Monday, August 29, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS) Review

We're approaching the end of August, but I have in store some more reviews in the meantime. Let's start the work week off with the review of the biggest Nintendo 3DS title yet. It may be a remake, but it's the remake of one of the best games of all time in this reviewer's opinion. It is none other than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.

One of the best games of all time just got a bit better.

In 1998 The Legend of Zelda series entered a new dimension-- three-dimensions. It perfected targeting in a 3D space, used a superior camera, had memorable characters, superb dungeon design, and revolutionized the gaming industry, garnering numerous Game of the Year 1998 awards and is seen on numerous Best Game of All Time lists. Fast-forward to 2011 and now The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time goes full circle-- this time in glasses-less 3D with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Does this epic adventure still hold up, approximately thirteen years later?

Players don the green tunic of a young forest boy named Link. With orders by the Great Deku Tree, the lifeblood of Kokiri Forest, his home, the tree assigns Navi, a helpful fairy, to the formerly fairy-less lad. Obtaining a shield and sword, Link goes to see the Deku Tree once he is summoned. It appears that a man from the Gerudo Desert (a place where one man is born every 100 years) placed a curse on the Deku Tree, and it's Link's duty as the fabled Hero of Time to go inside the tree, take out the source of the curse, and save the day. After taking out the root of the curse, the Deku Tree withers away, but not before assigning Link a new task. It is up to the young hero to go to Hyrule Castle where guards patrol, sneak through, and meet up with Princess Zelda who warns him of the nefarious and sinister Ganondorf. The evil man wishes to enter the Sacred Realm. Only by collecting three spiritual stones to open the way up to the Temple of Time where the Master Sword sleeps will Link and Zelda be able to put a stop to Ganondorf's plans. Or so they think... The story is told through silent text and in-game cutscenes full of wonderful and dynamic camera angles. By the time Link collects all three spiritual stones, the player might think the game is near over, but you're not even halfway done.

Link, with trusty steed, Epona, ride across Hyrule Field.

Link pulls out the legendary Master Sword and gets transported seven years into the future where he is a full-fledged adult. Hyrule Castle Town which was once a happy-go-lucky and peaceful place is now littered with ghastly zombie-like creatures known as Redeads. Ganondorf has turned the once lovely land of Hyrule into Hell on earth. Armed with the Ocarina of Time, an instrument tossed out into the castle moat by a desperate Zelda who retreated from Hyrule Castle, being chased and pursued by the villainous Ganondorf, Link must now collect six Sage Medallions to open the way to Ganon's Castle, summon up the courage to take the foe down, and restore peace and order to the war-torn Hyrule.

The structure of Ocarina of Time allows Link to fully explore the sprawling land of Hyrule. Hyrule Field is the central hub that connects all of the towns and notable places such as Lake Hylia, the Gerudo Desert, and Zora's Domain. Through talking with the various non-playable characters and help solving their problems, the player will eventually have the way open to a dungeon, where the real action takes place. More on those later.

The targeting system allows the player to lock-on to a person or enemy and have the camera thus lock-on to the target by holding or tapping on the left shoulder button (the right shoulder button serves as Link's shield). Link can then sidestep around the target, allowing for encounters of the epic kind. This is all thanks to his fairy companion, Navi. If players get stumped on an enemy's weakness, they can tap the Navi icon on the bottom screen to get a helpful hint. Navi will also give Link knowledge on what to do next occasionally, and it is beneficial for new players as it is easy to get lost in the large land of Hyrule. There's plenty of things to do, enemies to encounter, and items to obtain. The touch screen is also how players can swiftly shift between items. This time around players can assign items to four different places: the Y and X buttons and the I and II buttons on the touch screen. This makes shifting between putting on and off the Iron Boots in the Water Temple much less of a hassle.

The targeting system allows for the
camera to be centered on the action in battle.

Speaking of items and weaponry, there's a bounty to collect in Ocarina of Time. The Ocarina of Time itself can perform a host of things like turning day to night and vice versa, calling Epona the horse for Adult Link to ride across Hyrule Field once it has been rescued, transport Link across Hyrule to set locations, and unlock and open secret doors, among many other uses. Playing the correct songs is key, and it's simpler than ever. This time around with the Nintendo 3DS remake, you can open up the Ocarina menu by tapping the touch screen, and either pressing the correct sequence of buttons to perform a song or tapping the touch screen with the stylus. You can even look up memorized songs and they will be listed, so you, the player, won't have to memorize them yourself.

There's a dozen or so songs to learn--
each giving Link new powers and abilities.

Besides the Ocarina of Time, there's a whole slew of items to collect. Each dungeon has a secret treasure to collect which makes finishing said dungeon possible. For instance the Deku Tree's treasure is the Fairy Slingshot which players can enter a first-person viewpoint to aim either with the analog stick or with the 3DS's gyro sensor (or a combination of both). Young Link cannot use all the items that Adult Link uses (such as the Hero's Bow and Hookshot) whereas Adult Link cannot use all the items that Young Link uses (like the Fairy Slingshot). Thanks to the control options available, it's never been easier to aim the Hookshot, Hero's Bow, and Fairy Slingshot.

Apart from mandatory items, there's a lot of bonus and optional items to grab. For instance well-hidden in the most secret spots of Hyrule are Heart Containers. Collecting four pieces earns Link an additional heart to add to his health counter. These are earned through playing mini-games such as shooting ranges, collected in hard-to-find or hard-to-reach areas, or found through helping out certain citizens of Hyrule. There's also four bottles to gather. These can house anything from fish to health-restoring faeries and potions. Additionally, there is a trading sequence which has Link madly dashing around Hyrule to earn the best sword in the game. Without it needing to be said, if it's optional content you want, Ocarina of Time delivers in spades.

When you're not exploring the land of Hyrule, visiting the denizens, you'll be neck-deep in the deep, dark, and dank dungeons. The dungeons themselves are expertly-crafted, full of secrets and puzzles. There's standard block-pushing puzzles, but there's also more fiendishly-designed ones, too. There's rooms where Link must properly use the items in his inventory to open locked doors, hit switches in the correct order, lower and raise the water level in a dungeon, move mirrors around to redirect sunlight, and collect silver rupees to open doors-- among other tasks. In the approximately eight or so main dungeons of the game (there's also numerous miniature dungeons like the Bottom of the Well and the Ice Cavern), Link must collect small keys, big keys, and items to advance. Thankfully there's help. Inside every dungeon is a map and compass which can be accessed via the touch screen. The map shows every room on every floor of the dungeon, showing which rooms Link has already visited. The compass, meanwhile, shows the locations of all treasures including keys, rupees (the monetary system of Hyrule), and other goodies. Each dungeon has a mini-boss to contend with and a final boss which is usually defeated by using the dungeon's treasure against it, conveniently enough. While one boss has you carefully reflecting its shots back at it with your sword, another has you smashing it over the head with a hammer as it rears its ugly head out of one of various holes.

This puzzle requires Link to use the
Lens of Truth to find the correct solution.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D isn't just the original game remade in 3D with updated visuals. No, no. New content was added. The main attraction here is the ability to replay through the game in the Master Quest. This mode features new puzzles, room arrangements, a mirrored world, and Link takes double damage. Unfortunately players must first beat the original quest to unlock it which may put some people off. Additionally inside Link's Kokiri Forest home, there's a billboard that allows Link to face off against previously-beaten bosses in a boss rush-like mode. If players do not know where to turn to next, certain Gossip Stones can be crawled into where videos will show what to do next as well as show certain hidden secrets. Thus, there's plenty of extras to make this forty dollar game worth it.

Playing the Nintendo 64 original now is a bit difficult after playing the revised 3DS remake. First of all, the N64 original was plagued with slowdown in various parts of the game. This is not the case with the remake. The enhanced graphics look sharp and detailed. Link's model is particularly grand and eye-pleasing. The textures have been upgraded, and they look fantastic, too. The 3D itself is pretty amazing when the player can get the viewing angle just right. Otherwise it gets quite blurry. Sound-wise, everything pretty much remains unchanged. There is one orchestrated piece at the end of the game, however, and it sounds magnificent. Overall, the visual bump added to Ocarina of Time 3D is quite impressive.

The Spirit Temple has Link traveling through time
as both a boy and as an adult to truly divulge its secrets.

Depending on how many times you've played Ocarina of Time, how much of a fan you are of the game, or how long it has been since you've played the game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D may be a worthwhile purchase. For me, the added bonus content and upgraded visuals made owning this game worth it. It is without a doubt the definitive version. The added bonuses such as the extra-challenging Master Quest and boss rush modes makes for many satisfying hours of sword-swinging and boss-busting. To put it simply and eloquently as said in the headline, one of the best games of all time just got a bit better.

[SuperPhillip Says: 10/10]

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