To celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, we're running a series of features looking at a specific aspect — a theme, character, mechanic, location, memory or something else entirely — from each of the mainline Zelda games. Today, Kerry admits that she didn't always stick to the proposed path when playing one of Link's most famous adventures...
Did the Hero of Time triumph against his terrible foe, granting Hyrule a period of peace and prosperity? Or does history record his defeat, this unexpected event ushering in The Imprisoning War and all the calamities that followed? Or... did the Hero of Time make a beeline for the fishing pond by Lake Hylia and hope the whole Ganondorf/time travel/world-saving business was going to sort itself out while he was preoccupied with pole-caught piscines?
That less-than-heroic third scenario's how Zelda: Ocarina of Time always ends up playing out for me. One little building stuck in the corner of what (at the time of release) felt like the largest expanse of water gaming would ever see somehow slowly transforming from a place where I went to when I wanted a quiet break from Link's epic N64 adventure into the one place I really wanted to be whenever I turned the game on – and, at the height of my obsession, even when I turned on just about any other game too.
"Yeah this is great, but it's not fishing, is it?" I'd say to myself as I navigated F-Zero X's twists and turns or gracefully cannon'd myself through the air in Pilotwings 64, indifferent towards the gaming riches that lay before me. It took me a long time before realised why I kept coming back to this "pointless" sideshow in a title bursting at the seams with more productive pursuits: in any form and on any format, gaming is always demanding more. I've got to be faster, tougher, better, than I was last time. I've got to hunt down even more of whatever semi-hidden shiny thing I already collected before. I've got to finish the game. I've got to 100% finish the game. I've got to move on and buy the sequel and do it all over again.
The fishing pond isn't like that. The fishing pond is an oasis of untouchable and unchanging calm, a chance to unwind and to interact with at least one walled-off portion of one game entirely on my own terms and at my own pace – and it all begins with a simple wooden door stuck on one wall of an unassuming square building.
Unlike Lon Lon Ranch's leap-able fencing to the grassy lands beyond, Kakariko's open-village cucco-bothering, or many other picturesque play areas in Hyrule, there is only one way in or out of this secluded fishing pond, just one NPC to interact with, and only the slightest hint of the world outside peeking through the trees that line the edge of this little area.
It's a place without external distractions, and that means it's a place that allows you to focus on every beautiful detail present: the gentle sound of running water from the little stream feeding the pond, the bend of the rod, the lily pads floating aside as you wade through them, the lure darting through the water to the movements of the analogue stick, and the slow passing of time, bright blue days melting into dusky orange evenings to moonlit nights and back again.
It's a place without external distractions, and that means it's a place that allows you to focus on every beautiful detail present
For an area with not much going on (in the traditionally game-y sense, at least) it's a highly tactile environment, a place that will always respond to whatever I want to do but never need an out-and-in-again reset no matter what I attack-roll Link at or how many hours I splash about. Nothing happens here unless I want it to, and nothing can ever wander too close and disrupt this tranquil pool – there really is nothing to do here other than try and catch some fish.
I don't even have to be any good at it; whether I'm landing every fish that dares to come within 10ft of the end of my lure or if I'm having an off day so bad I'd have better luck diving in and trying to catch them with Link's bare hands. Because here, I'm not in a competition against anyone other than myself. I can enter this area with the burning desire to spend an entire afternoon trying to catch a legendary lunker, or I can be here just to watch the screen go wibbly as I stand in the middle of the lake wearing a pair of iron boots (blue tunic on, of course) looking ridiculous as Link sticks his face underwater to try and get a good look at the fish, the pond owner no doubt wondering what the heck I'm doing and asking himself if 20 rupees for an unlimited fishing session was really the best business model he could come up with.
But how could anyone resist gawping at those fish? They're so pleasantly plump with smooth underbellies and shining scales on top, all wearing an inscrutable expression hovering somewhere between blissful ignorance and utter shock. They'll dart away when I get too close, try their best to ignore me at the deepest part of the pond, and kick (or more accurately, flipping) up the earth as they struggle against the fishing line.
They don't, officially speaking, have individual (or collective) personalities – but it's hard not to declare one my own personal nemesis when a potential prize catch feigns interest until they're practically touching Link's sodden boots... before swimming away to the other side of the pond. And then there's the enigmatic Hylian Loach, the mysterious elongated silhouette who's definitely always sometimes there, but never quite interested enough in the lure to bite... whatever happens, all is forgiven when a big fish finally comes in, sometimes so big even adult Link struggles with their size, that prize catch of the day going in the tank on the counter as proof of my own little victory; a personalised memento of a fun time that'll still be there next time I return.
There are so very many good reasons to keep coming back to Ocarina of Time; the ingenious dungeons, seeing Hyrule fleshed out in full-3D for the first time, the inventive use of time travel, Epona, playing your own melodies on the ocarina, and so much more – but for me nothing beats this tiny area that, in the grand scheme of things, goes nowhere and does nothing. I may not know how many fish I've caught or how big the biggest one of them was, but I do know whenever I open that wooden door and pay my 20 rupees I'm exactly where I want to be.
For a long time, I didn't really know you could fish in Oot, but if you like this place then gosh Twilight Princess fishing is beyond fun, I could sit there for hours.
I have no words
You don't happen to miss fishing IRL do you? =P
tbh the fishing is ok, but i always did it as a 'get it out of the way' kind of activity. the link's awakening remake took it too far imo. so boring! animal crossing has the finest fishing of any nintendo game
Remember: its not an JRPG if it doesn't have a fishing minigame
Huh... I never really got into the fishing aspect of Oot. I guess I didnt see the fun in it?
@Crockin Kind of how I treated the fishing in Zelda games to be fair. It was just one of those things that I quietly tolerated to get a heart piece or some other item. Curiously enough now that I think about it, Wind Waker never had a fishing game (unless I am mistaken). Bit strange, the game is a literal ocean, you would think you could fish.
Yes, part of the appeal of Ocarina of Time fishing is: 1) how absolutely competent it is and 2) how unimportant it is. I mean, there are secrets, hidden lures, fish tiers, tactics and strategies... But it didn't have to be that involved. It's not more or less important than fishing in, say, Hades. But in Hades it's very simple, just a short press-the-button-when-you-get-a-bite mini-game. Or the fishing in Okami, where it's just a connect-the-dots affair that's wholly unexciting. Ocarina of Time went the extra mile when nothing was expected.
Not sure I ever even caught anything. Didn't really get the hang of it.
@MS7000 o yeah true, wind waker should have had the best fishing of any zelda! I'm fine with just shooting shock arrows into the water in botw as fishing
@MS7000 In the backstory they state that since it's an artificial ocean there are no fish and fishing is mostly forgotten.
That explains it I guess
I spent countless hours of my teenage years trying to catch the loach. The fishing in Twilight Princess never grabbed me the same way as it did in Ocarina.
I was really looking forward to a complex fishing mechanic in Breath of the Wild, or at least a fun minigame. But instead, we ended up with "explode the water and collect their corpses"
@redpanda0310 Really? I don't remember hearing about that. I thought Orca on Outset Island was a fisherman?
I wish fishing was something entirely optional in Zelda games. Some of us find fishing a hard thing to stomach. Please don't pounce on me – I'm not judging others enjoyments, and I get it's become a Zelda traditional, just saying I'd love it too be an option to turn off.
@MS7000 "Orca is a character in The Wind Waker. An elderly man, he was once a master swordsman."
Although yeah he does use harpoons...
Great memories of trying to hook the man's hat off and break all the rules on the board
Call me a heretic, but I always found fishing in Zelda games to be idiotic. I only do it to get the heart piece.
Ganondorf mentions that there are no fish in the ocean, and the Zelda encyclopedia states that since the Great Sea is actually magical water from the heavens, only monsters and magical beings can live in it (this is also why the Zora evolved in Rito). Fishing is mentioned in the game, but I believe only in past tense.
Awesome article. This brought back some major nostalgia from my childhood, and makes me want to experience Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess again. I love The Legend of Zelda so much.
@Munchlax thanks for that
@Munchlax @redpanda0310 Huh. I only really remember Ganondorf giving some speech about how harsh the desert was before undergoing makeshift trepanning. It has been a hot minute since I last played Wind Waker though... Maybe I should replay it given the anniversary.
Thanks for the info.
Man I used to spend hours fishing in OoT.
so when will this game come to NS
I’m a natural rider when it comes to horseback riding, I straight up love just riding(no offence to those that ride in shows but it takes the fun away when I’m competing). When I was a kid and couldn’t afford a horse of my own nor could I afford lessons I used to ride around Hyrule field on Epona for hours, I still dream of hopping out to the field again and just riding.
OoT is still the definitive fishing game for me. Even Bass Fishing on the DC with the fishing rod controller isn’t as fun as wrestling with a lunker to drag it out of the pond.
Wasn’t it the only way to get the Golden Scale? Which is so helpful in the water temple. Also I loved it, just trying to get that loach
You need Wii Fishing Resort in your life.
I tore the skin off the palm of my right hand waggling the analog stick on the N64 controller trying the catch that bloody hylian loach. It hurt like a bitch for a week.
Twilight Princess still has the greatest fishing mini game I've ever experienced. Taking the little canoe around to an ideal spot on the pond, being able to see the fish in the clear water. And I remember playing on Wii it was so much fun to use the motion controls to cast the line, wiggle the lure to entice a fish, and then frantically reel it in. I'm hoping I get to revisit that game again on Switch
i feel ocarina is overrated i get it was revolutionary but i get bored after the 2nd dugeon and i have tryed to play it 4 or 5 times. i think it is more remembered as a great because nostalgia because every time someone talks about it they say i played this a s a kid
@Axlthered have you tried horse riding in Breath of the Wild? It's even better than Ocarina... I spend most of my time in that game just riding for hours. It's so relaxing.
@RadioHedgeFund how on earth were you fishing?! All you had to do (in all the zelda fishing minigames) was to pull back on the stick, or against the direction of the fish (ie if it was going to the right, you pulled back and left)
Fishing is a great change of pace, but I have always found OoT's pacing to be very laid back. I enjoy the story more than any other in the series and never felt rushed with urgency.
I prefer the archery mini games much more, in OoT and MM. I've never been good at FPS but these never felt like a chore to me.
@YoungLink64 not sure if you've played other AC games, but the fishing is virtually unchanged since the first game. the only notable difference i can think of is the addition of bait. testament to a great fishing mini game!
Dude the fishing pond was the most boring thing ever invented.
I actually really liked the fishing as a kid. Managed to catch the loach at least once.
They did a great job with touching up the place for OOT3D.
With that said, yes, I was also excited when they added the fishing ponds to MM3D.
@blindsquarel I played OoT a couple of months ago. It’s still a great game, IMO. I like Breath of the Wild more, but I don’t think there are many other 3D adventure games made today that can measure up to OoT. Depends what you’re looking for, though. There is better exploration, better combat and definitely better graphics to be found, but the puzzles and systems and sheer toy box of secrets are still top tier even by modern standards. Again, IMO - YMMV.
I really hope that Nintendo gives us a port of the 3DS version. After BotW, it'll be even harder for me to go back to the N64 graphics.
Love all the 3d zeldas except skyward sword, but have to say, this is the one i go back to most often to give me that warm, cuddly nostalgia fix
Interesting angle on OoT. Seems NL wants a quirky take on all the zeldas, or at least a focus piece on less recognised elements of each game.
For me though, the hookshot in 3D blew my mind. I was probably 17 or 18 when this came out. I had downloaded the trailer for OoT, probably on dial up, and watched it over an over in anticipation. When I got the hookshot I think I just went back and forth on the rooftops of kakariko village for about 15 minutes. I was in awe. Wasn’t a new item or anything, but it’s imagining in 3D was awesome. Surprisingly I thought horse riding would be the biggest shake up, but instead I fell in love with the hookshot. Fishing is understandably another unique feature but it’s never been my thing.
After they figure out what it will take to get you to pay $59.99 for it.
Glad you enjoyed it. I dunno maybe it is how hyped up it is but I just got bored so quick
I love how fishing in BotW works... <throws bomb into the water>
GASP! why isn't this a soapbox!? hugely controversial : O
Ocarina of Time, in all its incarnations has had such an impact on my life and helped me in so many ways but up until like maybe 5 years ago I thought the Hylian Loach and sinking lure were a myth until I came upon the item in (virtual) real life and caught the loach! I literally thought the loach was up there with obtaining the Triforce and getting Ganondorfs horse! How wrong was I. Who knows what other secrets this game holds...
By the way here's a cool article on ocarina of time;
Tap here to load 46 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...