this review was written to compliment and back-up in more detail the contents of the video review, found here.
For an entire generation and maybe more, Link’s 5th outing, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time has pretty much defined gaming. This was the game that brought in a 3D targeting system, the action button, the open world gameplay, nigh on perfect level and gameplay design and a cinematic flair that paved the way for just about everything since. At the time of release, it got huge fanfare and declaration to the point where it’s still considered one of, if not the greatest game of all time and created such an impact that every other game in the series hasn’t been able to better. (although in my personal opinion, I think Wind Waker is a better game)
Now of course, that was in 1998. That was 13 years ago, so when news of a remake for Nintendo’s 3DS console were announced, I think everyone went through a mix of excitement and possible anxiety. I mean, there is so much potential that could have gone wrong. Fortunately Nintendo stuck to their guns and gave us probably the most faithful remake ever produced, which is partly my problem with it.
I’m not exactly an expert when it comes to game remakes, I’ve only really played 3 or 4 and those have been the typical Nintendo fare of recent years like the 2 Pokémon remakes and Super Mario 64 DS and they were both fairly good, with the last Pokémon game actually improving on the original, but there was a reason for them. Pokémon FireRed/LeafGreen added a lot of Pokémon that weren’t catchable on the current generations because of a lack of backwards compatibility, Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver not only added all the elements from the newer games, but expanded the story to fit it with the mythology of the series and Mario 64 DS added extra content and playable characters to give it a different feel to the original. Now Ocarina Of Time on the other hand hasn’t really changed at all. The puzzles are exactly the same, so if like me you know the sequence to getting into Queen Gohma’s lair by heart (Twenty Three is number One), there’s no real addition of anything from later incarnations. The sword combat is really basic in comparison and only being able to use your bow on horseback is a bit of a step backwards, with even horse riding itself feeling just as incredibly clunky as it did before (but then maybe Red Dead Redemption has spoilt me) and it just appears that now with 3 sequels that canonically follow-up from this with an upcoming prequel, you’d think some neat call backing or foreshadowing would be in order. Nope, it’s just 1998 all over again. So I suppose the big question here is why bother remaking a game if you’re not going to add to the experience?
Well, that’s a question someone has clearly thought about, as the main draw of this remake is both the higher graphical output and the use of 3D, both of which not only make the game very impressive to look at, but really immersive to play, especially in huge areas like Hyrule Field and in more smaller intimate areas, I said the game was cinematic earlier and it damn shows when Impa’s breasts stick out the screen. The lick of paint given makes Hyrule appear more alive than ever before, flickering neon signs in the bombchu alley, the little posters with puzzle hints in Kakariko and the more detailed characters just add to the effect and prove that the game can still surprise you. it still feels a bit cartoony, but at the same time looks somewhat realistic and still representative of its source material. The 3D is incredibly subtle, to the point where you really have to be looking out for it to really notice it and is only really used for depth, which is fantastic in Hyrule Field as you really feel like a small kid in a big world, it really isn’t essential and arguably the game looks better on the 2D setting, but it’s a really nice addition that shows off the 3DS hardware. What doesn’t work in terms of 3DS features is the gyro mode, here you move your 3DS round in first person view or during targeting and the camera moves with it. It is fairly smooth and effective, as you’d expect, but when needed for faster paced stuff, and combined with the idea of glasses-less 3D (meaning, move your 3DS around, the 3D effect stops working) it’s just not practical in the end.
The other additions are that they’ve added a boss rush mode and the brilliant Master Quest as unlockables (the latter, I’d have preferred to have had as an option from the start) which racks up the difficulty on the dungeons and has clearly been put in for those who know the game inside out with the boss rush mode brilliant for those who love certain boss fights, but don’t want to replay the game for them specifically. Finally, Nintendo have also relegated all menus to the touch screen making boot switching and item assigning really streamlined and easy, which makes that the least of your worries in the infamous Water Temple. I’ll admit I found myself missing the “inside a box” fiddly start menu for nostalgia sake, but yeah this is one thing that’s a big welcome, especially as no longer will your Ocarina take up one of your precious inventory slots, getting its own little square on the screen. On that subject, as I feel its necessary to mention it. The Ocarina tunes, whilst they sound ace with the upped sound quality, the 3DS buttons don’t really have the punch of the N64’s c buttons and you find yourself playing very staccato notes for most of the game.
It’s a real shame that this review is looking really negative, because most of this stuff is such a small nitpick, as the game is actually phenomenally good. Ocarina Of Time played perfectly in 1998 and it plays perfectly now. The story, whilst now clunky in dialogue, is still simple and compelling and the music, unchanged but upped in quality, is just incredible still that it’s no wonder Nintendo are touring it later this year. If you’ve never experienced the game, go buy a copy of OoT 3D this second, it’s called one of the greatest games ever for a reason. if you’re just feeling nostalgic, or a big fan of the original you can fall in love with the new improved graphics and 3D effects, it won’t be a brand new experience and there’s a distinct lack of actual new content, but it’s still good fun to play wether it’s your 4th playthrough or 40th. , which is the point of the entertainment industry, right?