Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tingle Mii

Just some fun entry on my blog. It's my Mii version of Tingle, my favorite self-made Mii, because Tingle is a funny guy and the Mii looks pretty close to the original (or at least I think it does). It's always funny to see him somewhere on Mario Kart Wii tracks. You can also use him as a light weight driver in the same game. If you compare him to the other Tingles on the Mii Contest Channel, you will agree that this is definitely one of the best versions. If you want to download him or just help me getting a better score, use the following number as a search string:


Friday, May 22, 2009

Metroid Prime Trilogy coming

I've been wondering for a while now, why Nintendo of America and Europe didn't announce Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes for the western "New Play Control!" series. But that was apparently for a very good reason. They decided to bundle those games together with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on ONE single disc, titled "Metroid Prime Trilogy".

Sounds awesome. The games will be started from a hub, that lists all three games and the multiplayer mode seperately. Metroid Prime and Echoes both now use the awesome controls of Corruption including the Spring Ball ability, which should make getting certain items much easier, both now have 16:9 support and thus better visuals and the loading times will be much faster (which means, doors open faster). Also, both games now use Corruption's credit/voucher system for unlocking artwork and other extras. This will be used to unlock the Fusion Suit instead of the GameBoy Advance connection (but the playable version of Metroid will get cut out, since they want to sell the Virtual Console version). And very handy will be a global options menu, where you can set the controls and other options for all three games at the same time. Besides that nothing has changed, which also means, nothing else got cut out. The mutliplayer mode of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes will still be there, though it will only support local 4 player splitscreen and not online multiplayer via Wi-Fi. But that's better than nothing. Also, the difficulty stays the same (except for some ball jumping puzzles obviously). The bad news is, there won't be any new content. No new multiplayer levels or anything.

I'm really looking foward to this, the Metroid Prime games were my favorite games on the GameCube and Corruption's strenght always lied in the awesome and well implemented controls. So, both combined definitely is something worth getting and will raise the enjoyment of the first two games substantially. I was pretty pissed, when Nintendo didn't announce Metroid Prime 1 and 2 for the "New Play Control!" series on the western market, while Japan already got their copy of Metroid Prime. But this definitely settles it. Buying one game will also be cheaper than buying two "New Play Control!"-games, plus you also get a copy of Corruption, which still is a full price game. So, this is pretty much the best deal since "Super Mario Allstars" on the SNES.

It will be released in North America on 24th August and hopefully in Europe soon after. Update: In Europe it's dated for September 4th.


Additional info:
Japanese MP2 Echoes site
IGN preview

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Moon is hitting the US... finally

In case you haven't notice, the wait for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Virtual Console is over for you people living in the United States. It was released as your 300th Virtual Console game. In case you're worried about the stability of the Virtual Console version, read my review on this blog. Now we only need to get Super Smash Bros., which was released in Japan in January, but neither in the US nor Europe so far.

Source: Nintendo Press Release

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Future of Zelda: Virtual Handheld

"Virtual Handheld" is what I call Virtual Console on a portable system, namely the Nintendo DSi. The Nintendo DSi is absolutely capable of doing this and it could feature GameBoy (Color) games, GameBoy Advance games and maybe even Game & Watch and Sega GameGear games. It's definitely not too early to do this, since the Nintendo DSi doesn't have the GBA port anymore, the GBA itself starts to vanish from the stores and no one is producing GBA games anymore. I guess, Game&Watch games would cost about 200 Nintendo points, GameBoy(Color) games 500 and GameBoy Advance games 800 points. So, what does this have to do with Zelda? There are a couple of Zelda games effected by this, that should be availabe on such a service after a while. Let's take a look, what titles were released for the regarding systems:

  • Zelda Game & Watch
  • Link's Awakening (GB)
  • Link's Awakening DX (GBC)
  • Oracle of Ages (GBC)
  • Oracle of Seasons (GBC)
  • Four Swords (GBA)
  • The Minish Cap (GBA)

This is even more than there are currently Zelda titles available for the actual Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii. I've crossed out the original Link's Awakening on the GameBoy, because why should Nintendo release it, when there's a better version? Also, I skipped over the two Zelda games in the NES Classics series, because both of them are already available on the Virtual Console.

An interesting thought now would be, that some of those titles - hypothetically - could make use of new the features of the Nintendo DSi. The photos from the photo sidequest in Link's Awakening DX could be sent to the internal DSi picture software, so you can do with those pictures whatever you do with pictures on the Nintendo DSi. The Oracle games could use a shared save-file instead of the annoying password system. Think about it, your progress in one game will automatically be recognized by the other, items (like the rings) will automatically be transferred to all linked savegames and so on. This would save you a lot of trouble, because the worst part of the original game was writing down and typing in those weird codes. That was a real turn-off. (Of course the original password system should remain, in case you want to use some of your old passwords. The connected save games basically should replace the Link Cable connection in the old version.)

Four Swords is even more interesting. Who of you people actually played this game? I thought so, not a lot. I played it once, but never had the chance to finish it, because none of my friends are interested in Zelda. It's the least played game of the main series, because you need a second player, who has a GBA and a copy of the game, to play it. And this is not some funny party game like Wii Sports or Mario Kart, where you always find a friend to play with. No, you need another Zelda addict like yourself to play this one or you can't finish it. While this was a huge issue seven years ago with those funny cables and local multiplayer, it's not today thanks to Wi-Fi. This game is great, of all the Zelda multiplayer iterations it's simply the best one, because it has the unique mix of cooperation and backstabbing. You had to work together to beat the game, but everyone wanted to get the medals at the end (for ALttP) and for that you had to collect more rupees than the other players. You didn't have this kind of competition in the sequel Four Swords Adventures, because you didn't get anything for being first place. So no throwing other players in the lava, because you want to be the first guy to open the treasure chests or whatever. In FSA it's just plain cooperation, no competition. Plus you have randomly generated dungeons and two higher difficulty levels for more long-term motivation, which is why the original Four Swords is the superior game and the best multiplayer version of Zelda so far. But it was ahead of its time and ignored because of the above problems, with Wi-Fi this game could have been a huge success. So, a Wi-Fi version of the game on the DSi would be the chance for Four Swords to redeem itself.

As for The Minish Cap, they could give us the missing third bomb bag expansion, that was only available in the US version. Small addition, but neat.

But to do this Nintendo can't just simply emulate those games, they would have to port and modify them. And that way they can't make much profit from those games, especially if you add the costs from ESRB rating and license issues to the equation. Which is why it probably won't happen. Maybe they will emulate the link cable connection with a local wireless connection of DS systems, because should be at least able to play Tetris or trade your Pokémons with someone. But even that would be highly doubtful, since they didn't care about that when they hardware-emulated GameBoy Advance games on previous DS systems. Playing Four Swords online is wishful thinking of myself and this whole article can be labelled as highly unrealistic. Still, I wanted to share those ideas. However, I really hope, they're going to announce a Virtual Handheld on the upcoming E3. Either that or the Nintendo DSi's exclusive features will remain to be uninteresting in my eyes. But after last year I wouldn't get my hopes up and bet my money on the Zelda clock and calculator (Majora's Mask style clock, please).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Future of Zelda: Zelda Wii

Nintendo announced for this year's E3, that they won't disappoint us again after last year's Wii Music disaster and present at least one major core title for the Wii. Sounds great and we all hope it's not going to be Animal Crossing in space, but Zelda Wii.

About that one I still have the same opinion like last year. Wii MotionPlus powered controls + first person perspective = new way of experiencing Zelda. I'm still convinced, that this formula is the right thing to do and simply a way to push Zelda into a new dimension, just like Ocarina of Time did ten years ago. I won't harp on about the first person perspective too much again. But the Wii MotionPlus is definitely the future. The controls of Twilight Princess were gimmicky at best, you can do so much more. Start with 1:1 sword controls, throwing the boomerang or bombs, basic stuff. But you can go much deeper, imagine putting a key in a keyhole and twisting it with the Wiimote or opening a treasure chest by pushing both the Wiimote and the Nunchuk forward. Or think about Twilight Princess, how many times have you thought "why doesn't that work with motion controls?", for example while swinging the Ball & Chain or while rowing on a canoe. Motion controls could lead to a completely new way of experiencing Zelda and that's exactly what made Ocarina of Time special in the first place. However, some might say, that if you overdo it with motion controls, the game will be annoying. Good point, but on the other hand this is not Smash Bros. or Mario Kart, multiplayer games where the motion controls might get in your way. Zelda should be a deep singleplayer experience, where you get dragged into the world of the game. And this is definitely a way to drag you into something, as long as it's done well. If the controls don't work correctly and you fail to hit the enemy or even to open a treasure chest, because the movements aren't correctly recognized, the game won't be fun. But according to EA the Wii MotionPlus really is fantastic, so we don't have to worry about that, do we? I guess, Wii Sports Resort with its fencing and archery will give us some good impressions, how MotionPlus can work with Zelda.

Another idea, that is crossing my mind for a while now, is a Zelda in the sky. In Zelda Universe Forums one fellow recently discussed this possibility and I like some of the ideas, that are mentioned in this thread. Especially that the sky islands should be connected, so this games doesn't end up as a The Wind Waker in the skies. And think three-dimensional here, the sky islands wouldn't be in one plane, they could be one above the other. But a sky world is a pretty cliché fantasy theme, it was even done in Zelda before. All the Four Swords titles including The Minish Cap had some area in the skies and Twilight Princess got the City in the Sky. So, you have to think about, if it is a good idea to make an entire game in this style. And I think a Wind Waker in the sky would be unavoidable, if we get a sky world, there's no way, that Nintendo wouldn't make Link fly, may it be on a giant bird, a friendly dragon, a pegasus version Epona or even an airplane. And I'm not sure if I want to get another ocean world like in The Wind Waker again.

But the point is, that the theme is important. They have to try something new, another "let's have Hyrule Field, Hyrule Castle, Kakariko, Lake Hylia and Death Mountain" style Zelda environment already didn't work so well for Twilight Princess and is getting very, very boring. Also, the sea travelling is overdone by now, so they need something new. A cell-shaded Hyrule in style of The Wind Waker's underwater world seems to be the choice of Spirit Tracks, so that's not an option either. Saturo Iwata mentioned at some point, that he likes the idea of a Western Zelda based on the old Kakariko shootout in Twilight Princess... well, maybe that's where the idea with the steam train came from? Well, as long as they don't make a Sci-Fi Zelda (we can play Metroid, if we want that) I'm open minded for any ideas, as long as we don't end up in the Great Sea or another boring version of Hyrule again. I have enough of boring Lake Hylia, boring Kakariko and boring Hyrule Castle. If it has to take place in Hyrule again, why not there where Zelda II took place with all those nice villages?

To sum up, Nintendo really has to come up with something unique here. Twilight Princess is not the way a Zelda game should look like on the Wii, gameplay and controls need to be revolutionized and the choice of theme for next big Zelda game will be important as well. But it's very hard to predict anything at the moment, so let's hope - like last year - the E3 will shed some light on this one.

Castle in the Sky artwork by kimag3500
Key Nintendo game coming
EA about Wii MotionPlus

The Future of Zelda: Retrospective

11 months ago, before last year's E3 I wrote an article called The Future of Zelda on this blog, which dealt with the possibilities of future installments of the Zelda series. With the next E3 happening on June 2nd I want to reflect on my predictments last year and do some more. I will divide this in three articles, the first one being a retrospective. So, let's take a look at what possibilities I had considered last year:

  • Zelda Wii obviously, discussed first person gameplay
  • a second NDS Zelda in the style of Phantom Hourglass made by the NDS Zelda team
  • a retro style Zelda game for WiiWare
  • Majora's Mask on Virtual Console (and maybe even Master Quest)
  • another spin-off title in the style of Link's Crossbow Training ("Link's Fishing Adventure" as a joke example)

Interesting enough, two of those predictments actually became reality. The Nintendo DS gets with Spirit Tracks a second Zelda game in the style of Phantom Hourglass. And the Virtual Console finally got its newest bestseller with Majora's Mask, well at least outside the US. However, both of this wasn't very hard to predict. I'm just glad it actually happened, I had a lot of fun playing Majora's Mask again and I'm looking foward to this very bizarre game with the train in it.

On the other hand I still would like to see a WiiWare Zelda becoming reality. You know, in the style of A Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures. MegaMan 9 has proven that the WiiWare system is perfect for new games in classic styles. I would love to see a Super Mario Bros. 4 or a second A Link to the Past. However, this is probably not, what Nintendo wants. For Nintendo itself both the WiiWare and DSiWare services are meant for marketing tests. It's perfect, because it's cheap. Market testing with $50 titles is risky, so they use these platforms to test new game concepts without any potential loss. That's why you see a lot of weird games or applications from Nintendo on both services, instead of oldskool Mario and Zelda games. Some people say, Nintendo doesn't create any classic Mario or Zelda games for WiiWare or DSiWare, because this gives the young, new development teams on those services too much competition. But the truth is, they're already competing against oldskool Mario and Zelda games, those on the Virtual Console. They're competing against games like SMB3 or A Link to the Past, because you can download those for the same price. Which is why WiiWare games have to be innovative. I'm not sure, what WiiWare could have in store for Zelda. Maybe the small Zelda team, who made Four Swords Adventures and both NDS Zeldas will explore that option, as soon as Spirit Tracks is finished.

About "Link's Fishing Adventure" or other spin-off Zeldas for that matter, I can live without that. But right now it's unknown, what Vanpool currently is working on. Rumors say, it's a sequel to their first Zelda related game, Tingle's Rupeeland. I would be interested in this one, too. Wether Master Quest will ever make it to the Virtual Console or not is still difficult to judge. But it was nothing more than an emulated Nintendo 64 game anyway and after the release of Majora's Mask, the conditions are looking much better. But I doubt, that this will happen in the near future.

There are two more parts of "The Future of Zelda" coming on this blog soon. One will focus on Zelda Wii and the other will deal with the question, what a Virtual Console on the Nintendo DSi could offer. So, stay tuned.