Friday, August 10, 2012

Ocarina of Time 3D

It has been a long while since I played a Zelda game; the last Nintendo console I had was the SNES, and I never could afford the N64 and newer consoles, till I finally played Phantom Hourglass on the NDS. After Solatorobo having caught my eye (yay ghibli styled world!), I just had to catch up with Link and Zelda.

-= Warning: Spoilers =-

The original Ocarina of Time was released way back in 1998, and it is quite easy to see why this game has had such outstanding ratings back in the past. A good, enjoyable storyline, bloody challenging dungeons and a big, big, BIG world for all those hard core gamers aiming to collect 100% of the items.

The 3DS version has uber upgraded graphics, upgraded UI design and makes creative use of the gyro when in first person view. Of course, as it is a 3DS game, it uses the 3D screen for some mindbending visuals.

The Game
This game is long. FF7 took me 17,19 hours, tops. Ocarina of Time (OOT), clocks in at 28 hours according to the 3DS's activity log, and that's more or less a straight run through. I think the only side quest I really bothered to do was to get Biggoron's sword, only collected 30 odd skulltulas, and as much heart containers as I could find. I was still lacking 5 full hearts, which means there are at least 20 heart pieces somewhere out there to collect! And tons more side quests... like... I haven't even explored hyrule fully; only popped into the stores once or twice and never really played all the mini-games.

The Controls
One word: fantastic. The range of controls for Link is simply stunning; various kind of hops, backflips and rolls to avoid attacks; shield using techniques, several sword attacks, and if I dare say so, a stab "combo".

The movement of Link is very tight; moving the analog stick a bit into its range tells Link to tread carefully, least he falls into a pit whilst suspended over a tightrope. A full push of the stick breaks Link into a run, just what you need when some big dragon's breathing down your neck.

While OOT is played mainly in the 3rd person perspective view, there is an option to switch to a first person view; this view is particularly important to scope out the area, as well figure out the traps and tricks in each room.

Several weapons, like the hookshot, bow, catapult etc also brings up the first person view, and you can aim, not only with the analog stick, but also by just moving the 3DS physically! I was quite blown away when I first got the hang of it, by quickly hitting a button to bring up the hookshot, tilt the 3ds to aim, and let rip, much faster then using the analog stick.

The Ocarina
Given the name of the gave, I have to at least speak about Ocarinas for a bit. The Ocarina is introduced very early in the game, as a good bye present to Link from his good friend, Saria. Various melodies are learnt on it, and are used in-game simply to open areas up (play the ocarina on an icon on the ground, for example), as well as tasks like warping around the world, summoning rain, or even calling upon the sun.

In real life (cough cough) I'm actually quite tempted to get an ocarina to mess around with. I haven't - yet - because I'm surrounded by several wind instruments, some of which I don't spend nearly enough time on :P I am very tempted by some modern ocarina designs that allow one to wear an ocarina around your neck - talk about a super portable musical instrument that doubles as jewellery of sorts!

This is a somewhat difficult game, not because the game is difficult, but rather how the designers have designed the world so that they use all the mechanics of the world to screw around with your puzzle solving skills. I have died countless times falling off cliffs, ko'd by bosses and just, you know, blown up and chopped to bitis. The usual.

Bosses don't just die by button mashing; weak points need to be learned, special weapons brought to bear, timing of attacks is critical, as well as mastery of Link's various controls.

Dare I say, not a kids game.

The dungeons, of which there are many are particularly really, really well designed, and there have been many that required me a trip to an in-game hint machine to figure out how to complete a particular room. And there were many of these occasions.

Oddly enough, the very last dungeon, as well as Ganondorf and Ganon were remarkably simple to win once their weakpoints were figured out. When fighting Gannondorf I'd run out magic, and could not fire any light arrows to stun him. Died there. But once figured out the need for the light arrows, I was quite surprised that a few heavy slashes toppled the evil dictator (Biggoron's sword rules!!!!)

The final boss is even more amusing, suffering from what I term Locust VS Battlemaster syndrome*. This uber ultimate last boss who stands nearly double my height and dual wielding two blades easily taller than him, gets outwitted when I roll between his legs... and stabity-stab his tail. I think I used one fairy and Naryu's love once before I figured this out (by pure luck, at that!). Very lucky, as I'd run out of magic for my light arrows, and the hookshot was, shall I say, bitchy about locking on. Or should I blame that on Navi?

The 3DS's 3D Screen
For the first few hours, that has to be the best thing since sliced pineapple. But given the need to actually have your head in a specific position and distance away is not very possible given the nature of button pressing moving the console about.

A slight off axis view and the entire screen goes out of focus. Switching off the 3D made for a much more enjoyable, if flat, gaming experience. The 3DS actually has a stand included, but it's never left my package, given that I want to play it on my bed. Flopped on my back.

That said, I think the 3D is best used during cut scenes, when you usually only have one button to press for the scrolling text. The 3D worked *really* well during the end game sequence, when the world of Hyrule is viewed through stunning stereoscopic 3D. The flybys were magnificent, and some shots with depth, like the young deku sprout, I swear the particles were flying into my face.

What would be nice in future games, would be an option to have the main game be played in 2D, and automatically switch over to the stereoscopic view during cutscenes.

I also wonder if the 3D could be sort of a transition effect, or, you know, like when poison is swallowed in game, we could have the 3D go insane, might be quite trippy.

In summary, I think this was a wonderful game experience. Wonderful music, fun characters, and a big, beautiful and highly detailed world to explore. My hope is for Nintendo to release the other Zelda games for the 3DS as well, games like Twilight Princess, Majora's Mask etc.

Re-done this way, I'm sure many gamers will want to relieve their gaming memories. To run with Epona. To trawl the depths of Death Mountain. To fly with Kaepora Gaebora, dive under the seas with the Zora. Such a magnificent world needs to be explored by a younger generation of gamers, to bring a different Link, a Link from the past, into the future.

*Locust VS Battlemaster syndrome: In Mechwarrior 1 for the PC, the BattleMaster is the most powerful (supposedly) Assault mech in the game. However, it is very easy to defeat a battlemaster by simple using a Locust, the smallest, weakest, but *fastest* of all the mechs, and running up the battlemaster and just blowing away his knee (tab tab tab tab, fire all weapons) - a battlemaster appears to be nearly triple the height of a locust and can't depress its weapons low enough to hit. Plus, it's slow, and can't really keep distance with a locust. Personally, I prefer riding a Marauder. Twin PPCs FTW!

No comments: