Genre: Action Adventure
Extras: Ocarina and Music Sheets
Australian Release Date: June 30th 2011
Australian Rating: G
Play as Link, a young boy growing up in Kokiri Forest, sent on a quest by the Great Deku Tree to fulfil a prophecy and save not only the kingdom of Hyrule, but Princess Zelda herself, from the evil Ganondorf. To do this you must travel through time, solving puzzles, and stop him from obtaining the Triforce, a relic that grants ultimate power to its holder. Sound familiar? It should. Not only has saving Zelda been the running theme for most of the Legend of Zelda series of games, Ocarina of Time 3D is an updated re-release of the 1998 Nintendo64 original. To better understand the hype surrounding the release of this game, a bit of LOZOOT history is in order.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) was one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, and is it any wonder when you consider the number of technological milestones achieved by it:
– One of the first true 3D play open worlds,
– The first 3D game where you could run up to features on the horizon,
– One of the first games ever to use music in a context sensitive manner,
– The first non-rhythm game to have a playable instrument, and
– It invented the “context-sensitive action button” and enemy targeting.
Many of the features pioneered in OOT now come standard in so many games. It was also the first title to get a perfect score from Japanese videogames magazine Famitsu and 3rd behind Super Mario 64 and Gran Tourismo, to get 10/10 from Edge magazine.1 So, if there was ever a game worth remaking, it’s this. Not to mention how much more they can do with it with the technology that’s available that can better do the game justice. Why now though? Well it’s the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series that began in 1986.
The game has been re-released before, but this is the first real remake. So, what’s new? The advancements of the 3DS to handheld gaming have been used to increase the level in which you immerse yourself into the game. The updated graphics add more clarity and extra detail to the landscape, the characters and even the shop interiors, and the stereoscopic 3D adds an extra depth not seen before in the series. The world of Hyrule does indeed look amazing in the 3D, but considering I tend to move the console a lot when I play, I had to turn it off. But I would always turn it back on for movies or when I entered a new area.
On top of this is the use of the gyroscope, that gives the ability to look around in first person view and aim ranged weapons by moving the console itself around. I found this method of aiming so much more accurate, but opted to just use the analogue stick when in public, which is why it was so much more fun to play at home. The last major feature of the 3DS over the Nintendo64 is the touch screen. This provides an easy to use interface for item management and quick access to different regularly used items, which definitely made the game easier to play. Without having to pause and go into the menu to swap out items, game play runs smoother and less tediously. And lastly, there is a hint system within the game (which so far I have only looked at after I had completed each section). I’m not sure why they would incorporate this, as it doesn’t really add to the game in my eyes, but I guess I could see its use if someone was really stuck, perhaps further on in the game.
It’s no secret that I have a bias in regards to this series of games. I have loved them since I was a kid. But so have most people who play them. And Nintendo capitalises on this nostalgia while still making a fresh game that anyone can pick up and learn to love. With that in mind, let’s analyse the game itself.
From the moment you turn the game on it is magnificent. The scene behind the starting screen shows the level of beauty that is to be expected within the game. As Link rides Epona (his horse) across Hyrule field, changing, sweeping camera angles highlight the use of 3D and the theme of journey that embodies the game. The music is also wonderfully exciting as it gets you in the mood to play in the fantasy world.
Like all Legend of Zelda games, Ocarina of Time 3D has a strong story, that reveals more and more as you play through the game. This keeps it interesting for those of us who enjoy story, and doesn’t take much time out of game play. There’s nothing worse than playing a game where you stop to read for 5 minutes every 10 minutes of game play time. Fortunately, LOZOOT balances the need for story with the flow of the game quite nicely. Often, major story points are shown through short full motion videos that are all done with the game play graphics, which binds the story and game play together with little differentiation. The graphics are colourful and simplistic, yet still have enough detail to not make the game bland. This style of graphics helps to revert us to the childlike innocence that the games represent within Link, despite the dark story involving him. No matter how grim the surrounding area is there is still colour and beauty in our hero, if nowhere else. This is also demonstrated with the musical score.
While day time in Hyrule field when travelling as child Link, the music is peaceful, yet once night falls and monsters come out, the music becomes purposeful and urgent, more so when you are running low on health. This is part of the context sensitive base that was mentioned earlier. Each town and region also has its own tone and feel, and thus its own background music. These also change depending on how dire the situation is in that area. LOZ has always had exciting adventurous background music, but it was never this context specific. The sound effects within the game are also typical of the series, and some can irritate after a while of constantly hearing them (case in point, constantly rolling/attacking, finding items), so thankfully they do change it up a bit with multiple set sounds. But the emphasis on music is most apparent in the use of the ocarina.
Playing the ocarina is surprisingly simple once you start. You don’t even have to blow into the mic like when playing the flute in Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. All that is required is to press the correct buttons at the right times. What makes this even easier is once you have learnt a song you can bring it up on the touch screen and play while reading it, so you don’t have to memorise each song as you go. This does not stop you from playing without the sheet music shown if you are a pro. As mentioned before, incorporating the touch screen makes game play easier as well, as everything is at your fingertips, including the map (of which there is a small version on the Heads Up Display). The HUD is as bare as possible to allow a better view of the game. All it contains is the mini map and the action button, which changes depending on what you are standing in front of (talk, check, grab, etc.). The only issue I found with the game play was the changing camera angles. At times they can throw you off, changing as you are still moving. But it is a minor issue if you pay attention to what you are doing.
For those who have never played a LOZ game before, the main method of play (other than roaming, talking to people to killing monsters) is solving puzzles. Not like ‘a puzzle’ but in relation to item interactions. During the game you gain multiple items which you need to use in different circumstances to progress through the game. Sometimes is it very straight forward, and sometimes, not so much. It is fun seeing how your surroundings react to your different items. This is also an easy way to limit where someone can go in a free play world, depending on how far through the story they are. A similar use of this is in another popular game series by Nintendo called Pokémon. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. In Pokémon though, not only do you use different items, like the squirt bottle and bicycle, but also different moves called HMs (short for Hidden Moves). In OOT 3D, not only do particular items help you progress through the game, but also particular songs have different effects on situations: allowing entry, cheering a person up, changing the time, communicating with someone; the list goes on. And playing these songs to get the right reaction isn’t tedious either. The amount of times I’ve sat there and just played the different songs over and over again, and I’m still not tired of it. Granted, I am trying to learn them so that I can play the ocarina that came with my pre-order, but what does that matter?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a brilliantly fun game to play, either casually or for long-term hauls. Anyone can play it, as it is easy enough for a child to grasp, yet involved enough to keep an adult’s attention. My only recommendation: only turn on the 3D function sparingly, especially if you are playing for more than 30mins at a time, and do not allow a child to play using this feature, as per the safety guidelines for the Nintendo 3DS. It can give you a headache after playing with it on for too long. Trust me.
For those who have played the original The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, this game is a fresh trip through nostalgic times. For those who have only played more recent Legend of Zelda games, it can be likened to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in its game play and movement. For those who have not played any Legend of Zelda games, don’t worry, it is a fun adventure to play for all.
Now for the fun part: the ocarina edition comes with a special gift. That’s right, an ocarina! And it is so awesome, if only for the novelty factor. It fortunately comes with some music and a website that has more songs on it and instructions on how to play. It sounds pretty much like a recorder, and you play it pretty much the same way. It’s just a little awkward to hold by comparison.
Game Play 10
Ease of Play 10
1 The Official Nintendo Magazine, July 2011