Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome to Eldin Volcano

GameInformer currently plans some extensive coverage of the 25th Anniversary and the upcoming game Skyward Sword. They also got some exclusive stuff like this video, where they take a tour to Eldin Volcano.

First of all, I love how the game looks and sounds, it's really nice, the bright visuals, the music, I love it. No doubt about it. I also love the tiny-ass parachute Link draws one second before he would crush to death. It couldn't be more unrealistic, but this is a game and it looks like fun.

And there seem to be huge beacons leading to your next destination, so you don't get lost. They remind me of the beacons in Unreal Tournament's Onslaught and Warfare mode pointing to the next Power Node(s). In case you don't get me, if something reminds of UT it's usually a good thing.

I still have concerns about the whole flying thing though. It looks really boring and since you use the MotionPlus for steering there seems to be no way to enable on-flight combat... It seems like Nintendo didn't learn from the mistakes made in The Wind Waker. I'm not extremely concerned, because I usually enjoyed the sailing because of the atmosphere, but there are many people who nearly got bored to death by The Wind Waker's sailing parts.

What concerns me more is the thought of a disconnected overworld. That you will get isolated areas with no connection between them. Because I don't want that, it's cheap game design, they just as well could give you a level select like in the Four Swords games. I already didn't want that for Spirit Tracks, but we still got a bunch of isolated areas connected by rails.

The music of Eldin Volcano sounds nice, the music while flying not so much... I was hoping that the catchy trailer theme would be played while flying, so at least I would get some nice music during the boring flights.

What's most interesting about Eldin Volcano is the name. It's obviously named after the Eldin Province in Twilight Princess, the area with Kakariko and Death Mountain. So, this means two things. The provinces in Twilight Princess will return and Death Mountain wasn't always called Death Mountain (this or Death Mountain isn't the only large volcano in Eldin). I would love it when this game explains how this volcano got its later name.

And the Master Sword's spirit actually calls you "Master". Nice one.

Well, I can't wait for more videos (they announced four more later this month). And I certainly can't wait to play this game. Color me excited.

Source: GameInformer


Spurious George said...

Good post. Yes, it seems clear that an "Eldin Volcano" must be some early form of Death Mountain. Despite all the timeline theorizing that some fans like to do, I've always suspected that the developers just do what they want on a game-to-game basis, reusing themes and scenarios but with little thought to true continuity. And yet ever since Wind Waker, there have been deliberate call backs in each game, providing clues that suggest a history of cause-and-effect. To be fair, Ocarina's use of the town names from Zelda II for the sages was probably the first major instance of this.

We've already seen a forest area with a really large tree in the center of it. Now we're being shown a mountainous area with a volcano as a huge central landmark. The sword girl uses the word "earth" to introduce to region. I'm guessing these are two of three regions introduced early in the games, specifically reflecting the usual earth-fire-water/din-nayru-farore elemental triumvirate that we're used to. So we can probably assume there is a water-oriented region with another big central landmark, like a waterfall or a fountain or a very deep pool or Jabu Jabu or something.

Like you, I really hope we get an interconnected over world to explore in this game. It's my favorite part of the Zelda games and Nintendo still hasn't really done it right. In my opinion, Ocarina was a good first stab at a big 3D over world. At the time it was really amazing how much open space there was. But it was not very organic-feeling, or interconnected. It had an obvious and unexciting hub-and-spokes structure. Majora's Mask side-stepped the challenge by structuring the game somewhat episodically, so each path you'd take from clock-town was a little trek into the wilderness. You might say that rather than come up with a system superior to the hub-and-spokes model, it made better use of it. Wind Waker was a bold experiment but despite the radical freedom, there wasn't that much to find or do that was actually interesting. Twilight Princess went back to the Ocarina-type over world, and made it a bit more interconnected, but only slightly. Considering how much time had passed, it was a disappointingly small advancement and in general it felt really behind the times. The artificiality of the environments was even more glaring. It felt like a series of big rooms with narrow hallways connecting them.


Spurious George said...

(continued from previous post, separated because of length limitations:)

Now, Skyward Sword appears to offer separate regions that are almost like 3D Mario levels in that you access them from a hub, do some kind of mission, and then go back to the hub. As far as we know, they're not directly interconnected at all. I suspect that the first part of the game will play out this way, visiting isolated regions. My hope is that as the game progresses, direct travel between these regions will open up. I read somewhere that the landscape will change as the game goes on. I don't know what that meant, but it would be awesome if the world got more and more fleshed out and interconnected, so you could really deeply explore the landscape and see how it all fits together.

But that is only my hope. I will not be surprised at all if it remains mostly a series of discrete regions that you visit from the sky. So far Nintendo seems more concerned with giving the game a clear path for progression, so users are not lost or confused. Dividing the world up into well-differentiated pockets would be a good way of doing that.

One more note. I'm getting the vibe that this game is not only about the forging of the Master Sword, but also of the formation of Hyrule. My impression is that the world is really young, and almost untouched. The emphasis on the elemental division of regions reinforces this. It's like the landscape is in a prehistoric state, marked not by castles or other settlements, but simply by iconic elemental landmarks, like "the big tree" or "the big volcano". The game's logo is another reason I feel this way. It shows the familiar bird-and-triforce image which has been on Link's shield since Ocarina. Somewhere in Skyward Sword, we've seen a door that has the bird part of the logo without the triforce. Clearly, the bird is now connected to Skyloft and the birds the people there use to get around. So this is an era before the familiar icon had both constituent parts. The use of this iconography must be deliberate, and again it suggests to me that this will be an origin story in more ways than one.

TourianTourist said...

@Spurious George:

Very nice comment, thanks. And I completely agree about the isolated areas. I think it was mentioned at E3 that you will return to older areas (from a different path) and that there will be new stuff to do, etc... So it might be that parts of the overworld are connected, just not right from the beginning. We'll see.