At the company's E3 2011 press conference, Nintendo was overjoyed in celebrating 25 years of Zelda. About half that time ago along came a game called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which is now widely regarded as the best game in the Zelda franchise.
Though the 3DS is still a relatively new platform, a 3D version of the classic title has been developed for redistribution, enabling a whole new generation of gamers to experience the legendary title.
We've been playing Ocarina of Time 3D for well over a week now and here are our final thoughts.
The 3D remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a somewhat bittersweet example of Nintendo's almost stubborn attitude toward the development of new titles. Yes, Ocarina of Time is arguably the best Zelda game ever, but we really wish Nintendo could give the 3DS the brand-new 3D Zelda adventure it deserves. Sure, Ocarina of Time is almost 13 years old and we'd imagine a healthy chunk of 3DS owners did not get to experience the game when it was first released on the Nintendo 64.
I experienced something totally unique when jumping back into Ocarina of Time 13 years since playing the N64 version. It's been so long that I'd forgotten some of the reasons why I fell in love with the original. For one, the gameplay and controls are ultraprecise and the sense of accomplishment in defeating bosses, solving puzzles, and understanding what to do next is as satisfying as ever.
These positives aside, there is the looming feeling that you are playing a 13-year-old game. Graphically the game holds up to most 3DS expectations, but some aesthetics in place (while groundbreaking in their time) do feel a bit dated in 2011.
So how does 3D factor in? I'd be lying if I said 3D makes all the difference here. In all honesty, it doesn't. I've been playing OoT with the 3D slider off during my playthrough mostly because the "look" functionality requires the player to physically move the 3DS around. When the 3D slider is on, this motion almost always ruins the 3D effect.
It's strange saying that a 13-year-old 3D remake is the 3DS' first must-play title, but for those who've yet to experience Ocarina of Time, the 3DS is a perfect vessel for doing so. If you've already played this classic there are few new graphical and 3D improvements, but for someone who has recently made it through, it's probably wise to skip this one.
I remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in graduate school, tucked in front of a small TV. At the time, its open 3D universe felt surprisingly vast. In the wake of dozens of three-dimensional worlds since 1998, the legendarily well-reviewed Ocarina of Time holds its own, although the challenges presented seem smaller, more contained. It's perfect, then, that this newly remastered version has been made for a smaller screen. In our gaming age, that's where it feel like it belongs.
The 3DS has been desperate for games in its first three months of existence, so OoT automatically rises up to the top of the AAA pile. Unfortunately, it's also a game many have played before. If you haven't, then lucky you; not only does this game suffer no compromises on the 3DS, but it's arguably improved. Zelda's first 3D foray has held up extremely well over the years, much like Mario 64 has. Not having a second analog stick on the 3DS doesn't matter, because the N64 never had one either.
So, the big question: how does 3D add to the equation? It's not necessary, but 3D adds impressive depth of field to dungeons and vistas, helping make the tiny 3DS screen seem more panoramic and larger-than-life. You can always turn 3D off, of course, but I preferred playing with 3D on. Some new motion-based controls for slingshots and bows have been added, but they're not necessary; I did without. Graphics are improved, also, to the point where they're nearly Wii-like.
Here's the problem: Zelda: Ocarina of Time is so good, it makes you wonder why Nintendo isn't making brand-new 3DS games this impressive or meaty. It's a game good enough to spoil anyone into expecting more. The holidays, and Super Mario 3D, can't come soon enough.