I can remember 1998 only as fleeting hazy moments from my youth. Christmases are mushed into one, I'm running around playing a lot of soccer, recording and relentlessly re-watching Power Rangers VHS' and I'm in my newly redecorated bedroom, one winter morning, making space for my-fresh-out-of-the-box Nintendo 64.
The excitement, man, it was like no other. I had been the proud owner of a Sega Master System II and a Super NES prior to the glory of the N64, but this was the very first console I had followed through development to cherishing within my own palms.
Every issue of Nintendo Official Magazine was eagerly thumbed and kept close to me at all times. I doted on every game they mused over, even Konami's Mahjong Master, which I still have no idea of how to play!
1998 was a great year made greater with the release of a legend. One of the few games, barring Mario Kart 64, to have a continuous cloud of kids swarmed around the playable N64 display booth in my local supermarket. The first game that made me sit up and think, "wow, video games are a viable means of story telling" - The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.
A Hero Is Reborn
Imgur user wonderboyblue has uploaded a veritable treasure chest of Ocarina of Time screenshots detailing the development of the game, and they are a treat for weary eyes! Here are a few of the best.
From Spaceworld 1995 To Living Space
Known then as Zelda 64, this early screencap of Link fighting a metallic doppelganger was made using the Super Mario 64 engine! At this stage Mario 64 was halfway to completion and Nintendo hero Shigeru Miyamoto and his team had no boundaries to work with, because no other developer had yet set a 3D template similar to what would later become Ocarina of Time.
"At that time there really was no blueprint for how to create that kind of game in a 3D space. No-one had done it before." - Shigeru Miyamoto
Within The Realm Of Mario
Another cap from the Mario 64 engine, the gameplay already has the A and B controls on board, but the revolutionary C buttons are missing. A genius idea yet to be birthed.
"As we were developing Mario 64 we were experimenting with what was possible within that space. We tried to apply what we had learned to the next big franchise for us, which was going to be Zelda.” - Shigeru Miyamoto
Miyamoto-san had initially planned for OoT to be a first-person adventure, citing that the game's surroundings would look better through a first person perspective. But decided against the idea due to the great differences between child and adult Link. We would want to be shocked by the transition!
An early render of the fearsome Dondongo. Maybe not so fearsome, more "LOOK, HOW CUUUTE"!
Early design Octoroks look pretty trippy. Like a mix between Dr. Zoidberg...
and English sitcom The Mighty Boosh's Tony Harrison.
Parasitic Armored Arachnid
Here we have an early battle against Gohma. She hardly changed a bit, which is interesting.
The C buttons are now assignable and on the bottom C button sits the Forest Medallion, which was apparently originally used to teleport to and from Temples instead of specific Ocarina songs taught by Sheik.
The Open Plains
During development, Miyamoto-san was adamant that once Link exited Kokiri Forest onto Hyrule Field, there was to be a great sense of awe - both on Link's part and ours. But there wouldn't be a Hyrule Field if it was for Link's trusty steed Epona.
“The moment that we saw you could ride around on a horse in 3D, we instantly realised that we needed a giant field that people could ride through.” - Shigeru Miyamoto
The simple thinking behind Epona's inclusion in the game was because Miyamoto-san is a huge horse fan and, seeing as in no other game could you ride a horse, traversing Hyrule atop Epona would be a very unique proposition!
The holidays are steadily approaching, so gather together with your loved ones, dust off your N64 (or Wii, or 3DS) and blow on them cartridges folks. This is one game to be shared around the fire.
(Please don't keep your console by a naked flame.)