A Journey

June 9, 2010

When all has been said, there´s just one thing that I really hope for: Zelda Wii being an epic, long, beautiful journey.

A journey with lots of stops and reasons for revisiting. That means that the game should not end at, say, 30 hours and that´s it then. Zelda Wii should really feel like you´re stepping farther inside an unknown, mysterious fantasy-world, having you explore its secrets. You grow to learn about all the places you visit, what´s special about them. And even after you´ve defeated whatever final boss, there should remain challenge. Not challenge as in some mini-games that you can play, but stuff to explore and meaningful stuff to do. That can be optional dungeon, optional stories or simply ongoing mission-requests to kill certain dangerous monsters.

I want Zelda Wii to be the true adventure.

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Emotions

June 8, 2010

Something many Zelda-games had, but never built upon it. Emotions.

Examples of emotions in past Zelda-games are Link´s departure from Kokiri village in Ocarina of Time, the Anju/Kafei-quest in Majora´s Mask or Link leaving his grandma in The Wind Waker. Also saying goodbye to Midna in Twilight Princess. However, all these emotions are too rare and too constructed. They are cutscenes showing you something that the game designers expect you to feel for. But what´s with real emotions that have been built up slowly over the course of the game?

The most simply way to create such emotions would be by having some companion that you really grow to like over time and then dies at some later point. There´s a myriad of different emotions, though. I´m imagining some desperate situation, where everything around you is showing you how futile any resistance is, yet the music and your own will to succeed keep building real emotions, created by the flow of the game instead of some passive cutscene. Or a scene where you observe a really good guy that sacrifices himself. Something like that. Just something…that makes the player care about the characters he meets. Again, Ocarina of Time is probably the best example of a Zelda-game creating real emotions, with Link´s Awaking on a close second place. This is where games can prove that they´re more than just movies when it comes to emotions.

Voice-Acting

June 7, 2010

No, there doesn´t have to be voice-acting, let´s get that out of the way. But…if done right, it also wouldn´t be bad.

Her glibberish was almost on par with real voice-acting

Link has to stay silent. I cannot imagine it any other way. A talking Link would most likely break any immersion that I´d have otherwise with the game. Link is the ingame-avatar of yourself, so there really shouldn´t be voice-acting for him. It´s different with all the other people. I think it´d be an enormous plus for the overall atmosphere if npcs were talking. Soldiers talking about their dull duty, a market place full of chattering, busy people, and so on. As for the language…if done really right, English could work. But there are two other options before that. First would be some glibberish-language, similar to what was used in Twilight Princess already. Just have it sound more elaborate and there you have it. There even was a scene in TP, where Shad said something in an attempt to open the door to the Ooccoo-cannon, and it really sounded like proper voice-acting. The other option would be to use…Latin language. Yeah, that sounds extremely weird, but I can´t think of a better language befitting a classic franchise like the Zelda-series. And it´d be cool to hear spoken Latin, haha.

Anyways, I think it´s wrong to hate on the idea of voice-acting for Zelda that much. It can be done right. But, of course, a lot can go wrong, too.

The High Grass Field

June 6, 2010

Of course, features like grass or hair are something that´ll probably become really usable with the next gen of video game systems. However, it´s still doable now. The High Grass Field.

Pretty good grass, but also a lot of plain, flat ground textures

I´m imagining a vast grassland area. Grass, as high as Link´s knee here, as high as his face at another spot. And while running or walking through that grassland, the single blades of grass bend to the side. There wouldn´t be only ordinary green grass, though, but also myriads of different colored flowers. And accompanying these flowers, there´d be butterflies and other animals. Basically, the High Grass Field would be a place of happiness, peace and beauty. Imagine walking inmidst of the grassland and looking up to a light blue sky and the sun shining. Birds flying around. If it was me, any ground that is supposed to be grassland would feature high grass, but, of course, that´d be very hardware-heavy, so just give me at least one specifically designated area where there´s beautiful grass growing everywhere, and not just flat ground textures.

I normally wouldn´t talk about something that´s mostly related to visuals only, if it wasn´t for another Wii-game that was released this year in Europe. I´m talking about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

If anyone has not played that game yet, I highly recommend it. Believe me, if I could finish that game, it´s not too scary for anyone (even though it IS scary :D). Anyways, this game proved of what gorgeous lighting effects the Wii-hardware is capable of. And this is not simply about good looks, it´s about creating a rich, moody atmosphere. The way objects project their shadows in this game was perfect, and the way the light of your flashlight brought light to your surroundings felt incredibly realistic and lively.

Past Zelda-games attempted to create moody scenes as well, but never to the extent of what Shattered Memories did. And be it the Dark Caves mentioned below on this blog, or some old haunted house, or some ruins, or, or, or – making use of such great lighting would put Zelda Wii on a whole new level of immersion and atmosphere.

Haha, okay, think of this as a mobile, accessible at all times, place where Link aka the player can try out all of his abilities and items.

I have no idea how to visually present it. Maybe it´d look like those challenge-levels in Super Mario Sunshine, with quiet, moody sounds. It´d be a very artificially looking place, full of environments that let you make use of your items. In an advanced concept of that idea, you´d even be able to summon certain enemies as means of your training. Maybe a good comparison would be Super Smash Bros.´ target-test, where all your skills are required without actually playing the game´s main mode. So, it´d be much more than a tutorial. It´d be a place to train and to instantly access fun fighting or moving around, because, after all, you don´t have these things at your hand all the time while following the story.

Beautiful Water

May 28, 2010

When people mention “water” and “Zelda” in one and the same context, some fans are thinking back in horror to The Wind Waker. But water-areas can be done right.

There´s no need for another Waterworld-Zelda like TWW, but beautiful lakes or a coast are always beautiful places. With both Endless Ocean and Monster Hunter Tri featuring gorgeous underwater-life, I´m really looking forward to what Zelda Wii can add here. Twilight Princess´ swimming-controls felt very clumsy and unresponsive, so there´s hope that Zelda Wii succeeds in making swimming and diving more fluid and smoother.

What I also really hope for are some places with shallow water. Remember the first Twilight Princess-trailer? We saw a river that was shallow enough to walk/ride through it. I want that. And I want the water to realistically splash when I run through it or when I throw something into it. I want big boss-battles  with monsters that slam their tail into the shallow water, causing an enormous water fountain. There´s two things to improve upon or not to do: Do not simply remove underwater-areas like TWW; and make it feel alive and meaningful, unlike TP. Water can be such a beautiful part of a game, and there´s no reason for Zelda Wii not to have it.

Memorable music

May 26, 2010

This going to be a rather vague blog-entry, but I feel the need to mention it: Nintendo, have Zelda Wii feature a soundtrack as memorable and unique as Ocarina of Time´s!

Everyone knows the famous Zelda overworld-theme. It´s memorable and easy to whistle. But no other Zelda-game than Ocarina of Time had a soundtrack that was that perfect. Literally every melody was memorable. Proof being myself, who has no problem to remember every single one. To this day, I consider OoT the epitome of musical achievement in video games. Following Zelda-games grew weaker and weaker in terms of music. Majora´s Mask had some nice tracks, The Wind Waker had 2-3 nice tracks, and Twilight Princess´ soundtrack was completely forgettable. Not saying that its music wasn´t good while playing, but I honestly can´t remember a single melody.

The other thing I´d like to see for Zelda Wii is a theme-song. Yeah, as mentioned above, there is the famous overworld-theme, but I´m talking about a theme for that specific Zelda-game. A song that makes you remember THAT Zelda-game. A song that´s firmly tied to this game. Break free from using old songs over and over again, Nintendo. Sure, I love it when I hear a known melody, and I want that, too. But for the important scenes and tracks, let it be something knew. Prove, that you still have “it”, Kondo-san.

The Mountains

May 23, 2010

There are certain environments that every Zelda-game features. A forest, a desert, a lake, and many more. Mountains are part of that permanent portfolio as well.

Now that is a wall worth climbing

This time around, though, I´d like to see the mountains designed much more naturally. Much more. Whether the Gorons live there or not, have it be a real, massiv area of mountains. Vast slopes, steep faces and deep, awe-inspiring canyons. Have it be an absolutely open area, with a multitude of ways to the top. Not the narrow, predefined pathways of former Zelda-games. Most importantly, if there are mountains, let me climb them! One of the earlier updates on this blog mentioned the Climbing Claw. Let me use an item like that to climb on every surface of this mountains area. Let me slowly climb down the canyons while a strong breeze of wind makes howling sounds, Link´s hat fluttering. Have there be caves, which´s entrances are only accessible by exploring the steep faces in those canyons, no simple walking there possible. Basically, make the journey itself an experience.

Something that most boss enemies in most games are guilty of is that all and every attack that looks impressive also does impressive damage. For the sake of creating a more natural, mopre believably feeling game world, enemies shouldn´t put function into everything they do, but show emotion by expressing it visually.

Think of a giant lizard that you´re fighting in knee-high water. In your typical game the lizard would hit the water with its tail, causing a big wave that is going to hurt you if you don´t defend against it somehow. Now, what I´m thinking of is that the same lizard is driven to the point where it becomes desperate, angry, you name it. Instead of hitting the water out of function, it is hitting the water simply to express its current emotion…resulting in a gorgeous water wave/fountain.

That´s just one example, but the bottom line message is: When everything an enemy does is an attack, it feels like a game. When, however, an enemy behaves both on function AND emotional expression, it becomes a believable experience.