The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The games industry at large has no qualms about repackaging classic titles as HD remakes and expecting us to pay for them a second time. At the end of last year, Team NowGamer reviewed the Prince of Persia HD Trilogy on PS3 and while we were pleased to relive our memories of the series, the end result wasn’t as impressive as we'd hoped.
We quickly realised that, had we actually shelled out hard cash for the trilogy pack, we’d have felt quite remorseful afterwards. Slightly upscaling an old series and bunging all the instalments on a disc doesn’t make for a viable investment, no matter how revered the franchise is.
This also applies to Nintendo’s N64 repacks on 3DS, which so far consists of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Lylat Wars and Super Mario 64. But after spending some quality time with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, our fears have been firmly laid to rest. Fair enough, the basic process of charging gamers to play a title they probably bought years ago may not be to everyone’s taste, although it’s encouraging to see Nintendo completely reworking the game rather than patching together some ropey upscale job.
As soon as we jumped back into the world of Hyrule, the leap in technical prowess between the N64 and 3DS hit home. Gone are the horribly blurred textures, jagged edges and clumsily polygonal character models of old; replaced here with razor sharp visuals, bolstered by a control mechanic that showcases many of the onboard 3DS features. Along with Kid Icarus: Uprising, Ocarina of Time is a flagship example of just how effective Nintendo’s 3D tech can be.
While most of the games we’ve seen running on 3DS use flat, clearly defined 3D plains to convey the illusion of depth with great success, Ocarina of Time’s elements are intricately multi-layered; clearly defining objects such as treasure chests and foliage on many planes to produce stunning results. It’s difficult to imagine without seeing the effect first-hand, but the tech really does instigate immersion in Link’s world.
Our hands-on playtest started with Link exploring his home village and venturing to the Great Deku Tree. It doesn’t take long for a rush of nostalgia to come flooding back to us as we converse with the village inhabitants, get shouted at by Navi and make our way inside the first dungeon.
Controlling Link is as fluid as it was back in the day, with touch screen shortcut icons compensating for the lack of C-buttons. Certain items also make use of the 3DS gyroscope sensor, such as the slingshot. Taking aim in first-person mode is initiated by delicately tilting the device, or if this doesn’t appeal, there is the option to lock on to targets in third-person.
As it’s most effective when Link is navigating tighter spaces, the impact of 3D once inside the Deku Tree dungeon really becomes apparent. We climbed up the inside of the tree using vines and as the camera tilted to give us an upward view, the perspective stretched and became awash with depth to enforce the feeling of height and distance. It’s a relief to see Nintendo’s in-house titles putting the much-touted 3D effect to such good use, far surpassing anything the solid efforts of third-party developers.
That said however, we have to be clear that what we have played of the 3DS third-party roster has shown a great understanding of the 3D tech at hand, often producing impressive results. As creators of the technology, it comes as little surprise that Nintendo’s in-house titles deliver the best 3D effects. Impressive visuals aside, Ocarina of Time doesn’t actually play any better as a result of this 3D gloss, but rather Nintendo’s effective use of native 3DS features.
The N64 version of Ocarina of Time felt increasingly disjointed with every trip to the clumsy menus – an issue that has completely been removed from the equation in this version. The superb implementation of stylus control serves to trim the fat and house a reworked map, inventory and status screen. As such, this is game that simply makes sense on the 3DS format, as this one change alone helps the game maintain a pace it simply couldn't before, undoubtedly making this the ultimate version of Ocarina of Time.
The immersing 3D effect, remastered visuals and soundtrack bolster the package. It also feels timely to release the N64 Zelda titles again after such a significant lapse since they first broke cover years ago, although if Nintendo chatter is to be believed, we won't be seeing Majora’s Mask following suit any time soon, if at all.
If Nintendo’s Lylat Wars and Super Mario 64 remasters can match the finesse and effort of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, we absolutely don’t mind shelling out to relive our late-nineties nostalgia again. If you’re a Zelda fan; we’d recommend looking beyond the cash-cow accusations and taking the plunge, just to savour this masterpiece one more time.