If you have ever wondered what all the fuss is about regarding the Legend of Zelda series, Ocarina of Time 3D answers your puzzlement. The simple fact that a 3D adventure game made thirteen years ago still stands up to the titans of today is a testament to the brilliance of the core game design. Simply put, adventure games just don’t get much better than this.
Ocarina of Time 3D is Ocarina of Time. Everything remains almost entirely intact – a game made with fans very much in heart and mind. The dual screen available on the 3DS has allowed the developers to reduce menu time, essentially letting you do things without leaving the seductive game world while freeing up the main screen from any obtrusive HUD. Your map is displayed on the bottom screen, along with equipment, access tabs to your gear, map and items, health meter and (of course) your trusty ocarina, all a mere tap away. In addition, making use of the gyroscope means that when you switch to the first person view, or whip out your nifty slingshot, boomerang or bow, you can simply tilt your console rather than use the circle pad to aim. To be honest, with the 3D turned on this simply results in the ‘sweet spot’ being constantly left, leaving you with a headache. Rather stick to the circle pad which is just as capable. You will want the 3D, trust me.
For those of you who don’t know (I imagine fans are elsewhere, already running through the fields of Hyrule breaking people’s pots) you play as the green cloth-clad Link, a boy from the forest, who gets ‘chosen’ by the mighty Deku Tree to save the world from darkness. While doing so he is caught up in a quest to save the beautiful Princess Zelda from our favourite foe, Ganondorf, who also steals the Triforce, plunging the world into chaos. You explore the beautiful world of Hyrule, speak to its charming inhabitants, explore and solve the puzzles of its various dungeons, acquire their hidden creative gizmos and defeat their ingeniously mighty bosses.
Each Zelda title is essentially the same design in this two quest plot structure, but each offers a different ‘hook’, if you will. In Ocarina of Time you can play different tunes on an ocarina (a small egg-shaped wind instrument) with differing effects depending on the context, such as triggering day to change to night, opening blocked paths etc…
You control Link using the circle pad, which does a thunderous job of replicating an analogue stick, and run around the memorable world talking to folk and attacking foes with the A button, unlocking new attacks as you progress. You handle your shield with the right shoulder button, while targeting is handled using the left, and if there is one thing that has not aged well it is this. It is not bad, but just not as silken as it was when the original launched. Some things do change.
On this note (ahem) the updated visuals looks spectacular. You might have been fooled to think that because this is simply a retextured N64 game that it was not up to scratch, but you are indeed the fool. The new textures, lighting and animation really bring the world to life, filling formerly bland areas with delicious detail while retaining the taste of the original. It’s a perfect blend, and I take my hat off to Nintendo and Grezzo for keeping the old while embracing the new.
3D is used majestically and if there is one title out there proving what benefit 3D has on gaming, this is it. Mountains smoke in the distance while Navi’s fairy dust floats over Link’s head towards yours. The layer separation really makes the world look larger and richer, accentuating to the epic feel the Zelda series plays on so well. The sound design is also flawless, with a spectacular soundtrack and enchanting effects littered throughout.
The only blemishes are ones which existed in the original and this certainly will not turn people who dislike the series into fans. Jumping is still triggered automatically with no dedicated button, which can be a love/hate affair (I dream often that Shadow of the Colossus and Zelda have an illegitimate child) and there is also no voice work, but this is Zelda, and it’s exactly what you remember fondly.
The main quest itself is mammoth enough, and with the various sub quests which pepper Hyrule and its inhabitants’ lives, you will be playing for a while. The 3DS edition also gets a mirrored version (switching left for right) of the Master Quest originally released with pre-orders of The Wind Waker, giving players who have been there and done that a reason to return. The Master Quest is essentially the same game but for tweaked dungeons with more difficult puzzles and bosses. Another bonus is the all new Boss Challenge, allowing players to return to any of the gloriously enjoyable boss fights and take them on one at a time, or in order.
Ocarina of Time 3D is impossibly brilliant. It’s one of those rare gems with so much charm it gets under your skin and hugs your heart. You will no doubt find yourself whistling tunes from your ocarina while buying milk. Despite that it’s an updated older game and here’s hoping that we also get an original entry on the system, built from the ground up. Regardless, if you have not yet played Ocarina of Time, drop everything, pick up your sword, green cap, closest wind instrument, 400 rupees and get a move on to Hyrule. You cannot possibly be disappointed. If you are, scientifically, there is something a little bit wrong with you.