The story that became a legend is now in 3D. Not only that, but it’s going to be playable in the palm of your hand. That’s right – we’re getting very close to the June 19th release date of the three-dimensional remake of what is arguably the greatest video game of all-time: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A game that changed the way the world looked at games when it was released on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998. An amazing and deep experience that ended up becoming one of the most beloved interactive experiences of all-time. This seminal classic will soon be available in the palm of your hand with glasses free 3D on the Nintendo 3DS.
I was given the phenomenal opportunity to try out what is sure to be the 3DS’ first must-have title at a preview event this week, in Toronto. I was blown away from the beginning and would like to let you know why.
To clarify things for those who haven’t heard: this new version of the game is not just a direct port from the N64 to the 3DS. In fact, it’s much more than that. Not only has the game been completely re-done from a visual standpoint, but there have been some additions made to its classic mechanics, as well as the addition of some new modes and design elements. From the get-go, it was obvious that a lot of work went into creating the definitive version of a classic quest. Based on what I was able to see and play, that work was well worth it and a major success overall. Keep in mind that this remake wasn’t developed internally by Nintendo – it was outsourced to Greezy, who have handled some of Nintendo’s projects in the past.
I expected that it would look better on the 3DS, but I was amazed by how much better it looks. Link looks phenomenal and really pops with the handheld’s visual power, while the re-done environments also look great, with much more detail and texture work. It still looks like the game that everyone loved, but it’s much more visually impressive with a nice coat of polish and shine. Not to mention the new three-dimensional effects, which add some great depth to the game world and are quite noticeable when you go into first-person mode to shoot a slingshot or arrow. Those who are new to the game and those who’ve put hundreds of hours into its original iteration will all be amazed by how phenomenal this game looks.
As we all know, Nintendo’s handhelds are popular for having precision-based touch screen controls. The development team did a great job of utilizing those mechanics to make The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D a much more user-friendly experience. Instead of having players end up being taken out of the experience by a slow and convoluted menu system, they added the ability to swap items through the touch of an icon. This allows you to change weapons, select hotkeys (four hotkey slots are now available) and/or equip a new item with ease.
The change was most evident (and the most helpful) during the Water Temple section that Nintendo let us play through, as it was incredibly easy (and quick) to swap between Link’s regular boots and his iron boots. No more cycling through clunky menus each time you want to sink to the bottom of a lake or other body of water.
Link’s movements are controlled with the circle pad, which does a great job of taking over from the N64’s joystick. In fact, it may have been even easier to control the hero of Hyrule in this version. Though most of the other control mechanics are similar to that of its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D features the implementation of motion controls via the 3DS’ gyro movement/tilt sensors.
It comes into play when you’re using the game’s first-person viewpoint to shoot an arrow, throw a boomerang or latch onto something with the hook-shot, allowing you to line up your shot through tilting the device. You don’t have to use it, but it’s there if you’d like to, and I must say that it worked pretty well. Though I still prefer the traditional control scheme for those types of things.
We got to play the game for close to an hour, with the ability to test out all of its new mechanics (as mentioned above,) as well as its new design elements and game modes. The full campaign you know and love is back, but some changes have been made to its Master Quest – allowing for double damage from enemies and a complete map mirroring effect that has flipped every location, dungeon and cave.
Though it’s not the only new or altered mode to be included on the little gray cartridge. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D also ships with a boss battle mode that lets you revisit any of the frenetic and large-scale boss fights from the campaign, at any time, timing each attempt you make. If you’re badass enough to beat all of the bosses a second time over, you’ll unlock the Boss Gauntlet Mode, which gives you a set time limit to defeat all of the game’s bosses under, with only one try. Hardcore enough for ya’?
During the event, there was a live video conference with a member of the development team who walked us through the gameplay sequences we got to try, and also highlighted all of the different changes that were made during development. He stressed that he and his co-workers tried to streamline the experience a bit with some modern day upgrades, such as highlighting a door in the water temple, which leads to a switch that lets you lower the water. Additionally, they also implemented the ability to fully heal yourself by revisiting Link’s tree house in Deku forest, where you can also pick to play the two aforementioned boss replay modes.
Also added to this remake is a new hint system was implemented to help jog the memory of those who play through the campaign. Memories are unlocked during some of the harder parts of the game, and you can watch these memory/hint videos to jog your memory if you forget how to complete them in your second or third playthrough. Each of the videos are about thirty seconds long and they show Link completing certain puzzles or getting to different environments (which you possibly missed the first time.) These memories can be viewed at any time, by crawling into a glowing green stone – one of which is located just outside of Link’s tree house.
Whether you’re an Ocarina of Time master or someone who’s never played a Zelda game in your lifetime, you’re sure to be impressed with this remake of one of gaming’s most coveted tales. From what I’ve played thus far, I can confidently admit that it is definitely shaping up as the Nintendo 3DS’ first blockbuster title. The timing of its release is perfect, because there’s a new generation of gamers who maybe haven’t experienced it before. It’s evident that its transition from console to handheld went really well, because it feels at home on the smaller screens of the 3DS. Needless to say, I now am looking forward to June 19th even more than I was before. Could this be the definitive Ocarina of Time experience? It sure seems like it.