The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS) Review
Let’s be clear from the outset, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is my favourite game ever. I’m not going to hide it, there’s no point, you’ll be able to tell. I was 12 years old when this game hit, I’ve only finished it once since then not wanting to spoil the memories of game. It’s taken 13 years for me to be open and touching upon the game. Luckily, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D retains all the essence of the original and improves on the core experience set by the original. Graphics and controls are brought into the modern era and the game has also been adapted to the new platform in which is resides. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D remains as an epic achievement, let me tell you why.
Ocarina of Time 3D’s story remains unchanged. You’re Link, a young boy awoken by a fairy and sent on a quest to save the world and its inhabitants. Ganon has stolen the Triforce and cast the world into peril. That world is Hyrule, the land of the vast and varied. From the east to the west, the landscape is as vast and varied as are the people who live in it. You’ll need to explore the world, talk to everyone to get through your quest. From the children of the Kokiri, the Gorons who live on the beautiful yet dangerously named Death Mountain, the water inhabiting Zoras, the women of the Gerudo; they all play a part and for the most part have no idea what’s going to happen to their world.
Nintendo have updated the controls, interface and graphics for this release, but for as much as those elements are new, there’s still a classic element to the game that you don’t see much anymore. There’s no regenerative health, hand holding or tutorials (unless you want them). Exploring the game’s world and meeting everyone is your reward for playing the game this way. Navi is there of course, just as annoying as usual, she’ll pipe in with some ‘helpful’ advice every so often – but for the most part. You’re on your own, and it’s amazing.
Ocarina of Time is laid out like, what is now considered to be the norm for Zelda games. The core of the game is played through the dungeons with the overworld of Hyrule used for side quests and exploring. Most of the locations in the game exist for a purpose in the story, not much is left after the story is done that won’t have missed. However, the side quests will allow you to explore and take advantage of all the little nooks and crannies hanging around the land. The secondary tasks in the game aren’t essential to the story but they’re actually fun. There’s also a bunch of mini games loitering around the towns and locals in the game. There’s also quests and game elements that span time, yes time. It’s in the title after all.
Yes, if you’re new to Ocarina of Time, you might not know that the game spans goes across time periods. You start off as Link, the young boy with a task way too big for his boots, but later on the game twists and you’re propelled seven years in to the future. This time travel is kind of different to most movies as Link also ages and becomes a strapping young man. Unfortunately, while seven years in the Temple of Time have allowed Link to age gracefully, the rest of Hyrule suffered quite badly. Link emerges from the Temple of Time and the once lively Castle Town has been abandoned and destroyed, Hyrule Caste has been destroyed and in place hover Ganon’s Castle. Further outside the city, the rest of the land doesn’t fair too well, with people displaced and everyone living in the fear of Ganon, it’s not a pretty place to be. It’s kind of sad really, and to see people displaced and in some cases, dead, and you’re directly involved; well, you can’t just sit back and let that happen right?
Ocarina of Time is the most consistent Zelda game out there, while others have improved on the game in the way of graphics, world scale and interface (some of which are addressed here), Ocarina of Time still feels and gels as a more complete game. The game is on from the minute Link hops out of bed and the game slowly unravels into the grand complex adventure everyone remembers.
Being on a new platform, Nintendo and Grezzo have been able to mix up the game. They’ve got a whole slew of new control methods and two screens to play with. The touchscreen here isn’t used for aiming or anything silly like that, this is how the touch screen is meant to be used: you can assign weapons to not only ‘on screen buttons’, which replicate the X and Y buttons but too also two other auxiliary buttons. Your woes in the Water Temple are over people.
There’s also a specialised Ocarina button on the left hand side of the screen that’s always there. The Ocarina has been kitted out with the additional touch screen that contains the musical notes to play on. Nothing special there but you can also pull up a little library of all the songs in the game and have them available for easy access. Good for someone with short memory like me.
The second big change on the game’s controls is the inclusion of the totally optional gyroscopic movement for aiming and first person viewing. Pull out your bow or hookshot and you can move the system around to aim. This is both a great addition and one that has a few problems. For me, I felt it became natural to pull out the hookshot and move the system up slightly to aim, bam, there you go – simple. During the shooting gallery mini games, you can notice just how much more precise these controls are. It’s certainly better then going into ‘aiming’ mode then using the circle pad to aim and the tap tap tap in directions to get perfect aiming. The N64 analogue stick was slightly easier in this regard. If you’re not a fan of the gyroscope controls then you can turn them off in the menu, it’s really easy. You might want to do this as well like with other games, as moving the system with the 3D on breaks the effect in most places. Nintendo will argue that you’re meant to move the console and not tilt but it will break it most of the time. I mentioned earlier that the N64 stick was possibly better than the slide pad for the camera and aiming controls but for the rest of the game, it makes controlling Link and even Link on Epona just as good as the original, if not better.
The other and possibly most important new addition to Ocarina of Time 3D is, well, the 3D. Some people will say that the 3D on the Nintendo 3DS is a gimmick and devalue what it can add to games. The addition of 3D here in Ocarina of Time greatly enhances the game, perhaps not on adding to the game in the way it plays (it sure looks neat when aiming) but it adds atmosphere to the game, this atmosphere couldn’t be added any other way. The effect is best when you’re playing with darkness around you and with headphones even more so. You’re staying in the world of Hyrule through this box. It pops out at you and immerses you. Walking through the forest and there’s particles of fairy dust, the heat effects in the Fire Temple and when underwater, it all helps the game pop. This isn’t a “pop out of the screen” effect, but it helps the game come to life for me. This 3D effect in addition to the redone animations, upgraded character models for both Link and enemies is nothing short of superb. The game’s new framerate also makes the world of Hyrule look better than ever. It isn’t an entirely new game, this has to be said; there’s little bits of the old game hiding in here but for the most part, it’s all beautiful. One thing I did notice is that the game feels a lot ’smaller’, whether this is just to the screen being smaller and it’s a trick of the mind or something else. Moblins which where huge and scary in the Forest Temple are now feel much less foreboding.
In my mind, it’s best to play Ocarina of Time 3D with the 3D adjusting to the mood. In the heat of the battle of a boss fight or a timed run you’ll want the 3D down low or off, for slower parts of the game and cutscenes crank it up and enjoy what the 3D has to offer. I personally had to keep it off max 3D strength though, my eyes just couldn’t take it at maximum. It feels like it has the same 3D ‘effect’ as Pilotwings. If you chose to play exclusively in 2D, you’ll get anti-aliased edges on everything making it look silky smooth.
Ocarina of Time’s soundtrack has luckily been mostly unchanged in this edition. I say slightly because it feels slightly different to how I remember it. In an Iwata Ask’s feature they mentioned they had tweaked some tracks and you can tell. The choice to keep the tracks in their ‘MIDI’ form will annoy some but this is how I remember them – that’s how they should be. From the moment you boot up the game the music nostalgia will flow from the speakers and into your ears. Each new area you explore (or re-explore) will bring back memories. If you’ve never played it before, get ready to add another soundtrack to your library. There’s one entirely brand new track in the game though, but you’ll have to finish the game at least once to see it.
You’ll want to finish the game too or you won’t be able to unlock the Master Quest. This remixed version of the game flips the game world from left to right and remixes all the dungeons and puzzles. Things will be out of order and with everything flipped, it’s even harder again. But wait there’s more, not only is everything not as you remember but the damage the world and enemies deals to you has been almost quadrupled. For a Zelda veteran like me, it’s really really hard. Nintendo even added a boss rush mode so you can ‘relive’ the game’s boss battles as dreams from Link’s childhood bed. You can even take them all on in a row to test your mettle. It’s a nice addition for the competitive people out there.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D offers something different for everyone. For veterans, it’ll be a chance to relive the game with the addition of 3D and motion controls. For people new to the franchise and who never played the original, you’ve got the chance to enjoy one of the best games of all time updated and upgraded to modern standards but without it losing what made it so great in the first place. Even you, the people who have completed it 50 times over will have something to do here.
Certainly not pushing the Nintendo 3DS to the absolute limit but in no way a disappointing looking game. The 3D adds a new layer and figurative and literal dimension to the game that you cant get anywhere else. It truly is a beautiful game.
The classic game you all know adapted to the new console its on perfectly. New controls allow you to play through the game better than you ever did before. Ocarina of Time was a pioneer of so much and even today stands above others.
The classic soundtrack returns and is truly the definition of timeless. Classic Zelda noises are here in abundance. Whipping out the Ocarina of Time and warping to Death Mountain with the Bolero of Fire brings back memories.
One of the first real Nintendo 3DS games you can sink your teeth into. Veterans will cruise through the game, but Master Quest will test even the best. Theres more to Ocarina of Time than simple a game. Its history.
My favourite game ever, in portable form. I havent been able to put it down. It pains me to review this game, because you dont play it, you experience it.