I’ve decided this is the year of finding my geek self. I’ve always been, at least considered myself, a nerd/geek. (I use the terms fairly interchangeably.) But there’s always been one major blight (among several smaller ones) on my nerd cred card.

Never in my life have I beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A little history:

I first got my N64 in 1998. We were living in Boston at the time, for a one-month stay in an apartment whilst my dad had to remain close to Massachusetts General Hospital following his bone marrow transplant. It was Christmas time (and my birthday) and I’d been pulled from school a week or so early for the holiday break. I didn’t have any friends in Boston, obviously, and I don’t recall attending church while there.

I had a duffel bag full of school work and a suitcase of clothing. When not daring to brave the frigid temperatures (seriously, how do you people do it?) and give little old me a living history lesson, we were in the apartment.

Over the ensuing few years (before Game Cube), I obtained several games for the N64. Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Mario Kart 64, and Yoshi’s Story.

I know it’s a lot. Sadly, the only one of those I know for certain I beat is Majora’s Mask. It was a fairly easy and redundant Zelda game, but that made it ideal for my skills back then. (As for the rest? Well, Banjo-Kazooie had so many collectibles to unlock the later stages of the game I hit a wall. Same with Super Mario. Donkey Kong? I could never beat that blasted jack-in-the-box level boss or the classic Donkey Kong arcade game.)

I have no excuse for my lack of completion when it comes to Ocarina of Time. I freed all six sages and created the bridge to Ganon’s Castle. But I never entered that last dungeon.

Flash forward a few years, and N64 has been replaced twice. (My N64 is still in a box somewhere with all four controllers, the gold OoT pack and rumble pack.) Now on the Wii I felt it was time to slay this demon.

I bought OoT for the virtual console, purchased the classic controller, and conquered the new ocarina and item controls. (Seriously took me forever to figure out how to access and play the ocarina and my items. I’m not ashamed of this.)

After weeks and hours of playing (since I work and write books and don’t have the endless hours of free time I once had), it came down to one decision. I had created the bridge. I could save and turn off the console, waiting for another day with a couple hours of free time. Or I could enter the castle, save, turn off the console, and wait.

I took the latter option. I really had run out of free time for the day so I needed to be at a save point. The monkey danced around on my back as I sent Link on his first tentative steps across the Sages’ bridge and opened the door to Ganon’s castle.

The next day, that monkey continued to do jigs all over as I worked to clear every room and eliminate the barrier to the tower.

It took at least two hours, two blue potions, some magic bottles, and three fairies, but I did it. I dealt Ganon one last blow with the Master Sword and watched as the Sages sealed him in the Realm of Evil. (I may have gloated a little early at his defeat, forgetting that there would be a second phase to the battle between Link and Ganondorf/Ganon.)

At last I duct taped that stupid monkey’s legs together so he’s no longer dancing on my back.

Now I just need to beat the other two Zelda games I have. (Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.) And lest you think me a complete inept, I have beat Lego Lord of the Rings three times, Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga, and Skylanders Giants.