The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: review


Lots and lots of games were released between 1998 and now. Likeable gems, piles of fuming rubbish, lauded classics, and all manner of titles saw the light of day — but then there’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Even the most soulless gamers agreed that it was something special. This 3DS remake of the game holds up alarmingly well and possesses every grain of magic it was remembered for back on the old Nintendo 64. Toss aside both your 3D and rose-tinted glasses, for you’ll need neither pair to enjoy this classic among classics.

Most of us know the fabled quest by now: a boy from a mystical forest of peace is pulled into a grand adventure of heroism with the ultimate goal of saving the fair Princess Zelda and defeating Ganondorf the black-hearted villain. The plot hasn’t changed a bit and that’s nothing to complain about; it’s a strong story that offers more than a few memorable characters and poignant moments as it leads you from dungeon to dungeon.

That, after all, is the meat of the game: solving the puzzling dungeons and overthrowing the bosses that lurk within. Aside from the Water Temple (which now has colour-coded doors to keep your addled brains from falling out), the structure hasn’t been fiddled with much. You’ll still target skeletons and duel them to the death (or undeath as the case may be), hit switches to activate moving platforms, and find keys that open locked doors. Some conventions are starting to feel aged (notably the inflexible camera), but the complex yet perfectly ordered rooms and hallways are brilliantly designed, ensuring a satisfying flow of cognitive stimulation and killing things.

You think a measly rock will take down the Hero of Time? Boulder-dash! (Heh heh.)

Of course, life outside these perilous caves is just as rewarding. Hyrule is a huge place, positively stuffed to the brim with secrets. You might discover a hidden route to the Lost Woods while bombing rocks in the Goron city, which in turn could lead you to a fairy fountain– but you don’t have anything with which to catch one of the healing sprites! This won’t do, and so a crusade to find an empty bottle begins. It’s this sense of joyful exploration that makes Ocarina of Time so enthralling, even if you’ve already explored every nook and cranny before.

The world becomes even bigger when Link is transported seven years in the future and finds himself to be a strapping young man. Hyrule changes along with him and reacts to events caused in the past, allowing you to swap between the two forms at will. All of this legwork and fabric-of-the-universe-tearing can wear you out now and then, but a swift horse, a teleporting ocarina, and a new hint system do wonders to keep things moving.

It’s a beautiful place, this Hyrule, and it’s been completely redone with the utmost care. Link’s newly-constructed character model looks fantastic in a world of sharpened textures and brightened colours. Some areas have been so drastically upgraded that you’ll hardly recognise them, even if the blocky roots and minor glitches still remain. The visuals are taken to the next level with the addition of a brand new dimension: the third one. Now Death Mountain appears to truly loom high above and the Forest Temple’s twisting hallways have depth to them. In fact, the 3D is so effective that it’s jarring to switch back to the ordinary, flat world. Anti-aliasing and frame rate do take a hit with it turned on, but the result is well worth the trouble, whether you crank the slider all the way up or nudge it to a subtler setting.

It's hard to believe this place used to look like a Kokiri prison cell.

But we’re not simply talking about a new coat of paint: love it or hate it (we tend to do both), the wacky controller of the Nintendo 64 days is gone, replaced with the elegant 3DS. Not only are the face buttons and circle pad up to the task of providing a smooth ride, but most menus and HUD elements have been moved to the bottom screen. That means the ocarina, map, gear, and item screens can all be accessed with the tap of a button– even the iron boots, which again eases the Water Temple’s potential pain and nausea. Anything with a first-person perspective, such as the slingshot, can optionally be controlled by physically moving the 3DS, which is more accurate and immersive than you might imagine. Doing so can interfere with the 3D, but keeping it aligned with your face isn’t tough. Despite this quirk, the new setup makes for a faster, far more convenient interface, nixing one of Ocarina of Time’s few problems.

It’s worth pointing out that the soundtrack is largely unaltered in all its MIDI charm. Although expertly composed, the music does seem aged next to the spiffy graphics, so a remastered version would hardly go amiss. The ability to choose between old and new graphics would have been nice as well, but it’s hard to complain about a presentation this good.

Dense with polished content, you can dump hours into the game without even realising it, and the captivating setting will keep you from leaving. But don’t worry: when the journey finally comes to a close, you can replay any boss encounter at will or start a new Master Quest file. You’ll find radically altered dungeons rife with difficult riddles and monstrous monsters to overcome in this beefier version of the game, complete with a mirrored world to confuse you further. There’s almost no end to the adventure, and that’s something to be grateful for.

How one game can have so many unforgettable music themes is quite beyond us.

Ocarina of Time stands tall as one of the greatest videogames ever produced, going so far as to best most of today’s finest, and this quality remake only makes it better. Whether you have an encyclopedic knowledge concerning Lake Hylia’s population of fish or you’ve never touched a Zelda game in your life, this is something worthy of owning. There’s no better way to jump into the series and, nostalgia or not, you’ll be hard pressed to find a game more memorable, wondrous, and downright fun than Ocarina of Time 3D.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Written by Stephen K

A lover of video games in general, Stephen will happily play just about any sort of game on just about any sort of system, especially if it’s a platformer or an RPG. Except sports games. Sports games are boring.

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