29 November 2007

OOT: Overrated?

I was just reading IGN AU's second iteration of the Top 10 Virtual Console Games, and once again I was left in disagreement over Ocarina of Time's "best videogame of all time" status. In this instance, it was merely listed as "the best Wii Virtual Console Game at the moment so far", but nonetheless, the claim reared its ugly head once more.

Now, don't get me wrong, Ocarina is certainly a great videogame - and obviously this is a sentiment shared by many gamers the world over - but I can think of many games that I have enjoyed playing far more. To a large extent, IGN AU addressed OOT's routine hyperbole:

IGN AU posted:

Many gamers say that Ocarina of Time is the best game they've ever played. It routinely comes in near or at the top of 'best games of all time' lists, and is often held up as one of Nintendo's most glorious achievements. Is it deserving of the hype and the accolades, even now, when its 3D world is no longer the graphical showstopper it once was? In a word, yes.

And their justification for it? Watching a Hyrule sunrise gives you goosebumps, apparently. Per-lease. But wait, there's more:

IGN AU posted:

The quintessential Zelda tale of a boy pulled out of a humble existence to do great things has lost none of its charm or epic scale.

Anyone who's read Joseph Campbell can tell you that this is the story structure of virtually every heroic tale since tales were first told. It works, to be sure (for more information, see: Star Wars), but it doesn't really set it apart from anything else, videogame or otherwise.

They then go on to cite "Nintendo's amazing ability to pace its RPGs". But the pacing is precisely the reason why I believe OOT is not the greatest game of all time. The pacing of the game's prologue was so unbearably slow that I felt like I had to force myself to play it, just to get to the good stuff. Hell, I felt like I was dawdling through a couple of hours worth of fluff just to play the game. There *was* good stuff, and there *was* a great game beyond that fluff, but the fact that I was not drawn into the game initially is a slight against it that immediately disqualifies it from its claim to "greatest ever". Just as the first 10-12 minutes is crucial to a film, so too are the first few hours of a videogame. To think that other [less patient] gamers could have missed out on what is essentially a great game because of those first few hours is nearly unforgivable.

Another issue for me is the game's controls, but that is more a slight against the Nintendo 64's cumbersome 'trident' layout than anything else. The Z-targeting was nice at least.

This isn't at all a criticism of IGN AU or other Zelda fans - after all, it is still a great game and they are entitled to their opinion - I just feel that gaming does get better than OOT. So feel free to take this opportunity to convert me, or to suggest other claimants to the "greatest ever" title.

Let the hatemail begin! No seriously, you're welcome.