Friday, September 23, 2011

Third Rate Game Play: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D / 3D [Part 1]

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2D/3D
System: Nintendo 64 / Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo EAD / GREZZO
Publisher: Nintendo
Player: Tony / Alex
Experience: Tony has beaten it multiple times. Alex has not.

The Legend of Zelda is seen as one of the absolute best franchises in gaming, and it just so happens that this year, 2011, is the game’s 25th anniversary. Unlike the less-than-stellar anniversary Nintendo threw Mario, Zelda has been receiving a collection of goodies throughout the year, and one of them is a remake of one of the best Zelda games in the series: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

The Legend of Zelda was originally inspired by director Shigeru Miyamoto’s childhood, in which he would wander alone around hidden lakes and caverns. It is from this that he would develop the main exploration elements to the original game, which debuted in Japan on February 21, 1986. The United States would receive its cartridge version in mid-1987. Since then, Zelda has become a major Nintendo franchise, behind only Mario and Pokemon in pedigree. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987) was developed with Miyamoto as the Producer; in this venture, the game was more akin to a classical action RPG, which featured leveling and random battles via side-scrolling arenas and dungeons. Later, when the Super Nintendo released, Nintendo EAD was already far into development with a new Zelda adventure. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past debuted in 1993 and was a return form and then some. The new game introduced a myriad of new items, upgradable tunics, bright graphics, and the aspect of dual worlds, a light world and the menacing dark world. While other Super Nintendo games were developed with the Zelda franchise, they were only made in conjunction with the Japanese-only add-on, the Satellaview. Those games included BS Zelda no Densetsu: Map 1 and Map 2 (which is more akin to a timed remake of the original), BS Zelda no Densetsu: Kodai no Sekiban (Ancient Stone Tablets, which acts as a new adventure in the Link to the Past world), and BS Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce (Triforce of the Gods, which is just A Link to the Past). Finally, before Nintendo debuted a new Zelda for the Nintendo 64, its third major console, Nintendo’s Zelda team worked on a GameBoy adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. In this 1993 release, the game introduced a number of new items and focused on a world different from Hyrule, full of monsters well outside the franchise’s norm.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was originally debuted to the public at Nintendo’s Space World trade event in late 1995, developed using a heavily-modified Super Mario 64 engine. When the game began its development, it was being made with the usage of the special Nintendo 64DD (or Disk Drive) add-on peripheral. This special add-on would allow a larger number of saved objects and situations to be developed over the course of the game. However, Ocarina of Time eventually was put onto a cartridge with the expectation to make expansions with the 64DD in the future. The expansions would never release for the 64DD as the peripheral failed, but the projects would appear in other ways in the future.

When it released, Ocarina of Time would emerge with three versions known to this day: The Collector’s Edition, which was in a limited gold cartridge, the “Red Blood” version, which contains the same contents as the Collector’s Edition without the gold cartridge, and the final version of Ocarina of Time for all future shipments and re-releases.

But this is not only an episode dedicated to the original The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. No, this is also an episode dedicated to the 2011 3DS remake, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. This iteration was developed with some Nintendo EAD help, but it was independent studio GREZZO which did most of the work. GREZZO was established in December 2006; its name comes from the Italian term “Diamante Grezzo,” which means “Diamond in the rough.” According to its company message, it refers to the required work behind polishing ideas into diamonds and building great content from novice game designers. Its CEO is Koichi Ishii, whose previous works at Square-Enix included planning and game design for Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, directorial roles in Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2), Legend of Mana, Sword of Mana, and Dawn of Mana. He also produced the rest of the Mana series, which includes Children of Mana and Heroes of Mana. GREZZO’s first known release was Line Attack Heroes for WiiWare, a game in which players use lines of warriors to attack their enemies; the game was announced in late 2008 as a retail game but would be released as a WiiWare game in Japan only, late July 2010. Ocarina of Time 3D comes as the company’s first retail release.

“The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D takes the Nintendo 64™ classic – one of the most critically acclaimed games ever made – and returns it to the Nintendo 3DS system with the added depth and realism of stunning, glasses free 3D visuals. In this game, Link™ sets off on a legendary journey through time to stop Ganondorf, the Gerudo King of Thieves who is seeking the Triforce, a holy relic that gives its holder ultimate power. The graphical upgrades and three-dimensional depth breathe new life into the expansive world of Hyrule. An improved and intuitive interface, coupled with the easier navigation offered by playing in a world with 3D visuals, give players better control as they solve puzzles, travel through time and explore this immersive world. Whether you're a first-time player or a regular visitor to Hyrule, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a new adventure for everyone.”
"Simply put, I'm really glad we remade it for the Nintendo 3DS system. Earlier, I said that we were able to give Hyrule a kind of warmth or scent in the Nintendo 64 version. Now that it is in stereoscopic 3D, I think we were able to convey the atmosphere even better—thanks to all the hard work that Grezzo put in! We also redid a lot of the textures….And it isn't a port. It is a remake, but in the truest sense of the word."
-General Producer, Shigeru Miyamoto
“I often compare making video games to cooking. If game developers are like cooks, then the games they make are like food. Just as the techniques of the cooks influence the way their food tastes, the techniques and experience of game developers appear in the games...So I thought it would be a failure as a product if people who made the original game weren't involved, causing it to turn out as something that was merely somewhat like the original game, something that looked the same but tasted different. I felt like an important theme this time was how we could make The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D today.”
-Koichi Ishii, Producer, GREZZO

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time follows the adventure of Link, a young boy raised in Kokiri Village who suffers from nightmares involving a young girl and a tall, red-haired menace. It is discovered by the Village’s sage, the Great Deku Tree, that Link is destined to save Hyrule from destruction and must obtain the three Spiritual Stones necessary to enter the Temple of Time and obtain the Master Sword, the sword which can vanquish evil. With the help of Navi, a fairy entrusted by the Deku Tree to follow Link, the young boy must now face off against monsters the world over and find himself pulled through time into a dark future in order to save it.

The game is the first 3D offering of the Zelda franchise, although it still follows a similar game design to that of A Link to the Past. The biggest addition to the series in addition to the 3D perspective is the special Z-targeting system, through which Link can lock onto monsters and other important items for easier fighting and actions. The game also has a day-night cycle which can change the activities in towns and other locations throughout Hyrule. The game has a vast number of other additions which build upon the Zelda formula, although one of the most memorable of them happens to be the introduction to Epona, a horse on which Link can ride around the world in order to travel faster across Hyrule Field and other locales.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a mixture between a remake and a port of the original game. Most of the game’s textures have been remade, and Link’s model has been entirely redesigned. However, some other models have not been given as large an update as the hero’s, and the music has been left almost untouched in order to retain a nostalgic flair. Outside of the 3D display, OoT3D allows players to use the 3DS gyros to aim and look around in first-person. Once the main game is completed, players can take part in the Master Quest, which mirrors the main world and redesigns harder dungeons, and after a while, players are capable of re-fighting bosses within the game for the fastest time. Those having difficulty in-game can look into Sheikah Stones, which provide visual hints on what to do at particular parts in and out of dungeons.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is seen by many as the pinnacle of the Zelda series, and today it sits among the highest-selling games for Nintendo during that generation. It helped shape Zelda into what it is today, and many of the games which released following it were in some way related to the game’s storyline.

As said in the background, Ocarina of Time was developed with 64DD add-ons in mind: the codenames were specifically Ura Zelda and Zelda Gaiden. Ura Zelda was to be an expansion or “Second Quest” for the original, but when the 64DD failed to meet expectations, it was scrapped. This version, entitled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest, was eventually released exclusively on a special pre-order disk for The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and is what the Master Quest in OoT3D mimics. Zelda Gaiden was much more different, and it would later be released as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which takes place immediately after the events of Ocarina of Time and in a new, near-apocalyptic world.

The next Zelda game, the aforementioned Wind Waker, also took place following the end of Ocarina of Time, albeit from the other timeline (a complicated endeavor to explain, so just agree with me here). Wind Waker changed from the more traditional style established in OoT and shifted toward a cell-shaded artstyle, which initially drew criticism from the Zelda fandom. Following a seafaring Link with the ability to control winds, this adventure was a great departure from the horse-riding Link we had come to know and love from the Nintendo 64. Over time, however, the game and its style grew on the fans, and its style has been used in a number of games since (Four Swords, Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks). In perhaps a bit of overcompensation, the next major game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, took Zelda to a more realistic, Lord of the Rings-based design. While it was anticipated for a 2005 release, the GameCube title was delayed a year to release alongside a mirrored Wii version, complete with motion and pointer-based control additions. In no surprise, it, too, existed in the timeline of Ocarina of Time, albeit much further out than Majora’s Mask.

Near the end of this generation, the Wii is about to get its first from-the-ground-up Zelda title: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The game is said to be the prequel to Ocarina of Time and will explain the origin of the Master Sword. Skyward Sword, expected for a November 2011 release, will make use of the Wii Motion+ peripheral and will feature many new ideals for the Zelda franchise, including item creation and multiple passes through dungeons. Needless to say, this 25th Anniversary game will certainly be a great way to round out what Ocarina of Time 3D started.

GREZZO is not finished with Zelda, at least not yet anyways. The company is also the development team behind the DSiWare release The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. This game is mostly a port of the GameBoy Advance title Four Swords, which Capcom developed alongside the GBA version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On top of 3DS-to-DSi connectivity, Anniversary Edition will include a single-player option and two extra worlds, one of which contains skins from the NES, GB, and SNES Zelda titles. Seeing their previous products, GREZZO will most likely continue its work with Nintendo. Who knows? We might see another 3D Zelda remake!

People said they were crazy, but they did it. Alex and Tony decide that showing off Ocarina of Time 3D alone was not enough! They decide to start an adventure together, Alex playing the 3DS version and Tony playing the N64 original. Dubbed “2D” and “3D,” the two Links work together to save the world. In this part, the duo works through the first hour of the game. That is: the Deku Tree and meeting Princess Zelda herself! They try to get cutscenes done at the same time to help compare the games graphically, but when the two race through the dungeon, they do not wait for each other.

How did they fare? Find out!

This first part of the en tandem series worked out rather well, considering the situations that arose. In particular, we did not want a glare from the two televisions to mess up the 3DS’s view, but we fixed that with a cardboard blinder that spanned a good two and a half feet long. Unfortunately, as noted by Mark partway into the recording, the 3DS’s view was fuzzier than previous 3RGP 3DS adventures, most likely due to some focus issues that were missed out on as the episode was recorded. In the end, the quality of the 3DS version is less than that of the N64 version, although you can clearly see the 3DS’s improvements in other ways beyond the crisp visuals.

The actual commentary was focused more on the sheer difference between games than trying to be too humorous. We intend to fix that as the game progresses. On that note, we have already filmed the second part and intend to have the rest of the game shown in the future, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Will Star Fox 64 3D follow a similar simultaneous playthough? We will get back to you on that, but things are looking good for the future!

3RM Says: Ignore the giant shrub to your right and listen to me, the Great
Deku Tree! Yes, I was always this red. I'm a redwood, of course!

1 comment:

  1. I like the comparison for the Zelda game. This provided more history than one can take. Great job. If you need somebody to dig up some Star Fox history let me know.