Posted July 5th 2011 by Adam Grayson.
What makes the best things in life better? Adding another dimension, obviously. Fact: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best thing since sliced bread -- heck, it's better than sliced bread. However, this game came out in 1998 and has had more than its share of reviews, criticisms, theories, and even reevaluations. Therefore, there shall be no story, no complaining about Navi, no talk of vast emptiness, and no timeline discussed in this review. Do you hear me? None (for the record though, there is a timeline, and Navi loves you no matter how much you hate her)! What I will talk about are the differences between Ocarina of Time 3D and the original Nintendo 64 version (as well as the GameCube and Wii ports). I will talk about why you should drop whatever you're doing (except reading this review... finish that...) and go buy this game. And I will explain to you why The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is even better than sliced bread with butter!
After reading that first paragraph, many of you may be wondering how exactly Ocarina of Time 3D is better than the original. I am glad to provide you with multiple reasons. Number one: improved graphics, number two: improved frame rate, number three: touch screen, number four: gyroscope controls, number five: added content, and last but not least, number six: the 3D. If that list isn't enough to convince you, then keep reading, reader, as I explain each in excruciating detail.
So... the graphics. Let me begin by saying that the graphics of this game are totally revamped. No model or texture went untouched -- everything was redone. Many models and textures were simply touched up to create higher resolution versions (more detailed textures, less polygonal models) but many were completely redone. Case and point: Link. Say goodbye to the beady-eyed, pointy-nosed elf of yesteryear, and say hello to the proportionately accurate, smooth-haired, and, dare I say, handsome Hylian of today! Ocarina of Time 3D's Link models (both young and adult) look more like those of Super Smash Bros. Melee than those of the original Ocarina of Time. This is a very welcome change. While the original models will always have a very special place in my heart, I always thought the models from Smash Bros. Melee looked more like the Link from Ocarina of Time's official art than the models from the actual game.
Link, however, is somewhat of a special case. Understandably, the most effort went into redoing the main character's models. Not to say everyone else looks bad (they don't), but many of the others simply had a "smoothing over" rather than a total overhaul. For example, remember how the Great Fairies always used to scare you with their monstrously huge and pointy boobs? No? Maybe it was just me... In any case, the Great Fairies' goods are no longer giant cones sticking out of the magical beings' bodies; they've been smoothed out and look normal, except at certain angles where you can still see some hard edges (not an innuendo, I swear!).
In addition to the character models, the environments of Hyrule are completely redone as well. Well, mostly. The actual structure and layout didn't change; it's everything else that did. Remember how the buildings in the original had flat, prerendered textures that were used to make it look like the buildings were full of stuff? No more, said Nintendo and codeveloper Grezzo! Buildings are now chock full of actual 3D assets. Everything from beds to pictures to spoons to potted plants -- everything inside the buildings are 3D models making the buildings of Ocarina of Time 3D rich, lush, colorful, and busy! It may not sound like that big of a difference, but trust me, when you first enter, say, Malon and Talon's room at Lon Lon Ranch, you will be astounded by all of the detail that was thrown into the buildings of Hyrule.
Just one wall of Malon's and Talon's bedroom at Lon Lon Ranch. And look! There's even an adorable stuffed pony!
It's not just the buildings that are fleshed out! The entire flat, pixelated, prerendered environment of Hyrule has been replaced by new, detailed, and beautiful 3D models. Where the flat, blurry 2D plane of Death Mountain used to stand there is now a huge three-dimensional model. Not only can you literally see the path going all the way up the mountain from Hyrule Field, but you can even see it all the way over from Lake Hylia and even Gerudo Fortress. Not only does this added detail make the game look great, but it also makes it feel more real, lush, and even alive.
No more 2D plane to clip through anymore! All of those buildings are three-dimensional models. Even Hyrule Castle way in the distance is a 3D model!
Along with improved graphics came an increase in the frame rate. Nintendo did a great job with the original Ocarina of Time in terms of frame rate. Even though it fluctuated depending on what was on screen, it never felt like it was a burden to watch or to play; it felt right. That said, it's always nice to make things cleaner and flow better. The constant 30 frames per second that Ocarina of Time 3D boasts just makes things look and feel better, especially while roaming the new and improved Hyrule Field. However, I did run into a few occasions where the game got so bogged down with on screen enemies and effects (me hitting them with my sword, explosions, fire, etc.) that the "solid" 30 frames per second did drop a little bit. This was a little disheartening to see given the promise of a constant frame rate, but in the end, it only lasted for a split second, didn't affect my gameplay, and only happened a handful of times. Forgiven and forgotten.
One of the big changes to the game is the touch screen sub menu interface. Nintendo made a huge deal about this, particularly when talking about using it in the Water Temple, but is it really that great? Eh. It's good, but Nintendo seemed just a tad too excited about it. It potentially makes switching items faster, but it doesn't really make anything easier. I say "potentially" because you still have to go through the same steps to actually switch the items. The overworld or dungeon map is always displayed in the center of the touch screen. In order to actually go into the sub menu (which displays your quest gear, map, and items), players need to touch the one of the corresponding tabs below the map. So, for example, if you want to switch out your bombs for your hookshot, you need to touch the "Item" tab at the bottom of the screen in order to bring up your grid of items. This is, in essence, pausing the game just like in the original. So really, the only reason switching items is faster is because it takes less time to "pause" the game...
You start with the map and your item slots (left), but you have to press one of the tabs at the bottom to bring up the Item Sub Menu (right). So... is switching items really faster...?
However, you may be happy to know that in addition to the dedicated ocarina slot, there are now four, that's right, four additional item slots. On the right side of the touch screen, players can now assign items to X, Y, I, and II. While all of those are touchable spots on the screen, X and Y can also be used with the corresponding face buttons, but I and II can only be used by via the touch screen. The fact that the touch buttons are so close to the physical buttons essentially gives you eight buttons right next to each other (four face buttons and four virtual buttons) which is a really great and easy to use setup. So while switching items may not be faster than in the original, using them certainly is, and the additional item slot (two, if you count the ocarina) is more than welcome.
Another addition to the game's controls is the gyroscopic first person mode. Thanks to the 3DS' built-in motion detection, whenever you enter a first-person view (whether you're just viewing or aiming with an item), you can tilt and turn the system in order to rotate Link's view. This does not, however, completely replace rotating via the control stick, or in the 3DS' case the circle pad. Either form of rotation can be used interchangeably. For the most part, I would aim using the circle pad, then make slight adjustments to my view with the gyroscope. This allowed for great accuracy. At the same time, however, it cost me my precision more than I had hoped. I mentioned that the two control schemes could be used interchangeably because, by default, they are both enabled. If you move the circle pad around, that will take priority, but as soon as you release it, the gyroscope kicks in and controls rotation. Many times, my aim with the circle pad was precise enough alone, but when I pressed a button to use the item or adjust the system so I was in the window of the 3D effect, the gyroscope would pick that up and turn Link, causing me to miss. I also noticed that, while the gyroscopic rotation is very quick to turn Link, the rotation via the circle pad seemed too be slower than it was using the joystick in the original almost as if you are punished for solely using the circle pad. The motion controls are optional of course, so you can disable them if you wish. Whatever your decision, know that the system will detect even the slightest movement of your hands with motion controls on. Whether that's to your advantage or disadvantage is up to you.
If you're playing the game with the 3D effect on, the motion controls will most likely cause another problem (which will unfortunately happen with any motion-controlled 3D 3DS game unless Nintendo figures out a solution...). Moving the system will very likely cause you to move out of the 3D effect's viewable window. The best way to combat this is to actually turn your head with the system rather than just moving your eyes to follow the screen. This will ensure that your eyes stay within that small window instead of falling behind it as the system moves away. So if you're playing in a swivel chair, you're pretty much set, but if you're in a stationary position, things might be a little harder. Again, there is the option of turning this feature off as well as turning down the 3D effect so that losing the viewable window is no longer an issue.
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The fact that i could have an extra 2 items to use at my fingertips, along with making the boots regular button orientated items made the faster item switching nintendo was so excited about fulfill my expectations just fine. I agree with everything else though. Now bring on majora's mask 3d!!!
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