The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is frequently referred to as the greatest video game of all time, and rightfully so. Ocarina brought Hyrule to life with stunning polygonal graphics and revolutionary controls. Now, nearly 12 years since its release, comes word that this beloved game is being remade for the Nintendo 3DS.
With the madness of E3 2010 receding into the past, it’s time to take a hard look at Ocarina of Time in its original form, assess the hints we’ve been given so far with regards to its 3DS remake, and ponder the possibilities. What follows is my wishlist for the upcoming 3DS version of Ocarina of Time.
1. Modernize the menus
Ocarina of Time is guilty of only one major flaw. Its menus are truly sluggish. The game’s director, Eiji Aonuma, even admitted this when he announced the 3DS remake of the game at E3. Aonuma apologized for how long it took to switch the Iron Boots on and off in the game’s infamous Water Temple, and declared that the process would be made easier in the new version.
Aonuma’s comments are the biggest hint we have that Ocarina‘s outing on 3DS will be more of a remake than a quick port, and they’ve got me hoping for a serious menu retooling. Entering the game’s pause screen was always a chore thanks to a strangely slow load time (even more so on the GameCube Collector’s Edition disc), and navigating around them once entered became tedious as the game wore on thanks to issues exactly like the Iron Boot equipping/unequipping.
This issue should be easy enough to fix considering the 3DS’s processing capabilities and the system’s touch screen lending itself to easy menu use.
As an aside: can we have skippable cutscenes? Please?
2. Fix the damn Water Temple
Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple is so infamous it’s earned a place on Urban Dictionary, nonetheless, the necessity of its fixing demands mention one more time. There’s just something about that dungeon, something beyond the Iron Boots issue, something to do with its layout, something to do with keys used in the wrong places, that makes it an immense headache for players.
I don’t know exactly what needs to be done, probably a retooling of key placements or a simplifying of the central water-level rising/lowering puzzle that needs to be changed.
3. Increase the framerate, smooth out the animations
The initial screenshots released for the new version of the game demonstrate that it will feature improved graphics. Link is rendered with far greater detail than he was back on the N64, and the game’s environments appear to have gotten a polish as well. That all sounds great to me, and I’m sure 3D effects will do wonders for improving the look of the game, but Ocarina‘s graphics were never an issue.
Hopping between Ocarina and Majora’s Mask gives a pretty clear indicator of what was done with the RAM expansion pack. In Majora’s Mask, Link’s movements are significantly smoother, both because of improved animations and an increased framerate. This is another issue which should be easily taken care of thanks to the hardware power of the 3DS.
4. Fix and finish the sidequests, then add more
Ocarina of Time had a significant development time, and ultimately, things had to get cut in order for the game to ever be released. As such, it has some fairly famous loose ends, including that damn mailman who challenged you to a race, and could then never be beaten.
I’d like to see sidequests like the mailman’s finished up, and then more added. Ocarina actually has very few optional sidequests if you think about it. Aside from the quest for the Biggoron Sword, and the tedious Poe collecting you do as adult Link, most of the sidequesting is left to young Link, and his work with The Happy Mask Shop. I want to see adult Link given just as much, if not more, to do than young Link.
5. Give us the Bomber’s Notebook!
With more sidequests comes more to keep track of. This new OoT could use an equivalent of Majora’s Mask‘s Bomber’s Notebook to keep it all organized. All of the collecting you do in the game (hearts, Poes, and Gold Skulltulas) could also be kept neatly organized in there as well. I’m envisioning a tab just for Gold Skulltulas listing how many you’ve got left to get in each area.
6. Greater rewards for greater tasks
One complaint often leveled against the 3D Zeldas has been that they don’t give you much for your efforts. In Ocarina, for example, you’re tasked with collecting 100 Gold Skulltulas, and your reward is nothing but a big pile of rupees you don’t really need. I’d like to see the remade version introduce a number of completely optional items doled out for completing tasks like that. Several more swords, maybe some weapon upgrades, and a few magical wands (a la Link to the Past) would do the trick. Oh yeah, put the Bug Catching Net in there as well!
7. Add more hidden areas
During his roundtable at E3, Aonuma asked who had played Ocarina of Time. Everyone there put his or her hand up.
Perhaps the biggest thing working against an OoT remake is the fact that gamers have played the original, and played it again, and again, and again. What Nintendo needs to do is keep those kinds of people interested by mixing the new with the old. Part of the charm of this new game will surely be all the memories it brings back, but in order to live up to the original, it will need to surprise players as well.
I want to get sidetracked finding new areas, exploring new caves, and hunting down mini-bosses I’ve never seen before. I’m not asking for anything major, just enough to keep me from going through the motions by rote.
8. One more collect-a-thon for good measure
Sure, you’ve already got the Poes and Gold Skulltulas on top of the usual heart container search, but I’d like one more excuse to travel the lands of Hyrule. How about a Wind Waker style Pictograph figurine mission?
Actually, forget that, give us that Bug Catching Net mentioned earlier, scatter some golden bugs around, Twilight Princess style, and let players rediscover the vast world of Ocarina of Time.
9. That extra content from the 64DD version
Zelda fanatics have long discussed what was hidden away in that long lost 64DD Ocarina of Time remix, or Ura Zelda, Nintendo was working on. It is said to have been completed, and some claim the Master Quest offered as a preorder bonus for Wind Waker wasn’t the whole thing. Sure, the remixed dungeons were nice, but wasn’t there supposed to be added content, like extra dungeons? Wasn’t the extra space offered by the 64DD supposed to have been put to good use with this thing?
Give Zelda fans what they want, give them the total Ocarina of Time package that was teased for so long and which never completely materialized.
10. Include a second quest!
This seems to come up every time there’s talk of a new Zelda. Players want the excitement they had the first time they beat the original Legend of Zelda and discovered an entire second game waiting for them. Lucky for Nintendo, a second quest for Ocarina already exists, I’ve already mentioned it, it’s called Master Quest.
Come on Nintendo, take the remixed dungeons that already appeared in that special version of the game, double the damage everything deals, and make that into a second quest that becomes available once the regular game has been beaten.