I’ve noticed that a lot of gaming outlets are reviewing the latest annual release of publisher EA’s Need for Speed series. In an effort to stay relevant, we’ll be reviewing it too.
For us video gaming enthusiasts E3 is a pretty exciting time of year. People who are not into videogames might find it a bit weird that we’re all captivated by men in suits talking about their products on stage to an audience of journalists, or related Twitter feeds. This rabid hunger for video game news was arguably why E3 2012 was kind of, well, lame.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a divisive game for some fans of the Zelda franchise. Some hail it as the literal second coming of Christ, others despise it for its gorgeous, “cartoonish” cel-shaded graphics and “boring” sailing. The truth is most people don’t really care about rating every Zelda game every single day, and that most people enjoyed Wind Waker and recognise that it’s a real nice, solidly put together game, and one of the best games on the Nintendo GameCube (alongside Super Mario Sunshine, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes and Bratz: Rock Angelz). Have you been living in a cave since 2000? Or did you simply contract amnesia? Here are some of the delights in store for you from Wind Waker Wii U, and some of the “tun[ing] up the overall gaming experience” we might see.
1. Exploring the Great Sea
One of the most noticeable things about Wind Waker is the water. It’s all over the place. That great expanse – The Great Sea – is the Hyrule Field of Wind Waker, so expect to be seeing a lot of it. The Great Sea is much larger than Hyrule Field, though, consisting of 49 sections in a 7×7 grid, most of which contain an island of their own, all of which contain at least one oddity of some sort. A lot of the islands are completely optional and don’t even have to be explored, which makes it all the more rewarding and exciting to do so. You can control the wind to make sailing faster, and eventually unlock fast travel, so most of the time the sailing isn’t even a drag. Some people found using the Wind Waker in the middle of sailing a little bit time-consuming and irritating, but it’s possible that the Wii U controllers will allow this to be much more seamless as part of the “tune up”. Will this mean that people who hated the sailing in Wind Waker the first time will suddenly find it enjoyable? Probably not. But it may be that the people who loved it the first time will find it even more enjoyable. At the very least the people that enjoyed it the first time will find the same amount of enjoyment from it again, and that’s all you can really ask for in a remake. Prepare to set sail.
2. The Best Collectables
If there is one thing people love in Zelda games it’s collectables. Optional items, hidden rupee caches, pieces of heart – you all know the drill. If you excitedly confront a Zelda fan and tell them you’ve just beaten a Zelda game but have not collected all of the heart pieces they will likely scoff in your face. Wind Waker had arguably some of the hardest, but most fun collectables. On Windfall island you can obtain a pictobox – a camera – and after a slightly convoluted (though normal by Zelda standards) side-quest you can obtain an upgrade that allows you to take colour photographs. Take these to the sculptor on Forest Haven (accessed by mind-controlling a seagull into hitting a switch) and he will make you a sculpture of the subject of the photograph (if it’s good enough). There are 134 of these detailed, great-to-look-at models to collect. And they require a playthrough on New Game + to unlock too, so you can get pre-pictograph ones (mainly a few boss monsters). They are great to look at in the Gamecube version, but imagine how they will look in glorious 1080p. Very 1080p-ish, probably. Who wants to bet that there will be an option to use the gamepad as the pictobox too? That would be kind of neat.
3. Tingle (Tuner)
If there’s one thing better than an enjoying a finely crafted Zelda experience it’s enjoying a finely crafted Zelda experience with a pal. However, there are just some times when sitting on the couch and occasionally swapping the control back and forth while one of you eats pizza or uses the bathroom isn’t enough. That’s where the tingle tuner comes in. What’s that? You didn’t know Wind Waker had a co-op mode? Well I’ve got news for you: it does. As all six people who owned a GameCube/Game Boy Advance link cable will tell you, you can plug your GBA into a controller port and by using the tingle tuner a second player can control Tingle. Tingle is more of a supporting role, having access to a map on the GBA screen, and has the ability to help the player by locating treasure of even dropping bombs into the fray. Gee, sounds an awful lot like some of the asymmetric multiplayer that utlises the Wii U’s Gamepad – I wonder what Nintendo will do with this re-release.
4. Atmosphere, and the Rest of the Game
Because it’s just a really great game, packed with the classic and fun dungeoning you love, pirates, and a haunting tale about the repercussions of a post-Ocarina of Time world without their Hero of Time. Just as equally as you have the iconic Windfall Island with its happy music and cast of quirky characters with numerous delightful side-quests, you also have unnerving and unsettling elements – terrifying tornadoes, ghost ships, giant octorocks. Just like the sea the game is based around, Wind Waker was a game both beautiful and slightly unsettling. The remake looks like it will make the game even more beautiful, and will hopefully accentuate the unique atmosphere that Wind Waker carried so well. While Nintendo haven’t gone into specifics about what “tun[ing] up the overall gaming experience” actually means, it’s clear there’s a lot of sweet things they could coerce from the already solid frame – most of which involve using the GamePad to increase the flow of the game. Only time will tell for sure, but there’s a lot of reasons you should love Wind Waker, so it only stands to reason you should love all of those things again in Wind Waker Wii U.
I’m sure by now everyone has heard about Dark Souls II, and I’m also sure everyone has already done a fair bit of speculating on what the new addition to the Souls series will hold for all of us die-hard fans. I’m here to share my own opinions on what we may be able to look forward to and what we may not be looking forward to. Firstly, I’d like to preface that all of this is just my own speculation and is likely to change as more and more information about the game is released.
Anyway, let’s start with what we already know about Souls games. After making Demon’s Souls, From Software started work on their next instalment and looked to release on more platforms than just the PlayStation 3, but Sony wouldn’t let them make a direct sequel and have it be a multiplatform title. From Software went ahead and made Dark Souls as a “spiritual successor” to Demon’s Souls. Of course there are plenty of similarities between both games: the combat, leveling up and purchasing items with souls, the general layout of game progression with fog gates and boss fights; it’s pretty much just a new story and world. Yet, even there we have some subtle links such as Patches appearing in both games, and the 6th Arch stone in Demon’s Souls linking to the “Land of Giants” which I like to think gave some inspiration to the setting in Dark Souls, but that’s just my own thoughts on the matter. So now let’s move on to where that takes us with Dark Souls II.
Most of us were expecting the next game to also have a new name like the change from Demon’s to Dark, but given the fact that had From Software not released Dark Souls as a multiplatform title, chances are it would’ve been titled Demon’s Souls II and we’d now be looking at a Demons Souls III. They had done this in the past with the King’s Field games and Armored Core as well. So the fact that the new sequel is titled Dark Souls II even though it may not closely follow the story in Dark Souls (or be related at all) isn’t that crazy. On the other hand, this may be attributed to the current game industry’s fear of releasing new IPs under new titles. It’s never helpful to a game studio to release a new game and then have no one buy it due to unfamiliarity or not even knowing what it is. It’s just generally safer to make sequels to existing game series even if they take a noticeably different route with them. I’d like to hope that isn’t the case with Dark Souls II, but from what we’ve heard from the new Director–and the fact that there is a new Director–we’ll have to keep that fact in mind; for now, we won’t be able to really tell about that. With that out of the way, let’s move on to what we can hope to see in the new title gameplay/story wise.
Recently an interview was released with one of the new Directors, Tomohiro Shibuya (Yui Tanimura being the second new Director), and we got our first taste of where Dark Souls II will be taking us. The Director made some frightening claims such as making the game more “accessible”, having the story be more straightforward and direct, and making the title more action packed. From the get-go those sorts of things sound like a very big danger for the Souls series, but not all of it has to be bad. Demon’s and Dark Souls alike are both known for their incredible difficulty and that’s typically one of the reasons why people find the games to be so great and entertaining, but they also happen to have some downfalls that work to drive away new players. Things like the Poise system, or how important blocking is, and what to look for in new equipment, or how Sorcery and Miracles work. The games don’t do that good of a job of explaining these to players, and while it is pretty easy to just mess around in the game testing different things out, reading stat descriptions, or even just looking up a detailed explanation on the internet, a lot of people will just dismiss it as poor game design and get frustrated. The addition of a more detailed tutorial may be a bonus to the new game as long as it isn’t weighed down with scripted scenarios keeping veteran players down, of course there was mention of keeping the player’s options limited at the start of the game which is something to look out for.
Making the story more straightforward is a little harder to look on the bright side of. Discovering things like Petrus’ betrayal, the Darkwraith covenant, Ash Lake, or just having to speculate as you piece different item descriptions with item placements together to try and uncover parts of the story are some of the most enjoyable experiences when you’ve already beaten the game. Players can play multiple times and still notice new plot details. Having details like those openly presented to you on your first play through really cheapens the experience and doesn’t help to encourage exploration or discussion within the community. As for the new action, I’m just hoping they’ll keep it tasteful to the Souls series.
I’d like to try and not draw too much speculation from the trailer that was released. It was entirely pre-rendered, with no game play featured and was potentially just done to generate hype for the announcement. Whether or not anything we saw in it will feature in the actual game is still up for grabs. So any claims about how we’ll be locked into playing a single character or how we’ll have a love interest isn’t for sure. I’d like to believe that From Software takes note of how grand of a formula they’ve made for making role-playing games and will stick to it. Something like the “morality system” that was mentioned could just as well be similar to the World Tendency system from Demon’s Souls as that was vaguely linked to how you interacted with non-player characters. As long as they leave us with the ability to create our own character and going around killing any NPCs we like, I know I’ll be pleased.
All in all, at the current time there isn’t much we can really tell about what Dark Souls II has in store for us. Plenty of iffy points were brought up, but until a more detailed trailer or more information is released from From Software there’s no reason to get incredibly worried. I for one will be keeping my hopes up that they still manage to make an exciting game at least on par with the previous titles.
Publisher Konami unveils another trailer at Tokyo Game Show, revealing new characters and a little more insight into the story.
Modders and fans-alike have stepped up to the challenge of re-creating the Morrowind province, which is the location set of the third Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind, by using Skyrim‘s game engine and graphics.