It's funny how terminology tends to change over the years. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of the seminal titles to pave the way for how role-playing games would look and feel in 3D back when it was released in 1998. Of course, that was our '90s definition of 3D, when everyone was still learning to manipulate a free-floating camera around polygonal characters for the first time. These days, 3D is a term we use to describe the simulated sensation of images popping out of the screen thanks to the visual wizardry of blurring two images together. Now, with the impending release of Ocarina of Time 3D for Nintendo's highly anticipated 3DS handheld, we'll see new and old coming together for a nice little reunion.
Who's Making It: Naturally, it's Nintendo's own internal development staff working on Ocarina of Time 3D. Lately Nintendo has worked a lot with third-party developers to develop new titles (think Tecmo's Team Ninja working on the latest Metroid game), but it's Nintendo's own developers behind this one.
What It Looks Like: In a nutshell, Ocarina of Time looks like a much sharper, cleaner version of the Nintendo 64 classic. The textures have been improved, character faces are more detailed, and the whole thing looks comparable to The Twilight Princess in terms of graphical fidelity.
How It Uses 3D: The game itself hasn't been rebuilt from the ground up to add 3D-specific gameplay or anything along those lines. This is, for the most part, still the same game you played all those years ago. What you'll find in terms of 3D is more subtle. Things like speech balloons really pop up from the screen, giving the impression that the game itself exists on one plane and the display elements are sort of hovering slightly above it. And if you go into first-person mode to shoot your slingshot, you'll see that your hand seems to stick out from the background. It's more subtle things like that than anything else. It's not until you slide the 3D off altogether (which you can do at any time using the 3D sensitivity slider on the 3DS hardware) that you really notice the difference.
What You Do: As mentioned, this is still the same game that GameSpot originally gave a 10 to back in November of 1998. If you're not familiar with how the game plays, might we kindly recommend either reading the original review or playing practically any action role-playing game released within the past decade?
How It Plays: The controls have transitioned quite well over to the 3DS hardware. The four face buttons control your jumping and various weapon abilities, while the slide pad is used to run around the world. The only real change to the controls is a new feature that takes advantage of the 3DS's built-in motion-sensing gyroscope. When you jump into first-person mode, you can aim the camera around either by using the slide pad or by simply moving the 3DS unit around in front of you. The hardware does a remarkably good job of detecting slight movement, though in our experience we had a tendency to "lose" the 3D effect when we moved the system around too much. And then, since this is still a DS system, you've also got the touch screen on the bottom, which lets you access your gear and map without having to jump into a secondary options menu. Simply tap what you want to equip or a potion you want to drink, and it's taken care of.
What We Say: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D looks like a solid port of one of the true all-time greats. If you haven't played this game before, this one is pretty much a no-brainer. But if you have played the game before and are looking for a new reason to go back and revisit an old friend, this certainly seems to be as good a reason as any.