The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

LQ: 9.6


Brain grade: 9.3
Fun score: 9.8

Game Type: , ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform/Console: LWK Recommended Age: 8+ Thinking Skills Used: , , , Academic Skills Used:

In this remake of the classic adventure game, you take control once again of the hero, Link, on his quest to save princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule from the clutches of the evil Ganon. Along your journey you will travel back and forth between ages, encountering a number of unique villages and character, and delve into dungeons, each more vibrant and dangerous than the last. Utilizing a plethora of items and weapons, Link will fight foes and solve puzzles, searching Hyrule for the clues as he attempts to wipe Ganon’s darkness from the land. This games contains mild cartoon violence, but no blood, and requires basic reading skills, making it recommended for children ages 8 and up.



Understanding and articulating her own thoughts and feelings

zelda12Many of the puzzles and battles Link encounters in the dungeons and temples of the game require players to reflect on their situation in order to ascertain the solution. Users must assess their approach to the game's many challenges, striving to discover what it is they may be missing about a particular challenge. Remaining aware of Link's abilities (items and weapons), as well as his current limitations, are both key to solving the game's myriad of inventive environmental puzzles, as well as felling the fearsome foes faced by Link.

Players must be able to judge their own tactics and understand which strategies are effective, and which are not. This is the central characteristic to progression, and such metacognitive thinking becomes even more important when trying to figure out the trick to defeating each of the game's challenging "boss" enemies. Each boss has a set patterns of attacks and one specific weakness. Often, players won't crack the case right off the bat, and will have to retry battles over and over again before succeeding. By assessing their own approach to battle, players gain insight into which strategies are working, need to be tweaked and should be abandoned altogether. Only by learning how to turn a critical eye on their own strategies can players hope to become adept fighters, using the slew of tools, items and weapons at Link's disposal to positive effect. Players who can master this aspect of Self-Awareness early on are off to a propitious start in their adventure.


Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations

url-3Each dungeon Link encounters in Hyrule has unique environmental aspects which change the way the player interacts with it. For instance, the Fire Temple has many doors will not open unless torches are lit along the adjacent walls, requiring Link to light them all quickly before one goes out. While in the Water Temple (found later in the game) each floor of the dungeon can only be accessed by raising or lowering the water level of the central room. These are just some examples of how each dungeon's unique characteristics changes the way players must interact with their environment in order to proceed, forcing them to continually shift strategies throughout the game.

The puzzles and foes Link faces within the dungeons also demand adaptive thinking, as the game keeps players on their toes by continually tossing new situations and challenges at them. Whether it be surprise attacks by never before encountered enemies, navigating mazes littered with traps, or puzzle rooms forcing the player to use items in new ways, the game offers up a range of unique challenges that force players to continually adjust to new parameters of play.

Working Memory

Recalling and retaining information in her mind while working

url-8As the game progresses, the world players inhabit becomes more expansive, challenging and dynamic. Dungeons are larger and more difficult, Link's inventory grows more diverse, and additional side-quests become available. All of these elements work to challenge the player's Working Memory, tasking them to recall and use an ever-expanding range of information. In later dungeons, players must remember where important rooms are and how they can be accessed, while recalling how each switch they activate affects other parts of the dungeon. The same applies to players' weapons and items: as Link gains more and more equipment, players must remember in which situations each item should be used, or which weapons are most effective against particular enemies. Memory becomes especially important for the mystical songs Link learns to play on the ocarina of time. These songs alter the environment and aid in solving puzzles. Knowing their effects and when they can be used is key to solving some of the most important puzzles within the game.


Managing her feelings, actions and behaviors

url-1This is a truly classic game, and one that any fan of the genre should have a chance to enjoy. But, it is in no way an easy game, especially if players opt for the Master Quest, a mode which further increases the difficulty throughout the game (think of it as the director's cut). Upon defeat in the game, you are sent to the beginning of the dungeon (or your last save point, depending on which mode you selected) and start again with less health. Although you do not lose any of the items you collected before dying, it can be frustrating to be sent all the way back to the beginning of a level. Boss fights can be especially vexing to first-time players, especially if they have not taken the time to learn the bosses' patterns of attacks. Patience and remaining calm under pressure are both large parts of the Zelda experience, as avoiding frustration and remaining cool-headed go a long way towards achieving in-game success.

Use this Play Together guide to learn how you can help your child turn Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time play time into a positive learning and relationship-building experience. To learn more about why playing games with your children is so important, check out our Science of Play page.

Talk Before You Play

Take a minute to talk with your child about how the Self-Awareness, Flexibility, Working Memory and Self-Control thinking skills work, and why they are important for success in school and at home.

Set Gameplay Goals

urlThe Legend of Zelda franchise is intended to be played by a single player. However, this sprawling adventure is great to play together, and can be great share during particularly challenging puzzles or boss battles. If you see your child struggling with the game or becoming frustrated, sit down with him and try to lend your perspective on the situation. If possible, do not permit your child to use a walkthrough or strategy guide to complete the main quest's dungeons and temples; for these will diminish the critical thinking required and dampen benefits derived from the game. If absolutely needed, consult a walkthrough yourself (they are widely available for free online) only for the section your child is stuck on to familiarize yourself with the dilemma and offer hints to help aid progress.

Gameplay Goals:

  • 15Get a sword and shield in Kokiri Forest
  • Get the Fairy Slingshot inside the Deku Tree
  • Defeat Queen Gohma
  • Visit Malon at Lon Lon Ranch
  • Sneak into Hyrule Castle and meet Princess Zelda
  • Use Zelda's Letter to gain access to Goron City
  • Gaibn access to Dodongo's Cavern
  • Obtain the Bomb Bag
  • Defeat King Dodongo

Stop and Reflect

This is a good point in the storyline to stop and take a moment to reflect on how your child used the cited thinking skills while playing the game.

  • Ask your child to describe a particular puzzle or point in the game that gave him trouble. Have explain the puzzle and the first approaches he took to solving it and how he eventually reached the correct solution. Explain to him that this self-reflection of what actions were making headway and which were having no effect is a great example of Self-Awareness, or the ability to judge your own performance based on social or contextual situations. 
  • urlAlthough at this point in the game your child has only experienced a fraction of what the game will throw at him, he should have a good idea of the variety of puzzles presented to the player. Assuming he has completed the Deku Tree dungeon; have your child relate how the game keeps players on their toes by having them constantly adapting to new situations and shifting strategies to meet challenges. Discuss how remaining open-minded in these situations can reveal solutions you would not have otherwise came to and can help you deal with sharp transitions in activities.
  • Throughout the game the player's Working Memory in being tested in various ways. Your child must memorize their available equipment (which will change at different points in the game), remember dungeon layouts and their various traps, recall enemy attack patterns and weaknesses, and retain various clues provided in quests. Try and relate these activities to his time at school: Did he remember to bring all the necessary supplies? complete all his homework? is there a long-term project due in the near future? can he always remember where the class last left off? can he apply past lessons to new material?
  • imgresThe most important thing to remember while playing is to not become angry at the game, remember it is for entertainment in the end. Many first-time players can have trouble assessing enemies' weaknesses, especially bosses. If your child repeatedly died in the first dungeon, the Deku Tree, and their patience was being tried and became frustrated explain to them that playing in this manner clouds their judgement and can only make the situation harder. Teach your child to take a break and revisit the game, or whatever situation, with a clear mind. This approach promotes positive decision making and lowers stress levels.

Our Make it Real activities are designed to transform your child’s gameplay to real-world improvements in thinking and academic skills. If you’re just getting started with LearningWorks for Kids, we suggest you try them all to find which are the best for you and your child.

Introduce the Thinking Skills

Read over the pages for Self-Awareness, Flexibility, Working Memory and Self-Control. Then take some time to introduce these thinking skills to your child.

Explain that:

  • Self-Awareness is the thinking skill that helps us to understand our actions, analyze our own thinking and articulate our thoughts and feelings.

  • Self-Control is the thinking skill that helps us manage our feeling and behaviors, control our emotions and stop ourselves before we make a mistake.

  • Flexibility is the thinking skill that helps us adapt to new situations, learn from mistakes and change what we are doing in order to deal with different challenges.

  • Working Memory is the thinking skill that helps us to recall and retain information in our minds while we are working, follow multi-step directions, and solve problems in our heads. 

Self-Awareness Activity

url-2Help your child to develop self-verbalization skills that will assist her with metacognition. Ask questions such as “can you think of another way of doing that?” or “how do you think others might have solved that problem?” Encourage her to ask these questions herself rather than depending upon external prompts. And encourage her to think about and discuss ways she has successfully completed difficult tasks in the past.

Flexibility Activity

url-4Make mistakes. Showing your child that you are not afraid of making mistakes and that you can laugh at yourself, might allow him to laugh at his own errors. Show that you are able to learn from making a mistake. You can make a mistake by going the wrong way to an activity, mixing up ingredients in a recipe, making a hole in the wall while you are trying to hang a picture, or making an error when trying to complete a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. Encourage your child to talk about how he can learn from making mistakes.

Working Memory Activity

urlRelating new information to what is already known will help working memory. The rules of lacrosse are easy to remember if you know the rules for hockey, because the two sports are very similar. Many children find that they are able to remember the rules of new video games based upon what they have played in the past. Ask your child to reflect on how her past knowledge from games, movies, or activities can help in the present situation. For example, if she is watching a movie sequel, ask her to predict what might happen based upon memory of the previous movie.

Self-Control Activity

15-1Encourage your child to get up and move if necessary. At school, these include movement between classes, recess or running errands for the teacher. Encourage more “regulated fidgeting” by providing a squeeze ball, a small polished stone, or something with which to “fiddle”. Also encourage your child to be able to identify the need to move and to find strategies appropriate to the situation. One very underused strategy that can be practiced at home and then used in many settings is stretching, both in standing and in sitting positions.



url-9All dialogue within the game is displayed as text only. Along Link's quest he will encounter dozens of citizens, creatures, wanderers, anthropomorphic animals and objects, and a host of simply unclassifiable characters, each with their own story to tell and proposals for our hero. Because the game progresses by conversing with these denizens of Hyrule the amount of reading done by players is palpable.

In addition to the characters Link must meet along the main quest, he will also encounter many shopkeepers, carnival game operators, ranchers, and a number of others who offer other side-quests, hints and items to purchase. All of these engagements require some degree of reading, and if players ever find themselves lost, or in need of some guidance, Link's fairy, Navi, is always present and more than willing to speak out...vai text of course.

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