Underrated: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time Part 1

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the first part of the manga adaptation of Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.

Released in 1998 on the Nintendo 64, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time was lauded for years as The Best Game Ever. In many ways the game remains highly revered and fondly thought of by those who played it upon its release. By the time I had finally bought an N64 in 2000, the game was often listed as the Must Have game for the console in the videogame magazines of the time (this was still when information was still largely spread through print rather than on the internet). Although I was exposed to considerably less hype for the game than I would be had the internet been around when I picked it up, there is no denying that the game had a reputation of being one of a handful of games worth buying the console for.

Amazingly, it lived up to the hype.

Despite the game having been surpassed in visual quality and scope over the decades that have followed (including by its own sequels), it remains very high on my Best Game Ever list. Mostly because of the impact it had on me and the influence it continues to have – there is a reason I prefer action RPGs over shooters – but also because it remains a very good game in its own right.

When I had the opportunity to pick up the manga adaptation of the game, I did so without a second thought. Split into two volumes published by Viz Media, and written and drawn by Akira Himekawa (a collaboration of two women A. Honda and S. Nagano), the edition I have reads from the right to left – meaning the manga is presented in its original form with English translation. I was oddly happy about that because it meant that Link remained a lefty in the story, rather than him being a right handed swordsman if the booked had been flipped to read left to right.

If you’ve played the game itself, then you’ll be more than familiar with the story – or at least the bones of it. Akira Himekawa have modified the things that wouldn’t work as well in print as they do in a game (the Great Deku Tree dungeon is much shorter here than when I played it, but the story doesn’t suffer at all for the modification), and they’ve also handled the tough challenge of giving the essentially blank slated Link a personality whilst still feeling familiar to those of us who were (are still?) slightly obsessed with the game remarkably well.

As a person who doesn’t read manga in its original form much, this is a fantastic way for me to get used to reading the pages starting on the right, because for the most part I know the story, so I don’t mind having to concentrate on where my eyes should be going – as an introduction to manga, this is as ideal for me; a story I already love about one of the games that epitomizes my childhood. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time Part 1 might not be everybody’s gateway, but as a comic book fan dipping their toes into the world of manga, this is a pretty underrated starting point. Because most comic book based videogame adaptations tend to be less than stellar.

Which isn’t the case with this. So if you want to start reading manga, but don’t know where to begin… maybe look for a volume that has some common ground with an interest you already have.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.