Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D  (Nintendo 3DS, 2011) Reviews

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo 3DS, 2011)

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: - Revisit Hyrule's Hero of Time Story

Feb 10, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Improved Graphics, New Additions, Fun Classic Gameplay

Cons:Sound is Ripped Straight From the Original, Control Issues

The Bottom Line: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a worthy remake. It doesn't have enough for those who've memorized the original, but for new gamers it's a perfect choice.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of the games I was most hyped for pre-release, ever. The game promised so much and it lived up to nearly all of my expectations. I still remember how amazing everything from the gameplay and huge overworld was. Even the title screen had me giddy with excitement. Years later we saw plenty of ports of the game to both the Nintendo Gamecube and Wii consoles, but never was there any real enhancement to the by now aged title. Nintendo eventually started work on a full fledged remake thirteen years later for their latest handheld the Nintendo 3DS. While we didn't know exactly what was being upgraded the screenshots depicted a more vibrant and detailed Hyrule. To be honest visuals are normally the update I appreciate most in a remake, and from what we saw I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. After the game hit last Summer I was quick to revisit the old world of Hyrule I know and love. Does Ocarina of Time still stand up in this day and age? Absolutely.

Ocarina of Time brought featured one of the most interesting scenarios in the entire series, and not much has changed in this remake. You play as a young Kokiri (Hyrule's version of elves) boy who lives deep in the woods among others of his kind. Link, in this case, is the only boy in the village who lacks a fairy helper. One day he is summoned for an audience with the deity of the woods known as the Deku Tree. It is here that he learns that he is actually a human, and that Link must journey across Hyrule and gather the three sacred emblems, the royal family's ocarina, and eventually put to rest a great evil sweeping the land. During this quest Link is transported to the future to become the fabled hero of time to stand against Ganondorf who seeks all three parts of the triforce. While simple in design the story is enough to keep players interested and features some of the best locales, characters, and plot twists across the series. Over thirteen years later the story is a quite simple but is still executed gracefully.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a completely three dimensional action adventure role playing game. The camera follows behind as you guide Link through a series of environments which include towns, dungeons, forests, deserts, mountains, and more. Your primary weapon is Link's sword for which you get a total of three different ones - two of which in adult form and one as a youth. Along with the sword you will also find a plethora of items (one in each dungeon) that aid in both combat and exploration. In each zone (excluding towns) you'll encounter various enemies wandering around that will engage you when you get to close. These encounters involve simply slashing your weapon at the right time, but you also have the ability to lock onto an opponent by pressing the L button. While locked on the camera follows the enemy and you can hold up your shield to defend, slash at them, dodge to the left and right, and even leap forward for a more powerful attack. Combat is generally really simple, but some of the enemies later on can block your attacks and dodge frequently and therefore take more strategy than simply slashing away.

While combat is serviceable (it's a bit shallow but still fun) the real highlight of any Zelda title is its puzzles. While I know Ocarina of Time like the back of my hand, and this remake doesn't mix things up too incredibly much. Still, many of the puzzles are challenging while others are super simple to the point where you won't anticipate such an easy solution. What's more is that the overworld is absolutely littered with secrets - areas to bomb, sections you can't reach without specific items, and hard to reach platforms. The vast number of secrets is a big reason as to why this version of Hyrule is so enchanting - exploring every nook and cranny is a lot of fun in full 3D and there's more creativity in this aspect than in later entries in the series. While I didn't bother collecting all of the pieces of heart (which add an additional heart to your life meter) I still spent hours exploring this remake and recalling secrets from the original release. Call this review nostalgia tinted, but I tell you this - the world of Ocarina of Time is still enchanting. This is one case where I'm glad that they didn't change too much of the core game.

Link's health in Ocarina of Time 3D is measured by hearts at the top of the screen. Every bit of damage he takes varies in how many hearts are removed - you can lose anywhere from a quarter of one all the way up to five hearts at once in the later sections of the game. You begin the adventure with just three but gain more by defeating bosses which leave heart containers in their wake. Furthermore, scattered throughout the land of Hyrule are various pieces of heart that are usually hidden. Collecting four of these equates to a full heart container and therefore an additional notch on your heart meter. Restoring health is a rather easy process as many enemies will drop hearts which are the basic way to gain back life. Additionally, if you have an empty bottle you can purchase restorative potion (purchased with Rupees which are also dropped by enemies) for either your magic or health or you can instead capture a fairy in said container which will automatically revive you should Link perish. Unfortunately Ocarina of Time 3D isn't particularly difficult with the only real challenge coming from the puzzles. I don't think I died a single time while playing this iteration. I did, however, use plenty of bottled fairies and potions.

As far as the arsenal goes you're given a plethora of options. As a child Link acquires such items as the slingshot, bombs, and even the trusty old boomerang. As an adult our hero has a much more rounded arsenal. His items include the hookshot, megaton hammer, bow and arrow, a host of magical spells and more. What's cool is that Link only has access to specific items while he is in each form. This means that, while some items are universal between the two (bombs) only as a lad can you use the slingshot and other specific items, but only adult Link can use the hookshot along with most others. This means that you will have to travel back and forth in time to solve several of the puzzles which require the different set of tools. This isn't taken advantage of through most of the main game (save for one dungeon where it is absolutely necessary) and it mostly delegated for item hunts and unlocking secrets. Still, it's a fantastic feature that is fun to experiment with. The two different Hyrules (both present and future) feature enough differences between them that make it feel like you have two separate worlds to explore.

Dungeon design is one of this games strongest aspects. Ocarina of Time 3D does an excellent job getting you used to its mechanics before throwing anything too technical at you. The first few dungeons are a near cakewalk but the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly. One aspect I don't particularly like is the fact that every one of these is mostly based on the treasure found within it. This makes the puzzles significantly easier - when in doubt run around trying out the item you just found. There are some areas later on that are set up like mazes. The main one, which every person who has ever played the original version no doubt recalls is the Water Temple. It's just as hard and confusing as it always was. I'm surprised that Nintendo didn't make things any easier because it still frustrated me to this day. A few things were added to give you more hints in this version such as the sheikah stones which show you a 'vision' of where to go or what to do. This makes the game far less daunting to those who never got a chance to play the original.

Outside of the graphical revamp there are a few other additions Nintendo made to this game. The first of these is the boss rush. This allows you to fight any major enemy you've encountered in the game. What's more is that your encounters are timed which gives it an arcade feel. Furthermore, you can eventually unlock an option which allows you to go head to head against them one after the other. Personally I didn't take much advantage of this feature but it's a neat inclusion. Additionally the game comes complete with the master quest which was originally included in the Gamecube version. Master quest retains the enhanced graphics and style of the main game but lacks the Sheikah stones. I wasn't expecting this to actually make the cut given Nintendo's track record, but I'm very happy that it made its return in enhanced form. This, basically, is just the main game with remixed dungeons but it is much more difficult. That might be a bit of an understatement - Ocarina of Time 3D's master quest is downright challenging.

While greatly enhanced, the graphics aren't particularly good compared to many other 3DS games. The polygon count is pretty low on all character models (some look downright blocky) and the textures weren't upgraded at all so far as I can tell. It looks like a low end Playstation 2 game, but like I said, it's greatly improved since the N64 outing. The biggest upgrade (besides the more rounded and detailed characters) is the colors. Ocarina of Time looks absolutely amazing at times because it's so bright. Even an environment as simple as Kokiri Forest is bright and cheery now. Several areas of the game had extreme makeovers. The most obvious is the town square in Hyrule Castle. What was once drab and boring is now colorful and abstract. Other small touches were added such as the insides of the shop having significantly more detail. The lower screen works extremely well as a map and can be quite helpful when exploring dungeons. This game doesn't have quite as much 3D depth as many others but it's still quite pleasant and works well. It definitely helps with judging distances. Overall the game is pretty decent for a 3DS title.

The soundtrack is my biggest complaint in regards to this remake. Rather than doing something logical like remixing each track Nintendo instead opted to just import them all from the original release. This wouldn't be particularly bad except for its still painstakingly simple. The same midi compositions make their return, and while they're memorable and overall pretty good I can't help but imagine what the game would sound like if they were completely redone. It simply doesn't make sense that they weren't. Still, the music is as good as it was back when the game was first released. You've got memorable songs like the market place theme and the various dungeon music. My favorite of them all is the lost woods theme, but again, hearing the original song makes me all the more sad that they didn't remix it at all. The sound effects were also ripped right from the original release but these were always high quality. Link's various battle cries can get a little annoying after a while but it's never too bad. Overall the audio is good but it really needed to get the make over treatment for this remake. Oh well, maybe next time.

Unfortunately the controls simply don't work as well as they did in the original release. This might be because the 3DS has less buttons than the default N64 controller. Unfortunately Nintendo designated inventory management to the touch screen. I don't like to use my bare fingers on the touch screen because of the risk involved with scratching it, but with the stylus placement on the system its downright cumbersome to use while playing. Despite this the controls work pretty decent. I'm especially impressed with how well the circle pad works here as Link is highly reactive to all directional inputs. You can only set two inventory items to the face buttons this time around but have the option of setting two more to the touch screen. This isn't too bad for items you don't use often (such as the Ocarina) but its still a bit weird. Another new addition to this game is the gyroscope functionality. With any item you need aim (the hookshot, bow, slingshot) you can turn on the tilt functionality of the system and aim that way. This works significantly better than I expected but not to the point that I preferred it over the traditional controls. It's still neat to try out though. The touch controls get in the way a little, but everything else in this category works well.

Overall Recommendation
The only real drawbacks to this remake are the touch screen controls and the lack of any significant change to the gameplay and soundtrack. Besides that it's still a very good game and a pretty competent remake. No matter the version you play Ocarina of Time is an absolute classic, but this happens to be the best way to experience it. If it's been a long time since you've played the game, or if you've never had the chance then this is the perfect way to do so. The new additions don't warrant the price tag so those burnt out on the game should pass on this one. Ocarina of Time 3D is a good remake that deserved a little more care but is still fantastic.


Recommend this product? Yes


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