The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Reader Review
It's a little sad to think that the best game I've played this whole year so far is one fourteen years old; considering which game it is though, it's perhaps not so surprising.
isn't a remake of the original, per se – the only things changed from the verbatten release of 1997 are the graphics of the game. With other remakes, that might be seen as lazy or as a cheap cash-in; with , to do anything else would be criminal.
For those of you who've been in cryogenic suspension for the last fourteen years, (OoT) was originally released on the Nintendo '64 in the last millenium, back when an X-BOX sounded like a box full of hardcore pornography, and SEGA were still in collective apoplexy over the fact that their name backwards read 'AGES,' subsequently prompting them to fit it into ever piece of their console marketing possible.
A very long time ago; some people reading this review might not even have been alive back then. In the years since that have brought online multiplayer in almost every gamer's hands, HD that radicalised the definition we played games in and the wonderful capacity of media to support full voice acting, is OoT still relevant today?
Having just poured 40 hours of sweat, joy and blood into my little 3DS to play Ocarina of Time 3D, my answer is a resounding 'yes.' And that's accentuated by me nodding my head violently as I bounce up and down... okay, I was lying about the blood, but you get the point.
You'd think a game played so many times would soon lose its appeal, and indeed as I look across my vast library of games amassed over the years, there are many which have. Yet retains that quintessential spark it had the day it released, and it hasn't dulled a bit.
Having popped the_ Ocarina of Time 3D cartridge_ (which incidentally is invincible, survivng an accidental trial inside my washing machine) into my little aqua blue console, I booted the game up and within the first few seconds my jaw dropped. I'm sure many of you have seen the iconic title screen of the game countless times; heard the light strumming of strings to introduce the gentle score, seen the horse Epona, framed against a vista of setting moonlight and rolling fields.
Well, that all looks even more amazing in 3D.
I've always been a little sceptic of 3D technology in the past, and when I bought Nintendo's new handheld it wasn't for their unsuitable-for-children-under-the-age-of-six unique selling point, it was for the games. Yet OoT 3D has completely changed my opinion; the three dimensional effect instilled awe into me from the offset, and although I assumed I would eventually let it fade into the uninspired recesses of my subconscious, constantly throughout the course of the game it kept on wowing me.
When coupled with the significantly upgraded graphics, OoT 3D is a suitably gorgeous experience, addressing perhaps the only way the original game has aged; visually. This 'remake' is absolutely beautiful to behold, matching and in many instances surpassing the graphical quality of modern Zelda games.
Whether it's seeing the splendor of Kokari forest with little particles of fairy... stuff floating out of the screen, or the lens glare striking the eyes as you urge your horse across the boundless fields of Hyrule, OoT 3D is filled with instances where you'll simply want to stop what you're doing, shift into the first-person camera view and just gaze into the world trapped within your handheld.
Character models have all been touched up wonderfully, with Link's face now expressing actual emotion rather than his mouth simply forming a two-dimensional circle, his clothing looking like the original concept art rather than a green triangle, and the scarily pointy breasts of the great fairies... actually, they're still scary. But this time, they scare in 3D.
Indeed, Ocarina of Time 3D is as good looking as a game would be if released on some ridiculous console released between the last console generation and the generation of HD... so basically it looks as good as it would if released on Wii, and even better on such a small screen and with Nintendo's gimmi-- 'new dimension to view games in.'
Simply put, it's the best looking handheld game I've ever played to date. The art direction is as timeless as ever, with the many different locales all rendered uniquely and with passion; the soft greens of the forest temple, the harsh flames of the fire temple, the egyptian-aesthetic of the spirit temple, the... ice of the ice cavern – never once does the game's visual style feel stagnant and repeated, like some games released even today.
Yes, , I'm looking at you. Get back in the bargain bin.
So yes, the main draw of this 'remake,' the graphical update, may seem like an insignificant one but in reality is absolutely brilliant, doing away with the blurry, almost non-existential textures of the N64 release and replacing them all with lovingly crafted, detailed ones and stretching these updates across the board.
Unfortunately, perhaps the only other area of the game that could have done with touching up has been largely left alone. I'm talking about the music; we're still dealing with the same musical score we had fourteen years ago, and although it's still a masterpiece of gaming music, it could have done with being rendered in an orchestral light. As it is, there's only one piece in the game which has been orchestrated, and when you hear it you'll find yourself wishing the rest of the score was too.
Everything else has been left largely as it is, the only real difference being controls. A word on this; considering OoT 3D is on handheld, a medium notorious for having, well, awful controls, has never controlled so well. Perhaps this is in part down to the fact that the N64 controller looked like a breezeblock with malignant tumours bursting out of it in random intervals, but never when playing OoT 3D on the 3DS did I have an issue with the controls; the 'circle pad' controls Link like an absolute charm, and with the myriad of hotkey mapping on the touch screen as well as gyroscopic control for using the bow or longshot, it all controls like an absolute dream.
's gameplay has, in vain, been copied many times by many games, but virtually none have managed to even reach the series' standards, let alone improve on it. As such, despite its age OoT 3D still plays flawlessly, hardly showing its many years at all; there are all the intricately designed dungeons of the original with their frustrating yet lovely puzzles, the wide range of enemies with their individualisms, extremely fun sword play and a concotion of whimsical items for you to use at your discretion; these range from the classic 'bomb' to a lens which allows you to see another plane of existence.
I've heard many people dismiss the Zelda franchise as 'saving the princess from the evil baddie,' and each time I've been staggered at how people reach this conclusion, realising they must never have played the game.
OoT 3D's plot is the same as the original; simple, yet beautifully so. From the desert, a man shrouded in darkness has descended upon the kingdom of Hyrule; Ganondorf. He's seeking the three spiritual stones, each held by a guardian, which will allow him access to the sacred realm, where unimaginable power awaits in the form of the Triforce; the personification of the three divine gods who created the world. You play as Link, the only child in the Kokiri forest without a fairy, awakening one day to find you've been gifted with one by the guardian of the forest, who is dying after being stricken by Ganondorf when he refused to give up his spiritual stone. He urges you to recover all three before Ganondorf can, and prevent him from gaining access to the sacred realm. Thus your epic quest begins.
All of this is merely the opening of the story; the main event is where the real tale begins, with you questing not just through the land, but through the corridors of time itself to stop the evil which threatens to consume the world.
It's a fairly simplistic story at its heart, but one loaded with little asides, symbolism and brilliance. You will be invested not just in this game's story, but in its people and furthermore in the world too, which will make what happens after the opening hours lamentable to see.
Somehow, managed to have a flawless translation back in a time when such things were nearly unheard of; even other major releases at the time, such as, had translation errors within their script (such as 'this guy are sick.') As such, the dialogue and narration driving the story is still perfect, and engrosses from the beginning.
All in all, perhaps much of my opinion is subjective, influenced by nostalgia. Yet there is a reason to this day remains the highest ever rated game of all time; a reason why despite all the releases in the Zelda franchises since it has yet to be bettered; a reason why even fourteen years after its release it has managed to propel its way to the current best-selling 3DS game.
Maybe you never had a Nintendo 64 when you were younger, or perhaps you missed that era of gaming completely. Or maybe, like me, you're a seasoned veteran of the game who has saved Hyrule many times before and will do so many more times to come.
Whatever your history with the game, anyone with a 3DS needs to own . I'd go as far to say that if you've never played the original, it's worth buying the handheld for this game. And even if you have played it, consider all the amazing games on the horizon and then let this golden piece of gaming history tip you over the fence to the other side.
I say this because even today, Ocarina of Time remains one of the greatest games ever created. And I'm saying that as objectively as I possibly can. It deserves to be played with beautiful visuals, no stuttering frame-rate and in 3D. Not to mention that when you're on the train you can laugh at all the other commuters playing their and their , safe in the knowledge that you're playing a far, far superior game.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play the game all over again, this time in the more challenging 'master quest' mode.
Hyrule won't save itself, after all.