Posted on June 24 2011 by Alex Plant
While Nate’s review focused exclusively on the new features, I’m going to take a slightly broader approach and also rate how well the original game has held up as well as this game’s faithfulness to the N64 edition.
While models, animation, and textures are all much better and more beautiful than ever before, one thing is certain: this is definitely Ocarina of Time. All the old characters, enemies, and locales you remember from the original are still totally recognizable, although everything looks cleaner, clearer, and less polygonal. I think I was most impressed with the new locales: things like added plant life in the forest and fields, improved details in lava pits, and gorgeous decorum sprinkled in castles, temples, and especially houses and shops.
Some graphical fixes go further than others in terms of leaps in pure quality – as others have pointed out, Link’s model has definitely gotten more attention than, say, the Kakariko Village NPCs’ have, and I noticed when I first grabbed the Master Sword that the sword itself looks great but the pedestal still looks somewhat dated. This results in the occasional mismatch of old and new that doesn’t do the updates the justice they deserve.
Still, this version has definitely established itself as the definitive way to experience the game visually – particularly with the 3D effect on. While it’s not always the cleanest way to view the game – I encountered some ghosting and elements look a little more jagged – the added depth is still really cool, and yes, it really does apply to just about everything. I played through pretty much the entire game with the 3D on and I absolutely loved it.
The definitive version of the game for sure, but the improvements could have gone a little further
Sound & Music
No, the music really isn’t orchestrated – but I’m not sure whether that’s a shame or an asset. On the one hand, the game maintains its sense of legitimacy as an old classic, but on the other hand hearing the tracks faithfully recreated with live instruments would have been totally worth it. There are a few places where the balance has changed a bit or some sounds have been tweaked, but otherwise it’s all the same music you remember from 1998.
Sound effects are also generally the same, although a few of them seem to have been given retreatments. When playing the ocarina, for example, I detected a sort of reverb effect that definitely wasn’t as prevalent in the original game. None of these changes (or lacks thereof) really make or break the game, though.
I did have one problem, though: some cutscenes were changed in such a way that the music no longer lines up the way that it did originally – and we’re talking key scenes like the Triforce creation scene. This really bugged me, but not in the “bad job, Grezzo” sort of way, but rather “man, I was so used to the old scene.” Purists will cringe, but it’s really not that bad.
Doesn’t really do enough differently to make any kind of impression, for better or worse
All the secret caves, sword strokes, and items are all exactly the same – I know, I tried out every dungeon and sidequest and found every Heart Piece and Skulltula. Not much to say here except that if you loved Ocarina of Time in 1998, you’ll still love it now. But you knew that – it’s freaking Ocarina of Time.
Everything’s perfectly faithful to the source material – and that’s a good thing
Aside from the graphical touches, Ocarina of Time 3D has four major differences from the original: gyroscope controls, the new touch screen inventory interface, the mirrored, double-damage Master Quest, and the Boss Challenge replay mode. I’ll go through each one-by-one.
The best of these novelties is by far the gyroscope aiming. It feels like a dream – I point, and Link points with me. Fast, intuitive, accurate – after experiencing it, analog aiming seems so last decade. What’s more, the 3D effect doesn’t even cause that much of a problem – just move your upper body along as you point the system and everything stays centered. Even if you start to lose focus, there’s no need to shut off the 3D slider – just close one eye and you’ll only see one of the two images anyway. (Plus, this makes aiming the bow feels a lot more authentic – or am I the only one who shuts one eye when I go shooting?)
The touch controls really make a difference too. While the four face buttons now control your Action Icon, sword, and two items, you now get four virtual buttons in each of the corners of the touch screen. At the top-left you get the first-person camera button, which lets you look around at your surroundings as well as listen to anything Navi has to say – essentially a replacement for the C-up button. Your ocarina is automatically mapped to the lower-left corner, meaning you don’t have to use one of your other item slots.
You also get two extra buttons on the right side, labeled I and II, that you can use for traditional items – now including the Iron and Hover Boots. It’s the quickest inventory system the series has ever seen, going toe-to-toe with the on-the-fly item wheel seen in Skyward Sword, and it’s remarkably easy and feels totally natural with the 3DS’s touch screen. At this point it’s so second nature that I hope any future 3DS Zelda entries make use of it.
Master Quest is essentially a beefier version of what was offered on GameCube, bringing back all the remixed dungeons, plus a mirrored world and enemies that deal double the damage. While going in I was pretty skeptical that I’d particularly enjoy this feature, the mirror mode and the damage increases make this a vastly improved “hard mode” that facilitates much more of a challenge than the original Master Quest.
Boss Challenge is pretty much what it sounds like – replay any of the dungeon bosses from the game by heading to Link’s house after you complete the Forest Temple. Facing the bosses one at a time isn’t very satisfying unless you’re going for a new speed record – the game tracks how fast you defeat each enemy – but the Gauntlet mode really threw me for a loop. You’re stuck facing all of the bosses of the game with limited hearts, ammunition, and items. Defeating each boss earns you a choice of two treasure chests, which can contain anything from a single recovery heart (you actually might want it) to ammo and health upgrades. It’s tough, but it’s even harder on Master Quest – you start off with only three hearts!
No new content, unfortunately, and since each of these features is basically a remix of older features it keeps this game from being the Best Remake it Could Be. At the same time, hardcore fans will be thrown for a loop by the mirrored Master Quest and if you have a group of dedicated fan friends I can see going for the best record in the boss replay modes being a really fun challenge. Unfortunately, for anyone who’s already played the original Master Quest, these features are far from a Reason to Buy. If you’ve never played it before and are the kind of person interested in post-game replay value, you might find some value, but I wouldn’t peg it as worth the $40 price point.
Most of Nintendo’s other enhanced remakes have added at least some new content: why not Ocarina of Time?
Summary & Final Review
All in all, though, what this game lacks in remake content it more than makes up for as the Definitive Version of Ocarina of Time. That alone makes the game worth a buy for Zelda fans if they’ve got a 3DS – but there’s the catch. Is this game worth picking up a 3DS for?
It’s kind of a mixed bag. For anyone who hasn’t experienced Ocarina of Time, I’d definitely recommend it as an entry game to the 3DS and to this 13-year-old classic. But for someone who’s already bought the game two or three times and who’s already hesitant to drop the $250, I’d say hang onto your money at least until the original titles arrive later this year. Still, it’s in my opinion the best version of Ocarina of Time out there, and the best Zelda release since Majora’s Mask – and yes, I’m saying that even though up to this point The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks were higher on my favorites list than the original.
The best version of Ocarina of Time, but a little lacking in the remake department
How the Rating System Works
- 0/5 Reggies = game is absolute shit.
- 1/5 Reggies = game is playable, but absolutely nothing noteworthy.
- 2/5 Reggies = game is average. Nothing special but worth a look for extreme fans of the game type.
- 3/5 Reggies = game is good. Does some things that make the experience feel refreshing.
- 4/5 Reggies = game is excellent. Only a few minor gripes hold it back from the pinnacle.
- 5/5 Reggies = game is near perfect.