Unlike the E3 outing, Nintendo's post events were a lot more relaxed, quieter but still had a nice sweaty stench. Locked up in the basement of a posh London club, Zelda fan-reporters had an orgasmic leap to the Hylian's latest adventure, and from first Glance, Nintendo sure weren't going to disappoint. Strangely enough the prospect of playing Zelda didn't quite hit until I had my hands grasped firmly on the poor hero, and his grunts and usual noises confirmed his approval. The hero returns, but is Twilight Princess all its cracked up to be? Read below for my in-depth hands on with the next Legend of Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda is exactly as the title suggests, a tale and a story, and like many passes down from generation to generation. The GameCube's first, Wind Waker, carried the series on from the 3D debut of the N64 to something quite different to what many had expected. As if a slightly overdosed child had told the story, Wind Waker presented the hero's world in a vivid and unique style that introduced new and original play mechanics to the series. Taking a slightly leap back before the events of Wind Waker, the series' second GameCube adventure begins. Reverting back to the grimy darker style of past titles, Twilight Princess tells the story of the hero, Link, as his daily tasks and ambition in a small rural village take a turn for the worst. As darkness falls, the legend rises... again. Whilst the overexcited fan may jump blindly at the prospect of a new Zelda to bash away at, some sceptics have doubted the progression of Link's next adventure, a step back if you will.
At the point where the initial excitement over seeing Link in a more realistic tone dies down, it is difficult to see whether his next adventure will deliver anything substantial to the series though through our hands on with the title it certainly has created a lot more anticipation. Stripping away the blend of new and expanded gameplay features in Twilight Princess, the remainder of the game's core remains as strong as before. One may state a list of similar games in the genre that, with ease, have more complex and exciting gameplay features but Zelda still has the core emphasis on simplicity. Starting the adventure is as easy and still enjoyable as before as Link's placed in a new and exciting journey for players to embark on. In previous quests, the hero awoke in the midst of something massively sinister about to happen, a Gerudo thief gone mad or royal wizard wanting some eight-way princess action. Instead in Twilight Princess, the mood seems a lot more gradual and progressive, though we'll have to leave out the major storyline plots to avoid any spoilers! Throughout the Zelda timeline each adventure has had an initial compelling driving force to lure players into the adventure, and to a player who hasn't seen the mass bucket of trailers and images, Twilight Princess certainly seems just a bit off and spontaneous to begin with, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
We start with Link placed in a middle of a village on the outskirts of the main land, known in the Zelda world as Hyrule, performing some of his daily routines. Getting to know and understand the locals and environment before the adventure begins has been in the recent Zelda titles, and Twilight Princess does an excellent job of taking this feeling further. Although the locals are so excitable that they have to say the same thing to you over, and over, and over, there is a sense of a growing culture and society within the town of Toaru. Wandering around the village, players begin to realise the bonds between Link and certain characters giving a nice identity picture of the hero they're about to assume the role of. This in itself is a mini adventure of its own and aids the progression into the main story without dragging players through the laborious task of forced training/tutorials. Graphically the world of Hyrule is by far the most expansive in the series in terms of land anyway. Detail can be seen in the far away backgrounds, with what seems an endless path to explore beyond the rural village. Although some areas appeared a little bland and murky, rushed perhaps, the general atmosphere is as vivid as Wind Waker still carrying the small, gorgeous attention to detail that games in the series are known for. Hanging flags sway so elegantly in the calm countryside breeze, particles brushing past Link's face and through his hair, it's a very pretty picture indeed.
The learning curve doesn't feel as gradual as the classic Ocarina of Time yet still has some interesting challenges set to the player to learn the control scheme. To both past Zelda and new players, Twilight Princess's control scheme is as solid and simplistic as before. The analogue stick moves Link about, his primary weapon, a sword, is held permanently as B button, items assigned to X and Y, shield, targeting with the shoulder button with the usual context sensitive button set dead centre at A. To a skilled warrior or aspiring novice, the scheme is as quick to get to grips with, offering a simple, precise means of controlling Link. An interesting change is the lack of a third item assignment for Z has been replaced with a help/tip function on what to do in particular areas, acting as the Navi for the game. To rectify what may become a problem in situations that require a lot of item use, Nintendo have made use of the D-pad controls to offer a quick item menu, instead of having to shift through the pause option. Though some may fear that this could be another Starfox scenario when shifting items in real time, rest assured the game does pause for item selection.
Next up, horse battle. Now donning his full green suit along with armour additives, Link encounters some creatures on boars weiding weaponry and a lust to keep Link from saving his friend (captured by the main leader of the pack). What's noted to be one of the key battle sequences in the game, it by far was one huge privilege to play through, and one that didn't disappoint. Initially exciting but gradually a little repetitive, horse battling was one of the most enjoyable scenes to play throughout the demo. Link performs very well in terms of general control and attacks, as simple and satisfying in Ocarina of Time but with the added ability to chop down enemies on the move. Link's horse, whom you name in the game, is said to take a greater role in the title, as his trusted boat did for transportation in Wind Waker. Nintendo have definitely worked on these battles to a very high level of detail.
The boss sequence here was well played out, and annoyingly difficult to overcome, for me anyway. Graphically and musically intensive, this was going to be a long and exciting battle. A large plant/dragon creature pounces from a swampy pit and smugly glares at Link. From traditional Zelda titles, you'd expect to use the dungeon item directly however there's more to it than a throw and slash manoeuvre. A small monkey swings down before the monster with a bomb that seemed to have come from his arse somehow. We did tell Nintendo to quit the monkey fetish. As he swings, the boomerang can be locked on to direct the bomb to the poor unaware boss who continuously tries to eat Link. We did tell the monster to quit his Hylian fetishes. After a gruelling but enjoyable battle with more strategy and thinking, our hero's demonstration came to an end.
This greedy previewer now wants more! There are, though, a number of things that were a bit off putting or disappointing. The lack of some key Wind Waker features have been stripped from the game, namely the enemy weapon pickups from some, some emotion and clever characteristics that brought Zelda into this generation. Link, although having various new moves and fluidity, does feel slightly more clunky/heavier in places though this could be justified with his age and build. There are glitches in some sequences and slightly annoying camera works in certain sections, but don't detract from the game so much. Finally, the pose where Link smugly looks at the camera and puts his sword back into its holder needs to be removed; it makes the poor fellow look a bit of a twit!
A great demonstration, regardless of a few drawbacks. Zelda doesn't feel the same without the full adventure to play through so the samples perhaps don't flow as well without the links inbetween. However, the areas we played through were excellent and though certain features from past Zeldas have been removed, the prospects for Twilight Princess are looking very high indeed. Definitely a game to look out for this fall as the hero rises before Christmas. No, not Santa. Link!
I can not wait for this game! based on gameplay what do you think it will be rated E or T?
This title will battle RE4(GCN) for the Game of the Year Award, certainly. Now, the glitches...I can deal with them, but I think they will fix them up a bit; we do have over five months before release.
Excellent preview JB, makes me look forward to the game even more!
I am predicting this is the best game of this console generation.
Every previewer has to follow-up up his obvservations with a diss, though. Like "it was excellent, though tedious" or something like that. Is it just a careful effort to seem like a credible journalist by sounding more objective to those who dislike nintendo, or is Zelda not fun anymore?
Scary thought. People talk about the tedium of sailng everywhere in wind waker, but what of the tedium of riding everywhere in Ocarina? The tedium of trekking back and forth between two worlds without a boat or horse to speed things up in link to the past? Seems like the Cube gets singled out and picked on a lot.
Just a heads up jb, in the article you wrote 'Kojo kondo' instead of 'Koji Kondo.' Wouldn't normally hassle you about a little typo like that, but its like a guys name so I thought you might want to know.
Im a bit overdosed on Z:TP atm, but i no when it arrives i'll love it :-D
'...but its like a guys name...'
And not just any guy, either - one of the best soundtrack orchestrators in the Gaming Industry! :
At first I was rather shell-shocked playing Zelda, just wandering around a beautiful village, rolling around and slashing at various things. Truly enamoured I was, and being in a jovial mood, when one of the village children asked me to teach them my swords moves, I chose to try it out on his head, rather than the dummy practice scarecrow! Hehe :read:
There's a section on the monkey-filled part that bored the crap out of me and really broke the flow of the game down - and that was having to use the Tornado Boomerang to blow away LOTS of grass to uncover a key. However, only certainly sections of grass could be cleared at any one time, so it took ages to clear it all and uncover the little key. But there's always going to be slow parts in any game you play, so it hardly spoiled the whole experience!
The horse-back tete-a-tete at the end of galloping after the evil leader (using a similar speed-up option as in Ocarina with the carrots - press too many times quickly and you boost disappears completely for a while) was a clever alternative final
Jb, if you don't mind me asking, why should they tke away the cool "putting sword in sheath" pose when it seems cool. I can understand from your opinion but i think that the majority of people like that pose.
Good review too!!
I wonder if Nintendo will get this released on time...
I'm sure the weapon pick-up feature will be included in the final version. I think Link and the enemy animation is superb. I also love Link's new pose., makes him seem more cool. :
Nice write up JB! One thing. How long is the dungeoun demo and where does it end? Before the boss door? Is there a Boss Key and Dungeon Map in the demo?
"An interesting change is the lack of a third item assignment for Z has been replaced with a help/tip function "
"Nintendo have made use of the D-pad controls to offer a quick item menu, instead of having to shift through the pause option"
Looks like it's gonna be a classic!
who wouldn't be excited about this zelda game? it sounds like it will blow the other zeldas away!
its good but you need to add cool screen thingys so i'll get more intrested ps. this game will be the best because it has a 5 star rateing and the game will be rated t for teen.