Friday, August 26, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is regarded as one of the best games of all time, or simply the best game ever made. It is now 13 years old and although it may sometimes look dated, the mechanics presented first in this game have carried on as landmarks in most action/adventure games since. Its simple story, lovable characters, fun gameplay, sense of courage and heroism all add up to one of the largest adventures presented in the land of Hyrule. It is with my utmost confidence that I can say that Ocarina of Time 3D only improves on these facets of excellence.

It is easy to sit back and push this one to the side because Nintendo has re-released Ocarina of Time a couple times before, right? I can certainly see where you are coming from. People played it, a lot, on the Nintendo 64. People played it and the Master Quest on the Gamecube. More people played it on the buggy Collector's Edition, or on the Wii's Virtual Console. So really, why play it again on the 3DS?

The first thing that must be pointed out is the entire game has had a graphical overhaul. Every tree, every stone wall, every enemy, NPC, skulltulla... everything you can imagine. It all looks better. The framerate's been improved to 30 frames a second. It all just feels good.

Here are two images that compare the original Ocarina of Time to the 3DS version:

Ocarina of Time 3D is just that, a title for the Nintendo 3DS. The depth is simply incredible. It really allows you to feel like you are in Hyrule, as if you are the hero traversing across time to save a land corrupted by evil. If you run down a hallway you can see the end of it and truly sense that you are approaching it. I could sit here for hours trying to explain what the 3D looks and feels like, but it's something that must be experienced individually. It brings the world to life.

One of the coolest new features is how the game makes use of the 3DS' gyroscopic abilities. This means that the 3DS senses when you move the handheld which allows you in turn to look around in the game world. You simply L-target and move the 3DS in any direction you like. You move the system left and Link looks left. The same goes for using your bow, hookshot, boomerang, and slingshot. In the first-person perspective you no longer use a joystick to aim, but rather move the 3DS to target your enemy. It all feels natural.

This leads to my only problem with this release on the 3DS. The 3D can become bothersome if you are either lazy or you are in an area where the 3D simply does not help. If you go into a first-person perspective and try to aim with your hookshot, you need to move the handheld to find your target. But with such a limited window for viewing the 3D effect, moving the 3DS too much can cause the image to split or have a flickered-like reaction. This isn't an end of the world issue, but rather an annoyance. The reason I bring up being lazy is because all you have to do is either shift your eyes or move your head a certain way to see the 3D clearly. But after repeating this process many, many times it can be a bother. Honestly the easiest way to deal with this is to just turn the 3D off when you don't want it on. That's all I had to do to get through certain areas or fight certain enemies. At the same time the 3D effect heightened the visual experience altogether. If you were to ask me how much I had the 3D on or off during my experience with Ocarina of Time 3D, I would have to say 70% on and 30% off.

I must admit that the 3D did glitch on me once, and I was even able to record it:

When I was doing my duty to shake my booty and save Hyrule, I noticed a new feature that definitely was not in the original game. This feature is a seeing-eye stone that Link can use to access special hint videos. This feature was added for those who are new to Ocarina of Time, or for those who need help every now and again. I did check out some of the videos, but preferred the good ole' Prima's strategy guide for the original game whenever I got stuck.

Other new features include a boss challenge mode that allows you to visit the bosses you've defeated in the game and an updated Master Quest experience. Not only are the dungeons more difficult than before, but the game is also mirrored. Master Quest is unlocked only once you beat the original game. It's a solid way to guarantee replayability. And I have to mention the new menu system. It's completely awesome and allows you to access your gear on the fly. Items are conveniently located for your fingers to tap what you want. It is especially helpful for locations like the Water Temple. Remember putting on those boots only to take them off a second later, over and over again? Well now it's just the tap of a button. It's simple and cleverly designed.

Ocarina of Time 3D is scored with blissful amounts of nostalgia that we all remember when we were kids. We remember those great moments in gaining Epona, dealing with Princess Ruto, learning Sheik's true identity, and ultimately becoming the hero of time. We remember those catchy tunes and hum along with them, and we're proud to own our real ocarinas. Bolero of Fire is my personal favorite.

The magic poured into this game is incredible. If I had to define it, I would say this is one of NIntendo's finest masterpieces. Their games already have the ability to feel magical, but this one is at the top. As this title in the Legend of Zelda series allows you to become the hero of time, it has certainly aged well over time. Will another video game ever achieve what The Ocarina of Time has presented to us as one of the best video games ever made? Hey! Look! Listen! It could be around the corner.

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Developer: Nintendo, Grezzo
Genre: Action/Adventure
Year: 2011
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Completion: According to the 3DS's stats application, I beat Ocarina of Time 3D in 24:50. I did skip out on a number of sidequests such as the Biggoron sword, two of the bottles, a number of heart pieces, and more. I played through the boss challenge mode, unlocking the additional gauntlet mode.

-Jared C.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Operation Rainfall Makes it Rain

The gaming community is one that is unique and has the ability to come together when the time is right. The folks over at Operation Rainfall have done just that. Their aim? To bring three games to the Wii in America.    


The Last Story

Pandora's Tower

Operation Rainfall believes there's a large enough community of gamers in America that will support the sales of such games. One of their most contributing statements is that the Wii is in a drought of higher quality game software, and that Nintendo needs more Japanese Role-Playing Games and Action/Adventure titles. They have set up a strong Facebook presence, a blog, an email campaign and a mail-in letter campaign. The voice is loud and they can only hope their efforts will be heard.

It's fairly obvious the Wii is in need of more great games before its life cycle comes to an end at the release of the Wii U. But for now, we need games. It's no hidden fact the Wii is built upon a rather successful base of shovelware titles, and sadly its gems are far and few between. This has been disappointing for many Nintendo fans who've come to expect more from a Nintendo system. It's not a feeling of betrayal, but rather a slowly shrinking taste of questioning. Will Nintendo ever release more games that I am interested in? If so, when will it happen?

At E3 2011 Nintendo revealed the Wii U as a more hardcore gamer's delight. It will be able to render HD graphics and support those third-person shooters that Americans seem to love... But you know, why doesn't Nintendo just start early in appeasing its fans with The Last Story, or Xenoblade, or Pandora's Tower. It's a known fact that Xenoblade is coming out in Europe this month with an English translation. I believe The Last Story is in the process of being translated as well. There should be no issue in publishing these games in America.

I checked out Operation Rainfall's forums and learned that it's really a strong handful of people who come together to keep the campaign's momentum. They update the blog and regularly update their Facebook page. These individuals spend their free time planning and orchestrating the movement. It was interesting to notice forum member's own insecurity with the campaign pushing forward, marking a lack of effort in the last few weeks to blame. I can imagine running Operation Rainfall is similar to working with a group of people, only it's much more difficult in an online infrastructure.

I believe this only adds more strength to the community, as people are coming together to productively bring games to America. Yes, Operation Rainfall's strategies may have slowed, but they've bounced back with reassurance to their members that everything will continue as planned. The recent lack of strategy was due to the more active individuals dealing with personal matters in their lives. This only shows the utmost dedication to a great cause.

Operation Rainfall is now aiming at supporting Xenoblade's release in Europe. They want it to sell well there to better influence Nintendo in localizing the game here. They are also pulling together different talents to construct a public service announcement-type film that covers their goals and will likely spread their words even further. I've personally read a few drafts of their scripts and I hope they will be able to come together to reach their current goals. The PSA will also aim to eliminate the acknowledgement of false accusations to both Nintendo and Operation Rainfall itself. Some groups are claiming to be a part of Operation Rainfall, but they are taking a much different approach in their agenda. They state they will boycott Nintendo's future hardware and software if they don't bring over such games to the Wii, or that it would be a better idea to import the games and hack the system. This is far beyond OpRainfall's true intent and they now need to worry about such groups affecting their original image and message.

Thankfully such a different approach to bringing Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower isn't very noticeable. At least not on the Facebook page, which seems to be the largest voice right now in Operation Rainfall's efforts. If you go to Nintendo's Facebook page, you will notice the company's status updates mentioning the 3DS price drop and their inquiry into who your favorite Star Fox character is. But the responses are largely the voice of Operation Rainfall. Almost every other comment asks for Nintendo to release these games in America. If this isn't evidence that the voice of Operation Rainfall isn't slowing down, then I don't know what is. 

Next up, Operation Rainfall has another mail-in campaign prepared for this month. Because Xenoblade launches in Europe on August 19th, they are aiming to have letters arrive at Nintendo on the day of launch. The letter will state not only the intent to purchase the mentioned games, but to purchase a Virtual Console title as well. This is to show Nintendo that Operation Rainfall is serious and wants to spend money on Nintendo's titles. Emails and Facebook commenting are also suggested.

I am going to become more active in Operation Rainfall because I believe it has the strength to get at least one of the games localized for American release. Whether that be the already translated Xenoblade or the more uncertain The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, I feel as if something will happen in the future with these titles. Let's hope Operation Rainfall's steam isn't coming to a stop just yet.

To find more information and become involved with Operation Rainfall's efforts, check for their official blog updates.

-Jared C.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Games Done Quick (For Charity!)

It's not every day that charity and video games come together, but right now something awesome is happening. The Humble Indie Bundle is still going on, and they just announced today that you can get an additional five games making it ten games total. That's just incredible. But now I'm here to help promote something, in my opinion, even better.

Summer Games Done Quick is a large effort charity event put on by the folks over at Speed Demos Archive. At each "games done quick" event a large number of gamers come together to not only complete a run through of a game, but a speed run. That means they play and finish a particular game as fast as possible, utilizing both in-game glitches and hard-earned skill to pull off the job. And by hard-earned skill I mean years of training to compete for a new record time.

This August 4th-6th, 50 games will be played all in the efforts to raise money for the Organization for Autism Research.

What makes this charity event so incredible is the dedication presented by the speed runners themselves. When the event goes live there's a direct feed of the game being played, but there's also video of the gamers doing their thing. Because people come together in one location there's other people and speed runners in the room. The atmosphere is inviting and it lets you feel like you're truly part of the event, sitting in the room with them and enjoying the fun. Not to mention the incredibly tense moments that can happen too.

Throughout the event you can donate what you want, what you can afford. But there are special pulls for donating at least $5 or $10, or whatever is decided. Summer Games Done Quick is offering a special 3DS and Ocarina of Time 3D bundle, plushies, cels, and perlers for those who donate during special times or throughout the weekend. It's so cool to donate money to charity and possibly getting something in return.

Some games will have runners competing against one another in a race, trying to see who's the fastest. Other runs will have donation battles for character naming, choice of game, or how a game will be played and completed. This gives even more reason to donate during your favorite games.

Last time, during the charity event for relief in Japan, I made a point to donate during the Super Meat Boy run. But then I watched the Ocarina of Time run and was so impressed I felt the need to donate again. This time I will be donating during Shadow of the Colossus because it's one of my most cherished games of all time. But let me tell you, I'm looking forward to more runs that move me enough to donate again.

So remember, Summer Games Done Quick starts tomorrow and runs until Saturday! 50 games in just over 50 hours. Please donate for a great cause! Thank you!

For more information check out

For this weekend's schedule, check out Be aware it may change over the course of the event. Yes, sometimes things don't go as planned! We can blame technical difficulties and unexpected loss of lives for that.

-Jared C.