Zelda 3DS

Nostalgia can cast quite a powerful spell. Fuzzy feelings towards the past can compel middle-aged suburbanites to pay hundreds of dollars to see over-the-hill rockers crank out hits from the ’70s, or cause their 30-year-old children to line up to see big budget movies based on the toys from their youth. For video games, the siren’s song of nostalgia means that many long time gamers are extremely hyped about Nintendo’s attempt to resurrect a 13-year-old classic by the name of “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”

That game first appeared in 1998 on the Nintendo 64 and gamers happily steered a blocky-looking Link using the N64’s comically bulky three-pronged controller. Despite its limitations, “Ocarina of Time” was an instant favorite that still registers as the highest rated video game on Metacritic ever with a 99 score.

Something Old, Something New

But the question remains: Can an update of “Ocarina of Time” for the 3DS still be relevant in 2011? The answer is yes, mostly.

The 3DS version isn’t exactly a reboot, it’s still the Zelda adventure many gamers remember fondly -- a simple story involving a lonely boy, a princess, an evil wizard and the wonderful world of Hyrule. Upon first booting up the game, it’s obvious how much Japanese developer Grezzo significantly improved the graphics.

Everything from the landscapes and dungeons to Link himself appears sharper, more colorful and way more detailed. The stereoscopic 3D effects add flavor to the mix too, as your fairy companion Navi bounces all around and fireflies float both near you and in the distance. The 3D can also provide a sense of depth to environments, which can in turn help you time your jumps from one precarious ledge to another.

On the other hand, the 3D effects can be headache inducing especially if I used for more than 30 minutes at a time. It's especially eye-melting to play when using a built-in motion control that lets you look around and aim by physically moving the 3DS around. But luckily, the 3D effects slider are at your disposal if you need a break.

Deceptively Difficult

Another worthy addition in the portable version is the addition of using the bottom touch screen of the 3DS for inventory management. Instead of having to use the pause button when trekking dungeons, all you have to do is tap on the screen and you can equip your boomerang or torch almost instantly. Anything to make “Ocarina of Time” slightly easier is a good thing, because it’s a deceptively difficult game. You could take a look at the cartoonish visuals that evoke an almost Disney-like quality and conclude that the game is a pushover, but you’d be very wrong.

Current games have a tendency to hold gamers’ hands and show them where to go or what to do via navigation markers or in-game hints, but Ocarina of Time is old school. It makes you discover and explore until you figure out a puzzle or quest. The 3DS version has mitigated the difficulty factor a bit by providing “Sheika Stokes” to crawl into that give you small hints for power-ups or puzzle solutions.

Verdict

“Ocarina of Time” has aged relatively well in its old age and is a welcome addition to the software starved 3DS. Newcomers may be put off by the high difficulty level, but Zelda fans will fall in love all over again.
 

Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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