Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

"...the story hits the right notes, making you want to care about experiencing it rather than it becoming an obstacle to gameplay."

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The name alone sends shivers down many gamers' spines. It is one of the most iconic games to ever grace consoles and now, thirteen years after it was first released on the N64, it has been updated for the 3DS. The big question however is does it hold up after so long and is it worth another go?

The majority of this review is going to be focused on what has or hasn't changed and whether it has worked. We're presuming that most people that read this will have already played the original, particularly those who are reading it before the game has even been released, although we won't completely ignore anyone who will be experiencing it for the first time.

The storyline in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is one of the game's strong points, as is often the case with the franchise. Even as a world weary adult it still had the emotional impact it did when I was young. I'm not trying to suggest I clutched my 3DS weeping but the story hits the right notes, making you want to care about experiencing it rather than it becoming an obstacle to gameplay. Furthermore it is not just the main characters that hold your attention as a lot of the non-playable characters actually have personalities of their own and don't seem to just serve as information centres, even if this is just what they do most of the time.

For those who don't know the story of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D it places you in the role of Link, a member of the Kokiri race who is ordinary in every regard other than the fact that he has yet to receive a fairy. Of course as the story unravels we find out that Link is anything but ordinary and along the way you meet all sorts of characters, face many challenges and uncover some ancient secrets. You repeatedly come across Ganondorf for one reason or another and the series' main villain remains as menacing as ever. In fact the improved graphics really help to give his face a greater sense of nastiness, rather than pointedness of the N64 original. Truthfully at its core the storyline is neither unique nor challenging but it's the quality of the telling and the way that it's told that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D takes place over two timelines - that of a young Link and an 'adult' one (although he seems more 'late teen' to me). The two timelines interact and you must hop between them at times to progress. Each version of Link has certain advantages and disadvantages and certain weapons can only be used by one or the other, adding another layer of the puzzle as there will be times you need to do something but can only do so by traveling in time.

It amazed me what I did and didn't remember from playing the original. The overall storyline I knew, as well as where to go and what to do at times, but there were still occasions whereby I was genuinely stuck. I know I have played Ocarina of Time since I first completed it, although I'd be hard pressed to tell you when, but I think you'll be surprised by what little elements and the smaller parts of the puzzle that you forget about. This is, of course, presuming you haven't played it recently or have a great memory. For you Nintendo has included the Master Quest mode, which we'll talk about later.

One of the series' most beloved and rewarding aspects is the challenge of simply completing it. You can finish the story if you want to do just that but there is so much more. There are numerous collectibles, side quests and locations to explore and the game's length really expands to make it more than just a game, turning it instead to an experience. The process of completing the storyline is no easy feat either as at times it can be very challenging. It doesn't lead you by the hand but rather it places things in your path to make you think 'what do I need to do next?' Talking to characters tends to help but quite often you have to try a few different ideas before you can progress, although this seldom feels like a nuisance. The title must be credited for how enjoyable it makes the challenge but if it is too much for you the 3DS version allows you to overcome this challenge with the newly introduced Shiekah Stones that give you visuals hints as to what to do next.


" its very core The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is exactly what we wanted it to be - an absolute classic that you can take with you anywhere."

It has been thirteen years since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was first released on the N64 (coincidentally it launched the same year as N-Europe, née N64-Europe, did) and fans have been eager to find out whether it still holds up, whether it's fresh enough to play it again or whether it's all just a cheap cash-in to try and push the 3DS. The rest of this review will try and answer those questions.

Unlike the GameCube 'Master Quest' version or the Virtual Console release this edition of Ocarina of Time is a remastered, remade and refreshed version. The graphics have been given a much needed metaphorical lick of paint. If you look back at at the original you can see textures rather flatly painted onto backgrounds and faces and thankfully this is no more. In fact when you enter Hyrule Castle you now feel like you're entering a small town rather than a painting. Of course the game can now be enjoyed in the third dimension and this really works wonders to add depth to the already expansive Hyrule. I found myself constantly shifting the 3D to add dramatic effect - when busy in a dungeon I tended to have it low or off but during the cinematic scenes or entering a new location the extra depth really added to the impact of the visuals.

In addition to the 3D the console's abilities are utilised to add more to the title, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks. The touch screen is now home to the map, items, gear, save function and a whole host of mappable buttons. The ocarina remains fixed to one button but there are four other buttons (the x and y buttons and two touch screen buttons) that you can assign items to for easier access. This works really well as now you now have easy access to a number of your weapons. Of course the two touch screen buttons that can't be mapped to X and Y are a bit more difficult to hit but it is easier than going through the item menu like you had to on the N64. This also means the top screen is mostly free of clutter, allowing for the game to feel much more cinematic than before.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D also takes advantage of the console's gyroscope to work as a motion controlled viewfinder. You can tap the 'View' button in the top left corner and enter into a first person mode, during which you must physically move the Nintendo 3DS to look around. In addition to this you enter this mode while using weapons such as the slingshot and bow and arrow, which adds a new element to those who have played the original. It also helps to immerse you into the environment more than the N64 version ever did.

One problem I had however is the circle pad. While I have previously declared my love for it, using it during The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D forced my thumb to become stretched to its limits in certain areas. It is not alone in the degradation of my thumb's strength, the way I use my laptop also seems to cause problems and I have played it for stretches longer than Nintendo recommends, but it certainly caused a strain at time. The moment that caused the biggest problem was fighting against Bigocto. You must stun him with your boomerang and then slash him from behind. You can either let him hit you so that he turns around, exposing his weak spot, or you can race around a large circle to catch up with him, all the while avoiding spikes. The latter option becomes incredibly painful if you try it for too long as it turns out the circle pad can have a wide diameter, thereby stretching your thumb around wide circles. You soon start to realise that the circle pad still needs some improvement before it is implemented in the Wii U but we're sure Nintendo is working on that. However during normal gameplay it's fine and works really well but this particular moment was so unpleasant it seemed necessary to mention it as a precautionary tale.

Nintendo hasn't completed rested its laurels on a beloved game though, as they easily could have done. They have also included the Master Quest mode, first included with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and a new Boss Challenge mode. The Master Quest mode mirrors the game and adds a bit more of a challenge (such as more enemies) for anyone who either wants to challenge themselves or just wants to experience the classic with a slight twist. The Boss Challenge mode is certainly a nice idea and it is fun to try and best yourself once or twice but how often you'll be using this mode depends entirely on how competitive you are with yourself. Ultimately some people will complain not enough was added but the main game is so vast anyway, and this version so different from the original, that the RRP is justified as it is.

And so we come to the score (or perhaps you skipped straight there and beat me to it). In the 3DS hardware review I spoke about how difficult it can be to give a review score, although obviously the case is different here as my trepidation there came from the fact that how good the 3DS is arguably down to future software, and I think The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is similar. It is no secret that the original is one of the most well received games to ever be released, still top of the review aggregate website GameRankings after all these years and one of the few titles to receive a perfect score from Famitsu. Expectations are naturally quite high for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D to not only be a great game but also a console pusher.

So is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D a 9 or a 10? Before we get to that (again, presuming you haven't already) I want to question what the difference means in this case. If the game perfectly replicated the original does that guarantee it a 10? Is it just enough to spruce up the graphics and charge you for it? Should that be an issue that works against the game or ignored? What about any problems with the title? If they are with the original can we write it off as 'well it was in the original and we loved that' or should they have been fixed? Then of course there are new issues. When deciding the score I questioned what I wanted from the game, whether it met that and whether it is still an enjoyable game regardless of whether it was a remake of a classic or not.

Overall I felt the title deserves the score it got because it's a brilliant game and is still an absolute delight to play even after all these years. The game itself has built quite a legacy so remaking it was also going to be met with trepidation, particularly in a franchise whereby the smallest of details can seemingly 'kill' it for the fans, but Nintendo has worked hard to ensure this isn't some cheap cash-in. The new graphics and controls the 3DS offers are most welcome, save the occasional issue they may raise, but at its very core The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is exactly what we wanted it to be - an absolute classic that you can take with you anywhere. It seems fitting that a game that celebrates the journey of Link can now too be experienced out in that big scary world at your own leisure.

For those of you who have played it before you will probably be wondering if it is worth playing it again and if it is a big improvement. Anyone who has not played the game before will probably be wondering what all the fuss is about. Thankfully the answer to both of these is simple - go out and buy this game. Unless you've played The Legend of Zelda before and hated it (other than the CD-i games because those are almost universally hated) Ocarina of Time 3D is well worth playing. Even if you feel you've played similar games and not enjoyed them try The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. It is so much more than a fantasy adventure title; it combines an engaging storyline with challenging puzzles, exciting action and an immersive audiovisual experience.

Nintendo could have quite easily have gone for an easy port that brought in cash but thankfully they didn't. This is a labour of love, both for the title and the fans, and the 'must buy' game for the Nintendo 3DS.

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N-Europe Final Verdict

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Not much more really needs to be said. The title is almost synonymous with quality and should be in every gamer's collection.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Beautifully updated graphics
Still a brilliant challenge
3D really works well
A dense challenging game
Perfectly recaptures the spirit of the original


Some minor occasional control issues

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