Ocarina of Time was first released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998 to critical acclaim as the best game of all time. Years later in 2003 it appeared on the Gamecube along with Master Quest on The Limited Edition Wind Waker and also The Collector’s Edition. In 2007 it found its way on to the Wii’s Virtual Console, and now in 2011, in just over a month, it comes to us on the Nintendo 3DS, where for the first time it has been remastered, and isn’t just a port of the original.
No doubt it is an exciting time, and I won’t deny my anticipation for this remake from Grezzo, however, I also have a serious concern. When I ask myself why Ocarina of Time has been remade, there are both the positive answers and negative ones. I wonder if the reasoning behind the remake is truly appropriate, or more sinister. It worries me, and I try to just ignore it and focus on the fact that soon we will get to play as the Hero of Time in 3D, but I can’t drown out those voices. It worries me that deep down; Nintendo just can’t get over Ocarina of Time. I mean, was Twilight Princess even really that different?
What is the reason behind this remake of Ocarina of Time? That is the question here, so let’s start with the “good” reasons that Nintendo is publicly stating. Firstly, there is the notion of expanding the Ocarina of Time audience. That notion of bringing the game to younger gamers who have never experienced it, and to do that it needed to be modernized, because the virtual console title is unplayable, according to Miyamoto. It needed to look like a game of today. Miyamoto himself has used this reason to justify the remake: “After 13 years, there will be the children of today who haven’t experienced Ocarina of Time, it’s brand new for them. But for fans of the original, it’s a very faithful adaption.” Yay, we get faithfulness at least! What exactly does that mean?
The second reason Nintendo has released is because they can simply make it better. Miyamoto has said “We thought the world of Hyrule would be more immersive for the players to experience in 3D and also the horse riding and the thrill of exploring would be heightened.” Nintendo felt that the 3DS would be the perfect way to play Ocarina of Time, or that Ocarina of Time would be the perfect game for the 3DS. Not at all sinister on the surface, except the fact that Ocarina of Time could hardly be “bad” for any console. So long as the tech specifications can handle it, Ocarina of Time is any consoles dream. Looking further we will also come across this quote at the US Ocarina of Time teaser site: “see this all time classic as the creator’s intended”.
So then, we are to believe that the 3DS provides the capabilities to present Ocarina of Time as originally intended, without limitations. Nintendo can change the parts they were never satisfied with to make it better. Except, why would you release a game that you weren’t overall satisfied with? No, I don’t think it’s about original intent at all – I think it is about what they’ve been lead to believe was original intent because of criticism’s Ocarina of Time received.
They didn’t make the iron boots a C-Item and they made The Water Temple the way it is because that was their intent. Ever since they’ve lived with the criticisms of the temple and the boots, and now they get to change it and claim it is “original intent”. Anyone who is an artist, a writer, a designer – whatever, you know what it’s like to receive criticism and how you want to make up for it. In ways, that is exactly what Nintendo is doing.
Look back at the reviews that the original received in 1998 – if they weren’t perfect they were extremely close to it. But now, all of the reasons like the iron boots that prevented Ocarina of Time from getting all-round perfect reviews are gone. In many regards, this remake should be the very best game of all time, if reviews are consistent and fair. Granted, some reviews might bump it down on the basis that it is just a remake, but that ignored – Ocarina of Time 3D should be the best game of all time.
We all know that it eats up Eijii Aonuma on the inside that no Zelda game has yet surpassed Ocarina of Time. He has said that he won’t quit until he does. Perhaps Skyward Sword will, but most likely it won’t. So what have Nintendo done here? They will likely very soon surpass Ocarina of Time, by… drum roll… releasing a better version of Ocarina of Time. Amusingly, there is the chance that many won’t regard this remake to even be as good as the original, but in Nintendo’s eyes – this surpasses that. It conveys their “original intent”, and as if that intent is not to create the perfect game.
Now, again at the cynic level, think of the sales for Ocarina of Time 3D. There will be all of the new gamers that jump aboard the hype-train and buy it and there will be all of us Zelda fans of the original because we simply cannot stay away from it. That’s right – it’s a game that seems pretty much guaranteed to sell. Ocarina of Time is one of the best selling games of all time already, and now, majority of those who played the original will have to play this. Add the people experiencing it anew and what you get is a hell of a lot of sales, generating a hell of a lot of revenue, contributing to a significant profit which goes straight into Nintendo’s hands. Not to mention more sales stats for the classic game.
Given in the past how I’ve gone on about Nintendo being a company that genuinely cares about game-making first and foremost – which they do – this may be slightly contradictory. But, ultimately, we cannot ignore that Nintendo is a massive corporation hungry for money. We’ve even heard that the initial shipments of Ocarina of Time won’t be very numerous. Is that just simply because of production issues, or a fabulous marketing strategy? Increase scarcity of the product supplied making people willing to pay more to get it quicker. They can jack up the price and that’s even more revenue to the big N because we will all still buy it!
Nintendo isn’t stupid, whatever their reasoning for remaking Ocarina of Time truly is, there’s no doubt they have thought of all of these. There very well may be a genuine desire in Miyamoto and Aonuma to bring the classic to new gamers in a far superior way to the original. Yet we all know that it never would have happened if it wasn’t going to be a massive success – if success is gaged by money, sales and reviews, which I don’t think anyone would dispute. In many regards, it somewhat sickens me that 13 years later Nintendo can’t move on. It is a great game, and is still tremendously playable, but let go of it already. As a writer I know the desire to rerelease my work in improved ways to wider audiences, but at the same time, it is important to let go and work on new things (which must be why Grezzo made it)!
You can’t cling to your successes of the past forever. There will come a time when even all of us Zelda fanatics just simply won’t buy any more remakes – although it’s a long way away and Nintendo can still play us all for a while yet. Nintendo must work to new successes in the future and not dig up the past. That is what the cynic in me says. It does not prevent me from going out and buying, playing and loving the remake of Ocarina of Time though. As much as I want it to be, the cynic can’t be silenced, and I will always have a slightly guilty conscience that playing this remake is playing directly into their hands, but at that very same time, it’s just a remake. Couldn’t we say all of this for every single remake out there? Who even cares what the reason is? The cynics in us might, but the rest of us will just be happy to play the classic all over again. Whatever the reason for the remake, it is worth having, it is worth paying for. And that everyone is proof that not only is Nintendo genius in innovation, they know perfectly well how to market and manipulate. We are all their bitches, and frankly, we love it! Oh, and somewhere please tell Nintendo that Ocarina of Time has already been surpassed in the year 2000 by a game called Majora’s Mask! Just sayin’!