Ocarina of Time is my favorite game of all time. Maybe it was because it was the first game I beat before my older brothers, or maybe it was because it was the first game I went into on my own, but what a game to have that 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 who thinks so as it often lands the top spot on many lists 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 major concerns. I wasn’t so worried that the game wouldn’t live up to my nostalgic expectations since I regularly go back to the 3DS version and sometimes even release the old N64. I was a bit skeptical about how this would translate through the emulator, as not every version I’ve tried has 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 cash at Nintendo for the chance to play my favorite game, and what I got certainly wasn’t worth what I paid for. While playing the game on the latest Nintendo console was enjoyable, there were more than a few issues.
Still an amazing story with amazing gameplay
Before we dive into the horrors, let’s talk about what’s good first. The game itself is still awesome. The story is sprawling, the characters are compelling, and the music swells beautifully. Granted, the graphics aren’t quite as old (they’re a potato), but this isn’t a remaster (if you want better looking graphics, check out the Nintendo 3DS remake). Wasn’t expecting an upgrade, but the images are a bit sharper despite a few flaws, like missing fog and somehow worse water.
Yet the game hits the same high notes as when I was young. Sure, some things annoy me now, like dialogue moving too slowly, but that didn’t bother me when I was making my way through dungeons. One thing is sure; I was happy to be back in this version of Hyrule. From the moment the dialogues began to scroll, I was hooked.
Another advantage for the emulator is the save 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 get back to where I was. No backtracking in a dungeon.
Also, when working, the game mechanics are still excellent. The targeting system, inventory management, secrets, and exploration all consolidate what made this game one of the best ever.
What’s Not So Great About Shipping
However, the big issue here is how well it 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 have more than a few hiccups playing Ocarina of Time. While this doesn’t completely break the game, it’s shocking when it does. And if it happens at a crucial moment, 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 hurt a bit.
The worst part of the experience, however, was the controls. I could deal with 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 is, I tried changing where the sticks were mapped, and somehow I still managed to remove them when I didn’t want to.
It all comes down to poor mapping abilities and, of course, the horrible reverse controls stuck on the sling and bow. Again, all of this might be forgivable, but you can’t remap the buttons or disable the reverse controls. It’s hard to enjoy an experience when fumbling around the controls – how are you supposed to play the game? When I first played the original Halo with my partner, I nearly quit before noticing my controls were reversed. (He loves inverted controls like a monster.) People should have the ability to play the way they want, which is why remappable controls are so important.
Thank you, 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 that much better: the N64 controller. Unboxing this controller brought a little tear to my eye. Holding it was just a good memory because a lot of my childhood is tied to the N64. It fit so comfortably in my hands and made gaming so much smoother.
However, there were a few times where the controller was a little sticky, but I blame that on newness and a bit of lag in-game. Also, the slingshot and bow were always reversed (well). Either way, it 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 pretty much out of stock until 2022. Some third-party options are available, but they may not map as well.
Is it just my nostalgia talking?
So, to be sure not to let my nostalgia speak, I decided to play different versions of Ocarina of Time. I’ve played the Nintendo Switch Online version, the original N64 version, and the 3DS remake. (I skipped the Wii U Virtual Console.) Honestly, whatever version I played, I was sucked in. Yes, aside from the remake, the graphics aren’t up to par, the text scrolls very slowly, and I despise that owl. But yes, this game is still outstanding.
However, if you’re looking to play Ocarina of Time for the first time and have a fantastic experience, you probably shouldn’t go for the Nintendo Switch Online. If that’s the only way you should play, I suggest you play; but maybe see if you can get one of those N64 controllers first.
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