Itís funny to think that the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the 3DS is somehow worthy of an audible grunt from disillusioned gamers.
Sure, itís been re-released a few times since its original Nintendo 64 release in 1998, but that shouldnít excuse the simple fact that the gameplay remains absolutely timeless.
In fact, if anything we should probably be applauding this upcoming 3DS version. While the Gamecube and Wii Virtual Console version relied on ports, here we have the first real, bona-fide remake of arguably the Best Game Ever Made. Japanese studio Grezzo has been put in charge of updating Ocarina of Time
for the next generation of gamers, it seems to be doing a fine job.
For a start, it has understood that the gameplay itself doesnít need to be tweaked all that much. Like I said, itís timeless. It has, however, very kindly updated the graphics and overall presentation of the game - which hasnít
proven to be quite so timeless. The world of Hyrule looks fantastically crisp and highly detailed, and thatís before youíve even flipped on the 3D slider.
This is a game where youíll feel comfortable with the slider fired up all the way to the top. Hyrule comes to life with fireflies dancing in front of the top screen, while sparks of fire flicker around when exploring the Dodongoís Cavern. Once you have your eyes set in the right place, thereís no real chance of losing focus or getting a headache (haw haw haw) as the effects rarely engage in stereoscopic overkill like some other 3DS titles.
For someone like me, who has fond memories of playing the game as a kid back in 1998, the graphical improvements not only help kick in a sense of nostalgia, but of rediscovery - Escaping the confines of Kokiri Forest into Hyrule Field; fast-forwarding time to become an adult only to find a decaying world filled with the undead; trying to plough through THAT Water Temple... thereís a part of you that feels like youíre experiencing these defining moments for the first time, even as you ace the puzzles from memory.
Some of that feeling comes from the re-imagined control scheme that seems to work very well with the 3DS. Traipsing through Hyrule Field with the Circle Pad is sublime compared to using the analogue sticks of the N64 and Gamecube.
First-person perspective takes great advantage of the handheldís gyro sensor, allowing you to physically move the console around to better aim or see your surroundings. The novice may want to whack down the 3D slider in these instances, but you wonít want to use the Circle Pad to look around once youíve experienced this.
The touchscreen presents you with a map, along with instant menus for browsing items and gear. The corners of the bottom screen are reserved for special items, like responding to Navi, using an equipped bottle and cracking out the Ocarina for a tune, while items can be equipped and used with either the X and Y button or replications of the same on the touchscreen.
In making item-swapping and map-referencing as painless as possible, some of the only bugbears against the original Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
have been laid to rest. Being able to flip between Iron Boots and Longshot in the Water Temple whilst being able to always check my map really did make the dungeon a lot more bearable. Especially since I forget the order of floors to tackle every time I attempt it.
Itís not just the controls that are helping to make the adventure a slightly less strenuous one. Following Nintendoís Super Guide mantra, Link can find special Sheikah Stones dotted around Hyrule that offer hints and tips to various puzzles and dungeons in the game world.
Theyíre not as blatant as the guides seen in Super Mario Galaxy 2
or New Super Mario Bros. Wii
- rather than a straightforward video, players are given a trio of snapshots that offer clues to pieces of treasure and other good things. Itís a way of giving a helping hand in this massive world without being massively patronising in the process.
Frankly, I would be happy with these changes alone - all this game needs is a fresh lick of paint every so often, to stay relevant until the end of time. And new players, who have the time to dedicate hours into role-playing games on a handheld device, will be able to experience the sheer sense of wonder and adventure we once felt so many Christmasses ago.
But there are other additions, in the form of a boss rush mode and the inclusion of the hardcore Master Quest, which re-arranges the traditional dungeons for a fresh challenge.
But perhaps more important than the things that have changed, are the things that have stayed exactly the same. And itís those reasons why The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
will captivate players the world over once more when it arrives on the 3DS this Summer.