The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
How many times will you buy the same game? If Nintendo get their way, the answer is a lot. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has already appeared on every Nintendo platform capable of handling it since 1998. This 3DS version is the game's sixth release in 13 years.
But, damn them, Nintendo's canny tricks may just work again. Because this isn't just a simple port. Not quite. With spruced-up visuals, a refined UI, and a bit of 3D thrown into the mix, Ocarina of Time remains a sorely tempting prospect.
So then, that aside, what does it play like? Well it's fundamentally the same, ultimately. Moving Link around, locking on to enemies, swiping your sword - all of it feels warmly familiar. Aided by the 3DS's decent analogue "circle pad," recreating the old days is quick and painless.
There's some nicely-implemented use of the touch screen, by way of innovation. Here you can charge around the inventory system, equipment list and map with ease, tapping away with your thumb. Most of the icons are big and chunky, so there's no need to flap about with a stylus.
You can also talk to Navi, your guide, by clicking on the bottom screen when she calls.
It's a good system, one that reduces both clutter - the bottom screen is now used to show which buttons your weapons are assigned to - and fiddling, as you don't have to pause the game in the traditional sense and start rummaging around in the menus. Hardly thrilling stuff, but it does make for a smoother experience.
So let's get in to the more remarkable innovations. Tap the eye icon on the bottom screen and Link's view will change to first-person. It's here that the gyroscopic controls come into play, allowing you to aim with your body.
Basically, if you move around, the camera follows. Rotating your body left and right pans the camera with you. It's kind of cool really, a neat little trick, but not really practical if you're on the bus. Or anywhere in public, for that matter. In those cases you are better off just using the analogue controls to achieve the same effect.
Then there's the 3D. Which is a puzzling one. It works, it certainly does that. Link's large and chunky character model stands out well from the environment and the depth of it is quite impressive. You get a better sense of your surroundings as a result.
That's not the issue though. The issue is that it adds little or nothing to the experience. It looks cool but, as it's an old game, the 3D effects are merely aesthetic. Which sounds like a silly thing to say - of course they're aesthetic. But what I mean is that it adds nothing to the gameplay.
I look forward to seeing what Nintendo can conjure up for future 3DS Zelda instalments, as the 3D definitely adds scope for innovation. But here it's largely redundant.
This may all seem quite negative, but it's worth re-stating my comments from earlier. This is one of the best games evermade. It's just brilliant. Unless something goes horribly wrong with the rest of the conversion to 3DS, it will be great.But my focus has to be on what's new here. And what's new is solid, rather than astounding.
The graphics, for instance. They've received a polish and they look pretty good. A vast improvement over the original.But they are still some way short of something like Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3DS, which a fantastic looking game. Every plus is tempered by a caveat.
Ultimately, you get the feeling that Ocarina of Time 3DS has been made to provide a big name, first-party push to the handheld's early lifespan, without Nintendo having to stress themselves too much. The game started out as a tech-demo, don't forget, and it's hard not imagine a board meeting where someone shrugged and said, "We might as well release it then."
Unless Nintendo have got some unannounced tricks up their sleeve for Ocarina of Time 3DS, it will be difficult to shrug that feeling off.
But who am I kidding? We'll all probably buy it anyway. It's Ocarina of Time fer Christ's sake! You win again Nintendo, just this one last time.
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