Link opens his sleepy eyes to witness a fairy bouncing up and down in front of him. The whiny voice to get up grates and he wonders why the fairy is here. Everyone has a fairy in his home town except himself, something was obviously up. Walking out of his tree house he wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. Outside the forest, over great mountains, under deep oceans, walking with the dead and passing through time itself. The Legend returns in 3D.
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time was a classic N64 game which really brought the sense of adventure alive. Forest boy Link (or Joe Ray as I like to call him) has been tasked to save the world from the evil desert thief Ganondorf and travels the great land of Hyrule to gain great power and save the kingdom. It isn’t long before his childhood adventures turn into adulthood, thanks to the power of the Sacred Realm cemented him in time for seven years so he can wield the mighty master sword. He now must switch between the two times to gather the great sages and defeat Ganondorf! The storyline is simple and predictable, but the minimal lines spent to deliver the tale are subtle and hold an edge of dark beauty. Young Link has the feel of naivety and learning, adult Link feels the passing time as he sees the world he knew dragged into hell and the discussions of the speed of time and the end delivered in a poetic message from the mysterious Sheik. The way characters treat Link and the change of settings over time brings the feeling of lost time out magnificently.
With time passing outside of the game, Ocarina of Time needed a bit of a brush up. The game has had a lavish new set of textures painted over the old and the control set up is now more user-friendly for selecting numerous items on the fly. No more constant pausing to switch boots or to check the dungeon map and using the sensors in the 3DS to look around is like moving around the world yourself. Hint stones are also a new addition in bringing the game to those who often give up when the going gets tough, but us oldies should be quite comfortable tackling the complex dungeons and varied landscape once more. Outside of controls and a graphical polish, the game is exactly as it was back in 1998. No new areas, weapons or game play tweaks. This is the remaster rather than the remake.
We are left with a beautiful 3D version of a classic title. The world isn’t as big as I remember, the puzzles not as taxing. The passing of time brought the appearance of new Zelda titles, which have made Ocarina of Time feel a little less incredible in 2011. The combat of side stepping and slashing doesn’t compete with the inclusion of parries and finisher moves in later titles and the dungeon design while still inventive, has been further complicated and improved. The nostalgia reeks through and the game is still definitely a fantastic title outshining 95% if new releases today, but Zelda has been getting better. It’s hard to realise these facts until you go back and play the older titles, the remembrance of Ocarina has been pulled fresh into our minds with this safe port. A full visual overhaul with orchestrated versions of the stunning music and modernised combat would have really made the game stand out, but Grezzo played it safe. I have no idea how new players will take to Ocarina, but I can guess they will still find a masterpiece in their eyes, just maybe no the best game ever as we all remember it. Tackling labyrinths, squashing golden spiders scatted across the land and playing bowling with bombs will always be a blast.
Travelling the land, solving block puzzles, collecting new weapons and tackling vile enemies in the land of Hyrule is still the best experience I’ve ever had in gaming. The memories ran strong and the new look and impressive 3D depth made me enjoy it as something fresh once more. There are a few new surprises at the end for those of us who know it all too, with Hard mode and boss rush modes to shake things up a bit with new challenges, mirrored environments and tougher beasts to fight. It may be a little simpler than the newer Legends, but it will always be my favourite. The Legend burns bright across the ages.