Release Date: 17 June 2011
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
As I throw myself further and further down the rabbit hole that is the mythos and story of the Legend of Zelda franchise, I felt that it was time that I played the game that so much of the franchise’s story hinges on. Ocarina of Time is revered by Zelda die hards and, in many quarters, holds the distinguished title of the best video game ever made.
With all that in mind and a new New Nintendo 3DS in hand I decided that now was as good a time as any to see what all the fuss was about. The Gods above help me if any of the aforementioned die hards read this review, but I can’t sit here and claim that this is the best video game ever made, because it’s not. It’s a good game, and the 3DS remake has done wonders to rejuvenate its aging Nintendo 64 counterpart, but it has been far surpassed in the years since it came out.
We begin yet another jaunt through Hyrule in the very pleasant Kokiri Village, where the Great Deku tree has sent a fairy called Navi to call upon a young boy named Link. The Deku Tree has been cursed by Ganondorf, and Link must do his best to lift the curse. Successful in this endeavour but too late to actually save the tree, Link is instructed to find Princess Zelda with Navi’s help.
After some serious breaking and entering into castle grounds Link meets Zelda; she believes that Ganondorf, who is currently meeting with the King of Hyrule to pledge his allegiance, is actually after the Triforce and the attainment of god-like power. She asks Link to find the Spiritual Stones which will give him access to the Spiritual Realm where the Triforce is kept.
Spiritual Stones duly collected and an ocarina fished out of a moat, Link proceeds to the Temple of Time to activate the stones. Unfortunately as he opens the door to the Sacred Realm Ganondorf appears and takes the Triforce of Power for himself, and Link awakens seven years later to a very different world.
To defeat Ganondorf Link must wield the Master Sword, but was too young to do so when he first opened to door to the Sacred Realm. For seven years his spirit remained dormant in the Sacred Realm until he was able to take the sword and defeat Ganondorf, but he will need the help of the Seven Sages. The Sages can use their combined power to seal Ganondorf away, but unfortunately five of them do not realise that they are Sages. Link must travel back and forth through time and scour the five temples under Ganondorf’s control to free the Sages that are held captive and awaken their power if Hyrule is ever to know peace again.
With the exception of when I accidentally through the 3DS across the room trying to attack something (I forgot I wasn’t playing Twilight Princess anymore, which required flicking the Wiimote to attack) the controls for this game work a treat. Different buttons perform different actions depending on the item assigned to them, with the inventory of items appearing on the lower touch screen along with maps of either Hyrule or the dungeon you happen to find yourself in. Everything else is very intuitive.
I’ve never actually played the N64 original, but I have seen plenty of videos. At the risk of being burned as a heretic the original is starting to look damn ugly – polygon graphics are only well-remembered in games for which there is nostalgia. That being said, this remaster has largely done wonders for the graphics. There is the odd exception (that particularly butch Impa being an example) where they could have put in a bit more work making things a bit less blocky and pointy, but given that this was a launch title for the 3DS I’m not going to complain too much.
Where the game starts to show its age, however, is the overworld. Hyrule Field, which acts as a central hub, is nice and big and all that, but I get the feeling it was included more as a means of showcasing the environments the N64 could pull off than for actually adding any great value to the game. The problem is that, with the exception of a few side quests, there’s really nothing to do in this huge field other than run across it to get to the place you actually need to be. It’s all fun and lovely the first time, but after the 12th time you have to run to Kakariko Village it starts to get a bit mundane.
A nice addition to this version for the uninitiated is the Sheikah Stone, which will play short videos that give you hints and clues as to what you need to do next if you get lost. I do feel that Nintendo could’ve toned Navi down a little (to borrow from the game’s Honest Trailer, she’s the sidekick equivalent of the Microsoft Paperclip), but hey ho I guess you can’t have everything.
Mildly let down.
I think the main issue is that I went into this game expecting far too much based on the hype that surrounds it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can believe that when this game came out it must’ve been mind-blowing: the 3D “open” world, the graphics, the story and the admittedly very good dungeons combined would have made for an unparalleled gaming experience at the time.
Unfortunately for me, it’s the ‘at the time’ that’s a problem. I have no nostalgia attached to this game, and because of that it’s age becomes more apparent. Ocarina of Time is a product of its time when you couldn’t just hop onto the internet for a walkthrough or gaming tips; instead you relied on talking to your friends and seeing what they’d discovered and exchanging hints and tips. This mentality is very apparent because some of the little side quests have nothing to indicate that they’re there and actually coming across them without the help of a walkthrough would be down entirely to chance.
This isn’t to say that this is a bad game, because it certainly isn’t. It’s just that (1) other games in the franchise have so successfully built on what it established and (2) games have come a long way since Ocarina of Time first came out that I don’t think it quite deserves to overshadow everything else the way it does in some people’s minds.
My Final Rating: 7 / 10
Buy The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D at Amazon.com