The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D ReviewChris Waldron
Compiling a beneficial review of Ocarina of Time 3D – or any remake for that matter - presents its writer with a glaring problem: for whom do you review it? The audience, after all, is divided. Some consumers are driven by the blinding power of nostalgia, viewing Ocarina of Time through rose-tinted spectacles; an act which I imagine impairs the 3D effects somewhat. For those players, everything about the gameplay, graphics, sound and story have already been said, and anything else you add will have all the relevance of a Vatican condom.
There are others, however, that were either too young to pick it up in '98, or simply missed it on its initial run. For these gamers, you can either write a review that would be more at home in the late nineties, or simply guide them to a review written on the original title; leaving you with a rather underwhelming word-count. The best bet, it seems, is to strive for the happy medium.
For the late comers, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998 - was an epoch shattering title that gained a universal positive reception. Even today many herald Ocarina of Time as an electronic piece of divine-intervention coded by the almighty himself; claiming mere mortals should shield their eyes, lest they be driven deranged by its beauty. Ocarina of Time certainly deserved a lot of the acclaim it was given, but with age, cracks appear on any masterpiece. The graphics for instance were never top-notch even by nineties standards. To modern eyes however, it seems as though the character models were designed with scissors and cardboard and placed into interiors that looked like they'd been drawn on the inside of a tramp's hat. Ugly perhaps, but in these days of 1080p nipple-hair textures, Ocarina of Time's visual style comes off as lovingly endearing.
With its 3DS re-release however, Nintendo seems to have gone out of its way to slather on a fresh coat of paint and spruce up the aging star. A complete texture upgrade leaves the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time looking absolutely gorgeous, whilst at the same time not compromising the charming aesthetic that is synonymous with the Zelda franchise. I played the 3DS Ocarina of Time in tandem with a friend playing the N64 version and many of the visual tweaks are easily missed at first glance. The facial expressions, for example, no longer look as though random geometric shapes have been pasted on character's faces and instead resemble a more realistic expression of emotion; a nice touch in a game that draws such passionate displays of emotion from the majority of its fan-base.
The way in which Nintendo has managed to update Ocarina of Time without damaging the charm of the setting is one of the 3DS versions key selling points. The 3D effects work wonderfully, but to my experience; only in small doses. I found the cutscences to be the perfect time to crank up the 3D as it – quite literally – gave a new dimension to the characters I knew and loved. It also made the Great Fairy scenes a lot creepier. During standard play I couldn't stomach the 3D for more than five minutes. This is partly due to the fact that to effectively look around in first-person you have to move the 3DS in the direction you care to look, completely contrary to how the 3D effects work, meaning whatever you're aiming at inevitably gets split into various identical targets; a rather irritating characteristic.
The music is a memorable feature in any Zelda game and thankfully in Ocarina of Time 3D it remains unchanged, and still manages to set the scene of the environments; even when squeezed through the tiny speakers of the 3DS. The sand swept vista of the Gerudo Valley is encapsulated in its flamenco inspired soundtrack that even manages to convey the sense of impending threat from the adjacent Gerudo Fortress – which incidentally remains as frustrating to get through as ever. The sounds of smashing pots and treasure-filled chests remain true to its source material, and if you've played before, they're almost certain to send ripples of nostalgia coursing through your bones.
The gameplay also remains unchanged but has been has been adapted very well to the 3DS controls. A lot of the creases in the N64 controls have been ironed out leaving us with an excellent game that has been made infinitely more accessible. The N64 controller was presumably designed for when natural selection decides that humans are far more likely to survive in their environment with third hands poking threateningly out of their chests, so it was unsurprising the original had a few control issues. Take for example the odd way in which the N64 controller sat in your hands during play. The 3DS feels far more natural a device to play with and as a result your experience doesn't suffer; this is only enhanced by the presence of a touch screen.
The touch screen acts as the heads up display clearing your screen of any clutter and allowing the game to work on such a small screen. It's impossible to play Ocarina of Time 3D with a stylus as both hands are required for the analogue stick and buttons; so prepare for clumsy thumb smudges all over the display. A small price to pay however, as the touch screen is a massively convenient means of navigating the Ocarina of Time's menus. The map is in the centre of the touch screen at all times and allows you to navigate Hyrule with unprecedented ease. The items are designated to the X button, the Y button and two touch screen positions. This leads to strange tactical decisions where priority items are given button-duty just for the split-second difference it takes to smash your thumb against the screen.
The 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time is certainly a must-buy for any 3DS owner. It works equally for those who've played it before and those who haven't. For everyone who played Ocarina of Time and loved it in the late nineties, the 3DS remake is a convenient handheld version that's all the reason you need to play through the title again. If you haven't played Ocarina of Time, it's certainly one of the best games out for the 3DS at the moment so it's definitely worth picking up. It offers a memorable story and tricky puzzles to tax your cognitive functions to a level equivalent to any Brain Trainer. It's an established fact that The Ocarina of Time is a game that will sell, but thanks to the effort gone in to adapt the game to the 3DS, and the successful way in which it was pulled off, the 3DS iteration certainly deserves to.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Chris Waldron is an aspiring games journalist and writer, pursuing a history degree next to the sun-drenched shores of Mid-Wales. When not playing video games he can be found under a blanket with a book or trying to remember where he left his keys.
About the Author: Chris Waldron
Bio | Email | Twitter | Facebook