This 3DS version isn’t solely about improved graphics though, with feature changes, enhancements and extra content. The controls are a major enhancement, mainly due to the implementation of the touch screen, which now contains key information as well as easy-to-use touch buttons for items and subscreens. Link can now equip four items at once; two with the X and Y buttons, and two with touchscreen buttons. Changing the equipped items, accessing the ocarina, navigating to equipment and map subscreens and listening to Navi are all a simple tap away. Combine this with Circle Pad movement and the intuitive use of L and R for targeting and blocking and it feels like Ocarina of Time has never been easier to play.
The gyroscope functionality of the device has also been utilised for first-person views and aiming projectile weapons. As well as having the option to aim with the Circle Pad, you now have the ability to aim by moving the 3DS itself. We found that gyroscopic aiming worked best with the 3D setting either low or switched off, as the smoothness of movement does take a hit in full 3D, as well as making it a challenge to maintain the viewing "sweet-spot." You may find yourself aiming more and more with the Circle Pad as play progresses, through the motion aiming is particularly worthwhile in mini-games such as horseback archery. Overall, it's a nice touch.
If you’ve played this game before and remember most of its secrets, it will still take you over 20 hours to beat the main adventure, with play time increasing if you seek out all of the secrets and extra items; gamers new to this title will take longer. To provide accessibility and value for all gamers, three key features have been added. First are the "Sheikah Stones," which act as hint movies if you get stuck. They don’t reveal how to beat the whole game, but provide a snapshot as a prompt for progression. In addition, non-playable characters are less oblique with their comments and advice; subtle changes to the dialogue reveal a little more, but you will still need plenty of your own intuition and willingness to explore.
For those who already know this title well, extra content is included to increase the overall value. First, there is a boss "Challenge Mode," unlocked around halfway through the game. This allows you to re-fight a boss whenever you please, and once you’ve progressed far enough there is a very challenging "Gauntlet" level, where you need to defeat all bosses consecutively. Most importantly, once you have beaten the adventure and enjoyed its epic finale, you will be able to restart in Master Quest mode. This mode is the same adventure, but the world is mirrored and the difficulty level is significantly increased: enemies do more damage, puzzles in dungeons are more complex and you really need to focus and play properly to survive. The experience is such that you'll likely have no hesitation in starting Master Quest mode within hours of finishing the main game.
In terms of the overall presentation of the package, the visuals are gorgeously remastered, but while the sound is actually the same soundtrack as the original N64 version it has been cleaned up and polished a great deal, so that the overall quality is a lot higher. There is one beautiful orchestral piece of music included in the end credits; while it would have been amazing to have a full-blown orchestral soundtrack within the game, it is a lot to ask on a 2GB game cart. The remastered sound from the original does, however, still stand up well by modern handheld standards. The overall polish of menus is at the same standard as the rest of the title, and the option of three save profiles in both the original and Master Quest adventures is welcome.
As you may have already guessed, this is a title that we wholeheartedly recommend. Beautiful visuals, improved controls, exceptional pacing and engrossing gameplay are all present and correct. The N64 version is an all-time gaming classic, but this is truly the finest edition of Ocarina of Time. Is it absolutely perfect from a technical perspective? Not quite, but it is close to gaming perfection, a classic that has been refined and polished with great care. Time to find a quiet room, plug in some headphones, and get swept away by one of the finest video games ever created.