“Remake”, “reboot”, “re-imagining”. In this day and age of video games, those words in describing a game frequently end up in a disappointing cycle. An established IP is essentially confirmed to be recreated with modern technology that appeals to both new fans of the series and the established fans of years past. Unfortunately for developers, remakes are very tricky to pull off. Make it too similar and people will scream “rehash”, make it too different and you’ll lose the core fanbase. The key is to keep it similar but add mechanics that are relevant and familiar whilst keeping core gameplay and style intact. Sonic, Bionic Commando and AvP have tried and failed in this practice. Fortunately, Nintendo and Grezzo have performed the treatment on one of gaming’s favourites, treating it with the love and attention to detail the proposed “greatest game of all time” deserves.
The legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is the latest offering in the Zelda franchise from Nintendo’s “EAD” department with co-development being handled by Japanese developer “Grezzo” for the Nintendo 3DS. Story wise, nothing has really changed from the 1998 classic. Hyrule will soon be under attack and a young link needs to collect spiritual stones to prevent the coming destruction. Although he tries to stop beings before they start, he ends up starting the destruction himself. As a result, link needs to fix the wrongdoings as an adult and restore Hyrule to its peaceful state using only his courage and the fabled master sword. The story is deliberately initially unexplained at first and is told in the same way as the N64 version with characters talking via text boxes, gestures and the odd noise to put forward their emotions.
The most striking improvement upon playing Ocarina of Time 3D is the graphics upgrade. Every part of Hyrule from the first view of the Kokiri forest to the end of the last Temple has been recreated for the modern age with high resolution textures and silky smooth animations. The character models have been improved and smoothed out and the NPCs look a little more human-like. The models and animations for Link in both child and adult form are new, fantastic and believable for what he’s doing, especially in combat. Despite the changes however, it’s clear the developers have performed all of these additions and changes with the original art style at the forefront of development. It’s clear when playing that if Ocarina of Time was developed originally for this generation, this is exactly how it would look. There was a time in Lake Hylia that I stopped to look at how beautiful modern technology has made the environments. It was clear I was looking at an old game landmark but at the same time I was appreciating it as if it were new. It’s like looking at an old building after refurbishment; you know what it is but now it’s absolutely beautiful and essentially “like new”. Old N64 players will also be ecstatic to hear that even with these improvements, the game runs at a smooth 30 frames per second in addition to the welcome removal of the slowdowns and choppiness the original carried.
As a remake, the gameplay hasn’t changed very much over the 1998 classic, there are some great changes and additions that did make the cut to suit a redo of the mechanics however. The top screen of the 3DS is used for the action without the clutter of the original HUD (save for the “action icon” represented by A). Most technical HUD duties are present on the bottom screen. The original 3 button for items control scheme has been replaced by 2 physical buttons representing 2 items with 2 further “corner slots” for items that can only be activated by pressing those corners on the touch pad. Perfect for items that arnt used regularly like Din’s Fire. Menus are split into 3 subcategories, “Gear” for things like the various swords, shields and tunics, “Map” simply shows the world map as per the original and items relate to the original inventory which is now fully customisable for item placement, a welcome addition. The Ocarina has it’s own section of the bottom screen and thus doesn’t take up an additional item space and the “boots” section of the gear is now added to items, making them easy to equip and remove in certain situations such as the water temple.
In addition to the new interface changes, Ocarina of Time 3D introduces the ability to aim certain items like the Slingshot and the Fairy Bow with your 3DS by moving it in the direction of where you want to aim utilising the 3DS’ gyroscope technology. This new way of aiming is significantly smoother but probably isn’t useful for if you’re playing on the go. For people that would use it for this purpose, you can still use the control stick method and there is the option to turn the gyroscope technology off and use the control stick method exclusively. The gyroscope technology makes aiming more accurate and therefore a lot of the puzzles and minigames are a lot simpler and fun, utilising the technology of the 3DS brilliantly.
Even though I played through the original Ocarina of Time back in 1998, replaying the 3DS seemed like a fresh experience. There’s a lot here for new players in addition to the hardcore fans the game caters for. The water temple has introduced coloured markers for new players to not get lost and new “shiekah stones” have been included for new players to get their bearings and to find out what to do next. There’s no one moment that defines the experience in ocarina of time 3D and old players are sure to explore enough of the new world to find something that they previously didn’t discover, a new secret hole, a new NPC, a new part of a location with a chest. Ocarina of Time is still a huge game and the 3D edition takes none of this away, leaving it beautifully familiar with the developers saying on record that they even left bugs in the game since it would instil a feeling of familiarity in the players. The developers wanted this to be accessible to new fans but still be re-loved and cherished by fans of old.
As far as re-playability goes, there’s a lot to look forward to in Ocarina of Time 3D. Upon the completion of the original game mode, the rarely released master quest mode becomes available which is essentially the same as the original mode but a lot harder for the more advanced Zelda fans. The enemies are more frequent and inflict double damage, the dungeons are a lot harder with all new layouts and puzzles and the entire world is mirrored, offering essentially a brand new experience for fans of the game both new and old, a real test for anyone thinking they know the original game inside and out. The old side-quests are still there too with optional item collection, 100 gold skulltulas to collect and poes to capture, even after finishing the game there’s still a lot to do even before starting master quest. In addition to that, Grezzo have introduced a new Boss Challenge mode that enables you to fight any boss you’ve encountered in your adventure again including a “gauntlet” mode whereby you can fight every boss in the game in rapid succession under strict conditions (5 hearts, 1 additional item after every battle, etc). This is also reflected in master quest for harder tuned bosses. You’re sure to go through many charges of the 3DS’ scarce battery life before your quest in Hyrule is done.
As the game is a direct remake of the original, the world is still fantastic, the level design is still compelling, the puzzles are still challenging and it’s all wrapped up into a package made for the current technology of video games. It should be noted that given the scope of the project, the addition of a bit more new content or challenges outside of the boss-challenge mode wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Every nook and cranny of the familiar Hyrule has been updated for the current age and it looks beautiful. The textures are sharp and vibrant and the models and animations are fantastic and smooth. The landscape of Hyrule field still looks quite dated and jagged but with the other additions its a minor gripe to a great improvement.
No sounds have been changed in Ocarina of Time 3D and that’s fantastic for those familiar to the original game, however it’s a little disappointing that the old familiar tunes were not orchestrated or remastered for this new edition of the game. Hearing Saria’s Song orchestrated or full of new interesting instruments would have made a great soundtrack a perfect one for modern times.
Perfection, the puzzles are still challenging, the combat is still fast paced with a great targeting system, the dungeons are still compelling and full of life, none of this was changed and as a result the game is as fun, engaging and thrilling as it’s always been.
Master quest adds an entire fresh experience on an old classic and the boss challenge mode is a welcome addition for those that enjoy the bosses or to be challenged under stacked odds but as already mentioned before, there’s so much more the developers could have added to make the old world fresh past a new coat of paint in terms of content.
As far as remakes go, this is the standard, the example, the perfect rendition of the concept. This is Ocarina of Time exactly as you played it all those years ago but it still delivers a fresh experience with “oohs” and aahs” being scattered around every corner. This is undoubtedly the definitive version of Ocarina of Time and the only way a better version could be produced is to create exactly what we have here with more content on the same vein. If you’re an old fan or even a new player who’s never experienced ocarina of time; stop reading this review, go outside to your store and buy this, it’ll always be waiting to give you that sensation of adventure, day and night, wherever you are.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.