Originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was in no way, shape, or form, anticipated to gain the critical acclaim it received. With its seemingly perfect gameplay, memorable characters, and engaging storyline, it revolutionized what we know as ‘the open world‘ or adventure genre today. With a plethora of praise under its belt, and its revolutionary gameplay mechanics, it went on to gain worldwide recognition, being cited as ‘the greatest game of all time.’ The rest is history.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a reboot of an action-adventure classic with huge (iron?) boots to fill; and it has done so near flawlessly. With both a modern re-texturing and character design overhaul, creator Shigeru Miyamoto and developer Grezzo have managed to seduce players, both new and old, into what still stands as the apotheosis of legendary gaming.
Developer: Nintendo, Grezzo
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Players: Single Player
Release Date: (AUS) June 30th 2011, (EU) June 17th 2011, (JP) June 16th 2011, (NA) June 19th 2011
Our protagonist is Link, a young boy residing in the Korkiri Forest under the care of the Forest guardian, the Great Deku Tree. However, Link is unlike the other Korkiri children; he is not aided by a fairy companion, and suffers from a reoccurring nightmare detailing a cat and mouse chase between a young girl, and woman, from a menacing figure upon a horse clad in dark armour. Recently inflicted with a fatal curse by the ill-intentioned Gerudo King, Ganondorf, the Great Deku Tree instructs a lone fairy named Navi to retrieve Link for him. Following Link and Navi’s meeting, the Great Deku Tree reveals to Link that his destiny is to save the great land of Hyrule and it’s citizens from Ganondorf, whom seeks entrance to the Sacred Realm, and it’s celestial inhabitant; the legendary Triforce. Following the revelation of his destiny, Link becomes affiliated with the Princess of Destiny, Zelda, who tells him of the Legend of the Triforce, and the importance of the key to the Sacred realm; the Ocarina of time. Together, Link and Zelda agree to protect the Sacred Realm from Ganondorf, instigating the beginning of a journey that travels back and forth on the current of time itself.
Gameplay is composed of two basic elements; conflict with enemies, and the exploration of dungeons and temples. The success of Link’s quest relies on the infiltration of dungeons and temples, the completion of their puzzles, and the banishment of the boss that lurks within. Whilst the top screen of the 3DS conveys the environment, the touch screen acts as a main menu. The menu offers a detail overview map of Hyrule, a selection of quick-hand items, options to talk to Navi, view your surroundings from first person, and go to the item, clothing, and ocarina sub-screens. Players can have four items at quick hand, with exchange being possible when the item selection sub-screen is chosen, and items replaced in the four allocated item positions. The touch screen also acts as a save point. Though Shigeru Miyamoto desired to make the exchange between items and clothing easier with this reboot, the touch screen solution is both a blessing and a curse. Although you have a wider selection of items, only two of these items are given button functionality (which is less than the original port). Having to make use of the stylus every time you come across a special type of enemy, or puzzle gets tiresome after a while.
A majority of the game is linear, with only a few exceptions (such as the choice of being able to complete the Spirit and Shadow Temples simultaneously). However, traveling through time, and consequently playing as either young or adult Link is not linear. You may go into the past, or the future, whenever you desire. Enemies, collectables, and side quests are also subjective, with only a minority being crucial to completion (ie. enemies such as bosses and mini-bosses). The use of the Ocarina itself is also crucial for game completion. Throughout his quest, Link will learn a variety of songs, all with unique uses such as teleportation, symbolism/identification, and weather manipulation. Unlike other items in Link’s inventory, the Ocarina has it’s own sub-screen available on the 3DS’ touch screen, detailing five unique notes that are functional with direct stylus touch, or the use of respective buttons on the 3DS.
The battle system within Ocarina of Time 3D is almost identical to that of the original N64 as it still supports one major function; lock on targeting. Due to the camera being in a fixed direction, ‘L’ Targeting, a lock-on mechanism (named after the 3DS’ L button), allows Link to target an enemy without the hassle of attempting to change the camera fixation. It automatically rotates so that the enemy targeted is always in sight of the player. ‘L’ targeting can only allow Link to target one enemy at a time. Depending on the type of enemy Link is battling, enemies in groups will only attack Link one at a time when the lock-on mechanism is in play. Link’s swords and shields are the main items used within battle (and ‘L’ targeting as a whole), with other items generally used for ‘specialist’ enemies. Other weaponry/items such as bombs, and arrows, are also completely compatible with L-Targeting. However, when a player is using L-Targeting, the standard use of gyro-sensor is no longer issued, with the L-Targeting flawlessly aiming and firing at an enemy without miss.
‘L’ targeting is not just limited to battling. Link is also able to lock-on target other figures throughout Hyrule that do not pose a threat, and are items of interest. To tell the difference between all three, the triangle that appears above an object/being’s head is colour coded. Yellow triangles symbolize an enemy, blue triangles convey a figure who does not pose a threat, and green identifies an item of interest. This is a useful system, as some figures aren’t always what they seem…
Puzzles are an integral part of dungeons and temples in Hyrule and are what truly clocks up the hours in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Puzzles are usually based upon items that are found within the given temple. For example, the Shadow Temple has puzzles coherent to the primary item found within the temple; the hover boots. There are also time trials and enemy based puzzles included, with the latter usually being the type that reward major items. Puzzles usually reward you with small keys, which allows you to unlock doors and proceed deeper into the dungeon catacombs. Of course, a good sense of logic and thinking outside of the box is helpful, otherwise hours of ‘I-am-going-to-throw-my-3DS-into-a-wall’ frustration is to be had.
Controls are simpler and more fluid than that of the original port, however there are a few minor flaws relating to player comfort and in-game mechanics. The most frustrating aspect I found was the interaction with blocks throughout the dungeons and temples. The ‘Grab’ and ‘Climb’ option given to Link when the player pushes the analog stick forward on a block has become frighteningly tedious in comparison to the original port. The ‘Grab’ option shamelessly overrules the ‘Climb’, making it frustrating when the player wants Link to ascend the block. The analog stick must be dramatically pushed forward for the ‘Climb’ option to even appear; if the analog stick moves even slightly during this time, the option will swiftly revert back to ‘Grab’. There are similar interactions such as this; that could have been tweaked a bit more, but overall Nintendo and Grezzo have succeeded in making the controls 3DS user friendly.
The 3DS’s gyro-sensor is heavily involved in the gameplay, with numerous weapons in Link’s inventory using it as a form of aim. Although this is an innovative take on what use to be an analog based movement, it is not completely efficient. If the player chooses to play using 3D graphics, the movement of the 3DS causes a shift in the 3D graphics, resulting in an unappealing 3D overlay. Though arguably this is a flaw in the 3DS hardware as opposed to the game itself, Grezzo could have addressed the issue more seriously, due to a substantial amount of gameplay involving the gyro-sensor (taking into consideration that a majority of players will choose to play in 3D).
As mentioned earlier, there has been a massive ‘makeover’ in terms of graphics. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D has managed to imitate the vibrant, almost manga-ish feel of the original port, however also brings the aesthetic demeanor of modern day graphics into the mix. Textures are detailed and add a sense of continued realism into an environment hosting cartoonish designed characters. The resulting combination is not only pleasant to look at, but ultimately unique. Character design is almost identical to the N64 version, with the remastered port adding a crisp, expressive manner to the quirky, memorable figures players grew to love from the original. The 3D graphics are subject to personal taste. Players who can handle the intensity of high degree 3D graphics are in for a treat, with Ocarina of Time 3D showcasing the most indulgent graphics on the 3DS yet.
Composer Koji Kondo has meticulously composed each composition to suit its environment to a tunic. Each tune further nourishes each setting with increased atmosphere, and unrivaled personality. Whether it’s the gut-wrenching melodies orchestrated by Lord Jabu Jabu’s internal organs, or the soothing, yet melancholic vocals hailing from Lon Lon Ranch, each tune has the capability to weave a spell over the player’s ear. Each song is equally memorable, but it really is the impact that these compositions have on their respectable environments that is truly incredible.
For those who diligently raced through the original puzzles, and combat ‘Post-man’ style, Master Quest is sure to put a stop in their tracks. After completing the original version once, Master Quest, a mirrored, higher degree of difficulty version of the game is unlocked. Master Quest enemies inflict a greater deal of damage on Link, and all dungeons and temples have been rearranged with differentiating puzzles. Collectables, such as Golden Skulltulas and Pieces of Heart have also been scattered in different crooks and crannies throughout Hyrule . Master Quest boasts more challenge than its predecessor. If you have the Hyrulian canny to challenge the infamous Water Temple, mirrored, with its increasingly intricate puzzles and infestation of those pesky clams with an added vengeance, then Master Quest is a fearsome twist on the Ocarina adventure not to be missed.
Collectables and side quests bless Ocarina of Time with continued length, even after all dungeons and temples have been completed. Collectables include Golden Skulltulas and Pieces of Heart, which are coherent to Link’s flexibility in terms of health and wallet allowance. Pieces of Heart, in comparison to Golden Skulltulas have to be earned with either intelligence, or with the help of certain items. Golden Skulltulas are merely randomly placed throughout Hyrule, and range in difficulty in terms of hunting and collecting. Both items aid Link greatly whether it be rupees or in health, and it’s highly recommended while you’re traveling through each individual dungeon that you collect all that’s present, as who enjoys back-tracking? Side Quests allow extra interaction between characters, and reap the largest rewards. There are requirements though, such as certain items gained and temples needing to be completed to be eligible to do a side quest, or more so, be able to succeed in a side quest.
Veteran players are probably wondering, aside from character design and textures, how does the reboot differ from the original? To aid new players, there has been an inclusion of an in-game help guide in the form of a Sheikah stone. Link is able to crawl into the stone, prompting a menu to appear, stating all the dungeons and temples within Hyrule. When Link chooses a subject, a list of hints appears. When a hint is chosen, players are subjected to a subtle depicted ‘vision’ of the chosen hint. I found this ingenious, especially since the Zelda series appeals to people of wide and varied degrees of gaming experience.
Players also have the option to ‘relive’ their battles with familiar foes. However, the player will not be able to retain any other items within the battle aside from the items needed to obliterate the chosen boss. For example, Twinrova, a boss composed of two witches who are squatting in the Spirit Temple, are only able to be defeated by Link’s use of the Mirror Shield and its ability to absorb magic. Therefore, when you relive a battle with Twinrova, only the mirror shield and arrows will be supplied. As a player, I found this somewhat disappointing; though it is understandable (defeating Phantom Ganon with an ice arrow that is gained after his death overrides the linear aspect of the game).
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a reboot not to be missed by gamers of any genre preference or gaming experience. With its eye-pleasing and musically aesthetic atmosphere, simple, but effective gameplay mechanics, and of course ever memorable characters, Ocarina of Time 3D only improves on what is still considered an untouchable game. However, this isn’t to say that there are no flaws. Nintendo and Grezzo have only fixed the issues associated with the Nintendo 64 original. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D has gained its own individual flaws based on the 3DS design hardware itself. Despite these minor blemishes though, Grezzo and Shigeru Miyamoto have done justice to the king of the ‘Silver Age of Gaming’. Whether you’re selling an eccentric mask, defeating a mighty foe, or getting gang bashed by cuccos, Ocarina of Time 3D delivers a universally enjoyable gaming experience never forgotten.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is available from gaming retailers EB Games whom are selling for $68.00, and Gametraders for $59.88. Electronic retailers Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi are selling at $68.00 and $49.00 respectively, a surprising price difference considering that they are competitors. And finally, mega retailer Big W are selling at a low $48.84, whilst competitor Target is offering a mere smidgen more at $49.00.
9.5 – Excellent. Fun, enjoyable, engaging, and memorable but is missing that little something that will make it exceptionable. People will fondly talk about this for generations to come.