The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Zelda games have traditionally aged very well, but if there’s one that could use a tune-up, it’s Ocarina of Time. The gameplay holds up 13 years later, but as one of the first 3D console titles, the visuals look rough. With Ocarina of Time 3D, one of the greatest games of all time looks and plays better than ever. This is the perfect way to introduce it to a new generation of gamers.
Ocarina of Time 3D is a faithful recreation of the classic, and its slight tweaks are all welcome. My favorite is the implementation of gyroscope controls for aiming. It may sound like a gimmick, but aiming your bow, hookshot, or slingshot by moving the 3DS feels more natural than any aiming mechanics of the Wii remote or Move Controller. It’s extremely responsive, and offers quicker and more accurate aiming than the circle pad. Once you’ve played the shooting gallery or Phantom Ganon fight this way, you won’t want to go back to the traditional method.
Another great change to the classic formula is the improved inventory interface. Having all of your items accessible on the touchscreen means players can spend more time playing and less time organizing their stuff. The original only offered three C buttons for items, but the 3DS has four customizable item slots, and another button is permanently dedicated to your ocarina. Switching shields, tunics, or swords is only a couple taps away, and you can also view the overworld and dungeon maps on the bottom screen. While it’s nice to see the map blown up in this manner, the live area map that shows your location is relegated to a tiny overlay on the top screen’s HUD. I would have preferred to see this on the large map in the bottom screen, but it isn’t a huge inconvenience.
The improved inventory mechanics are especially helpful in the dreaded Water Temple. Originally, the iron boots were in the gear section of your menu, meaning players had to constantly pause the game whenever they needed to equip or unequip them. This time around, players can assign a specific button to the iron boots just like any other item in the game. In addition, new colored lines make the location and function of the water level switches more evident. If you need the water level at a specific point, it’s far easier with this minor tweak than it was when nothing was marked. The temple is still a beast, but it’s less infuriating than it was in 1998.
Longtime Nintendo fans have been frustrated by the company’s recent insistence on including super guides, and a version of this concept appears in Ocarina 3D in the form of Sheikah stones. These stones appear in the Temple of Time and near your home in Kokiri Forest, and Link can crawl into them “to receive a vision of the future.” These short video clips blatantly show you the solution to a puzzle or section of a dungeon. I can’t imagine being so stuck in a dungeon that I’d rather hike back to Kokiri Forest than stick around until I figured out the solution, but it might be helpful to gamers unfamiliar with the series.
One place you won’t find the Sheikah stones is in the Master Quest. Unlocked after beating the original game, this re-done version was originally released as a pre-order incentive for Wind Waker. Dungeons maintain the same room layout, but puzzles are completely different and it’s much more difficult. In a new twist on Master Quest, the 3DS version also mirrors the entire map, which shakes up the experience further. The Master Quest adds to the replay value considerably, and Nintendo also includes a gauntlet-style boss challenge mode that unlocks after conquering the Master Quest.
Ocarina of Time 3D is my new favorite way to play one of my top 10 games of all time. Its updated visuals look great in 3D, the touchscreen streamlines inventory issues, and aiming with the gyroscope feels like much more than a gimmick. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a Zelda veteran, this game needs to be in your 3DS collection.