Nintendo’s first truly original Zelda installment on the 3DS — not to dismiss the tremendous effort it took to make Ocarina look that gorgeous on such a painfully small screen — delves into the series’ past for inspiration. Yet calling A Link Between Worlds a “sequel” to 1995’s A Link to the Past only serves the definition in the most clinical sense.
The top-down perspective and setting are lifted from the SNES classic, but Between Worlds is very much its own game. It achieves a unique feel through its mechanics and thoughtful, unobtrusive use of three-dimensional gameplay. It’s a kinetic adventure where the familiar — what we’ve come to know as “Quintessential Zelda" through the years — is infused with small, progressive tweaks and an expanded suite of free-roam options, creating this refreshing cocktail of old school design and modern innovation.
Pardon my pun a thousand times over, but it’s the best of both worlds.
Nintendo Ain’t Backing Down From Console Biz
In the face of some pretty dire losses as reported Friday during a company press conference, head honcho Satoru Iwata agrees its time for Nintendo to rethink their strategy. But that still doesn’t mean you’ll find Mario leaping onto smartphones.
The Wii U pegged as a central cause of financial disappointment, Nintendo has lowered their original projection of 9 million units sold all the way down to 2.8 million for the fiscal year ending in March. Industry analysts are already comparing the struggling Wii U to Sega’s doomed vessel the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast’s unfortunate — and, may history not forget, heartbreaking — failure dumped Sega out of the hardware business, forcing them to recoup their losses in software; subsequently publishing first-party IP’s like Sonic the Hedgehog onto former rivals’ machines.
Investors are seemingly pushing for a similarly drastic overhaul in Nintendo’s business, narrowing their eyes on the potential profit to be mined by releasing the company’s world renown properties on mobile and home devices not manufactured by the Japanese juggernaut.
Iwata, though illustrating his thoughts more eloquently, obviously believes that’s horseshit.
"The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles," said Nintendo’s president to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s not that simple. It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones.” Dishing out titles such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, or Pokemon on other platforms would only disrupt Nintendo’s current success: the 3DS.
While the sales forecast for their handheld has also been lowered, the disparity is nowhere near as severe — down from 18 million units to 13.5. With the 3DS having dominated the hardware market worldwide in 2013 (even outpacing both the PS4 and Xbox One’s total sales in the month of December), it’s no wonder Nintendo doesn’t want to shut down its manufacturing shops.
While Iwata stands by the Wii U as a product, he subscribes to the notion that, at the end of the day, games will sell a console. And, once again, Nintendo relies on its flagship titles to do the convincing. For some, this strategy won’t cut it.
Stock analyst and notable talking head Michael “Pach-Attack” Pachter thinks it’s already too late for the Wii U, stating in February’s Game Informer, “I don’t think they recover. I think they screwed [the Wii U] up royally. They’re going to have to scrap it.”
Even suffering losses and a constantly shifting market, I wouldn’t soon expect Nintendo to drastically change how they rule the kingdom they’ve spent decades building. We’re not just talking about a financial player here — this is a development/publishing/manufacturing powerhouse that helped define modern gaming. Trends, tastes, and practices all change. Through it all, Nintendo has somehow remained constant.
That’s not to excuse the Wii U and the underwhelming decisions keeping it out of gamers’ living rooms (mine included). And that’s not to say I wouldn’t be tickled pink at the opportunity to play Zelda on my PlayStation 4. Christ, I would love that. It’s just, if that happened, I’d have to accept Hell has frozen solid and that the sky was moments away from crushing me. I don’t see it happening but, then again, if I were old enough to invest in Sega right before the Dreamcast launched… Let’s— Let’s just cut the article here, huh?
Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda Combine; Yes, Seriously
A new Nintendo Direct aired today and with it came tons of updates on the company’s beloved franchises.
Luigi apparently just got his doctorate, now the star of Dr. Luigi. Everybody’s favorite shoe-wearing dinosaur bought some more real estate in Yoshi’s New Island. Rosalina stepped into the arena of Smash Bros. 4 despite my not knowing who the hell Rosalina is.
But all of these announcements paled in comparison to the debut of the greatest video game crossover (that no one had the wits nor gall to even ask for in the first place) ever. Ladies, gentlemen, and variations thereupon: meet Hyrule Warriors, the peanut buttercup mixing of Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors and Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda.
Now I don’t know what you stand for and I haven’t any estimation of your moral compass, but I stand for what’s right, and this game feels too fucking right. Hyrule Warriors isn’t the first crossover in Tecmo’s stable of single button hack n’ slashers — Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is on its third entry while One Piece: Pirate Warriors recently dropped its second — but it is the first game where the looped music likely won’t make you slam your controller into your eardrum.
Nintendo wishes to assure fans that the tentatively named Hyrule Warriors is a separate title from the previously mentioned “Next Zelda" being developed for Wii U; it’s a collaboration with Tecmo Koei, utilizing their series’ "tried and true" combat (see: "flogged and fatigued") with familiar friendlies and enemies alike from Zelda lore.
I have a soft spot for Dynasty Warriors tenderer than under cooked chicken (God, I’m horrible at similes). It’s unrepentant, mindlessly repetitive action. Which is precisely why I love it. Now chock full of Zelda goodness? This shall be my stupidest, yet foremost reason for wanting a Wii U.
Naughty Dog Founder Calls Nintendo “Irrelevant” in the Console Biz
Mr. Jason Rubin, co-founder of acclaimed studio Naughty Dog as well as the last CEO at the helm of THQ before its public dissolution, recently had some biting remarks for industry titan and household name Nintendo.
A frequent, and outspoken, guest of the Geoff Keighley hosted Bonus Round, conversation on a recent episode gravitated from who will be successful in the new next-gen console race (Sony or Microsoft) to how Nintendo, in Rubin’s opinion, barely qualifies as a contender.
Rubin says both Sony and Microsoft stand to do “extremely well” because “Nintendo has stumbled.” Then he landed this juicy sound byte on the Japanese publisher’s chin: “Nintendo is irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business right now.”
In a cordial showing of impromptu damage control, Rubin rained praise on the company, calling them a “worldwide treasure” and that no developer alive “will ever be Miyamoto,” as in Shigeru, the living legend responsible for creating almost every A-list first-party franchise in Nintendo’s catalog. Rubin’s singeing comments stem, no doubt, from the year old Wii U’s struggle to place itself in consumer’s living rooms. To add some perspective, IGN noted that the PlayStation 4 outpaced the Wii U’s life-to-date sales in the U.K. over the weekend.
Hearing that, it’s easy to chart the Sega course for Nintendo, in which they burn up their manufacturing business and stick strictly to software, doomed to becoming a third-party publisher in order to keep breathing. For Rubin, that may be the ideal outcome. "It is a crime that we do not play those games on the systems that we have.”
But Nintendo could hardly be called “irrelevant” when it comes to the handheld market, which they have in a damn sleeper hold. The 3DS and its various incarnations are dominating the world, time and time again topping the NPD’s hardware list. Sony’s own bid at handheld success, the PS Vita, has fought to find even remotely the same traction since its launch.
Rubin’s words may sting, but if truth hurts, they sting for a reason. The Wii U left a gaping maw of an opportunity for the competition to seize upon. For now, the console war is between two companies, and despite helping define the home console as we know it today, Nintendo is not one of them.
This week’s most percolating gaming happenings that you may have missed. If you didn’t miss them, congratulations. You’re better than I am. But now that you’re gloating about it, you’re worse than I am. O, how quickly your vanity carried you to ruin, my former liege. Anyway, welcome back to the Roundup. Leave your shoes anywhere.
- Sony is bent on selling five million PS4’s by next March. I’m bringing you one unit closer to your goal, guys. You don’t have to thank me. But you do owe me.
- Fun fact: the PlayStation 4, a console owned and created by a Japanese company, is delaying its Japan launch because there aren’t enough Japanese games for it. A sign that Western developers have overtaken the gaming scene this generation? “Nah,” says Sony figurehead Shuhei Yoshida. Japan is a “portable-heavy” market is all. So you say.
- "The Steam universe is expanding in 2014." A tease of promises untold or a thinly veiled threat of world dominance? When it comes to Valve, cryptic sentences usually result in both. The Bellevue, WA geek kingdom, a company that has subtly but surely influenced industry sweeping trends, is teasing three announcements for next week, beginning Monday morning. What’s the deal? Gabe “The Man” Newell hinted “hardware opportunities” for bringing Linux to the living room will be revealed soon. Steam Box anyone?
- The RetroN 5 is upon us, old school fiends. Hyperkin, one of the foremost manufacturers of video game clone devices (we’re adults here; I mean “knock-offs), has dated their wondrous, cartridge eating console for December 10th, 2013. The RetroN 5, to those unfamiliar, is a plastic portal to the past that allows you to play NES, SNES, Famicon, Genesis, Mega Drive, Sega Master System (B.Y.O. Power Converter, though) and Game Boy carts all in one machine. Essentially it’s the universal remote off retro consoles. Classic kicks will cost you $99.
Wii U Drops Its Price and the 3DS Drops a Whole Damn Dimension
All right. Where to begin? I suppose I’ll start with the news that doesn’t scramble my brains like Iwata himself stabbed a whisk through my head.
First up, the Wii U is officially seeing a price drop. In a ploy to divert your attention from Sony and Microsoft’s Hell in a Cell, next-gen warring this Holiday, Nintendo has slashed $50 from the Wii U Deluxe Set’s tag. The 32GB model’s newly minted price of $299 will kick in for North American retailers on September 20th.
Personal bite: I can’t complain about a console price drop. A more affordable system pushes me closer to inviting it into my home. Though, the fact the drop had to happen at all tells a distressing tale in regards to the system’s performance — keep in mind we’re not even a year out from the console’s November 2012 release date and a price drop is already happening. Not fantastic.
And a discounted tag ain’t enough to catch the public’s attention by itself. Any software not adorned with a Nintendo mascot holds up like a drop of fresh water in the ocean. You hear a story every other day about a third-party publisher ducking out of releasing a Wii U version of their hot title or, at best, releasing a watered down version. Once more, not fantastic.Nintendo also announced a new model of the 3DS minus the 3D part. ”Isn’t that just a DS, though?” No, simpleton. This plays 3DS games. But not in 3D. Also, it doesn’t have a hinge, ridding you of the frustration of being able to close the machine and protect the screen from the elements — an innovation Nintendo foolishly invested into back with the Game Boy Advance SP.
I introduce to you the Nintendo 2DS. Soak it in, friends. Nintendo is billing the new handheld as an entry-level portable for youngsters…which makes the damage susceptible design even more boggling. Reduced functionality — and, seemingly, reduced versatility — means the handheld can be yours for just $129.99. The 2DS is locked in to debut in the states alongside the release of the world’s first 3D Pokemon titles, X and Y — it just gets better and better as we go along, huh? — on October 12th.
Nintendo’s much needed intervention has not yet been scheduled.
Just a day after EA’s announcement about how they don’t have a single title in gestation for the Wii U, a bold employee uses the social megaphone that is Twitter to clue us in as to why.
Credited as a Senior Software Engineer and having been with EA since 1999, Bob Summerwill has since sweept his Twitter account of controversy. You can still check out Bob’s heated, but disarmingly honest, comments on EA and Nintendo’s relationship hereabouts. Among them, Summerwill criticizes Nintendo for running shop like it’s still 1990.
"They should have ‘done a Sega’ and offered Mario/Zelda as PS4/Durango exclusives." That’s my favorite, if you were wondering.
You’d figure those in the industry would temper their opinions when speaking on an immensely public platform what with the whole Adam Orth catastrophe fresh in everyone’s minds, but I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have “Done a Sega” otherwise and…I simply don’t want to live in that world.
EA: Absolutely Nothing in the Pipeline for Wii U
Here’s the byline bouncing around this evening: Despite EA announcing an “unprecedented partnership” between itself and Nintendo at E3 circa 2011, the game publishing giant has revealed it currently has no games in development for the struggling Wii U.
That oath, made while CEO John Riccitiello had a clasp on the company’s reigns, manifested in several ports of popular titles — Mass Effect 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Madden included — that long since had homes on the Xbox 360 and PS3. According to EA’s spokesperson, Jeff Brown, those handful of ports encompass the whole of their Wii U partnership, ensuring future blockbusters such as Battlefield 4, FIFA, and Madden 25 won’t be making it onto Nintendo’s newest console.
Having that waterway dry up — the”waterway” here referring to one of the biggest third-party publishers in the world — further shoves Wii U into a rough corner. But, as Kotaku illustrates, ever since the first Wii third-parties have had a hell of a hard time finding success on Nintendo’s systems. Usually Nintendo’s first-party hits take up the lion’s share of sales while third-parties are left to scavenge for scraps. Follow that with Nintendo’s increasingly upward slope of a fight to put their hardware in gamers’ homes, and even the big boys like EA are turning their back to the Japanese monolith.
Business is business, however, and EA isn’t likely to give Wii U the lifetime shunning if the system starts to perform well. Hell, EA might even be threatening a drought just to incite Nintendo into shaping up and narrowing their focus on pushing their console. Just a musing. Ultimately, time — and your dollars — will tell.
Zelda Alert: A New Link to the Past Heading to the 3DS This Holiday
Whether you truck with Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker or even Zelda II (weirdo), you won’t hear much argument when someone bursts into the room and proclaims 1992’s A Link to the Past as the best Zelda game ever made. Because even if you don’t agree, it’s too damn hard to build a case against one of the very best adventures game of all time.
That would be why the internet is freaking out over the prospect of a quasi-sequel to the Nintendo masterpiece. Coming to the 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Kamigami no Triforce 2 (as it’s called in Japan; no English title just yet), is not a remake, but a continuation of sorts set in the same world as the SNES original and shares that game’s top-down perspective. Your retro sense may tingle but things take a turn for the modern thanks to the handheld’s features.
In true 2.5D style, depth plays a huge part of the game’s mechanics as you’ll be able to ascend or descend from areas, navigate puzzles outside of the two-dimensional plane, and become a wall painting that can slip through crevices (just roll with it, man).
A New Link to the Past — that’s on the house, Nintendo — is slated to release this Holiday season. Excuse me while I attempt to reclaim my 3DS from the cobwebs in my closet.