Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS Review

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

There’s no better time to look back at your gaming past than now.  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS has been released, and we’d be lying if we didn’t say, its return is as heralded almost as much as the hero of time himself.  When asking gamers to define their most perfect gaming experience, it’s no surprise that most would answer Ocarina of Time for N64.  With updated graphics, and 3D treatment, 3DS owners finally have their must own title for 3DS.

For gamers who never got to play Ocarina of Time before (it’s been readily available enough, with its multiple re-releases!), now is the best time to pick it up.  Ocarina of time 3D is fantastic!  As the first Legend of Zelda game offered up in 3D, as opposed to its previous overhead view, Ocarina of Time was a groundbreaking experience.  Full of clever puzzles, difficult dungeons, and an extremely well written story, gamers got to experience the lands of Hyrule like never before.  Include the option to play the entire game in 3d, with motion controls, and you just made this game even better.

As Link, players are charged with saving Princess Zelda, and recovering/protecting pieces of the Tri-Force, from the evil Prince Gannondorf.  Along the way you will encounter all manner of beasts, and races to slay, and help out.  If you haven’t played this game before, really, go pick it up.  Plain and simple, this is one of the best titles you can ever play.  For those who have played it, or are curious about how the 3d translation works, let’s take a deeper look.

We’ll start our focus on the 3D aspect of the game.  That’s right, for the first time ever, players can experience Hyrule in full stereoscopic 3D, and boy is it pretty!  We see a lot of love, and detail went into the 3D effect on this game, which is a refreshing change from the gimmicky 3d appearance prevalent in most 3DS titles.  At no time does the 3D feel tacked on.  Providing a whole new sense of immersion, after a while we didn’t even remember we were playing a 3D game.  The effect felt natural, unforced, and just really well done.  Song effects look beautiful, the scope of Hyrule is deep, and dungeons look far more menacing.

There are some drawbacks however.  For one, the 3D aspect can really interfere with the new motion control offered (we’ll talk more about this later).  Also, playing with the 3D slider all the way does cause some ghosting on the screen.  Should any of our readers be unfamiliar with the concept of ghosting, it appears almost as it sounds.  There are many times in the game where players will be able to see both screens at the same time, causing a faint duplicate of the image slightly off to the side.  Keeping the 3D effect on will also cause gamers to remain very still, as to not cause a double image.  When playing a 3D adventure game, this task is much harder than it sounds.

As we previously mentioned, new motion controls have been added to Ocarina of time, courtesy of the internal 3DS gyroscopes.  When using items such as the Boomerang, Hookshot, Slingshot, or Bow and Arrow, instead of using the analog stick to move and aim, players can instead simply move their handheld around to virtually aim in 3D space.  Oddly enough, the effect works extremely well.  The controls are tight, and don’t feel gimmicky.  Revisiting mini games, such as the mounted archery challenge in Gerudo valley, we were worried that this new control scheme would make winning nearly impossible.  Much to our surprise we accomplished this task on the first try, and it felt easier than it had with a control stick.  The control feels tight, and not overly sensitive.  There is a major problem however when using this control style coupled with the 3D effect.  With 3D on, and moving the 3DS around, players will be forced to maintain their relative head position to the 3DS screen, or have a very distorted, double image.  We found the easiest thing to do, is simply shut the 3D off while in these segments, however it does take away from the games new found immersion.

Should these new elements not particularly interest you, there are still the updated graphics to be had.  Ocarina 3DS looks beautiful.  It wasn’t until actually viewing the N64 version, immediately after playing the 3DS version that we had even full appreciated the new improvement.  The graphics are an update in the strictest sense of the word.  We’ve seen the 3DS accomplish far more with its graphical abilities, such as in the demos for the new Resident Evil titles.  Ocarina does not try to push the graphical envelope.  It instead sets out to mimic the style presented in the original concept art.  It does this perfectly.  While the beautiful stylization presented to us back on the 64 remains, it has just been pushed up to 11.  Character models look great, facial animations and gestures aren’t as bland, and colors really stick out.  There are still the occasional muddy textures, and stairs still look like flat land with horizontal lines, but for the most part the game looks simply beautiful.

N64 (Left) Vs. 3DS (Right)

N64 (Left) Vs. 3DS (Right)

N64 (Left) Vs. 3DS (Right)

N64 (Left) Vs. 3DS (Right)

Another great improvement is the inclusion of the Master Quest.  A little harder to come by, previously the only way to access this was on the Gamecube disc given out to Wind Waker pre-order customers.  Master Quest offers a mirrored version of Hyrule, with new puzzles, and is far more difficult.  This gives players some great replay value, as this quest is only unlocked after beating the original quest.  It’s almost like getting two games in one.  While the story is consistent, and Hyrule is at its core the same map, the changes and tweaks to dungeons and puzzles make it feel just fresh enough to keep players engaged.

A number of small additions are also included.  Gamers can replay all their favorite boss battles once they successfully defeat each dungeon.  Simply visit your bed in Kokiri village, and choose whom you wish to face.  We can play that Phantom Gannon battle over and over again over here!  For newcomers to the series, a helpful new hint system has been implemented.  In some locations, such as the Temple of Time, new stones have been added that will offer you “visions” on how to beat certain dungeon puzzles, and side quests.

For all the greats offered by this title, there is one major flaw that we have encountered.  The mini map has become completely useless.  Now located in the bottom left hand corner of the top screen, the map is extremely tiny.  It’s so tiny, it’s simply impractical, and nearly impossible to discern where you are, or where you are going.  Having beaten the game so many times, we were more than familiar with the dungeon layouts to begin with, but for newer players, it can certainly make things more difficult.

We Circled the Map For You

We Circled the Map For You

Ocarina of Time 3Ds, is nearly perfect, and certainly a must own for any 3Ds owners.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, you are really doing yourself a disservice.  We can’t help but feel reminded of the old Star Wars Special Edition ad campaign:  See it again, for the first time to perfectly embody how this title felt.  We’ve all played it, we’ve all beaten it countless times, but playing The Legend of Zelda: ocarina of Time on the 3DS felt like the first time all over again.  The 3D looks great, the graphics are beautiful, and its new touch screen inventory made even the Water Temple not only tolerable, but actually fun to play!  While the 3D occasionally acts touchy, the game still looks beautiful even with the effect off.  There is nothing bad to say about this game, and it’s the one of the first times we’ve felt a title is truly deserving of a perfect score.  Go pick up this title today, and enjoy!

Overall Rating: 10/10