What Ocarina of Time 3D does is to deem obsolete all Nintendo 64 cartridges of the game, turning them into museum items
Depending on how one looks at it, embracing the task of remaking a game like Ocarina of Time can either be considered the most daunting quest in the world, or the easiest one. Through the fourteen years separating the Nintendo 64 release from this Nintendo 3DS overhaul, Ocarina of Time has become the ultimate legend in the lore of the gaming universe, a game – at the time – so revolutionary in its introduction of the targeting system to streamline combat in a 3-D environment and so overwhelming in the dimension and scope that Hyrule and its dungeons gained, that it left marks in our memories that are impossible to remove.
Ocarina of Time’s achievements were not restricted to the mastering of 3-D gaming design, though; it also thrived due to its strong story, its lovable characters, its inspired soundtrack, and its well-designed puzzles. Therefore, recreating a magical experience, which had aged in its visuals, is a matter of slapping a new makeup layer on its surface; however, simultaneously, bringing it out for another spin is removing the game from the time capsule where it laid asleep and immaculate for so long and running the risk of letting it fall to the ground, hence shattering its historic value.
For those who have played the original, the big allure of this release will be the game’s graphics, and it is hard to be disappointed. The Nintendo 64 game, while visually stunning for its launch time, was still a little rough around the edges, especially regarding its textures. Fortunately, all of them have been gracefully updated and even though some shapes and objects are still a little bit too brute, the game looks fantastic.
Hyrule Castle Town and the inside part of the many houses across the land, which were the two areas on which the textures were the most lacking, greatly differing in quality from the rest of the game, now look up-to-par with the overall visuals of Ocarina of Time. Essentially, players will go through the same locations they visited over a decade ago, as nothing was changed in terms of structure, but the game has taken such a considerable visual leap that exploring all places, from Hyrule Field to Gerudo Valley, feels like a process of rediscovery, something that will come off as a sweet factor for those who have the game too fresh on their minds from replaying it a hundred times over.
Needless to say, another area on which the game has clearly gotten better are its character models. The fogginess of one’s memories might have obscured how oddly shaped and expressionless the main stars of this adventure looked, but by putting pictures of both versions of the game side-by-side, it is possible to notice crucial differences such as how unnatural the structure of adult Link’s body was back then compared to how evenly built it is now.
It is something that can be seen both in a smaller scale – enemies, NPCs, and Link; and on a large scale, such as it happens in the case of bosses, which are now ugly not because of how their models aged, but because they are actually very threatening creatures of flawless deign. Starting with the character models, and leaking into the eyes, mouth, and general animations, Ocarina of Time 3D looks leagues better than its twin. Hyrule feels more alive and organic this time around, and some added particle effects are a joy to look at with the 3D visuals as players’ eyes will make them feel like floating ashes from the volcano or tiny fireflies from the forest are coming out of the screen to merge with the real world.
Gameplay-wise, some things are slightly altered due to how different the 3DS’ structure is compared to that of a Nintendo 64 controller. The first change players will notice, and the one they will come across the most, is how the 3DS only has two free buttons to be used as slots to equip items versus the three on the Nintendo 64. It is a minor annoyance, but the lack of a third button means the game will be paused more often to equip necessary items, especially as Link’s inventory grows. In the light of the seamless and quick item-change process of Skyward Sword, it is hard not to feel like Ocarina of Time 3D is a step back in inventory management.
On a far more positive note, what the 3DS does add to the experience are three main features: the analog directional, which is obviously more comfortable than the one present on the Nintendo 64 controller; the ability to use the system’s built-in gyroscope as a pleasant, and more intuitive, option to look around the environments or aim while using a few items of Link’s inventory, such as the bow-and-arrow and the hookshot; and, opposed to the bumpier adventure caused by the more frequent item changes, the fact that the map always shows up on the bottom screen, although the lack of a cursor that pinpoints Link’s location is a little bit baffling.
Nintendo was smart enough not to let the only additions to their timeless masterpiece fall into the shoulders of what their new hardware had to offer, so they made sure to add a couple of extra modes to try to gain the attention of those who were not inclined to buy the game given the fact that they had already played it, even if they did so with inferior graphics.
Unlocked upon completion of the regular quest, Ocarina of Time 3D features the epic Master Quest: an adventure much like the traditional one, but where enemies deal a lot more damage, dungeons are altered, and some optional items become mandatory. Besides, the game also comes with a form of Boss Rush mode where unforgettable beasts like Phantom Ganon, Bongo-Bongo, and Twinrova can be fought at will so that players can compare their best times.
In the end, what Ocarina of Time 3D does is to deem obsolete all Nintendo 64 cartridges of the game, turning them into museum items. It is absolutely the definitive version of that game and, by breaking the time-proof seal that had been surrounding the game, Nintendo gives some validation and support to the claims that Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda ever and one of the best games of all time.
It is an amazing experience that will last about 20 hours with as many hours of extra content available if players go looking for all those Golden Skulltulas, Poes, and Heart Pieces we have learned to obsess over ever since Ocarina of Time came out back in 1998. It is a must-buy to anyone who has yet to finish the game, a mandatory purchase to those who need to have their memories of the epic journey refreshed, and a recommended piece of software to acquire to just about everyone else, including those who have played through the game one too many times and wish to have the ultimate Ocarina of Time experience at their reach for as long as gaming exists.