Nostalgia. It’s a powerful emotion. Whilst gamers are continually showered with releases that seek to provide more innovative, dramatic experiences that aim to shape the industry in new directions, an underlying yearning to replay re-mastered versions of timeless classics has recently emerged.
Publishers such as Microsoft, Sony, Square Enix, Ubisoft and Konami have all noticed such demand, making plans to provide HD collections of some of their most celebrated series, and in a similar vein Nintendo has turned its attention to breathing new life into what has long been regarded as one of their finest video games to date.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time surely needs no introduction to the avid gaming fan – players assume the role of Link, a young boy who finds himself tasked with saving the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf, the Gerudo King of Thieves.
Led by his ambition to overthrow the Royal Family of Hyrule, Ganondorf sets his sights upon seizing control of both land and time itself, and Link must, therefore, traverse both the present and future as he seeks to thwart the King of Thieves’ evil plans.
There can surely be no better time for this faithful remake, aptly titled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, to release other than this year – marking the start of Nintendo’s anniversary celebrations of the franchise, its first title having debuted in Japan back in 1986.
The game divides itself into two distinctive halves; the first following a more innocent Young Link as he sets out on his quest of self-discovery, forging the path of his legend to save the lands of Hyrule, and the latter half where Link, having been sealed within the Sacred Realm for seven years until he comes of age, becomes an Adult and achieves his destiny in becoming the Hero of Time. Whilst notably dark in places, the jovial nature of Darunia, leader of the Gorons, or the playful naivety of Ruto, Princess of the Zora, breaks up the brooding atmosphere and adds to the diversity of character portrayal throughout the game.
At face value, the most noticeable ‘upgrade’ is the updated visuals, allowing this new version to portray a more colourful, detailed and immersive Hyrule than that seen within its forebear – aided further by the handheld’s ability to allow the user to view everything in glasses-free stereoscopic 3D, providing those re-visiting this entry within Link’s adventures in an entirely new way. It is, by far, some of the most impressive use of the tech yet, and the 3D effect in numerous instances is dazzling – the shimmering effect on Fire/ Ice/ Light Arrows is a particular favourite!
For those that played the Nintendo 64 classic, this is largely the game that you’ve grown to love – incrementally improved upon through a number of core enhancements that serve to smoothen the gameplay experience. From Link’s humbling childhood growing up in the Kokiri Forest, right through to the showdown atop Ganon’s Castle, the sheer timeless quality that exuberantly shines at every turn will soon allow you to forget that you are once again playing through a thirteen-year-old game.
The added value of the touchscreen that has been utilised can’t be understated. Serving a multitude of purposes, the most immediate benefit of its implementation is to de-clutter the main screen of traditional HUD elements such as health, magic and rupee levels, now moved to a more convenient location. It also provides easier access to your inventory, with the player now able to map items to X, Y, B alongside two additional inventory slots (I and II) on the touchscreen – a quick tap of those chosen allows you to switch speedily between each.
When investigating your surrounding area, through either a first-person perspective or by aiming projectile weaponry (Fairy Slingshot, Fairy Bow, Hookshot etc), the game supports the use of the Nintendo 3DS’ built-in gyro sensor – allowing you to alter your viewpoint by moving the handheld itself. Your centre point is fixated upon the position that you are holding the handheld in when entering such a perspective (i.e. don’t aim at the floor when aiming to utilise it!) and allows for far greater precision than relying purely upon the Circle Pad.
Noticeable improvements to the framerate, allowed by the graphical prowess of the Nintendo 3DS, allowing the entire experience to feel all the more fluid. Trekking across the vast expanse of Hyrule Field feels far less muddy than its 1998 counterpart and combat is more responsive to your input.
Of course, the game’s namesake instrument remains to play a fundamental role and in addressing the difference between the handheld’s control scheme in comparison to that of the Nintendo 64 or subsequent GameCube controller, the ocarina is now mapped to A, B, X, Y, L and R, with each button corresponding to a different pitch. Also, for those that find it hard to remember each melody that you are taught throughout the course of the game, you may now utilise a separate screen that lists each individually with the ability to play along with on-screen notation.
A further addition aimed at assisting those that find themselves bemused as to what they need to do next is ‘Visions.’ Accessible through Sheikah Stones or through the touchscreen following multiple deaths, these are brief clips that hint as to how to complete puzzles, or a bosses weak point, for example. It is an invaluable aid those new to the series, and who haven’t played through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time before.
Navi, your devoted fairy companion, is as energetic as you remembered yet remains to be even more so annoying – now asking the player whether they’re tired in an effort to prompt them to take regular breaks.
The soundtrack itself has also been re-mastered to best suit the Nintendo 3DS hardware, and whilst it is a shame that it hasn’t been orchestrated, it sounds just as fresh as the visuals. The ocarina melodies themselves sound especially crisp, and the one orchestrated track that has been included is an added bonus for those that care for such things.
Beyond completion of the game, you’ll unlock the ability to play it through once again within its Master Quest form – featuring new puzzles, dungeon layouts, and a world that is entirely mirrored from that previously experienced. Such content is the perfect invitation to re-visit the game an additional time and is a noteworthy inclusion that is sure to excite Zelda enthusiasts who haven’t been able to get their hands on it through prior limited releases.
This is further accompanied by an all-new Boss Challenge mode, that enables you to pit yourself against any of the bosses that you have previously encountered whilst aiming to better your time taken to defeat them. It’s a nice addition that serves to further elongate your playtime.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is an accomplished remake that has received the same care and thorough attention to detail as the original did all those years ago. Remarkably, it manages to retain all of the magic and charm of its predecessor, whilst delivering a definitive gameplay experience that is suited to Nintendo’s new handheld.
As expected, it becomes the latest must-have title for the Nintendo 3DS and is the perfect opportunity for Link’s epic quest to not only be relived by those who have completed it before, but by those yet to experience it.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Nintendo