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.]


  1. Reblogged this on 19andnerdy and commented:
    Interesting review of Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, which is my game of the moment. I actually disagree with this post on a few fronts, and have found it great fun to play out and about.

  2. I just bought my 3DS last week, and downloaded both Ocarina of Time and Link’s Awakening a few nights ago. I’m really loving OoT as I have still to this day never managed to finish it – I’m already further than I ever got on my last playthrough, when I had my N64 at my flat last year.

    The frustrations are there, sure, but if anything I’ve found many things easier to figure out than when I’ve played it before – the race with Ingo was over and done with in the first time, for example. Besides, it’s refreshing to have some genuine mental difficulty in a game nowadays, and feel the need to resist walkthroughs.

    I completely agree with the 3D aspect, especially on London transport (shout out for Caledonian Road wooo), but I think the game works on the console just by virtue of being on the console – the 3D isn’t necessary. I can enjoy it at home (though I have found it slightly more intense than on Mario Kart 7), and particularly use it for cutscenes and free-roaming.

    In terms of nostalgia, again you of course are right about the rose-tinted glasses. Nostalgia is probably one of the main things keeping Nintendo going right now. But my girlfriend, who has never played a Zelda game before, started on OoT last night and is hooked, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    I am looking forward to Link’s Awakening – it was pretty much a constant part of my childhood as it was one of the games my mum had bought when it came out for herself – but I just can’t tear myself away from Ocarina yet.

    1. Glad you’re enjoying it, it’s a cracking game, and if I hadn’t finished it the first time I definitely would have stuck with it. I’m glad the girlfriend is getting in on the action too!

  3. Both games are on my 3DS wishlist, but I am totally with you on some games being bus-friendly and some not. Crimson Shroud is my bus game for now, and it’s nice (for gaming, anyway) that I’m on the bus for a solid 35 minutes.

    When I’m home, there’s definitely something to be said for wanting to play games on my PC or the big TV screen, rather than loading up the little portable 3DS. I’ve actually started playing in bed before I sleep (instead of reading), which the 3DS is perfect for… though if I start playing more stressful games, I may never get to sleep!

    Good luck on the London transport. I miss the days of taking the 453! San Francisco buses are not nearly as nice as London buses (if you can believe it). =)

    1. I think we’re spoiled for buses in London – but what about all those lovely San Fran trams? Surely that’s the most elegant way to get to work…

      I’m very much enjoying Crimson Shroud, and it’s great for gaming on the go, although some of those battles can get pretty epic… I was left standing at the bus stop long after I got off the bus in an attempt to defeat a Zombie Minotaur recently.

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