Some games are harder to review than others. Whether it be because they’re longer than your average game, a lot different from what we’re used to, or even just due to a unique concept or two. Yet none of them are as difficult to review as a remake of an old classic. There’s a very fine line between letting nostalgia cloud your vision and being just a little too rough. So in a way, a review of what is generally considered the single greatest game ever made is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write.
Released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time made waves in the gaming industry, scoring perfect 10s almost universally and being instantly declared the absolute height of this relatively young medium. Needless to say, this 3D remake has a lot to live up to.
By now I’m sure you know the general idea behind Ocarina of Time. A young Link embarks on his greatest quest to save Hyrule, and along the way befriends a wide array of colourful characters. If you’ve played it before on the Nintendo 64 or Gamecube, don’t expect anything to be different. The entire game is identical to it’s previous incarnations in terms of gameplay. This is simply a better looking, 3D port of a classic game, and that’s all it needs to be. The gameplay that was so well refined over a decade ago holds up just as well today. You’ll never find yourself wishing that the controls were a bit better or picking holes in a certain mechanic. Everything seems just as fresh as it did all those years ago.
At a first glance, Ocarina of Time 3D looks exactly like you remember it. Every single room and dungeon looks like it leapt out of your memories and onto the screen in front of you. But looks can be deceiving, and nothing proves this more than Ocarina of Time 3D. If you compare screenshots, N64 and 3DS side by side, you’ll notice a difference that looks like night and day. Great care was taken in updating Hyrule to ensure a visual theme consistent with the original, and to give it the imagination it had when you were younger. This attention to detail carries over into other things as well, such as how the developers have purposefully retained old bugs and loopholes that were present in the original. Even better, the entire game is played a 60 frames per second and is probably the single best looking game on the system.
Ocarina of Time 3D takes advantage of the 3DS in a variety of ways. Most importantly, the 3D effect is phenomenal. Everything is given a wonderful sense of depth and becomes immersive enough that soon you’ll find yourself how you ever played without the 3D. Much like other 3DS games, the 3D draws you in so much it looks less like you’re staring at a screen and more like you’re peering through a window into another world. Aiming takes advantage of the 3DS, too. Just like in the old days, you can aim using the analog slider, but now you can move the entire system to either aim your reticule or make adjustments. The motion aiming works so well and is so accurate that many of the shooting minigames actually become ridiculously easy compared to their older incarnations. Best of all, though, is the touchscreen. It used to be that switching items frequently was a chore, and a certain submerged dungeon became incredibly tedious and difficult thanks to having constantly switch boots. Now, items can be switched using the touchscreen and this takes the chore out of the game and instead makes it a complete joy from start to finish.
Earlier on I said that this is a straight port with no added features. There actually is an added feature, but one you may have played before. Ocarina of Time: Master Quest is also unlockable on the cartridge and was previously bundled with the Gamecube port of Ocarina of Time. Master Quest is a remixing of sorts, taking the original game and making it harder. Dungeons are mirrored, enemies hit harder, and puzzles are more devious. This is perfect if, like me, you’ve played Ocarina of Time to death over the years and need a bit of an extra challenge. As if that’s not enough, Nintendo was kind enough to throw in an unlockable Boss Rush mode, where you can take on one boss after another to try and get the best time.
If you’ve never played Ocarina before, stop reading right now. Go to your nearest store and buy the game immediately. Go now. Now, for those of you who have played it before? It’s worth playing again. Chances are, you haven’t played Ocarina of Time in a number of years. This means that while you’ll still remember the general overview of the game, the details will be lost on you. Every hidden cave or secret you find will be just like finding it for the first time and the sense of adventure will overcome you. Hyrule is packed so full of secrets that unless you just finished a playthrough of the game yesterday, there’s no way you’ll be able remember everything. You’ll find yourself constantly surprised at just how much content they’ve packed into this game, and just how rewarding it is to discover each and every bit of it.
Nintendo and Grezzo (the developer of this port) have done the impossible. They successfully took the best game ever made and made it better. Ocarina of Time 3D is, without a doubt, the definitive version of Link’s classic adventure. It retains everything you love about the original and includes updated graphics and new modes. Whether this is your first time playing Ocarina of Time or you’re playing the adventure on muscle memory alone, this is a game you should definitely pick up. It’s not every day that you get to experience Ocarina of Time all over again.