The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 23.05.2011

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) on Nintendo 3DS

With less than a month to go before Nintendo once again unleashes one of the best video games of all time to both new and dedicated audiences, Nintendo UK invited a handful of eager journalists to an intimate, stylish wine bar buried deep within the side streets of England’s bustling capital. From London to Hyrule, we journeyed in style!

We emerged after wandering around rather aimlessly past a fish market, cafés and the grand Southwark Cathedral, which had a slight resemblance to Hyrule Town in some ways: the mask shop in one corner, shooting gallery in another and even a couple dancing round, round and round, conveniently placed for our viewing pleasure. Storming the venue by the front door would have been the right thing to do, but Cubed3 wanted to do it in style, so we opted to scurry up an adjacent fire-escape, grab a nearby chicken, also conveniently placed, and glided through an open window.

It was all a surreal dream that I wish was true - we'd fallen asleep upon the extremely comfortable bean bag chairs that Nintendo had laid out to keep our bottoms comfy whilst playing. You see, the once modern and trendy Vineopolis, a haven for wine testing and exquisite tastes, had been kitted out as a completely Zelda themed room with a dozen or so 3DS units, with a foursome of Nintendo 64 consoles for comparison. The Zelda fan's very, very wet dream! Of course giving the forthcoming 3DS release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D an extensive pre-release playtest was the number one priority on the list, but our tums and tongues needed a quick dose of food and drink beforehand. Enter the Zelda-inspired cocktails and delicious grub crafted by the only the best Hylian chefs. Okay we'll pretend. After scoffing the simply sublime "Deku Nut beef burgers" and chugging down a pair of "Lon Lon Vodka and Cokes" we drifted towards a vacant 3DS console to sample what was essentially the final release.

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This demo build had three save files at different points in the game, including for the first time the latter half of the game with Adult Link's portions, while earlier segments allowed us to explore the deeper innards beyond the opening Kokiri Village and Deku Tree dungeon. Hyrule has never looked this beautiful. The thriving modder community has come close to upgrading and re-imagining the 1998 Zelda adventure through high definition textures and even a cel-shaded approach, but this project feels more like the complete remaster that fans have requested over the years. The open-ended overworld of Hyrule has certainly benefited from the visual overhaul, more so than the game's dungeons. In particular Kokiri Village, despite being the same size as the original, feels far larger, more vivid and fairy-like than the slightly washed out look of the original. Mystical particles, fairies and the adorable Kokiri children buzz about with excitement and joy in the air, whilst the village houses have been touched up with a lick of paint both inside and out.

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Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) on Nintendo 3DS

It's a difficult thing to do, remaking a game many years later - especially when utilising an external team to do the bulk of the project. In this case, fellow Japanese studio Grezzo have been drafted in to re-imagine Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. With a strong following worldwide, keeping the feel of the original whilst making the experience new and fresh is no small feat and the team have done a slick job of rebuilding the classic. A far brighter and less saturated colour palette complements the smoother character models and finer textures. Touches of grey and darker tones have been morphed into a far less grim picture - truer bluer skies, fresher grass and a river you'd love to swim in rather than shaft bodies into. The new hues present a double-edged sword - on one hand there's no denying that it looks great, but there are times where the murkier tones were beneficial to build up atmosphere, especially in the later levels.

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One of the scenes that the pickier fans have criticised is the first boss battle, the menacing, vicious Queen Gohma - a spider who's a tad miffed that you've invaded her chambers so eloquently. In the Nintendo 64 original her lair was made deep in blue, with smoke and deep, endless shadows stretching toward the ceiling where she lay in wait to pounce. Some of this was due to technical limitations, where some details had to be substituted in order to keep the action smooth, but others injected a dollop of fear and the unknown into the mix. In the 3DS edition there's far more detail, cracks, wear and tear, and some of that feeling has been sacrificed for a more visually impressive design. We squeezed into our dusty thinking caps and attempted to breeze through the later levels, particularly with Adult Link, for a glimpse of other more sinister sections to see just how it looks and feels. The frightening Shadow and ambient Forest temples in particular have a different feeling about them, still very much eerie with a touch of the unknown, but do lose some of the original atmosphere with the slightly brighter palette.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) on Nintendo 3DS

Despite the friendlier vibe, the amount of additional detail really shines through, especially when we had the option to go back and relive the source material (before ending up half-asleep on the magnificent bean bag chairs) between sessions of the 3DS version. Comparing the two side by side, there's no question as to how much refinement has gone into every nook and cranny, in particular the existing pre-rendered areas like shop or house interiors, and the more scenic areas like Hyrule Field and Lake Hylia are spot on - new, fresh and inviting without treading too far from the source material. Non-playable characters have also received a slight overhaul; a touch more expressive and detailed, but again familiar and still very much loved.


With a revitalised, more vibrant world to relive the story of the Hero of Time in, one of the key questions to be answered: does the 3D work? We resisted the initial temptation of complimentary alcohol to see how Grezzo implemented the 3D technology and whether it contributes much to the already visually impressive Hyrule. The answer: yes it does, and very well indeed, particularly in the villages and the large open space of Hyrule Field itself, where Link can be seen as a true 3D character immersed within a grand feeling of space. The first time players stepped into this space back into 1998 there was a feeling that it was all real, an epic land that stretched as far as the eye could see (or as far as the Nintendo 64 could handle), but subsequent adventures haven’t quite had the same feeling as that first time. Ocarina of Time 3D’s Hyrule conjures up a heart-warming brew of pure nostalgia, but with autostereoscopic 3D turned on, it once again feels new and immersive.

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That said, it was initially tricky to get the ‘sweet spot’, causing some very minor blurriness around Link and some surrounding objects; with some fine tuning it became natural and easy on the eye. It's a similar issue to one encountered whilst playing Rayman 3D, where changing camera angles and viewpoints may cause slight blur or ghosting, so readjustment may be required from time to time to keep the picture consistently smooth in 3D.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) on Nintendo 3DS

Character animation, though, can be a little off. Link attacks, jumps and handles in a similar way, but his roll is cringeworthy, cutting off just before he leaps back up; likewise, jumping to the side is strange. It’s certainly not a game-breaking feature by any means, but it makes Adult Link feel slightly clumsy and a touch more weighted compared to his 1998 counterpart.

One of the main goals for this project was to rack up the graphics. There's no doubt that Ocarina of Time 3D looks great, but just how have Grezzo handled translating a console game to the new handheld in gameplay terms? Both Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask worked exceedingly well due to an effective item system through the C-buttons, plus targeting using the Z trigger underneath the analogue stick, a feature that many developers have tried to mimic in their own third person action games. Playing on the 3DS is surprisingly natural, if not a little tighter in movement compared to the original. Swordplay and wielding items is the same and far quicker given the use of the touch-screen to hot swap items, plus dedicated spots for the Ocarina and Navi. It essentially allows you to keep two physical buttons - X and Y - as dedicated items, with two touch-screen based buttons for items you may not need to constantly use; a fairy or bottle of milk, for example. The whole process makes Ocarina of Time the most streamlined and effective yet, useful for newer players who are trying to get to grips with Link's tools and for veterans wanting a more efficient inventory.

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Image for Puzzle solving and dungeon crawling are equally as slick - we used the opening hall of the Fire Temple to compare old and new, finding the pace faster and smoother in the 3DS version. There are less glitches, and enemies are more organic in design and attack, though still bare their 1998 charm and intelligence. Whilst 3D isn't used directly in the gameplay, turning it on certainly helped navigate platforms and made judging some jumps less daunting. Within the same temple, leaping across walls and narrow strips to free caged Gorons felt far more natural despite the rooms being identical. Trying the same thing on the 2D screens of old caused us to slip up into a pit of menacing boulders!

The only real drawback we found with 3D was when it was combined with the 3DS' gyroscopes. A new feature to this version is the ability to physically move the 3DS around to aim, shoot and look around in first person. With 3D off it's surprisingly useful and smooth. We tried out both the fairy bow and dabbled with the slingshot in Hyrule Town's shooting gallery and were pleased with the results, offering the same speed and precision offered by the Wii Remote in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. With 3D on this becomes problematic and near unusable - having to move the 3DS around, while remaining in the sweet spot, makes aiming far too tricky, especially in timed situations like the target-based mini games. It's completely optional though, and traditionalists can opt to used the analogue slider for aiming duties instead.


Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Hands-on) on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

After slogging away at the 3DS and Nintendo 64 versions we popped over to the bar area, complete with stylish kegs, for a final toast to an excellent evening with one of the most loved heroes of all time. We didn't have enough time - nor resistance to food and drink - to complete the entire game from start to finish, but in our three or so hours with the near-final version we were highly pleased with the outcome. Make no mistake, Ocarina of Time 3D is the same game that redefined the adventure genre over a decade ago, with a slick graphical overhaul and gameplay refinements for a fresh new take on the 3DS. We're excited to get our mitts on the final boxed copy!






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (116 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Great to hear that you liked it! Smilie I can't wait to play it again and I'm really looking forward to experiencing it on the 3DS because future handheld Zelda games will likely feature a similar structure, like controls and the touchscreen menus. I'm also excited for the 3D effect because I've only played Street Fighter so far and while it's pretty neat there, the 3D effect should be much better in an open world like Hyrule. Smilie

It seems that Grezzo mastered the challenge of making it feel fresh and new while still staying true to the original which is exactly what I've hoped for in this remake. Maybe they'll get to remaster Majora's Mask as well while Nintendo's Zelda team is working on a new Zelda for the 3DS? That would be a win win situation if you ask me. Smilie

Random thing I've noticed, what's up with the Reader Score for this? Smilie

Beautiful absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Well for a Nintendo 64 remake it's damn good. I hope the "3D" actually does work, since i don't have the game I cannot really picture any 3D effects in frequent events during the story. All I can say is the colors are so much more vibrant and plentiful and the textures are just tremendous, but if they can pull of the 3D plus all these new graphical innovations in the remake then I'll be pleased

Mamoon Hindi
Will Be
terry badass greene (guest) 24.05.2011#3


Cheers guys, 3D does well surprisingly well, but only when you're holding the 3DS in a fairly steady/fixed position, else some minor ghosting occurs when moving it about. It does feel newer and fresher (especially when comparing it to the N64 consoles sitting beside us) - but I think it could really have done with resampled or orchestrated soundtrack.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I honestly can't wait for this. I cancelled my Amazon preorder and preordered it in GAME yesterday, the GAME preorder comes with a poster and a "special gold case"? o.O

Is it only the high street stores that are doing those bonuses? Was tempted by Amazon's £30 price point but I wouldn't mind those goodies.

Edit: Oh, the gold case is a sleeve with the US box design on. Not a big deal but useful for choice, it's the poster I'd like.

( Edited 24.05.2011 18:39 by Phoenixus )

This will be my first zelda

the game look awsome can't wait to get it this will be my first Zelda game ever.


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