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It’s been more than 20 years since the introduction of the Nintendo 64, and we’ve come a long way. Three more consoles from Nintendo, with a fourth on the way. Microsoft joined the fray somewhere in there. And Sony’s hold on the games market became near absolute…

But it doesn’t matter who wins. Doesn’t matter if the world recognizes a “Console War,” so long as they’re talking about games. And it matters that those games can stand the test of time.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of the great, lucky few.

As a series, Legend of Zelda has always been solid. Minus a few tiny missteps – like the 3DO game where you play as Zelda, or the remarkably cheesy animated series – the Zelda name has been synonymous with quality content, and Nintendo, by default, has been as well. And with the 3DS version of Ocarina, Nintendo has managed to improve upon one of the “greatest games of all time,” while still managing to to keep the game as pure as possible to the original.

(I know I’m a little late to the party here. Ocarina of Time came out well over 15 years ago on the N64, and the 3DS remaster was released in 2011…so why now? Well, because I’ve been busy playing games I hadn’t played before. …and I finally picked up the 3DS game in November, so chill. We’re here now.)

Ocarina 3D takes what the N64 did, and bumps up everything. Instead of a rushed port, Nintendo built a fully realized remaster of the game. Better colors, cleaner animations, smooth 3D effects. It doesn’t take long to realize that this very well could be the way it was meant to be played. And I’d read reviews, of course. Watched plenty of footage of the game in action on Nintendo’s handheld, but I didn’t bother with it again when it came out. I didn’t see a reason. If it was a solid port, but prettier, then I already knew what I was getting. I figured it could wait.

But Ocarina 3D is far better than I’d expected. Much improved in several ways, and much more frustrating in others, until I remembered what I was doing. (This is a 15+ year old game. A lot less in-game tutorials back then, even if Zelda titles are notoriously long winded with them.) Nintendo did a fantastic job in keeping the original elements in tact and in working order, while squeezing in plenty of extras. The Master Quest, a surprisingly solid motion-controlled aiming mechanic, and crisp 3D visuals that make the world of Hyrule even more immersive than before.

For the record, the best 3DS games for immersive 3D have been Ocarina, and quite possibly my favorite Zelda game, A Link Between Worlds. 

I could prattle on about this game as a whole, but everyone already knows how great the original was. And I know how many reviews and walkthroughs and speed runs there have been of this game, so I won’t bother getting into review territory, either. It wouldn’t make a dent in the storied history of this title, and it would waste everyone’s time. But I will say this: if you liked the original Ocarina, the 3DS version is better in almost every way. Or at the very least, it’s the same, plus some. Which is just fine too. It wouldn’t hurt to give Link glance in Ocarina 3D, or even check out any title with the name Zelda. Just don’t wait 5 years after it’s release to get in on something great.

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