Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 6, 2014

Email: Zelda U Gameplay

Looks like the jackass brought back a proper overworld (as opposed to, uh, an ocean or sky), but based on what I’m seeing, it seems to be suffering from Twilight Princess-syndrome.  It looks empty.  Nice forest and all, but can I burn down the trees?  Will there be hoards of dangerous enemies?  I doubt it.  At least the horse is back though.
No doubt you’ll HAVE to use the GamePad to play this game.  Ugh.  I for one liked having full control of Link’s sword with the Wii Remote.  But Nintendo is too busy listening to the nerd gamers since that aligns more with what Nintendo developers want to make.

Oh, and it looks like Skyrim rattled Aonuma to his core since he is admittedly taking inspiration from it.

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 Whoa, an actual overworld! It does make me very excited to see it. They showed a couple of enemies, but here is where I know where they will go wrong. They will make the overworld ‘baby mode’ or ‘nature walk’. Who cares about the apples? Overworld needs to be a dangerous place. Not as dangerous as dungeons, of course, but overworld should not be a nature walk. I haven’t played as much Skyrim as others to relate to it, but I can tell you the overworld Nintendo needs to take inspiration from…
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Minecraft.
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Above: This video of Minecraft Alpha, uploaded by Notch himself, best represents my view on how Minecraft got so popular. No one makes worlds like this anymore.
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Minecraft is the largest 3d overworld ever made (on the PC, it goes on forever!). But the overworld is dangerous especially at night. Minecraft is SO DAMNED POP”ULAR, hell, MINECRAFT IS MORE POPULAR THAN ZELDA EVER WAS AT ITS PEAK. What is Minecraft? Much of the game is a large, vast overworld where you can do anything you really want. I ask the kids who play the game, “Why you like this game with its blocky graphics?” They reply they don’t care about the graphics. They like how the game lets them do what they want. And minecraft does have scary villains in the game. I don’t think I’ve ever been scared of a villain in Aonuma Zelda. The villains in Aonuma Zelda can be either pushovers or annoying, but never scary. They are not a creeper who blows itself up. Look at any retail shop and you will find Nintendo plush toys, for sure, but also Minecraft plush toys. It is amazing how massive Minecraft has become.
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If Aonuma is taking inspiration from Skyrim, it is because Skyrim ACTUALLY SELLS. I am damned sure Nintendo did some market research on Skyrim and asked, “Why are people buying this game and not Aonuma Zelda?” The massive overworld has to be a huge factor in it.
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I don’t trust Aonuma. This jumping off the horse in slow motion to shoot arrows seems like it is anime inspired and seems somewhat disconnected from the gameplay. Why not use a special item that ‘slows time’ for that? It could be something like an upgrade like the upstrike or downstrike in Zelda 2.
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The world needs secrets. There needs to be things to find.
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I will tell Nintendo a tip from seeing Ultima’s rise and fall. Ultima had GIGANTIC overworlds. Now thinking back, that is why we really bought the game. We didn’t really care about the main quest. We just did whatever. The *story* was never that huge of a factor in Ultima, but the lore of the game world was massive, massive, massive. NPCs who had schedules, being able to read books on a shelf, etc. etc.
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Here is the tip: start with a vast, vast empty overworld first (which appears what Nintendo has done) and THEN populate it with secrets. This is how the classic Ultima games were done. Games like Ultima 7 had their overworld made first and then the designers went in and tried to fill in the empty spaces with secrets and stuff. Players fondly remember traveling empty spaces and, sometimes, finding something secret. The empty spaces were not a negative to the experience but a positive.
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Richard Garriot thought it would be an ‘improvement’ to use modern technology to design every town and dungeon first and then ‘knit them together’ so there would be no empty spaces. The result is Ultima 9, a hated Ultima game. So my tip is to go oldschool and put in a big godddamn overworld and just fill it in later. The empty spaces won’t matter but will add to the experience. (Obviously, some stuff has to be put in.)
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I did enjoy some parts of Twilight Princess (the beginning of the game was atrocious though). If Aonuma goes the vast overworld direction like we’re seeing, it will be a vast improvement over his prior games. Twilight Princess also sold extremely well in the West.
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As with any other Aonuma Zelda, there may be a step in the right direction but steps in the wrong direction. I expect the combat to feel like a joke as it always has been, that there won’t be any feelings of growth due to a lack of RPG/item system (items for killing, not just for puzzles), some dorky NPCs, bad story writing, and a general lack of fantasy. People don’t want trains. They don’t want anime. They want a Tolkien type rooted fantasy land. They want their dragons, their knights, their usual tropes. Zelda used to do this.
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 Above: From Zelda 1’s manual
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Above: From Zelda 2’s manual
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Is it really hard for Zelda to have some traditional fantasy in it? When people buy Mario, they do not want SR388 in it. When people buy Metroid, they do not want Mushroom Land in it. So why is it when we buy Zelda, we get creepy shit that wouldn’t ever belong in any fantasy game?
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No!
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No!
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Now THIS is a better type of NPC. He doesn’t say much, but it is very memorable. He also attacks you if you attack him!

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