Of course I've always dreamed of being able to play the games I love anywhere I want. Handheld games were generally simpler, more back to roots. When I first tried this game out it felt like what I always imagined had become true. Sure Game Boy Advance had some remakes like Super Mario World, but it wasn't the same thing. The DS came close, but Super Mario 64 DS had those clumsy controls even though it expanded a lot on the original. Now with the 3DS everything seems in place, this re-release of Zelda is perfect in every sense.
I'm not going to get into the whole aspect of this titles being highly regarded or anything. This is a great game, but despite of how good it is the port is basically perfect, there's nothing left out from the Nintendo 64 experience. In fact, some improvements make it the definite version, an upgraded version of the classic.
Graphically it's the same game we all played back in the day, in that now long-gone 1998. The handheld cartridge is capable of holding a file several times bigger than those bulky N64 cartridges. It's impressive when you think about it really. That portable console is now able to withhold with ease the necessary power to run a game that was so revolutionary at its time, and still looks great.
Better, at the price of one you get both versions of Ocarina, the original and the one released in the west by the name Zelda Master's Quest. It was a bonus for Wind Waker back when Nintendo was actually scared people would look away from the cel-shaded graphics. If people try it -- they thought -- they will enjoy it. A bonus containing Ocarina with unreleased material seemed a great idea. What wasn't a great idea was the fact it wasn't commercialized.
If you somehow were left out of this at the time you mustn't worry, you'll be able to experience this harder version of Ocarina when you finish the original once. This is pretty much the fact that made me give it a perfect score. I must admit that the new version is not neraly as impressive as people might think, but it's nice to have it and try out anyway. The differences are inside dungeons where the classic order of puzzles are changed, newer, harsher versions of puzzles are included, and in the end you'll have a harder time going through them.
Handling Link is just as good as controlling with a controller. If you take in consideration that the N64 controller wasn't exactly the best piece of engineering ever built, most situations this feels even better. The analog stick truly shines in a game like this, people might remember how embarrassing it was to control Mario and the other characters in the Super Mario 64 remake with a digital pad.
The touch screen is used to enhance the experience and not to serve as gimmick to sell something not functional. The fact the original N64 controller was not short on buttons make it the one big problem. We have four main buttons, two of them are necessary for sword and action. How do we deal with only two button to deal with the former 4-C's? Add button on the touch screen of course. Which makes things even better, you can have one button on the upper-right corner and another on the lower-right corner, it adds up to four item buttons, more than the three functional item buttons we had originally. Another one situated on the upper-left corner deal with Navis chit-chat and panoramic view, we can also add the ocarina as a lower-left button and scratch it out from having to pre-set it as an item. Awesome deal.
It works, people; it works wonders. The touch screen won't show any action so it functions as a constant map along with the touch buttons. The L trigger works as the original Z for Z-targeting; and the R shoulder works as it did back in the day, for shielding. After a while the N64 controller will feel like distant past, something improved. I'm sure not many people will miss the analog stick, but the rest feels right at home as well.
Remember old 3D games? It didn't have as much hand-holding as they do now. Zelda had its directions but most of the time you were left to explore and find your wayh around the puzzles or where to go next. Kids now would be going nuts with something like that, a game where you don't simply need to walk straight or won't see a big glowing arrow saying "Do this! Go there!". To help people with that, two special Gossip Stones were added. They're easily recognizable, with their funky colors and non-stop movements. Upon entering these stones, located in the overworld spawn locations, Link's house in Kokiri Forest and the Temple of Time, you'll receive a "vision from the future" which basically tells you how to proceed with a puzzle.
Something else really cool that was added was a sort of a boss revisit. Go to your house in Kokiri Forest and check the bed. You'll be able to fight the bosses you've beaten already. The record time is kept so you can see how fast you can beat them as well as how many times you've done it. The 3D doesn't work well, at least not as well as in other titles. If you pull the bar all the way up the image will become distorted, unplayable. With minor 3D effect it's actually endurable, but the 3D disabled is what feels better.
This is pretty much one of the best ports ever done. It portrays a beloved game amazingly on the go. It adds few new stuff, but that's considerable, since that's what it was meant for, not a complete remake. Having the opportunity to play this game anywhere this close to the original is truly a wonder to behold. Fans will be pleased.