The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

There's always the worry that when an old classic is revitalized for a new platform, it may have lost its original charm, and end up spoiling your fond memories of it.

Hence, here at Pocket Gamer, we were both excited and nervous about the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.

This most celebrated of titles - originally released in 1998 and still rightly topping 'best game of all-time' polls - is a shining example of how to do action-adventure gaming right.

Yet, it now has nearly 13 years' worth of contenders to compete with, many of which quite obviously took heavy inspiration from Link's N64 outing.

It turns out, however, that it should be all those other challengers quaking in their boots, as Ocarina of Time returns, feeling just as fresh as it ever did.

A link to the past

A quick recap first, not that one is really needed: Ocarina of Time follows the hero of Hyrule, a young boy called Link, as he attempts to save the kingdom from the evil Ganondorf.

On his quest, Link visits a variety of towns, cities, races and dungeons, in order to collect the necessary elements and rid the world of evil. Via his trusty ocarina, our hero is able to play little ditties that allow him to open up pathways, summon spirits, and travel back and forth through time.

Along with the expansive overworld, multiple, day-and-night cycle, items to collect and upgrade, and powerful storyline, there are special dungeons full of puzzles and intrigue that show why Nintendo is classed as one of the masters of game design.

The game shifts from hilarious to downright frightening in the blink of an eye, and does so with such style and flair that it's impossible to avoid being sucked into the world of Hyrule.

But let's be honest - you already knew all that, and what you really want to know is how the game holds up 13 years later, and how the new features and enhancements jibe with the original release.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D feels even better than the original, and surpasses it in every conceivable way. How's that for a statement?

Legend of time

Ocarina of Time 3D's enhanced visuals completely revitalize the experience. Although you can still see polygons poking through here and there, the game is now comfortable the best-looking title on the 3DS system.

The most notable element of the new visuals is the perfectly crisp framerate. The game runs better than it did on the N64 by a country mile, and we didn't witness a single moment of slowdown.

Of course, the stereoscopic effect works remarkably well, lending an additional depth to Link's adventure that we couldn't even dream was possible over a decade ago.

The new look gives way to an enhanced feel, too, as the touchscreen layout translates Link's epic adventure to the 3D handheld flawlessly.

You can assign items to buttons with just a couple of jabs, while you can also assign extra items to the corners of the touchscreen.

More information about your character and your progress is displayed on the bottom screen, alongside a map illustration.

Navi-gation help

One area in which Nintendo was forced to alter the stakes was the difficulty curve. Back in 1998, it was acceptable to give vague hints as to where you should be heading next, but nowadays too many new gamers will find this frustrating.

Nintendo couldn't have solved the issue better.

Rather than force extra help on gamers who don't want it, Nintendo made all the added explanations and hints entirely optional.

You may ask a stone next to your starting point for advice, while Navi the fairy will still scream down your throat every once in a while to remind you where you're meant to be headed.

We found it the perfect balance as - although we're ashamed to admit it - we did forget a couple of things here and there, so it was nice to have a helping hand available.

High rules

All of this mastery together has already earned Ocarina of Time 3D a 10 from us, make no mistake. But then the game continues to innovate and provide beyond the call of duty.

Looking around in first-person view can now be achieved by moving your 3DS about in real space, giving this incredible sense that you're actually there with Link, saving Hyrule from the dark presence.

Then you've got the modified Master Quest mode seen in the GameCube edition, which makes your second playthrough of the game an excitingly different experience, with altered dungeons and more danger.

Finally, the Boss Challenge mode (unlocked once you've completed the game) pits you against each boss battle one by one. As you'd expect, this proves to be an incredibly tough and mammoth proposition.

It's a hefty package, and one that is completely essential whether you've played through the game multiple times before or not. In fact, we'd go as far as to say that this game is worth buying the entire console for.

It's a testament to the power of Nintendo's game design that, a decade and a bit later, Ocarina of Time 3D still feels so current. The benchmark for 3DS gaming has just been officially raised.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Ocarina of Time 3D is, and forever will be, pure unadulterated bliss, taking the original title and making it essential gaming all over again
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.