It was the winter of 1998. I just ended my first semester of college and I was bedridden from an operation. I couldn’t go join my family for Christmas celebration a few rooms over. I couldn’t hang out with my friends. And somehow, I was okay with all that. For I had just received for Christmas the game that would soon become my favorite of all time. I had received The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Collector’s Edition). Once I had put in that golden cartridge into my Nintendo 64, I was mesmerized by the opening cinema of seeing Link gallop on his trusty steed Epona across the expansive fields of Hyrule. It wasn’t until I saw the Kokiri Forest that I was truly astonished, however. I had never seen such beautiful scenery in a videogame filled with such astounding graphics and particle effects. The game just kept getting better and better as I progressed.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is considered one of the greatest games ever made and was as innovative and influential to action/adventure games as Super Mario 64 was to platformers. Thirteen years later, games are still following trends set by this game. Ocarina of Time was the first Zelda game in 3D. Some of the innovations established by OOT were its new lock-on system, where you would press the Z button and lock-on to an enemy, making 3D battles far easier than they had been before. It introduced context sensitive buttons, where the use of the button depended on the circumstance. It also introduced automatic jumping where Link would jump gaps himself if he had enough forward momentum.
Though not new to Zelda games, OOT introduced a musical instrument as a main item of the game, a trend that would be followed by Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, and, allegedly, Skyward Sword. Before, musical instruments had been relegated to be used sporadically, such as using the warp whistle to warp from dungeon entrance to dungeon entrance in The Legend of Zelda. In OOT, the Ocarina allows you to warp, communicate with friends, make stones appear and disappear, etc. The Ocarina of Time is a very versatile item that has become as iconic as the Triforce and Master Sword to Zelda fans.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a remake of the classic Nintendo 64 game. However, it is not the first time the game has been rereleased. The game was initially released on a gold cartridge on November 21, 1998 and later on a gray cartrige. Different versions of the game were released on the N64. Some of the changes made to these versions include the removal of the Fire Temple Chant, the alteration of the Mirror Emblem Shield, and the alteration of Ganon's blood from red to green. The Gamecube and Wii Virtual Console versions reflect the later versions of the N64. The 3DS version of the game also reflects these changes.
Ocarina of Time’s many releases.
The story in Ocarina of Time starts off simple enough. Link is a Kokiri boy without a fairy. A fairy called Navi comes to him one day and tells him that the Great Deku Tree, guardian of the Kokiri, wants to see him. He asks Link to rid him of a curse by defeating the monsters that have infested his body. After Link defeats the monsters, the Great Deku Tree tells Link that he must stop the wicked man of the desert, the one who cursed him, from taking over Hyrule. He tells Link to go to Hyrule Castle to meet Princess Zelda and show her the Spiritual Stone of the Forest, which Link had just retrieved. The Great Deku Tree dies soon after, because the curse had been lifted too late.
If he had only woken up sooner…
Link goes to Hyrule Castle and meets Princess Zelda who had known of his impending arrival from a dream. Zelda tells Link that Ganondorf, the wicked man of the desert, wants to take the Triforce, a mystical object that grants one wish to whomever touches it, to rule over Hyrule. In order to stop Ganondorf, Link must find the other two Spiritual Stones and find the Triforce before Ganondorf does. Link finds the Spiritual Stones and goes back to Hyrule Castle to claim the Triforce, and that’s when his adventures take a most interesting turn.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.
What follows is an epic adventure full of monsters, elves, wizards, thieves and…time travel? Yes, time travel, in a Zelda game. Up until then, The Legend of Zelda games had been pretty straight forward fantasy stories, the most outlandish being A Link to the Past, where Link travels between a Light and a Dark World. However, OOT raised the bar by adding a brilliant time travel element to the story. In order to defeat Ganondorf, Link must travel all over Hyrule and find the sages who have the power to imprison Ganondof for eternity. In order to do so, the Hero of Time must travel back and forth through time using a different set of skills when he is a child and when he is an adult.
The Legend of Zelda (Directed by J.J. Abrams)
However, Link is not alone in his quest. Along the way, he will meet many people (and creatures) who will help him along the way. His childhood friend Saria will give him his first ocarina and let him know where to go next. Darunia and Princess Ruto provide him with some things he needs for his quest, after he helps them, of course. Princess Zelda will provide the titular item in his quest. She also helps Link later on in his adventure, from behind the scenes. Kaepora Gaebora, a mysterious talking owl, will provide knowledge and the occasional ride. Impa, Zelda’s protector, will protect the titular damsel and teach Link a very important melody. Epona, Link’s trusty steed, will help Link travel faster through Hyrule and access places he couldn’t access before. And Sheik, a mysterious stranger, appears to Link during his adult adventures. He guides him and teaches him magical songs for his ocarina. Everytime Link tries to get close, though, he escapes in a cloud of smoke. What is he hiding?
Who is he…and why am I strangely attracted to him?
And of course, there’s Navi. Oh Navi, how I love you and loathe you at the same time. Is this what it feels like to be married? Navi is Link’s companion for the entirety of his adventure. He helps Link by giving him useful information about enemies and his next objectives. She also helps Link by allowing him to lock on to enemies. I love Navi. She keeps me company whether I’m participating in carnival games or fighting Dodongos. However, she can be a big nag. I already know what needs to be done next. I don’t need to be reminded of the imminent danger Hyrule is in every few minutes. Can’t you see I’m busy teasing Cuckos? Of course, Navi couldn’t get any more annoying. It’s not like she tells me to take a break every 15 minutes. Oh wait…
Give me five more minutes mom.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D looks absolutely amazing on the 3DS screen. Instead of giving Link and company a more realistic look, like the Resident Evil Remake on the Gamecube, Nintendo and Grezzo, opted to make the game look like the original concept art for the game. Both child and adult Link look like the illustrations we saw in the manuals when the game was released all those years ago. Impa finally looks like a woman instead of a man dressed like one. Zelda and Malon are even cuter than before. Kaepora Gaebora looks so much better. And Ganon looks fiercer than before.
This is finally a fair representation of what the in game models look like.
The environments have also received a significant upgrade, for the most part. Gone are blocky and muddy textures from before, replaced by impressive looking vistas. The shops of Hyrule actually look like real stores with items lying around. Jabu Jabu’s insides actually look organic. The Temple of Time finally has a ceiling. Hyrule Castle Town has undergone a major overhaul. Instead of ugly pre-rendered backgrounds which have gotten even uglier with age, the town is now represented with polygons rendered in real time. The difference is outstanding. Death Mountain actually looks like a real 3D mountain in the distance, instead of a cardboard cutout. Goron City is filled with murals. The Forest Temple looks like it has really been overgrown with vines, instead of carboard plants. And just wait till you get to the Desert Colossus.
There are also new animations for some of the characters. For example: some of Link's animations have been changed, the dancing couple now have new moves, and Darunia really looks like he’s having a great time when he hears Saria’s Song. The game also runs at 30 frames per second up from the previous 18-20 frames per second, making the game run much smoother. There are some elements that haven’t been given a great overhaul, however. Castle guards still have a low polygon count. And some shrubs and bushes still look like 2D cutouts.
The 3D effect in Ocarina of Time is one of the best I have seen for the system. The introduction sequence of Navi flying through Kokiri forest in search of Link is simply amazing. You feel like you’re right there with her as she goes through holes in fences and bumps into one. The particles always floating around Kokiri Forest looked amazing in the N64 version. Now they simply look beautiful in 3D. Navi herself looks pretty cool with her aura of light projecting outwards towards the player. The 3D effect is not only relegated to movies, though. The whole adventure is in 3D. Menus pop out. Items that have been acquired float and rotate right in front of you, and musical notes seem to be projecting outside of the screen. All of the effects are subtle, but they all look great. Whether you are in dungeons or out and about in Hyrule, it seems as if you’re looking at a little three dimensional Link whose world is separated from yours by just a tiny screen. It’s a really magical feeling. The only downside to the 3D effect is that there is some ghosting present throughout the game. It really depends on how you are holding the system and the intensity of the 3D effect, but it is there.
One element that has not changed, for the most part, in OOT3D is the music. It is the same as you remember it from the N64 version. The songs are played in midi instead of being orchestrated. When I first booted up the game, I was a bit disappointed at the music. I thought, "It sounds exactly like the N64 version." My feelings changed when I played the game, however. The more and more I played, the happier I was that the sound and music were the same. It brought a sense of familiarity and nostalgia that brought me back to that fateful winter in 1998. The music itself is excellent. In fact, it has to be excellent. The main item in the game is a musical instrument and if that doesn’t sound right, or if the songs are horrible, the game will fall apart. Fortunately, Nintendo had its composer extraordinaire, Koji Kondo, on the job and he composed one of the most unforgettable soundtracks in videogame history.
Kondo: You had to put one orchestral piece in there, didn’t you?!? Yokota: Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Kondo: You’re fired.
For the 3DS version, the sound and music were handled by Koji Kondo and Mahito Yokota (who worked on Super Mario Galaxy 2 with Kondo). They were in charge of remaking the music for the 3DS version which was a difficult process because the 3DS and N64, being different systems, produce different sounds. Therefore, each sound and musical piece had to be painstakingly remade for the 3DS to sound like the N64 version. There are instances in the game where you can notice that the games don’t sound exactly the same like, for example, when Ganondorf is playing the organ as you're climbing his tower. However, I have to commend both gentlemen, especially Koji Kondo, for sticking to their guns and keeping the old soundtrack instead of reorchestrating everything. There is however, one singular orchestrated track that plays at the end credits of the game. Here it is for your listening pleasure.
The gameplay in Ocarina of Time 3D is pretty much identical to the N64 version. You control Link with the C-Pad, you press B for sword, the A button is contextual (open, talk, check, etc.), items are assigned to the X and Y buttons, the R button raises your shield, the L button targets enemies and centers your camera, and the D-Pad turns your mini-map on and off. Ocarina of Time 3D brings a new touchscreen element to the game. The main touchscreen displays: your camera button (touch to activate the camera and doubles as a Navi button), rupee count, key count (in dungeons), heart meter, magic meter, the Ocarina button (more on that later), touchable item buttons (where you can assign more items in addition to the X and Y buttons), a map of Hyrule showing your current location, and subscreen buttons. There are three subscreens. The Gear subscreen displays your quest items (you can change your equipment such as tunics and shield here). The Map subscreen displays the world maps and dungeon maps. You can click on both for more information and to display different dungeon floor maps. The Items subscreen displays all your non-quest items and allows you to assign them to the physical X and Y buttons, and to the touch I, II, X, and Y buttons.
Ocarina of Time 3D’s touch screen is a game changer.
The touchscreen is a gamechanger in Ocarina of Time. It not only frees the upperscreen from clutter, it also makes the game so much more fluid and easy to play. Instead of having to press start and fiddle through numerous touchscreens in order to access a non-quest item, you just press the Item subscreen and assign the item to a button. The extra item touch-buttons also diminish the time you have to access this screen because now you have more item spaces. The fact that the Ocarina has its own button also means that you have one more item space freed up all the time. All of these additions mean that the Water Temple is much easier to play, since you can change your boots instantly without having to pause the game. The temple is still difficult as hell, though.
The Water Temple: Still a pain after all these years.
Speaking of the Ocarina button, when you press it, a touchable Ocarina appears on the touchscreen. You can play the Ocarina by using the touchscreen or by using the physical L, R, Y, X, A buttons. If you press the Notes Icon in the Ocarina screen, you can access the notes for all the songs you have acquired and play them from here. This is extremely helpful for when you forget the notes to a song (which happens all the time to me) and it’s much easier to use than the similar Notes Screen in the N64 version.
I still use the physical buttons, though.
If you press the Camera Icon you can control the camera with the C-Pad, just like in previous versions. However, you can also control the camera, simply by moving the 3DS system in the direction you want to look. This is a huge improvement to the analogue control because it is much faster and much more precise. This motion control also applies to all items where you can aim in first person, such as the hookshot and arrows. The controls for these weapons are far more precise than they were in the N64 version. When the 3DS was first announced, I was worried that the lack of a second C-Pad would make it very difficult or impossible to play first person shooters on the system. After using the camera in Ocarina of Time 3D, my worries have greatly diminished.
A new addition to Ocarina of Time 3D are the Sheikah Stones. These stones resemble the Gossip Stones that you can find throughout Hyrule but they are bigger and animated. They sort of remind me of a cross between a Gossip Stone and Gyroid from Animal Crossing. If you enter the stone through the mouth, you will be able to access “visions of your future,” which are pretty much videos that show you hints of what you need to do next. These are a cool addition to the game that, while not much use to us OOT veterans, will help out new gamers tremendously whenever they feel lost, without holding their hands like in other recent Nintendo games. The videos themselves are pretty cool too. If you have played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, then you have a pretty good idea of what these visions look like. If not, then take a look at the following video.
Another truly awesome addition to the game is the addition of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest. After you beat the game once, you are given the option to play either the Original Game or the Master Quest version. Master Quest is the same game that was released for the Gamecube where the original game is changed to make enemies harder, and dungeons were rearranged to be more difficult. Also some Skulltula locations have been changed and certain optional items in the original version (like the flame arrow) are now necessary to complete the game. The new Master Quest uses the same engine as OOT3D. Therefore, everything looks and controls better and is in 3D. There is one major change, however. The Master Quest is now mirrored. What was to your right in the Original Version, is now to your left, and vice versa. It may not seem like much but, when you’ve spent thirteen years playing the regular version of the game and knowing where everything is, playing a mirrored version can be disorienting, in a good way.
It’s Twilight Princess all over again!
The last major additions to the game are the Boss Challenge and the Gauntlet. You can access the Boss Challenge Mode after you are able to return to the original timeline for the first time. You can access it from Link’s bed. From the Boss Challenge menu, you can fight bosses that you have already defeated, except for the last two bosses (Boo). Boss battles are timed and you have access to necessary items to defeat them.
You’re going to have a lot of fun with this mode.
After you beat all the bosses in the Boss Challenge, you unlock the Gauntlet. In the Gauntlet, you face all the bosses in a row and your damage carries over. After defeating a boss, you can choose between one of two treasure chests (a big one and a small one) which contain helpful items. The Boss Challenge and Gauntlet modes for Master Quest are more difficult.
Watch the rest of my Boss Challenge mode videos in my upcoming Boss Challenge/Gauntlet Strategy Guide.
There are some other minor changes to the game too. Some of these are: The death count has been removed. Some dialogue has been altered. Some glitches have been fixed, like the infinite skulltula glitch, unfortunately. There are references to Majora’s Mask and Skyward Sword. Someone’s in-game model looks more feminine (I’m pretty sure you know who I’m talking about). The Water Temple now has color coded water level guidelines on the wall. Fairies now completely heal you. The Mario pictures inside Hyrule Castle have been replaced with something else. You can no longer roll from a big fall. The “Stone of Agony” has been changed to the “Spire of Agony.”
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is my favorite game of all time. The gameplay is fun and tight, the music is phenomenal, the story is unforgettable, and the game looks beautiful. I thought there was no way the game could be improved upon. How wrong was I? The new version improves on all areas that have not aged well, such as the graphics, and improves upon others, such as gameplay, making the game much easier to control and more fun. Areas that didn’t need to be improved upon, such as story and music were, thankfully, left unaltered. I would like to congratulate Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Anouma, Koji Kondo, Mahito Yokota, and everyone else from Nintendo and Grezzo involved in the making of this masterpiece. Developers take note. THIS is how you improve upon perfection. Now, where’s The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D?
Is there anything about the 3D version that ISN'T as good as the standard N64 game? I don't recall seeing any negatives in your review. Like, is hookshot harder to aim or something somehow? Are skulltulas super-hard to see?
I put some negatives in my review, but I spread mentioned them where appropriate instead of in a separate section. This is personal preference on my part but...I really loved the original Fire Temple Chant and Ganon's Blood being red instead of green. However, since it was Nintendo who changed this in 1998, I really didn't count it as a negative towards the remake, just as part of their original vision which was kept for the remake. In the paragraph right before the conclusion, I mentioned that I didn't like that they removed the Infinite Skulltula glitch. I used that glitch all the time to get infinite rupees from the rich guy after I broke the curse. I also mentioned in the gameplay section that I didn't like that the Boss Challenge and Gauntlet didn't include the last two bosses Ganondorf and Ganon. I really don't understand why they weren't included. It would have been so awesome to be able to fight them. Those are pretty much all the negatives I could find for the game. Really, nothing that would convince me to lower the score. Before playing the game, I thought I was going to give the game a lower score because of the soundtrack. However, the more I played the game, the more I knew that an orchestrated soundtrack would really make the game feel too different from the original. After beating the game and listening to the singular orchestrated track, I was 100% convinced that the game is better served with the original soundtrack. Don't get me wrong, I love the orchestrated track. But I feel that an orchestrated track would clash with the retro-feel of the game.
By the way, I didn't mention that you could control some weapons such as the hookshot with motion controls in my review, so I added it after reading your post. The motion controls make the these weapons sooooooo much easier to use. The aiming is really precise. After you try them out, I guarantee you will not go back to using the C-Pad for these weapons or the camera. In fact, the motion controls make the battles against Phantom Ganon and Bongo Bong a lot easier, yet they still don't break the boss battle like the first person view against Ocelot in Twin Snakes.
The only negative comments I have for this game is that I find it a little annoying you can no longer roll by pressing forward after you fall a long distance and I really wish Nintendo would have added some Street Pass functionality to this game. Not sure what they could have done but maybe a little mini-RPG ala Find Mii would have been cool, or even a gallery full of unlockable concept art or developer commentary, something, anything! Just give me a reason to carry my 3DS around and connect with some Zelda fans out there.
Other than those minor gripes it's a damn fine game, Grezzo really did a great job adapting the art, I think next to Wind Waker this is now the most beautiful 3-D Zelda game.
You know, the thought of a Wind Waker remake makes me a bit apprehensive, but if they took a 'fix-it' approach, why not? A few more dungeons, some better-developed islands, a better economy, a more streamlined TriForce quest and wind-changing mechanic... no more stealth sections...
I wonder if the 3DS could run it smoothly, though. Especially in 3D. Maybe, since it's more effect-y than polygon-y.
You know, the thought of a Wind Waker remake makes me a bit apprehensive, but if they took a 'fix-it' approach, why not? A few more dungeons, some better-developed islands, a better economy, a more streamlined TriForce quest and wind-changing mechanic... no more stealth sections...no more Tingle
Just finished the game. 3D was definitely nice (would be nicer if the sweet spot wasn't so difficult but maybe that'll be less of a problem someday) and it was slightly quicker than the N64 version, although I wouldn't have minded them speeding it up even more (option to turn off the messages when you open chests, making adult Link move faster, etc.)
That said, there is something that is inferior in this version of the game. The addition of a second credits sequence messed up the absolutely perfect ending of the original. Every time I beat the game I would sit and enjoy that last poignant moment of Zelda and Link reuniting. I wouldn't want to turn the game off. Now it fades away after one second and you really lose something. Unfortunate.