Few video games in history have garnered as much critical praise and effusive adoration as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When it came out in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, Ocarina of Time set a new standard for three-dimensional action and introduced gameplay mechanics that are still copied today. Though it has since appeared on the GameCube and the Wii Virtual Console, the new version for the Nintendo 3DS marks the first time this classic has received a significant update. The completely overhauled visuals are the most striking improvement, and they infuse this 13-year-old game with a vibrant modern feel. The sharp motion controls and the video hint system are new additions that fit in well, but the real star is the original adventure. Though it shows its age, Link’s quest is indeed a timeless one that is full of invigorating exploration, tricky puzzles, satisfying combat, memorable characters, and stirring music. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a great way to experience this seminal adventure, and it’s a shining example of how old can be made new again.
The world of Hyrule has been reinvented many times over in the Legend of Zelda series, but the visual makeover of Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule is something different. The cozy village in Kokiri Forest sparkles with vivid foliage and golden shafts of sunlight, which is an early testament to the improved graphics. As with many adventures, your quest starts out small but quickly broadens in scope, sending you out into the expansive Hyrule Field where day turns to night as you appreciate the soft violets and deep purples of dusk. From here, you can travel to Castle Town, where first-time visitors will encounter a bustling plaza and sleepy alleyways. Returning visitors with good memories will be impressed by the improvements made to the buildings that make each shop burst with life. When you step inside one, you see that building interiors now feature more furniture, wallpaper, picture frames, and assorted knickknacks, making them some of the most dramatically enriched areas.
These aesthetic improvements haven’t been made just for the sake of putting more stuff in there; in fact, the relative emptiness of many areas is one of the ways Ocarina of Time 3D shows its 64-bit roots. Villages, fields, and dungeons have a somewhat sparse feel when compared to the rich environments of many modern games. Despite this austerity, you still feel like you are exploring a fertile world. Keeping an eye out for anomalous areas can lead to a crucial discovery or a pleasant reward, and you regularly encounter things that you can’t make heads or tails of until later in your adventure. Though the main quest is fairly linear, there is an abundance of mysteries to solve, (one-sided) conversations to have, and places to explore. When a villager tells you of rumors of a far-off land, and you later get to travel there to see it for yourself, it creates the sense that things are connected. When you hear a legend about an object that lets its owner see the truth, you’ve got some hunting to do.