Through the first dungeon, then and now:
Then: We'd picked it up as a rental at first, early in February of '99. I had just put out a few weeks' part-time pay into getting an N64 with Mario 64 and Kart to keep it company, and magazine snapshots (this was back before we even had an internet connection) had done a very poor job at conveying how the game actually played, and I'd been burnt on picking up critical darlings that had done nothing for me in the past (looking at you, Tomb Raider), so a trial period seemed wise.
Our initial impressions were a little mixed. It was a fear very early on that we'd be constantly distracted from the gameplay, not by Navi, but from having to check that little blue circle that told us what the A button would do at the moment. We'd made it as far as the room where you run across the raised platforms after tripping the switch and died stupidly to the stationary Gold Skulltula. We were terrible at first. This was a much more rough-and-tumble sort of Zelda, and Link himself lacked Mario's agility, or so it felt early on.
The next day I picked it up solo while my sister and mom went off to do something together (at this point I can't even remember what), and I slowly became more attuned to the way the game worked. Breaking the webbing on the first floor was almost accidental; it was purely to recreate the many times I'd sent Mario on such a dive just to hear him howl on the way down.
The boss fight was the exact moment, though, when I decided this would be a game worth having. I went about business the long way, inadvertantly protracting the battle because I didn't think to attack it while it was perched on the ceiling. When my sister, a lifelong arachnophobe, reached the battle she not only proved you can hit it while it's on the ceiling, but the whole battle lasted maybe twenty seconds, tops. It was a holy-shit kind of moment, and I said as such. She's still proud of that moment to this day. We wound up returning the rental early, because by that time we had both deciding on getting it. It would be great, we could feel it now.
Now: Looking over all that, you kind of see the risk involved in remaking the game. I mean, after that kind of nostalgia fit, the odds are two-to-one-against that most of this end is going to be nitpicking over what's different, right? Well yes and no. I'm not especially keen on Link himself; I won't say 'overanimated' here, but he's certainly more noticeable than he was before, and it's a little distracting. It's also a little disappointing that after hearing about the ability to equip four items at a time in reviews, that half of those 'buttons' are touch-activated, which realistically speaking means that there's actually only two buttons you'll frequently use, and therefore less item flexibility from a practical standpoint. They should have used the crosspad for item management as in the Wii Twilight Princess. I'm also a little bummed that the scene with Saria on the bridge has been arbitrarily shifted to be in daylight. The drab greyness of the original scene made it a little more effective, I thought. As I said though, nitpicking.
On the flipside, the 3D itself works beautifully. The game seems like it was always made for this tech, as moments like Navi's initial flight seem to have no other purpose than screen-popping pyrotechnics (I find the effect works best if you keep the 3D at half-level, personally). Also, the tilt-aiming is a hoot, but it's very hard to aim in 3D and keep your vision inside the bubble so that the image doesn't split, so ultimately I turned it off (I also put the L-targeting on Toggle, as holding the trigger while moving with the circle pad was enormously uncomfortable. I'd bet anything that when they redesign the system - and let's not pretend they won't - the crosspad and analog nub will switch places).
At this point, I'm pleased with it, but I don't think it's quite good enough to outright supplant the original. We'll see how it goes. I'm interested in seeing Castle Town as something other than a flat blur.