The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D review

  • Cleaner, smoother visuals
  • Exploring the vastness of Hyrule
  • Handful of minor touches that simplify for the better
  • Some really vague, unclear moments
  • Battle system, other aspects are '98 relics
  • No gold cart? C'mon, guys!

In 1998, Ocarina was groundbreaking. The size of the world, the number of areas to explore, the scope of the time-traveling story that sees Link change from child to adult and takes him from volcanoes to dungeons to haunted dungeons… it was all unprecedented for a console game. To have such a robust, engrossing experience and have it be the first 3D iteration of The Legend of Zelda was nothing less than mind-blowing. To this day, millions will parade it as the best game of all time.

Like it or not, that’s simply not the case today. Ocarina is particularly bad about dropping excessively vague hints (or no hints at all) as to what to do next. There are a handful of extremely important items (say, the Fire Arrows, Lens of Truth or even Epona) that are buried under a layer of riddles that don’t quite add up. Back in the day, we expected games to be mysterious and obtuse; today, we’re all accustomed to mechanics that lead us from one place to the next, even if it’s on an almost subconscious level. This isn’t about hand-holding or over-tutorializing, which is a whole other problem with games today – it’s about fundamental design, and Ocarina has always had this issue, especially compared to Wind Waker or Twilight Princess.

Speaking of those two, they both improved upon the battle system that Ocarina pioneered. Make no mistake, OoT’s lock-on system for 3D battles (called Z-Targeting, if you’re up on your Nintendo lingo) was a brilliant innovation and was carried over into both WW and TP. The ability to focus on one enemy and strafe around it, while also able to raise and lower your shield, as well as backflip or leap forward, made combat exciting and intense; meanwhile, WW and TP added layers to this idea, making Ocarina feel stripped down by comparison. It’s not a huge deal, but after flipping under and around enemies in Wind Waker, and instant-KO-ing baddies in Princess, I felt inhibited by Link’s lack of moves in Ocarina.

True, that’s the way it’s always been, and this 3DS version is ultimately a port, so adding new combat options would have made this some weird hybrid game and not a true conversion of the original Ocarina of Time. But, this is a new release, so we have to compare it to modern experiences; Nintendo wants you to pay money for this new version, not think back on how great the old one was, so we then have to criticize it for the 1998-era gameplay it didn’t improve. This extends to the aforementioned targeting, which often goes haywire and focuses on signs or plaques in a room instead of the enemy smashing in your face.

If you’re accustomed to Zelda and how it works, Ocarina shouldn’t confuse you too much; if you’ve never tried one and are finally caving under the pressure to play Ocarina 3D, you could end up scratching your head on more than one occasion. It’s a great introduction to the series, no doubt, but be prepared to open up a FAQ or ask a friend.

That said, these are fairly minor irritations in an otherwise expertly designed and paced adventure. They only drag down the experience from time to time, and rarely in a way that lasts beyond that exact moment of frustration. Even if you’re a first timer, Ocarina eventually settles you in and acclimates you to its very particular designs. As for returning players, there are a handful of new modes and features to consider…

More Info

Release date: Jun 19 2011 - 3DS (US)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Franchise: Legend of Zelda
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes


  • tayloro1 - September 11, 2011 7:36 a.m.

    I just bought a 3ds for this game alone. I am a huge Ocarina of time fan, got it in 1998 and have enjoyed the game till this day . I still rank it as the greatest game of all time and have probably played the original more than fifty times tr ough. that being said I am truly enjoying the 3ds version greatly and I feel satisfied with my purchase of the remake of the greatest game of all time!
  • joshstoker - June 24, 2011 5:22 a.m.

    @Shinespark & BackwaterRifle: OOT didn't make GR's top 100 games of all time? GR is now officially retarded. Nice to see that GR lets superficiality get in the way of its judgements.
  • joshstoker - June 24, 2011 5:17 a.m.

    The fire and ice arrows were important items? Since when? Don't get me wrong it was nice to have them, but you didn't need them to beat the game, just to complete it 100%. Also aside from the stuff about going back to get the lens of truth. I don't think it was THAT hard to figure things out. At least it wasn't for me back in the day. Also all the people who complain about how hard the water temple is, are just pansies who give up too easily.
  • AceDynamo - June 24, 2011 3:47 a.m.

    WoW!! All you ppl haven't bought a 3ds yet?? I bought it the 1st day it was released and its a very high tech handheld console! DOA on the 3ds is 10xs better than the console version by a long shot!! Stop buying fancy rims, expensive buckets of chicken, half done grill cheese sandwiches and beastiality acts, AND GO BUY UR LAZY FAT ASS a 3ds NOW morons!! Geesh!! Instead of talking about it, be about it ppl!!
  • GameManiac - June 20, 2011 8:33 p.m.

    Damn, I was fully expecting a 10. However, since it got a 9, that means it's on par with Pokemon BW. Does that make it the best game so far for the 3DS (according to GR)?
  • lovinmyps3 - June 20, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    I may get a 3DS specifically for this game.
  • Dadyo238 - June 20, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    I would've gotten this the day it came out, but right now I'm grounded right now so, you know how that works.
  • Gilligan - June 20, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    Pre-ordered my copy weeks ago on Still hasn't turned up :( Lifelong zelda fan and then this happens!
  • Shforteenteen14 - June 20, 2011 2:29 a.m.

    Haha! All those FAPs and praise and you still gave it a 9? You confuse me sometimes, GR...
  • sirdilznik - June 19, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    Regardless of the score given, this is the definitive version of the greatest game ever made. So yeah.
  • Jaces - June 19, 2011 8:05 p.m.

    I WANT THIS GODDAMN GAME NOW!! But only after the 3DS drops below $200 :)
  • asljirk - June 19, 2011 1:41 p.m.

    I really want to read this review, but as I scrolled down I saw the pic of Castle Town and realized I don't want to lose the joy of experiencing this new look for the first time. Thanks for the review, and I'm sure you did the game justice. Have a nice day :D
  • screwball08247 - June 19, 2011 5:49 a.m.

    I'm getting this. Definitely getting this. Thanks for another fantastic review, Brett!
  • IceHawk79 - June 19, 2011 4:52 a.m.

    It was either this or Duke Nukem. And I think I made my choice. LOZ FTW!
  • BackwaterRifle - June 19, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    @Shinespark OoT did not make GR's Top 100 because it aged poorly. T.P. was used instead because if they were to recommend either OoT or TP to someone who has never played either, they would recommend TP because by today's standards, TP is better than the original OoT. Hope this helps.
  • Shinespark428 - June 18, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    @Sinosaur I see where you're coming from and are making decent points, but NEVER in this article did he compare OoT favoribly to Twilight Princess. Also Twilight Princes made Gamesradar's Top 100 Greatest Games list and Ocarina DIDN'T. So no, he didn't explicitly say he or GR prefered Ocarina, but it was implied.
  • XLGirthMan - June 18, 2011 5:44 p.m.

    I never got very far in the original but I will definitely be picking up a 3DS and this game when I get my paycheck next week. And I'm glad to see that no one can call you any less "hardcore" for playing the new version rather than the original.
  • Rattlehead - June 18, 2011 4:22 p.m.

    I hate all of you
  • philipshaw - June 18, 2011 3:34 p.m.

    This review is spot on Brett, got the game on Thursday (a day before the realse date in the UK) and it's a top notch remake
  • Yeager1122 - June 18, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    Really want this all i need is a 3ds hopefully i stumble across an extra $250 to spend.

Showing 1-20 of 67 comments

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