26th June 2011 - The launch of Nintendo's newest handheld, the 3DS, has had a very shaky first couple of weeks. With no major first-party software from the Big N and a price tag that wouldn't look out of place on a current generation console bundle, it seemed as if the 3DS would have nothing worthwhile to showcase it's use of glasses-free 3D portable games. That is until Nintendo managed to re-release the instant classic from 1996 onto it. I am, of course, referring to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
You play as the young Link, who is called by destiny to save the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf. Along the way he will encounter great challenges, meet interesting characters, and even travel through time in order to prevent the end of the world. Same Zelda set-up, same Zelda channel. What isn't the same is the controls, and thank god for that.
Implementing the touch screen of the 3DS, Ocarina of Time 3D manages to streamline the original control scheme while eliminating problems inherent to the original. You have the ability to map four of your items to the touch screen, being able to call on two with the X and Y buttons, and there's a spot on the screen reserved for the Ocarina. Unfortunately the Item screen has lost some of its structure, all items obtained are just thrown into a box set up. Veterans will find that annoying but the other changes make up for it. For instance, certain gear that may or may not be tediously equipped in order to solve puzzles now have the option to be instantly mapped to the touch screen, instead of having to pause the game several times to equip them manually. Not going to spoil anything for the young blood who haven't played this game period, but all I will say is you have it a bit easier now, especially in the Water Temple. Great, now I feel old....
In addition to some improved controls, the 3DS's built in gyroscopic controls for aiming and looking are a very nice addition to the game. Those against motion controls may find it to be a cheap gimmick to substitute proper game design, but this claim holds as much water as a barrel with the bottom cut out. First, this is motion control on a handheld device, something that was specifically made to be held in the hands for long periods of time, and the motion controls are literally picking the device up and moving left and right. Second, it is possible to turn it off in the options menu, so it isn't “being shoved down our throats.” Lastly, it just feels more immersive than just moving the control nub around and releasing a button.
On the subject of the game's 3D mode, I really cannot comment on its ability, other than if you can withstand the headaches, it's almost worth the extra drain on the battery. The problem is, save for a few changed moments in cutscenes, there really isn't a whole lot to justify 3D in Ocarina of Time. It's the difference between something being made specifically for 3D like James Cameron's Avatar and having 3D slapped on just for the sake of it in films like Green Hornet. Ocarina of Time 3D is in the latter category.
Purists will be happy to know that the original adventure of Ocarina of Time, as designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, is still completely intact in this 3D port, from the unusual dialogue between the townspeople in Hyrule Castle Town's Market down to Navi's annoying medley of, “Hey! Listen! Watch Out! Hello!” In addition, to help out new players, there are special Sheikah Stones that give players hints as to where to proceed next in the adventure, or flat out show solutions to certain puzzles in dungeons. I will say it again, these little ankle biters have it easy this time around.
But there is a point in the game where these stones don't show up at all, in the Master Quest. For those who don't know, the Master Quest was a version of Ocarina of Time designed to be much harder than the original and was only released on the Gamecube as a pre-order incentive at certain retailers for Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This same adventure is now available on Ocarina of Time 3D after completing the original adventure, and will definitely give Zelda Veterans and challenge seekers something to sink their teeth into; on top of the revamped difficulty, enemies deal twice as much damage and the entire game is mirrored.
Ocarina of Time 3D doesn't flex the 3DS rendering ability, and in terms of fidelity, the new PS Vita has nothing to worry about. But what it does manage to do is something even more important, enhance and improve upon the aesthetic of the original game. Too often when it comes to HD remakes of old games, the only treatment done graphically is barely noticeable to the naked eye, hoping nostalgia fills in the blanks. Ocarina of Time 3D on the other hand is professional. Nintendo knew the original wasn't going to still wow people in the shape it was fifteen years ago, and managed to hit a sweet middle ground. They completely enriched the character models, enemy models and livened the textures, but didn't completely change the feel of the game as a whole. As a result, the experience manages to make someone's eleventh playthrough on other versions feel like their first all over again.
Sound wise, Ocarina of Time 3D is still what we've come to expect from the Legend of Zelda series. Link's old library of “Yah!”s are back, the musical score is the same as from 1996, with some small cosmetic embellishments for the hardcore fans to pick out. Problem is, save for the credits sequence, there is almost no new piece of music in the game. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just unusual to have new visuals but still have the old sounds.
Ocarina of Time has aged really well, and I'm glad that not only did Nintendo just do a great job remaking it, they made it portable. With the inclusion of the Master Quest to appease veterans, new hint videos to guide newcomers, and an unlockable Boss Rush mode, Ocarina of Time 3D is definitely worth your money. Then again, you do need a 3DS. Good thing you can still live with only one of your kidneys, right?
Ocarina of Time 3D is a great remake of a great classic that still has its high moments and less of its low. The new controls are responsive yet don't take away from the challenge the game provides, the game looks better than ever, and its additions make it worth your time whether its the first time you're saving Hyrule, or the 25th.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+ Ocarina of Time, now in your pocket!
+ Visually new yet familiar
+ Streamlined Controls
+ Master Quest included
- Lack of a touched up musical score
- 3D feels tacked on.
Reviewed and Written By Tyler Chancey