Part of what solidifies an experience as unforgettable is the timing and circumstances surrounding it. That is why events from our youth tend to be deeply ingrained in our memories. For many of us, Ocarina of Time released in the formative years of our lives while we were struggling through middle or high school. Becoming a young hero who bears the fate of the world on his shoulders and defies all odds to save the princess and the land from unspeakable darkness helped shape the people into whom we developed. In many ways, Ocarina of Time was the perfect game at the perfect time.
In a fitting end to our month-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of Ocarina of Time, artist Patrick Ballesteros captures the nostalgic affection we share for this era-defining game in his new piece, “Perfect Timing.”
Ocarina of Time was first released in Japan on November 21, 1998. This month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most beloved games of all time. Two decades on, Ocarina of Time is still widely regarded as not only the pinnacle of The Legend of Zelda series but as one of the greatest achievements in video game history. Throughout Ocarina Month, we’re going to be looking back on the game that shaped childhoods, defined the action-adventure genre, and introduced a generation to how magical exploring a 3D world could be.
Yuga’s Art Gallery is a series in which we highlight our favorite artwork from The Legend of Zelda community, as well as some official artwork from the franchise from time to time. Zelda is a series that is constantly changing its style, and after over 30 years of evolving and shifting its visuals, it continues to inspire endless ways for artists to interpret their favorite characters and moments.
This piece is one of Ballesteros’s many “25 Cent Wonders,” a series where the artist imagines pop culture characters as kids riding on coin-operated machines like those that used to be found outside of grocery stores or in malls (think mechanical horse). These playful renditions of popular icons invoke wistful recollections of our favorite movies, television shows, comics, and games. They exude a carefree and whimsical sentiment that compels the viewer to hearken back to the carefree days of his or her youth. (For more of Patrick Ballesteros’s work, check out his website or Instagram).
This Zelda-inspired “25 Cent Wonder” is no different. We can see Link dangling by his hookshot off the horn of a mechanized Ganon as Dark Link holds back Zelda atop the beast. The Ocarina of Time has fallen out of Link’s pocket and lies beneath him. The scene manifests a sense of being a kid in way over his head, yet determined to do what he can to face the trials before him. Many of us felt this way when we first played Ocarina of Time, both about the game and the uncertainties of life as budding young adults.
Ballesteros’s work is great because it calls to mind many memorable aspects of the subject material. In “Perfect Timing,” viewers are reminded of two of the most epic battles from Ocarina of Time: the fight against Dark Link in the Water Temple and
This piece, like all of Ballesteros’s art, includes lots of subtleties that will make fans smile. In addition to the two boss battle references, a doll of Ganondorf in Gerudo form sits at the base of the the beast. Cuccos, a staple of the Zelda franchise since A Link to the Past, are imagined as wind-up toys that parade around Ganon’s feet. Navi zips around the action pretending to be helpful. Can’t you just hear her calling out, “Hey, Listen!?” The artist is able to capture a lot of commotion in a small area without becoming overstimulating.
As we reflect back on 20 years of Ocarina of Time and the impact it has had on gaming and our own lives, “Perfect Timing” provides the perfect end to Ocarina Month by encapsulating a youthful, enterprising nostalgia that reminds us to keep fighting, even when the deck is stacked against us. Here’s to another 20 years, and to always keeping a childlike sense of wonder for new adventures.