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The Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary Symphony - Impressions (London)

Now Playing: Nothing till Zelda
Now Listening to: The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony

When Nintendo announced a series of orchestral concerts to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda series at this years E3, I was majorly stoked about the prospect of being able to celebrate such a momentous occasion with other fans in this way. As a life-long fan of the series, I know that it's great music has played a pivotal role in it's success.

Hammersmith, Central London, 25th October 2012

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You can almost hear Ocarina Morning. I know, it's creepy.

The concert was taking place in the evening at the Hammersmith Apollo, an old London venue designed by Robert Cromie in the Art Deco forms of the 1930's. It's what we call a Grade B listed building over here. It's an "English Heritage" award, which results in a building having to retain period architectural features. Anyway, this worked well for the whole affair, so I think the venue was chosen well by Nintendo.

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I arrived with my girlfriend to find thousands of fans waiting outside in jovial mood, and it was soon apparent that many had come from all parts of Europe. I pulled out my 3DS to bag a few trophies in Street Fighter IV, and then noticed the StreetPasses were coming in thick and fast. In the end I got about 70 or so hits last night, a number which meant absolutely nothing to me, but from my 3DS waiting in the queue I was able to see just how important this event was to everyone. It was clear that many had travelled from all parts of the world and were very happy to be there on the evidence of their welcome messages. I dread to think how much money some of them may have paid to get the opportunity though, one Austrian couple we spoke to told us they paid about a grand in pounds sterling, and this after the dude recently lost a job working for a mobile games developer in Vienna.

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It was nicely laid out inside, the decor looked elegant and the bars were oozing booze and people were happy. I was until I noticed the queue at the merchandise stall. if you can even call it that. Foreigners do not queue quite like we Britons do, the sheer amount of pushing and shoving going on was offensive and disgraceful. I ordered some drinks and asked my girlfriend to wait for me, I knew this was going to take a while.

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(£20 Pounds for a poster, and £25 for a T-shirt)

I had only arrived near the till when the announcer came on to ask people to take their seats, It was at that point I mumbled a few obscenities and asked my girlfriend to bring me the double shot dark rum I'd ordered earlier. I gulped it down, got my Zelda T-Shirt and Wind Waker 25th poster, then we both ran upstairs to take to our seats.

PART I

Having taken our seats, 1) Hyrule Castle Theme from Link to the Past begins to play with all the orchestral majesty you can imagine...

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The atmosphere was electric, Eiji Aonuma took to the stage to talk about the importance of the event to both Nintendo and it's loyal Zelda fans, many of which couldn't be there to celebrate in person. He also talked about the importance of music in the Zelda series, and how in Skyward Sword the music would be taken to the next level using Wii Motion Plus. Apparently, the music in Skyward Sword will coordinate at times depending on your movements in battles and elsewhere in the game.

Aonuma san introduced us all to the symphony's conductor, Eímear Noone (below), and she in turn introduced us to her orchestra sections, who I should say all played awesome little Zelda jingles to show off their talent.

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The Conductor also introduced us to our guest presenter for the evening, the aptly named, Zelda Williams, who the crowd instantly warmed to after she proclaimed her love for Majora's Mask.

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Here's a little Zelda Williams mixing up her valleys and villages, before introducing - 5) Boss Battle Medley, played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with great venom:

http://youtu.be/o5KBaGuWrHo

2) Princess Zelda's Theme

The "Wind Waker Symphonic Movement" was one of the best moments for me. Wind Waker's music in full orchestral glory was always destined to sound incredibly good, and I found the gameplay footage that accompanied the music amusing and apt. I really liked the rendition of the chirpy music that plays when you're on Ms Tetra's ship. And boy did those violins sound good...

3) Wind Waker Symphonic Movement: http://youtu.be/HIlzSxYQ83E

(open in new tab with headphones - best bit comes at the end)

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Wind Waker 25th poster featuring a quack-nosed Rito girl = Win

4) Ocarina of Time Melody Suite - This went down very well with the Ocarina fans.

5) Boss Battle Medley - Delivered with venom from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I was really impressed by the precision.

6) Kakariko Village - I have no idea what instruments were playing, but I loved what they were doing. Easily one of the best moments.

7) Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley - This was so awesome, it really was the best way to take fans to the intermission, it spiked the excitement in all of us.


INTERMISSION- Got a burger, sank a bottle of beer and played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:

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I came away very impressed with what I played of Skyward Sword, it's framerate was rock solid, and the art and full array of colour combinations are truly a feast for your eyes to behold. I don't think I've ever seen a game with bolder colour usage. The newly developed graphical effects have a wild and vivid dreamlike quality which further enhances the whole visual effect.

Motion controls require clean clinical swipes in all directions, they have a really nice bite to them once you work out your timing, only then does it begin to feel comfortable and satisfying. I really enjoyed the little things like being able to deflect Ghirahim's electro bolts he sends levitating your way in the boss battle. You can strike them back at him by slicing at them with exactly the same directional slice of the Wii Remote. Agility wise, Link feels great, he's certainly never felt so nimble to control in any previous Zelda games.

New Origins Trailer:

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/exclusive-origins-zelda-skyward/723206


PART II

Eight) Gannon's Theme - I loved this, it was as dark as the Boss Medley which the orchestra had done so well with previously.

9) The Legend of Zelda: Selected Short's Suite - A selection of melodies fans have grown to love over the years, but never have they sounded this good, my jaw dropped. We all cheered.

10) Gerudo Valley - This was fantastic, my ears had never heard anything like it before, recorded orchestral music simply doesn't sound as good as this.

11) Hyrule Field Theme - A huge crowd pleaser, this was the moment many had waited for on the evidence of the cheer that rang out.

12) Great Fairy's Fountain Theme - This was so lovely...

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Transcendence via two magical Harps

Special Guest: Nintendo's Koji Kondo takes to the stage.

He sits down at the piano to play "Granny Theme" from Wind Waker. Listening to it I was reminded of the scene in Wind Waker where Grandma's on the shore waving Link off on his adventure...

http://youtu.be/JALVWbkZQ8M


13)Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement- The fact this sounded so good wasn't a surprise to me.

14)The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley - A fitting end to a truly magical night for fans.

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Hands-On Nintendo 3DS Impressions

Now Playing: Detana Twinbee Yahoo Deluxe
Now Listening to: The Sound of Silence
Now Watching: Californication Season 4

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I recently had the pleasure of playing the 3DS at a Nintendo event in London. I managed to play all the software that's been shown off so far, including; Kid Icarus Uprising, Resident Evil:The Mercenaries 3D, Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, and all the rest, in 3D.

Kid Icarus: Uprising was a lot of fun, I warmed to it instantly, zipping around the screen at high speeds while shooting stuff feels very good indeed, It's overall quality reminded me of Treasure's Sin 2: Star Successor on Wii. The flight controls for the game work as well as you would wish them to, they feel very natural and they are well designed. I really like how you can invert flight controls at the touch of a tab while-on-the- fly, literally. The games 3D effects make the flight itself more enjoyable than without the 3D on, it just doesn't feel as good when there's a lack of depth perception. Everything has a habit of looking cute in 3D, even 2D stuff looks cool, It's almost like the 3D effect seems to make anything 2D look quirky and special in some way..Or maybe this is simply down to the quality of the art design, the art design in this game really is some of the best Nintendo has produced in many years in my eyes. The game uses a wide array of vivid colours and character design of the very highest quality - "Sakurai Quality". Getting back to the gameplay, I found the ground based fighting sections very tricky to control, these controls didn't feel anywhere near as intuitive as those conceived for flight, However, I found that you do get used to them once you've got your evade and melee moves nailed.

I got the distinct impression there's still a lot of work that needs to be done with the ground based stuff, to bring it up to par with the quality seen in the flight sections, still, things are looking very promising indeed for Kid Icarus:Uprising - it oozes Nintendo Quality in 3D.

Resident Evil: The Mercs 3D was awesome too of course, I thought the 3D graphics worked really well in this title, I found they added more tension and a sense of urgency to the gameplay. BTW, the NPC count was insane at times, it was so bad I felt compelled to laugh at one point. The player control, which is done with the new Circle Pad, feels nice and smooth. The games targeting controls are designed just like the Gamecube & PS2 game, requiring the shoulder button to be held down while you aim your cross-hair at targets, This control method should see most gamers jumping into the game with no hurdles to overcome. The games sound deserves a notable mention also, I thought it was pretty awesome I really liked the sounds of the melee attacks as they slammed in with venom.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D is looking like a must have game, along with the single-player 3DS game, Resident Evil:Revelations.

Ocarina 3D, looked surprisingly good in 3D, and all the new features worked seamlessly together - new touch pad menu's, new sound arrangements, new control methods for items & organization. I particularly liked using the Slingshot with it's new motion control, It's cool and there's no lag at all, unlike Steel Diver's intentionally laggy/slow periscope controls. The game features slight graphical improvements that have been implemented with conservation in mind, Nintendo haven't obliterated all signs of ageing, they've simply cleaned things up in the most important areas, For example, they have improved those classic canned animations that once imprinted themselves on legions of gamers minds. According to the rep I spoke to, "Master Quest is a certainty, Nintendo are always looking to prolong gameplay as much as possible".

A Japanese dude was playing Ocarina alongside me, at one points we both looked at each other, smiled and agreed that a new Zelda on handheld had to happen soon. After playing Ocarina 3D, I really want sequel to Wind Waker on 3DS. I think such a game could only look magical.


As far as the 3D effect, it certainly works for me, but I did notice some games fail to utilize it as well as others. As a designer It was clear to me some games had issues with objects featuring negative parallax - the illusion of 3D depth is broken instantly when such objects clip others, and I saw this a few times on third party products, not from Capcom though. Anyway, I hope this will be a thing of the past in future games, as fellow designers start to get a handle on developing for 3DS.

The quality of the 3D effect certainly seems to vary from game to game. I was surprisingly impressed by Dead or Alive: Dimensions 3D, I found it improved it's classic 3D gameplay, just like it also did with Pro Evolution Soccer 2011. The 3D effect in the latter really does aid the game, everything seems to feel a lot better now. For instance, it's now much easier to judge the strength of pass or through-ball, or target a shot on goal with more precision. I imagine this will be also be the case in something like Madden NFL 3DS.

I found that I personally prefer just below the highest 3D setting on the "3D Slider". I think this will naturally differ from person to person depending on the quality of your eyesight.

Till March 25th! ;-Smilie

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