Nintendo announces new Zelda-themed 3DS
November 8, 2011

Ah, Nintendo. Forever amused, it seems, by toying with our flawless and discerning sense of style. No other company pumps out products in so many different colour variations quite like they do, and, seemingly unsatisfied with last month’s announcement of Coral Pink and Ice White 3DS systems, they’ve been at it again.

In their insatiable quest for variety, Nintendo announced today that they will be launching a new, Zelda-themed 3DS system to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of that most heralded of franchises. Adorned with the same black plastic as the Cosmos Black model, the Limited Edition bundle also sports a number of aesthetic changes.

The most obvious one can be seen on the front of the console: a pretty, gold decal print which features the Winged Triforce, Link’s ocarina and what appears to be Sheik’s harp. The visual feast continues when the console is opened up; a gold 3D Slider and a gold trim on the A, B, X and Y buttons, as well as the D-Pad, round off a rather tasty looking SKU. The Circle Pad, however, remains gray.

Details are scarce as of now, but the Limited Edition console will release on November 25th in Europe, and will come bundled with a copy of  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.

– Rory

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword features RPG-like upgrade system
July 23, 2011

After the release of Twilight Princess in 2006, famed videogame designer and Pope of Nintendo – Shigeru Miyamoto – famously said that it would be the last Zelda of its kind. At a time when people were unsure of the seemingly ‘new’ direction Nintendo were heading in, and of the consequent audiences they were attracting, many took the quote as a doomsday declaration for the series, speculating that Hyrule would be forever consigned to the history books, or to crappy spin-offs and peripheral pack-ins like Link’s Crossbow Training.

Other, more level-headed and less melodramatic fans took it to mean something altogether more positive in that Miyamoto was recognising something that Zelda fans had recognised years ago – Zelda needed to change. Wind Waker was, visually, a pleasant change from the usual greens and browns of Hyrule, but structurally it remained virtually identical to its predecessors. Skyward Sword  has promised to offer a somewhat different approach to overworld exploration and progression, with a central hub-world, somewhat akin to its DS brethren – Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.

Those games were certainly a departure from traditional Zelda fare, but the design choices inherent in these pocket-sized outings were likely made in the name of file size conservation and, primarily, tailoring the titles to the handheld experience. With Skyward Sword already offering a teen drama storyline, an orchestrated soundtrack and a brand new villain, what else does a console Zelda have to do to shake things up? Voice acting? Blood and gore? Multiplayer?

Nope, nuh-uh and not a chance; what Zelda has apparently been missing these past couple of years is an RPG-esque equipment upgrading system. In a recent hands-on demo with Gamespot, Bill Trinen of Nintendo of America let slip a few details about a leveling-up system that the game features.

They’ve built an entire upgrade system into the game. So for example, right now you can see that Link has his traditional shield, but he actually will get a lot of different shields in the game.

He will start off with a very basic one, and then as you fight enemies, you will recover kind of these treasures or artifacts that you can then use as resources to upgrade your items. And you can do that with your shield, you can do that with the beetle, and some of the other items that you have where you’re able to kind of combine your collection of rupees and your collection of resources and improve the items that you have.

Whether or not one of those ‘other items’ is Link’s sword is both unknown and doubtful. Additionally, whether this will be a somewhat pointless pursuit or an integral point of the game remains to be seen, but this, coupled with all the other innovations that Skyward Sword is bringing to the table keeps it at the tippety-top of gamers’ most anticipated releases of 2011.

– Rory

Will GoldenEye be a Wii U launch title?
June 28, 2011

Mary Tuck – Senior Litigation Counsel for Activision – has been caught in the act of registering some new web domain names for the publishing giant. The domains suggest that some sort of follow up to the Wii/Nintendo DS FPS GoldenEye is in the works, and whilst no platforms were mentioned, Nintendo’s next home console seems a shoo-in.

Developed by British studio Eurocom, 2010’s GoldenEye was itself a remake of the N64 classic. A robust Online mode, pointer controls and a reworked narrative – including Daniel Craig as Bond – were enough to squeeze some life out of the old dog, but could the developers really put out a third game based on the same source content?

Should GoldenEye be reloaded, or simply have its magazines discarded onto the cold, hard ground?

 – Rory

Who we want to see in Super Smash Bros. Strife
May 25, 2011

No, fear not; you have not accidentally wandered into the list-littered minefield of Kotaku, fortunately for you. However, it is with a certain sense of disappointment and guilt that I present to you, my readers, a list of sorts. Inevitably, a new Smash Bros. game attracts a ridiculous amount of hype, speculation and sheer fanboy-founded fervour, and we couldn’t help but get the train rolling – in no particular order, here is our character wishlist for the rumoured Super Smash Bros. Strife.

Super Smash Bros. is the industry’s best example of pure, unadulterated fan service, and it all starts with the characters. The game works because it’s a miraculous montage of some of the world’s most recognised faces, mixed with a myriad of lesser-known, but still just-as-loved characters, all united by one common interest – kicking the living daylights out of each other. So, who, other than the 35-man-roster from Brawl, would we like to see occupy all that extra disc space? Remember, variety is the spice of life.

Don’t be fooled by his nerdy demeanour; armed with a positively badass katana beam, a badass hairdo and a pair of badass shades, this Otaku badass means business. Badass business. From the brilliant mind of Suda 51, Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes fame is our number one contender. With an awesome art style, Travis would not only look right at home in the frantic free-for-all that is Super Smash Bros., but he’d also give those other pesky swordsmen a run for their money as well.

Did we mention he’s a total badass? We did? Oh. Okay then.

Another one that fits right into the badass category is Jack from MadWorld. Look at him. He’s smoking a cigarette. In black and white. That’s not only cool in France, people; it’s cool everywhere. Do you know where else it’d be cool? In Super Smash Bros. He’s got a chainsaw strapped to his arm. Even Fred Durst wouldn’t mess with this geezer in fear of having his arse skinned raw. Again, this Capcom creation boasts a unique art style that would add a bit of visual splendour to proceedings – if any more was needed – while also bringing something to the table that the series arguably lacks. Brutality.

Did we mention he’s got a chainsaw strapped to his arm? We did? Oh. Okay then.

She’s a Goddess, she’s a wolf and she’s from Okami. Enough said. What? You want more? Tough crowd. Well then, apart from being another aesthetically gorgeous piece from that artistic bunch at Capcom, Amaterasu is at once a gentle and caring soul, a benevolent Goddess and, most importantly, a fearsome warrior. With her inclusion, she would present the opportunity for a genuinely beautiful and creative stage, and some of the best music ever burned to disc.

Did we mention she’s a Goddess? We did? Oh. Okay then.

Another one for fans of brilliant videogame music; Blob, from THQ’s 2008 quirky Wii platformer de Blob, may, at first glance, appear to simply be a blob of paint. Look deeper though, and you’ll find tha-. Okay, no, he really is just a conscious, sentient blob of mastic composition, but he’s still a pretty awesome chap. He has the ability to change the physical appearance – namely, the colour – of anything he touches, which could make for some pretty cool-looking effects.

Did we mention he’s a blob of paint? We did? Well then, I appear to be suffering from some form of anterograde amnesia.

Another character from Capcom, another character from an AAA game – that is, Aesthetically and Artistically Awesome. With this little guy, the clue is in the name. Would you really want to battle against Mega Man? Really? For those of you who are out of the loop, ‘Mega’ falls somewhere between ‘Super’ and ‘Uber’ in the Official Adjectives Rankings 2011. Do you understand what that means? It means Mega Man is more of a badass than Superman. If that isn’t reason enough, then frankly, you’re batshit insane.

That about wraps it up for characters. In hindsight, I guess I’m just a sucker for some quality art design, but after all, Super Smash Bros. is definitely a clash of wildly varying styles, so shaking it up a bit further surely can’t hurt.

And no, we don’t want Cloud fucking Strife.

– Rory

Sonic Generations confirmed for Nintendo 3DS™
May 25, 2011

It’s official – the rumoured portable version of SEGA’s latest Sonic outing is live and kicking. Sonic Generations will be heading to the Nintendo 3DS system before the end of the year, according to the latest issue of Nintendo Power. The ‘anniversary event 20 years in the making’ promises to provide the perfect blend of old-school and nu-skool Sonic platforming. It’s unclear whether the 3DS version will be akin to its console counterparts or some kind of spin-off, but we’re willing to bet it’s the former.

The dude with the ‘tude will be dashing onto your screens in 3D at the end of the year.

– Rory

Watch the first Modern Warfare 3 gameplay trailer
May 24, 2011

Infinity Ward just posted up your first glimpse at Modern Warfare 3. Luckily for them, all the countries in the trailer just so happen to have an ‘E’ in their name somewhere, which they have oh-so-cleverly exploited, using the titular 3 as that ever-popular vowel/entactogenic drug.

The trailer ominously ends with the logo ‘WW3’ before the former ‘W’ flips on its head, to its final resting place – MW3. It’s coming this year and it’s going to own your soul. Spooky stuff.

– Rory

RUMOUR – Super Smash Bros. Strife to be shown at E3
May 23, 2011

Based on the rather naive assumption that you’re currently viewing this post on a 15.6″ laptop screen as I am, I’d like to ask you to divert your eyes and your attention approximately four inches above this very line, to that word – rumour.

Annoyingly, despite that tag being in capitals on every rumour I post, I see comments flaming the blog for giving ‘teh false inf0z’ pasted all over the web. So, just a heads up – take this with a massive pinch of salt; it’s very likely to be fake, but that’s not going to stop me from sharing it with you all.

A report from Great Gaming Crusade claims that ‘Nintendo will be showing off the next Super Smash Bros. game at this year’s E3′. That’s it. I mean, it’s really basic; anyone with a keyboard could have written that. However, that doesn’t change the fact that every Nintendo console since the 64 has had a Super Smash Bros. game shown before its launch, so it’s entirely feasible. A representative of Great Gaming Crusade assured me that “the rumor is from a reliable source in the industry”.

The game is apparently being developed for ‘the Wii’s successor’. From a completely unrelated source, we see a rather shady looking image of the game’s supposed logo, revealing its somewhat awkward title – Super Smash Bros. Strife. Could that be a reference to the inclusion of a certain spikey-haired emotional swordsman?

– Rory

Director of Resident Evil films has never actually played any of the games
May 18, 2011

In a recent interview, zombie-slaying Milla Jovovich let slip that hubby Paul Anderson, the director of the Resident Evil films, has never actually played the source material that his films are based on. Instead, he watches walkthroughs performed by “professional video game players”.

“They play the games for weeks and give Paul the footage. So he’s literally watching days of the most awesome Resident Evil players out there to get inspiration for the next installment of the franchise.”

Well, that’s better than nothing I guess, and there could be a barrier here in that Anderson might not be familiar with actually playing videogames. But seriously, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever watched the Resident Evil films; they feel completely detached from the games, almost like a separate franchise.

– Rory

Nintendo UK announce pre-order bonuses for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
May 16, 2011

2011 marks The Legend of Zelda series’ 25th Anniversary, and, as such, you’d expect Nintendo to have something pretty big up their sleeve to celebrate it. You might want to check if they’ve got anything tucked into their socks, because there’s certainly nothing here.

If you pre-order The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the Nintendo 3DS system at GAME or Gamestation, you will receive…wait for it…a poster. Oh, and a golden box. Sure, it’s better than a swift kick to the gonads, but it still seems a bit underwhelming, especially compared to the awesome swag that Nintendo of Greece is throwing in with the game, including a real Ocarina and a canister of Deku Nuts.

Of course, Skyward Sword will also release later this year on Wii, so it’s by no means a bad year for Zelda fans, but it just feels as if Nintendo isn’t really pushing this like they should be. I wonder what will accompany the launch of the first new Zelda game in 5 years this Holiday. I’m betting on a ROM dump of the original NES game…

– Rory

Project Café to compete with PS4/Xbox 720 graphically?
May 15, 2011

For some unjustified reason, Nintendo have an image problem when it comes to their machines’ graphical capabilities. Granted, its handheld consoles have often been trumped in the horsepower department by competing products (think DS vs. PSP) and the Wii was a generational gap behind the 360 and PS3, but before Nintendo employed this new strategy, its consoles were always very competitive in terms of graphical fidelity.

The GameCube boasted arguably one of the most efficient architectures ever found in a console – its power surpassed that of the PS2 and was pretty much on par with the Xbox, even outperforming it in some areas. Further to this, Nintendo were able to produce the Cube at a fraction of the cost of its competitors’ offerings while still fitting the whole thing into a much smaller shell and having a much lower operating temperature. The Nintendo 64 was an absolute powerhouse compared to the relatively modest PS1 hardware, but its success was ultimately dented by a lack of 3rd party support.

Despite this misnomer, it’s kind of understandable, based on the Wii, why many were expecting Nintendo to skimp out on the hardware again and simply compete with current gen offerings, and leaked specs, whilst a bit vague, seemed to suggest that the next console would again be a beefed up version of what’s already on the market.

However, IGN built their own custom rig using equivalent parts to those supposedly being used on the Project Café, and the implications are pretty exciting. The results themselves were fairly impressive; the rig could run Crysis 2 on ‘Very high’ at full 1080p at 60fps. This in itself is practically what a lot of people were expecting from the console, but the test was a little unfair. Whilst the test utilised 2GB of RAM as opposed to the rumoured 1GB in order to compensate for the taxing Windows 7 OS, it’s likely that a console with similar specs would perform better still than this test would suggest.

Here are the components:

  • CPU: 3.2 GHz AMD Athlon II X3 with a custom Intel Triple-Core processor
  • Graphics card: XFX Radeon HD 4850
  • RAM: 2GB

IGN make a special and important note – “Nintendo’s system will be drastically different than ours, using custom-built processors, a streamlined OS and running optimised games.” While the rig did offer some improved textures, it’s likely that the console itself will be a pretty big leap above what the video shows due to this very fact.

Undoubtedly, the 720 will boast a few higher specs than the Café, but in the end it won’t account for much. The PS3’s Cell processor puts it quite a bit ahead of the 360 in terms of pure grunt, but it was never really utilised, except for in titles like Killzone 3 and Uncharted 2. To cut a long story short, the Café will be competitive. It will be able to run PS4/720 games without too much of a graphical hit, and, if it supports 1080p via HDMI, the differences will be negligible, unless everyone decides to go out and buy UHDTV sets in the next 3 years.

The difference between the Wii and the 360 was an ocean, the difference between the Café and the 720 will be more like a puddle. For Nintendo gamers especially, it’s looking set to be one of the biggest ever graphical leaps between consoles; the jump from Wii (a beefed up GameCube) to a console that’s reportedly 5 times more powerful than the 360 is going to feel more like a double generational leap.

This means that the Café will get very competitive versions of multiplatform games, such as Call of Duty, and, given Nintendo’s ability to squeeze the best out of their consoles, coupled with some of the best artists in the business, it means that we’ll be playing some of the most beautiful looking games ever burned to disc come 2012.

– Rory