Take, for example, the Fire Temple. The designers added flaming barriers in key places that prevent the player from accessing rooms that were readily available in the original quest. To get past these barriers, you'll have to use your hookshot and arrows in imaginative ways. There are also amusing new chain reactions that require you to set off a string of bombs that in turn triggers a switch or opens a passage. Other new challenges include invisible monsters that can only be seen when using the Lens of Truth -- even in the earlier dungeons -- and more Bombchu puzzles in the later ones. Every dungeon is changed, including the Ice Cavern, Ganon's Tower, the Bottom of the Well, and even Gerudo's Training Ground (but not the villages, the graveyard, or Gerudo Fortress). Additionally, all Skulltula spider locations are changed inside the dungeons (their locations in the overworld remain the same), presenting hardcore Zelda fans who can't stop playing until they have found everything more to do as well.

On the flipside, some of the puzzles aren't as well-constructed as the original's (after all, "second quest" most likely meant "second choice" during the Nintendo design process). Thus, the Water Temple is a bit easier to complete now than before (although some of the puzzles have the potential to stump you if you don't pay close attention and properly survey the rooms when you enter) and the progression through the dungeons isn't always as smooth as in the original. Thus, the standard Ocarina of Time quest is still the better choice for first-time players. But if you've already finished the game before, Master Quest becomes a very entertaining and much more difficult nut to crack for returning players. It's amazing that Nintendo would be able to create an alternate version of an existing game with so many great, new puzzles while other companies still fill their adventure games with time-consuming fetch quests (ahem, Star Fox Adventures) and enough block puzzles to drive you crazy.

The Port
Now for the bad... As great as the two Zelda adventures on this disk are, the port to GameCube is rather lackluster when you think about what could have been. The graphics engine has been upgraded to run in 640x480 high resolution (which gets rid of the overly muddy look the N64 original displays when running on modern big-screen TVs) and it even supports 480p progressive scan mode for HD and DTVs, but other than that the visuals are unchanged. The biggest disappointment lies in the framerate department. The game appears to run at a framerate in the mid-20s, just like the original. It's steady -- some of the slowdown that happened in OoT's Water Temple is gone -- but given the low-poly characters and environments, a more able developer would have been able to get the game to run at a smooth 60 frames per second. On the audio side, the game presents itself in the same Pro-Logic (1) surround sound as the original. The music sounds dated by today's standards, but the great environmental sound and sound effects still manage to impress. Just stand still in the fields and listen to how much you can hear -- even when nothing is happening in the game.

While the textures and models look dated, the game's wonderful visual presentation stood the test of time.

Control-wise, it quickly becomes obvious that the game was designed for the N64 controller. The translation of the N64 analog stick to the GameCube's left stick left the first-person aiming a bit jumpy. You'll have a harder time lining up the sights when using the hookshot or bow and arrow than in the original, but you'll get used to it over time. Similarly, the N64's C-buttons were more intuitive than the GameCube's C-Stick, or the the X, Y, and Z buttons that can also be used. Finally, there is some slight stutter when accessing the "Start" menu as well as a strange bug that doesn't let you choose the option to stop playing after saving your game. On the other hand, the GameCube controller's rumble is more pronounced than what the N64's Rumble Pak could deliver, so put your Wave Bird away for some hours to find all the hidden secrets that the Stone of Agony alerts you to.

The port is based on the second edition of Ocarina of Time for N64, which featured altered music in the Fire Temple (minus the Muslim chant included in the first batch of carts shipped out) and green blood during the final battle with Ganon.

The disk also includes a new rendition of the Zelda theme at the start-up menu, some bonus movies of slick, upcoming Nintendo titles such as Wind Waker, and F-Zero, as well as some rather disappointing footage of 1080 and Wario World. A playable demo of Wind Waker or perhaps some history on the Zelda franchise would have been cooler bonus (or even the clips of the Capcom titles included on the Japanese release), but we're not complaining. It's great that Nintendo is finally stirring the drum and giving GameCube owners advance looks at upcoming projects. Kudos to NOA for offering the game in a proper DVD case, not the paper sleeve that the Japanese version shipped in.

Closing Comments
The release of Master Quest is a sweet, sweet surprise for any Zelda fan. After writing an article about cancelled Zelda games back in 2001, I didn't think Ura Zelda would ever see the light of day. Bundling it with a Wind Waker is a stroke of genius. Not only did it give gamers an incentive to preorder the game early, it also ensures that everyone who plays Wind Waker will now know the story of the predecessor. While it's most likely that Nintendo conceived the idea of offering the bonus disk because of negative feedback to Wind Waker's changed look, it ended up being one of the greatest bonus offers we've seen in a long time.

Ocarina of Time has aged extremely well. The gameplay remains top notch and the added Master Quest is a fantastic reason to play the game again, even for those who have play through the original multiple times (as I have). Sure, an extended ending, bonus clip or altered final battle would have been nice, but the game is still so much fun, it really doesn't need anything extra to amaze you again. Graphically, the game looks dated when compared to the rest of the GameCube lineup -- something that could have been addressed with a more competent port -- but you'll get immersed into Ocarina of Time's rendition of Hyrule so quickly, you won't notice it later on in the game. It really is a testimony to the game's overall design that it can still wow players in the age of graphically-intense games like Star Fox Adventures or Metroid Prime.

So, the final verdict then: points off for the lazy port -- but rest assured that Ocarina of Time has lost little of its luster, the Master Quest is a wonderful bonus for returning players, and the fact that the whole package is free makes this an essential addition to any GameCube owner's library. Don't delay any longer. Go find a store that has the bonus disk in stock and preorder the marvelous sequel, Wind Waker, and rest assured that you will own twoż er, three timeless classics that are textbook examples of pure gaming bliss.

IGN Ratings for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Master Quest (bonus disc) (GCN)
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9.0 Presentation
Despite text-only conversations and dated graphics, Ocarina retains its movie-like feel. Some sequences are so perfectly set in scene, they'll make you forget the low-poly look and suck you right in.
5.0 Graphics
The 640x480p upgrade makes the game look a lot sharper, but compared to other GameCube titles the textures, models, and framerate are definitely dated. The graphical style is still impressive, though.
7.0 Sound
Great environmental audio, good surround effects, and pretty melodies. The music samples are dated and the absence of the overworld theme remains a mystery.
10 Gameplay
Wonderful puzzles, a great quest, diverse (if still too easy) boss battles, and a whole new Master Quest mode make it easy to ignore the occasional camera annoyances. And yes, it's free.
9.0 Lasting Appeal
You get two games for the price of none, a long quest with tons of secrets and mini-games, and one of the most engaging adventures of all time. Like all adventures, it's got an end, but there are few
(out of 10 / not an average)
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