Ocarina of Time official artwork

Image: Ocarina of Time official artwork. Nintendo.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows this site that I am in the process of slamming my way through Ocarina of Time 3D. My review of the game will be up in a few days (just as soon as I beat it). So as to lessen the torture of the wait for that, I have put together my impressions of the game thus far.

Ocarina of Time is one of my all time favourite titles, but the original game has problems that have only become more apparent with age. Specifically, the slow-to-load and tedious-to-navigate menus have left me grinding my teeth during replays for years. This 3D remake takes care of all of that by moving almost the entire HUD to the 3DS’s second screen. The map is down there now, along with life and magic meters, plus the touch-screen form of buttons for the Ocarina, Navi, and two item slots. Gear and item management can be entered into through yet more touch-screen buttons, and those are quick to pull up and navigate now.

The circle pad is also an elegant solution to the issue of finding space on a handheld for a joystick. Having said that, it’s not quite as good as one of those, and playing this game gives me serious concern for the circle pads reportedly in use on the Wii U controller.

Graphically, this remake is a stunner. Every inch of the game is brighter, more vivid, and more appealing than its ancestor. More importantly, the framerate is now silky smooth, and so are character animations. This, combined with all the control and gameplay tweaks already mentioned, prove the remake model, especially when it comes to these early 3D games.

The one complaint I have with the remake to this point is that while the main maps of the game (overworld and dungeons) appear on the lower screen, the smaller mini-map has been left on the upper screen. I find my eyes drawn to the lower screen when I want to orient myself, only to realize the helpful pointing arrows of the mini-map aren’t down there, they’re still on the little map on the top screen. It’s inelegant to have similar maps with slightly different functions visible at the same time, and I’d have like to have seen the functionality of both combined on the lower screen.

This is the first “real” 3DS game I’ve played, and it’s definitely giving me a new appreciation for the system and its 3D capability. Not only are the graphics noticeably improved in this remake over its original incarnation, everything just looks prettier in 3D. With 3D on, environments appear grander, more impressive, more intimidating. The 3D effects don’t change gameplay, but I don’t feel they need to. The additional visual effect reminds me of the switch to HD: gameplay remains the same, the visuals are just a lot more appealing.

I have to admit, though, that the 3D does get to me after awhile, even at low settings. I find myself cranking it for moments between gameplay, like during cutscenes and boss reveals, while slipping it to a low setting (or even off) for regular gameplay.

Impressions: Ocarina of Time 3D