The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 14.06.2011 25

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS

When The Legend of Zelda fans reminisce about which of the Hylian hero's adventures stirs up a tingle of excitement, the 1998 classic Ocarina of Time usually always springs to mind, etched deep within the corridors of gaming history as the adventure game to own and re-live again and again. Since then the franchise has evolved, progressing into a larger scaled beast, but still the core features remain ever present. It's been 13 long years since the original release, and with the industry crying for epic, complex adventure games does Nintendo's aging story have a place? Can the success of the original game be replicated in portable form?

Ocarina of Time was the first title in the Zelda series to transform the once sprite-driven top down adventure into a fully fleshed 3D polygonal game. It redefined how players and developers approached the genre, offering a completely new perspective, ways to play and interactions within a fully 3D environment. It's a difficult thing to do, recapturing that magic and updating the game for a newer audience, and this time round Nintendo have enlisted the help of fellow Japanese studio Grezzo to revitalise and improve the game on the 3DS.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, we take on the role of a young boy who's bored, restless and plagued by nightmares of an impending evil. He's the only one in the entire village who doesn't have a fairy, and unlike his friends he doesn't dream of grass and rainbows. He instead sees a caped bloke riding a horse through searing flames of danger, over and over. One fateful morning the village's protector, a wise old tree, decides to put a stop to this and sends out a perky fairy known as Navi to summon the poor lad, Link, who soon discovers that his visions are real. There is a power hungry menace on the loose, Ganondorf, and the whole kingdom of Hyrule is in grave danger. Armed with a teeny sword, shield and new fairy companion, our hero sets out to save the world from destruction. Throw in a dollop of time-travel, friendship, climbing, swimming, horse racing and chicken catching and you've got one versatile adventure in store - even if you've seen the end credits roll for the sixth time, as we have.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D follows the age old tradition of collecting new items, emblems and thwarting the bad guy. You navigate a large, free-roaming world in search for isolated levels or dungeons - these are usually in palaces, caves, inside trees, deep underground and so on. Have a wander inside, solve puzzles and challenge a devious boss in each using a special item hidden behind an intricate maze of baddies and locked doors. Whether it is a stone hammer to brutally slay a pesky dragon or a shield that deflects magic beams onto a pair of aging witch lovers, there's plenty of action to go round.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS

The learning curve is fairly shallow, so within the opening levels players will be able to learn what to look out for, how to solve puzzles and navigate the dungeons using the good ol' fashioned map and compass. That said, Ocarina of Time has always been one of the more difficult entries in the Legend of Zelda series in terms of knowing where to go next, with little hand-holding throughout. To help newer players overcome the sometimes vague plot, there are a series of new ‘Sheika Stones’ to crawl into. Once inside you're greeted with three or four very short clips that lead up to a particular goal. Seeking a power-up or puzzle solution? This method gives a gentle nudge without spoiling too much, ideal for both newer players and those needing a recap after so many years!

The first thing you'll notice is how beautiful Ocarina of Time 3D looks in the palm of your hands. Grezzo have injected new life into the entire adventure, from the once pre-rendered interiors to the vast overworld field and characters themselves. The land of Hyrule has never looked this vivid and lush, feeling fresh but still staying true to the original art direction - it looks like Ocarina of Time, but sharper and far more detailed. The original game invested in a generally washed-out palette with touches of grey, but this time round we have a brighter and more exciting world littered with fine textures, mystical particles and fairies buzzing about. It does pose a problem in some areas, where a grimmer and darker atmosphere is needed through more varied lighting.

One of the examples highlighted in preview builds of the 3DS edition were boss battles in particular, where for example the human-hungry spider Queen Gohma would be shrouded in a curtain of smoke and dark shadows above. This time round the atmosphere is slightly more relaxed, clean but still eerie, and it remains a great first boss. Despite the more neutral lighting throughout the game, the increase in detail within the environments and enemy models make the later dungeons far more fearsome. Remember that demented creature with the multiple hands buried within the well? In 3D its blood smeared face will make you recoil in terror. If you haven't played Ocarina of Time before you're in for a delicious slice of fear!

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Despite the friendlier vibe, the sheer amount of extra detail really stands out, especially when recapping the original design. There's no question that Ocarina of Time 3D is the best looking version of the game to date. The once pre-rendered areas have been given a vast makeover with fine detail that sits perfectly with the game's world but would look out of place in other Zelda incarnations. Likewise the non-playable citizens and Ganon's legions of minions appear more expressive and life-like than before. Though running on simple, goal driven dialogue there's still a timeless charm about all the folk you'll encounter throughout the adventure - from the cheerful children who live in your home town to the musclebound rock munching Gorons; even the confused medicine woman who lives in solitude has her own unique charms. The graphical update has added new life to our hero too - Link's always been the silent type, but this time round he's just that bit more animated and lifelike, telling the tale through shock, excitement and awe. Brilliant! The game’s framerate has also been improved since the Nintendo 64 original - better hardware, smoother performance. Aside from a few very minor occasions (oddly enough when running through narrow corridors) and peculiar re-animation of some of Link's movements where there's some chugging, it’s a joy to behold in your palms.

With a revitalised world to contain the Ocarina arc, one of the big reasons to bring the older game to the new format was the potential to inject a new 3D perspective into The Legend of Zelda - but does it work? The answer for the most part is a triple onslaught of yes, yes and yes. There are scenes that fans cherish and these are even more impressive when re-living or experiencing afresh in 3D. Stepping out into Hyrule Field for the first time is always a key moment and this time round the 3D output causes that brew of nostalgia neatly mixed with a new sense of immersion. It's not purely cosmetic either. In areas that require players to be able to feel distance and volume, for example leaping across narrow ledges or judging a drop, 3D does help getting it right and avoiding slipping into a pit of deadly traps!

The effect works well throughout most of the quest, but does tend to blur or ghost slightly in some areas - there may be some tweaking in the amount of 3D or trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ from time to time. Highly reflective, brighter levels like the Ice Caverns, for example, cause problems when viewed in 3D, becoming blurry and at times unusable, so 2D picture may be preferred. There aren't many instances where you might need to shift into regular viewing... except when using the 3DS' motion control for aiming.

The only real issue we have with the 3D effect is the new, optional motion control that lets you look around and aim in first person. The 3DS’ built-in gyroscopes allow you to literally move the hardware around to see, becoming Link's eyes and ears. In 2D mode it's by far a more ideal method, especially in scenes that need both speed and precision in aiming - the bow or slingshot shooting games for instance. Shift gears into 3D and this is where the problem lies. To get the best, blur-free picture in this mode you need to keep your head and eyes in the ‘sweet spot’ - tough when the motion control requires you to move the hardware around. It's tricky and just doesn't work, presenting an unfortunate double-edged sword: both motion control and 3D enhance the experience, but don't quite mesh together. Traditionalists can disable motion control completely though, opting to use the Circle Pad to control the camera, though this often feels slow in comparison.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS

The game may look great and have plenty of content to get on with, but how have Grezzo translated the controls onto the 3DS handheld? Pretty well, actually. Past DS Zelda games opted for a less conventional touch-screen approach, but here we're sticking with the Circle Pad for movement, face buttons for actions, items and swordplay and the shoulder triggers for targeting and drawing your shield. It may sound tricky, especially those perhaps used to a sole action button and movement, but fortunately it's a lot easier the original setup. The touch-screen houses your map, items and direct access to your ocarina and Navi. This simple change makes a lot of difference - item swapping is easy and accessible, plus there's less need for stopping and changing your inventory over. The whole process makes Ocarina of Time 3D the most streamlined and effective version of the game yet, useful for newer players who are trying to get to grips with Link's tools and for veterans wanting more efficient play. The lack of compass placement on bottom screen map (it only shows in the top screen) is a peculiar design decision though; causing a few niggles when trying to work out where to go in the later levels.

There were many things that the original game did right and one of them was a dynamic and memorable musical score. Here we have continual aural delight, but it could have done with the same improvements that other areas of the game have gone through - recording with real instruments/an orchestra could have given the adventure that bit more oomph.

Once you've dealt the final blow and the world's a better, brighter place there's the new option to combat past bosses again with whatever tools are needed, and also a harder, far more random mirrored Master Quest feature to dive into. Both are worthy add-ons, especially the ridiculously hard second quest that will cause veterans to re-think the game! The Legend of Zelda has never been a game meant to be played in quick doses, but with the 3DS in mind there perhaps should have been quick access to mini-games, however, maybe expanding on these to make Ocarina of Time 3D more portable friendly.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

An excellent remake of the much loved Nintendo 64 classic: refreshed, renewed but still very much familiar and fun. Ocarina of Time 3D may lack the complexities and scale of more recent Legend of Zelda entries, but it gets by with a timeless adventure, challenging gameplay and a lengthy campaign. 3D graphics and an improved look really bring a new depth to the world of Hyrule without veering too far from the original artwork and style. The 3DS version could have done with a more portable-friendly approach and pick-up-and-play value in some areas, but The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is still a overall superb adventure that's worth considering whether you've played the game before or are longing for a fresh slice of pure Nintendo quality.






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 review, jb! I have one slightly random question though, is the scrolling speed of the dialogue any faster?

Oh yes, how could I forget the obligatory...

( Edited 14.06.2011 21:24 by SirLink )

That's one thing I wanted to know similarly: can you skip cutscenes? It seems to be a standard feature of Zelda games now.

Good in-depth review. I'm pretty sure everyone on C3 who owns a 3DS is getting this game. Be good for players who have yet to experience OOT before to finally play this too.

( Edited 15.06.2011 00:17 by Azuardo )

Great review! I cant wait to get it Smilie

SirLink said:
Great review, jb! I have one slightly random question though, is the scrolling speed of the dialogue any faster?

Image for

Haha, know what's even funnier? I actually stumbled upon a similar picture today and downloaded it. Smilie

I won't be disappointed if it's still the long as I can shoot Kaepora Gaebora with my deadly slingshot, of course. Smilie

Awesome! I really can't wait to get home and play this tomorrow, considering I have yet to complete the entirety of OoT I'm in for a treat I think. + I've forgotten what little I have already played Smilie Can't wait!

Would be nice if some of you guys could do your own reader reviews too maybe. Be nice to hear others' opinions. Doesn't need to be large either; a brief summary perhaps. Just a suggestion!

I always struggle to keep reader reviews short though Smilie When I do reader reviews, they are usually full length.

Hey, the longer the better! Merely suggesting a short summary to entice others to do it is all. Would gladly read a review from you Echoes considering this is essentially your first time through it properly. Definitely the sort of player I want to hear from.

I'd definitely write one too once I find some time. Going by some of my past (German) reviews which I obviously didn't post here, I just can't make any short reviews as well. Smilie I always go incredibly in-depth about things; I sometimes wonder if it's too much. Smilie

With some extra time I might even try and translate the review of my favorite Wii game from German to English. Never done that before; I think it could be hard because a lot of sentences probably need to be completely restructured/rewritten.

Echoes221 said:
I always struggle to keep reader reviews short though Smilie When I do reader reviews, they are usually full length.

Which is why I'd suggest you do a C3-2-1, if you fancy. Then you can do a full-scale review Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Thanks for the comments guys Smilie

Good points raised - I forgot to mention the cut-scenes - you can't skip through, but it seems faster. The opening scene, approaching town after getting the 3 stones, each scene after a medallion etc do appear faster, but can't be skipped like you can in Twilight Princess.

Text scrolling does feel faster too, and the bloody owl is still set to NO as default.

RE: Perfect 10 - definitely not! Smilie There are glitches, problems when combing 3D with Gyro, lack of music remaster and some improvements that could make it run smoother. Don't get me wrong, definitely a fantastic game, just not a 10 like some other sites have given.

As for treader reviews, the more the merrier Smilie!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Don't get how having the option to skip scenes isn't there. Surely it must have crossed their minds in development. How did they come to the conclusion of thinking "you know what? nah. it's not like people have played this a million times already. we'll leave it out".

It hurts speed runners and people that just wanna replay the game, not the story. Just don't get why we don't get these optional things that would simply make a game better is all. Little things count.

Agree on the score. Not quite a 10 anymore, but still brilliant and needs to be experienced by all.

jesusraz said:
Echoes221 said:
I always struggle to keep reader reviews short though Smilie When I do reader reviews, they are usually full length.

Which is why I'd suggest you do a C3-2-1, if you fancy. Then you can do a full-scale review Smilie

That sounds very enticing, I've got nothing better to do as of now really anyway, and a belated Jump Ultimate Stars review to do as well >.< I think I'll give it a shot, fresh insight so to speak.

Ya, did find it weird - there's no way I can see skipping the intros in Boss Rush mode either. Timer only begins after the intro, but still! Boss Rushing Volvagia is a pain in the arse!

Gohma in 28 seconds, woop! Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Once more people have the game we should definitely start a thread for Boss Rush times. Smilie Not saying that some here would lie but I'm thinking what a convenient way to prove the times would be.

In case it wasn't terribly obvious, my perfect 10 comment was a reference to all people who are going to riot over Ocarina of Time getting anything else but a 10, no matter the site.

( Edited 15.06.2011 10:36 by SirLink )

Well there's the OOT 3D thread, SirLink. Could just keep it in there.

LunaLuma (guest) 15.06.2011#18

Never played Ocarina of Time so I will get this on Monday when it comes to the states! Does anyone know if Gamestop are doing bonus gifts?

Roger Timmins (guest) 15.06.2011#19

Great review! Are the bosses harder in this one over the Nintendo 64 one?

yousif (guest) 15.06.2011#20

great review did not expect to receive a score of 10 while most of the website in internet reviews such as Nintendo life, the sixth axis, god is geek, and den of the geek has given the game a review of 10. well done jb no matter what the score is given because we all now that legend of Zelda the 64 version was the first and foremost game ever to reach the perfect score in renowned websites such as gamespot and ign

LunaLuma (guest) said:
Never played Ocarina of Time so I will get this on Monday when it comes to the states! Does anyone know if Gamestop are doing bonus gifts?

I think there's a poster or something, best check with your local!

Roger Timmins (guest) said:
Great review! Are the bosses harder in this one over the Nintendo 64 one?

Questionable - I think they are slightly easier? Especially Phantom Ganon. Morpha seems more of a bitch this time round.

yousif (guest) said:
great review did not expect to receive a score of 10 while most of the website in internet reviews such as Nintendo life, the sixth axis, god is geek, and den of the geek has given the game a review of 10.

I don't think it's worth a 10 - it's a great game, but I was debating whether to give it an 8 or 9. It's better than the N64 version in a lot of ways, but does have its fair share of glitches and issues so isn't the perfect game. It's difficult to give anything a 10 - the only games I feel truly deserve a 10 are both the Super Mario Galaxy games.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I was going to wait until this afternoon to pick up this game.

after reading this review I've found myself preparing to go into town ready to pick up the game as soon as the doors are open Smilie

Oh, come on, I don't see what the big deal is with cutscenes. As long as they're not constant or super long (you know who you are, Metal Gear Solid 4) and they're not made to b annoying (HOLY CRAP SHUT THE HELL UP YOU STUPID OWL) then they can't b that bad. If the developers did make them unskippable, then they probably did it to pad game length and hopefully had sense enough not 2 force gamers 2 go through a pot of coffee watching a single cutscene. Please correct me, a humble n00b, if i'm wrong. EDIT: I also realize that the voice acting can b terrible, but thats beside the point. we're talking quanity here, not quality.

( Edited 23.06.2011 07:55 by EthanOfNewBark )

On November 21st (in North America), you'll know where to find me... knee deep in empty styrofoam ramen noodle cups, swinging a Wii remote+ around with my massive arms I will have developed from playing Skyward Sword for 20 straight hours...

well I must say that the Nintendo 3DS is off to a great start, I am really enjoying the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time is really an awsome game this my first Zelda game ever but I love it so far the nintendo has a great soft ware library with games like the legend of Zelda ocarina of time 3d.Dead or alive Dimenions ,Resident evil The Mercenaries 3d and super street fighter 3d edition which are games I own my self well with games like theese the Nintendo 3Ds might be the top dog of hand helds.Smilie

Michael (guest) 04.02.2013#25

This game deserves a perfect 10/10. It's the most amazing 3DS game ever, probably even the most amazing game ever made. Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D all the way!!!

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