As far back as I can remember, I’ve been playing Zelda games. Arguably one of my favorite gaming series, I must have spent ages traveling the fields of Hyrule and saving the day once again from the evil Ganon. The crème de la crème of those games in my opinion (and I’m not alone) has always been Ocarina of Time. There was just something inherently fantastic about the 3D environments and the dark way everything was presented. When I heard that Nintendo was re-releasing Ocarina of Time for the 3DS I was equally excited and hesitant. Always a fan favorite, OoT has been released several times over and has been played to death a million times by those who really want it on every system. Did the 3DS bring anything that warranted a re-release? That’s what I set out to discover. I was not disappointed.
Let’s start off this by going over what hasn’t changed. The story is 100% exactly how you remembered it. Link still must save Hyrule from the evil forces of Ganon by waking up the seven Sages and using the power of the Master Sword. The graphics have gotten an improvement, but all that really means is that the texture mapping and animations are smoother. It still features the familiar art direction and character models are still kind of blocky. I’ll give this new version credit; it’s a lot prettier than when it first debuted. Link actually looks like a person now. Still, it’s not the most fantastic improvement. The sound is the same too, though I wasn’t really expecting that to change much. After all, the score is still pretty fantastic and some of the sounds are iconic. Unfortunately, this also means Navi hasn’t changed either. “Hey! Listen!” has never been more aggravating.
The 3D effect in Ocarina of Time is completely engrossing. In other games I’ve played the 3D was either a mild distraction or something that made things slightly more pretty. Usually I’d just play with the 3D to see what it was like and shut it off. However, I absolutely like playing Ocarina of Time with the 3D on most of the time. The 3D adds a lot of depth to the game which is completely necessary in an action game like this. It helps figure out where people are and it makes some of the visuals much more striking and impactful. The only time I shut it off (besides when I was on public transportation) was when I was using the feature I didn’t know I was missing: the gyroscope.
Anyone who’s played a 3D Zelda game is familiar with the usage of FPS when using items like the Bow, the Slingshot, or the Hookshot. Before, I was content with just using the analog stick to aim at my targets. That was before I saw the light. The gyroscope allows you to aim by moving the 3DS around in meat space. Aiming like this has become one of the most enriching experiences of entire my gaming career. It’s such a small thing to be excited about, but I can’t help it. The fluidity involved in just picking your weapon, aiming, and shooting is worth its weight in gold alone, but it adds a level of interactivity that you just can’t get anywhere else.
The touch screen is used almost at maximum efficiency. Nintendo solves the issue of the 3DS having less buttons than the N64 by simply putting a few buttons on the screen. At first I was hesitant about having to switch to those items in a hurry, but once I actually started playing I realized that the screen was good for items you’ll need occasionally – like bottles, or masks. The Ocarina gets a dedicated spot in the bottom left corner – and pressing it not only brings up the Ocarina, but also a menu that shows you the notes to each song you’ve collected. The map is permanently affixed to the bottom screen, ensuring that you’ll never have to go to the tab to check the level layout.
After beating the game once you’ll earn access to the Master Quest. For those not familiar with this, the Master Quest is basically a tougher Zelda experience, with more enemies and craftier puzzles in rearranged dungeons. For an added ballsy move, the 3DS version is mirrored from the original game. It’s definitely intended for players who know Ocarina of Time by heart and need something that’s a bit more of a challenge – and Holy Deku Tree is it hard. I’ve played Ocarina of Time to the point where I can beat the first three dungeons in well under an hour. (I am not proud of this fact.) It took me a few hours alone to get through the Deku Tree alone. It’s kind of ridiculous, but in a way that’s absolutely satisfying – a bit like watching Robocop. I’m really glad it’s there; it extends my play time with the game while giving me a wholly enriching experience without making me feel like I’m being babied.
The Legend of Zelda series is been used by Nintendo to showcase the capabilities of the system it’s been placed on. While it would have been absolutely fantastic to see a brand new Zelda created for the 3DS, it’s hard to complain about the Ocarina of Time. It’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever played and now it’s prettier and portable? Not only that but it showcases the strengths of the 3DS and highlights the potential for greater to come? And it’s got a tough as balls mode that makes me feel like the hero of Time? There’s a lot to be excited for with Ocarina of Time. It’s something that 3DS owners should definitely buy right this second. You won’t be disappointed.