This week, prepare for a shock as Zero Punctuation reviews The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
Better make sure your house is earthquake-proof, 'cause this may rock your world: I'd never played Ocarina of Time all the way through before. And apparently this is like a movie critic never having watched Citizen Kane or a food critic never having tasted savoury. It's one of the best games ever and a part of gaming history, or at least that's what everyone who owned an N64 tells me, the same people who, nostalgia quivering gelatinously in their eyes, will tell me with a straight face that GoldenEye still totally holds up. Maybe if you thought about it, you'd realize there isn't a single N64 that has aged well, because '90s polygon graphics look like someone tried to inflate their beach toys by farting at them. Maybe the controller seemed to have been designed for a hypothetical race of mutant spider people.
I know your N64 showed you more affection as a child than your parents ever did, but you have to realize Nintendo is like a stripper; they don't actually like you, they just pretend to so that you give them their money. And it's probably going to be getting quite a lot of that from re-releasing Ocarina of Time on 3DS, and it's the perfect opportunity for me to fill this particular gaping hole in my critical spectrum.
And N64 purists will be pleased to hear that the 3DS did its best to recreate the incredible awkwardness of the original controller. L-targeting, for any sustained amount of time, made the 3DS's corner dig quite painfully into the flesh of my palm, which seems particularly unfair because the kinds of people who would be most interested in an Ocarina of Time re-release are now adults with big, fat, hairy hands made horny and calloused by years of jerking off with rumble packs.
As for the 3D, it adds as much as 3D always adds, that is to say either fuck-all or a migraine. I went through phrases of having it on and off, alternating between thinking "Well, it is a selling point and I did pay three hundred bucks for this hand-maiming" and "Fuckity-Nurofen, my eyes are about to swivel around in protest!"
So what else has been added to this re-release besides fake depth? Not a whole lot, besides a texture update and big, smudgy thumbprints all over the inventory screen. But who cares, it's nostalgia!
I started the game, and I always like to name Link something that adds a frisson to the dialogue, so in this case I tried "Fuck me", which seems to be the subtext of every conversation Link has with a female character, to use the word "conversation" generously. This one did get nonsensical at times, but it added a certain emphasis to certain moments, like when I walked into the ice caverns and my little dipshit fairy friend said "Fuck me, it's cold in here!"
Anyway, it soon became clear that Ocarina of Time 's plot really doesn't concern itself with explaining too much. While later Zelda games would take up your entire weekend establishing shit, Ocarina of Time starts when a big tree calls your underage ass over and says "Hey, guess who's going out to save the kingdom? Here's a hint: it's the person in this room who isn't rooted to the fucking floor!" But then later on you find the Hero Sword and it's all like "What!? Who told you you were old enough for this? Go and sit in the corner for about seven years." I bet that big tree had a lot of explaining to do at the next annual meeting of the Hyrule Completely Ineffectual Deity-Like Bullshit Entities.
The plot's really not up to much. The journey of this hero doesn't have much of The Hero's Journey about it, because the second stage of that is The Refusal Of The Call, and Link doesn't seem capable of refusing anything, or indeed understanding any concept more complex than hitting things with various kinds of stick. I know he's supposed to be some kind of blank everyhero onto which we can project our pathetic, aging bodies and get blue-balled on two levels of reality at once, but he managed to have a degree of personality in later games, especially Wind Waker, not so much Twilight Princess. But as is becoming increasing clear to me, Twilight Princess basically was just Ocarina of Time with a fatter budget and more yiffing.
Where it differs is that Twilight Princess had more of the Wii audience in mind - that is, people with attention spans shorter than however long it takes to work their asthma inhalers. I had to consult GameFAQs on two occasions to finish Ocarina of Time, once to figure out I had to produce a fish to get the big manatee thing to eat me, 'cause honestly why should he need more incentive with Link flashing those tasty gams of his all the time, and once when an important cutscene wouldn't trigger until I entered the room through the correct door. What is this, the fucking Academy Awards? One might argue that retro games traditionally prize difficulty, but this isn't difficult, it's just obtuse, which is to difficulty what coughing on a sandwich is to cunnilingus.
The actual combat and dungeons are all rather straightforward. I'd heard a lot of people talk up the water dungeon as some legendary puller of plonkers, but I breezed through on a single plane flight. Not even an international one, just two hours domestic, and I spent the first half-hour of it staring into space. Check the rooms you haven't been to yet, guys. It's not rocket science. Yes, I am saying I'm smarter than you were when you were twelve. Even the final boss fight gave me no trouble at all, except when that fairy dipshit started thinking about her favorite fairy boners or something and wouldn't let me target the giant pig monster one foot away that was the only living thing in the room and about to get busy with two swords that would make even a fairy boner from her wildest fantasies go floppy in shame.
I guess on the N64 I did have to compensate for the controller. I remember Twilight Princess being too easy because it compensating for the Wiimote being as friendly as an attack dog that's been trained to administer Chinese burns. Then again, I've been trained by all the more recent Zelda games that have really just been building on Ocarina of Time, so playing Ocarina of Time now is like a surgeon retraining as a fishmonger. I know that you should look to the side missions to replace that rat scrotum you call a coin purse, but 1998 audiences didn't.
Is it fair to say that later Zelda games had better gameplay and characters with actual arcs and more personality than a lungfish in a moist bath towel when Ocarina of Time was the template from which all those games arose? Probably not, but if you ask me, Nintendo have shot themselves in the foot. What with N64 technology being emulatable only on dried leaves and bits of old twig, Nintendo were this close to having an entire generation who might never even have known Ocarina of Time existed, and Skyward Sword might have blown their minds.
Look at me. Up until now I thought Twilight Princess was pretty good, but my opinion worsens now I see it was working from a cheat sheet. It's like finding out the first-prize science project was made by the student's dad. And now Nintendo hasn't just revealed their cheat sheet, they've goddamned published it and pushed it into our faces with cutting-edge face-pushing technology. They're saluting the queen with one hand and groping her tits with the other.
- Two in the pink, one in the Link: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Well if nothing else can we at least agree that that Robin Williams advert was a little bit weird
- So in Skyward Sword do you just throw it around a lot