The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Here's at least one important way that games differ from movies: If the suits at MGM decided to re-re-release a 3D version of Gone With the Wind to coincide with Hollywood's crack-like addiction to the tech craze du jour, the film's fans would probably burn those stupid plastic glasses into a big puddle of revolt. When the suits at Nintendo re-re-release a 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the Gone with the Wind of fantasy role-playing games, it's hailed as an instant classic.
And in this case, rightly so. By updating Link's best and most influential adventure with a shiny coat of completely new graphics and smartly deployed 3D effects, Nintendo's made everything old feel new for the generation of gamers that missed out on the game's original 1998 release.
This tale ought to feel kinda clichéd by now, given how many times the whole innocent-woodland-villager-gets-recruited-to-find-the-magical-artifact-and-save-the-world motif has been replicated and ripped off. (Not to mention the fact that Ocarina of Time has also seen ports on the GameCube and the Wii's Virtual Console.) But the new environments, where everything sparkles and flower petals float and individual blades of grass shift in the wind, make Link's quest to wrest the Triforce artifact from the clutches of evil seem vibrant and new.
The 3D visuals give everything, even the dreary dungeons and castle, a little extra pop. But the best new trick is actually functional and strategic. Where the original Ocarina of Time pioneered the concept of locking your attack onto a specific target, the 3DS gyroscope takes the concept a key step further. Now you can jump into first-person view and line up/lock your slingshot and arrow attacks by tilting and moving the 3DS around. It's a little disorienting the first few times you try it, but once everything clicks, the immersion factor sails into the sky like a Navi fairy that's been zapped by a cattle prod.
The lone sour note the new Ocarina hits is the same one is one that's tripped up far too many games of late -- delayed release. This game could have achieved Halo-like levels of popularity if it had launched alongside the 3DS back in March. Instead, it's been released into the relative desert landscape of the summer gaming scene, where rejuvenating interest in Nintendo's 3D toy suddenly looks as challenging as beating back Ganondorf one more time. As we all know by now, if anyone can do it, it's Link.