How can you improve upon perfection? This is a question which has been asked numerous times by Zelda fans in the run up to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. In truth, you can't improve upon perfection, because if something is classed as 'perfect' then theoretically that means there's no room for improvement. But no video game is perfect, not even the mighty Ocarina of Time. True, the title was a gaming master class back in 1998, but because of the constant evolution in the industry the original is no longer the technical feat it once was. Yet this is where Ocarina of Time for the 3DS excels, because it takes everything that was great about the original title and updates it with the enhancements that we've made in technology. It may not have the release impact that the original version had, but with Ocarina of Time 3D what Grezzo has achieved is a remake of the highest possible quality.
One of the biggest things Ocarina of Time did for the Zelda franchise back in 1998 was that it fleshed out the back story of the franchise and also introduce better character interaction and a stronger story structure. The game's story mainly focuses on the origin of Ganondorf, and documents his rise to power after his acquiring of the Triforce of Power. But, in the typical fashion of the Zelda franchise, a young hero called Link rises up to defeat Ganondorf and restore Hyrule to the peace it was at before Ganondorf's reign of terror begun. I won't go in to any more detail on the story, not to avoid spoilers, but because the game is 13 years old and the chances are that all who are reading this review would have played the original version (or any of its ports) by now.
So, what does the 3DS version of this Nintendo classic do exactly that makes it an improvement of the original title? Well in my eyes the best thing the game does is stay faithful and true to the original version. I had qualms that Grezzo would try and change too much of the game to make it appeal more to the typical gamer of today, but for all those who also feared the same I can assure you that this simply isn't the case. Ocarina of Time 3D is a truly magnificent remake, simply because it stays faithful to the feelings and nature of the original title. But Grezzo have added new features and changed a few things here and there. Back in 1998 3D gaming was still a new concept. While Ocarina of Time was a beautiful game, it still suffered from problems that all other 3D games did at the time. While most of the core game was rendered in 3D a lot of the backgrounds (and some other, smaller things) were still rendered in 2D. Nearly everything that was modelled in 2D in the original has been changed in to a 3D image this time around (apart from a few of the fences you'll see scattered throughout Hyrule and Lon Lon Ranch). It may not sound like a lot, but this really adds to the depth of the title as it makes the world feel a lot more alive then it previously ever did.
While on the surface the graphical changes are the most obvious the game has gone through some other changes too. The original Ocarina of Time ran at 20 frames-per-second, but the 3DS version has been upped to 30 frames-per-second. It doesn't sound like a great upgrade but the reason it wasn't upped further is because the game didn't need to be upped further. The game plays brilliantly. It still holds the same solid game play structure as original version, but even though the frame rate increase isn't big the game still plays flawlessly. It's really fluid, and this goes along way to improving upon the original.
The Water Temple is usually seen as one of the most annoying aspects of the original Ocarina of Time. On a personal level I never found it annoying, I simply respected its difficulty as it made me try harder to battle through it. But both Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma have said many times down the years that they weren't too pleased with how the dungeon turned out. So when this remake was announced there were fears that the dungeon would get a complete overhaul. This didn't happen, like I said this is an extremely faithful remake of the original, but there's certainly a few little 'helpers' in the dungeon for newcomers. Ocarina of Time 3D was rumoured to include the 'Super Guide' that has been present in other Nintendo games in recent years. It doesn't, but the 'helpers' added by Grezzo to the Water Temple certainly allow you to keep an easier track of where things are located in the dungeon. Remember the three points in the temple where you change the water level? Well this time, to stop players forgetting where they're located, the doors that lead to the rooms where you change the water level have coloured bands around them as signals. It doesn't sound like a lot, and it won't spoil the experience for the veterans of the original, but it'll certainly help out newcomers. The game also has things called 'Sheikah Stones' located throughout, and talking to these Sheikah Stones gives you clues on how to solve some of the games more complex puzzles.
A lot of Nintendo DS games used the touch screen interface to great use (the two DS Zelda games are a testament to this), and Ocarina of Time 3D follows suit. Swapping items and using items now is as quick as a touch of the screen, which allows for tighter controls that streamline the game play. You'll not be spending as much time inside menus with this remake as you would have done in the original (and the Iron Boots are now an equip-able item, so it'll be easier to use them in the Water Temple). One of the best aspects of the weapons is that some of them, like the Bow or the Hookshot, can be aimed by using the 3DS's gyroscope functionality. It might be a little odd to get used to at first, twisting and turning your body to aim around, but once you get used to it you'll appreciate that it offers a greater precision then using the circle pad. If you're old-school and really want to, you can still go 'traditional' with the controls and still aim using the circle pad, but it simply isn't as precise. The only flaw with the gyroscope is that, with you constantly moving, if the 3D effects are turned on they'll lose focus. But Ocarina of Time isn't a game that was designed around stereoscopic 3D, so I'd recommend turning it off all together.
As I mentioned earlier there are a few new features added to Ocarina of Time 3D. While the new additions made to the main quest are simply cosmetic, there are a few new modes to play when you're stuck in the adventure or when you want to have a break from it. One of the most interesting new modes is that of 'Boss Challenge' mode. As the name may have given away, this mode lets you fight any of the bosses in the game again. The great thing about the Boss Challenge is that you get timed against each boss, and you can try and beat your personal best win times. But bosses only appear in Boss Challenge after you've encountered them in the main game. The boss battle isn't necessary to you enjoying the title, but it is a nice addition for anyone who played the original 13 years ago and who is looking for something different this time around.
The best addition to Ocarina of Time 3D is the addition of Master Quest. Master Quest was originally distributed nearly a decade ago along side The Wind Waker. Master Quest, for those who don't know, is basically a harder version of Ocarina of Time for more experienced Zelda players – similar to the Second Quest in the original The Legend of Zelda for the NES. The game's story and basic structure are both identical to that of the normal game, but the dungeon layouts are different and with new, more complex, puzzles. The enemies also inflict twice the amount of damage as in the normal game, meaning that the chances are you'll be dying more often. The Master Quest in Ocarina of Time 3D though varies from that of the original, because this time the game world is mirrored to that of the normal game. Mirroring the world doesn't sound like a big change, but it really confused me as I was so used to playing Master Quest in its original mode. The only disappointing aspect of the Master Quest is that you are required to complete the main game first before it becomes unlocked. This will annoy some of the veterans of the series who hoped they could get stuck in to it straight away.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time will forever keep its place in the pantheon of the greatest video games of all time, but this new remake for the 3DS updates the classic flawlessly. Technical aspects and nostalgia aside, you really can't deny the fact that Ocarina of Time is a master class in game design. Even now, 13 years after it was originally released, it still offers a rich, rewarding and lengthy quest, even for those who have played it numerous times before. And it still manages to amaze. If you have never played Ocarina of Time before you really need to pick this up because you simply don't understand what you're missing. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is the best remake of a video game I have ever seen or played.
Review by: James Widdowson