In the years since its release, Ocarina of Time has attained an almost mythological status. It’s regularly hailed as the greatest game of all time and some fans well up with tears at the mere mention of Hyrule Field. Those too young to have played it, doubtless know of it as a unicorn-like entity: much discussed, rarely seen.
So it’s fitting that Nintendo has approached this re-release with all the care of an attentive museum curator, making changes with the lightest of touches. The sharp-edged polygons of the Nintendo 64 original have been smoothed and cleaned while preserving the game’s character. In a concession to how audience expectations have changed, struggling players can now get hints in the form of visions of the future provided by magic stones.
The 3DS touchscreen and gyroscope are also used. The touchscreen making inventory organising and ocarina playing more natural, and the gyroscope letting you look around by moving the 3DS itself. The vast majority remains unchanged however, including the all-important pre-CD soundtrack, and it’s still as wondrous as ever.
Ocarina of Time is an evocative coming-of-age tale about a young boy who becomes the world’s saviour. Along the way there are fantastical landscapes, journeys on horseback, scary monsters, secret tunnels, colourful townsfolk and fishing tournaments. A boys’ own adventure that brings to mind novels such as Treasure Island and The Famous Five.
It’s that sense of adventure that makes Ocarina of Time timeless. Even with its new 3D visuals the technical wow factor of 1998 is long gone, but the game itself has stood the test of time near unscathed. Everyone should play Ocarina of Time at least once. At a time when any old game gets called a classic, this is the real deal.