Imagine my surprise when I walked into an Ocarina of Time appointment and immediately heard "today you'll be playing the Water Temple." After fainting, barfing, then barfing until I fainted again, I was able to shed off 13-year-old PTSD long enough to try the new 3D version of said temple, only to discover it's not as bad as our collective memories tell us. In fact, several changes to Ocarina 3D actually made the mind-shredding temple... dare I say, enjoyable?
Above: Namely those red and green lights, and the entire bottom screen
The layout and plan of attack are the same, but now there's some form of Hylian track lighting that traces a Tron-style bread crumb trail through the temple. I saw red and green lights snaking throughout the temple, each one leading to an area where the water level can be raised and lowered. So now, instead of slowly trudging through the murk in search of a place to alter the water, you can focus on each colored trail and head straight for the triggers that fill and drain the dungeon. It's possible some may see this as "babying" the game, but rest assured this temple is still a challenge - just not as tedious as it was before.
The real improvement is the bottom screen, which gives you instant access to Link's weapons and equipment. Notice in the screen above that the Iron Boots are mapped to the lower right corner of the touch screen - that means a simple tap will equip and un-equip those boots in a flash. No more pausing the game to manually put them on and take them off every 30 seconds, which was always my biggest gripe with this dungeon. Between the light trail and the new equip screen, I felt immensely more interested in playing through this accursed place, more than I have since suffering through it in 1998. When even the game's developer admits switching boots was a pain, you know it needs an update.
There's yet another helpful addition, and this one's totally optional. Much like New Super Mario Bros Wii (and Galaxy 2) had those "show me how to do this area" videos, Ocarina 3D offers Shiekah Stones that contain brief video hints about various areas of the game. You see some of those clips above, referring to the game's Shadow Temple. Again, you can opt out of these entirely and there's no penalty for watching them. Not my cup of tea, but hey, they're there if you need 'em.
After sampling a good 30 minutes of the new Water Temple, I then headed into the boss rush mode, which lets you replay any boss you've already beaten. Complete all of them and you can then engage in an all-boss gauntlet that stacks them back-to-back-to-back. I asked if there was a reward for completing such a task, and I think the answer was something along the lines of "satisfaction?"
Finally, I quickly tried my hand at the Master Quest version of the "Inside Jabu Jabu's Belly" dungeon. As you likely know, Master Quest is a remixed version of the main game, intentionally made more difficult with extra enemies and shuffled item locations. The 3D version, however, is mirrored, so that all the lefts are rights (including Link, har har). Other than that, it appears to be the same we played on two different GameCube discs. Meaning it's still tough as nails and different enough to warrant playing even if you've been through the main game 10 times already.
Ocarina 3D launches on June 19, just in time to save us from this drought of 3DS games. At least the 3DS online store should be up by then, possibly with a 3D conversion of the original NES The Legend of Zelda. If so... Zelda 1, Ocarina 3D and Skyward Sword all in one year? Yeesh!
May 11, 2011
Ocarina of Time 3DS/N64 screenshot comparison
Nintendo's upcoming re-release adds more than another dimension
Ocarina of Time: N64 vs 3DS, round two!
Even more head-to-head comparisons of Zelda's most famous entry
Game music of the day: Ocarina of Time
Gerudo Valley by Koji Kondo