Some of my long-time fans might remember me mentioning this game a few years ago when I wrote a review of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, basically saying that I thought it was going to be awesome because it was Ocarina of Time with a fresh coat of paint. This week we're going to put those expectations to the test. With almost twenty years of hindsight to hand on the original and five years of hindsight on the remake, let's go ahead and dig into this, one of the greatest games of all time.
Since I never got around to writing a review of the original version of the game, I figure I might as well tackle both games in the same review. Part review of the remake, part retrospective on the original.
The original The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. After a long development cycle from pretty much the conception of the N64 to 1998. A demo was shown at the Shoshinkai Trade Show in 1995, with the intention to release the game on the 64DD. Eventually, they realized the magnetic discs couldn't handle streaming as much data as they needed, and switched to the cartridge format that almost 100% of N64 games wound up being released on.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the producer, and one of the directors and writers for Ocarina of Time, at this point was concerned they would run up against ROM memory limitations in the cartridges, and would have to restrict the game to a Super Mario 64 style hub, but they wound up just making a larger cartridge to fit the game on.
I've got loads of old Nintendo Power magazines with early screenshots of Ocarina of Time, which was at the time called Zelda 64. The prototype is massively different from the finished product. Many designs were radically altered, and most of the levels appear to have been changed entirely. The Medallions Link collects as an adult appear to have been intended to be a usable item at one point, but that was cut at some point during development. There are also some screenshots of Adult Link with the Fairy Ocarina from the official Nintendo Power walkthrough of the game, even though it should have been replaced by the Ocarina of Time.
Over the three+-year development cycle, Shigeru Miyamoto took tighter command of the multiple directors assigned to the team in a successful attempt to keep the game on schedule after initially slow progression.
I don't think it's obvious from playing the game exactly how many ideas pitched for this game were repurposed, relocated into Super Mario 64 or discarded entirely. Seriously, there are tons of things in this game that started off as something else, and you'd never know that if you didn't know the development history. Originally, the game was supposed to be played from a first person perspective, but that was repurposed into the first-person aiming modes for the slingshot, hookshot, and fairy bow, as well as the dedicated first-person view. The idea of planting a tree and seeing it grow over the course of the game became the magic beans. Plant a magic bean as a kid, it grows into a flying platform seven years later. Hell, they even took the idea for the Phantom Ganon boss-fight in the Forest Temple from the old concept of a hub-world with portals in it.
Ocarina of Time was originally built on the engine Nintendo made for Super Mario 64, but throughout the course of development, so many fundamental elements of the engine were changed that Shigeru Miyamoto considers them completely different. It's like saying that Half-Life runs on the Quake Engine, technically true while being obviously false. Super Mario 64 had a jump button, camera controls beyond just a centering command, and a bunch of sliding and gravity physics that didn't wind up being used much if at all in Ocarina of Time. While AI camera controls are sometimes pretty iffy, the ones in Ocarina of Time are phenomenal. Seriously, how do developers keep screwing up camera controls when Nintendo managed to get them right all the way back in 1998, and improved them in 2002 with Wind Waker, which is a whole 'nother review for later.
As has become typical for Nintendo's home systems lately (Except for the Wii) Nintendo was going through a tough slump in the years between 1997 and 1998, since they didn't have many compelling system-selling exclusive titles around the holiday season. They had Super Mario 64 in mid 1996, Mario Kart 64 in late 1996 to early 1997 depending on the region, Doom 64, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Goldeneye 007, and Star Fox 64 in mid 1997. With a respectable lineup of actual exclusives to timed exclusives, as well as a few decent crossplatform games, the N64 didn't hit its stride until 1998, when Nintendo released some of the greatest games on the system, and some of the greatest games of all time. Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Party, F-Zero X, Pocket Monsters Stadium, and of course, Ocarina of Time. It was also a good year for third-party games, with the superior version of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron being released exclusively for the Nintendo 64. There was also Turok 2: The Seeds of Evil, Wipeout 64, Gauntlet Legends, and probably a few others I haven't played or heard of. None of that matters today though, because as good as some of those games are, they're not Ocarina of Time.
After three years of development, a then record-breaking number of development staff, with over a hundred and twenty people working on everything from programming to motion capture. They had stunt-performers mo-capping all of the animations in the game, from Link's sword combat to the smallest character movments, resulting in well over five hundred motion-captured character animations by the end of development. Takumi Kawagoe worked on the cutscenes, and rather wisely decided to not use full-motion video in them. Not only does it help enhance immersion, it helps overcome some of problems with FMV's in the 90's. Video compression back then wasn't that great, but as anyone who's played the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2 knows, you shouldn't try and fit FMV onto a cartridge. You really shouldn't try to fit it onto a CD either, but that's beside the point. After Shigeru Miyamoto and Yoshiaki Koizumi came up with the story concept, Toru Osawa created the scenario for the game, with support from the writer of A Link To The Past and Link's Awakening, Kensuke Tanabe. Together, the four of them crafted a complex, yet simple story, defining and redefining some of the greatest characters in gaming history. Since Nintendo was working with a new idea for development, they had different teams working on different parts of the game, with one dedicated solely to the dungeons, led by Eiji Aonuma. Aonuma's team created eleven dungeons for the game, and some of the greatest, most memorable levels in gaming history.
In a lot of ways, Ocarina of Time redefined gaming, for better and for worse. It's been called one of the very first Triple-A games ever. With a multi-year development cycle, a massive amount Nintendo staff and cash behind it, three different teams within Nintendo EAD working on the game, and one of the biggest releases of all time, I think that it earned that title. It certainly defined the development cycle of a Triple-A game, even if it didn't define the minimum standard of quality for one. It's a shame that not all Triple-A games can be as good as this one.
Upon release, Ocarina of Time knocked Metal Gear Solid off the sales charts, selling a million copies in less than a week, racking up half a million pre-orders, and selling two and a half million copies in under two months. Ocarina of Time even out-grossed holiday sales in Hollywood with over $150 million dollars in revenue from the game alone. That's not even counting merchandise sales. Between 1998 and 2004, it had sold almost eight million copies worldwide! I couldn't find any actual revenue figures, but I estimate based on the launch price, multiplied by the approximate amount of copies sold, it most likely earned somewhere in the range of four-hundred and fifty-six million dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that's about six-hundred and sixty-three million dollars, give or take price drops. I'd just like to point out that this is only counting the N64 version, not the GameCube, Wii, or Wii U ports. Breaking down the little bit of sales data I could find for the Wii Virtual Console version, and estimating a steady sales of about a hundred-thousand VC downloads per year between 2007 and 2016, assuming a significant drop in sales around the release of Ocarina of Time 3D, and the VC release on Wii U, I'd say it probably racked up another half-a-million in sales on the Wii alone. This is just guesswork on my part, but I feel like I can stand by it. Hell, I'm probably underestimating by a little bit.
Since its initial release, Ocarina of Time has seen eight different versions. There was the first one on the Nintendo 64 which came in gold and grey variants, the second N64 reprinting which removed several strange glitches from the original version (One of which allowed you to play the game without a sword and use any item while riding Epona) and a third iteration which can be generously referred to as "The censored one." It changed the color of Ganondorf's blood to green from red, and removed an islamic prayer chant from the Fire Temple music. The fourth version of the game was released for GameCube in two separate packages. One as part of a collection of Zelda games, titled The Legend of Zelda: Collectors Edition, which I just so happen to own, and a standalone pack-in title with GameCubes and pre-order copies of Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, which was inspired by the canceled 64DD expansion-pack, Ura Zelda. Unfortunately, I've never been able to get my hands on a copy of Ocarina of Time Master Quest because the thing is so rare. I'm lucky enough to have the Collectors Edition.
Even though the working resolution of the GameCube and Wii versions of Ocarina of Time was doubled from 240p to 640p, the textures look a bit washed-out on the GameCube, and I can't tell that they bothered to enhance the framerate at all from the original, despite the GameCube being capable of handling much more graphically intensive games.
Enough with the technical details for now though, let's get to my experience with the game.
I was first introduced to Ocarina of Time at a Pow-Wow over by the Choctaw Marina more than a decade ago. Some kid had brought his Nintendo 64 and television with him, along with Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Super Smash Bros. I managed to play a little of each game, but I mostly forgot about them until a few years later. That was a trip to Ohio to visit my grandmother, and I managed to get a bit further into Ocarina of Time on the GameCube, and it blew me away. To put this into perspective, the only games I'd ever played before that were ones on the NES, SNES and Windows 98, most of which didn't use 3D graphics, and the few PC games I had played that used 3D effects were DOS games that could get outperformed by Virtua Fighter. Not long after, I decided to shop around on eBay for a Nintendo 64 and the two Zelda games made for the system, and the rest is pretty much history.
Anyways, I bring all this up because I feel like I'm in a good position to judge the remake as opposed to the original. I know this game inside and out, and as soon as I picked up the 3DS version all the old muscle-memory came flooding back, since the controls haven't really changed a whole lot. After turning off the gyroscope controls, because they started getting on my nerves after a few minutes, I slid right back into that groove.
The controls haven't changed too much. Left stick moves you around, B slashes the sword, A is still a multifunction button, R raises the shield, and L targets. Yeah, Z targeted in the original version of the game, but the Z button might as well have been the L button with as little as the actual L button was used on the N64.
Now we get to the few changes in the controls. Since there are fewer buttons on the 3DS than there were on the N64, some functions have been relocated to the touchscreen. X and Y serve to do some of what the C buttons did on the N64. You can assign items to both of them from your inventory, as you could for the C-buttons on N64. The other C-functions have been relocated to the touchscreen, with two additional item slots on the right side of the touchscreen. The Ocarina now has a dedicated spot on the touchscreen as opposed to taking up a C-button, as does Navi. The Start button (And the Select button by extension) no longer brings up the menu, instead it pulls up the save screen. You now have to access the map-screen, the inventory and the item menu from the touchscreen.
Let's run down the list of problems with this control-scheme. First off, there's no reason to have the Start and Select buttons dedicated to bringing up the save menu when the original game had the save-function in the menu itself. Having to bring touch the screen to bring up the menu wouldn't be such a big deal if A) The buttons on the screen weren't so small, and B) If they hadn't mapped the save menu to two different buttons. This is the big sticking point with me. They could have a button dedicated to the save menu if they wanted to, that would have been fine. There are more than enough buttons on the system that we could have both a button for the main menu and one for the save menu, so what the hell?
As on the N64, the button to switch to first person mode is also the button to talk to Navi. This is despite the fact that they have enough screen-space for them to be different buttons. Seriously, look at the screenshot of the lower screen and tell me that they couldn't have squeezed another button in below the one on the top left. I was never, ever annoyed by Navi in the original game, because the first time I played the game she was helpful, and all subsequent times I could just ignore here. In this game however, there were times when I didn't have the bow or the hookshot equipped and thus needed to use the "View" command to go into first-person mode, but Navi wound up telling me something I already knew.
Another thing I wish they would have picked up from previous Zelda games is the ability to use more than just the bow while riding Epona. Come on, Twilight Princess came out a whole five years before this game, and Wind Waker came out a good nine years before this one. Both of those games let you use items on Epona and The King of Red Lions respectively.
Speaking of features from previous games that were left out of this one, Wind Waker gave the player full control of the camera. I know the AI camera in Ocarina of Time works very well, but there are times in the game where it would be great to have full control over the camera. In addition to that, Skyward Sword let the player move around while in first-person mode. I know both of these games had to have been in development at the same time, but it's not like Nintendo EAD couldn't have said to Grezzo "Hey, we're modifying the first-person view in Skyward Sword, put something like that into OoT3D." Or, you know.... Done what every single FPS since freaking Wolfenstein 3D has done and let you move around in first person. There is such a thing as the Circle-Pad Pro, that's all I'm saying.
And guess what? There's not even a patch for that. In this day and age, you'd almost expect that. I wasn't going to bring up Majora's Mask 3D until I reviewed it, but I feel I need to because that game picked up on Wind Waker's camera controls, and decided to add Circle-Pad Pro support. Not that the Circle-Pad Pro even needed to exist, Nintendo should have just included a second analog-stick and a second set of shoulder-buttons on the base model of the Nintendo 3DS. I'll get into exactly how many games are rendered practically unplayable without the Circle-Pad Pro sometime in October, or maybe sometime in July of next year. Either way, it's pretty irritating that they didn't bother including more precise camera control despite being able to at any point between development and now.
On the list of things that shouldn't have gone unchanged is the soundtrack. Despite the 3DS being capable of playing back CD-quality audio, the soundtrack doesn't appear to have changed much since the version on the Nintendo 64. This is especially egregious since they play an orchestral remix of the main theme during the credits, and it makes you realize just how much you were missing out on. I literally just listened to the opening title theme from both versions of the soundtrack and they sound almost identical. Yeah, the 3DS version is a bit richer, but in the end it's just the same old sounds from the original game. Not that the soundtrack is bad by any means, Ocarina of Time has a great soundtrack (Aside from the lack of the world-conquering Legend of Zelda theme-song), I just wish they'd taken full advantage of the technology. In some ways, the higher audio-quality actually makes the old sounds seem worse, since you can now pick out artificial sounds from the more natural ones. Malon's singing for instance now sounds utterly robotic, while in the original it just sounded otherworldly. Most of Adult Zelda's vocalizations as well sound like they were created with a computer as opposed to made by a human, which is strange because all of Sheik's vocalizations sound fine. Fortunately, Link's voice-samples have benefited from the higher audio quality, both as a kid and as an adult. All the other voice-tracks sound fine too, not that there are too many in this game. True to the original, there's no voice-over to any of the dialogue, which lends a certain minimalist charm to the game that I feel Triple-A games these days have forgotten. Sometimes a sound, an expression and a written word can be more moving than actual speech. In that, and many other regards, Ocarina of Time 3D stands head and shoulders above a handful of other remakes or remasters I could think of, like the Silent Hill HD Collection or The Dracula X Chronicles.
The game just looks gorgeous. The sky, the water, the grass, the rocks, the wood, the cloth, everything looks brilliant. Plus, for the most part there aren't that many noticeable jagged edges to the polygons. The draw-distance has been dramatically increased, with most objects loading before you even see them. Plus, the frame-rate has been increased. As of right now, Wikipedia says the game runs at 30FPS as opposed to the 20FPS of the N64 original, which doesn't seem to be entirely accurate. Under most circumstances, the game appears to run at around 40-50FPS or higher on my Old3DS. I've heard it and Majora's Mask 3D both run at higher frame-rates on the New3DS, but as I don't have one of those to test it out on.
The game also suffers from the occasional framerate issue, wherein it slows to a crawl for a few seconds while breaking a ton of pots or icicles. Funnily enough, it doesn't do this with grass, or enemies. I've had times where I've been swamped by Stalchildren, Keese, Tektites, or Shell-blades and not had the game slow down on me. This is an issue that I personally never encountered in any of my playthroughs of the original game, so I'm left with the conclusion that it's a new issue.
Speaking of the Water Temple, I could have sworn I had a screenshot of the camera clipping through the water while I was underwater somewhere, but I don't seem to. It's a shame because that looked really weird. Picture being underwater, but without the teal filter over everything, but with all the water distortion effects intact. It was a pretty cool.
On that note, I might as well bring up the 3D. I didn't realize until just now how little I've used the 3D function on my 3DS in the four years that I've owned the thing. I think this is the first time in forever that I've used it for longer than a few seconds, mostly because I haven't found a single game where the 3D has actually enhanced the experience. If it wasn't for the fact that it seriously screwed with the anti-aliasing, I would have probably left it on throughout the entire game.
As you can tell by some of the above screenshots, most of the HUD from the original Ocarina of Time has been moved to the bottom screen, for better and for worse. On the one hand, it makes the top screen less cluttered, but that wasn't a huge problem in the original game, so it's pretty much pointless. The A-button prompts have been moved to the lower right from the upper right, and the minimap has been moved to the lower left. The rupee counter, hearts, magic meter, and item buttons have been moved to the bottom screen as well. For some reason you can touch the X and Y buttons on the touchscreen to trigger the item functions, but you can't touch the B button to swing the sword. The question here is why Nintendo/Grezzo thought that anyone would use the buttons on the touchscreen when you can just use the actual buttons. Nintendo couldn't have possibly expected us to pull out the stylus to use the touchscreen when everything else in the game controls just fine with the joystick and face buttons. There was never a time when I didn't use the touchscreen buttons with my thumb, and I don't see how else you could use them without having to pause the game.
One incredibly irritating thing about the touchscreen buttons is that you can't just select something with the cursor and then touch them to assign them an item like you can with X and Y, and indeed could with the C-buttons in the original game. Instead, you have to select the button with the cursor, press A, then select the item you want to equip, and press A again. I would love to know who at Nintendo (Or Grezzo as it were) thought that was a good idea, so I can tell them personally how annoying that became.
For some reason, despite the fact that this remake hasn't significantly changed anything about the gameplay, or the design of the game, there's no option in the game to switch the graphics back to the original graphics from the Nintendo 64 version. Unlike Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition or Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which allowed you to do just that. When the original game data was less than thirty megs, it couldn't have been hard for them to just stick that in there as an option, that was we could compare them side-by-side without having to dust off the Nintendo 64 and cartridges. Considering that (Hypothetically at least) Nintendo 3DS Cartridges can fit up to nine gigabytes of data onto them (The largest I know of at the moment would be Xenoblade Chronicles 3D at almost four gigs) and since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D only comes to about 480MBs, we know they had plenty of space for the data from the original game. Or, you know. A reorchestrated soundtrack.
Now we get to the plot. Jesus, almost five-thousand words into the review and I haven't talked about the plot yet. Personally, I'd hope my audience would already know the plot of Ocarina of Time, considering how well the game sold. In case you haven't, though, let me give you the rundown. Spoilers inbound.
The Great Deku Tree protects the Kokiri forest within the Kingdom of Hyrule, but after a long period of peace, conflict has returned to Hyrule in the unnaturally waning years of the Great Deku Tree. After an evil sorcerer laid a curse upon him, The Deku Tree enlists a young boy in the village named Link to take on the threat. Mostly because he's the only one who seems to have the guts to do it.
You see, ten years before, there was a unification war in Hyrule and Link's mother was gravely injured escaping it. In her dying moments, she entrusted her infant son to the care of the immortal Kokiri and their guardian, The Great Deku Tree. They never actually say who's responsible for her death, but I like to think it was Ganondorf. Not only does it make sense, it provides poetic justice to Ganondorf's downfall at the end.
Because Mido, the bossiest Kokiri in the whole forest won't let him in to see the Great Deku Tree without any combat-gear (And because exterminating monsters with Deku Sticks and Deku Nuts would be incredibly stupid) Link finds the old Kokiri sword and a wooden shield to accompany him on his journey, and makes his way into the hollowed-out guts of the Deku Tree to remove the curse. He makes his way through the whole tree, exterminating Skulltulla, Deku Babas and Deku Scrubs alike which have taken up residence within before confronting the creature that was the source of the curse. The Armored Arachnid Queen, Gohma. After a grueling battle (Or a quick one depending on how well you know the game. In my case it usually takes two rounds at most) Link vanquishes the creature and takes its life-energy for himself. Alas, the Deku Tree has been injured beyond any healing, and in his dying breaths, the Deku Tree tells Link to seek out the princess of Hyrule, bequeathing the Spiritual Stone of The Forest to him as well.
As he travels out of the forest, his friend Saria gives him a wooden ocarina as a present to remember her by.
After a days journey across Hyrule Field (Or less if you know certain tricks) Link finally finds himself inside the gates of Hyrule Castle Town. His journey not yet complete, he makes his way to the castle to meet with the princess, but finds his way barred by a gate guarded by a corrupt guard, who lets him pass for a bribe. Unfortunately for Link, the other guards are not so corruptible as to let him by, and he's thrown out of the courtyard. As night falls, Link meets a girl named Malon who's looking for her father and has run into the same predicament as Link has. She asks him to take an egg with him so he can use the cucco inside to wake up her father. Link looks about for a new way into the castle, and finds some vines he can climb onto, making his way onto a ledge that leads to an access hatch above the gate, and into the courtyard. Sneaking past the guards, Link finds himself once again in a bad situation, with guards between him and his destination, and a hoisted drawbridge beyond that.
For some reason, there's no other way into the castle except by jumping off the two stacked milk-crates into an unguarded water output that leads into the castle interior.
Anyways, after sneaking past the other guards (Who for some reason don't seem to throw Link out of the castle gate if he's found) Link finds himself face to face with the Princess of Destiny, Zelda. There, they converse about their dreams. Link has been having nightmares about being killed by Ganondorf, and Zelda has been having visions of a shadow creeping over the land before being banished by a figure accompanied by a blue fairy, wielding a green light. Since Link came from the forest, has the stone of the forest and a blue fairy, she knows that part of the dream was true, which leads her to explain to Link that she believes the shadow represents Ganondorf, the head of the Gerudo. She believes Ganondorf is searching for the Triforce, despite pledging allegiance to her father the king. One who can reach the Triforce can make any wish they want come true, but they must first find it. Naturally, they've sealed access to the resting-place of the Triforce with five keys. Three Spiritual Stones, a song, and a magical ocarina linked to time itself. Zelda holds two of the keys, the Ocarina of Time and the Song of Time, while the other stones are held by the actually trustworthy leaders in Hyrule. Even though Ganondorf backed up the king during the Unification War, and he's apparently one of the kings allies. Then again, the stones are associated with water, fire, and the forest, not the desert, so it's not like he would have one anyways.
Zelda wishes for Link to find the other Spiritual stones so they can keep them out of Ganondorf's hands, with her keeping the Ocarina of Time safe, that way they can wish away Ganondorf and prevent him from getting his hands on the Triforce. She writes him a letter of passage that will let him up the trail to Death Mountain, and her bodyguard, Impa escorts Link out of the castle and teaches him the song of the royal family to help him on his journeys.
Link makes his way to Kakariko Village, and explores for a bit before heading up the Death Mountain Trail. On his way through the village he helps a woman gather her loose cucco's, and stops by the graveyard for the sake of it. There, he meets the ghosts of the Composer Brothers, who once served the Hylian Royal Family. They were killed by Ganondorf for not divulging the secret of the Sun's Song. Since Link isn't one of Ganondorf's henchmen, they tell him where they inscribed the song in the hope that Link can use it in his crusade against Ganondorf, and they go back to guarding the Kakariko Graveyard. The song is hidden inside the tomb of the royal family. On the ground in front of the tomb is a Triforce crest, and Link figures that now might be a good time to test out that song Impa taught him. Strangely, the rain that had been falling before intensifies, and a bolt of lightening lances down from the sky to strike to tomb, destroying it, and revealing a passageway down below. Link enters the passage and finds a tomb full of zombies between him and his destination, but he manages to get past them and learn the Sun's Song, which he then uses to freeze the Re-Deads (Pretty stupid name if you ask me) on his way out. Once outside the tomb, he finds that the stormy night has passed into a clear day as if by magic.
Link then makes his way to the mountain gate, where he shows the Princess's letter and gains passage. The gate-guard tells him that his wooden shield would be easily burned up in Death Mountain, and that he should equip a proper metal shield. Either because Link is broke or doesn't want to trek all the way back to the Castle Town, he goes back to the graveyard and looks the grave of a Hylian Knight (Possibly one of his own ancestors) to take his incredibly cheap imitation of the Hylian Shield from Skyward Sword. I know it can't be the actual Hylian Shield because it can be destroyed by a Like-Like, and you can literally buy it ad-infinitum from the shop if you lose it.
Anyways, Link makes his way to the Goron city to meet with the grumpy leader of the Gorons, Darunia. On the way, he sees that the Goron's main source of food has been cut off. You see, Gorons eat rocks, and their best source of rocks has been blocked by a boulder. After Darunia refuses to talk to him on account of his mood and the fact that the King didn't come personally, Link wanders around the city looking for something that might help, before hearing a familiar song coming from a blockaded passageway. After lighting some torches, he uses some sticks to detonate some bomb-flowers he can't lift to pass it. After that he follows the song until it leads him to a forest-meadow, where he finds Saria playing on her Ocarina. She teaches him the song she's playing, and Link gets the idea to play that song for Darunia, which cheers the big Goron right up. Darunia explains to Link that Ganondorf blocked off their rock mine and most of their bomb supply in the process. Link tells Darunia that he wants the Goron's Rudy, but Darunia tells him to fix the cave situation first. To do so, he gives Link the Goron's Bracelet, which lets Link lift the bombs.
The Goron's haven't been able to get a bomb down the mountain to the boulder, but Link has the idea of just tossing one off the side of the mountain onto the boulder below. This gives him access to the cavern, and after taking on an army of dinosaurs, he finally manages to make it safe. Darunia gives him the stone and declares Link his "Sworn Brother," and tells him to visit the fairy at the top of the mountain, who teaches Link a magical sword spin.
The last thing Link needs to get is the Zora's sapphire. After a perilous journey up the Zora's River, he finds himself at the entrance to their domain, with a Triforce seal at his feet. Naturally, he plays Zelda's lullaby and gains entry. Inside, he finds that the Zora princess, Ruto has vanished. Because the king is worried sick, he doesn't really pay much attention to Link. As before, Link decides to look around and see what else he can do in the meantime, maybe a bit of investigation and a bit of goofing off depending on the players whims. Eventually he participates in a diving game which earns him a silver Zora scale which allows him to dive further. This leads to him using a connecting passageway between the Zora city and Lake Hylia, where he finds a message in a bottle from Princess Ruto, saying that she's trapped inside the giant fish-whale thing in the Zora's fountain, Lord Jabu Jabu. Link shows this letter to the king, and he tells Link to go sort things out, because despite King Zora having a bunch of highly-qualified Zora Warriors at his disposal, Link is the one on a mission from Princess Zelda and thus requires no backup. Apparently.
Link finds the princess, and the Zora's Sapphire within Jabu Jabu and beats the parasites inside Jabu Jabu. Ruto basically forces Link to agree to marry her if he wants the Zora's Sapphire, although Link doesn't really respond. He is a silent protagonist after all.
With his task completed, Link returns to tell Zelda, but a shadow has fallen over Hyrule Castle, and his nightmares are about to come true. Zelda and Impa ride out of the castle like a bat our of hell, with Ganondorf hot on their trail. Zelda tosses something into a moat, and they speed off on their horse. Ganondorf catches up to where Link is, but he's too late to follow Zelda and Impa. He attempts to make Link tell him where they are, but Link draws his sword and stands in his way. Ganondorf naturally laughs and just blasts Link with magic and rides off.
Link dives into the moat to see what Zelda threw, and finds the Ocarina of Time, and a message from Zelda, with the Song of Time included. Link goes to the Temple of Time to try and wish upon the Triforce to stop Ganondorf, but there's one more key in his way. The Blade of Evil's Bane, the unbreakable, greatest sword ever forged, The Master Sword. Link must draw the sword to unseal the barrier between the regular realm and the Sacred Realm before he can access the Triforce. Link draws the Master Sword from its pedestal, but thanks to the fact that he can't exactly wield it as a kid, and because Ganondorf shoved his way into the Sacred Realm, Link gets sealed in stasis for seven years until he can wield the Master Sword and take on Ganondorf. The Sage of Light, Raru tells Link all this and gives him the medallion of Light, with the task of finding the other six sages and awakening them so they can perform the sealing ritual on Ganondorf. Sheik tells him the general location of the temples, and hints that he should check out the Kokiri forest.
On his way out of the Temple of Time, Link encounters a mysterious woman in a mask named Sheik, who tells him some of the details of Ganondorf's conquest. Link leaves the temple and sees that Hyrule Castle Town has become a literal ghost town, with zombies roaming the streets. He returns to the temple and Sheik tells him that if he wishes to travel back to when he was a child, to open the gates between time, he must place the Master Sword back in its pedestal.
Under Sheik's advice, Link makes his way to Kakariko Village, which has been built up over the years. There, he finds Talon, who's been thrown out of his ranch by Ingo. He also finds the journal of Dampe the Gravedigger, telling him to look within Dampe's grave to get his special treasure. There the ghost of the gravedigger challenges him to a footrace. Link succeeds, and Dampe gives him a hookshot.
Link leaves the underground maze and finds himself in the Kakariko Windmill, where the old man with the music box teaches him a song a kid played seven long years ago when he dried up the well, known as The Song of Storms.
Taking Sheik's hint about a childhood friend needing his help, Link makes his way to the Forest Temple, where he encounters Mido guarding the entrance to the meadow. After playing Saria's Song, Mido lets him pass. Link finds that the Forest Meadow has been taken over by Moblin guards, who make it hard for him to pass, but he gets through. At the end, he encounters a giant Moblin with a club, but he runs around the slow creatures and dispatches it. Beyond is the Forest Temple, and Sheik drops down from the trees. She waxes poetic about friends and time before teaching Link The Minuet of Forest.
The stairway up to the temple entrance is as broken as it was when Link was a kid, but his new Hookshot allows him to get in by grappling onto a branch.
Inside, Link braves ghosts, disembodied hands, Stalfos, twisting mazes, and Ganondorf's own doppelganger, but in the end he triumphs, and Saria awakens as the second sage.
From this point on, the dungeons can be pretty much done in any order. I usually play through them in the traditional order of Fire Temple, Water Temple, Shadow Temple, Spirit Temple and finally Ganon's castle. This time around however, I shook things up as much as possible just to see if I could succeed, and I did.
Next, Link heads to Death Mountain to see Darunia, but the entire Goron city is empty except for Darunia's son, Link. Link tells Link (That's totally not confusing) that all the Gorons were taken into the Fire Temple to be eaten by the dragon that resides within, and Darunia set out to save them. Link gives Link a fireproof tunic and instructions on how to get to the Fire Temple. Link (The Hylian not the Goron) finds the Fire Temple, but Sheik drops in to wax poetic and teach Link The Bolero of Fire. Link later meets up with Darunia, who's set to take on Volvagia the Dragon as his ancestor once did, but without The Megaton Hammer, since he doesn't have the gear to thwart Ganondorf's traps and tricks. Link however has the necessary gear, and manages to take on Volvagia and win. Darunia gives him the Fire Medallion, and Link continues with his quest.
Link travels back to the future with the gauntlets, and back to the Spirit Temple to finish the job. There he blasts through the rest of the temple into a battle with two Iron Knuckles, one of which is a brainwashed Nabooru. The two of them guard an indestructable mirrored shield. The two witches from seven years ago show up to re-brainwash Nabooru, and Link makes his way through the rest of the temple to rescue her and beat the witches. After a rough battle, Link defeats them and frees Nabooru, who gives him the Spirit Medallion and a few pervy comments before Link moves on to the final temple, the Shadow Temple.
Sheik tries to combat the shadow from the well, but it escapes and flees into the Shadow Temple. Sheik explains that Impa had sealed an evil spirit within the well, but the evil spirit grew more powerful and escaped. Impa had gone into the Shadow Temple to attempt to reseal the spirit, but it got out before she could. Sheik teaches Link The Nocturne of Shadow so he can get to the Shadow Temple above the Kakariko Graveyard.
Here's the problem. Despite this game being rated E10+, which is a grade higher than the original game was rated at, all of the blood from inside the Shadow Temple (And some of it from under the well as well) has been removed. Why? What's the purpose of this? I know Twilight Princess was rated T, so why didn't they go whole-hog with it and just have the game be rated T? Even if Ocarina of Time 3D was rated M, Nintendo has made or put their name on M-rated games in the past. Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requim, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Resident Evil on the GameCube, Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 4, Disaster: Day of Crisis and that's just games released before 2011. I'm sure I've missed a few, so feel free to throw out game names in the comments if you want.
Impa awakens as the Sage of Shadow, and gives Link the Shadow Medallion.
With all six medallions to hand, Link is at a loss as to what to do next. He travels the land giving everyone a helping hand that he can, solving problems big and small, lifting curses, killing monsters and hunting for treasure. Eventually, he finds himself back at the Temple of Time.
With a flash, Zelda unveils herself. She had been in disguise as Sheik for seven years to prevent Ganondorf from knowing who she was. Zelda gives Link the final tool he needs to destroy Ganondorf, the Arrows of Light, powerful enough to pierce the evil king's dark heart. Alas, the heartfelt reunion is cut short, as not even The Temple of Time is beyond Ganondorf's grasp, and the Princess of Destiny is finally within Ganondorf's grasp.
Within, Link finds the central tower guarded by a magical barrier, drawing its power from the six nodes linked to each of the six temples. With Ganondorf's influence across the land reduced, it's a trivial matter for Link to demolish this barrier with a few well-placed light arrows and some ingenuity. With that, he enters the main tower and climbs the staircase with his sword in one hand and shield in the other.
The monster is powerful, but the magic isn't powerful enough to keep Navi from targeting him like it was for Ganondorf. Link closes in to make the first attack with The Master Sword, but the monster bats him away, and The Master Sword goes flying from his grasp, impaling itself in the ground near Zelda. Without The Blade of Evil's Bane, Link is left with his arrows and his hammer. He uses the arrows to stun the monsters and the hammer to attack it, circling around to smash the things tail while it's confused. Eventually he manages to get in enough good shots to dispell the fire. Link rushes to get The Master Sword and with one quick thrust defeats the monster and brings Ganondorf to the edge of his life. The Seven Sages cast their spell and seal the evil within the man away
Whew. This review legitimately took me the last two weeks to write. First week I had to spend all weekend working out of nowhere and as such I didn't have time to work on the article. The next weekend I got sick and didn't have any energy, so I wound up having to work on the review off and on for as long as it's been since the last time I published an article.
All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has earned its title of "greatest game of all time," even if it's just one of the greatest games of all time. The original has aged well as far as mechanics, game design and gamplay go, but the graphics were in bad need of an update that could make it a little easier on the eyes. Unlike some of its contemporaries, and some of the games that have followed it, Ocarina of Time has very little disconnect between gameplay and story. The things that happen in the cutscenes are what can happen in the game itself, and the things that happen in the game aren't contradicted by anything in the cutscenes, so we're never left with a situation in a cutscene that couldn't have been resolved easily through a gameplay method. The cutscenes also don't drag on forever, so you're never left for more than a few minutes of pressing the A button. Ocarina of Time is one of the games I point to when I talk about good cutscene design. Some games could learn a thing or two from this one. *COUGH*LordofMagna
The controls for the original are brilliant, and aside from the terrible Nintendo 64 joystick, they were nothing short of perfect. The only thing I could legitimately think to complain about might be the somewhat clunky way the original makes you switch between the different types of boots. That's easily remedied by setting the menu in-game to the Gear screen, however, and doesn't really get in the way if you know what you're doing. Speaking of which, with adequate planning you don't actually need to spend much time in Hyrule field as a kid. If you wait until you get most of the warp songs, you can save a lot of exploration time.
This brings us to the remake. While it's great graphically and as far as most of the controls go, there are a few... Issues I could say. First off, the soundtrack as I said before is copied and pasted from the original version of the game disappointingly, and not all of the voice-samples sound right. The ocarina controls have been utterly butchered from their original format, which seriously threw me for a loop when I first picked them up. Sure, you can adapt to them over time, but the original ocarina controls were far superior. While I like that they've used the touchscreen incredibly well (IE, as little as possible) there's still the problem about Navi and the first-person command sharing the same button despite having the space for them to be separate. Then there's the movement of the heads-up display, which can make health management somewhat of an issue since you have to take your eyes off the top screen to check out your health. There's also the issue of the lack of Circle Pad Pro support, and the inability to ride Epona as a child. The original version gets a pass on this, since they probably hadn't thought of that at the time, and it's not really that big of a deal if you really know what you're doing. Even then, it still doesn't excuse ignoring the innovations from previous Zelda games, and if you're not patient enough to wait until basically the end of the game to collect all the old skulltullas and pieces of heart exclusive to Kid Link, or feel that it would break the flow (Which you'd be right to think) you'd probably want some alternative form of transportation. What they did add, however is the ability to rest in your bed in Kakariko village to regain your health, which is a pointless endeavor since not only are rupees plentiful and milk cheap, but by the time you reach the Adult Link part of the game you'll basically have infinite access to fairies. That's if you can't find enough hearts to fill your gauge up by smashing pots and cutting grass. A rather pointless addition I must say. The first Zelda game I saw this in was Skyward Sword, and it wasn't particularly useful in that game either. If you were gonna take anything from Skyward Sword, greatest game in the greatest series of all time, I'd say the Loftwing transportation would be at the top of the list.
Then there's the incredibly disorganized inventory. I said enough about this before, but I just want to reiterate. It sucks, and it was so much better in the original version. No never mind about it.
Now we get to what else they've left out. The blood from the Shadow Temple and the Well has been removed almost entirely, and the rumble function has been hacked out entirely. That's more to do with the fact that Nintendo didn't bother including a rumble-motor in the 3DS than anything else, but that brings me to one of the issues I have with the 3DS hardware. No rumble-motor despite the fact that my cheap-ass cellphone has one, no second analog stick despite them knowing they needed one, no ergonomic grips built-in, and no analog triggers, much less two extra shoulder-buttons. Despite them knowing they needed them. Despite two of the best games on the system needing them to be played correctly.
The biggest addition is the Master Quest, something that's been ported over from one of the GameCube releases with the new graphics. I honestly can't say that it's all that impressive. For one thing, the plot is identical to that of the original game which is something I loath. I would have preferred to see Nintendo go into the archives and pull out as many unused story concepts as they could for the Master Quest, like Capcom did for the GameCube remake of the original Resident Evil.
While the story is the same, they've changed a lot about the dungeons, but nothing significant about the overworld. Sure, this version of the game has mirrored literally everything in the game, but if you know the game as well as I do this won't throw you much.
Brace yourself for this people. If you haven't seen it, it's gonna be a shocker. It's pretty funny if you think about it, but when I saw it originally I was more baffled speechless than amused.
Another change worth noting is that enemies now do double their original damage, which is a nice touch, but I honestly would have preferred to see something like Hero Mode in Skyward Sword, where you can play through the original game (And the Master Quest) with increased damage and no heart-pickups.
Anyways, when I saw this line of boulders I was straight-up scratching my head at it. You literally get the bombs in this dungeon, you have to. There's literally no choice, you need them to beat the boss, to even find the god-damn boss! What is the point of walling off this little spot until five or ten minutes later in the game? This was the point in the game where I started thinking that this might as well just be a mod.
Question! If the gravestone was on top of the switch, why do I need to even step on the switch at all? The weight of the gravestone should be enough to hold it down if ten year old Link can trip it with his weight. Also, why are there Hylian gravestones all over the country and not just in the graveyard? It raises certain odd implications, and while it makes more sense than the Gorons not having a graveyard, it shouldn't be right next to their primary source of food. Even if rocks aren't perishable, first off that's not sanitary no matter what, and second, the heat within the cavern is more than enough to hurt anyone who's not wearing protective gear, so it should be enough to kill any organisms which would decompose the bodies of the dead, so it means that the bodies would basically mummify and melt. The only thing I can come up with is that the developers of the Master Quest just pulled out whatever assets they could find to design the puzzles around.
Speaking of which, the bosses (And mini-bosses as well) haven't changed at all. They're harder (Or more time-consuming if you know what you're doing) but the fundamentals haven't changed in the slightest. Gohma still needs to be shot in the eye, you still need to throw bombs down King Dodongo's throat, and the big octopus thing inside Jabu Jabu still needs to be slashed in the big glowy thing on its back.
Eventually I was getting sick of it, since I realized that most of the game wasn't actually harder. Aside from the increased damage, it's mostly a walk in the park if you know the architecture of the dungeons, all you have to do is figure out what they've done to the puzzles and you're basically golden. I wasn't even setting out to 100% this half of the game, I was just gonna do a bare-bones playthrough, and all this has done is make it even easier to ignore some of the side-quests and optional items.
As time went on, I got more and more apathetic. I didn't even realize the sheer level of apathy I had until I tried to post a screenshot to Miiverse and it crashed my 3DS. I didn't realize that the last time I'd saved was right before I entered Lord Jabu Jabu. That was the point where I decided I didn't need to play any more of it. I might go back and get through it at some point, but I've basically seen enough to render my final verdict. The sad thing is that I had this happen in the original version. Sometimes the power would go out while I was playing the game or something like that and I'd have to go back and replay huge chunks of it. For this though, I just didn't have the willpower left. The story hasn't changed at all, and the puzzles aren't particularly well-designed or unique. The eye-switches have been changed to cows, so what?
In the end, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a great remake of a great game, but not without its flaws. If this was the original game, I don't think anyone would care about the issues, but considering those issues have come from ignoring thirteen years of gaming innovation, and/or completely unnecessary changes, I'd say that Nintendo and Grezzo should have taken a more careful approach. The remake adds a lot of cool graphical effects and new textures, but otherwise there's not much new. I'm not asking for a completely new game like the GameCube version of Resident Evil, but a few extras would have been nice. Developers commentary, a playable sample of the original beta version of the game, maybe a development history or something like that, just something nice that could spice things up a bit.
However, all in all, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is still a great freaking game based on a great freaking game, and I had one hell of a blast. For that reason, I give it a 9.9* rating. I'll hopefully see you again next week with another review!
Image from www.thecoverproject.net