Genre: Role Playing Developer: Publisher: Classification: G Release Date: 30th Jun 2011 Platforms:
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There are many times Iím more than a little grateful for having a somewhat sheltered gaming upbringing. Focusing primarily on consoles like the Xbox and PS2 onwards has left a gamut of PC and Nintendo titles for me to discover without the burden of specific franchiseís place in the overall landscape of gaming history.
Without those rose-coloured glasses I didnít weep with delight over Duke Nukem Forever with my thoughts much more in line with Liminiís scathing review (and deservedly so) posted earlier this month. A title should be judged on its actual merits, not how you remembered it to be or just because the developer actually managed to get the damn thing made.
As the hype train whizzed on by I prepared to take a dive into one of the highest regarded and much loved Nintendo reboots, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Many industry brethren had been fapping over this addition to the 3DSí somewhat limited catalogue, talking about it in hushed tones, enquiring if Iíd played it yet, wondering what the experience was like and jealous of the fact that Iím only now tasting it for the first time.
My inner cynic was standing at attention, raring to rip this title a new one. A title 12 years old couldnít possibly stand up to current releases, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is one of the most enjoyable, well-rounded gaming jaunts Iíve had the pleasure to play in quite some time and a compelling argument to go out and get yourself a 3DS right now.
Having never even played a Zelda title or taken Link out for a spin barring a few boozed sessions of Super Smash Brothers I was surprised how quickly I got immersed in this fantasy world. The plot wont win any awards for originality as it is the usual ďavert cataclysmic disaster by killing the big badĒ formula, but what makes this title stand out so much is the journey to get to the final battle.
With so many releases of recent memory holding you by the hand, telling you exactly what needs to be done, or even letting you skip sections if it gets to hard, itís a delight to play something that forces you to use your noggin and doesnít even begin to coddle you. In fact, the game quite literally dumps you into its world and lets you work out what you have to do and where you have to go before the larger story begins to take shape.
Compared to the original outing there have been several graphical upgrades using newer technology, especially to the lighting effects creating a rich and lush palette with tweaked character models as well while remaining faithful to the original release. The score is timeless, not dripping with sickly sweet treacle and is lovingly fleshed out. This is to be expected with music playing such an important component to Linkís quest. Thatís where the ďocarinaĒ in the title comes into play.
The Princess Zelda (thereís always a princess in RPGs, right?) has entrusted Link with the family ocarina whose melodies can be used in a multitude of ways. They can sooth animals, send creatures to sleep and later on affect the very course of time itself. Each tune has a different series of notes corresponding to buttons on the 3DS and youíll need to remember the order as they arenít readily available to recall. Those with crappy memories should keep pen and paper close at hand.
The game world you traverse is surprisingly large with a lot of back and forth, which is to be expected in any RPG based fare. Certain areas can only be accessed after arsenal power-ups have been procured allowing you to blow up doors, or breathe underwater or resist fire, and whilst Iím on the subject of your arsenal, the weaponry at your disposal is varied and deep.
There are various shields for defence, blocking and can even send attacks back to sender, you have multiple swords and hammers for any occasion to bring the pain and a ranged attack via slingshot, bow and arrow or even boomerang. Certain ranged items can even whisk up items at a distance. When using these the view changes from third to first person and you can even use the gyroscope functionality of the 3DS to aim which works surprisingly well on the whole. There are even a selection of tunics with resistant qualities for those fashion conscious adventurers out there.
Combat is quite deep with a left bumper lock on targeting system helping you stay focused as you switch from enemy to enemy. The numerous boss battles are classic old school, with specific weak points and attack patterns to study before delivering the killing blows. The ever-present skirmishes are brilliantly balanced out by all manner of puzzles that will really test your brain and force you to pay attention to every little detail.
Instructions are given via dialogue or cryptic items passed on by NPCs and itís up to you to decide when is the best time to use said item. Exploration will unlock mini-games by the dozen or hidden items used to increase health or attacks. Each puzzle solved (even in the early sections) is extremely satisfying and moves far beyond the realms of ďpull his lever to continueĒ. Itís this fantastic and constant balancing act between hack-slashy times and noodle scratching that makes The Ocarina of Time such a memorable title.
Those that have smashed through their first playthrough can unlock and jump in to Master mode, a significantly harder version with tougher enemies and a mirrored world to mix things up a bit the second time round. I should mention, though, that itís not all unicorns, rainbows and fairy-bread. There are a few niggles that detract from the entire experience.
Those that want to utilise the battery sucking 3D effects will have to deal with blurred vision when using the gyroscope to target which can be immersion destroying. The constant prattling of your fairy companion Navi is annoying, particularly when itís telling you to do something youíve already worked out and the character models could have been upgraded to have moving mouths during dialogue sections instead of looking stoic, letting their eyes convey the context.
That said, these are minor gripes that only momentarily detract from the rich lush world, magnificent score and epic quest. If youíre like me and have never had a lash at Link I wholeheartedly urge you to take this for a spin. It is a wonderful journey and the finest adventure Iíve had using a handheld device to date. Consider me a convert.