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Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS matches Mario 64 DS as a well judged launch game. Although less about scale and more about visuals, Ocarina is a great run-out for the 3DS. The motion controlled first person view made a huge difference for me.
I recently spent a lot of time playing Okamiden. Mostly this was because it was such a faithful recreation of the original PS2 and Wii game on the DS that it felt like the first console Zelda experience on a handheld. I still stand by that, along with its enhanced performance if played on the 3DS, but I must admit that playing Ocarina of Time (3DS) eclipses any previous handheld adventure I've played.
Of course, and lets get this out in the open from the off, this is Zelda and not just any Zelda but Ocarina of Time Zelda. Along with that simple statement comes a huge weight of videogame appreciation, adoration and respect for the achievements of the N64 original. On the 3DS you can really see why.
Even without the re-textured surfaces and up-polygoned outlines the attention to detail is striking. Climb a ladder and Link faithfully puts his foot soundly on each and every wrung. Run towards a ledge and he jumps, hangs or dives as the environment dictates. Make use of all manner of different types of equipment and it not only behaves as you would want, but also provides the visual feedback to give you the confidence to stretch the interactions beyond the usual breaking points.
But now of course we also have a handful of new tricks from the 3DS arsenal. There is the 3D screen and yes this does give things a much pop-ier feel - although to prolong my comfort and battery life I admit that I usually turned this off. Then there is the aforementioned increase in graphical fidelity. This contributes more to the feel of the experience that I had expected. Locations look lovingly restored in a way I imagine that colourised black and white movies looked when seen for the first time.
By far the biggest difference is looking around the world by simply moving the 3DS in real space.
But by far the biggest difference here for me is looking around the world by simply moving the 3DS in real space. It sounds simple and gimmicky I know, but for my geographically challenge brain this revolutionised my experience. Countless times I would be disoriented in a particular room or zone, but now all I had to do was have a quick and easy look around to get my bearings.
It was like having a second analogue stick, only with no dead-zone and the sort of fine control only mouse and keyboard users can even dream off. It also cleverly extends beyond looking around to targeting projectile weapons like the slingshot, and looking for people to talk to. Even reverse engineered like this it was very impressive and I hope is something that becomes standard not only on the 3DS but home consoles too (it made me realise how much of a targeting improvement the MotionPlus add-on could offer the Wii - and that I needed to go and try Conduit 2).
I am of course sketching over the game itself here. Suffice to say, and I know this has been said better elsewhere so I won't labour the point, Ocarina of Time is a classic Zelda game. This means that it is an adventure where you work your way through a series of dungeons that exist in a large interconnecting over-world. Each dungeon presents a range of puzzles to be solved (moving blocks, lighting lamps, finding chests) that usually centre around a particular weapon or item you receive close to the start of each one.
It was like having a second analogue stick, only with no dead-zone
Ocarina of Time stands out from other Zelda games because of its clever use of time travel that enables you to revisit areas of the world during different time periods. This creates a meta-puzzle to be solved by using your Ocarina to travel to the appropriate locations with the required items.
It sounds like hard work I know, but if you can get into the ingenuity of each dungeon's design as well as the clever interweaving of time, you can really get a big sense of achievement each time you progress. Ocarina of Time, like other adventure games, slowly gives you more weapons and equipment that enable you to access previously out of reach sections of the map - again this collecting and exploration can become quite enjoyable, addictive even.
Although this is a game that many will remember playing when they were kids, it actually requires some quite complex problem solving and spatial awareness to progress. Even my eight year old struggle to get very far, and complained a little at the amount of reading.
The really interesting 3DS experiences will rely on much more commitment.
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3DS is a great showcase for the new handheld both in terms of technical ability and the overall experience. It sits in similar territory to Mario 64 DS - both are essentially launch titles that rework an existing top-drawer Nintendo game for a new platform.
However, while both are successful in their own right, there is still the sense that the really interesting 3DS experiences will rely on much more commitment from Nintendo and third parties than can be found here. Still, this is the most impressive game I've played on the 3DS.
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