Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64)

In celebration of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s release we’ll be sharing a few Zelda stories over the next two weeks from ourselves here at AWttP and guest contributors. Today’s story comes from a friend of ours here at AWttP – Brett S, as he shares with us how even in the darkest times games can give you the strength you need to get through.

Remember that time that Zelda: Ocarina of Time saved your life? I do. About 17 years ago I thought I had everything figured out. I had a girlfriend, casually attended college, was in an amazing indie rock band, and had a killer job working at the best thrift store in the world with a bunch of my friends. It was my birthday, and I had just saved enough money to buy a Nintendo 64 and Zelda.

I was super poor back then, as in, I ate one meal a day, and that “meal” was spaghetti with canned tomato sauce. I lived in the crappiest apartment complex in town, and lived w/ four annoying strangers. One of them turned out to be pretty awesome by the end of the semester, but for the most part I hated my roommates. I shared a room with this dude who would talk to his long distance girlfriend until 3AM every. single. night. They talked about the cheesiest crap in the most annoying voices ever, and had someone not invented headphones, I would probably be writing this from a penitentiary. I had an amazing group of friends, who I would visit as often as possible, as I couldn’t stand being “home”. I had a crappy TV from the thrift store I worked at, but it was good enough for the next chapter in my life.

When Ocarina first came out in 1998, I played it with my cousin for two straight days without sleeping. We borrowed the game from someone, and borrowed the N64 from someone else. I emerged from our two day adventure seeing the world in sharp edged 3D blocks. I have been in love w/ all things Zelda since I was 10 years old, and this new version changed everything. The best video game storyline of all time, 3D graphics, the perfect OST, dudes, I was just floored. I had to own this game!

Love at first sight.

Fast forward more than a year later, and I finally saved enough money to buy a N64 + Zelda. I actually had $300 in the bank, and all my dreams were about to come true! I walked to Walmart, bought everything I needed and headed home SO excited to play! My birthday was the next day, and it was going to be amazing. The next day I was hanging out w/ friends, and asked if someone could give me a ride to work. They gave me a ride and we had a little talk. As it turns out, I embarrassed my bandmates pretty bad on a recent mini tour, where I played on the world’s crappiest guitar (dan echo) and out of the world’s crappiest amp I borrowed from a friend (peavy). They said I needed to buy a new amp, and it would cost around $300. I told them that I no longer had that money, and that returning my N64 wasn’t an option. I figured we could work something out, but they saw it differently. They kicked me out of the band and yelled at me for being an idiot in the parking lot of my work. I got out of the car in a panic, rushed inside, and called my girlfriend as soon as I had a break. I was pretty despondent, my birthday was going south, and maybe she could save it…this is where she informed me that she wasn’t super interested in being my girlfriend anymore. I felt like at any moment Rod Serling was going to walk in explaining the next episode of the Twilight Zone that I was obviously experiencing. I went home that night and couldn’t find my headphones anywhere. I tried to sleep while listening to my roommate and his girlfriend talk about their future together. It was a fitting end to a marvelously crappy day.

I’ve always struggled w/ depression, and would often have anxiety attacks and freak out about life, but this day took the cake. My friends stopped coming around, and I felt abandoned. I was 3,000 miles from home, and didn’t have a long distance card to call my parents (this predated the era of everyone owning a cellphone). I felt betrayed, alone, and completely worthless. I didn’t get out of bed the next day and called in sick to work. My roommates were off to school. I thought about the S word, how everything would be so much better if I didn’t have to exist anymore. I continued to be sick for a week. Luckily this was December, and my roommates were busy studying in the library for finals and/or taking finals. I finally decided to get out of bed, and there I was with a TV, N64, and Zelda.

What happened next saved my life. I didn’t turn my TV off for at least an entire week. I played every moment of every day, cried a million times, fell in love with the game, and even beat the water temple without using a blue tunic for the first half (it takes a few days, 4 jars, lots of fairies, and tons of patience). I didn’t have a computer, the internet, or money to buy a walkthrough guide. I think I eventually walked to Walmart and read the guide in the store, went home, got the blue tunic and finished that temple of hell. By the end, my one cool roommate would watch me play for hours on end. We bonded. After that epic battle with Ganondorf, I emerged accomplished and mostly happy. Yes, everything else was a giant pile of crap, but I just beat Zelda!! I had two friends who really stuck with me, and one bought me a plane ticket home so I could see my parents. Fast forward, and life would end up being pretty great. I reconciled with the band and my friends shortly thereafter, but at the time I didn’t have much foresight of a positive future. But Zelda did it. I saved her from Ganon, and she saved me from death. For that, I’ll always love her.

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