Results tagged “Zelda” from kwc blog

April Fools you actually want

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IGN has a pseudo-April-Fools prank: a well-done trailer for a Legend of Zelda movie. More fun to watch than the movie probably would be, much like the Batman: Dead End trailer.

Zelda: Twilight Princess (a bit of a letdown)

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zeldaI beat Twilight Princess a couple of days ago but I can't say that it was the pinnacle of Zelda gameplay that I had hoped it would be. Instead of propelling the franchise forward, I felt more that it stepped backwards to Ocarina of Time with spruced up graphics. If I had played Twilight Princess before Ocarina, then I'd probably be inclined to call Twilight Princess the best game ever, and plenty of reviews have referred to it as the best Zelda ever. For me, the lack of novelty occasionally left me bored. The visual design was also a step backwards. Wind Waker was the most expressive Link to date and it truly helped the storytelling. The Twilight Link is a plastic doll barely able to raise a single eyebrow of emotion. For someone like me who buys the next Nintendo platform to play Zelda, I perhaps have unsurmountable expectations that, until the Wii, have been met. Strange, considering that the Wii has been the most impressive platform release for me, ever.

My reaction is best understood when touring of some of the past Zeldas. (bolded titles were the next-generation releases):

  • Legend of Zelda: this game was amazing for its time, but without friends and Nintendo Power to tell you where to bomb, I probably never would have finished this game.
  • Zelda II: never played more than a dungeon or two as the side-scroller never caught my attention
  • A Link to the Past: this game greatly expanded the Zelda story and universe. It established the story elements and puzzle mechanics that are general basis of later Zelda games (Hyrule Castle, hookshot, parallel universe, master sword as story element).
  • Ocarina of Time: took Zelda into 3D and ranks as one of my favorite games off all time. I'm still amazed as to how well the designers were able to translate Zelda-ness into 3D.
  • Majora's Mask: I enjoyed this game, even if it did reuse of the Ocarina engine. It was not a next-generation Zelda, nor was it meant to be, but it had an entertaining 3-day story construct that made it different from previous Zelda. It also had a complete lack of a Hyrule/Ganon storyline, which kept it a fresh experience. I am impressed that they managed to deliver a game that was so similar to its predecessor in technology and feel, but different enough to remain entertaining.
  • Wind Waker: The Gamecube-based toon shading helped deliver the best visual design of any Zelda (still) with Link actually able to emote and use facial expressions as clues. It also introduced a continuous world, but had to hide load times in large expanses of sea. I appreciated the fact that they took a risk and did away with the Hyrule-Castle-spoke-and-wheel map model and I loved the game overall, but like many, I eventually tired of the sailing -- you know its bad when you can point your boat, go to the bathroom, and still not have arrived where you need to. With an outboard motor and a more densely populated world, it could have been a perfect game.

Then you come to Twilight Princess. Twilight is weird because it is a Gamecube game ported to the Nintendo Wii, so its not truly a next-generation effort. But it is also entirely different from its Gamecube-brother Wind Waker. Regardless, it is not a game designed for the Wii. This isn't necessary a bad thing, but for Zelda games its uncommon. I've often joked that Nintendo designs each next-generation controller for Zelda -- the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube controllers both seem a bit odd until you play the Zelda game for that system. Along this line of thinking, for Twilight to truly be a next-generation Zelda experience, the Wiimote would have to be more than a tacked-on experience. Unfortunately, it's clear that you could play the game with a Gamecube controller as everything (except for fishing, which I hate) has the same mechanics as Ocarina/Wind Waker.

About the only time I found the Wiimote really engaging was during certain boss fights that required Link to plunge his sword into the big boss. I found myself gripping the Wiimote like a dagger and violent plunging it into the air. These were the moments I was hoping to have more of. I'm hoping that Miyamoto has a true Nintendo Wii Zelda cooking in the oven, one that takes previous Zelda mechanics like the ocarina, wind waker, and howling and gives them the fun, stand-up experience of the Wii.

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I'm only throught the first temple in Zelda: Twilight Princess, but I'm already struck by how much more similar Okami and Zelda are than I originally thought. More specifically, I'm shocked by how close Twilight Princess and Okami are. It's as if they shared the exact same concept art when they were being created. The spirits that you free in Twilight Princess are very, very similar in design to the gods you free in Okami, both feature darkness covering the land that you clear bit by bit, both have a wolf as the main title character, and both have an annoying companion character that rides your back as a wolf. Above you can see screenshots of the spirits/gods for comparison -- I wasn't able to find good screenshots on the Web, but these should give you a general idea.

They are still very different games and I am enjoying both. They are twins that were separated at birth and grew up in to very different adults. Both feature unique gameplay features that are fun to explore: Okami has its brush system and Twilight Princess delivers the Wii remote fun. The overall stories, despite their similarities, are also very different. But I'm still surprised when I come across yet another thing in Twilight Princess that makes me think that someone snuck a peek at the concept art from the other.

Review: Okami

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Okami is a Zelda-ish game, which is a statement that became much more true with the release of the latest Zelda: in Okami you run around as a wolf, the sun goddess Amaterasu; in Twilight Princess you can also run around as a wolf. In both games you explore an ever-expanding world utilizing your latest tools and tricks to solve puzzles along the way, occasionally take in a side quest of fishing, and pace yourself through big boss encounters. I point out the similarities mostly to say that if you don't like the Zelda format, you won't like Okami. Okami has plenty to offer in the way of new gameplay and story that makes the game uniquely enjoyable.

Okami's major innovation in gameplay is the brush system -- you draw brush strokes across your screen to trigger special effects, like slashes, fire, slowdown, and repair. Much like Ocarina of Time's ocarina, the brush offers a new blend of puzzles and encounters. To draw a brush storke, you hold down the R1 button, which turns the screen into a brown parchment, and then draw the appropriate stroke using the analog control stick. I have a feeling this would be easier with a Wiimote, but it worked well enough as is. My only complaint is that the brown parchment effect makes it difficult sometimes to tell what you are drawing up top of. Otherwise, it was a fun way to feel like you are the sun goddess exercising some divine intervention.

Okami is a very beautiful game. In fact, it is the most beautiful game I have ever played. I don't consider myself an expert in such matters, but I find the statement notable for the fact that Okami is a Playstation 2 game and I have yet to see an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 game that is as visually interesting. Clover, the studio that made the game, used their Viewtifl Joe experience to its fullest. The game is rendered with watercolor-like strokes, flowers flow over your screen in waves, and old-style Japanese prints narrate the story.

For a beautiful game, though, it has some dirty elements. It's dirty as in poop: it is the first game I played in which urination is an attack option (and quite profitable, as it helps you collect dragon fangs faster). It's also dirty as in mildly lewd: at least one of the female characters is quite busty and has her own busty physics.

I was indifferent to the 'dirtier' aspects of Okami, but there were aspects I really didn't like. One is that it is a very, very easy game. The first several hours are maddenly easy -- you'll guess the solution to the easy puzzle, then before you can solve it, the game will show you another obvious hint. The game eases up a bit on the overly overt hints, but it never gets difficult. For one thing, I never died once in the game and I rarely came close. Another aspect of the game's easiness that I didn't like is Issun, who is like Tingle in Wind Waker, except that he never leaves. Issun is always there to shout childish things at other characters and provide puzzle hints. At least he is woven into the story quite well, but I have a visceral dislike of goofy assistance characters.

One other complaint is that I felt the game designers artificially lengthened the game. At least two of the level designs used the exact same maps with different textures and a lot of the side quests were simply variations on previous side quests. There are other ways the game repeats itself, but I'll omit them for spoiler reasons.

Any complaints I have, though, are far outweighed by what this game has to offer. This is an award-worthy game offering new twists in a familar genre. And did I mention it's beautiful?

Summary: * It's beautiful * The brush system is a fun new way to play * It's really easy * It's longer than it needs to be * Only play this if you like Zelda

Zelda Complete!

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The first sign that my vacation is productive: I finished Zelda: Wind-Waker today. I got far really fast in the game, then I stopped playing. I think I was really, really bored of sailing from island to island. Note to developers: at least let Link get an outboard motor or something. Even with the warp tune you still spend WAY to much time sailing around. For example, to get a Triforce shard you have to 1) sail to the island with the map, 2) sail to Tingle's island to get Tingle to read the map for you, 3) sail to the location on the map to pick up your piece. Given that there are 8 triforce shards, this just seems like an artificial way to make the game longer.

My verdict: while the game is beautiful, and the game play is fun, there simply is not enough content to justify how long it takes to finish the game. Although I think the other Zelda games had plenty of travel time, its a lot more interesting to be walking on land where there's scenery than it is to be sailing around with nothing but blue around you.