The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time arrived on November 21, 1998, bringing the already-popular Legend of Zelda series to three dimensions for the first time, telling a story across time that left a lasting impact on gamers for generations.

The previous Zelda title, Link’s Awakening, had arrived five years prior, meaning there was a fairly lengthy break between games in this franchise. Ocarina was first shown off as a tech demo for the Nintendo 64 in 1995 and spent the next few years being developed alongside Super Mario 64. One of Miyamoto’s original ideas for the game was to have it be in a first-person perspective, but that idea was scrapped in favor of having Link visible on-screen. The development team had also originally intended for Ocarina to release for the 64DD peripheral, a disc drive for the N64 that was still in early development at Nintendo at the time. However, the game was eventually developed for the standard N64 cartridge system.

The game was by far the largest that Nintendo had created at the time, to the point where the development team had some concerns about data constraints on the cartridge. A planned workaround would have been using Ganondorf’s castle as a main hub and traveling to other worlds through paintings or portals – similar to how Super Mario 64 used Peach’s castle as a central zone, with Mario traveling to different stages via paintings. Instead, the painting idea would be used as the inspiration for the Phantom Ganon boss at the end of the Forest Temple.

Ocarina followed Link as he sought to end Ganondorf’s reign of terror throughout Hyrule. Beginning the game as a child, Link first must gather three spiritual stones that are the keys to the Sacred Realm where the Triforce rests. Once claiming all three end entering the Temple of Time, Link grabs the Master Sword and opens the Sacred Realm, only to have Ganondorf claim the Triforce for himself. Frozen for seven years, Link awakens as an adult and is now tasked with reuniting the Seven Sages to seal Ganondorf away. After Ganondorf is defeated by Link, he turns into the monstrous boar-like Ganon using his Triforce of Power. Link and Zelda defeat him for good, and Ganondorf is sealed away in the Dark Realm.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time received widespread critical acclaim upon its release – and it did pretty well sales-wise, too. Just in the US it more than tripled the number of preorders placed for any other previous video game ever, and worldwide the game moved 2.5 million copies in just 1998 despite only releasing 39 days before the year ended. Over the course of its lifetime, Ocarina sold 7.6 million copies worldwide.

The game remains one of the most popular titles ever released on any system, and has been called the greatest video game of all time in terms of its legacy and influence by many publications over the years. Ocarina would be later ported to the GameCube with a difficulty jump and altered dungeons, and was called Ocarina of Time: Master Quest. The title was also completely remade for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.