I’m pretty much the biggest Legend Of Zelda fan that you’ll ever meet. I have every version of every Zelda game, on every Nintendo console (including virtual consoles), ever made. With that in mind, you can understand why I had very high expectations coming up to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
Ocarina of Time is a classic. Like a good book, every couple of years I find myself coming back to go through it once more. With the new 3DS version hitting shelves this weekend, it seemed like an ideal time to sit down and go through it again – and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
This weekend I played the new 3DS version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time through from start to finish and this is my review.
The original Nintendo 64 (N64) version of Ocarina of Time was released in Australia in December of 1998 and has spanned an epic 4 consoles since; first on the N64, then re-released with Ocarina of Time Master Quest on Gamecube, then made available on the Wii Virtual Console, and now it has landed on the Nintendo 3DS.
For he benefit of those of you that are new to the Zelda series, the story of Ocarina of Time follows Link, from his youth through to adulthood, as he battles to save Princess Zelda and the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf, King of Theives. To do so he must set free the sages of the forest, fire, water, shadows, spirits and light, gathering an armory of weapons and a plethora of magic as he does. The game features big environments to explore, complex puzzles to solve, an army of bad guys and loads of side quests and items to collect.
So what’s new?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is almost entirely reworked to take advantage of the graphics capabilities of the 3DS hardware and as such looks nothing like what it did on N64, GameCube or Wii. In order to live up to a high quality ‘glasses-free 3D experience’, Nintendo has been unwaivering in their attention to detail in the game’s 3D environment. It’s not just the characters, the buildings and the landscapes that have been redesigned; all the intricate details of the pick-up items (magic jars, hearts, arrows, bombs etc), every ladder, every chain, every piece of jewelry, and even Navi’s wings have been meticulously reworked in higher quality 2D and rich 3D.
Here are a few 3DS v N64 comparisons for your looking pleasure:
Music is a key part of many titles in the Legend of Zelda series. In Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo has made very, very subtle changes to the score throughout the game. When you make Link play Zelda’s lullaby, Epona’s Song, Saria’s Song or many of the other ocarina melodies, you’ll notice that the sounds being produced have been re-recorded to sound more like a wind instrument ought. In addition to this, the visual backings for each melody (eg the purple spiral that accompanies Zelda’s Lullaby) have been slightly enhanced, and in some cases completely changed, like with the Sun’s song.
The 3DS has several interface advantages over the N64, but none as significant to the controls as its touch screen. The controls and in-game menus have been completely redesigned and optimised for the 3DS touch screen. Instead of 4 menus (items, equipment, map and quest summary) there are now 3 (gear, items and map). The touch screen also has 4 buttons to equip items to (instead of 3), and a separate button for your Ocarina.
The built in gyroscope of the 3DS also brings new controls to the slingshot, fairy bow and hookshot/longshot. You can still aim with the analogue stick, but now you have the option of simply moving the 3DS in the direction you that want to aim.
New ‘hint’ system
I’ll be honest. I played the whole thing through from start to finish in less than a day. I didn’t need a hint system, but if you’re new to Ocarina of time I’m sure you’ll find it useful.
Does new = better?
The best part about this game is that it’s got a solid story to begin with. Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, the Triforce, The Deku Tree, Dodongo’s Cavern, Inside Lord Jabu Jabu’s Belly, the Forest, Fire, Water, Shadow, Spirit Temples and Ganon’s Castle are impeccably designed and tell a very compelling narrative.
The newly enhanced graphics and audio add to this, making the overall experience much more pleasurable. The game looks fantastic in both 2D and 3D, and you won’t catch yourself thinking about how poorly rendered the ladders and vines are while your climbing around the Forest Temple. Neither will you find yourself roaming Hyrule field wondering “what’s with all the shitty looking magic jars?”.
While the graphics and audio were definitely a plus, my feelings were mixed on the new control system. Being able to equip up to 5 items (including the ocarina) at one time using the touchscreen is fantastic. However, I found that when I was using the bow or the slingshot, the gyroscope often made me miss the mark slightly (very annoying when you’re in the shooting gallery!). Not a big deal, and I’m sure it was mostly my fault, but I did notice it a lot.
It’s a massive call to make, but I think Nintendo has taken one of the best games in history and made it even better. I hope that the legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is the first of many classic games to have new life breathed into them with the 3DS. Personally, I’d like to seeing other N64 classics like Majora’s Mask, DonkeyKong 64, and Banjo Kazooie.
For looks, feel, playability and doing more than justice to a classic, I give The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D five stars.
[image credits: Nintendo]