Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oracle of Ages & Seasons: 10 Years

This year is not only the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda franchise, but also the Oracle games are celebrating 10 years of excistence by now (and 20 years of A Link to the Past, but I'll come to that later). The games were released today ten years ago in Japan, on May 14th 2001 in the US and on October 5th 2001 in Europe. I can't believe that it's already been ten years ago, sometimes it feels like yesterday that I went into the store to pick these games up. My first Zelda game was Link's Awakening, so I was really excited about Oracles back then, because it's basically just "more of Link's Awakening".

What makes these games so special, is that they can be be linked together. They were basically the Zelda pendant to the Pokémon Red & Blue editions. The difference was that these were two entirely different games, which would get a common thread by linking. What also makes the Oracle games special is the fact, that these are the first Zelda game not directly developed by Nintendo, but by team from Capcom called Flagship. At first it was declined by Nintendo, but after Capcom showed many efforts they eventually gave in. Originally six Zelda GameBoy games were planned, but then a trilogy, the "Triforce Trilogy". Capcom started by remaking the first The Legend of Zelda game in the style of Link's Awakening. You can still cleary see that in the finished products, especially in Oracle of Seasons. The first dungeon, the Gnarled Root Dungeon, is a remake of the Eagle dungeon. All the bosses from the original Zelda game are present, the overworld map has similar structures and there are small nodds like old men hiding in a cave under burnable trees.

The third game would have been about color or daytime puzzles, but it got scrapped later, because the linking of three games was too complicated. This is actually sad, because in the way I see it, not having three games was the problem, but the linking itself. The linking turned out to be too complicated, which is the major flaw of the Oracle games. The order, in which you play the games, plays an important role. You can't get and experience everything by playing the games just once. But you can start a simple 2nd Quest and use it to complete your ring collection while playing in the other direction. So, you can either start a normal game, a linked game, a 2nd Quest or a linked 2nd Quest. That's four ways of how to play the game! Way too complicated. They should have made the linking in a way, that the order of the games doesn't matter. Even that you can play through the games at the same time. Just use the passwords (or the link cable connection) to add stuff in the other games. Unlock the Hero's Cave in one game, by finishing another. Unlock the Twinrova scenario in all games by beating all the games once. That way the linking would be less complicated, it would be more enjoyable to play through the games and it would even allow to have three or more games...

The animal buddies were another problem, you can only chose one per playthrough. Each buddy changes a part of the environment, so if you want to see all possible environments, you have to play through the games at least three times. If they would have simplified the linking and made three games, it probably would have been better to have one animal per game.

But it's too late for that, it's no use to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Oracle games by discussing their flaws. But I already summed up their strength with the statement "more of Link's Awakening". Because that's what these games are in the end and they did a great job with that, though they aren't really better than the original. But they offer a lot of cool quests, dungeons and items all in the lovely style and sometimes quirky ways of Link's Awakening.

With the 25th Anniversary of the Zelda franchise this year and Oracle of Ages & Seasons celebrating 10 years there might be a chance that both games will appear on the 3DS Virtual Console later this year. Around October 5th would be a good choice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amazing 25th Anniversary Zelda Fan Art

You've probably already seen this:

Any words to describe this? Amazing? Breath taking? Stunning? None of this really covers it. What the artist Ag+ did here for the 25th Anniversary is probably the finest and richest piece of Zelda fan art ever made covering a wide selection of characters from most of the Zelda games. There's also a creation video for the art, I wish I could draw like that.

Do you recognize all characters? There's a list at ZU forums if not.

Source: Kotaku

Monday, February 21, 2011

25th Anniversary of Zelda

Today, 25 years ago The Hyrule Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda was released in Japan for the Family Computer Disk System spawning one of the most popular video game franchises ever created. It was succeeded by 14 other main games, several re-releases and remastered versions, some spin-offs and cameos in popular fighting games.

It is unknown, what Nintendo will do to celebrate this anniversary. But we'll see many new Zelda releases this year including Ocarina of Time 3D on the 3DS, Link's Awakening DX on the 3DS Virtual Console, a Zelda augmented reality card shipped with the 3DS and of course the newest title in the series, Skyward Sword on the Wii. And there might be other surprise releases, which Nintendo hasn't announced yet. So, it's going to be a great year.

Happy Birthday, Zelda!

25 years of Zelda @ IGN
25 years of Zelda @ Kotaku

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Zelda and Metroid Augmented Reality Cards Bundled with 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS is bundled with six aufmented reality cards featuring Miis, Mario, Kirby, Pikmin, Metroid and Zelda. You just lay the card down on a table and if you point at it with the 3DS camera, the screen will show (moving) figures above the card. Always wanted a Samus or a Link inside your living room? Then this is for you.

Of course this gets boring like after five minutes. But it's definitely a nice small gimmick of the 3DS system and I'm happy that the Zelda and Metroid cards are shipped with the system. Other Zelda or Metroid cards (featuring other characters for example) could be shipped with later games like Ocarina of Time 3D as a nice bonus. I wouldn't buy them seperately.

As seen on: Zelda Temple

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Metroid Prime 1.5

Someone at Neogaf Forums discovered a concept for a Metroid game leaked by Tony C. Giovanni, one of Retro's level designers. It's a really interesting concept, so it's worth a look.

The story takes place after Metroid Prime on a large alien ship. The gone mad AI of the ship abducts several bounty hunters including Samus and other strong fighters in order to learn their abilities, so they can be assimilated by the ship's robots and aliens to built an army. Samus' mission is to stop the AI of course. The AI has multiple personalities, the child, the mother, the martyr and the killer. Depending on what part of the personality you're facing, the environment and obstacles will change. The child might want to play with you which results in puzzle heavy gameplay, while the killer tries to ... well, kill you. The AI might fill room with poison gas, lock doors to mock you among other stuff. It's a really unique concept, basically the next level of H.A.L.

Samus abilities would be blocked, but she can get them back by scanning certain bots. But this scanning transfers her DNA and because of this, your enemies will be able to use your abilities, which results later in another evil Samus clone. But you can also aquire new abilites (probably from other bounty hounters) like cloaking, wall walk or infrared vision.

I'm only scratching the surface here, so I advise you to take a look at the concepts for yourself. There are also some ideas about a coop mode, but I'm not interested in playing Metroid cooperatively. However, though the whole game concept got rejected, it sounds much better than what we got with Metroid: Other M. So, if Nintendo is working on a new Metroid game, they should definitely revisit this concept.

Metroid Database
Neogaf Forums

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Duty Calls

At the moment I've returned to Unreal Tournament 3, I just love that shooter, no other shooter is as much fun as the Unreal games. However, I'm quite alone with that point of view, except for one fellow student I don't know anyone who also plays the game and most servers are empty. Popular shooters today either have "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield" in their names, but I find those shooters boring and they just make me return to Unreal.

Now Epic released a Call of Duty parody game as a promotion for their newest game Bulletstorm, developed by People Can Fly. It's called Duty Calls and it's absolutely hilarious, with each shot from your gun the game says "boring", each kill gives you a ridiculous RANK UP! and so on. It's absolutely funny and sometimes shocking how close it actually is to the real deal. It's a very short game, but you should definitely download it for free or watch a walkthrough here.

Download the game here:

Bulletstorm looks like fun, there's lots of good action, nice visuals, funny big talk and an interesting kill shot system that takes Unreal Tournament's Multikills and Headshots to the next level. However, it's mostly singleplayer, there's some coop and a competitive skill shot mode, but no Deathmatch, CTF and the like, which is a big minus, because that's what I prefer to play in a shooter. And there's no PC demo yet, which is weak. Especially considering that they can easily make a full Call of Duty parody game and release it as a promotion, but they fail to release a PC demo? Whatever... no demo, no purchase. UPDATE: Actually the game was done by the marketing company Wieden and Kennedy, not People Can Fly or Epic. The lack of a PC demo is still disappointing though.

Expect some more Unreal updates in the next days. Zelda-wise I'm waiting for some news from GDC.