Well, I've had a weekend to dig my teeth into "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest." What's the verdict, you ask?
Well, for any "Zelda" fan, this 2003 kinda-remake is a surprisingly rewarding experience. I recommend it, love it, and look forward to the day when our civil union will be recognized by the people of New York State. For anyone else, don't waste your time or money tracking this game down.
Here's the good: So far (I just turned adult and promptly won me a pretty Filly named Epona), the dungeons I've encountered are honest-to-goodness tougher and fresh, just as advertised. And, as advertised, the rest of the game is a spot-on recreation of the original "Ocarina of Time," no tougher, no easier.
The Deku Tree dungeon's layout is not changed too much, which initially left me worried I'd just spent $40 on a lemon of an experience. The main change here is an increased number of monsters, most of which take the form of the miniature Gohma pods.
But Dodongo's Cavern erased all of my fears, as the sequence of where you go in the level is completely altered, right from the beginning. In fact, if memory serves, the first place you have to go in the dungeon is to the walkways hanging overhead, a jarring and confusing change. The puzzles are not only tougher to figure out, but tougher to execute. Instead of simply needing to light every torch in a room to open a door (a classic "Zelda" cliche), this dungeon forces you to complete what I called a Torch Relay, in which you light a torch with your deku stick, but then have to put that stick away and light a new stick using the torch you just lit because the distance to reach the next torch you have to light is too great for one stick. On top of that, you'll have to fight monsters in-between torches.
Jabu-Jabu's belly is likewise turned on it's ear, but this time there is an even stranger twist: There are cows lodged in the walls which serve as switches. I could not make that up if I tried.
These new dungeon layouts also make it much harder to collect gold skultas. It seems the dungeons are filled with secret doors and ledges just out of reach of your current arsenal of weapons. And it also seems each time you encounter one of these rooms, there is that familiar skulta sound, letting you know you should remember to come back later in the game.
But, here's the bad: Despite the tougher dungeons, which are now tough enough to please any "Zelda" fan, the boss battles have not been made more difficult. The result is a slightly anti-climactic feeling for each dungeon, and a lack of any anticipation.
The main flaw, though? The GameCube controller. The familiar Z-Targeting is replaced by the "L" button, and while it may work very well for "Wind Waker" and "Twilight Princess," it just fails miserably here. Whereas "Ocarina of Time" boasted a fluid, natural camera and feel on the Nintendo 64, on the GameCube it almost feels like you are succeeding in spite of your limitations. Also, trying to play songs using the clunky GameCube C-button stick, or simply draw your side-weapons quickly, is sometimes difficult.
Still want to hear more? Well I plan on playing a little more tonight (after watching the Blazers/Hornets game, of course) so hopefully I'll have more to report soon.
P.S. Wasn't winning Epona difficult back in the day? I think Ingo has been getting rusty in the past decade.