In 2011 a remake of one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all-time released on the relatively new Nintendo 3DS handheld console. The game in question was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. The original game released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998 and had numerous re-releases on GameCube, Wii, and Wii U.
By 2010, the original’s age had started to really show in the graphics department and the game had never been released on a handheld system. The new version had updated textures and models, as well as running at a full 30fps. However, there are many differences between the original and remake. This article will explore these differences to help you make up your mind which is better; the N64 version or the 3DS version?
I’ve had the chance to play through both the original version of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (on Wii) and the remake of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D on the original 3DS. What I’ve learned from this is that the quality of life improvements in the remake are so effective that they make the game much more accessible and unfortunately (or not) much easier. The player feels much more in control of Link and you will never experience a cheap death (this was rare but still happened in the original).
How important are graphics
The remake looks much better. The character models are more defined, textures look like a GameCube game, and everything is bright and clean. This is where purists might get annoying. The remake doesn’t have the rustic, medieval feel that the original had. The classic pre-rendered backgrounds are gone in the remake and replaced by bright, much more cheerful, polygonal backdrops. While this is a worthy change, the remake doesn’t feel as dark, both literally and thematically, and this might not sit well with some fans.
Other changes are definitely positive. The increase in frame rate to 30fps is nice and makes the remake feel more modern. You can almost feel Nintendo’s little powerhouse handheld working on making the game look bright, smooth, and fluid. The 3D effect is also good. The graphics really ‘pops’ out of your 3DS, and if you want to turn off 3D to save battery you can.
There are also a few small changes in some dungeons. In the water temple, there are now patterns on the walls and floors guiding you towards the locations to change the water level in the temple. This will make the game more accessible to newcomers (and that particular temple can be confusing even to veterans). The inventory, in the remake, has also been refined. The touch screen can be used and it’s much easier to equip boots, which were previously in the key gear sub-section.
All these quality of life improvements make the 3DS version much easier than the N64 original. I played through both games with only three hearts and didn’t die once in the 3DS remake. The difference in difficulty is exemplified by some mini-bosses, particularly Dark Link in the water temple. In the original (even using the known technique to beat him) it’s a real challenge. Whereas the 3DS version is a breeze. The Dark Link battle is epic either way though. Speaking of epicness, The lighting in the final Ganon fighter is too bright in the remake, which kills some of the atmospheres.
One major addition to the remake is the Boss Rush mode, which you can access from Link’s bed in his treehouse. The gauntlet is a sub-mode you get once you beat every boss. You’ll have to beat every single boss in a row without dying once. This is a real challenge and it’s fun to test yourself for the quickest time possible. But, if you think you’re a real Zelda expert, run the gauntlet in Master Quest, which you unlock once you’ve beaten the game. You’ll take double damage and the world will be mirrored.
The core game…
Overall, both games are versions of an undeniable masterpiece that probably has the best pacing of any game I’ve played. It really comes down to whether you want a fun, bright, and accessible experience or a hardcore, traditional adventure played as it was meant to be. People say the 3DS version sticks to the original artwork but the end product definitely doesn’t have the same vibe as the original and that is a bad thing. Let’s hope we get an HD remake on Switch at some point.
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