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

Skyward Sword’s GDC trailer music holds a little surprise
May 4, 2011

The Easter festivities may well be over, and the chocolate eggs all but devoured, but that hasn’t stopped Nintendo from extending their Lent loveliness for another couple of weeks; they’ve given us all another Easter Egg to feast on.

For us, The Legend of Zelda music always manages to strike home that buried sense of nostalgia with its beautiful arrangements and triumphant melodies. The Twilight Princess trailer music in particular pulled at the heartstrings, conjuring up long-buried memories of playing Ocarina of Time as a child. Skyward Sword’s GDC trailer music reminded me of that long-treasured game as well, but for a reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until now.

Kevin Cassidy of GoNintendo found time out in his busy blogging schedule and realised something astonishing; we’d all heard the music before. Played backwards, the trailer’s music sounds very familiar. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but rest assured, it will send you skyward. Sorry.

– Rory

Miyamoto interview: Twilight Princess and Galaxy were ‘missing something’, drum along to songs on DSi
October 29, 2008

In a recent interview with Stephen Totilo of MTV, Shigeru Miyamoto let slip a new feature of the new Nintendo DSi.

When you’re using the built in Music Player, you can ‘drum’ along to your music by pressing the DSi’s face buttons. Sounds basic, but we bet it’s pretty fun and it’s a nice touch.

With DSi there’s a couple of things. One is just the DSi music player. It’s almost kind of silly. While you’re listening to your audio tracks you can sit there — and we haven’t really talked about it a lot — but you can press the buttons and play drums along with the music you’re listening to.

Miyamoto was then asked if Nintendo were looking to innovate more in their existing genres, rather than branching out to new genres and innovating those. For example, are they looking to innovate Fantasy Adventure in their next Legend of Zelda title, rather than innovate the sports and music genres with Wii Sports and Wii Music respectively? He had this to say

That’s something that I talk to the members of my development team about on a regular basis.

What I’ve been saying to our development teams recently is that “Twilight Princess” was not a bad game, by any means. But, still, it felt like there was something missing. And while, personally, I feel like “Super Mario Galaxy” was able to do some things that were very new and were very unique, at the same time, from another perspective, certain elements of it do feel somewhat conservative in terms of how far we branched out with design. And so this is something I’ve been talking to both of those teams about.

Of course, as is customary with Nintendo, it’s very rare that we are able to announce any games until they’re ready for release, but I can say that these are themes that both of those teams are taking into account and the hope is that for both of those franchises, when we do release the next installments of the “Zelda” [franchise] or maybe the next “Galaxy,” hopefully they will feel newer and fresher than their most recent versions.

Sounds like Nintendo are considering a direct sequel to Super Mario Galaxy with a more radical approach.

Miyamoto then asked the interviewer a genuine question; are there any hardcore games that have recently introduced new and fresh ideas and elements?

The reviewer answers using examples such as Spore, LittleBigPlanet and Mirror’s Edge. Miyamoto acknowledges their innovatons but also explains how these are brand new games and almost entirely new genres themselves.

So, those sound like — particularly in the case of “Spore” — those are games that are doing something that’s very new and different, within the game itself. Whereas it sounds like there’s not a whole lot in the realm of the RPG or in the realm of the adventure game where there’s an amazing new fresh gameplay element that’s been introduced. Would you say that’s right?

The interviewer looks at the FPS genre, using examples such as Mirror’s Edge and Portal to back up his point that there are increasing amounts of innovation in existing genres. Miyamoto only had this to say

Yeah, I think “Portal” was an amazing game, too.

Miyamoto wrapped up the interview with his feelings about the new Punch-Out!! game for Wii.

Of course, withPunch-Out! it’s a game that people have been wanting for a very long time and we’ve had a number of people who have wanted to make a “Punch-Out!” game. I’m working on that game as a producer. I think people who are fans of the original will be very thrilled to see the kind of style we’ve designed the game in. It will feel very classic. But at the same time, with the 3D polygons and the polygonal rendering of the characters, I think is going to make for some very nice cut-scenes and a little bit deeper story.


–Rory–