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‘Ocarina of Time 3D’ a gold standard in Zelda series

By Gordy Stillman

Section: Arts

September 2, 2011

Every summer I spend four days in June closely following the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the biggest annual video game trade show in the United States. When I learned that the critically acclaimed “Legend of Zelda” series was turning 25 years old this year, I decided it might be worth picking up the latest release, an enhanced remake of the classic game “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” for the new Nintendo 3DS. It turned out to be one of my best purchases of the summer.

While the core of the “Legend of Zelda” games is generally the same—you solve puzzles, navigate dungeons and collect artifacts—the refinements presented by “Ocarina of Times” make it even more of a gold standard than the original release.

What truly make “Zelda” games great are the stories and, despite the somewhat formulaic nature of their stories, each game is engaging. “Ocarina of Time” is no different.

The game begins with a young boy named Link who lives in a village among “fairy-people” called Kokiri. Link is peculiar because, unlike the Kokiri, he lacks a fairy companion. One morning, Link awakens to find that he has been sent a fairy companion, the annoying Navi, and he receives a mission to meet with the spirit of the forest, the Great Deku Tree.

After learning of an evil man named Ganondorf who plans to take over the kingdom, Link is sent on a mission to stop him. On the mission, Link meets and befriends Princess Zelda, heiress to the throne of Hyrule, who entrusts him with an ocarina, a flute-like instrument her family has protected for years, known as the Ocarina of Time. Once Link has the ocarina—along with three sacred stones he has to collect—he opens the Temple of Time and claims a sacred weapon known as the Master Sword, the one weapon that can defeat Ganondorf.

With the Master Sword and the Ocarina of Time, Link travels between the present and seven years into the future, switching between his child and young-adult self in order to solve puzzles and find the sages who can assist in binding Ganondorf’s powers. This results in an epic battle between Link and Ganondorf.

In addition to the great story, the controls are perfect for achieving a console game experience on a handheld console. The game controls are fundamentally easier on the 3DS compared to the original version.

The game’s graphics yield even greater improvements. While I never feel that graphics make or break a game, the visuals proved surprisingly detailed and impressive, even when played without the 3D settings.

The music also proved compelling. While I don’t usually play with the sound on, the soundtrack felt like classic “Zelda” music. While video-game music does not always have the greatest reputation, the music in “The Legend of Zelda” is iconic and will even be serving as the theme of a national concert tour this year.

“Ocarina of Time 3D” also has the added benefit of being one of the first major game releases for Nintendo’s 3DS system. Consequently, it serves as both a console seller and as a well-deserved “must buy” game on its own.

The timing of the game’s release was also perfect, as it also got me excited about the next game in the series, “Skyward Sword,” which comes out this holiday season. Without a doubt, if you ever have an interest in trying out this critically acclaimed series, “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” is a great starting point.

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