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Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
by Tom Acres

Reviewing a game like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 2011 is a difficult task. Whilst the original game from the Nintendo 64 deservedly holds classic status in the gaming industry, it is now approaching its 13th birthday. Gaming has advanced monumentally since its release, and Ocarina's cause isn't helped much by the fact that remakes and revivals of old classics rarely do well in the videogames market. Often regarded as nothing more than cheap cash-ins, if a remake of an old title is going to have any relevance in the modern gaming landscape then it has to retain a sense of wonder and excitement, no matter how many times you've played it. It has to make use of the new technology and advancements whilst still maintaining the roots of what made it so well-loved in the first place.

Thankfully, Nintendo has achieved all of these things with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. The core game holds up remarkably well, and the benefit of the touchscreen, the added horsepower of the console and, of course, the nifty 3D all come together to make a game that is simply a must-buy for owners of Nintendo's latest handheld.

Since most gamers are familiar with Ocarina of Time and its fantastic design and gameplay, the majority of potential customers are going to be more interested in what exactly Nintendo has done to make you care about this remake. The primary selling point is, of course, the visual makeover that the game has received. Whilst it's difficult to tell how far the 3DS is being pushed graphically, seeing as the system is still taking its baby steps into the gaming world, I'd be inclined to say that it's probably the most visually impressive 3DS title released thus far. Having said that, the colourful art-style is so timeless anyway that you might look at screenshots and think that it hasn't really advanced a whole lot since the N64 original. It's only when you look at the two side-by-side, and see the 3DS version in action, that you can really appreciate the graphical improvements made. Character models have seen the most love, with Link in particular being very impressively detailed. The world of Hyrule as a whole is certainly crisper and cleaner, with better textures and water effects.

As well as seeing the core graphical look of the game given an overhaul, the 3D itself is obviously the marquee feature of any 3DS title, and Nintendo doesn't disappoint in this regard with its first big first-party release for their new handheld. Hyrule's wide open landscapes look fantastic in 3D; riding around the endless fields on the back of Epona is an even more thrilling experience as you look off into the distance, where the sense of depth provided by the 3D really comes into its own. The interiors also look nice, and some of the platforming and aiming of weapons - such as using the boomerang while exploring the many dungeons in the game - are all made easier through the 3D.

Speaking of the boomerang, using projectile-based weapons like this can now be controlled using the gyroscope within the 3DS. Aiming is operated simply by moving the 3DS around, and it works surprisingly well, although you may get some odd looks if you try this on a bus or a plane. The other 3DS-based enhancements include the obvious addition of the touchscreen, which is used to conveniently select and switch items and weapons on the fly. It might sound like a fairly obvious design choice that wouldn't have much bearing on how you play the game, but anyone who's experienced the original N64 title will appreciate the ability to select items without having to delve into the menu screens, which was an exercise in tedium back in 1998. The two other main additions made to the 3DS version are fairly neat as well; for one, a hint system has been introduced for those of you who may become stumped during a dungeon puzzle. The other is the addition of Master Quest, which basically is just a much harder version of the original game, so I can imagine it being rather appealing to hardcore fans looking to extend the already long lifespan of the game.

Apart from these changes, Nintendo has pretty much faithfully reproduced every aspect of the original game. This is mostly a good thing, as - even thirteen years later - the dungeons found in Ocarina of Time are still the cream of the crop. No subsequent Zelda title, or wannabes such as Darksiders, came close to the dungeon design in Ocarina of Time. That's not to say that other Zelda games or similar titles are bad in any way; it's just that Ocarina of Time is an absolutely masterfully-designed game. Puzzles are devilish, bosses can be unforgiving and each and every dungeon is fantastically varied and fun simply to explore. Veterans will get a kick out of experiencing them again, whilst newcomers will experience a profound sense of satisfaction and pride when they complete one. The Water Temple and The Forest Temple are the highlights, but each and every dungeon will require plenty of brain power in addition to quick reflexes and genuine skill for you to complete. The fact that this is still the case here in 2011 just goes to show how ahead of its time Ocarina was back in 1998.

There's no doubt that the dungeons are the highlight of every single Zelda game, but there's still plenty to do out in the world of Hyrule. Exploring the land on your trusty steed, Epona, is fantastic; visiting towns and outposts brings a great deal of personality to the world; and the moment when Link makes the transition from child to adult still holds strong as one of gaming's most memorable moments even in 2011.

The only aspect of Ocarina of Time that feels somewhat dated is the lack of a fully controllable camera. Dual-analogue camera control is a modern day staple of action adventure titles like this, and it's difficult not to miss it. However, the control scheme here is excellent on the whole. The analogue slider works incredibly well for controlling Link, and the lock on targeting in combat works just as well as you would want it to. As mentioned before, the touchscreen controls for using and swapping items and weapons are an absolute godsend.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is probably going to appeal most to nostalgic fans of the N64 classic, those who want to experience again one of the greatest games of all time with a lovely makeover and intuitive new control features, that bring it up to speed in modern day gaming. For those who have never experienced the original, this 3D remake is the perfect time for you to jump into Hyrule. Not only does the makeover bring it in line with the expectations of a 2011 gamer, but the overall gameplay and design is still absolutely fantastic. This could be the game that brings in a whole new generation of Zelda fans, and whilst it's often easy to be cynical about remakes, there's no denying that this is an improved and renovated version of one of the best games of all time. I wouldn't go as far to say that this is the game to make you buy a 3DS, but if you happen to have one then there's no excuse not to pick up this absolute legend.

9/10 [?]

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- Tom Acres

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