Since its reveal, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D has been one of 3DS’s most hotly anticipated titles. This is, of course, with good reason– the original consistently ranks among the best video games ever created, and its long list of accolades speaks to its greatness. One would think a title so ingrained in the gaming consciousness would have little left to offer to those who have already experienced its magic, but as this portable remake so deftly proves, it may very well be the game to truly justify the use of 3D effects in an interactive medium.
The version on display at Nintendo’s media event was the exact same one featured at E3 this past summer. Divided up into three sections (Kokiri Forest, Inside the Deku Tree, and Queen Gohma) all of which center around the game’s introductory narrative arc, attendees would relearn Link’s abilities in relative safety while witnessing all of the dramatic visual improvements the title has undergone in the decade since its original release.
Regardless of which area the gamer selects, Link begins pre-adorned with all of the items and weapons available in the demo (though, curiously, they can all still be found hidden in the various chests in each area). The game controls as one would expect: the circle pad is responsible for Link’s movements, while the A and B buttons issue context-sensitive actions and swipes of Link’s sword, respectively. Enemies and other objects of interest can be targeted with the L trigger, while the R raises Link’s shield for protection. The miscellany of other items in your arsenal are assigned to X and Y, from which they can be used by either actual button presses or taps of their respective icons on the touch screen. The different menus are separated into their own individual screens, and they can be sifted through by touching the appropriate tab at the bottom. Interestingly, the game also makes use of the system’s gyroscope in simple-but-unexpected ways, allowing the gamer to aim in first-person by physically moving the system. It may not be practical, especially in the heat of battle, but it is a clever use of the system’s capabilities and a fun inclusion nonetheless.
Graphically, the title is far and away superior to its Nintendo 64 sibling: not only has Link been carefully remodeled and reanimated, but all of the textures within the game have been completely redrawn as well. Nearly every facet of the title sparkles with a new coat of paint, and the sheer attention to detail in every little aspect of the game’s visuals is impressive. The water, however, remains conspicuously unrealistic, reacting very little to Link’s movements when he swims across the surface. Whether or not this will be improved remains to be seen, but it appears to be a conscious stylistic choice on Nintendo’s part given 3DS’s ability to do so much more.
The content of the demo remains unchanged: the Kokiri Forest is the tutorial sandbox in which you learn the game’s controls, while the Deku Tree’s labyrinthine innards test your mastery of the title’s mechanics and provide the bulk of the demo’s challenge. Everything, including the culminating battle with Queen Gohma, is the same as it was in 1998 and should be immediately familiar even to those with only a passing knowledge of the game. Those expecting any new information regarding the title are sure to be disappointed, but that was never the intent of the demo; rather, its real purpose is to show off the game’s auto-stereoscopic effects, and in this regard it impresses with ease. 3D brings the game to life like never before, drawing you into Hyrule with an unprecedented degree of immersion. The exact quote eludes me, but Miyamoto once mentioned how the very first Legend of Zelda was like a miniature garden that the gamer could revisit at will; with its auto-stereoscopic effects, Ocarina of Time becomes one as well, and you will feel like you are literally peering into another world while playing.
It is impossible to glean from the demo whether or not there will be any new content added to Ocarina of Time, but as it stands the title is still a must-have if only because it so persuasively justifies the existence of 3D. The game remains a paragon of design and intuitive controls, further sweetened by the improved attention to detail in its graphics and the increased sense of immersion afforded by its auto-stereoscopic effects. It remains unclear when the title will launch, but it will undoubtedly make an excellent addition to 3DS’s library when it finally does.