Back in 1998, Ocarina revolutionized 3D combat with its remarkably polished and innovative Z-targeting system, which forced a camera to lock-on to an enemy, giving players a perfect view of a battle. Many routine actions, such as jumping or climbing, were also automatic or dedicated to a single "all-action" button, allowing gamers to focus on puzzles, exploration and fighting instead of struggling to leap to a specific ledge or adjust their view to scale a wall. This new version goes a step further, using the touch-capable bottom screen of the 3DS to view maps and assign equipment. The system"s gyroscope also allows you to view the world around you by physically moving the system.
In the original game, players were forced to frequently pause to adjust inventory or check Link"s location. That is easier and more streamlined now, despite the fact that the 3DS"s button layout is different from the Nintendo 64"s. This time Link only has two physical buttons (instead of three) that can be assigned, as well as two that are based entirely on the touch pad. This works for the most part, though I"d be remiss if I said I didn"t miss that third item. Reaching over to the touch pad isn"t quite as intuitive, nor is reaching over to go into a first-person view or activate Navi, your companion fairy and general pain-in-the-ass. (She now not only pesters you about what to do or how to fight enemies, but reminds you to take a break from playing the game every 15-20 minutes.) Being able to assign some functions or items to the d-pad would have also been welcome.
Gyroscope aiming is deceptively useful. At first glance, it"s a useless mechanic that disrupts the 3D effect. However using this method is so intuitive that you"ll adjust over time. Considering I was often playing with the 3D off (outside of cutscenes), I ended up not even noticing most of the time.
So the game"s graphics and controls have been upgraded while still preserving the core of the game. That is and should be more than enough for any of you who have not played the game before. Ocarina of Time is a masterpiece, and that certainly had not changed. The developers weren"t stupid enough to meddle with a formula that worked phenomenally back then, and realized that brilliant gameplay does not age - only technical concepts do. But what does the game offer those of you who know Ocarina of Time like the back of your hand?
In addition to upgraded graphics, Nintendo has added the Master Quest version of the game, which twists dungeons and enemies around, requiring more skill and less reliance on memory than its counterpart. For the 3DS, the entire world in Master Quest has been flipped, meaning whatever used to be to the left is now to the right. It"s a subtle difference, but if you intuitively knew the original, you"ll find yourself suitably disoriented. The second change is that all enemies in this version now do double damage. The Zelda series isn"t often known for its difficulty, but it"s likely you"ll find yourself in trouble with enemies dishing out more pain than ever before.
In addition to Master Quest, there are a couple more additions to Ocarina 3D. As you complete the game, bosses are added to a "Boss Gauntlet Mode" that is accessible from Link"s house in Kokiri Forest. Completion times are tracked, albeit not online, allowing you to compare your best times defeating each boss against your friends". Additionally, when you"ve unlocked and beaten all of the bosses in this mode (which does not include the final boss), you can face all of these foes sequentially, with only a small health boost between them. The final alteration deals with a tips and tricks system built right into the game. As gamers progress through the adventure, special Sheikah Stones will give them the ability to see hint movies that will clue them into the locations of hidden items or give suggestions on how to beat bosses. It"s an entirely optional concept, but it could be a big help to some of the younger or newer Zelda fans out there.
All in all the revamped Master Quest, boss gauntlet and hint movies are great, yet it feels like there could have been a bit more. If you know Zelda exceptionally well, the core graphical enhancements are going to have to suffice. Most of these other things, though certainly nice, are merely a different colored icing on a cake that"s largely the same. For some of us, experiencing Ocarina of Time through a shinier, clearer lens will be enough. Others will be left wanting, expecting and demanding that the core concept must change to warrant another purchase. Both perspectives are perfectly reasonable. I fall into the former camp.