cloud my mind. The Water Temple still frustrates me like everyone else, and yeah, maybe I never completed the Skulltula side quest, but who is not to say it won’t happen some day. I still laugh with wild abandon whenever I see the Great Fairy. No other game has come close to stirring up the love I have for OoT.
So, as I, and the rest of the world patiently await for 2017 to roll around, where the next game in the franchise will drop as the flagship title for the Nintendo NX, I have at least all my memories through the years of being Link, saving- and working with Zelda- and defeating Ganon/Ganondorf/Ghirahim/etc. time and time again.