The Man of the Industry – and Skyward Sword

March 2, 2011

In this video game industry, honesty and fairness is something not often displayed. It´s been a rough competition ever since the days of Nintendo versus Sega. It seems hard to imagine that one of these competing companies could talk in a manner that transcends typical boundaries between each competitor. Today, Satoru Iwata, head of Nintendo, managed to do exactly that. His GDC keynote speech about the event´s 25th anniversary made the Nintendo-boss look not so much like a Nintendo-guy, but someone who can speak out for the whole industry that he´s part of, too.

It was great to see Iwata take such a clear stance regarding Apple´s business model of cheap games. High-value games need to be sold at a certain price point, otherwise the gaming industry can´t keep creating these great experiences. Iwata talked about how all of them, be it Nintendo, MS, Sony or all the attending developers, have to make sure to innovate and to value their own work. And not to give in to a new business model of a company that has no own view about video games.

Now, obviously, GDC is not E3, but Nintendo indeed DID deliver E3-like announcements. The completely new Mario 3D is going to be a 3D-Mario platformer for the Nintendo 3DS-handheld and seems to follow the footsteps of both Super Mario Galaxy-titles, yet offering new features, like the hinted tanooki-suit and the revival of the traditional health-system, where Mario shrinks when hit by an enemy. Iwata said that the game would be fully revealed at E3.

Most interesting, though, is Zelda. And indeed was a new trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword shown. Admittedly, on my first time watching it, I felt underwhelmed. After several times now, I feel like there is a great game in the coming. But I´m still trying to figure out as to why it felt underwhelming. For one, they color saturation looks extremely washed out. Maybe that´s due to the video quality, but it really doesn´t help. Then there´s the occasionally bad enemy-design, like that fat guy with the wooden shield that pushes Link to the left. Then again, the Stalfos knight seems to be incredibly improved compared to the goofy model in the E3-demo. Personally, it´s these static, un-dynamic gameplay instances that get my hype down. For example, take a look at the tightrope scene. This looks as if it was very slow, very time-consuming and thus annoying. I remember smoothly running over tightropes in Assassin´s Creed 2 and … yeah. Then there´s those very blocky environments. The big room where Link fights the small spider is made of wide, bland walls and objects. There´s no detail to be seen and I almost get the feeling of it being the parody of a Zelda-dungeon. For last, the HUD looks awful. Some people claim that it´d be optional and can be deactivated, but I´ll believe that once I see it. The wiimote-overlay, the constant notice at the bottom middle that tells you how to use an item … that has to go away.

Now, on the positive side, the new main villain is gorgeous. I love crazy, arrogant menaces, and this guy looks like a mixture of Skullkid and Zant. Also, sword combat seems to be really complex. Notice how all the more aggressive enemies are blocking every sword-attack in that short trailer. Doesn´t make the impression as if hitting foes was as mindlessly easy as in Twilight Princess. I absolutely love the look of the desert-area, though I hope it isn´t too enclosed, too small in sheer size. But it´s hard to make out if the white wall is supposed to be an area limiter or just an object inmidst a bigger desert. The rolling enemy looks like a small Barroth btw., fellow Monster Hunter 3-fans. In general, as underwhelming as parts of Skyward Sword look, the overall feeling I get from both its E3-showing and now this trailer is that something new is on its way … something unknown.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword GDC-Trailer

We literally don´t know much about this Zelda-title, but with all previous series-entries, each game gave gamers a pretty distinctive impression early on. The Wind Waker was announced as a light-hearted adventure, Twilight Princess was always presented as the big, epic Lord of the Rings-entry. Skyward Sword is … Skyward Sword – whatever that´s supposed to mean. One might call it a lack of identity, but I feel like that could mean just the opposite: That this is going to be a different kind of Zelda-game, exactly the kind of big change that fans have wanted for a long time. Because let´s be honest: The clear focus of past 3D-Zeldas gave each series-entry its very own flavor, but it also limited them as a whole. Up until Ocarina of Time, Zelda-games didn´t have a perfectly defined flavor. Zelda-games were just mysterious adventures, sending the player on a big, unknown journey full of exploration. So far, Skyward Sword feels like it´s turning out be exactly that.


First Trailer of The Last Story

July 8, 2010

And it looks gorgeous. Easily the best-looking game for the Wii. Great way to start a day, wake up, walk over to the PC, sit down, and find out that there´s finally a video of The Last Story.

The Last Story – Trailer

Besides the awesome visuals, what´s most intriguing is the combat-system. I actually thought it was going to be some turn-based system, but this is so much better. Looks more like Zelda meets Final Fantasy meets Gears of War. Combat looks very direct, very active. No passive command-choosing, but active fighting. Take cover behind objects, aim and shoot at an enemy, jump over objects and so on. And then there´s the town, that really looks nice. Maybe it´ll succeed my favorite video game-town, Windfall Island from The Wind Waker, who knows. The thing that I definitely know, however, is that at this moment, I´m more excited about The Last Story than Zelda: Skyward Sword. Now just announce this game for Europe and the USA, Nintendo!


Warming up on Skyward Sword

June 17, 2010

I sounded pretty disappointed when I talked about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in my E3-article. Well, I´m still not entirely sold on the whole thing, but the following gameplay-video that really gives you a nice overview of the whole E3-demo showed that the level-structure is quite open. It remains to be seen just how open the game really is, but I´m now a little bit happier about the new Zelda for Wii.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Gameplay Trailer E3 2010

Stuff that I´m still very skeptic about is the enemy-design, that sometimes is great (see scorpion) and at other times is horrible (see Moblins). Also, the blocky level-design, just from a pure visual point of view. I simply hate those walls that are nothing but non-interactive borders. I really hope that the final game won´t have any load times like The Wind Waker, and maybe even allows the player to climb those walls. After all, if Link really gains the ability to fly, and a lot of evidence points into that direction, then freedom seems to play a bigger part in this game. Which brings us to my last piece of skepticism: If a flying Link becomes reality, then for god´s sake, have it be 100% free-flight, and not some kind of mini-game, like “each time you travel between Skyloft and the land on the ground, you fly on a set path and have to shoot enemies”. That´d be super horrible. Either let me fly by will, by my own decision, or don´t make such a game. At least the new flying-beetle item gives hope that free-flight might be considered.


Exploration a la Xenoblade

May 6, 2010

You never can be sure when developers praise their own games. In the case of Xenoblade they didn´t lie. “We want the player find a certain spot and simply enjoy the look of the environment“. From simply watching the following trailer, called “Field Introduction“, this appears to be proven now.

Xenoblade-Field Introduction – trailer

The scale of Xenoblade´s world is enormous. Not only is it big, but it looks alive, natural. And enemies aren´t mindless attackers, no, they seem to actually live, walk around, and ignore you. The game isn´t an all around fine looking game, but where you see short comings in the character-models, you see where Monolithsoft spent their resources on. And even though I realize that I´m getting annoying: Will Zelda Wii be able to top this sense of exploration?


New Tokyo Game Show-trailer for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer

September 24, 2009

It´s rare these days that I get hyped for a game, but Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer just managed to do this. Thanks to its new Tokyo Game Show-trailer. You can see the video if you click the following link:

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer TGS – Trailer

Unlike many, i´m not excited about this game because of its resemblance of Zelda, but rather, because this looks like a real Final Fantasy-game to me. I was kinda a fan of the FF-series until Final Fantasy 9. After that, the series, well, took a turn I didn´t like. The Crystal Bearer features a great, sympathic main character, likeable other characters and fun-looking gameplay. If Square Enix had named this game “Final Fantasy 13“, I doubt anyone could complain at this point. Let´s hope the game delivers, when it´s released on the 26th of December in the USA. So far, no confirmed release date for Europa, though it´s confirmed to be released there, too, as far as i know.


It´s alive! New trailer for The Crystal Bearer

January 29, 2009

It has been a long time, too long for some, like EGM that announced this game to be cancelled. They were wrong and i am happy, awsome. Anyway, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer is well alive, and no, i won´t write that title again in this article. Square-Enix was so kind to include a new video-trailer on the disc of the Wii-Version of the latest Crystal Chronicles-game, Echoes of Time.

The trailer starts out rather weird and annoying, mostly due to the bad music, at least bad for a trailer. It´s later on when the “real” trailer starts and we get to see various scenes within the game. And really, the Crystal Chronicles-series finally evolves beyond the nice party-game towards a series that can stand equally next to the main line Final Fantasy-games.

To be honest, The Crystal Bearer is the only Square Enix-game i´m excited about. Of course the game uses a famous name, but in itself it is something completely new. The visuals are great, trumping any other 3rd-party game for the Wii. The design is neither overly cute nor realistic. Instead it´s in the middle, which gives a feeling of a modern FF9. The shown locations look beautiful and creative, most interesting though is the gameplay. It´s too early to give a final judgement, but from what can be seen so far, the game makes great use of the Wii´s features. The main character, Layle, has telecinetic abilities, maybe making use of the Gravitas-magic spell, and throws enemies and all kind of stuff around. He also actives switches from the distance. The potential is there for making a great combat system.

Instead of throwing another bunch of emo-characters towards the player, we finally get a strong, confident protagnist, likeable from the very beginning. Two seemingly bad guys are shown, though it´s unknown if they´re the ultimate bad guys of the game. Looking at Crystal Chronicles-history, probably not.

I´m personally super excited for this game, as it´s less an RPG and more a action-adventure. That means a greater sense of interactivity and less cutscene-watching. It also helps that the main character´s abilities appear to be awsome. With Monster Hunter 3, Dragon Quest 10 and now The Crystal Bearer, the Wii´s lineup looks better than ever before. Now bring Fragile and Tales of Symphonia 2 over to Europe and all is fine.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearer – Trailer