Review: The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time 3D
Nearly thirteen years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time arrived on the Nintendo 64. It was easily the most anticipated game of 1998, if not the entire decade. Everything was riding on its release: after Nintendo broke new ground with Mario 64, consumers wanted a Zelda sequel that could take the series to places we had never been before. It was, in essence, a dream game – and if the finished product could not fulfill that dream, gamers everywhere would weep.
When the day finally came and Ocarina of Time was released, it was met with universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. It set a new standard not only for Zelda games but for all action/RPGs, which were now expected to be as innovative, as entertaining, and as lengthy as Nintendo's 64-bit masterpiece.
After all these years, you might be wondering if this game is worth buying all over again. The easy, simple answer? Yes, it most certainly is. First because it is a perfect handheld port of the Nintendo 64 version (in some ways, the 3DS edition is actually better). Second because the 3D effects add newfound depth to the experience, bringing the player deeper into the land of Hyrule. Third because the game aged so well – so beautifully, in fact, that you will still be convinced that this is the greatest action/RPG of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was re-built specifically for the Nintendo 3DS. From the start of the game you will notice that Link and company have been transformed with smoother, more detailed character models. At the same time, the developers enhanced the backgrounds with high-end textures, additional colors, and other visual tweaks that help the game world come to life.
Whereas the original Ocarina of Time was designed to be played on the older television sets with the square (4:3) aspect ratio, Ocarina of Time 3D plays wonderfully on the Nintendo 3DS' widescreen. Players can assign four items to Link's arsenal, all of which can be accessed immediately by tapping the bottom screen. That screen may also be used to play the ocarina.
While that last element might seem trivial, it is actually quite helpful. Instead of having to memorize arrows and whatnot, players can now get an instant visual cue of each song without having to fumble through a series of menus. It's a simple adjustment that goes a long way in improving an essential gameplay feature.
Using the gyroscope mechanics built into the Nintendo 3DS, the developers added motion controls to both the camera and some of the weapons. While controlling the slingshot, for example, players can use the thumbstick to aim (as you did in 1998) or tilt the Nintendo 3DS up, down, left and right for a more precise aiming mechanism. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but once you do, you will never want to go back to the old system. (For those who still do, the motion control feature can be turned off.)
When looking around the environment, players can physically move the 3DS to view the game world. This feature can also be used while Link is locked-on to an enemy, adding a degree of cinematic flair to the impeccable battle system.
Remarkably, the flat thumbstick that comes with the Nintendo 3DS works 90% as well as the full thumbstick featured on the Nintendo 64 controller. The missing 10% is a minor issue: while guiding Link across the equivalent of a tightrope (among other narrow passages), the 3DS' thumbstick is a slight hindrance because it cannot be pressed as delicately as the thumbstick on the N64, GameCube, or Wii controllers. Other than that, the controls are flawless.
When bringing Ocarina of Time into the third dimension, it seems that developers wanted to expand the game world while pulling the player deeper into it. They have succeeded; with the 3D depth slider positioned almost all the way to the top (my recommended setting), the visuals practically expand beyond the confines of the top screen. The environment has actual depth; there are a few pop-out moments, but for the most part it feels as though the player could reach into the screen and touch different elements within the game.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is every bit the upgraded remake fans have been hoping for. It makes the Nintendo 3DS worth buying. You will enjoy your time with this game just as much as you did in 1998. With nostalgia factored in, some gamers are sure to get even more out of the experience.
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