It’s a no-brainer for Nintendo to bring back The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS console. Often topping “All-Time Best Games Ever” lists, it’s a well-loved title that attracts repeated play throughs thanks to its near-perfect blend of action, exploration and puzzling within the rich fantasy land of Hyrule.
With that in mind, it would have been perfectly reasonable of Nintendo to apply the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to this re-release of the Nintendo 64 classic. Link-lovers would still have flocked to pick a copy up. Significant changes have been promised however, some of which we’ve already been made privy to during a hands-on session in Amsterdam.
The most obvious addition is that of autostereoscopic 3D visuals. It’s particularly interesting in the case of Zelda, as these effects have been retroactively added to a game now approaching its 13th birthday. Unsurprisingly, this means it’s a mixed bag on the 3D front. Our hero Link seems glued to the foreground throughout, with the ensuing action intermittently jumping forward to greet him. Also ghosting, particularly when entering the first-person aiming mode to shoot Link’s slingshot, was too prevalent for us to fully enjoy the added depth. Perhaps extended play time will help us grow accustomed to Zelda’s newly-found extra dimension, but so far it doesn’t really add much to the gameplay.
Graphically , Ocarina of Time has aged remarkably well, and now looks better than ever thanks to a higher polygon count in character models and improved, reworked textures. Link has more of an anime-twinge to his design this time out, and more detailed textures and foliage in the Kokiri Forest and fiery Death Mountain areas we tried out looked great. It’ll be interesting to see how the visual polish translates to the darker adult Link areas of the latter two thirds of the game, so far unseen. It’s far from being the best-looking 3DS launch title, but fans will be pleased with the improvements the high resolution screen allows for.
Other additions include touchscreen and gyroscope controls. The use of the lower touch sensitive screen is sensible and appropriate, reserved for item selection, map viewing and menu options. The gyroscope controls (in which you physically turn the 3DS to aim the slingshot and peek about in free-view camera mode) are great too…in 2D. With the 3D slider on the console cranked up even very gentle movements can cause quite wild flicker, so using the gyroscope features in tandem with the depth effects is a recipe for disaster.
Other than that though, it’s business as usual for Ocarina of Time on the 3DS. You’ll still crawl dungeons, progressing a little further as you collect special items. You’ll still ride Epona the wonder horse across the plains of Hyrule. You’ll still fight Ganon in the final showdown and you’ll also still become mind numbingly frustrated with the Water Temple zone. There are some issues (mostly around the 3D effects) that are causing some concern, but with the option to turn them down, the promise of fresh content and that classic adventure to be re-lived, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 3DS still has “hit” written all over it.