The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review

By Nikole Zivalich - Posted Jun 17, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is essentially the same game you bought in 1998. When Nintendo confirmed the LoZ: Ocarina of Time would be re-released for the 3DS, fans, like myself, squealed with anticipation to buy the game again. Sadly LoZ: OoT 3D wasn't a 3DS launch title like we had hoped. Now that the wait is nearly over, how does the game hold up more than twelve years later?

The Pros
  • Updated version of one the best video games of all time.
  • Added details make the world seem real.
  • Iron Boots are improved, making The Water Temple tolerable.
  • Enough changes make the game feel new, despite being a remake.
The Cons
  • Motion Tracking interfered with aiming accurately.
  • 3D means Navi has even more reasons to complain.
  • Using the Stylus just isn't practical.
  • Zora's Domain still doesn't melt.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Review:

I'm going to go out on a Deku limb here and guess most of you are familiar with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64. It was awarded the title of "highest rated video game ever reviewed" by Guinness World Records. If you have played the game you can ignore the next paragraph or so. If you're new to the series, first off, what's the deal? Second, the next few paragraphs are for you.

Now, I Have Yet More To Tell Ye, Wouldst Thou Listen...

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
begins as Link, a young Hylian boy, is finally given a fairy named Navi. Together, they seek the great Deku Tree. He tells them about an evil man, Ganondorf, who is trying to take over Hyrule, and the world. It's Link's destiny to fight this evil and restore peace to the land.
The game is a dungeon based action-adventure game. There are seven dungeons, Deku Tree, Dodongo's Cavern, Lord Jabu-Jabu's Belly, Forest Temple, Fire Temple, Water Temple, Shadow Temple and Spirit Temple. Link must find three spiritual stones from the first three levels in order to open the Temple of Time. Once you do so you're pulled inside for seven years until you're the Master Sword deems you ready to wield it.
As Adult Link you must fight through the five temples, awakening sages in the process. The sages, along with your own power, are the only hope for locking away Ganondorf forever. Some ponies and side-quests are mixed in there too. That's the spoiler free SparkNotes version.
Now that we're all on the same page, let's talk 3DS. LoZ: Ocarina of Time 3DS is more than a port of the N64 version. Along with the actual game from '98, there's the addition of Boss Challenge, Hint Mode, Motion Tracking and 3D graphics. Like the GameCube edition of Ocarina of Time, this version also comes with Master Quest.

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Zelda's Rule Of Threes

The glaringly obvious addition is the 3D graphics. The Nintendo 3DS projects multiple layers to offer a 3D effect without glasses. Zelda: OoT looks great in 3D. The polygonal graphics from the N64 translate perfectly on the 3DS. They were designed to look 3D after all. With full 3D effect on, Link and the other characters and objects in the foreground looked close to you. The background had a level of depth you didn't have when you turned 3D on. If you can stomach it, play the game in 3D. I say "if" because for the most part, I couldn't.
One way the 3D added to the game was through making items feel like they were spiraling towards you. When Navi or other fairies flew by, specs of glitter trailed after. When I picked up a Cuckoo, it's feathers looked like they were coming right at me. This made slashing them all the more rewarding.
The 3DS's graphics have been known to give people headaches. Nintendo recommends taking breaks to avoid straining your eyes. Even though the 3D was visually stunning, I found myself rarely using it. The 3D gave me such bad headaches that I only used it for cut scenes. The few minute long cut scenes hurt my eyes still, but they were so pretty I had no choice. You can turn the 3D slider down. Even with 3D off it looked better than the N64, GameCube or Wii version. It's probably the closest to HD Zelda we're going to get, at least for a while.
One of the more annoying parts about the 3D graphics was Navi. She had been programmed with new alerts warning the player he or she may be stressed out or tired and need a break. "Listen! don't you think it's time to rest." Basically, the 3DS is asking the player to take a break from staring at the screen for too long. Breaks are for the weak. I took several breaks. On the subject of Navi, other new alerts seemed to appear. She would ask me to seek out a Sheikah Stone to get help, despite that fact I clearly didn't need it. Navi and I have a love/hate relationship, I love to hate her.

It's An Upgraded Hookshot. It Extends TWICE As Far.

One of the upgrades LoZ: Ocarina of Time 3D was the amount of detail, texture and home furnishings different places had. There were banners on the walls of Kakariko Village. New, more vibrant colors have been added to the triforce, whenever it appears. There was one time where the amount of detail made me stop, run in the other room and show my mom. I know the best way to power through this game so I knew to bring Richard to his owner as soon as I could. (Mo'heart pieces, Mo' problems) When I walked into her house there was a "The Dude" status carpet on the floor. Dishes lined the shelves, two dog dishes were on the floor and one was clearly for water. Painted portraits of Richard adorned the walls. The room had high heels, pillows, candles and more details than I've seen in any video game. I know that sounds like hyperbole but when was the last time you saw women's shoes on a shelf in a video game?
Another feature exclusive to the 3DS is motion tracking. I didn't know this was a feature until I was in the shooting gallery. My hands are small so I had to adjust my hand on the console every time I wanted to use my fairy bow. When I tilted the 3DS up, Link's arms moved too. At first I was confused, "why is my aim so off?" Once I accepted the motion tracking I learned to avoid it. I found that it was never centered. It was accurate when I moved a small amount, to hit the precise point but if I wanted to move in a new direction I'd end up stuck looking at the wall or floor. After many failed attempts, I made every effort to stay still and rely on the joystick for aiming.
The menus are totally different from past iterations of the game. There are three menu screens, Gear, Map and Items. The  bottom 3DS screen is your hub. It displays the map, the menu options, and your active items. In the lower left corner is your ocarina(either fairy or "Of Time") On the right are four slots. I and II on the top and bottom with X and Y in the middle. You can program any items from the Item menu in these slots, think customizable hotkeys. Items that were once in your gear menu, like boots, are now in the Item menu. This means with the tap of a button you can put on and take off the Iron Boots, a feature Eiji Aonuma announced last year. We all know The Water Temple is the most frustrating of the temples. The change to the Iron Boots was a welcomed addition.

The new layout for buttons means you'll always have both hands on the 3DS. There's really no way you use the stylus to tap the bottom screen of the 3DS to use weapons. Both the I and II slot are touch activated. Instead of the stylus, I had to get used to using my fingernail. Since I had several weeks to review the game I was actually able to stop biting my nails just so I could use my longshot with my nail. Yes this is weird, but the hand you would use to take out the stylus is the same hand that controls the joystick. Having to stop movement and readjusting makes even less sense.
Other small changes had to do with the change of controller and therefore change of buttons. The "C" buttons of the N64 are gone which means while every song sounds the same they are used with totally different notes. Up and down were replaced with the left and right bumper, respectively. Since learning a bunch of new songs is hard, perhaps harder than the casual 3DS gamer can be expected to handle, a song sheet can be activated while you play the ocarina.
It's Dangerous To Go Alone Take This

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS
is still the same game, same amount of heart pieces and the same amount of enemies. But since this is a game on a console geared towards new gamers and casual gamers a feature was added to hold their hand a bit through the game. Hint Mode implements Sheikah Stones around Hyrule and its lands. The stones look like a giant Gossip Stones. They are lined with blue and green and sway back and forth. They look as ridiculous as they sound. Want to know how you use it? You crawl into it to activate "visions." The visions act as guides. They are short, a few seconds long, clips showing what Link must do to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and in general advance through the game in areas you may be stuck. I get that this will help new gamers, but I was an 11 year old who figured it out once before and I felt amazing once I did. I have to wonder if this new generation of gamers will miss out on those situations because the answers are readily accessible.
Bosses, for me, were always the most exhilarating, heart pounding part of the Zelda series. But once you defeat a boss you move on and that's it, with the exception of Ganondorf/Ganon. Upon beating the Forest Temple you're promoted to return to the Temple of Time. There, Sheik will inform Link he can go back in time and that Boss Challenge is now accessible. To start Boss challenge you'll have to go back to Link's tree house in Kokiri Forest. Push "A" while standing against your bed and you'll get two options, Take a Nap to Revive Health or Enter Boss Challenge. The mode is explained in the game as dreams. Link can "dream" about past boss battles while attempting to beat your own best time. Link only has less hearts than you do when you actually fought the boss. Only boss-specific weapons are available in this mode.
Overall, the game felt easier. I'm going to attribute that to my own skills, there are just so many of them. When I first played the game I was 11 or 12, and yes, it was difficult. But now that I'm in my twenties and have played through the game on previous consoles a dozen times, it's not challenging. I don't think the game was changed, stat wise, to accommodate a more casual audiences though. However, I'm never one to miss an opportunity to toot my horn but getting Epona was too easy, even for a Veteran like myself. Maintaining my speed and passing Ingo was suspiciously easy. If that was changed for casual gamers I wouldn't be surprised.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
When Peace Returns To Hyrule... It Will Be Time For Us To Say Good-Bye...

You may read this review and wonder why it received a 5/5 since I don't harp on the story. Ocarina of Time is one of the most enjoyable video game experience I've had, regardless of console. It has the ideal dungeon-style gameplay, characters I'm emotionally attached too and a story I actually care about. All that with updated graphics, more detailed areas, 3D graphics (even if I personally can't look at them) all in the palm of my hand is exactly what I wanted from it. This game is the reason I'm going to buy a 3DS, even if I play without the 3D.