There's something a bit odd about the fact that the 3DS's most-desired game - for many people, at least - is well over 12 years old. Strip away the stereographic gubbins, scruff up the graphics, and overlook the fact you're playing on a handheld, and you're more or less left with the same adventure you gibbered about in school, back in 1998. It's almost enough to make you dig out your long-discarded copy of Pretty Fly (for a White Guy). Almost, but not quite.
Then again, this is Ocarina of Time we're talking about - a classic release that's often cited as not just the best entry in the Zelda series, but as one of the best video games of all time. Most people will be satisfied with an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, and for the most part that seems to be the path that Nintendo has stuck to.
That's not to say that the game has been left totally untouched. The textures and models have been given a lick of paint, resulting in a slightly cleaner, sharper appearance, but the art style itself is still instantly recognisable. I'll admit that I'm actually not that familiar with OoT, having never played the game in its entirety (yes, yes - I know. I'm a bad person), but even I felt a slight twang of recognition as I strolled around Kokiri village - though in the case of Mido, this nostalgia took the form of wanting to punch him in the face as hard as I could, bossy little prick that he is.
Aside from the obvious addition of 3D (more on this in a bit), the most notable tweaks here are all tied in to the user interface. With the upper screen serving as your window into Link's world, the touchscreen is freed up to handle your inventory. From potions to bombs to great big pointy Deku sticks, if Link has it in his pocket, you can get at it with a single tap of the stylus (or your sticky, jam-covered finger). There's no need to head to the pause screen when switching between tools or weapons, and this should be an absolute godsend in places like The Water Temple, where Link plays around with his iron boots like a pointy-eared retifist.
A slightly less practical change is to be found in the new targeting mechanic for Link's slingshot, which now lets you use the 3DS's internal sensors to physically aim by hand. At the tap of the button the top screen will switch to what is effectively a first-person perspective; your view will then pan and tilt as you move the handheld left or right, up or down. I sense that we'll see this setup in a few early 3DS titles - it's also used in Nintendo's submarine game, Steel Diver, to much greater effect. Here, it just feels gimmicky, and impractical to the extreme.
Thanks to the fact that you can simply use the C-Pad instead, the weird gyro-aiming setup can be struck off our list of potential problems. A far more concerning issue for me is the fact that playing Zelda in 3D made me feel distinctly uncomfortable, even in the course of a brief 20 to 30-minute play session. As I've said before, it's important not to jump to conclusions too swiftly: I've not played the game for that long, so it may well be a case of needing to adapt to the experience. Even if this isn't the case, what applies to me may not affect everyone else. All the same, I feel it's something worth mentioning.
I'll happily admit that this is pure conjecture, but the problem may stem from the fact that OoT is a game where the player's view shifts about on a fairly regular basis. This is particularly true of the Inside the Deku Tree dungeon, and the subsequent boss fight with Gohma, two of the three demo sequences on offer last week. In both cases there's a need to keep track or battle enemies crawling on the walls or ceiling, and in Gohma's case you need to stay on the move at regular intervals. Other 3DS titles like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Resident Evil Mercenaries and PES 2011 didn't seem to have this effect, even though they're arguably far busier in terms of their visuals. The third, equally possible cause is that I just have wonky eyes. If that's the case, it's likely that I only have a limited period of time before I go permanently blind. Under the circumstances, I should probably wrap this preview up, while I can still read my own typing.
Given the hefty queues outside the booth at last week's event - and the enduring popularity of Nintendo's taciturn little green chap - it seems all but certain that Ocarina of Time will find another warm reception upon its latest release. Let's be honest, this will sell even if the 3D does turn out to be problematic. It's one of the biggest hits in Nintendo's entire back catalogue, lightly spruced-up and ready to play wherever you like - or at least wherever you like where you can sit nice and still. What more could you want?
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time is due for release on 3DS at some point after E3.