The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is not bus-friendly

The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time box artI’ve finally given up on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. I’m 11 hours in and just about to face the dreaded Water Temple, but I just can’t ever see myself finishing this otherwise excellent remake, and I’ll tell you for why.

It’s impossible to play this game on the bus.

More to the point, it was never designed to be played on the bus – it was designed to be played on a home console for hours at a time, not on a tiny screen for 15 minutes between Holloway and King’s Cross. Every time you load up the game you’re dumped back at either Link’s house or the Temple of Time, which means that the first few minutes of any gaming session are spent trying to remember what you were meant to be doing and then trekking all the way across the game world to get back to where you left off. The Sheikah Stones are a useful addition to the remake, as they provide a vision of your current objective, but even so it’s often tricky to recall exactly where you’re meant to be heading if you haven’t played in a while. Meanwhile, you’re already at Caledonian Road.

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By this point you’re wondering whether it’s even worth bothering to start a dungeon, seeing as there’s only ten minutes of the journey left, and you know that when you turn off the system you’ll be back where you started again. It’s frustrating, and it just shows that the game was never meant to be played on the go.

On the plus side, it’s still as wonderful a game as it was back on the N64, and the added graphical polish makes it look better than ever. The 3D looks really good, but at the same time it gets disorienting in some of the larger caverns, as swinging the camera round too quickly often causes your eyes to lose track of the 3D effect, meaning you’re constantly having to refocus. It’s also impossible to use the 3D on a bumpy bus, as your eyes are constantly being thrown off, so for most of the time I was playing without the 3D switched on. Sadly this is still the main problem with the 3DS: its raison d’etre is 3D, but the times when you most want to play on the thing – on public transport – are also the times when the 3D doesn’t work terribly well.

Despite all of these problems, my first few hours with Ocarina of Time 3D were genuinely brilliant, and a large part of that was clearly down to nostalgia. My first glance of the freshly detailed Great Deku Tree brought back lots of happy memories of discovering the game for the first time, and that rose-tinted nostalgia stayed with me for a long way into my trip through Hyrule. Eventually though frustration set in, and I also started noticing a few niggles, such as the frankly irritating race you have to undergo to get Epona, your trusty horse. I don’t remember finding this a problem in the original, so either I’ve become less patient or I’m used to games being easier nowadays, but I was tearing my hair out trying to beat that bloody ranch owner Ingo. Even more irritating is the fact that you have to pay 50 rupees every time you fail a race, and running out of money means spending ages hunting through pots and bushes for more rupees. Annoying.

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I haven’t picked up the game for probably six months now, and I’ve not had the slightest inclination to play it again, even though I use my 3DS pretty regularly. What I have been playing though is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which I downloaded from the Nintendo eShop a few months ago. Comparing the two games, it’s easy to see the difference in bus-friendliness: whereas Ocarina of Time is a sprawling epic, Link’s Awakening is divided into bite-size dungeons that are perfect for short journeys, and it also saves the game every time you enter a new area so that you never have to trek back to the action.

For all of these reasons I’ve decided to part with Ocarina of Time 3D: it’s still a fantastic game and a decent remake of the original, but it doesn’t suit the medium. Here’s hoping Nintendo announce a 3DS-exclusive Zelda title soon that takes advantage of the system’s strengths and avoids the pitfalls of Ocarina 3D.

[Penned with a heavy heart by Lucius Merriweather.]