Hands-on: The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time

We take a look at both the original and the Ura version of Ocarina of Time for the GameCube.

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We recently received the GameCube versions of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time Ura, both of which come on a single disc that was released to those who preordered The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in Japan. The disc comes packaged inside an envelope located in the back page of a fairly mundane-looking manual that gives a brief overview of some of the items in the game as well as Link's abilities and how they've been adapted to the GameCube controller.

In fact, one the main differences between the GameCube version of the game and the Nintendo 64 version is in how the game controls, due to the differences in the controllers. The GameCube controller lacks the four yellow face buttons of the Nintendo 64 controller, but all of the functions associated with these buttons have been nicely mapped to the C stick, so to use any items in your active inventory or to play any music on the ocarina, you only have to press the corresponding direction on the C stick--you can also use the X, Y, and Z buttons to activate the same items, but it can be a little confusing at first because of the layout of the items on the screen. The lock-on system used for focusing on specific enemies during battle sequences is initiated by tapping the L trigger once, and it works just as well as it did in the original Nintendo 64 version of the game. The only real noticeable problem in the transition from the Nintendo 64 controller to the GameCube controller is the analog movement, which doesn't feel quite as tight as it did in the original, making it slightly more difficult to maneuver Link across small pathways or bridges.

The control scheme is the same for both the regular version of Ocarina of Time and the Ura version of the game. Both versions of the game also share the exact same storyline and items, and the dungeons are structurally the same. However, in Ura's dungeons, items as well as enemies are placed differently, and puzzles are slightly different. For example, in the original version of the game, there's a puzzle inside the deku tree where Link can hit a switch at the bottom of a pool to lower the water level so that a platform can safely pass underneath a spiked rotating log. However, in the Ura version of the game, Link has to light one of his deku sticks on fire, jump onto the same platform, roll underneath the rotating log, and then light two torches on the other side. In the very same dungeon, the spiderlings that appear only during the boss battle in the original version are scattered all throughout the Ura version of the dungeon, which makes it a little more challenging.

All of the dungeons later on in the game have similar changes, and while the Ura version doesn't feel like an entirely new game, fans of the original will more than likely enjoy going through the dungeons again to discover the differences from the original. Of course, it shouldn't take you much time to get through the game if you've played the original, since all of the side quests that eventually open paths to these dungeons are exactly the same.

As far as technical or artistic changes go, there really aren't any. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time on the GameCube has the same character models, environments, and largely washed-out textures as its Nintendo 64 counterpart. However, the game does appear to have an overall cleaner look, which may or may not be due to a slight boost in resolution. In addition, aside from a remixed version of the original Zelda theme that plays in the menu screen, all of the music remains unchanged. It's worth noting that the only loading time occurs right after you select which version of the game--original or Ura--you want to play, and after that, the transition between environments is the same as in the Nintendo 64 version of Ocarina of Time.

Overall, fans of the series should consider the GameCube version a nice bonus to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker--at the very least, this version of the game will give you a chance to play one of the greatest games from the last generation of consoles if you missed out. GameSpot will have more coverage on the latest game in the Zelda series, The Wind Waker, so stay tuned.

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