So how much is it improved, and how much has been changed? Jonny has your answers.
Being well on my way to the second dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Ura Version) for GameCube, I think I’m now qualified enough to write impressions. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about this slightly modified version of the game.
I can definitely tell why Ura Zelda was never released on the 64DD. Quite frankly, the differences aren’t worth twenty bucks or however much the expansion disk would have cost. All of the adventuring portions so far have been exactly the same as in the original version of Ocarina of Time. The characters are in the same places, items haven’t been moved or changed, and the cut-scenes are all untouched. Hyrule Field now features an extra-large Stalfos at night, but that’s the only difference I have noticed so far.
Ura Zelda’s dungeons seem to be the only “new” portions of the game, and if the Deku Tree is a good example of what to expect later on, even the dungeons haven’t changed much. There are a few new enemies, mainly just bigger and tougher versions of normal monsters. The Deku Tree is now full of Baby Gohma eggs, previously only encountered during the first boss fight. The eggs can be destroyed from afar with the slingshot, but if you get close, they’ll hatch and Baby Gohmas will come out. These little guys aren’t that hard, but like the super-sized versions of regular enemies, they are pretty aggressive. My shield usage has been much higher than it ever was before. Gohma itself didn’t seem to look or act any different than normal, and I beat him pretty easily.
Aside from slightly new monsters, some rooms of the Deku Tree dungeon seemed to be new or modified from their original versions. I’ll have to check this with Billy and the others later, because it’s been a while since I played Ocarina of Time. If I’m correct and there are new rooms, there should be some nice challenges in later dungeons.
As for the GameCube conversion, I’m quite pleased with the port’s quality. Progressive scan makes a big difference in these older games. The framerate is also much more stable than before; this upgrade becomes most apparent when walking around Kakariko Village, which was always chunky on the N64. Finally, the resolution has been increased for this port. While the difference isn’t jaw-dropping, OoT definitely looks cleaner than ever before. The colors also look brighter, but that’s probably due to my TV and video cables being far superior than what I played the original version on.
There are a few very minor drawbacks pertaining to the disc-based loading. After choosing which version you want to play (original or Ura), there is a loading screen that lasts about ten seconds. It’s not a big deal, but perhaps worth noting. More annoying is the extended pause when you press Start for the sub-screen; it is significantly longer than on the N64 cartridge. This will likely annoy me to no end later in the game, when you have to access the inventory very often.
The controls have been mapped quite nicely onto the GameCube controller. The N64’s control stick had more tension than the GameCube’s does, and I’m really noticing that when trying to aim the slingshot. It’s just different, but I’m already getting the hang of it. The C-stick does a great job with the assigned inventory items, and you can also use Z, X, and Y if you prefer them. What’s really neat is playing the ocarina with the C-stick, which feels quite a bit different than the C-buttons did. Using the L-trigger for locking on works just fine, especially after playing through Metroid Prime.
At this point, it’s probably quite difficult to snag a bonus disc from Japan. But, if you’re expecting one in the mail soon or think you can still manage to order one, here’s some importing advice. Basically, you’ll only have a problem if you never played OoT on the N64 (for shame!). Ura Zelda seems to use the exact same dialogue for story sequences and informational text boxes. It was basically guesswork setting up the memory card file, but since then I haven’t had any problems with the text or menus. However, if it’s been a long time since you played OoT, you may have trouble remembering what to do next. Any online guide should do the trick, because again, the plot and actual game progression don’t seem to be changed at all in Ura Zelda.
My first impression of Ura Zelda is that too little has changed. I mean, it’s still quite cool as a pre-order freebie, but don’t expect anything radically new and exciting. Later dungeons may change my mind about that, but I kind of doubt it.