Video-game review: The Legend of Zelda for Nintendo 3DS
Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 13:06
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
For: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB rating: Everyone 10-plus (animated blood, fantasy violence, suggestive themes)
It's easy to be cynical about yet another remake for a new system whose library consists almost exclusively of games you could already play on another system or in another era.
But there exists an extremely short list of games that not only circumvent the cynicism, but fully justify the conditions that make all these nostalgia trips possible. "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" doesn't simply belong in that lineup: It bats leadoff.
If you're reasonably familiar with the original "Ocarina," you likely also can predict what developer Grezzo did to freshen it up. But predictable or not, the enhancements address the areas where "Ocarina" needed the most cleaning up, and in all but one optional instance, they toe a perfect line between necessary modernization and respect for what already was.
For starters, a game that looked solid in 1998 now looks terrific in 2011. The new "Ocarina" is the recipient of a ground-up graphical asset remake that fully conforms to the original game's style but significantly improves both the quality within those assets and the fluidity with which they come to life. Drab, flat textures are reborn with considerable detail, and the original game's choppy frame rate - which made it increasingly difficult to play as 3D animation standards improved over the years - is smooth and rock steady.
Though you still can fully enjoy the visual makeover without activating it, "Ocarina's" utilization of the Nintendo 3DS' glasses-free 3D tech is the best showcase yet of the system's most glamorous selling point. It's still a superfluous gimmick, of course, but seeing these classic dungeons, towns and overworlds transformed into dynamic virtual dioramas is a visually stunning validation of that gimmick's existence.
Perhaps "Ocarina's" most important benefit comes from having access to a touch screen. Buoyed by a menu layout that fixes what ailed the original game's menus, the bottom screen provides quick access to items, maps, the ocarina and even Navi, which means you'll spend far less time pausing the game and descending through menu screens instead of actually playing.
On the "something for everyone" front, the infamously obtuse Water Temple has received a slight dose of visual user-friendliness that, along with the streamlined menus, should please fans who shudder to think of returning to that stage. Wholly new players, meanwhile, can ease the learning curve via a series of hint movies that are tucked inside stones more experienced players can simply pass by and ignore.
"Ocarina's" only major misfire comes from the incorporation of the 3DS's gyroscope, which allows players to move the actual device to aim certain weapons and alter the perspective while in first-person view. It's haphazard compared to simply using the joystick, and not simply because you're breaking the 3D perspective any time you have to move the whole device and drastically alter your view of the screen. Fortunately, though enabled by default, this feature can be disabled.
The other arguable drawback comes with the inclusion of "Ocarina of Time: Master Quest," which Nintendo originally released in America as part of a limited-edition Gamecube "Zelda" bonus disc.
The quest itself, which remixes the original "Ocarina" dungeons and changes some of the puzzles, is a terrific bonus for players who mastered the original quest but may never have experienced this version before. Unfortunately, the only way to access it is to finish the original quest first, so if you've tired of that quest and were hoping to just straight into "Master Quest," no can do.
(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.