Will The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time hold up in 2021?
Ocarina of Time is my all time favorite game. Maybe it was because it was the first game I beat before my older brothers, or maybe because it was the first game I faced alone, but what a game to have this honor. That’s not to say that I haven’t played other games before, and I don’t like the games that followed. There’s just something different about Ocarina of Time, and I’m apparently not the only one to think so as it often ranks first in most of the best games of all time.
So when Nintendo announced that Ocarina of Time would be included in the new Nintendo Switch Online + expansion pack, I was more than a little excited. However, I had big concerns. I wasn’t that worried that the game wouldn’t live up to my nostalgic expectations since I regularly revert to the 3DS version and sometimes even release the old N64. I was a little skeptical of how that would translate through an emulator, as none of the versions I have ever tried have been, well, the best. So how does the Nintendo Switch version hold up?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. As soon as it was available, I threw money at Nintendo for the chance to play my favorite game, and what I got was definitely not worth what I paid for. While playing the game on the latest Nintendo console was enjoyable, there were more than a few issues.
Another amazing story with amazing gameplay
Before we dive into the horrors, let’s talk about what’s good first. The game itself is still great. The story is sprawling, the characters captivating, and the music swells beautifully. Granted, the graphics aren’t that old (they’re a potato), but it’s not a remaster (if you want prettier graphics, check out the Nintendo 3DS remake). I didn’t expect a lot of improvements, but the images are a bit sharper despite a few flaws, like no fog and somehow worse water.
Still, the playing hits the same grandiose notes as when I was young. Sure, some things annoy me now, like the dialogue moving too slowly, but I didn’t mind as I made my way through the dungeons. One thing is certain; I was happy to be back in this version of Hyrule. From the moment the dialogue began to scroll, I was hooked.
Another advantage for the emulator is the saving of states. While Ocarina of Time is relatively forgiving with its save system, it was nice to stop in the middle of the dungeon, create a save state, and come back to where I was. No going back in a dungeon.
Plus, when working, the in-game mechanics are always great. The targeting system, inventory management, secrets, and exploration all reinforce what has made this game one of the best ever.
What’s not so great about the port
However, the big issue here is how well that translates to the Nintendo Switch itself. The first thing gamers will notice are lag and latency issues. If you’re looking for fluidity, you’re going to get more than a few hiccups while playing Ocarina of Time. While that doesn’t completely break the game, it’s shocking when it does. And if it happens at a crucial time, say in the middle of a boss battle, it can be incredibly frustrating.
I’ve mentioned before that the graphics aren’t the best, but I didn’t expect a game released in the ’90s to look like Breath of The Wild. Still, the previously mentioned emulator issues with fog and water do a bit of a drag.
The worst part of the experience, however, was the controls. I could handle occasional lags and older graphics, but I can’t handle bad controls. I first tried playing with the Switch Joy-Cons. It was fine at first, but the way the C toolbar was mapped (you have to hold down ZR, then press one of the ABXY buttons to access the C buttons) made me break more than a few Deku Sticks. The worst part was that I tried to change where the sticks were mapped, and somehow I still managed to pull them out when I didn’t want them.
It all comes down to poor mapping abilities and, of course, the horrible reverse controls stuck on the slingshot and bow. Again, this could all be forgivable, but you can’t remap the buttons or turn off the reverse controls. It’s hard to enjoy an experience fumbling around with the controls – how are you supposed to play the game? When I first played Halo with my partner, I almost stopped before noticing my controls were reversed. (He loves reverse controls like a monster.) People should be given the option to play however they see fit, which is why remappable controls are so important.
Thanks, N64 controller!
If you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash, there’s something that can make your experience with Ocarina of Time a whole lot better: the N64 controller. Unboxing this controller brought tears to my eyes. Holding it was just a good memory as much of my childhood is tied to the N64. It fit so comfortably in my hands and made the game much smoother.
However, there were a few times the controller was a bit sticky, but I blame that on the novelty and a bit of lag in the game. Plus, the slingshot and bow were always reversed (well). Regardless, this was a big improvement over the Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller. Still, it cost $ 60. Also, I managed to catch one, but unfortunately this option is not open to everyone at the moment. These controllers are virtually out of stock until 2022. Some third-party options are available, but they may not be mapped as well.
Is it just my talking nostalgia?
So, to make sure I didn’t let my nostalgia speak for itself, I decided to play different versions of Ocarina of Time. I played the Nintendo Switch Online version, the original N64 version, and the 3DS remake. (I skipped the one from the Wii U Virtual Console.) Honestly, whatever version I played, I got sucked. Yes, other than the remake, the graphics aren’t up to par, the text rolls very slowly, and I despise this owl. But yes, this game is still pending.
However, if you are looking to play Ocarina of Time for the first time and have a fantastic experience, you probably shouldn’t go for Nintendo Switch Online. If this is the only way you have to play, I suggest you play; but maybe see if you can get one of these N64 controllers first.
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