The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time Review
Ocarina of Time is often touted as one of the very best games ever made. Its expert blend of adventure, puzzles and soft visuals appealed to millions in the late nineties and became one of the main reasons for investing in an N64. In the intervening years, Ocarina has been released on Gamecube, digitally for the Wii (and no doubt one day the Wii U) and, of course, on the 3DS. With a small boost in the graphical fidelity and the awesome 3D, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D will suck you in all over again.
Three great fairies created the world and left behind the three pieces of the Triforce. Should the three pieces be joined together, the owner will receive great power to do with what they wish. The evil Ganondorf wants to take over the world, but a boy in green from across the land finally gets his fairy and must begin an adventure that will take him through time and to all the corners of the world.
All Legend of Zelda games are basically the same in layout and in the way the player progresses and Ocarina of Time is no different. You begin the game with only a sword and a shield, and then through exploration and through the clearing of dungeons, you become more and more powerful. New items will let you progress through the next dungeon, and the items you’ll find there will make progression easier in the next; it’s this constant moving forward that means the adventure never gets dull and that makes it difficult to leave a Zelda game unfinished.
It’s not just the momentum of the gameplay that keeps you going, but the story as well. Although Ocarina of Time has a basic Good Vs Evil plot, it is built upon with a deep, rich world that feels alive, if a little static. Gamers returning to Ocarina after more than a decade will see familiar characters as old friends and locations will pop in your memory as you find solving dungeons hasn’t changed a single bit. It’s a beautiful nostalgic feeling and one that few other ports/remixes fail to deliver upon. This is a game so iconic, so well-known, that even people that have never played it will feel some sense of familiarity with their surroundings and with the NPCs they interact with. It’s akin to a digital Casablanca.
You’re almost immediately placed into a dungeon, which gives you a sense of how the game is going to play out. You’ll fight enemies, solve puzzles, explore rooms filled with deadly traps, unlock doors and, finally, fight some terrifying monster. If you’ve played the games before, the bosses will likely fall without you taking any damage. Learning how they move and when to attack is most of the battle, and once you’ve got that down it becomes difficult to take them too seriously, but they remain fun if nothing else. New players will need to be a little more hesitant, but they still won’t offer a huge challenge.
The items you’ll unlock along the way allow you to explore and attack in wildly different ways. Whether stunning enemies and opening switches with the boomerang or releasing a bombchu, there’s an array of different ways to do damage. As you progress, you’ll gain access to a wider variety of weaponry and for those willing to do the side quests, there is great reward to be had.
Ocarina of Time takes a living breathing world, and although it’s more linear than I remembered it being when I was younger, there are plenty of extra things to see. From shooting galleries to hunting dogs, bottle collection to bean planting, there’s an awful long way to go if you want to hit 100%. You’ll need to scour everything corner of every dungeon, you’ll need to climb to the top of the tallest buildings, and you’ll need to put yourself into danger time and time again if you want the biggest advantage when you finally face Ganondorf.
Once you’ve finished the game, you’ll gain access to the Master Quest. First included on the special edition Gamecube version of Ocarina (which came with Wind Waker), the Master Quest shakes things up, giving you re-designed dungeons to explore and harder enemies to beat. It’s the ultimate test of your Ocarina knowledge and – considering the age and popularity of the base game – is the best way of having a new experience with a game you may well know back to front.
Ocarina of Time manages to play well without feeling dated and is a game that you absolutely need to own alongside your 3DS. With the bottom screen doubling as an inventory, many of the original game’s annoyances have been fixed, although it’s not changed enough to warrant replacing the N64 cartridge if you’ve played it religiously since it released and if you’re not bothered by improved graphics, smoother gameplay and, of course, the 3D.
The graphics for Ocarina of Time 3D are far better than I expected them to be. Everything seems to have been, if not updated, cleaned up, and characters seem a little smoother than they were before. There’s a definite improvement over the original game, and it looks better than the title played through an emulator as well.
The biggest change is the 3D, which may or may not appeal to you. It looks fantastic – there’s no question in my mind as to why Nintendo were using this to sell units in stores and at conventions. Distance is a big part of these games, and whether roaming through the hills of Hyrule or timing a jump over deadly lava, the 3D gives you an edge you’ve never had before. Although there were times I turned it off, just having it as an additional tool was enough to warrant checking it out once in a while.
Music is a big part of the Zelda franchise, and it sounds as great as ever. While not as wildly different as the visual part of the game, the audio will constantly remind you that this is, at its heart, the same game. Zelda’s Lullaby and Saria’s Song will no doubt make you smile, while the harder songs are easier to play thanks to the touch screen ocarina and the always-available song catalogue.
Ocarina of Time has been showing its age in some ways for quite a while – even back when the Gamecube compilation was released. Although the nostalgia-reliant lot amongst us managed to look beyond the textures and odd shapes, younger players may have found it difficult to see past the wrinkles. The 3DS version of the game performs a much-needed facelift, but also improves the UI, making this the friendliest version of Ocarina to date.
Although the game remains an excellent example of how an adventure game should play and feel, die-hard fans for whom Ocarina of Time 64 is still the most played version of the game, need not upgrade. For everybody else though, this is a great chance to save Hyrule all over again, and to impress your younger siblings, cousins and friends while you’re at it.