The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks officially revealed

March 25, 2009

When noone believed anymore that “it” could happend, it did: At the end of his keynote-speech at this year´s Game Developers Conference, Satoru Iwata announced The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS.

Taking a look at the released screenshots and the reveal-trailer, Spirit Tracks seems to be a direct sequel to Phantom Hourglass. The visuals are exactly the same, the controls are, too. In terms of story, the flood introduced in TWW seems to be gone. The biggest difference is Link´s transport vehicle: A train. Yeah, Link gets control over his own choochoo-train. Just like in PH, where you drew the path of your boat, you´re now drawing the way on the touchscreen and the train follows these instant-tracks. Not only is the game´s title referring to those train tracks, it´s also about the power Link has over some enemies: He can gain control of an enemy and then, again by drawing a line, have him going around as he wishes. He can even let one enemy fight for him against another one.

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As great as a new Zelda always is, i´m not excited for now. That´s maybe because i absolutely didn´t enjoy Phantom Hourglass. And Spirit Tracks looks, if you´re honest, like a mission pack, rather than a new game. Controls are the same, visuals are the same, and gameplay in general appears to be the same. From what we can see, the dungeons start looking like copy and paste-works. And although the game takes place on land, there won´t be an overworld. You travel from point to point by train, that´s it.

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Many people will love this game, but as a long time Zelda-fan i feel kinda sad. Once, Zelda was known for its risk-heavy experiments. Zelda 2 was nothing like Zelda 1. OoT took the big step into 3D. MM kind of went towards 4D. TWW chose a very risky visual style and changed the overworld design of 3D-Zeldas. PH showed that Zelda works on the NDS. But ST doesn´t look like it will be anything close to “risky”. And it also doesn´t have the “epic, nostalgic” feel that TP offered. Instead of this game, i´d loved to see EAD go for a whole different gameplay-style…maybe showing that a real 3D-Zelda can work on NDS, too.

I´ll play the game, eventually, but my hype is as low as possible.

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Criticism = Fanboyism? The New Era of Discussing Video Games

March 22, 2009

Something´s wrong. And by something i mean the way people, be it gamers, gaming journalists or whomever is closely in touch with games, talk about games nowadays.

Instead of directly going into what i mean, i´d like to give a short impression of what gaming discussions were before. There was a time, call it the beginning, where critizism almost didn´t even exist. This time is completely individual, as it is the time when we were young. Playing games that you would never touch if you saw them in front of you now. That time was innocent, pure. You kept playing and playing, simply because it was awsome to play a thing called video game (or computer game, whatever).

Then comes the time of entering the freak-phase in our life time. We´re now carefully looking at what we´re about to buy. This is also when we found out about the internet and video game communities and such. Before that, print magazines were a major focus for us, too. Scores and numbers of stars now play a big role. Games that got less than 75% from our favorite print magazine aren´t even worthy to talk about. Great games got 85%, and the once a year blockbuster took 91% and everyone drooled in awe of that game. Playing bad games wasn´t a matter anymore, playing the best was.

And here we are now. Let´s call this the nerd-phase. Or, to be more precise, the super-wtf-isgoingon-idontknowbutilldoittoo-nerd-phase. At this time, scores became redundant again – for worse. Now, games that don´t achieve close to 100% scores are either average OR the magazines/websites that gave those below 10/10 scores are called incompetent. In the end, by now, this resulted in gaming reviews becoming completely unreliable (not that they ever were the alpha and omega, but now…). You don´t, if a game deserves the high score, if the journalists were paid by the publisher, OR if a low score simply resulted from bias against a system/franchise or from to few hype.  But that is not all! Now is also the point in time where whoever criticises a hyped game, instantly, becomes a “troll”. YOU DON´T TALK BAD ABOUT A HYPED GAME!!11! Oh well, that´s it now. When the so-called “backslash” before was considered a cool-down-phase, where the hype had ended and gamers realized the game´s shortcomings, now “backslash” is a term used by super-fanboys, who, by saying so, try to ridicule everyone who doesn´t COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY LOVE that certain game.

So these are the three phase of talking about video games in the context of history. Maybe you noticed that it is kind of a cycle, from not giving a **** about scores, to scores being everything, to scores being **** again. The only difference is that we started with a positive mindset, and now we´re (and with “we” i mean those who act like above) bitter.  Is that “growing up”? I don´t think so. At least i don´t hope so. I never liked all the importance of scores, but remembering former times, i prefer talking about why a game got 79% over talking about “why a game didn´t get 100%, you douchebag troll!!!11!“.


Sony surpassed Nintendo…in Bizarro World

March 10, 2009

There are times when you just want to smash your head against a wall until you´re dead. Today is such a time. What´s most baffeling, though, is that users of a certain internet board are actually discussing the subject of matter. A no-name Sony-website released an article about how Sony has surpassed Nintendo as a game developer. But let´s get right into THE BULLSHIT:

Nintendo has been relying on their old franchises for years.  Sony, on the other hand, is constantly coming up with new franchises for their Playstation platforms

The old super crap argument. Let´s put aside all the franchises that Nintendo created this gen alone: New IP doesn´t equal New game. Something especially Sony-fans seem to never ever get. You have, for example, Jak 2, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly the Racoon. Guess what, all of those play almost the same. Now, take the last two Mario-games. The difference is earth shattering. I can only repeat myself one more time, but: I want NEW GAMES. I don´t want old concepts with swapped setting palette.

Sony is better than Nintendo when working with smaller development studios. Their partnership with Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet), helped create one of the best franchises in recent years for Sony. Oddly enough, Nintendo also had a shot with Media Molecule before Sony snatched them up.

How arrogant can you get? This is assuming that LBP IS a game that´s above anything else. And it´s not. Looking back at how unresponsive the controls of LBP were, it´s not surprising that Nintendo didn´t want to publish Media Mocules game. This is Nintendo, the company that had perfect 2D-platformer controls even back then in the first Mario-game for NES. As for the first sentence: It´s called money-hatting. Nintendo doesn´t do that and it´s the right way. Developers should develop for a system because they want to, not because they get the most money from another company.

So while Nintendo is stuck developing Nintendo Wii games that look the same as Nintendo Gamecube titles

Not true AND Game Cube-games look still awsome.

Leaving aside other atrocious bold statements in the above article, Nintendo is unsurpassed by anyone. There are fanboy on every system´s side, but only Sony-fans willingly hype games like Heavy Rain, that are hardly games anymore, but movies. By following the path towards movies, Sony will never surpass Nintendo, Blizzard or Valve. And Shadow of the Colossus sucks, that had to be said.