2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of Zelda, and what better way to kick of the party than with one of the greatest Zelda games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remastered in 3D and released on the 3DS. I remember playing the original on my N64. I had never played a Zelda game before, and I had never played an action game like it with 3D polygons in a 3D world. Well let me tell you, I sure was hooked. Well thirteen years later Nintendo has seen fit to introduce this classic game to an audience who has yet to play it as well as reintroduce it to fans of the original. Given that the N64 version was such a great game, and is now considered a classic, I was really interested to see what enhancements Nintendo did to The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D that is set to hit the 3DS in no time.
I could no doubt go on for days talking about the plot of this masterpiece, but given the how old the game is, and how much has been said on it in the past, I figure there is no sense for me to do so. What I can say is that Link has been set upon the world of Hyrule in order to save it from that dastardly Ganon, and of course protect Princess Zelda, all while exploring dungeons, facing various enemies, and defeating bosses. You get to travel to the past, the present, and the future in your effort to do so. All in all you’ll find a heck of a lot to do in this game and the story manages to keep you engaged for most of your trip.
The first thing that I have to say is that if you have played the original even once, and remember your adventure, don’t expect anything new, as Nintendo made what I consider the best decision in such that they have left the core story and events from the N64 original intact. I think if they messed with the formula then this game would not be the great experience it once was, and still is. To change it would be to have changed what many have deemed to be perfection. So if you are looking for something drastically changed in this game, you may be disappointed given that the gameplay itself is still the same. Like I said, I think it was a great decision, and I am glad they kept it the way it was.
You will spend hours upon hours travelling across Hyrule in your quest to protect and save this amazing land. You will come across many characters, and many different locales, and you will also stumble across a few twists that make this game a long and enjoyable adventure. You will find that you become very invested in the story as well, as the characters you come across and interact with make it quite a narrative. The story that was crafted 13 years ago still stands today, and it comes across just as gratifying on the 3DS as it was on the N64.
One of the biggest things that was introduced in Ocarina of Time was the well-implemented “lock-on” targeting, which in the case of the N64 was done by using the Z-button on the bottom of the controller. Of course anyone who is a gamer knows that lock-on targeting is very important in games of today. Also found in the original Ocarina of Time was the implementation of assisted actions, such as jumping or climbing. Well all of these innovative features have been carried over to the 3DS version, and improved somewhat given you now have the touch screen to use. Maps are easily accessible, inventory can be viewed with ease, and buttons on the touch screen now take over some of the functions of the N64 controller. All in all you’ll find that control during your adventure is handled very well and it all comes quite naturally.
Given the size and scope of the game’s story, and the fact that a lot of people have not been played the game before (hey, it was 13 years ago), there is a new hint system that has been incorporated into the game. As you make your way across this vast adventure you will come across “Sheikah Stones”. These stones, when accessed, will give you hint movies that will guide you to various locations or hidden items, or they will give you suggestions on where to go next or how to beat a specific boss. Accessing these stones is totally optional, but I think it was a good inclusion, as many younger Nintendo and/or Zelda fans out there will find some guidance when needed. Of course those who are more adept to RPG/Adventure games will find little use for the “Sheikah Stones” as they should be able to figure things out on their own. Regardless though, the fact that these hints are actual movies is pretty cool and worth watching now and then.
New to this version of Ocarina of Time is the implementation of the 3DS’s gyroscope. You can literally use the 3DS as your looking or aiming mechanism. By moving the handheld console around you can look around your surroundings and you can also aim such things as your slingshot. The only down fall to this feature is that moving the 3DS around to view or aim does cause you to lose your “sweet spot” when playing the game in 3D. This can be remedied by turning the 3D slider off, but that would defeat the purpose of playing the 3D version of this game wouldn’t it?
Nintendo has added a bonus to the 3DS game by including the Master Quest version. Veterans of the series already know what this is, but for newbies, Master Quest will be unknown. Master Quest literally moves dungeons and enemies found in the game around so that those who have come to memorize the game will now have a new adventure so to speak as the whole world has been flipped around so that what was once in one direction is now in another. It sounds too simple, but trust me, once you attack the game in Master Quest mode you will find that it does make a big difference. I should also note that all the enemies you come across in Master Quest do more damage than before, so you have to be more cautious and watch your health more closely. This mixed up mode is for the diehards and is only available once you play through and finish the game a first time.
Also added to this handheld version of Ocarina of Time is a “Boss Gauntlet Mode”. Here you can go back to Link’s house in Kokiri forest and check out how quickly you defeated bosses during the game. One you have beaten all the bosses in this mode you can then face each boss one after another. It is a neat little feature and I think that Zelda purists will really enjoy it.
For those looking for any inclusion of some sort of multiplayer modes, there are none here. This is not a bad thing, as Ocarina of Time would not really suit any such mode, as it is strictly a single player experience.
Ocarina of Time gets its biggest improvements in the visual area. Trust me, once you look at the original game (google it), and then look at the 3DS version, the improvements are very noticeable. The biggest thing I noticed were all the characters in the game. From Link and Zelda, to Ganon and all the other enemies and bosses you face, they have been redrawn and reanimated to perfection. It is almost as if this is the way that Nintendo really wanted these characters to be seen, given the game is 13 years old, and the power of the 3DS really does help them achieve this goal.
Along with the characters, you will find that many of the environments also benefit from using the 3DS hardware. It really helps bring the world you explore alive; but as much as many of the locales are improved, there is still some areas and environments that show the game’s age. You will still come across some very blocky and square hills, cliffs, and dungeon areas. And not all of the textures have been improved either. When you find areas where new and old textures clash, the contrast in such is very visible and only reminds you that you are indeed playing a 13-year-old game. Don’t get me wrong, the improvements definitely outweigh what has not been touched in the game, visually speaking, but the game of old definitely says “hello” now and then and reminds you of it’s lineage.
In terms of the 3D effects, Ocarina of Time really does benefit from the 3D capability of Nintendo’s now 3-month-old handheld console. I was very much amazed with how well the development team managed to make this game a true 3D wonder. There is a lot of depth in all the levels, and when venturing across bridges, over platforms, and a long cliff edges, the 3D really does shine. That being said, I do have one HUGE complaint in this area. This is the first game that I found that the “sweet spot” for 3D to be very specific. If I moved the 3DS in any manner I found that I the visuals went all ‘wonky’ and I had to adjust to get back to the perfect 3D viewing angle. Most of the 3DS games that I have played up until now have not particularly had this issue, but the ‘sweet spot’ issue was more noticeable for me when playing this title than others. Should you end up turning off the 3D slider, the game is still quite beautiful, there is just a loss of depth and effects that you get with the 3D slider on.
If there is one thing next to the core gameplay that remains untouched it is the sound. You will find the same music and sounds that were heard in the original are back for a replay in the 3DS version, and this is not a bad thing. As I played the game I forgot just how good the music and sound effects really were, and they seem right at home on the 3DS. From the sounds of Link falling down a hole or opening a large treasure chest, to Navi the fairy’s “Hey!”, everything is very clear and very recognizable. Of course Ocarina of Time’s soundtrack has been lauded for years as one of the best ever made, and it sounds great on the 3DS’s speakers. The music always seems to change tracks at just the right time, heightening the drama and experience of what you are facing. It is just uncanny how well the music is paired up to the on-screen action. Overall the sound is just as strong as the rest of the game and makes for an engrossing experience.
At the end of the day it can be summed up that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time finds a new home on Nintendo’s newest handheld console and the visual and gameplay improvements that have been crafted help make a game that suits the modern generation of gamers today. Although the core gameplay has been left untouched, there is just enough added or changed to make it not only interesting to veterans of the game, but it introduces the title in such a way that newbies will find much to love here. I can’t help but recommend this game, and if you are still reading this review you should just stop now and run down to your nearest gaming store to reserve or pick up this must have title.