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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time stands as one of the most important and loved games ever released. Enjoying a hardly modest score of 99 on Metacritic, even today many people rave about it. Therefore it came as no surprise that Nintendo decided to re-release the game in 3D with its handheld console, the 3DS. Fortunately, it isn't just a cash grab as the graphics are very much improved and the gameplay has been enhanced, taking advantage of the capabilities that the 3DS has. It's a great way to introduce the current generation of gamers to the game that inspired many other titles to come, and shows that The Legend of Zelda is just as fresh now as it was back then.
The game begins with a flash into the future - we see a young girl being chased on a horse by a bizarre-looking man. Back to the present, our protagonist - the young, blond-haired Link - wakes up in his home in a small town named Kokiri Forest. Link is different from the others in the Forest, because he doesn't have a fairy. The nearby Deku Tree believes Link is special, and commands a fairy named Navi to join Link's side, asking her to send Link to the Deku Tree. The hero of the story makes his way there, where the Deku Tree asks Link to retrive 3 Spiritual Stones which will ensure the evil Ganondorf can't retrieve the legendary and sacred Triforce. Overall, the story of Ocarina of Time isn't a masterpiece but is definitely entertaining and epic. The game's main theme, time, is an interesting one, and the setting of Hyrule is great to look at and explore. Things don't get as dark as they do in the sequel, Majora's Mask, but the antagonist is a strong one and the story is recommendable if you're looking for an exciting adventure.
The opening sequence of the game in Kokiri Forest acts as a tutorial, essentially. You're given the lowdown on most of the game's major systems, from swordplay and defending to the controls. The touchscreen acts as an inventory screen. You're shown what items are equipped to each button. You might have a bottle hotkeyed to Y, for example, and that is displayed on the touchscreen. You're also given two handy touchscreen buttons which you can map an item to. From the touchscreen, you may also access an intuitive menu. Clicking Gear allows you to look at your weapons; Map brings up a map of the area (should you have one); and Items shows your miscellaneous items such as sticks and masks. The gameplay itself is accessible and easy to use. Using a shoulder button you can lock onto an enemy, clicking a face button to attack, and tapping the other shoulder button to defend.
The game has a non-linear structure. As soon as you complete the first dungeon, you're free to explore Hyrule. The whole of the world is accessed through Hyrule Field, which acts as a hub. Though you can rush through the story if desired, but it's better to explore the world and look for additional missions. The part of the game that's a staple of Zelda is the dungeons. Throughout the story, you'll have to enter these with collecting a certain item in mind. They're filled with puzzles and require you to find chests containing maps and keys in order to get around the dungeon and progress. Each one sees you fighting a boss at the end of it. The dungeons start off simply; the interior of the Deku Tree, for instance, has you ascending to the top, before jumping down to break through a web at the bottom, then exploring to find the boss. Then, they get more complex, such as the infamous Water Temple, in which you explore a large area, altering the water level in order to reach new places. Though at the core these dungeons remain the same, they've been slightly changed about since the N64 version. For example, the aforementioned Water Temple has had some of its major quirks removed, making it a bit easier to complete, removing most of the frustration players had with it back in 1997.
Beside the story, there are a few extra activities to get involved in which range from basic to challenging. An early example involves you locating numerous lost chickens for a woman in a village. You can complete these extra activities or explore the world for Rupees, used to buy things like ammunition for your slingshot, a new shield, or sticks. There are also spider-like creatures which drop Golden Skulltulas, which can be exchanged for rewards like a bigger Rupee wallet. There are extra outfits to obtain besides the ordinary, ability-less green one that Link wears at the start; the red tunic provides resistance against strong heat, and the blue one allows you to breathe underwater. One of the main features of the game, however, is the Ocarina. You can play various tunes using the buttons of the 3DS; a certain combination of buttons makes a song, and each song has a specific function. One is the Sun's Song, which turns day into night and vice-versa, which is helpful as some areas can only be accessed at a certain time of day. Another is the Song of Storms, which - you guessed it - makes the weather cloudy and stormy. It's a great feature that ties in with the story well.
Ocarina of Time 3D has a rather unique way of adding replay value. Instead of including a multiplayer add-on or including loads of collectibles, you can play through the game again in Master Quest, once you've completed the main game once. This mode wasn't available in the original N64 version - you had to buy it separately. Master Quest reverses the world, and enemies damage you twice the amount they normally would. It's a great addition which creates a great challenge, and one of the best 'one more playthrough' features I've ever seen, making me wonder why more developers don't include this type of extra. Still, the game still offers plenty of value even ignoring Master Quest - as your first playthrough could end in the 30-70 hour region; it's a big gap, but the length all depends on how quick the player goes through the story, and how good they are at figuring out the puzzles.
Graphically, Ocarina of Time looks great on 3DS and is a massive improvement over the N64 version. The colours are much more vivid now and there's a lot more detail in the environment, making the world even more beautiful. The most noticeable improvement is in the marketplace - where in the original it wasn't very good looking at all, out of place against the rest of the game, here it's perfectly suited and looks great. The character models also look superb, not extremely detailed but colourful and fitting in well with the environment. It's great to see the diversity in the visuals, as well. One moment you'll be exploring a flame-filled, boiling cavern, the next you're in a freezing, icy cave. As for the 3D effect, it's not a game-changer at all but is a nice feature for the game - however, it isn't really worth trying to keep the 3DS in the right position constantly just for the 3D. The visuals do look great in summary. The sound is even better. Ocarina of Time is recognised as having one of the best soundtracks in gaming, and I certainly agree with that sentiment. In addition to the epic music you hear while exploring the world of Hyrule and the various dungeons, some of the music you play through the Ocarina is incredibly memorable. From the cheery Saria's Song to the slow and dramatic Song of Time, there are plenty of great tunes. Sometimes, I'd genuinely play some of the songs on the Ocarina just because I wanted to hear the music. As for the voice acting, the dialogue is all given through text boxes so it's impossible to actually comment on it, of course. Although, there is one voice in the game and that's Navi talking to you occasionally, which is the only bad part of the sound. Her high-pitched "Listen!!" when she reminds you to save or tell you, as is the usual for Nintendo, tell you that you've been playing for too long, gets pretty annoying. Otherwise, the sound is - may I say it - perfect.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D shows that Nintendo's classic really does live up to the praise piled upon it. It tells an epic and engrossing story that is no light-hearted romp, but just about anyone can get hooked in by the plot. The world is amazingly realised, with colour and variety. Gameplay is great and enhanced to suit the 3DS in great fashion. The touchscreen shortcuts which can be used to equip items is a great feature, keeping pausing to change your equipment at a minimum. Swordplay may be very simple and lacks the finesse seen with the combat in Skyward Sword, but going through dungeons and fighting enemies is great fun, and puzzles are a good challenge and change of pace. It also offers fantastic value. In addition to the 30+ hour initial playthrough, you can play through the Master Quest to make things a fair bit harder, plus it's great to set yourself challenges such as not collecting heart containers (used to boost your maximum health) from bosses when you defeat them, thus making death much easier. The graphics are impressive and while the 3D effect is disappointing, in my opinion this isn't too big a deal as the 3D feature of the 3DS has taken a back seat to the amazing quality of games released recently for the system. The sound is amazing, from the fantastic main theme to the many tunes you can play through the Ocarina. It really proves Koji Kondo is one of the best games composers out there. To conclude, this is an amazing experience worth playing whether you played it back on N64 or not
Thanks for reading! This review is also posted on Ciao under my name YoshiCheesePuff.
I know that many people here will be familiar with the original version of the game on the Nintendo 64, however for those who aren't I will try to give a brief explanation.
The original verison of The Legend of Zelda: Ocariana of Time was one of the most highly rated games of all time, with an average rating of 99/100 from all reviews. (This can be seen on the Metacritic website which gives the average review rating from hundereds of sources and calculates an average. It even allows you to read the reviews when possible) The game was the first 3D outing in the already well-established Legend of Zelda series. It began with you controlling a child called Links as he discovered it was his destiny to save the land of Hyrule from a tyrant named Gannondorf. Link had been having nightmares about him and didn't know their meaning until the Great Deku Tree, the guardian of the forest he lived in at the time, explained his destiny to him. After he finds this out Link goes on a quest to stop Gannondorf with the help of the Princess of Hyrule, "Zelda". The quest is split up into what many people refer to as "dungeons"; locations which require the player to solve various puzzles with an expanding collection of tools and fight various monsters, often with a sword, but also with other weapons such as arrows, in order to collect a vital items needed to save Hyrule. There are also quite a few optional side-quests to paricipate in and various challenges such as archery and horseback racing.
I have considered this to be my favourite game ever since I played it at a friend's house back in 1999. When I played it there, although I didn't manage to get that far, I was drawn in and knew I had to get it myself. At one point in the game time progresses nine years and Link becomes an adult. I wasnt expecting this at the time and remember vividly the feeling of excitement and achievement I felt, even though this was only roughly a quarter of the way through the game! I have never felt such a feeling of satisfaction and achievement since from any other game!
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a 100% faithful remake of the the original of the 3DS. It does however have many updated aspects which do nothing but improve on the original! Firstly, the graphics have been updated and are now beautiful. Even if you don't like using the 3D features of the 3DS you are still treated to updated character models and textures which really show how impressive the graphics on the 3DS can be. They are significantly better than those used in the N64 original.
The difference in controls available on the N64 and 3DS meant that this game had to have a complete overhaul when it came to a control scheme. On the Nintendo 64 you were able to assign equipped items to three of the "C" buttons. In the remake you are able to assign them to 4 on-screen buttons, two of which can also be used by pressing the "X" or "Y" buttons on the 3DS. Certain weapons such as the arrows and slingshot now have optional accelerometer controls, meaning that you can aim by moving the 3DS console as if it is a window into the game. All the menus have also been moved to the touch screen instead of having to pause the game to use them. You can also see a much larger map, than on the Nintendo 64 version, on the touch screen.
Another two additions to the game are a hints system for if you get stuck with the game and a "Boss Attack" mode which allows you to fight any of the bosses you have already defeated again, trying to beat your record time.
For those who have already beaten Ocarina of Time and know the game inside-out there is also a "Master Quest" mode included. "Master Quest" was originally only available in Japan for the Nintendo 64, and was the original game, but featuring harder puzzles and tougher enemies. Besides a limited edition version of Master Quest which was released for the Nintendo Gamecube alongside the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, this is the first time the Master Quest has been properly seen in English. To add extra challenge to the 3DS version of the Master Quest however, the game has been inverted (Things that were on your left are now on your right and vice versa). For me at least, this change lead to me getting lost in locations which were previously extremely familiar to me!
My only complaint about this remake is that (and this is a very minor complaint) due to techical restrictions when the game was released on the Nintendo 64 originally, the game doesn't meet quite the same standards as the later console offerings, Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword, in terms of the complexity of the story or size of the game. It does however beat any handheld offerings hands-down!
I would highly recommend this game to anyone as, as previously stated, it has been my favourite game ever since I first played it on the Nintendo 64!
Where should a review of Ocarina of Time begin? Most start off with a lot of fawning. "Greatest game ever made" will probably turn up somewhere. My review won't go like that. Firstly, because I don't think that is necessarily true, and secondly because the original title came out nearly fifteen years ago. Most reviews of Ocarina of Time 3D seem to say more about games in 1998 than of today, and more about the Nintendo 64 than the 3DS. Despite its great reputation among gamers, we are dealing with a whole new audience now and so this port must be able to stand on its own two feet.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a remake of the first 3D rendered Zelda title. It features the entirety of the original game, along with upgrade graphics and a few minor adjustments to the control scheme. Otherwise, this game is generally unchanged. The game stars Link, unless you change the name, a young boy who lives in the woods with a community of childlike people called the Kokiri. The game opens as Link is sent on a quest by the protector of the Kokiri village, a wise talking tree. It's all a bit outlandish in the way games and films from the 90s so often were, but it's not as goofy to play as it is to write down. As Link leaves the forest, he eventually finds his way into the vast open kingdom of Hyrule. The story takes link from settlement to settlement, dungeon to dungeon, where he'll meet royalty, fish people, lava monsters and, if you're lucky, a horse.
If this all sounds familiar, don't be surprised, Ocarina of Time was so successful that it eventually became the template for almost every Zelda game that has come since. However, it's only by replaying this game that I realised just how derivative, and dull, the series has become. Ocarina of Time 3D, despite its ages, manages to be a better game than its successors by remaining so conceptually pure. Link is a young hero who sets out to rescue a princess, the kingdom of Hyrule is a like recognisable fantasy medieval kingdom and the various dungeons have clear structures and puzzles based around their theme. There's a sense that the game is reduced to its most basic elements here and the result is that it feels very accommodating. It's a difficult game at times, but it never feels like the game is cheating or confusing.
I think one of the most enjoyable experience to be had here is the sense of scope. This is a big game, it was a big game back in 1998 and it's bigger than a lot of games now. It will take you a long time to work through, but there'll be real twists and turns in the gameplay along the way. The 3DS is still not exactly rolling in great games, so it's nice to have one that you can really invest yourself in if you choose. The flip side of that is that this games is not really meant for pick up and play gaming. Put it down for a few days and you'll probably have lost your way a bit, forget where you went last and where you should go next. In some ways it's very modern, in others there's a frustrating sort of trial and error about it. I'm not fond of modern gaming's tendency to hold the player's hand, but Ocarina of Time throws you into the deep end in a way that's refreshing and irritating at the same time. Its style lends itself to continuous play, but its length prohibits it.
There are some problems here though. Most are leftovers from the 90s. The controls are alright, but the camera controls are a little awkward. The original game used an awkward "3D look" setup which had not aged well and has unfortunately been carried across here, but for the most part it's easy enough to adjust to. There's also the small problem that small 3DS screen makes a few things trickier to deal with. Shooting a tiny spider off a web from the other side of a dungeon is a lot easier on a 20+ inch TV. However, it's not all bad. The developers have used the 3DS touchscreen to implement better swapping of inventory items. This makes quick switching between gadgets and weapons much more pleasant, and takes away one major design flaw from the original game that made a particular dungeon a nightmare to traverse. I wouldn't give this game a great score for controls alone, but it's never a serious infringement on your fun.
Graphically, I have a lot of praise for this game. The style of the game is preserved, but improved. It looks clean, colourful and fits the console well. The 3D effect is a bit of a waste. The game doesn't lend itself well to the 3DS style of depth, which works better for games with tighter, more locked in visuals. Though, I might be biased. I played this game with the 3D off most of the time. I don't have anything against the 3D effect, but Ocarina of Time features a nice anti-aliasing option that is only enabled when the 3D is off. This very well implemented feature smooths out a lot of the aliasing and makes the picture dramatically better on the 3DS' low res screen.
I was all set to bash Ocarina of Time 3D. A port of a 15 year old console game on a handheld that really needs more innovative releases. In the end though, I came away with the feeling that Ocarina of Time 3D had been really worth my time. It's a nice, lengthy adventure that is accessible and well made. It feels more fundamental than more recent Zelda titles and held my interest far better than I expected it to. Its inherited a few problems as a remake, but none of them are deal breakers. Overall, I'd say it's a 3DS must own.