The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D [Available only for 3DS]
ESRB Rating: E10+
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?
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 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 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.
– 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?!
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?
A 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)