Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS – Which Version is Right for You?

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs 3DS

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS – Which Version is Right for You?

This November marks the 25th anniversary of Ocarina of Time‘s release on the Nintendo 64. In the same way that Super Mario 64 represents a turning point for 3D gaming and the first truly successful transition of a 2D franchise into 3D, Ocarina of Time is still the standard by which all 3D action-adventure games are judged. Not only was the title a massive leap forward for the traditionally 2D Zelda series, the game helped to pioneer several mechanics that are now staples in the games that follow it. After years of Ocarina of Time spending its existence behind exclusivity on the Nintendo 64 and the Wii Virtual Console, Nintendo finally saw fit to remaster the game for its 3DS handheld in 2011.

This remaster of the first 3D Zelda smartly keeps the core gameplay and mechanics intact while improving the game’s visual fidelity and adding-in 3D functionality thanks to the 3DS stereoscopic 3D screen. The result is a version of Ocarina of Time that both looks and plays like you remember it, no longer under the constraints of the N64’s 25-year-old hardware. Now that the original version of the game is newly available via Nintendo Switch Online’s classic game collection (thanks to the Expansion Pack that includes Nintendo 64 games), it’s worth taking a look at which version of this undisputed classic is the true definitive 3D Zelda experience.

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: Side-by-Side Comparison

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs 3DS

Outside of releasing 13 years later on a more advanced piece of Nintendo hardware, the 3DS version of OoT is largely identical to the N64 original. Still, there are some subtle improvements that Nintendo and co-developer Grezzo made to the title to help differentiate the 3DS version from its predecessor. Conversely, some features were part of the original that are now no longer available on the 3D remaster, including several of the key glitches and exploits necessary for the fastest speed runs of the game. Let’s take a look at the two versions side-by-side:

ChracteristicOoT Nintendo 64 VersionOoT 3DS Version
Release Year19982011
Aggregate Score9994
Total Sales7.6 million6.44 million
Master Quest
Mirrored Master Quest
Exploits and Glitches
Improved Textures and Animation
Naps and Boss Battles
Improvements to Inventory Management
Number of Hearts Restored by Pink Fairies8All
Sheikah Stones

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: 5 Must-Know Facts

Here are 5 must-know facts about the two different versions of OoT:

  • The 3DS’ dual-screens make inventory management and map navigation immensely easier in the 3DS version, making it difficult to go back to the pause menu system from the Nintendo 64 original. This is a small, but hugely impactful, quality-of-life change.
  • Speaking of changes, there are several less obvious updates that the 3DS version makes over the original. One of these comes in the form of the Sheikah Stones, which provide players with visions detailing parts of quests that still need completing or reveal items that are nearby but not yet acquired.
  • The 3DS version of OoT also includes bonuses not available in the Nintendo 64 original, such as the Nap system where Link can rest to restore his health or experience a “Nightmare”, which is a replay of an already beaten boss.
  • The original Ocarina of Time is notorious for players’ ability to exploit certain glitches in the game to speedrun the title and beat it within minutes. These glitches no longer remain in the 3DS version and are exclusive to the original versions of the title.
  • The main quest and number of dungeons are the same across all versions of OoT, meaning that the actual content of the game remains mostly unchanged between the Nintendo 64 and 3DS versions. That said, the textures and animations receive vast improvements in the 3DS version over the Nintendo 64 original.

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: The Dual Screen Advantage

Comparing all the versions of OoT rests largely on the differences in hardware since each version of the title retains mostly the same content across each release. The 3DS version, however, is unique in that it takes advantage of its console’s dual screens. Having the second screen handy for navigating dungeon maps or managing inventory is a massive UI improvement over the original, almost single-handedly making the 3DS version the definitive Ocarina of Time experience. And, if that weren’t enough, the 3DS version has the additional benefit of portability.

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: Subtle Changes

Although both versions of Ocarina of Time have the same main quest and number of dungeons between them, the 3DS version makes some subtle changes from the original that help it to stand out. In addition to the Sheikah Stones that provide the player with helpful visual hints for solving puzzles and locating items, there are certain nerfs and buffs that the 3DS version makes over the N64 original. First, the 3DS version’s pink fairies restore Link to full health regardless of how many hearts he’s missing whereas in the Nintendo 64 version they only restore 8. Another important change is the way that the 3DS nerfs the Deku Stick, which in the 64 version has the same amount of power as a Biggoron Sword when child Link weilds it.

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: Bonus Features

The 3DS version also adds some new features that help to flesh out the experience of playing Ocarina of Time. Perhaps the most important of these is the new Nap feature, which allows Link to visit his bed and rest to restore his health. Alternately, players can select to experience a “Nightmare” when napping, allowing Link to re-fight any boss. The battles themselves are timed and players can fight the bosses as both child and adult Link. Additionally, once players defeat all 8 bosses in the Boss Battle Mode, the Boss Gauntlet unlocks.

Ocarina of Time on N64 vs Ocarina of Time on 3DS: The Same Great Game With Added Polish

Playing Ocarina of Time 3D on the 3DS helps the game to look as most longtime fans likely remember it, but the truth is that the visual fidelity of the Nintendo 64 version is definitely showing its age. Comparing the two versions side-by-side shows just how much the textures, lighting, coloring, and animations are improved in the 3DS version over the original. Not only that, players have the option to use the 3DS’ 3D functioinality for additional immersion and depth. Beyond the more obvious visual changes, there are also more subtle ones that make certain dungeons much easier (such as markers in the Water Temple to help with the water puzzles).

Bottom Line

In terms of which version of Ocarina of Time is the pure and unadulterated experience, that honor goes to the Nintendo 64 original. Players have plenty of options for playing this version of the classic Zelda game, including on native hardware, the GameCube, the Wii virtual console, and the Switch via Nintendo Switch Online. Still, the 3DS version’s subtle improvements to the visuals and additional bonus features help to improve an already incredible game, making it one of the best remasters of a classic game available. Adding in that the 3DS’ portability means being able to play it anywhere certainly helps as well, making it hard to argue against it as the definitive version of the game.

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