Nearly 14 years ago, Nintendo released a game that was hailed – by critics and gamers alike – as not just a great game, but one of the best of all time. Truly revolutionary, the enduring classic introduced many elements that are now so commonplace – like a working 3D camera and a lock-on targeting system – that they’re taken for granted. It is of course, The Legend of Zelda : Ocarina of Time. Few games have garnered such universal praise, and the fact that the N64 original is still the highest ranked game on review aggregator Metacritic is testament to its legacy.
It’s now been remade, in glorious 3D for Nintendo’s fledgling new handheld. Is it, as inherently faulty memory and nostalgia suggests, the best thing ever – or have games evolved to a point where a 13 year old classic is now irrelevant?
We’ll start with the basics. If you’re unfamiliar with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or indeed any Zelda game, really, the best way to describe it is as an action adventure game, with a dash of role-playing. It’s a game that engages the brain, because its legendary puzzle dungeons can sometimes be nearly impossible to solve, requiring forethought, planning, memory and cunning. It’s all tied together and driven by a classic tale of an underdog battling nigh impossible odds to save the world from tyranny in an adventure that not only takes you through the world of Hyrule, but through time itself. . It’s a game that requires, and indeed rewards exploration – scarcely telling you what to do or where to go. If you’re looking for a simple game to hold your hand – like so many modern games do – you’re barking up the wrong Deku tree.
Assuming you are familiar with the N64 original what’s there to entice you? Firstly, this isn’t an unashamed port, one of those simple cash-ins where the IP holder’s stuck an old rom on a disc or cartridge and given it a flash title screen. No, Nintendo and co-developer Grezzo remade the game, it seems, from the ground up. Blurry textures and angular edges make way for beautifully rendered, soft and lush environments. Characters have been redesigned or remodelled and given fresh animations, even whole cutscenes have been reframed. This is a remake that seeks to realise the creator’s vision in a way that just wasn’t technologically feasible a decade and a half ago.
The 3D adds a new, luxurious level of rich visual acuity. Leaves, bits of glittering, glowing dust and other particle effects float around and out of the screen and Navi, your dually annoying and helpful fairy companion, calling out so often with a “Hey!” or “Listen!” leaves a sparkling trail that positively shines with the added dimension. Thankfully I’m one of those people who can play in 3D for hours without the slightest bit of nausea or headache – because this is a game that deserves to have its 3D effects seen.