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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest

Review By:  AJ Middleton

Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  5-27-03

Upon hearing the news, the sudden switch of Link’s image in The Wind Waker startled many Zelda fans.  Most were disgusted, and others even vowed never to touch a Gamecube holding the newest installment of the series.  So, Nintendo had to think quickly.  Ok, ok, I’m not sure if that’s actually what happened, but SOMETHING prompted Nintendo to give out one of their biggest freebees up to date.  Preorder The Wind Waker, and you got a completely free disk containing preview videos, the famous Ocarina of Time, and the biggie; the never-before released Ocarina of Time: Master Quest.  And let me tell you this- if your local electronics store still has copies, I suggest that you do whatever it takes to get one.

Master Quest did not come out of the blue.  It was an enhanced version of Ocarina of Time that was created for the 64DD, but we all know that Nintendo’s first attempt at a nextgen system hardly left Japan.  You might even have heard of it as “Ura Zelda.”  So, MQ is most definitely a one-time thing that most likely will not come around again.  The plot is the same, but the goodies MQ contains are very special indeed.

Let’s start graphically.  Both OoT and MQ have been retouched.  No, it isn’t the Spaceworld demo, but it is MUCH better from what dazzled us on the N64.  In fact, after comparing the graphics from the GCN version to that of the original, you’ll wonder how and why we were dazzled by it at all.  Things are actually CLEAR.  There is no more fuzziness!  If Link is standing far away from the camera, you can still easily make out his facial expressions.  His eyes never become blobs and his mouth doesn’t disappear.  Lake Hylia is now sparkling blue.  It’s nowhere near the beauty of Starfox Adventures, but I don’t see how the waters on the N64 ever left me breathless.  For most things in the game, the new digital clarity has made them better.  The only problem is that some things are TOO clear.  The result is a weird outline around some of the flat objects (bush leaves, thin walls, etc.) but it doesn’t take away from the experience too much.  Compared to the new versions, the original OoT appears to have Hyrule covered in a layer of endlessly falling dust.  Who wouldn’t want a retouched version of 1998’s Game of the Year?

Now, let’s get specifically to Master Quest.  Believe it or not, there was still a lot for the programmers to play with without altering the plot or dialog.  The “a lot” is seen in three things:  Skulltulla dungeon locations, dungeon difficulty, and the dungeons themselves  (Oh, and there is one newly placed heart piece.)  Skulltulas in the overworld are not in different places, but they have moved around in the dungeons.  However, do not despair.  For some reason or another they are a whole lot easier to find.  Chances are, you’ll leave every MQ dungeon with a Skulltula next to the map title. 

The Skulltulas are probably easier to reach to give a little ego boost to the player. You’ll need it, because the difficulty has changed.  The game is called “Master Quest,” implying that it is for those who have mastered OoT and wish to take it to a new level.  However, mastery of the old game is what will end up being a primary roadblock for the master player in this quest.  Why?  Because the veteran will not be ready for the new dungeons.  They’ll find themselves trying to solve puzzles incorrectly or attempting to go in directions that are no longer correct in this version of the game.  Although the maps are exactly the same, I think it’s safe to say that about 90% of the rooms in MQ have been reorganized somehow.  Following past instincts leads to frustration, but it also allows you to relive the glory of The Ocarina of Time

Experiencing these changes are a large part of the experience, so I won’t spoil anything for you.  But I will mention a few.  For one, a large majority of the big chest items have been replaced.  You THOUGHT the compass was located there, but you’re playing the Master Quest now!  And yes, big chest items include new weapons as well.  In fact, the point of many of the temples has now been altered.  In OoT, you usually received any new artillery near the end of the dungeon, and it played a major role in defeating the boss.  With MQ, you’ll be surprised when you find such items as the Longshot and Megaton Hammer less then 5 minutes into entering the temples.  The new point of the dungeon is to conquer it WITH your new skill.  Such twists add a new feeling to the adventure.

You’ll be sure to find some unique changes with the dungeon layouts themselves.  Again, I won’t spoil much, but I will mention a large reorganization of the Bottom of the Well, the absence of giant boulders in a certain area in the Fire Temple, a tune-activated room in the Spirit Temple, and the frightening effects of Lord Jabu-Jabu’s all beef diet.  Of course, don’t expect the same switches to open the same doors, the same doors to contain the same surprises, and the same enemies to wait until a certain point in the game to make their first appearances…

Isn’t the suspense killing you?

Difficulty.  It will drive you mad.  The programmers decided to add in many extra little tricks that we would not expect in the regular adventure.  Come on, what else can they do?  They already proved everything that we know about OoT wrong and changed the dungeons!  Mwahaha.  The Song of Time and the Scarecrow’s Song take on a new meaning in Master Quest.  No longer is the SoT rarely used, and no more will the scarecrow only be summoned to get extras.  These two songs are now ESSENTIAL to progress through the game.  SoT blocks will now change position to create steps, platforms, and drop items when their song is played.  The Scarecrow song is necessary to arrive at high platforms that cannot be reached any other way.  The moral of the story: watch Navi’s colors!

And in some places, the programmers got carried away.  There is a room in the adult section of the Spirit Temple that only contains some Skulltulas, including a gold one.  This wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t involve a key to get to!  Yes, this room is placed so that you think that you need to get in, but you don’t.  Instead, you end up wasting the last small key.  How do you progress?  You have to hit a switch, which makes a chest appear.  But that’s far from all.  The chest is in the child portion of the temple.  You have to leave, become a child, trek to the chest, leave again, become an adult, and journey back to the correct door in the Temple.  Not fun.  Not fun at all.  Another “not fun” spot is in the fire portion of Ganon’s Castle.  In OoT, you could walk on the lava.  Not anymore.  Now, if you touch it, you get sent back to the beginning of the room and lose life.  It’s not an easy room to navigate either…

Highs:

  • Free!
  • On a disk with the original Ocarina of Time and bonus movies
  • Retouched graphics
  • Newly designed dungeons
  • Relive The Ocarina of Time with new surprises

Lows:

  • Pretty frustrating sometimes
  • Only changes are dungeon related

Final Verdict:

So what are you waiting for?  Go out and search for the bonus disk!  Master Quest is a must play for all Zelda fans.  It’s the glory that was Ocarina of Time, but on the Gamecube! AND it comes with a graphics boost and a load of interesting and surprising twists that are evident as soon as you step into the Deku Tree.  Besides, you get to help Link save Hyrule…again!

Overall Score: 9.5

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