To take a pause from the grinding in Hyrule Warriors: Legends, I decided to do another run through the Nintendo 3DS remakes / remasters of the Nintendo 64 Zelda classics, Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D. I started with Ocarina of Time 3D, will continue with Majora's Mask 3D and then finish it off with Master Quest 3D. That way I will be able to really compare both remakes back to back, while also judging the replay value of both games.
And as much as I love the Nintendo 64 Zelda games, which always have been part of my favorite Zelda games, I don't feel the immediate replay value anymore. I mainly wanted to replay Ocarina of Time 3D, because I haven't touched it since I first completed it in 2011 and because it looks really pretty - it's still one of the best looking Nintendo 3DS games with amazing 3D visuals. The 3D goes quite deep, I love the popout effects, when you get important items (it's like those Spiritual Stones are coming out of your 3DS screen) and it all looks very sharp. Especially the new models of all the characters look great (except maybe Saria, who looks somewhat derpy), it's all very well done for the most part (save for some texture fences and texture staircases here and there) and a satisfying new version of the N64 classic, which now really has a timeless feel to it.
Of all the 3D remakes and remasters that the Zelda series has seen in the last five years, this is still my favorite one. It really looks like an upgrade, it adds some interesting new features, but it also doesn't change much to the worse, like Majora's Mask 3D did, only some minor things. So, it overall feels like the superior version of the game.
Anyway, while I marveled at the visuals, I also feared that replaying the game itself will feel like a chore, because I've replayed Ocarina of Time so many times already that I don't know the exact number. And for some reason, when I replay a game, I always think about the parts first, which I despise. In this case it would be the random Heart Piece from the trolling Dampé on the graveyard, the Bombchu Bowling, the fishing, the horse races - it's usually the minigame stuff that ticks me off in Zelda, but these kind of activities are certainly much worse in the sequel.
Early on the game also feels super slow. I love the scene, where you first leave the forest and entire Hyrule Field unfolds before you. It gives this vibe of freedom that I want from a Zelda game. But it also takes forever to walk from A to B. Walking around Hyrule Field is slow and quite boring save for the Peahats, but you tend to walk around them anyway. And that's one of the challenges that they are facing with Breath of the Wild, where you do get a large world to explore, but you never want it to be boring. But I suppose the Guardians will be the super aggressive Peahats of the new game.
Now, after these initial hurdles, the game gets to be the classic, charming fun. I enjoy replaying the dungeons of this game, where the Forest Temple will probably be my eternal favorite, and it's also fun to collect everything again. There's potentially something to find in every corner and you can go at it, how you see fit. My playthrough wasn't extraordinary this time, but I still mixed things up a little bit, after getting the Master Sword:
- Lon Lon Ranch
- Ice Cavern
- Fire Temple
- Forest Temple
- Gerudo Fortress
- Bottom of the Well
- Water Temple
- Shadow Temple
- Spirit Temple
One thing that they really should have changed with the 3DS version is replacing the eye switches in the Water Temple, especially the one at the end of the vortex tunnel. It's quite the long way to get there and you almost have finished the entire dungeon, but right at this point the game is telling you to stop and go back to get the Bow from the Forest Temple first. That's easily one of the biggest troll moments in the Zelda series and they just should have replaced it with a crystal switch, so you can beat the entire dungeon without the Fairy Bow, which would allow to complete this dungeon first in order. There's also an eye switch in the Fire Temple, but you can go around it and still complete the dungeon. It's just an optional shortcut.
It's also interesting, how the game world opens up to you in terms of fast traveling methods. In most of the later Zelda games you usually have the one warp song / item / ability that lets you teleport to a number of bird statues or similar warp points all over the world. It appears to be the same in Breath of the Wild and it certainly gets the job done best. But in Ocarina of Time it's really a combination of several things, like the six individual warp songs or the different portal gateways. As Child Link you can't use Epona, but there's the Owl in two places for shortcuts, like the one from Lake Hylia back to Hyrule Castle Town. You also get to use one more gateway.
The gateway system is also quite interesting, how it connects Death Mountain and Zora's Realm via the Lost Woods, as well as Zora's Realm and Lake Hylia as a child. The quickest way to get from A to B in Ocarina of Time can be a little maze puzzle in itself. For example, when you have to deliver the Eye Drops to Biggoron and can't simply use warp songs, most people probably ride towards Kakariko to climb Death Mountain from there. But I ride towards the forest, use the Gateway to Goron City and then take a shortcut through the Death Mount Crater. This route only takes half of the given time.
Now, while replaying the game, I also thought that there should have been one more gateway in the world: leading from the Desert Colossus into the Gerudo Fortress. It would have to be blocked with the big grey boulders, which require the Silver Gauntlets, so you can't use it as a child and you can't take it to bypass the Haunted Wasteland at first. It would be like the gateway from the Lost Woods to Goron City, where you have to get to Goron City the normal way first to open it up. But the Gerudo Fortress seems to be the only place that is not connected by means of fast travel. The fastest way to get there seems to warp to Lake Hylia, take Epona and ride to the fortress. And that takes a little patience, where it would be much nicer, if you just could warp to the Desert Colossus and then take a gateway into the fortress. They could even place it somewhere funny, like in the one empty prison cell.
Also, after playing Hyrule Warriors: Legends for the past months, it was inevitable that I tried to do combos at some place. It only happened once and curiously enough, it was inside the pot storage room in Hyrule Castle Town. That's somewhat ironic, because you can't actually break pots with combos in Hyrule Warriors, only with regular attacks, but I suppose it's one of the few places in Ocarina of Time, where you attack multiple things at once, which gave me the urge to press Y. And seeing Nabooru in this version of the game, makes me really want to have her as a playable character in the next Hyrule Warriors game, she looks lovely.
I also had to adjust to not using the Start or Select button to open the inventory. Actually, I wasn't able to adjust to this at all, I still kept pressing these buttons at the end of the game, only to be annoyed by the save game dialogue. At least this time I was playing with larger screens and a screen protector installed on the touchscreen, so navigating the inventory was a lot more convenient. When I played Ocarina of Time 3D first on my original Nintendo 3DS, I didn't have a screen protector installed and I was really careful with the touchscreen, which also was quite small, so I kept using the Stylus every time I wanted to change an item. And that was a real hassle.
Of course this was a 100% run and with Ocarina of Time 3D you at least want to beat the Boss Challenge once. Replaying the individual bosses for better time scores is overall a fun addition to the game. The Boss Gauntlet, however, is not, at least at first, when you just want to beat it once and be done with it. There's some luck involved due to the treasure chests and while the majority of boss fights are really enjoyable, the bane of my existence right now seems to be Bongo Bongo. I never remembered this boss fight as particularly difficult on the Nintendo 64, but whenever I attempt the Boss Challenge mode, I'm having issues with these awful hands. The targeting systems seems to fail me here often, where I can target one hand and stun it, but the other evades my crosshairs. And since the hands are super fast, you can't target them manually. What makes things worse is that Bongo Bongo is the second to last boss in the Gauntlet. I can just get to this point without a single scratch, but he might potentially kill me off. He didn't, though, but it was a close call (half a heart left) and luckily I got a Heart Container after the fight, so I could stay relaxed in the Twinrova battle.
In Master Quest this will be worse, because one mistake there really will kill you. Not looking forward to that one. But I suppose, I'll just have to practice Bongo Bongo a little more, because that's what the individual challenges are there for...