November 2018 marked The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s twentieth birthday. In its heyday, it was considered the greatest video game of all time. While other titles have refined the formula since, few actually manage to understand what made the game so great: balance. Twenty years later, Ocarina of Time is still one of the, if not the, greatest video games of all time. Every facet of its design is fine tuned to offer an experience that very few developers can replicate. Even Nintendo struggles with each new installment in the series. After twenty years, Ocarina of Time is still a masterpiece.
And somehow full of countless secrets. By this point in time, everything the game offers should be common knowledge. After all, fans have been playing the “greatest game of all time” for decades now. Nintendo knew what they were doing, though, and while every secret has been found by this point, not every fan is going to be aware of the more obscure ones. This is a game so simple on a surface level that it’s easy to take for granted just how much you can actually see or do. Even if you’ve been playing this game for years, chances are you missed more than a fair share of secrets.
25 The Knight’s Last Words
Ocarina of Time is a surprisingly dark game all things considered. The Goron get fed to Volvagia one by one; the Zora get completely encased in ice; and Ganondorf straight destroys Castle Town, turning it into a ReDead infested inferno. Those are all the dark moments on the surface, though.
One of the darkest moments in the entire game is totally optional. Upon obtaining the Ocarina of Time from Zelda, Link can encounter a guard in Hyrule Market’s back alleys. Naturally, most players would rush to the Temple of Time so this is impeccably well hid. The guard will inform Link of what happened at the castle before passing away in front of the boy’s eyes.
24 Fun With The Sinking Lure
Fishing is always a bit of a contentious sport when it comes to video games. Some people love fishing minigames for the leisure they offer players on a long journey. Others hate them for often tying content behind entirely new mechanics. Ocarina of Time is really no different, but it does let Link cheat.
Funny enough, using the Sinking Lure to catch the Loach doesn't register as illegal fishing.
After catching a 10-pound fish in the past and a 15 pound fish in the future, Link can find the Sinking Lure, an illegal lure that allows him to fish deep into the pond’s waters. The Sinking Lure will spawn randomly on the field and is extremely useful for helping Link catch the legendary Hylian Loach.
23 Balding Through Time
While we’re at the fishing hole, there’s a little easter egg that gets a brief and quick line of foreshadowing once Link returns after obtaining the Master Sword. Upon recognizing Link from seven years prior, the man in charge of the fishing hole will mention how much Link has grown and quickly make an offhand comment about hair.
Should Link rent a fishing rod and then fling it at the man, it’s possible to snag the hat right off his head, revealing that he has balded over the seven-year time skip. It’s such a minor detail, and one fans won’t know to look for if they sped through his dialogue, but it’s a charming easter egg hiding in plain sight.
22 You Don’t Need The Bow For The Fire Temple
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing dictating that the Forest Temple absolutely needs to be first. For progression purposes, it is perhaps best to do the Forest Temple as soon as Link gets the Hookshot, but it’s unnecessary. The misconception comes from how useful the Bow is, but you don’t need it for the Fire Temple.
You'll probably still want it, but experiment on your next playthrough.
The only puzzle that absolutely requires the Bow simply leads Link to a room with an optional chest. If players really want the chest, it’s possible to actually get the chest through other means, making the puzzles pointless. As a result, players can realistically tackle the Fire Temple first.
21 Or The Water Temple
Not only can the Fire Temple be done without the Bow, so can the Water Temple. The Water Temple’s status is a bit trickier since the Bow is attached to a room that gives Link one of the final keys in the dungeon, but there’s a workaround. Hoard the first two keys and save them until the very end.
The lowermost locked rooms are actually completely optional in the context of the Water Temple. Naturally, you’ll probably want to do everything, but avoiding those locked doors will allow Link to carry two keys that will help him open two doors later on without ever needing the Bow.
20 The Spirit Temple Can Be Done Third
Although you do need the Bow and Arrow to complete the Spirit Temple, it doesn’t actually need to come so late into the game. While it makes use of all the major dungeon items, the only ones that absolutely MUST be used to complete the dungeon are the Bow and the Longshot from the Forest and Water Temples respectively.
It's hard, but doable.
This means that the Spirit Temple can indeed be done third. Of course, this is a feat you’ll only want to attempt if you’re already familiar with the game. Getting through the Spirit Temple without the Lens of Truth, Hover Boots, and Megaton Hammer is possible, but only worth the trouble if you’re a master of the game.
19 The Shadow Temple Primarily Focuses On Combat
In recent years, the Shadow Temple has come under fire as the weakest of the Adult dungeons. While many fans still recognize the fact that the Shadow Temple is a good dungeon in its own right, its linearity has come under fire. In defense of the Shadow Temple, however, the linearity is masking the dungeon’s real purpose: combat.
When it comes down to it, the Shadow Temple is pretty much all about combat. This dungeon features the most sword fights of any dungeon outside of Ganon’s Tower. Link constantly fights Stalfos from start to finish, and the challenge comes not from puzzles but from surviving an onslaught of enemies.
18 The Water Temple Can Be Done Before Fire
While we’ve established that the Water Temple can be done without the Bow, and therefore before the Forest Temple, it’s worth mentioning that the Water Temple can also be done before the Fire Temple. While this seems like a given, the implication is more so the fact that the first three Adult dungeons can be done in any order.
Get the Water Temple out of the way asap.
Upon getting the Hookshot, Link can realistically tackle the Forest, Fire, and Water Temples in any order the player so chooses. Complacency nudges us towards Forest, Fire, and Water in that order, but the game is so much more lenient than it lets on. No other 3D Zelda, save for Breath of the Wild, offers as much wiggle room.
17 You Can Get More Heart Pieces Than You Need
In remaking the title for the 3DS, Grezzo decided to leave as many harmless glitches in the game as possible. Glitches were actually a big part of Ocarina of Time’s early identity, and played a large role in the speedrunning community, so this move was quite thoughtful on Grezzo’s part.
One such glitch is actually quite helpful for those fans struggling to collect every Heart Piece. Dampe’s digging game actually contains an infinite number of Heart Pieces through an oversight. Continually playing the game will reward Link with more pieces than he needs. Be warned, though, getting too many might wreck your game.
16 Boss Songs Are Themed
You may have noticed that the game itself has a few different variants for boss fights, but they’re actually themed for what the boss represents. For bosses possessed or influenced by Ganondorf, the normal boss theme will play. For bosses not necessarily aligned with Ganon, a different version will play.
It's a shame that the reptile theme only gets used twice.
What’s a good way of remembering the difference? Easy, who’s a reptile? The second variant most notably plays for both Dodongo and Volvagia, reptilian monsters of yore. Basically, dinosaurs get their own boss themes while the others stick to the default. You have to wonder why Koji Kondo didn’t go even further with the theming.
15 Epona Is Totally Optional
Epona’s had quite a bit of discourse over the years, specifically the fact that Link needs her in order to get to Gerudo Valley despite the game never indicating to the payer that they should try to get Epona from Lon Lon Ranch. It seems like an oversight until you realize you don’t need Epona at all.
While she helps make traversal of Hyrule much faster, you can get to Gerudo Valley just fine with the Longshot. Epona is not necessary for completion. On that note, the game does nudge you back to Lon Lon Ranch by making its marker blip repeatedly on the main map. She’s optional, but the game is very much telling players to get her.
14 Link Can Get A Cow For His House
Cows are always a welcome sight in The Legend of Zelda. A cow often represents good things. Their milk also heals Link a considerable degree while often being free. By playing Epona’s Song next to a cow, Link can fill up one of his bottles with refreshing Milk. It’s basically a two in one potion!
Who doesn't love milk?
Finding a cow isn’t always easy, however, so there is a way to actually get a cow for Link’s house. Upon getting Epona, Link can return to Lon Lon Ranch and take on Malon’s obstacle course. Completing the course in under 50 seconds will reward Link with a cow. Whenever he visits his house, he’ll have an infinite source of milk.
13 Child Link Can Pull The Master Sword With 11 Hearts
It’s honestly outrageous just how much players can accomplish before ever getting the Master Sword. Just with what Link can obtain in the first half of the game, players can enter the Temple of Time with nearly 50 Gold Skull Tokens, three bottles, the biggest wallet, and 11 Heart Containers.
Of course, getting 11 Heart Containers by this point is incredibly difficult and will require you to exploit the game’s mechanics and geography. The hardest piece is easily the one in Death Mountain Crater you’d typically get from a bean pad. By using a Bombchu, Link can propel his way to the Heart Piece with his shield.
12 The Giant’s Knife Is A Fine Alternative To The Biggoron Sword
Although there really is no reason not to get the Biggoron Sword, especially considering how easy the Biggoron trading sequence is when compared to other games, the Giant’s Knife is honestly fine enough to take throughout the whole game. Despite breaking in 200 hits, do you really need to swing it so much?
Just play smart.
When it comes down to it, if you just save the Giant’s Knife for boss fights or the occasional Stalfos, Link can reach Ganon with it fully intact. There really is no reason to use it willy nilly. If you’re lazy, skip the Biggoron Sword altogether and just be smart about how you’re using your 200 hits.
11 Link’s Gauntlet Color Can Change Through Glitches
Although the developers never intended for Link to be able to change his Gauntlet colors, it’s actually possible to end the game with either a green, blue, red, or black pair of Gauntlets. Naturally, this can’t actually be done by expected means so get ready to take advantage of some glitches.
You can even get purple gauntlets in the 3DS version.
You’ll need to manipulate glitches to get the Gauntlet you want colored. If you want Green, make sure you only have the Goron Bracelet. Blue, Silver Gauntlets. Red, Golden. Black, none at all. From there, go to the fishing hole and follow these steps to ensure you actually manage to change the colors properly.
10 It’s Possible To Do Jabu-Jabu Second
Speaking of glitches, there’s an easily exploitable one that allows Link to bypass Dodongo’s Cavern entirely, allowing him to tackle Jabu-Jabu almost as soon as he leaves Kokiri Forest. The Golden Scale glitch is a helpful little trick that allows Link to get the Golden Scale as a child, albeit with some caveats.
Not only is this glitch incredibly difficult to pull off, doing so can potentially lock players out of getting a Heart Piece. Of course, Dampe has theoretically infinite pieces so this is hardly an issue for anyone willing to exploit glitches, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. With an early Golden Scale, players can get to Zora’s Domain through Lake Hylia, bypassing the need for bombs.
9 The Shadow Temple Is Clearly Meant To Be Last Narratively
While you can do the Adult dungeons in just about any order, the narrative itself does have a set order in mind. The Forest Temple is first, the Fire Temple is second, the Water Temple is third, the Spirit Temple is fourth, and the Shadow Temple is last. The Shadow Temple sees Link returning to a familiar location to face a previously unseen evil.
The build up to the Shadow Temple sees Sheik at his most involved and the urgency to save Impa completely trumps the urgency to meet with Saria, Darunia, Ruto, or Nabooru. The Shadow Temple even ends with Impa telling Link that he’ll soon meet with Zelda, likely referring to Link needing to head back to Hyrule Castle right away.
8 But The Spirit Temple Is Meant To Be Last Gameplay Wise
Except the Shadow Temple doesn’t really work as a final dungeon from a gameplay perspective. While the story drops breadcrumbs to suggest it should be last, the Spirit Temple is the more appropriately pre-Ganon finale. Link visits Ganondorf’s home, faces off against his surrogate mothers, and is challenged with puzzles from each dungeon.
We all know this is the real finale.
The Spirit Temple not only makes use of both Child and Adult Links, it requires Link to use items from all previous seven dungeons. From a gameplay perspective, it’s the game’s clear endgame. It’s likely that the Shadow Temple was originally the final dungeon, but Nintendo switched it with the Spirit Temple late in development.
7 Link Only Needs To Speak To Saria Once
Despite the fact that Saria plays a rather big role in Link’s arc, players actually only need to speak with her once throughout the course of the game. Of course, there are four scenes that feature Saria no matter what, but the point is that players can get through the whole game without going out of their way to interact with her.
The only times Link NEEDS to interact with Saria are when he leaves Kokiri Forest, returns to learn Saria’s Song, and finished the Forest Temple. Other than that, Saraia can be forgotten for the entire journey. You don’t even need to speak with her at the very start of the game even though you’re clearly meant to.
6 Sheik Gives Her Identity Away Before The Shadow Temple
Even though Sheik being Zelda all along is own of the most well known twists in all of gaming, it isn’t too hard to appreciate just how big a deal said reveal was in the context of the story. After an entire game of getting help from Sheik, players learn that Sheik was Princess Zelda the whole time.
Who knew Ocarina's script had nuance?
Said reveal is actually given away much earlier. Right before the Shadow Temple, Sheik acts uncharacteristically unfocused and frantic, urging Link to go help Impa with a fervor he never had before. In hindsight, this is because Sheik is Zelda and Zelda cares deeply for her caretaker. Savvy players should catch on quick that Sheik might be Zelda.
5 Beneath The Well Can Be Done In Five Minutes
There are three mini-dungeons that help define Ocarina of Time’s non-Temple content: the Ice Cavern, the Gerudo Training Fortress, and the Kakariko Well. Of all these three dungeons, only the Well can be completed in a matter of a few minutes. Although it presents a labyrinth, it’s easy to rush to the Lens of Truth.
It’s so easy, in fact, you don’t even need most of the keys in the dungeon. Three are completely optional and you never need to visit the center most room or the bottom most floor. Link can realistically rush towards the Lens of Truth room, fight the mini-boss, and run out in a matter of minutes.
4 Adult Link Can Restart In Kokiri Forest
There are two restart points of note in Ocarina of Time: Kokiri Forest when Link is a child and the Temple of Time when Link is an adult. This is done not just to signify a major change in Link’s life once he pulls the Master Sword from the Pedestal of Time, but to also centralize the player in a hub better suited for the dungeons in the half of the game they’re in.
Home sweet home.
Interestingly, there is no defined rule that states that Link absolutely must restart in the Temple of Time as an adult. Should Link return to Kokiri Forest, he can actually revisit his home. Sleeping in Link’s childhood bed, saving, and turning off the game will result in Adult Link restarting in Kokiri Forest the next time the game is booted.
3 Link’s Swords, Damage Values, And You
Although the game itself does not convey any stats to the player, Link’s weapons to indeed have actual damage values. The Kokiri Sword, in the context of Ocarina of Time, has a damage value of 1. Doing a spin attack or a jumping slash doubles that value to 2, but it is fairly weak. The Master Sword, naturally, is twice as strong.
This makes the Master Sword’s base value a 2 with its spin attack and jumping slash 4. Going even further, the Biggoron Sword and Giant’s Knife both have damage values of 4 that skyrocket to 8 with their respective spin attacks and jumping slashes. The moral of the story? Spam the spin attack.
2 The Deku Stick Is Better Than The Kokiri Sword
The Kokiri Sword (in Ocarina of Time at least) might genuinely be Link’s worst sword in the entire series. Although it gets a much needed makeover in its second appearance, its origin story is not so kind. It’s neither visually appealing or powerful. In fact, it’s so weak that you’re better off using a Deku Stick.
Almost hilariously, the Deku Stick is exactly as strong as the Master Sword in the game’s code. Just like the blade of evil’s bane, Deku Sticks are twice as strong as the Kokiri Sword. Using the Deku Stick throughout the first half basically ensures you’ll decimate everything your path. You can destroy the first two bosses in less than a minute if you play right.
1 Link Never Needs To Buy A Hylian Shield
The early game pushes Link towards buying a Hylian Shield quite heavily, and for good reason. Starting with the second dungeon, Link’s Deku Shield will find itself susceptible to burning. Should anything happen to the shield, Link will naturally want another one. There is a way to save money on buying a Hylian Shield, however.
Save your Rupees.
Inside the Kakariko Graveyard, one of the many movable tombstones will actually feature a hole that Link can drop into. One such hole will reward Link with a Hylian Shield at no cost of his Rupees. This shield can be gotten from as soon as Link gets to Kakariko Village. It’s even worth making it the first thing you do after leaving Kokiri Forest.