The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Merely mentioning its title conjures up fond memories for many a gamer, and even twelve years on from when it was first released on the Nintendo 64 it remains to be regarded as one of the greatest videogames of all time.
Its initial release revolutionised the series, in a similar way to that achieved within Super Mario 64 for its intrepid plumbing hero, by marking the transitional point at which The Legend of Zelda series was first transformed into an entirely three-dimensional world. It left many captivated by its storyline, immersive charm and sheer expanse, and is now happily occupying its place amidst the gaming hall of fame as a true example of videogame perfection.
It is perhaps understandable then, that when Nintendo announced that they were to remaster the title for a release on the new Nintendo 3DS system, long-term fans began to panic. Yet having played a segmented demo of the game last week at the Nintendo 3DS Preview event in Amsterdam, such fear can easily be extinguished. Ocarina of Time is looking more fantastic than ever, with an improved graphical sheen enticing both newcomers and fans to pick it up once more and, of course, it’s now available to be played entirely in 3D.
The demo that we were able to get our hands on allowed us to play through three short portions within the early part of the game; Kokiri Forest, Inside the Great Deku Tree and tackling the Parasitic Armored Arachnid, Queen Gohma, who is the concluding boss of the first dungeon. Naturally, we couldn’t wait to get stuck in, and it didn’t disappoint.
There’s little to say in regards to the level design that fans of the series don’t already know. Kokiri Forest retains all of its charm, the Great Deku Tree is still bug-ridden with a large quantity of Skulltula’s and Queen Gohma, regrettably, still has eight legs – I hate spiders…
What we can discuss, however, is that which has changed. There is an improved level of polish that is consistent throughout the design; characters are sharper, environments incorporate improved textures, animations feel much smoother and the addition of the three-dimensional visuals make the lands of Hyrule feel more immersive than has ever been seen before within the series.
With the addition of the analogue Circle Pad to the Nintendo 3DS system, the game still very much controls like its Nintendo 64 counterpart meaning that there will be a particular degree of familiarity to those that already played the original. However, the Nintendo 3DS’ dual screens allow for a rather intuitive alteration to be made.
Whilst the N64 version had you continually popping in and out of the menu screen to alter whichever items and weaponry you had assigned, Nintendo has seen fit to allow the player to perform such menial responsibilities through the 3DS’ touch screen. This undoubtedly streamlines the entire experience – changing items on the fly is now available to be done with far more fluidity, as does being able to use bottled Potions or Fairies during sticky situations. It’s an introduction that is sure to be welcomed by fans both old and new alike.
Further to this, making use of the built-in motion and gyro sensors of the Nintendo 3DS which respond to the movement and tilt of the handheld, the developer has have seen fit to incorporate such functionality into the game. Whenever the player is in first-person, be it merely glancing at your surroundings or aiming either your Slingshot/ Bow, you are able to freely move the system and your on-screen view will match whichever direction you turn. Even if you do resort back to using more traditional control methods, the inclusion of the technology here provides a further degree of immersion within Hyrule and perfectly demonstrates the potential of the Nintendo 3DS over its predecessors.
Finally, Eiji Aonuma, who previously worked as a Director for Ocarina of Time, has also confirmed that the oft-hated Water Temple is being addressed. Within the Nintendo 64 version, players became irate regarding the continual necessity to repeatedly put on/ take off the Iron Boots to navigate their way around the temple and complete a multitude of puzzles. Aonuma sees the Nintendo 3DS version as the chance to correct the development team’s previous mistake, and it will certainly be interesting to see how it has been altered.
Whilst it may be slightly disappointing to see remastered titles making up part of Nintendo’s initial offering for its new 3DS platform, seeing the irrepressibly impressive work that has been done here only makes me even more anxious to see how Lylat Wars (or Star Fox 64) is also shaping up. Either way, revisiting such a timeless classic shouldn’t be an opportunity that any of those that will be purchasing a Nintendo 3DS should miss. Link’s back in breathtaking style, and his legend lives on.