Given that this is my first article here at ZeldaBlog as an actual contributor I thought it’d only be fitting that I make my first post something of some significance. So when I got the opportunity to go to this years Electronics Entertainment Expo my first thoughts were to write up my impressions here at ZB about the one and only reason I wanted to go to E3 in the first place: The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess and just how well it plays on the new Wii-mote.
Before I begin though, an introduction is in store. I am Thabto. I don’t ask much. All I do ask is that you refer to me as either Thabto or as Captain, my Captain. The choice is yours.
As you may or may not know by now, the wait outside the Nintendo Booth just to even touch the Wii (stop it) was anything but short. Thankfully, with iPod and DS in hand, I was able to ignore most of the pain my legs endured. And let me tell you, nothing is more rewarding than seeing the Nintendo Booth’s entrance after waiting three hours in line for it (I’m not exagerrating. I seriously waited three hours. I counted and everything).
Upon entering spectators were treated to a rather fascinating demonstration of the Wii-mote by several musicians using the forthcoming Wii Music Party Game. Wii Music is destined to be one of those great party games like “Taboo” or “Twister” where you set up the console, turn on the TV and just let people play and have a good time. I got to see two music demo’s. One was the Wii Orchestra that Miyamoto came in playing at the Nintendo Press conference. The other was a basic drum set in which you use two Wii-motes as drum sticks. Wii orchestra is fun in that you get to control a simulated orchestra playing (what else?) the Legend of Zelda theme. As the conductor you can control every aspect of the orchestra’s performance from the speed and tempo in which they play to their sound. Yes, you can control their sound too.
As demo’d in the Wii drum performance (I forgot to take a picture, too fascinating!), the musicians explained that not only can the Wii-mote sense motion in a 3-D space, it can also sense velocity as well. For example, if you want to make a loud crash on a drum symbol simply press and hold the required button/s and smash down hard mimicking the playing of a drum. If you want to make a soft tattering on the symbol then simply move your hand up and down in a gentle manner to get the desired effect. The same goes for Wii Orchestra. If you want them to play softly then just move the Wii-mote/baton in small, gentle strokes. Want a grander Zelda theme? Then wider movements with the Wii-mote/baton are required. See? Fascinating! So, having had my appetite suitably whetted I proceeded into the gaming room and on to my final desination.
The first room is a gamer’s paradise. Seven large widescreen HD television sets lined the wall with large, comfortable leather couches as your gaming throne allowing you to play anything from Red Steel to Metroid Prime: Corruption and, of course, Zelda. These couch sessions were special as they allowed you to play the Zelda demo all the way to it’s boss ending as opposed to the regular gaming room where you have a smaller TV, no couch and they kick you off once you get to the boss chamber. Wanting desperately to sit down on one of the couches and play Zelda (or, perhaps just sit down) I waited for about twenty minutes to see if I could play on the couches. When I saw the long list of people who would have been ahead of me I decided it was best not to even bother and moved on to the second gaming room which held a more standard demo showing. I did, however, get to sit in on one of the boss fights over in the first room (more on this later).
The lines for the Zelda and Mario demos were easily the longest in the showroom with Metroid and Red Steel coming in second. After waiting aNOTHER hour just to play Zelda I finally got my hands on the Wii-mote and its nunchuck peripheral. Both are smaller than I had originally anticipated fitting snugly into the palm of my hand (I guess the camera DOES add ten pounds). Having viewed the same demo over and over again while waiting in line I managed to solve the few puzzles in the game with relative ease as opposed to most people (Seriously, how hard IS it to throw the boomerang in a Z pattern?)
Taking up the reigns I was surprised at how intuitive the controls were. Only the odd few in line seemed to have any problem pointing and firing an arrow or the boomerang. Swinging the sword is relegated to the B trigger button on the bottom of the Wii-mote (a bit awkward at first given its position but I easily adapted). The A button on top is your standard action button allowing you to open doors and pick up crates. It does NOT, however, throw those crates. That’s what the nunchuck is for. With a slight flick of the wrist the crate will go flying at your intended destination. Also, if you make a quick rotation of the nunchuck with your hand it will cause Link to do his famous spin attack. I like this funtion better than the way it’s been handled in the past by rotating the analog stick 360 degrees (I never could do that properly). The Z button located on the nunchuck performs the exact same function we’re all accustomed to, locking onto enemies.
The Wii-mote also has a few interesting things to it besides just pointing. You can flick the Wii-mote when fighting an enemy to parry their attack. It also has a built in speaker which I was terribly excited about and looking forward to experiencing. Unfortunately, the showroom was far too loud for me to be able to hear it. Link’s secondary weapons are programmed to the left, right and bottom of the cross hair buttons. These took me a bit longer to get down because they were each handled differently. The grappling hook and the bow, for instance, don’t require one to hold down the button. Simply press the button you have configured, point, aim and press again to fire. Hitting A or B will cancel you out of that mode. The boomerang, on the other hand, does require you to press and hold the button, aim then release.
Speaking about aiming, the games manual aim function is incredibly precise. In fact, it’s a bit TOO precise. I never did get used to how sensitive aiming an arrow at an enemy was. Thankfully, the game doesn’t require you to be a crack shot with the aiming. As long as you’re within the cross hairs you should be able to hit whatever it is that’s attacking you.
The demo offered two stages to choose: a dungeon stage and a fishing stage. Having chosen the dungeon stage I can only give you impressions on what I saw in the fishing one, not what I played. First, there are two types of fishing: lure fishing and boomer fishing. Boomer fishing is done on the dock while lure fishing is done in a boat out in the middle of the lake you have to paddle to. Paddling is a simple exercise. Rotate the analog stick counter clockwise to paddle on the left side of the boat and clockwise to paddle on the right. Why they don’t employ the use of the Wii-mote or nunchucks motion sensing is beyond me. The actual fishing, though, is much more sophisticated. Just press the B button to start and then make a flinging gesture with the Wii-mote mimicking a fishing rod. If you want to attract the attention of surrounding fish just jiggle the Wii-mote a bit to shake the line. If you get a bite hit the A button and pull back on the Wii-mote to reel it in. All pretty simple.
Going back to the dungeon demo for a moment I want to mention a few interesting things I noticed while playing and watching others play. (Note: given that this was only a demo and not an actual portion of the game these next few paragraphs may or may not include spoilers. If you don’t want to read this then skip ahead to the last paragraph. I should also mention that any speculations I make for the next few paragraphs are just that, speculation, and are not to be taken as fact. You have been forewarned.) When in boomerang mode, you can lock onto just about any surface in the game whether it’s needed or not. This opens up the possibilty of searching for hidden rooms or items. If you see a far off wall that looks suspicious just lock onto it with your boomerang, throw it and see if you find anything interesting.
Midna is also mapable to one of the cross hair buttons (the top one in the demo) and will offer assistance if needed. Whether she is permanently mapped there or if you can remove her I cannot say. It’s possible she’s there only for the purposes of the demo and helping the player through the area. However, if that’s true then why have her appear in a ghostly form? Was it merely so gamers don’t get confused and think she can appear in the real world as well or can she communicate with Link through the twilight realm? Only time will tell.
Also, when Link is not in bow and arrow or boomerang mode, there is a little fairy flying around the screen. It took me a few minutes to realize that this was a visual representation of the Wii-mote’s cursor. The fairy did not interact with Link though which makes me wonder if the fairy is going to be part of the story at all or just a reminder of where your Wii-mote is pointing. It’s not distracting though which is a good thing. I also noticed that you can still move the fairy during cutscenes leading me to hope that some of those scene are interactive.
I mentioned earlier that I got to sit in on the boss fight at the end of the demo and it was quite intriguing to say the least. Firstly, the boss is the same fire demon we saw in the trailer swinging its chains angrily. When we first enter the room it’s dark. Link is looking around adjusting his eyes to the darkness. And then he spots it. A huge, hulking beast. Its arms and legs have been chained to the pillars surrounding it. It’s asleep but won’t be for long. Soon it is awake, wild with anger as it thrashes and pulls at the chains that bind him. He pulls the chains free and lets out a loud, primal roar as he bursts into flames. The whole scene strikes me as remarkably similar to the stand off between Gandalf and the Balrog in “Lord of the Rings.” Regardless, the enemy is intimidating and dangerous. Any attempt to get close will likely burn you or cause him to fling his chains at you. But, like all bosses, he is not without his weak points. A small bright spot at the top of its forehead just begs to be hit with an arrow. Doing so will blind him allowing you creep up from behind and grab one of the chains braced to his ankle. Garnishing the iron boots you then have to pull back with the analog stick until the enemies legs are pulled right out from under him. He falls knocking himself unconscious and dousing the flames around his body. You can then get to work hacking at him with your sword.
I can’t tell you how it ends because no one I saw was able to beat him. I blame this more on the learning curve of the controls for some people and not the boss. Still, it was an impressive boss fight even for a demo.
All in all, I went in to the Nintendo Booth wanting to have my hopes realized that the Wii-mote and it’s new console would be an amazing experience. I left with all my hopes fulfilled. The Wii remote works. It really, really works. Whether you’re into playing adventures like Zelda or first-person shooters like Red Steel, it works. And if you’re anything like me when I was playing it, you’ll forget you’re even holding a different style controller at all in just a matter of minutes. The future looks incredibly bright for Nintendo and their new console. I just hope that future is not stifled by those who would cling to traditional methods simply because it’s safer. I say, defy safety. Embrace risk. Playing here truly is believing.Follow This Entry