It seems weird to think that Ocarina of Time first saw the light of day back in 1998, back then gamers were wowed by the ground-breaking 3D – that’s 2D 3D, not 3D 3D – visuals, despite their lack of HD-ness and even on a CRT TV. That’s a lot of D’s and no mistake, but hopefully most of you have kept up.
To put this review together in the normal way seems pointless, most will have already played the game on N64, those that missed that will have played it on either the GameCube via the Zelda compilation discs, or Wii via the online store, or – day it say it – via the well publicised emulators. Therefore it seems more pertinent to sum up whether this re-mastering is worth the hype.
First, it’s worth pointing out that this is Ocarina of Time, one of gaming’s Citizen Kane moments and with that in mind the game is, as I’m sure most who’ve played it would agree, worthy of one of our rather shiny A* grades. So consider that A* a given as Ocarina of Time is great, thanks to it’s beautifully complex dungeons, flowing adventuring and consistent and perfectly paced progression in terms of Link’s abilities.
You already knew that, so when we grade this 3D version we’re grading just that, this version. We’re basing it on how the game feels in its new clothes, the 3DS in other words, and so Master Sword in hand, off we go.
First up those visuals, they’re a little improved over the N64 which is expected of the 3DS’ vivid screens, but nothing like what I was hoping for out of this version. Textures are smoothed yeah, but where are the more modern animations – just simple things such as being able to jump straight on to a ladder from a raised platform say? Even smaller things like real-time shadows or better flame textures or… well I could name a thousand things. Yes it’s a re-mastering, not a remake, but come on Nintendo, this is your crown jewel for your latest console, show it off already!
Then there’s the first-person aiming of your bow and arrow, catapult and so on. Sure it works if you only want to fine-tune your aim, but against a rapidly moving target forget it; such is the lack of give in the gimmick. Forget using this aspect with 3D switched on too, as the oft-discussed focus sweet spot makes moving the console while focussing a chore for the eyes (well, unless that’s just me).
It isn’t all doom and gloom though – clouds over Death Mountain aside that is – as control of Link is mapped well to the 3DS’ analogue stick, while particularly good use of the touchscreen means equipment can be swapped about much more readily than on the N64 version – it certainly makes swapping to those iron boots much more palatable.
Combat is just as responsive with the long since cloned to death z-targeting working just as well on 3DS as it did back in those heady, pre-millennium bug days. Likewise zipping about with hookshot, throwing boomerangs and everything else you do in an average Zelda title works just as well here as it ever has.
Those looking for anything new content-wise will be left largely disappointed but then what could Nintendo possibly add to an experience already famously perfected? There is the option to take on all of the game’s bosses one-by-one, while the Master Quest extra is also added so at least veterans might see something they haven’t before.
Needless to say, 3DS owners yet to play Ocarina of Time need to buy this. If however you’ve already beaten it, then whether you buy this depends on whether you can justify £39.99 on a game you’ve likely already completed. 1998 was a long time ago and those dungeons are still worth replaying and, though we sorely wanted more than just a verbatim remastering, we can’t help but still give it a recommendation for all those memories.