Video games have always had a knack for inspiring people’s imaginations. They take us to worlds and places we will never actually visit and allow us to see all the wonders they contain. Legend of Zelda games are among the greatest in this regard, and Ocarina of Time sits near the top of them.
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.
It is especially potent for young minds (or indeed adult minds with memories of the game from their younger days). The perception brought upon by innocence allows people to add the details not explicitly seen. That is what I see most in Tom Garden’s collection of concept art based on Ocarina of Time. A passion for the game and its world brought to a greater degree of intensity. He has done renditions of many of the temples found in Ocarina, but my favorite by far is his take on the Water Temple.
There is so much to look at in this piece. The sense of depth shows how intimidating this area is. The lighting conveys how the temple has been abandoned and run down, and that there is a certain aspect of danger in exploring such an area. The water and the way everything (even Navi) is soaked tells you exactly what dungeon Link is in. It shows how Link needs to be ready to deal with this potentially deadly force of nature. This piece fills in the gaps in the details of the actual game, much like how a player’s mind (especially younger ones like I mentioned) will do the same.
That’s why I like Tom’s work with the dungeons so much. They are like screen captures taken with nostalgia goggles. He’s showing us Hyrule the way our mind and emotions prefer to remember it.
One last thing: I like the sense of challenge I get from this painting. Link is a young man, a new man, entering a very old place. He has to bravely face the old dangers of the Water Temple. It was clearly a challenge to even make it there. Showing Link in his Zora Tunic as he emerges from the water was a great way to convey this. Then there’s the overgrowth and thorns in the background, and the state of decay in the foreground. In the distance is the center chamber, beckoning to Link. The first things Link sees tell him that what’s about to happen will not be easy, but his goal is still ahead of him, and he has a job to do.
Even if you hate the Water Temple, I find it hard to believe that even this art wouldn’t tug at the heart of anyone who is fond of Ocarina of Time. People often talk of wanting an HD remake of the game, and if the updated visuals of such a title were to be even half as good as this, then a remake can’t possibly come out soon enough.