The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D [Available only for 3DS]
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Grezzo
Release Date: June 19, 2011

Parent Talk: Ocarina of Time 3D’s fantasy violence is the least of your worries. Also, despite its innocent appearance, this classic is very intellectual by definition. Combat is a mere fraction of the gameplay, as puzzle-solving and backtracking are necessary to traverse dungeons.It sounds challenging, but it’s an opportunity to bond in the world with your child. I can vouch for that; when I was younger, I played older games from The Legend of Zelda series with my mother and cousin’s uncle. Memories from A Link to the Past (SNES) and Zelda II (NES) are near and dear to me. The moral of the story: don’t give up playing OoT 3D with your child even if it’s hard. What follows may turn into a priceless memory.

Plays like: The Legend of Zelda series is often uniquely classified, blending action, adventure, puzzle, and RPG elements. Ocarina of Time is often hailed as a 3D interpretation of its prequel, A Link to the Past. In light of recently-released games, however, the closest comparison I can make to OoT is Vigil Games’ Darksiders for the 360/PS3.

Review Basis: Completed the vanilla version, finding all gold skulltulas, heart containers, items, and finishing the side-quests in less than 40 hours. Completed the Deku Tree Dungeon in the Master Quest version.

Remaking a timeless classic is a lofty undertaking. As the developer, do you risk nostalgia and completely modernize the classic in question, or try to keep it as faithful as possible? Better yet, is striking the right balance between nostalgia and new a valid option? The latter is the hardest route; it requires risk-taking and precise decision-making. Ocarina of Time isn’t old enough to completely remake from the ground-up. In fact, it bears the standard template of many current-gen games when it comes to navigating 3D space. Ideas such as its behind-the-back targeting are still used. Thus, OoT remains faithful, while expanding what’s necessary. In a surprise twist, though Nintendo has handled most of their library’s successful remakes (most notably Metroid: Zero Mission and Super Mario 64 DS), they handed off Ocarina of Time 3D. Up-and-coming developed Grezzo labored under Nintendo’s supervision. Did they get the job done? Did they go above and beyond their call of duty?

The Great:

Re-experiencing a timeless classic with enhanced 3D visuals. We could be here nitpicking all day on how Grezzo didn’t exploit the 3DS’ capabilities by not adding facial animation or not remodeling all the 2D textures to 3D, but they did manage to perfectly keep Ocarina of Time’s spirit alive. Every remnant from the N64 era was intentionally kept. As I ventured through this good ol’ quest, I often questioned whether the N64 version looked as good or not. I watched gameplay videos of the original to be sure a particular effect or animation was consistent with the 3DS remake, dumbfounded by the scope of similarities while fully appreciating the updates. You could say that OoT 3D is what the original may have been if it weren’t for the n64’s hardware limitations. That’s how balanced the aesthetic design choices are. Additionally, controlling Link feels familiar despite the upgraded framerate, beefier animation frames, and cleaner modeling. The characters now greater resemble the original manga-inspired artwork and vision, instead of the blocky N64 models we grew up with. The subtle lighting of a blue lantern hanging above the Happy Mask salesman’s shop during wee hours of dawn, the shimmering water of Lake Hylia as Link swims to the fisherman’s pond, the haziness of the Fire Temple as smoke seeps out of volcanic rubble, the ominous lighting of the Temple of Time, the overly-furnished shops and houses–this is among the added details I’ve enjoyed in OoT 3D. Even more interesting is seeing this mishmash of aesthetics in glasses-free 3D. Don’t worry, for those who willing to cope with pinpointing their perfect 3D sweet-spot, it adds depth to an already rich world. You can easily distinguish objects in the foreground and background. You can tell that a specific area is far away, and even sense the length of dungeon corridors (The Forest Temple’s infamous spiral comes to mind). Also, minor effects like the fireflies of Kokiri Forest and the Cucco shedding its feathers as you run around carrying it are in the forefront, making Hyrule all the more immersive.

 

The Good:

+ The touch screen menu. This alone remedies many old-school design flaws of the original version, as switching between menu and gameplay is no longer jarring. Compared to the N64 game, OoT 3D minimizes menu pauses. Having four equipped items instead of three (two on the touch screen) is a welcome addition, but what’s better is that the Iron and Hover boots can be assigned as items with the press of a button instead of hiding under the gear menu. At long last, the Water and Shadow Temples aren’t a chore to navigate. Finally, the Ocarina now has its own special touch input and sub-menu, instead of falling under the standard items, a long-overdue treatment for the central relic of this quest. You also need not memorize the songs anymore thanks to the touch screen.

The entire Master Quest is included. Ocarina of Time’s alternate journey isn’t particularly well-known. A cancelled 64DD project ported to GameCube made available only to those who pre-ordered The Wind Waker sums up how niche the version is. Thanks to today’s memory capacities, the 3DS remake includes both quests for the price of one. To turn hardcore fans into uninitiated newbies, the Master Quest’s world is mirrored (a la the Wii version of Twilight Princess) and enemies deal double damage. It took me a while to gain my bearings with Kokiri Forest, despite exploring it several times before. Also, I was occasionally low on health in the first dungeon, opting to use Deku Nuts in combat, which were useless in OoT vanilla. Let’s not forget the fully remade dungeons, which up the ante puzzle-wise.

+ Gyroscope aiming. I thought it would be this remake’s weakest link, but it’s actually well-implemented as long as you disable the 3D. While I prefer the latter, I made great use of quick-aiming for the shooting range mini-games.

+ It’s freakin’ Ocarina of Time on the go! The charming universe, challenging dungeons, lengthy side-quests, cool time-traveling mechanics, decent plot and kooky NPCs — an unforgettable adventure which was ahead of its time. Playing it away from home is a must for any fan and those yearning for a compelling and lengthy handheld title.

 

The So-So:

+/- The modified soundtrack. I respect the work Mahito Yokota and his colleagues put into faithfully recreating the soundtrack bit by bit. This is no mere mp3 copy and paste. Yet because of the 3DS’ different hardware, Yokota had to find all the MIDI sounds and instruments that sound similar or identical to Koji Kondo’s masterful N64 compositions and correctly pace the tracks, which is easier said than done. Yokota managed to sneak in enhancements such as higher quality MIDI, various effects such as reverb and the like. Little things such as playing the Ocarina sound more natural now. Tracks like Zora’s Domain and The Temple of Time are as addicting as ever. I even have a new-found appreciation of the more ambient themes of dungeons (The Forest Temple is particularly soothing). Then, the new credits play out — a live, orchestrated medley of OoT’s most popular tracks. That has to be the biggest tease I’ve ever faced in a Zelda game. Throw it in my face, why don’t you? Look, I love Kondo’s work as much as the next guy, but his adamancy of not remastering or remaking OoT’s soundtrack is baffling. Yokota publicly stated that an orchestrated/arranged soundtrack was in the works, but Kondo canned it. Kondo seems intimidated by Yokota’s brilliance. The man went from a humble composer who pushed for an orchestrated soundtrack in Super Mario Galaxy to the founder and head of Nintendo’s own orchestra department, which is involved in Zelda: Skyward Sword. A game as timeless as Ocarina of Time deserves high-quality music, no questions asked. They could’ve given the player the option to switch between orchestrated and MIDI versions of the music, a technique chosen for many remakes nowadays. I love this soundtrack, but its lack of live, orchestrated material is an unfortunate oversight.

 

The Bad:

– Control flaws. L-targeting the wrong enemy and/or object is not uncommon. Manual camerawork can be a chore, especially when faced with platforming sections. Twilight Princess fixed this by employing dynamic camera angles in certain areas, which wasn’t adapted here for some reason.

– Easy and outdated puzzles. The first two dungeons present very simple Zelda mechanics, while the final temple features mirror puzzles that have been outdone by subsequent installments in the series.

– No effective method to manage your spoils. The 500 rupee limit is pathetic considering the amount of 200-rupee chests littered throughout the game. Worse, whether you like it or not, the contents of a chest must be taken, even if you’re maxed out on rupees. Again, sequels have offered many solutions which haven’t been retroactively implemented here.

– Slowdown. It’s uncommon, but notable.

– Navi is as annoying as ever. She now prompts a break every 30 minutes or so. Thanks, Grezzo. Just what I needed; an in-game fairy reminding me to rest my poor, little fingers. I’d rather swat her. Rest in Ocarina of Time? Seriously?!

 

The Ugly:

Too faithful. Aside from the boss battle mode and in-game hint system, the whole package features familiar content and nothing more. For some, remake is too strong an adjective to describe Ocarina of Time 3D since it’s the exact same game with enhanced visuals. Nintendo could’ve easily aided Grezzo with one of its vacant internal studios. It’s sad to imagine what could’ve been, especially considering the existence Super Mario 64 DS and Metroid: Zero Mission which are shining examples of remake treatment. Both transformed to re-imaginings with the enormous amount of add-on content seamlessly integrated alongside existing material. Why didn’t OoT 3D follow the same route? A better English script, in-game achievements, extended dungeons, more side-quests, a fleshed-out storyline; plot references to Skyward Sword, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess — sigh, one can dream eh?

 

The Lowdown:

must-buy for those wishing to re-live the old days and one of the most proper introductory installments to newbies. The 3D touches are too good to be true. Hardcore Zelda enthusiasts should approach with caution as OoT 3D isn’t a remake per-se when it comes to gameplay and content. If Ocarina of Time and its Master Quest counterpart are still fresh experiences for you, there’s little incentive to pay full-price for the 3DS compilation, even if it’s the definitive one. Now that Grezzo is more experienced with the handheld’s infrastructure, I expect a great deal of creativity put into the inevitable remake of Majora’s Mask.

Average Score Scale: 8.5 +/- 1 out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +1 Inflation: awesome visuals (used)

Reason for -1 Deflation: too faithful & lack of new content (used)

8 thoughts on “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review”

  1. I just completed the Water Temple and had a freaking blast! I don’t know why I was so afraid of it. When it comes down to it, there’s only 3 floors and 3 different water switches. The colours helped a bit as I knew right away which room to go into to switch the water levels. Had a blast and managed to get every bit of treasure in that dungeon, plus 5 skultullas. The end boss was a joke though…… honestly. Use your hookshot, then a few slices with your bigorrons sword (I never use the master sword) and that’s it. No pattern to learn or nothing. Still though, awesome dungeon. Don’t know why I had such a hard time as a kid….

    As I play this however, I really see how much of a sucky gamer I was back in the day. Haven’t even come close to dying yet, and I’ve come out of every temple (Forest and Water temples were awesome!) with next to no difficulty. I remember having to use a guide back in the days to beat these temples. Times have change. But boy are these dungeons a blast to play. I really loved the Forest Temple, even was stuck at a point where I had to exit the dungeon to reset it, then go back into it and use a different switch. There must have been a way to go through it without “resetting” the temple, but I couldn’t figure it out. (it’s at the point where you do something that flips the room out, didn’t know how to flip it back so I could flip the other room…. just reset the thing and flipped the 2nd room after). The Water Temple I was really worried about, but it was the most fun I’ve had yet. I thought that Dark Link would be a challenge, but he never hit me once.

    Can’t wait to try the Master Quest once I’m done though. I heard that not only is everything mirrored, but they changed the locations of items and treasures and whatnot so you don’t know what you’re doing. Plus, the increase of difficulty will be welcomed. I might try a 3 hearts challenge one of these days just so I can say I really mastered this game. Oot was a masterpiece of 3D gaming and still is today.

    Entering a dungeon in any Zelda game is always unique. I’m not a big fan of some of these sidequest, but I never get tired of the dungeons. I looked at some youtube videos recently of fans having a top 5 or top 10 Zelda dungeons(as well as a top worst 5 and worst 10) and it really had me interesting. I’d love to see a similar feature from a guy like Jarrod who’s played some of these games hundreds of times. I’d look forward to that. Heck, one day, I’d love to play a Zelda game composed almost entirely of dungeons. An overworld to explore with 12 or 15 dungeons, with no set order, but that you could explore farther depeding on what items you’d get.

  2. I still have to do the Master Quest (only started the Great Deku Tree dungeon), but I’ve completed the main game, and I feel the same way. The game plays it too safe and the content is stuff that we’ve already seen before. Still, it’s Ocarina of Time on a handheld system! And the transition was just made beautifully. The game really does look great on the 3DS, and I love the minor tweaks. The 3D effect actually makes the game look fantastic, and the gyroscopic aiming is really cool.

    With that being said, I say bring on the Zelda remakes for 3DS. If Majora’s Mask gets the same treatment as Ocarina, even with just a barebones remake, I’ll be all over it. There are tons of other possibilities as well…a new Four Swords game could work brilliantly on the 3DS and/or Wii U. I’d also love to see some more Zelda games that introduce other villains, like how the Four Swords games and Minish Cap did with Vaati. Wind Waker portable would be sweet too.

    I’ve also been excited about rumors that A Link to the Past may be remade, because that still remains my all-time favorite Zelda game…yes, even more than Ocarina or Majora. I’m really curious to see how Nintendo would handle remaking that game.

  3. Just finished the Shadow Temple today and now have 90 skultullas. The temple was the one I enjoyed the least out of all the adult link temples so far. The Forest and Water temples were awesome… with tons of fun to explore areas and cool puzzles. The Fire Temple was ok… but I don’t know, not as epic as the Forest Temple so it was hard to follow. Plus the Forest Temple has an awesome boss fight.

    The Shadow Temple featured an incredibly easy boss also, as soon as you figure out the strategy, it’s game over as a few hits with the bigorron sword and be-bye. The temple was also pretty linear, which was surprising but it didn’t bother me. Still fun, but nothing truly memorable here. Also, I feel like the game feels way less epic on a small DS screen. I remember playing this on a big TV as a child and the dungeons felt so much more huge. Still am enjoying the heck out of this game though. Awesome!

  4. Man I just got the 100th skultulla and the reward is….. nothing! Wow! Amazing! Who the f cares about rupees when at this point in the game, you already have everything you need and can buy whatever you want. It’s not like it was hard to get money in the game. At least in MM, you were rewarded with a kick ass mask that would destroy everything when you did the sidequest of getting all the masks. This was useless.

  5. I was expecting a rupee boost to 999 with the 100th gold skulltula, but sadly they give a useless 200 rupee bonus and nothing more.

    And guys, you will LOVE Master Quest. I recently completed it and was so impressed by the revamped dungeon designs. Possibly some of the best 3D Zelda puzzles are in this adventure. It’s amazing how much Aonuma has created here since the rooms are basically identical. All that’s different are the structure and the puzzles.

  6. The skullstullas are indeed useless Steven. You get 200 rupees every time you enter the house, but as you said it’s completely pointless because by the time you get all the skulltullas there’s no more need for rupees. That’s why I tell people to only get the first 50 because after that there’s 0 reason to spend so much time getting the others.

    Try the master quest though because that’s quite fun.

  7. Man it sucks that Ganondorf no longer cuffs blood when he is defeated. Green stuff is kinf od weird. Btw, the Zelda theme is in the credits! I really enjoyed that. Now on to master quest!

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