How Nintendo forgot Ocarina of Time's legacy in 2023

How Nintendo forgot Ocarina of Time's legacy in 2023
Images via Nintendo

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Last updated 

25th Dec 2023 18:30

When it comes to Nintendo's big three, the Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda franchises make up their own Triforce. While the portly plumber takes the crown as Nintendo's mascot and the Pokemon franchise pulls in the big bucks, Zelda does its own thing and rarely puts a foot wrong.

While it's true that Spirit Tracks and Four Swords aren't quite in the upper echelon of adventure games, the likes of Breath of the Wild, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time more than make up for this. With the latter remembered as one of the greatest video games of all time, we question why Nintendo slept on the beloved title in 2023.

Ocarina of Time was forgotten in 2023

Link and Saria Ocarina of Time
Click to enlarge

In terms of milestones, 25 years is a pretty big one. 2023 saw plenty of beloved titles from yesteryear celebrating this momentous occasion, with Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, and Fallout 2 all cutting their cake. 1998 was also a massive one for Nintendo, with Banjo-Kazooie and Ocarina of Time changing the landscape of gaming. 

More than just being Zelda's first foray into 3D gaming, Ocarina popularised the target-lock system and reinvented a series that was already 12 years old. The story continued with 2000's Majora's Mask, while we revisited Ocarina for 2011's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on the 3DS.

Considering it's been 12 years since we last dusted off Ocarina - if you ignore its addition to the Switch Online catalogue - most agree more than enough time has passed to warrant a remake. The 25th anniversary would've been the perfect time to release an Ocarina remake, so what gives?

Nintendo was a little busy this year

Dark Link Ocarin of Time
Click to enlarge

There might've been an Ocarina-shaped hole in our lives in 2023, but we weren't exactly starved of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launched in May and left us full to bursting with content. It's a shame that Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a DLC, but with so much to do, we got plenty of bang for our buck.

Not since Ocarina has Zelda seen such a resurgence, with 2017's Breath of the Wild and Tears feeling like true successors to the N64 favourite. Capcom has punctuated its mainline Resident Evil releases with record-breaking remakes, but for whatever reason, Nintendo isn't keen on Zelda remakes. Then again, you only have to look at Tears to imagine the work that went into it. 

Even if Nintendo is reluctant to saddle up Epona once again, fans are doing the work for us. The Sealed Palace is a fanmade sequel, while there's a glossy Unreal Engine 5 remake that arguably looks better than what Nintendo would ultimately deliver. You might think Nintendo is happy to let these run, but it's notoriously protective of its IP and is known for taking down such projects. 

Looking to the future, not the past

Ocarina of Time Link and Epona sunset
Click to enlarge

Nintendo has dabbled with Zelda remakes, cleverly going back to the start of the series' complex lore to release Skyward Sword HD in 2021. Zelda titles are consistently chart-topping successes, and with Skyward Sword being one of Amazon's best-selling games, you might expect Nintendo to roll out the formula to the rest of the franchise.

Even before Skyward Sword HD, there were calls for the likes of Ocarina, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess to get modern remakes. Sadly, longtime Producer Eiji Aonuma has said the team is looking to the future instead of the past. Still, there were those hopeful few who held out hope for a surprise drop to celebrate its November 21 anniversary. 

While you can only imagine the success of a new-gen Ocarina remake earning itself a place in the history books as one of the best remakes of all time, the likes of Grove Street Games' botched GTA Trilogy have us cautious. Ocarina has such an important place in our hearts, that we imagine Nintendo is equally worried a remake wouldn't do the original justice. 

As another year comes to an end and the Nintendo 64's acclaimed catalogue continues to gather dust, we feel like we're one step further away from seeing Ocarina again. Up there with GoldenEye 007, and Super Mario 64, an Ocarina of Time remake feels like a well of untapped potential. 

Sure, you might not be able to build a giant mech in Ocarina, but where else will you find yourselves racing a gravedigger, carrying a princess around a fish's belly, and being floored by the twist that Sheik is actually Zelda? If we do ever get an Ocarina remake, hopefully Nintendo can make THAT infuriating Water Temple puzzle a little easier.

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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