Generally remakes happen in one of a few ways: either they’re orchestrated to beautifully uphold an old classic, they’re built from the ground up as a retake on an old classic or they’re a direct port. You can guess which of the pack we hate most. Direct ports obviously serve as little more than a way to make extra money off of an otherwise dead or dying product.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is not a direct port. This game has been tweaked, polished and updated just enough to avoid that label. But, at the same time, it’s not been done up enough to stand as a complete relaunch either. Nintendo and Grezzo, the Japanese studio charged with this 3DS remake, clearly worked to highlight and preserve the game in its entirety. Character models, textures, sound, lighting and environments have all been improved upon to varying degrees. They look like polished versions of their previous forms, not like completely new concepts.
And that’s where you’ll find your rift in opinion as far as Ocarina of Time 3D is concerned. Is this game enough as a highlighted and preserved classic? Or has Nintendo not done much to warrant the $40 expenditure?
Personally, I’m in love. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a landmark title not only in the history of the gaming world, but also as a time in my childhood. The title launched 13 years ago, but I can still remember the first time I booted it up. I can still remember fishing for hours on end, freeing Epona, making the Scarecrow Song way too difficult to remember and beating the game over and over from my save point on top of Ganon’s tower.
It’s for those reasons that I respect Nintendo and Grezzo’s decision to polish the title lightly, add touch screen menu controls, bundle in an oddly inverted version of The Master Quest and call it a day. The game doesn’t feel phoned in from where I’m sitting because it still plays and looks like the classic I remember.
The combat system is a little dodgy by today’s standards, but that’s a given when you consider this game is 13 years old. Without completely revitalizing Link’s abilities, items and combat mechanics, Grezzo had to keep things like this entirely intact. The same goes for a lot of the mechanics in the game. Only now some of them have been reworked to take advantage of the tech the 3DS brings to the table.
Take, for instance, the bow. When you aim down the weapon in the first person perspective, you can use the circle pad for the more traditional aiming control. However, you can also make use of tilting, twisting and turning the 3DS and aim that way. In fact, I found that method to be more precise and faster than the circle pad itself. And you can do that for all of the weapons that employ a first person perspective; the boomerang, the slingshot, the hookshot, etc.
What’s also a strong selling point for this version of Ocarina of Time is the touch screen that rests below the 3D screen on the 3DS. That’s where all of your item, gear and map management happens. You can quickly swap shields, armor, boots and weapons as you make your way in and around Hyrule. In areas where constant item switching becomes frustrating and annoying (see: The Water Temple), the touchscreen is a blessing. While it’s still a pain in the ass to constantly swap boots or tunics, those annoyances have been relieved slightly.
The only marginally throwaway facet of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is the 3D itself. It’s cool to see it in use, absolutely. And, if you’re like me, you’ll often flip it on during the most cinematic moments. But you’ll mostly find yourself playing with the 3D off entirely. It guzzles battery life, strains your vision and serves as little more than a basic aesthetic upgrade to a game that doesn’t need it.
The qualities of this remake go way beyond the 3D portion. You’re getting a portable version of one of the best games of all time, firstly. But you’re also seeing it with improved graphics that don’t alter the visual style of the game. Add to that the touchscreen control and gyroscope tech and you’ve got a reinvigorated, yet undisturbed, playing experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a classic. The 3DS version of the game is a re-visitation of what the original brought to this world, with some newness peppered in for flavor. If Nintendo and Grezzo had done too much else to the game, they may have tarnished the otherwise fantastic image most of us hold today.
To those that haven’t played Ocarina of Time, this game is a must. It’s also the best thing you’ll find for your 3DS today.