Developer: GREZZO / Publisher: Nintendo / Played On: 3DS / Price: $39.99 / ESRB: Everyone 10+ [Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes]
“The flow of time is always cruel… its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it… A thing that does not change with time is a memory of younger days…” – Sheik
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a place in many gamers’ hearts for being the definitive adventure game in the Nintendo 64 era, if not the definitive game, period. Nearly 13 years after the original release on the N64 Nintendo has released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the portable 3DS system. Does a game all about time travel withstand the test of time, or should we leave our cherished memories of younger days alone?
Green tunic-wearing youngster Link is about to set off on the greatest journey of his life when the fairy Navi finds him asleep in his tree house home. Link and Navi set off to help the Great Deku Tree, an ancient and wise tree that warns the duo a great evil is on the rise, and Link must stop it from happening. After leaving his home for the first time, Link discovers the vast world of Hyrule, and eventually finds the young Princess Zelda. The young noble warns Link of the evil intentions of Ganondorf, the King of the desert people, and tasks the boy with stopping Ganondorf from gaining entrance into the sacred realm. Though he tries, Link fails to stop Ganondorf: the villain enters the sacred realm and secures power of the kingdom of Hyrule for himself, throwing the once thriving and peaceful land into turmoil. Link awakens seven years after Ganondorf takes power, and through the guidance of the seven sages he has to come to realize his role as the Hero of Time and stop Ganondorf once and for all. Even after experiencing the story over a decade ago, it still holds strong to this day. The pacing from each event to the next is perfect. Each character you interact with is interesting and their motives differ greatly from one another, which acts as a storytelling balance with Link’s crucial mission. The struggle between Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf is exciting and entertaining. If you’ve played the game before you’ll still find a lot to like in terms of story, and newcomers will easily see why countless gamers admire it.
The Zelda franchise is known for its action packed swordplay coupled with creative, oftentimes complex, puzzles. Ocarina of Time has some of the greatest puzzles in the entire series, as well as fast and fun combat. Part of the reason the game remains so fun to this day is due to how well paced the game is. While you start the game with only a blade and shield, by the end of the game you’ll have multiple shields, a bow and arrows, a grappling hook, and even a boomerang. Not only do these items help in combat, but also in exploration. The game incorporates the use of every item in some form or another, both in combat and puzzle solving. Ocarina of Time 3D does a great job of retaining these elements and they are really what makes the game great. Even though I knew I had to use the Lens of Truth to see the boss Bongo Bongo, and I had to shoot his hands with my bow before I could damage him, and I had to avoid his charge attack because I played it back in 1998, it was still incredibly fun to do so.
There are plenty of things to do to take Link away from the looming destruction of the world. Exploring an area and solving puzzles scattered throughout the land can earn Link life extending hearts, as well as bonuses to increase his ammo carrying capacity. A shooting gallery can help hone your archery skills, you can grab a rod and reel and catch the biggest angler in the lake, and there’s even a fledgling mask salesman you can help for some extra cash. You’ll find yourself revisiting areas after acquiring new items to further your exploration, but most of these things are completely optional. The side-quests in Ocarina of Time 3D help to break up the main plot points, and serve as rewarding outlets to get to know the denizens of Hyrule and explore the land.
Unfortunately there is no new content to entice old players to play through the game again. Completing the game unlocks the Master Quest (previously released as part of the pre-order bonus disc for the GameCube), which is the same game but with different and more difficult dungeon layouts and puzzles. A boss rush mode becomes available halfway through the game and charges you with beating each of the game’s bosses as fast as possible. While this adds to the replay value, there is nothing completely new in the game. No new dungeons, no new items, and no new quests. Ocarina of Time 3D is more an enhanced port as opposed to a complete remake.
Graphics and Sound
The biggest change to the game comes in the form of graphics. As the system and title suggest, Link can now explore Hyrule in glorious 3D! Adjusting the 3D slider to the appropriate position will make Link pop out but doesn’t change the gameplay much. On top of this, the graphics have all been given an extra touch of love, and look better than ever. Link and the enemies he fight no longer look blocky and pointy like their N64 parents did. Link, in particular, reminds me of the Link from Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, with much crisper textures and geometry. Some portions of the game, however, were not updated in this way. For example, many textures on walls and backgrounds remain pixilated and chunky, especially when viewed close.
The original Ocarina of Time has, in my opinion, one of the greatest soundtracks to grace any video game, and hearing the songs all over again is nostalgic bliss. So many tunes like the Lost Wood’s theme and Zelda’s Lullaby remain in my head days after playing, with their infectious beats and catchy melodies. Most other sound effects like Link’s grunts remain untouched but still fit the game well.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is easily the best game currently available on the 3DS. The incredibly story, fun and rewarding gameplay, and astounding soundtrack all make it clear to see why the original game was heralded as one of the greatest games of all time. Improvements like updated graphics, touch screen control for menu navigation, and the added Master Quest and Boss Rush mode make this port the definitive version of the game. A lack of new content and only revamping portions of the graphics hold the game back from true perfection, but the overall package is great. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D brings an endearing classic back to life for a new generation of gamers to experience… even if Navi is still as annoying as ever.