At e3 2010, some enterprising internet surfers found a small page for an (at the time) unannounced remake of the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Zelda fans went wild. “A remake of one of the greatest games of all time,” we thought “now on a portable system so I can take it anywhere. How could that not be awesome?” While the game is awesome, it’s also an exact remake of the N64 original with a few upgrades. When I say exact, I mean exact. It’s clear developer Greezo carried over the original code to the game, meaning the experience you get with this game is nearly the exact same one you got back in 1998.
Game play: 7/10
Since Ocarina of Time for the N64 was released back in 1998, every Legend of Zelda title after it has refined the game play of the series, improving with every entry in the series. Twilight Princess is currently the game with the best game play and it will no doubt be surpassed by Skyward Sword. Unfortunately, developers Greezo decided not to use any of these improvements and apply them to this remake. Nor did they try and get the maximum usage out of the 3DS.
Let me make this clear: the game plays nearly exactly as it did in 1998. That core game play still holds up today. However, everything that may have infuriated you in the original title is still there. The Water Temple is still annoying as hell, the glitch that allows you to enter Jabu Jabu’s belly as Adult Link is still accessible and there are many things in the game that still don’t make a lick of sense, like the cow at Death Mountain.
This would be fine if the development team decided to try and get some use out of the 3DS’s other features. It has obvious touch screen and motion control abilities, but it doesn’t utilize two of the systems best features: Spotpass and Streetpass. There is a world of opportunity these two features provide, but they are MIA in this game.
One nice addition to the game is use of Sheikah Stones. There are two in the game (outside Links home and in the Temple of Time) that are essentially players guides built into the game. They only cover the most essential parts of the quest though, so don’t expect it to tell you what that girl in Kakariko village wants you to give her from a bottle.
The graphics are a definite step up from the N64 original, and it may be hard to go back to that version after playing this 3D remake. But unfortunately, the graphics aren’t even close to the best this system can put out. It doesn’t look better or even as good as the Gamecube Zelda titles. So let’s say…Dreamcast quality graphics.
Part of the problem is the title uses the original code. So everything is still the same, just with a higher polygon count. When you enter the gates of Hyrule Market, you still see it from an overhead view. When you get in the market, the camera is still fixed in the exact same place. Everyone in the game moves exactly as they did 13 years ago. The game stays true to the original in this sense, yes, but it misses an opportunity to change things up, to give the game more life now that it’s on a more powerful system.
That said, the improvements they did make in the graphics mean this game won’t look dated as quickly at the N64 original. You can see Death Mountain from Hyrule Market and the Temple of Time looks outstanding on the inside.
The advent of Z-targeting back on the N64 was a godsend for three dimensional games. It allowed for easier and more focused attacks and made Ocarina of Time a title that anyone with any video game skills could have chance at beating. In this 3D remake, Z-targeting (now available with the L button) works just as it did in that former title, kinks and all. Navi will at times focus on enemies that are across the room instead of the ones attacking you and there remain certain things in the game that you just cannot target (like Gold Skulltulas and the traveling scarecrow).
The two biggest additions to the control system in the game is the touch screen inventory system and motion controlled aiming. The touch screen inventory does make switching items easier (especially the iron boots), but it still pauses the action every time you switch an item in or out. I would have liked to have seen the process made more seamless and allow for quicker switching. Motion control aiming is probably the best addition to the title as it makes shooting arrow, seeds, the longshot and the boomerang a quicker endeavor. It’s probably easier to aim in 3D as well, but as I can’t see 3D, I couldn’t tell you.
The story for the Ocarina of Time was pitch-perfect in 1998 and it’s still wonderment today. Though all the mystery is gone about the identity of Sheik, it’s amazing how complex the story was for its time and how 13 years later you can still discover new things that you missed back then. My personal favorite new discovery is how all the women in the game seem to want to sleep with Link. The story is fun, brisk and begs you to explore the magnificent world of Hyrule
The game unfortunately uses the same MIDI tracks that were used in the original. The music and sound effects still sound great coming out of the tiny speakers of the 3DS, but it’s hard to go back to that kind of music after hearing so many games with fully orchestrated soundtracks. Ocarina of Time is one of the greatest games of all time and it should sound that way as well.
Ocarina of Time 3D definitely fills a void on the 3DS. Up until this game’s release, most titles we’ve seen have been games you play in short spurts. Ocarina of Time 3D has a 30+ hour story mode with a 30+ hour bonus Master Quest mode. There is also a boss rush mode, but good luck finding out how to access it (hint: go to sleep in Link’s bed when you’ve beaten the game). While you’ll be able to beat the game in about 30 hours, completing everything in the story mode will take more time. The trading sequence and mask delivery side quests will take about 10 minutes, but hunting for poes and killing all the gold skulltulas will take some time.
Many people think that Ocarina of Time is the greatest game of all time. While everyone is welcome to their opinion, I would have to disagree. It was certainly the greatest game of its time, but the title has been surpassed by nearly every other Zelda title since then. Still, Ocarina of Time is an excellent game with (thankfully) game play that still holds up more than a decade later. Easily one of the best games on the 3DS, the title is a must have for owners of the system who are looking for a more meaty experience than what is currently out there. Just don’t expect it to be the definitive 3DS title. Greezo and Nintendo seem to be fine letting this game coast on its legacy instead of trying to improve it in any way.