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Nintendo 3DS Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time

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I simply cannot imagine sitting here and wasting your time by writing a review of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.  Originally released in November of 1998 for the Nintendo 64, the game was a stunning achievement, a mythologically great title which anyone with anything remotely resembling a yen for adventure games ought to play.  The game has been rereleased several times including for the GameCube and the Wii and I have played it in every iteration.

It should come as no surprise then that when the game was announced in a brand-spanking new 3D version for the 3DS I praised the saints that a review copy would be (with any luck) appearing in my hot little hands ahead of the release The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Timedate.  People, it’s Ocarina of Time—I distinctly remember during its original release hearing someone else play it through the wall at my girlfriend’s apartment as I was in the middle of it myself, and knowing which part of the game they were at by the music—there was no way I wasn’t going to be playing the game on the 3DS.

Nintendo will be quick to tell you about the improvements this game has over the original release.  It has the “Master Quest,” which, it’s true, wasn’t in the original release but isn’t exactly new either.   It has graphical changes, and it would have to being that the original title was designed with a single screen in mind (plus, you know the 3D bits).  It also has hint movies playable from Sheikah Stones, which are… well, they can be viewed in one of two ways.  The hint movies are either something you’re not really going to care one way or the other about (and, let’s face it, it’s easier to find a walkthrough of the title online than find a stone to cheat with).  Or, you’ll see the hint movies as one of the great dumbing-downs of a title ever.  If you follow that line of thought, you’ll note that the game was released nearly 13 years ago and wonder if people have grown significantly more stupid over that time period so that what was discernible before is now shrouded forever in a veil of mystery.  Me, I just find it odd that anyone would tout the addition of in-game hint movies for the rerelease of a 13-year-old game.

Okay, what you probably really want to know about the new release is the 3D-ness of it all.  That’s easy enough to discuss – after a couple of hours of playing the game, I turned the 3D off and never looked back.  The game looks better without the 3D and some of the motion control additions to the title The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Timerender the 3D more of a hindrance than a help.  You see, when you do stuff like shoot your slingshot, if you don’t have the target lock on the game wants you to turn the 3DS so as to turn the slingshot.  Awesome idea.  I honestly love that idea.  What I don’t love is turning the 3DS with the 3D turned on because there is no way on god’s green earth that I will be able to move the device and remain in the sweet spot.  If I’m shooting the slingshot in my first-person view with the 3D turned on, I’m going to see a fuzzy image and I’m not going to be happy (and it’s a massive waste of Deku seeds trying to hit something from a blurry screen, you end up having to go out to look for more or buying more and it’s simply too frustrating).

As for the remapping of buttons and use of the touchscreen, on the whole it works rather well.  There are a couple of odd combinations which require you to press a shoulder button while moving the circle pad and using the touchscreen… a notoriously difficult task for us lefties if the shoulder button in questionThe Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is the left one (and it is).  Even so, it’s nothing you can’t get used to.

In the end though, here’s the real takeaway message – this is The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, if for some reason you haven’t played it yet, buy a copy.  Buy it for the 3DS, buy it for your Wii, buy it on whatever system you want to sit in front of for hours on end, because once you start playing, you’re going to want to sit in front of it for hours on end.  There are side quests and the main quest, a good Zelda story, great music, and huge amount of fun to be had.

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Violence. This game can also be found on: GameCube, Wii, and N64.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • mr koolaid

    dude, you dont know shit about the 3d game. i got it today, how can you tell me you lose the sweet spot for the 3D easily when i have NO problem at all with moving around with the gyroscope. and its really funny how you said you wont waste time doing a review but you waste time criticizing.

  • deepx

    Great review, i remember i was 16 when i first got this game on n64, and played it to the death! getting all items and and exploring all glitches – my favorite being finishing the first 3 dungeons without getting the sword from the chest in the beginning of the game (look up the crooked cartridge glitch)
    ha fun times, definitely looking forward to playing this on 3ds

  • Josh Lasser

    mr koolaid, I assume that you’re just more skillful than I at keeping in the sweet spot, I can assure you that I was unable to do so when turning the 3DS.

    Thanks deepx, it really is a game worth revisiting (again).

  • gladosx

    Yet another fail of a 3DS game. Not only does the 3D not enhance gameplay but it actually hinders it.
    This is more proof that the 3DS will fail and die like the virtual boy. Without the 3D, you just have a PSP with a resistive touch screen.
    Why would anyone pay $250 for that when the Vita can give you PS3 graphics, two joysticks, a multi-touch OLED screen and a rear touch pad for the same price?
    For a remake of a 13 year old over-rated N64 game? Not worth it. Vita wins.

  • Josh Lasser

    I don’t think you can really say that until the Vita is at least on the market with a set of games for it. It hasn’t been the smoothest launch here, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a lack of long term success.

  • gladosx

    Well, I’ll give you that.
    For all we know, Nintendo could cut the price of the 3DS by the holidays, or the Vita could end up with crazy hardware issues due to its complexity. But keep in mind that the Vita offers more then the 3DS for $250. Sony’s losing money with each one sold. At its supposed release price, the Wi-Fi Vita is more then worth it.
    The 3DS has not been selling that well, which is another factor to keep in mind.
    Thus, in my opinion, the Vita will outsell the 3DS, which will die in 3-5 years