Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Post-Launch Review
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Developers: Nintendo EAD, Grezzo
Released: June 2011

Note: this review is a comparison between the original and the 3DS version - I'm looking at the changes, not the game as a whole.


An update of the N64 classic, Ocarina of Time 3D refreshes one of the most iconic Zelda stories. A young boy named Link sets out to save Hyrule from Ganondorf, king of the Gerudo thieves. Ganondorf seeks the Triforce, a powerful relic that grants wishes. With the help of Princess Zelda and a magical instrument called the Ocarina of Time, Link travels around Hyrule, through dungeons, and across history to battle Ganondorf.

At Launch

Critics were very impressed with Ocarina of Time 3D, and it earned average review scores of 94%. It's pretty much universally viewed as an improvement over the original, which was already a strong game in its own right.

Post Launch

No updates to Ocarina of Time 3D

The Good

Graphics Updates
The visual updates work well and do a good job of refreshing the game. The most noticeable difference is in the characters (especially the main ones, ie Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, etc), which no longer look blocky with low poly counts. Rounding things out and bumping up the definition a bit makes the characters look cartoony, which is a good move - it sticks with the original art direction and looks better than low-definition realism would. Many environments also received updates, with extra details and better textures in houses and dungeons. And I found a lot of the dungeons to be brighter, making it much easier to see (although that could have been a problem with my TV when I was playing the N64 version I guess).
Some textures weren't updated and look poor compared to the higher-res characters, but it isn't generally that noticeable.

The 3D on the 3DS is better than anything I've seen in a movie theatre. Rather than popping out of the screen like a bad movie, the 3D is only used to add depth. Once I got used to it the effect didn't stand out as much, but there are plenty of moments throughout the game where I stopped to think, wow, that 3D is really cool.
The only noticeable downside for me is that it's just slightly more difficult to aim the bow and slingshot in 3D.

The 3DS' second screen does the bulk of the work in improving the gameplay. The map takes up most of the touchscreen's space, eliminating the need to pause and access a menu. Navi and the ocarina get their own dedicated buttons on the left side of the screen. On the right side of the screen you get four item slots - up from the original 3 - two of which are also mapped to the X and Y buttons. Furthermore, the two pairs of boots are equippable like all other items, so you don't have to go to the equipment screen to change boots. Those inventory changes are huge for convenience, and the notorious water temple is much improved by the extra item slot and the faster boot equip.

Gyroscope Aim
When in first person view or any of the various aiming modes (bow, slingshot, etc) you can use the system's gyroscope to look around by physically moving the system. At times I thought it was a little gimmicky, and when playing on the subway it could really throw off my aim with all the bumping around. But I grew to appreciate it - the gyro aim is faster than using the circle pad, and if you're stable (ie, not on public transit) you can get pretty fine control out of it.
The segment that stood out to me was the Phantom Ganon battle in the forest temple. The battle takes place in a round room with paintings on the walls, and the phantom rides out of a random painting to attack. You have to locate the right painting and fire an arrow before he comes out and hits you. Well, with the gyro control, that battle was super cool. I stood in the middle of the room and physically circled around to find the right painting, and the speed and precision were much better than aiming with the circle pad. The battle was much more fun with gyro controls than I remember it on the N64.

The only extra feature not present in the original version of the game is the ability to use select Sheikah Stones (one in the Temple of Time, one by your house in Kakariko Village) to receive visions that hint at what to do next. This entirely optional feature allows you to find the right way to progress if you get stuck. It's a nice addition for people who don't want to roam around the game world looking for that one thing they missed.

Master Quest
Originally featured on a Gamecube re-release that was only available by pre-ordering Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Master Quest is a gameplay mode unlocked after clearing the original. Master Quest mirrors the overworld to give it just a little bit of unfamiliarity, but more importantly, changes all the dungeons, replacing the puzzles and challenges with alternate, more difficult versions. It's a neat twist for veterans, but it's a little disappointing that the mode isn't available from the start like it was on the Gamecube disc.

The Bad

Touch Controls on 3DS XL
This might seem a little weird. Using the second screen to display maps and items is fantastic, and it frees up space on the top screen so there's no clutter. That's great. What's not great is having to use the touchscreen for some item slots, the ocarina, and Navi. The majority of the game uses the circle pad, ABXY, and shoulder buttons so heavily that it's impractical to keep the stylus out. And playing on the 3DS XL, I found it a little bit of a strain to hit the bottom corners of the touchscreen with my thumbs. This particular aspect would be easier to handle on a standard 3DS, I think.

The Verdict

Recommendation: play it.
Ocarina of Time 3D doesn't change the core gameplay or add any new features (save a minor and optional hint system, and of course Master Quest if you never got your hands on the rare Gamecube disc). If you've played the game to death already, there's no new experience here for you, unless you really want to see the 3D. But for everyone else, Ocarina of Time 3D takes one of the top-rated games of all time and actually makes it better. It's a substantial game that offers a lot of play time, and it's a classic. I'd even argue that it's worth buying a 3DS for, especially if you didn't play the original.

No comments:

Post a Comment