You know the drill.
A popular gaming website posts a “Best Games of All Time” list and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time not only wins, it also steals the wife of the creator of the website and crashes his car into a telegraph pole.
So, why does the game win this title almost every single time? Well, it comes to a few key innovations that Nintendo valiantly bestowed upon the world:
- Lock on targeting
- Camera that tracks along the back of your character and can be reset with a button press
- Context sensitive controls
Wow, so many innovations, right? I mean, it’s astonishing that no one had thought to do any of this prior to Ocarina of Time being released…oh, wait….no, they did.
When they released Tomb Raider 2 years prior.
Now, before you rip my head off and shit down my neck in a furious fanboy rage let me preface this article by saying I love Ocarina of Time. I think it’s a fun, but flawed game that really shows what the Nintendo 64 can do and gives you a feeling of freedom in game design that no other game had really done at that point. That said, I will not stand idly by while the thunder of another revolutionary title is stolen by a game that does not deserve accolades for things it didn’t do.
Let’s start with lock-on targeting. In Tomb Raider, if Lara has her guns drawn and an enemy is nearby she will automatically lock onto them allowing you to leap around and basically make life difficult for the enemy while you fill them full of holes. If you wanted to cancel the lock you just put your guns away and run away…or leap away…or whatever. In Ocarina of Time you lock onto enemies by hitting Z and hacking away. Different approaches but the same concept. A concept that Tomb Raider pioneered 2 years earlier than Ocarina of Time. Want to get pedantic and say you could interact with characters by targeting them and so on? Well, that’s great, that’s a refinement. A refinement that Ocarina of Time made but it doesn’t change that fact that Core did targeting in a 3D environment 2 years prior. In fact, everything that Nintendo did with Z-targeting just seems to be a refinement on what Core did….on the Saturn…a few months after the Nintendo 64 was released.
How about the camera? Surely Nintendo did that first. No, they didn’t, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. In fact, the major innovation that Nintendo supposedly came up with is snapping the camera to your character, which was present in Tomb Raider in 1996. Tomb Raider also featured full control over looking around with the camera by holding down the camera button and playing with the d-pad.
The camera also tracks behind Lara and allows you to see the world really well. If you look back at Tomb Raider you really come to appreciate how revolutionary the camera system was in that game and how masterfully Core pulled off the design of the system despite it being so new in the 3D action adventure genre.
So, did Ocarina of Time pioneer a tracking, controllable and snappable camera? Absolutely not. Tomb Raider did.
This one always makes me smile. The concept of context sensitive actions. The idea behind context sensitivity is that when a character is presented with a situation the button does a different thing depending on the context. Guess who did this back in 1996? Have you been paying attention so far? Yes, it was Core.
The action button in Tomb Raider can be used to ledge grab, pick up items, utilise switches, push and pull a block and more. The only difference? That game doesn’t blatantly tell you what the action button does like in Ocarina of Time. The sheer ignorance that is displayed by people not understanding the concept of context sensitivity and how Core pioneered it in 3D action adventure games on the Saturn 2 years prior to Ocarina of Time being released is shocking.
So, we have people who are paid to comment on the history of video games and consider themselves experts lauding praise on a game that while good, didn’t innovate half of the things that are attributed to it. Instead, Core is completely ignored and the groundbreaking achievements apparent in Tomb Raider are swept under the rug by rabid fanboys who don’t want to appear uncool for actually doing some research and coming up with a different conclusion. In short, those polls are bullshit, Tomb Raider never gets the credit it deserves and anyone who considers themselves a video game journalist who attributes these things to Ocarina of Time needs to have a serious think about what they do for a living.
Oh, you can also swim.