Few games are as hotly anticipated for Nintendo's upcoming handheld as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, and with good reason: when the game originally hit the N64 in 1998 it was quickly hailed by gaming's vox populi as the greatest game ever.
That's a title that many still bestow upon it after 13 years. But in those 13 years were forged many a gamer who never even played it. So here it is, 13 years on with a fresh coat of paint, a few new tricks, ironed-out kinks and some neat-o stereoscopic 3D; pretty much ideal conditions for someone who has never emerged from the Kokiri cucoon as well as those beautiful butterflies wanting to return home.
Ocarina of Time 3D was one of the playable 3DS demos on offer in Amsterdam and New York City this week, and we think calling it a potential fan favourite is being ridiculously conservative.
The demo offered three sections to run through and chop things: the opening area of Kokiri Forest, a bit of the Great Deku Tree and the first boss battle against Gohma. Being the adventurous types, we jumped straight in to the Gohma battle, where a Nintendo rep pointed out a few of the update's new features to us.
Chief among them was the new item management screen on the bottom, which quickly and easily allows you to assign items and equipment to the X and Y buttons as well as the top and bottom right corners of the touchscreen. Not much item management is required in this section, but during more fiddly portions (we're looking at you, Water Temple) the ease of dragging items onto the corresponding button with the stylus will come in handy.
The other neat new trick involved aiming the slingshot. If you'd like you can use the Circle Pad in the standard way, although you'll be quicker moving the handheld around and using the gyroscope. It kept up very well with our movements, but we noticed that it is particularly difficult to stay within the 3D sweet spot when said sweet spot keeps moving.
The rest of the changes are purely cosmetic. Not only does the added 3D depth bring a bit more life to Hyrule (in moderation), but the graphics have been redone in a way that stays true to the promotional illustrations and art style of the N64 era. As a result, everything looks much nicer and crisper than the N64 could ever dream of while still retaining that unmistakable Ocarina feel.
Despite not having played the game for years, we felt comfortable enough sliding back in to it all that we dispatched Gohma with no trouble whatsoever. We ran around Kokiri Forest and the temple for a while as well, and they too felt like meeting an old friend again. Don't expect to be meeting any new friends on 3DS, though; it's regular Ocarina that you may know and love through and through.
Ocarina of Time was a stone-cold classic when it first hit N64, and it feels as good as ever on 3DS. It's almost disappointing that it plays as good as it does because it's indicative of the lack of substantive changes made to the console entries over the years. If you've never played it before then this would be the place to do so, and the new 3D razzle-dazzle, fresh coat of paint and UI changes are enough to make it worth a revisit.