Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nintendo E3 2011 Post - Featuring Analysis of New Skyward Sword Trailer

So I bought True Grit on the very day it was released on DVD. Months ago my film class went and we saw it as a field trip, and I have to admit I was amazed. It was far beyond my expectations and we later saw the original and it even does a better job than the old John Wayne one. I went back and saw it again with my brother. So when I brought it home he was at work, so I decided to wait and watch it with him. In the meantime I occupied myself with some fancy new computer thing called the internets.

And that’s when I discovered E3 2011 was happening soon. And by soon, I mean Nintendo’s Press Conference was occurring on the very same day. In fact, it going to start in half an hour after my discovery. So I watched the live stream. Why was I not up to date on this? Why did I not even know the date itself? Well I genuinely didn’t care, but I was bored. 

So, since I’m shooting for a journalism degree, I decided to actually report on a current event. I haven’t seen Microsoft or Sony’s conference yet, but I will. And if I find enough worth talking about I’ll let you know. I probably won’t. I don’t really care what they’re up to. I’m guessing the Kinect and Move are trying and failing to catch up with the Wii motion. Now I’m not saying which system is better, but since both companies decided to move into the motion control stuff long after Nintendo did, I’m just saying they have to play keep-up. So, let’s see what Nintendo’s up to these days. I’m particularly curious to see more info on Skyward Sword.

Mercifully, Nintendo opened up their press conference with celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Zelda. There was a full orchestra playing live while footage of all Zelda games played on it. In the video there were scenes from the newest Skyward Sword trailer and Ocarina of Time’s footage was taken entirely from 3DS. Now….that kinda disappointed me actually. If we were celebrating the 25th anniversary, I really think they should’ve used the original Ocarina of Time graphics one last time as a sign of respect before everyone starts loving the new graphics. Ocarina of Time is a very beloved game and I understand if Nintendo will use 3DS footage from now on, but the new version isn’t out yet. Also there was no Majora’s Mask footage at all. If they went to the trouble to showing Zelda 1, 2, and Link to the Past they should include Majora’s Mask and at least a little bit of the Gameboy Zelda games (Link’s Awakening and Oracle games). I personally think Majora’s Mask deserves equal or more screentime compared to Twilight Princess. It certainly did a lot more in advancing the series further. In addition, I think that whole segment went on a little too long, but I am still very glad they did all this. It shows a lot of respect to the franchise.

They also went on to make several nice announcements concerning Zelda. I really liked Miyamoto’s over-the-top version of the Zelda item get. It’s just that zany little extra something that you can’t help but laughing or at least smiling at. First, there will be a tour of an orchestra that plays out the Zelda soundtrack for audiences. I will definitely have to go to that if I can. Then they started to announce some Zelda ports. Link’s Awakening on 3DS Virtual Console or whatever it is. Fantastic. I’m really glad people are going to start playing that game again. I think it’s very overlooked. Four Swords being available for free download was just mind-blowing. My jaw dropped and I made an audible gasp. I assume there’s online play involved in it somehow because there just aren’t enough people who own a 3DS yet for that to work on local multiplayer. I never got to play the original GBA one they bundled with Link to the Past because quite simply I didn’t know anyone else who had one. 

I’d kill a man to get that golden Zelda Wiimote.

Ocarina of Time 3DS just looks fantastic, but that might be because we’re used to the old graphics. It will really be helped by how much they’re keeping the same. I almost want to get a Nintendo 3DS now rather than wait for the inevitable price drop. I also heard they included Master Quest. I finished it when they brought that to the Gamecube; it was difficult but I only needed to look up a walkthrough online three times for just three small things I couldn’t figure out. The Water Temple was actually easier in Master Quest than the original Ocarina of Time. I heard they’re also dumbing it down for OOT3DS, I really didn’t think the original was hard enough to warrant that. If memory serves me correct it was definitely a challenge but it just didn’t need to be dumbed down in any form. Played OOT already many times, so not much I can say other than this looks like it’ll be the most epic replay ever.

Animal Crossing really looks like more of the same, but I can tell they made a lot of really unique upgrades to it. It’s certainly a bigger upgrade to City Folk than City Folk was to Wild World. That Link costume and the Master Sword have been around since the Gamecube AC BTW, but it looks like the different parts to Link’s clothes can be separately equipped. The neat reveal for this trailer made my jaw drop actually: jumping off the dock and swimming around. Oh wow, I never thought of that at all. Every Animal Crossing game has made the water completely off-limits except fishing. Thank god. Will I buy it? Even if I do get a 3DS this would be rather low on my list because after playing three versions I develop such a formulaic way of playing that the game gets old very quickly.

What really blew me away was Kid Icarus: Uprising. That looks like a lot of fun. I know a lot of diehard fans have wanted a sequel for many years and this looks just unbelievable. If this turns out to be a hit I hope this means the franchise will be revived and there will be an extra game or two beyond Uprising. The action looked fast-paced and the gameplay seems to be a nice mix of shooting and slashing. It’s got online multiplayer which looks interesting even though I’m not much of an online player. There are fully voiced cutscenes but I don’t know how many of them there are. I know there were only a few scenes where he talked but the voice acting of Pit is rather mixed for me. At points it sounds a little cheesy, but I didn’t find it awful. I could tolerate it without much problem. If the reviews start to say it’s good I’d probably buy it used after two or three price drops.

Super Mario 3DS looks like it’s doing a lot of really cool new stuff with Mario gameplay while keeping a lot of the old. I don’t think it will be unique enough for me to be interesting in paying a lot for it, but it’s something to look at when it shows up cheap on a used game section. I guess it would be fun; I just don’t want to pay a lot for it. All of that applies to Mario Kart as well. I like how they’re incorporating hang gliders and underwater racing and customizable karts. That’s going to add a whole new dimension to Mario Kart, but again I probably won’t be interested in paying a lot for it.

I’m really disappointed to see Mario and Sonic Olympic Games hasn’t died yet. I thought that was just a one-time gag but apparently they wanna roll with this. A similar thing applies to Luigi’s Mansion 2, in the sense that I thought it was just one game but they’re making a sequel, but in this case I think LM2 will be pretty good. I never played the original but it’ll be interesting to watch.

I’m not a Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, or Starfox fan just because I haven’t really been exposed to them. But the fact that they’re including these games to the 3DS is building it a very wide and respectable lineup of early titles, even if they didn’t make it to launch. 

I definitely noticed there was a serious lack of games for the Wii and DS announced. Now the DS I can kinda understand since they already have the 3DS out, but there won’t be much of anything for the Wii this holiday, which sucks because the Wii U is coming sometime next year. I guess if you’re not sick of Mario Party yet #9 could excite you (but everyone else in the world is), and I’m sure they’re just throwing crap out of the way so they can go all out on Mario Party 10 for the Wii U. There’s Skyward Sword of course, and I’m personally interested in seeing more of Fortune Street but most aren’t really mentioning it.

Fortune Street really intrigued me because….at first it looked like Mario Party but after watching the video it’s like Monopoly on crack. And Monopoly has always been my favorite board game. And it appears to be a joint effort between Nintendo and Square Enix so that’s really interesting. These don’t look like Final Fantasy characters though. Slime? Where have I heard that before….? It’s from Dragon Quest? The barely rings a bell. I’m almost saying I’ve never heard of it, but I probably have. Oh well, I look forward to what else they show on that. God that looks addicting. 


As for Skyward Sword……*sigh* Did I just step into some sort of bizarre twisted reverse world where almost everything Nintendo is showing is pure gold and all of a sudden Zelda doesn’t look impressive? That’s not how I thought the world works. I thought it was the other way. Up until their E3 trailer, I already had my thoughts on Skyward Sword which can be found here. Now, this trailer did do a much better job than the previous ones. We see stuff and we’re getting a better idea of what the game is about. We see the towns are more detailed and the people are more energetic. A person’s house looks like it came out of a somewhat primitive Elder Scrolls game. The music is very good, of course. There’s something really wrong with Link’s face though. His lips are too big or something. Whoa, who’s that? She looks really cute. Like some sort of down-to-earth average girl version of Zelda, like Marin from Link’s Awakening. I do like Link’s starting outfit before he gets Hero’s Clothes or whatever. This looks more practical than the Ordon clothes, like Link could really go adventuring in this until he gets his traditional tunic. The birds look….all right, I guess. I suppose they’re the new “boats” Link will need to use. We see kids jumping off like Link did in the trailer to hop onto the birds, which kinda ruins the drama of that previous trailer. Then pretty girl gets eaten by something we can’t really make out and Link now has to save her. What is that? Is that a whale in the sky? OH GOD THE WIND FISH IS EVIL! Then a magic blue thing from the promotional poster saves Link then we cut to him donning the gear. Then back to the boring gameplay videos we’ve seen plenty of. Now I realize what my problem with the gameplay is. It’s too gimmicky. Running on rolling rocks, somehow magically hypnotizing your enemies by moving your sword in a very slow circle, that kind of thing. I know Link is a master of puzzles, but this seems unnecessary. The trailer ends with a brief and very fast fight between Link and Mr. Eyeliner, who I guess must be the villain. Either that or a rival character like Ralph was from Oracle of Ages. 

This Skyward Sword trailer is better. This is closer to what we should’ve had at first, but not quite there. I must again stress how much better Twilight Princess’ teaser trailer was. They revealed so much to us and yet also held back a ton of information, giving us enough to be hyped about the game yet not so much we get spoiled. We immediately knew who the villains were: monster things that drop down from some strange dark portal. We saw what the special extra something for this game was: Link can turn into a wolf, just the same as Wind Waker had the boat. But Skyward Sword’s special thing using the flying birds? If they showed us more of what the birds could do maybe that would’ve helped, but they again focused on the standard gameplay. We know the world below Skyrim- I MEAN Skyloft is ruled by evil, but we don’t know anything about the nature of this evil. In a Wind Waker trailer we see Ganondorf, and that automatically lets us know that the monsters are connected to him because he has always been the master of monsters. In Twilight Princess we know the monsters are commanded by a dude we later know as Zant, who is invading Hyrule from another dimension to conquer it. But in Skyward Sword for all we know these monsters are just randomly scattered about and are causing problems for no reason and no goal. It just all seems so underwhelming because this trailer doesn’t have any of these subtle information bits that we know Zelda trailers are capable of. If they really want to respect the 25th Anniversary of Zelda they should make another epic trailer similar to Twilight Princess that is so powerful and epic and moving that it brings grown men to tears of joyful anticipation. Maybe that is a problem with the marketing for Twilight Princess; they built a trailer they cannot outdo again.    To show how underwhelming Skyward Sword looks, take a look at the Wii U Zelda Demo. WHAT IS THAT?! THAT IS AWESOME!!! Give us that game instead! I know it’s just a tech demo thing and not a prototype for an actual game but that looks way more interesting than Skyward Sword does. The art design, the 1080p graphics, the fact that Link is fighting a giant monster and being badass. The fact that he’s in a major temple implies that this game is being serious. Like there’s epic stuff about to happen. A huge fight against a boss in a temple gives a more dramatic vibe than, say, fighting a Lizafols in a cave with some lava. It’s a shame it’s just a tech demo and not a preview for a real game.

By the way, notice how Kid Icarus’ trailer looks better than Skyward Sword’s trailer and is more effective. The trailer is addressing both gameplay and plot at the same time. We know that Pit is teaming up with other warriors of light to fight the forces of Medusa and the forces of the Underworld. Good, we can roll with that. The gameplay is especially important because the last time we saw Kid Icarus was in the 8-bit era, and how this game plays nowadays is totally new and different. But with Skyward Sword we all know what the gameplay will look like. The gameplay looks fast and high-paced, and really looks intense, as opposed to the slow awkward stabs and swings of a sword commanded by Wii controls. And this trailer, like many other Nintendo trailers at this year’s E3, comes with a surprise reveal: Kid Icarus will have multiplayer! And even it looks good. The trailer builds up to Pit confronting Medusa and declaring that the light shall defeat her. The end, hype created. But Skyward Sword’s trailer ends with a bunch of gameplay and something that happens so fast we can’t really comprehend it or its significance. I am a gigantic Zelda fan and I am now more excited to play Kid Icarus, a game franchise I know absolutely nothing about, than I am to play Skyward Sword. But again, like I said in the last post about it, it’s still too early to tell if Skyward Sword will be good or not. I’m not gonna say it’s gonna suck or bomb, because the game could be released and be just as epic as any Zelda. All I’m saying is Nintendo is making horrible trailers for it. That’s all. 

I do find it oddly suspicious that after years and years of neglect they’re only now starting to pay attention to the existence of Link’s Awakening again. Surprisingly enough, there are subtle hints. How the girl from the trailer looks like Zelda, but more like Marin. How she gets eaten by a monster that might or might not be a whale, a whale which might or not be the flying whale called the Wind Fish. Because if Skyward Sword has a connection or even a slight parallel to Link’s Awakening that would be cool. It’s pretty iffy though, so I could just be shooting in the dark here.

Now for the Wii U…..*sigh*. I am very VERY impressed, but I am not dedicated. The thing with E3 in general is that I know I will not buy these products upon release. I know I won’t even buy them at full price. I’m trying to spend my money wisely, and I buy games when their prices drop significantly. I am just dying to play Golden Sun: Dark Dawn but I still think the price can go lower than 35 bucks. There are plenty of games I already own that I have not had the time to play, like Batman Arkham Asylum, Bioshock 2, and Mass Effect 2. There are classic games I want to replay, like the .hack games (which I will review), Tales of Symphonia, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Lost Odyssey, Xenosaga, and so forth. I’m trying not to spoil myself or overspend. I have to get through college after all. I might get Skyward Sword on release at full price just so I can be on top of it and up-to-date. Also in joining the first wave of people to review it. Even if I get lost in the crowd I’ll still be happy I was part of it. I just don’t usually need new games; the old games are more than I can get through as it is.

Oh yeah the Wii U itself. Personally, I like the controller design and I think it’s a great idea to apply the “DS concept” to console gaming. I also like that the controller can function as a more traditional controller in the sense that it has all the buttons, analogs, and bumpers the Wiimote lacked. I’m hoping Nintendo makes most of their games with multiple play modes like they said it would. For example, a game would have the gimmicky motion control and touchscreen controls that gets everyone’s grandma interested in playing with the movin pictures on the widescreen, while at the same time more traditional gamers like myself can still enjoy the full experience just using traditional controls. We didn’t get that with the Wii and holding it sideways just felt ridiculous and I felt cheated whenever I had to do that. I am a little concerned that the Wii U controller might be too big and cumbersome with its screen taking up most of the space on the controller. I also am skeptical of problems similar to the cumbersome motion controls of the Wiimote, like how you have trouble playing first-person shooters with it, or it’s very sensitive or not sensitive enough. Those problems are a given, though. Except this time it’s both the touchscreen and motion controls if playing a game without traditional button controls. However, if most of the things they say are true and the system can really offer enjoyable experiences to hardcore gamers, then this could probably blow Sony and Microsoft out of the water in terms of sales and gameplay. In terms of actual game library, that is unknown (and unlikely). Nintendo did show how they have a stronger third-party support but it remains to be seen whether they’re here to stay on the Wii U or are just testing its potential. Again, if they do stay like Nintendo expects them to and games released on multiple consoles start doing better on the Wii U, then this could also leave Sony and Microsoft in the dust and start making more Wii U exclusive third-party games. By that I mean strong ones as opposed the exclusive third-party crappy games the Wii had. 

A big concern of mine is always backwards compatibility. Sony really cheated its fanbase and gave them the finger on this one, but Nintendo has always been good about at least being previous-generation compatible (or in the case of GBA SP, which could play every Gameboy game ever with backlighting and a compact flip design. Epic handheld win). I don’t like the part where the Wii U won’t be backwards compatible with the Gamecube. This loses the Gamecube controller, which to this day is a very strong controller that many owners of the Wii have, but it also loses the game library. I am also worried that a lot of purchases for the Wii like Virtual Console games and Wiiware games (if you bought any) won’t be transferred to the new console. You see, there is no way to transfer these in between consoles because the system won’t allow it and there was no account that downloaded the games like in Xbox live, so I do not in any way look forward to purchasing them all over again on the Wii U. But due to these circumstances if I ever decide to get a Wii U I will also keep around my old Wii to play those and the Gamecube controller-compatible Wii games like SSB Brawl, even if it will be outdated by the new one they’re planning on. In addition while the Wii U is compatible with Wii games (the few that were actually worth a damn), the graphics of those games won’t go beyond what the capabilities were on the Wii, but that one’s a minor loss. I only care about the Wii’s online play to the extent that it affects how popular the system is as a whole. I generally don’t play games online beyond just testing it out. It just hasn’t made much of a difference to me except when I play Halo on my 360 and that doesn’t happen often. 

Overall on the Wii U, a little has been lost in transition but nothing critical (like how the PS3 lost the massive PS2 library once they discontinued the backwards PS3s). I’m a little skeptical of a lot of it, but if Nintendo follows through and starts doing well on this, it might gain the upper hand over Sony and Microsoft. I see how it could happen but I’m not really betting that it will.

And that was Nintendo’s E3 2011 stuff. I know I made a massive huge effing deal out of Skyward Sword but that was the only reason I watched the conference anyway. No, I’m serious; going in I didn’t give a rat’s ass about anything else. But I found that Nintendo is making a lot of really interesting moves, especially with the Wii U. I know they held some information back, like their plans for online play, but I can look past that because I really don’t care. And yeah I do admit I’ve been out of the loop when it comes to gaming news (they actually made a third Fable? WHY?). They’re really showing a good hand and putting a lot of cool ideas out there. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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