Posts Tagged ‘Zelda’

I Went to Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses at the Sydney Opera House

Oh look, a post that isn’t ludicrously lengthy.

At the end of last month I put to bed a small regret of mine – Half a decade ago I was presented with the opportunity to attend the Sydney debut of Symphony of the Goddesses, a worldwide concert tour immediately following on from the special Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary concerts in Japan and the USA. For reasons I can no longer remember clearly (probably funds), I did not take this opportunity. Naturally I regretted my decision pretty soon after the performance dates arrived and several of my friends raved about how good the show was. I told myself the next time I had such a chance I would not let it pass. But for years, no such chance appeared.

So when, after years of sporadic worldwide tours with varying set lists, the announcement was made that Symphony of the Goddesses would be returning to Sydney harbour this year, no price would have been too high for me to snatch up a ticket. Two years after entering the opera house for the first time to attend the Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions showcase, I was back in the venue’s main concert hall to take in the fully-realised music of one of my absolute favourite media franchises. And what an evening it was.

There are three main reasons I’d go to see an orchestral performance of a videogame music selection – The atmosphere, the craft and the arrangement. Hardly groundbreaking reasons of course, and I’m sure the majority of the people in attendance on the night had similar motivations. Atmosphere is created mostly by said people, whose collective energy and passion tend to elevate an event that otherwise gets by on a uniquely strange blend of nerdiness and class. This department provided the largest point of difference between the Pokemon concert and the Zelda one for me. At the Pokemon event, there seemed to be more themed and/or casual dress in and around the hall, while during the concert the audience reacted loudly to each track and arrangement – especially the more widely recognised ones. While the Zelda show was hardly black tie – and cosplay was there if you looked for it – I definitely noticed more of a conservative attitude to dress code in general. What’s more, during the concert you could tell a crowd favourite by a groundswell of hushed whispers and gasps rather than whoops and shouts. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason for this (perhaps Zelda’s slightly older fanbase, or the fact the concert landed on the exact weekend of PAX Australia in Melbourne) but it certainly lent the atmosphere a more reverential tone and allowed quieter pieces – of which Zelda boasts several – to shine.

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State of the Switch, Six Months In

Well that went by quickly.

As the Nintendo Switch was gearing up for its March 3rd 2017 launch, the consensus among jaded followers of the videogame industry was that however much hype the system seemed to be gathering, and indeed however many units Nintendo managed to move in that opening weekend, we wouldn’t really have a decent idea of the Switch’s success until it had passed the three-months-on-the-market milestone – which, pertinently, was roughly the time warning bells started to sound for its predecessor, the Wii U. Despite strong, admittedly holiday-boosted late 2012 sales, the Wii U’s momentum fell off big-time in 2013 amidst a notable first-party software drought and an ongoing lack of understanding of how to market the rather odd strengths of the console. Despite some scattered sales spikes over the ensuing few years, the console never truly recovered and can now only be seen as a financial flop for Nintendo.

Three months have come and gone since March 2017 – As a matter of fact the Switch has now been on the market for half a year, and pound for pound it is thoroughly outpacing the Wii U on the sales charts. At well over five million units sold worldwide, it’s even giving the PS4 a run for its money in terms of momentum. This is certainly not some single-handed saviour of Nintendo as a company – It’s way too early to even entertain that notion – but the Switch has already marked a clear change in the Big N’s public perception for the time being. Given the ongoing interest online in how this inventive little console has been tracking, and indeed the hundreds of hours (and dollars) I myself have invested in it, let’s have a look at what the Nintendo Switch has got right and wrong so far, shall we?

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What I Think of the Nintendo Switch

Well Nintendo, you’ve done it again. You’ve successfully, shall we say, been Nintendo.

It’s been an insane weekend for the Japanese videogame giant. The curtain is now (mostly) up on the tremendously exciting Nintendo Switch, the home console that can also be played as a portable (Not the other way around, as Nintendo seems very keen to emphasise). And the general complexion of the reveal event was very, very different to what the seemingly endless supply of corroborating rumours and prediction videos would have us believe. For all the credible leaks from credible sources about specific games and features that may very well still ring true, the big Tokyo event still managed to be an almost complete surprise both in its general content and where it decided to put its focus. If “Switchmas” had been right about what we were expecting, it wouldn’t have quite felt like a Nintendo show. We Nintendo fans as a general group have a habit of forgetting that, but for better or worse, the Big N was more than happy to throw us a few reminders. This is a company that does not like being predicted, but as it turns out, even the collective power of the internet’s most well-connected sleuths couldn’t quite spoil everything. And in true Nintendo fashion, said surprises have divided the internet right down the middle.

I could go through the whole presentation bit by bit and talk about my thoughts on each individual revelation (I’ve watched the whole thing twice now, plus the entire five-hour Treehouse stream that followed half a day later and countless YouTube hands-on reactions), but there’s a better way to do this.

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– Nintendo’s Modern Console –

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The raw processing specs of the Nintendo Switch remain elusive in any sort of official capacity, though I have every reason to believe that Eurogamer’s December leak will turn out to be a fairly decent approximation. That leaves us with a console that’s more capable when sitting in its dock/outputting through the TV than when played on the go, but only as long as we’re talking about display resolution and theoretically (though hopefully not) frame rate. In it’s weakest configuration, we can expect it to be more powerful than the Wii U – that much is supported by the impressions coming out of the public-facing events of the last two days – but even at it’s strongest, it’s almost certainly going to come off weaker when compared to the standard Xbox One and PS4 models. That means the biggest triple-A third party releases will probably be skipping the Switch, unless it really takes off sales-wise and it becomes worth the extra financial investment to port down. It also means Nintendo’s first party games will continue to look amazing, and just about every big indie hit you can think of should be able to make it over to the Switch, uncompromised and fully portable. Ditto for the vast majority of Japanese RPGs and such. Swings and roundabouts, time will tell etc.
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What’s much more concrete – and refreshing, it must be said – is just about every other Switch hardware detail that has come to light over the last few days. The system will not be region locked (there are no words for how happy this makes me), it has a 6.2 inch, 720p capacitive touch screen (i.e. multi-touch, like the PS Vita or a smartphone), supports the current standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec, allows up to 8-player local wireless interaction, charges via super-fast USB-C – which is only just now becoming widespread on Android phones – and supports expanded memory via the reasonably cheap and easy-to-find Micro SDHC/Micro SDXC cards (At least up to 256gb according to one moment during the Treehouse stream, which would have been more than enough to fit everything I’ve ever bought on the Wii U). Its battery life is quoted as being between 2.5 and 6 hours depending on the game you’re playing, which is about what we could have expected; certainly not enough to last an international flight, but coupled with that USB-C charging port, it should easily be juiced enough to cover your daily work commute no matter what you’re playing. This is all very good news if you ask me, especially when combined with the generally premium look and – based on what I’ve read so far online – the feel of the system. This is a sleek, modern device.

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Revisiting The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – In High Definition & High Detail

Well this looks a bit weirdly-timed now, but I have been working on it for almost two months, so here we go. Strap yourself in.

It’s been a while, old friend.

Ten years ago, in 2006, I picked up The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess alongside my brand new Nintendo Wii console at the system’s launch. After years of hype and a string of exemplary prior Zelda games, I could barely contain my excitement. 80 hours of gameplay (and weeks of real-world time juggling Wii Sports) later, I had completed it very close to 100%. And what a rollercoaster it had been.

Twilight Princess promised a lot, as the Zelda series’ long-awaited return to the dark, “realistic” aesthetic made popular by Ocarina of Time following a controversial – at least at the time – stylistic sidestep with The Wind Waker. And in fairness, it delivered a lot – sensational dungeons, standout set pieces built on fan wish fulfilment, a breakout companion character and bosses on a truly grand scale, mainly.

Ooh baby.

Yet the game also came in for its fair share of criticism for its slow and inconsequential opening, largely empty world, bland colour palette, litany of rupee-related annoyances, relative lack of difficulty and slavish devotion to aping Ocarina at the expense of the freshness offered by predecessors Majora’s Mask and the aforementioned Wind Waker. Though I remember plenty of moments from Twilight Princess fondly, it came in at Number 7 on the Top 10 Zelda games list I wrote back in 2013.

And yet early last month, it received a new lease on life.

Link makes a triumphant return with a new HD sheen.

With help from little-known Australian studio Tantalus Media, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for Wii U here on March 5th. Based on the “waggle-free” Gamecube version of Twilight Princess, which I never touched, and boasting quite a few tweaks and supposed improvements, it marked the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the classic adventure with a critical eye, separated somewhat from the perhaps exaggerated criticisms the internet has whipped up over the last decade. Now that I have finally finished TP in its newest iteration, here is what I have to say about it.

Prepare yourself – this will be a long one. A very long one.

Be aware that this post contains a huge amount of spoilers – worth mentioning if you haven’t played the game before. All you need to know if you’re a Twilight Princess newcomer is that yes, I believe this HD version is definitively the best version of the classic title, and yes, you really should play it. If you really want to read on, continue at your own risk, but you should know that what follows is so exhaustive that you may not even feel like you need to play it by the end.
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To My Fellow Wii U Owners – This Is Probably The End

This will be a busy weekend for this blog.

Found on a Facebook fan group. Nailed it.

Looking at things that interest me in a positive light is well beyond a defining feature of my personality at this point. My default stance on just about anything videogame-related is optimism, for better or worse. But sometimes there isn’t all that much room for such a stance, and you just have to be real. If you’re a Nintendo fan of any kind, this is one of those times.

The most recent Nintendo-related announcement to cause waves online – an understatement in some corners – is the triple-bladed revelation from the company’s recent investor briefing that:

  1. Nintendo’s newest console, code-named “NX”, will be released worldwide in March 2017.

  2. The Wii U’s most widely anticipated game, a still-unnamed Legend of Zelda title, will release simultaneously on NX and Wii U, and thus will not see release until at least March 2017.

  3. Not only will the NX be absent from E3 in June this year, but this new Zelda (the Wii U version) will be the only game playable on the E3 show floor.

Still so mysterious.

There’s a lot to digest from this news, but the overwhelming, frigid-breeze-in-your-face implication here is that Nintendo is now ostensibly finished with the Wii U. Yes, Zelda will still come out for the ailing console, and I’m sure the game’s E3 presence will go above and beyond to showcase the benefits of the Wii U’s unique gamepad controller to the experience. But if the NX offers the better version of the game – and there aren’t very many great arguments around to suggest it won’t – then what Nintendo fan won’t just go for the NX version? What’s more, March next year is 10 months away, and the landscape of first-party game releases (and thus just about any game releases at all) for the Wii U in the next 10 months is looking awfully dry – I’m excited for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but it’s one of only three retail-facing first party games we know about, the other two being Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games. It’s hard to see this whole situation as anything other than an admittance that the Wii U is over, and that sucks.

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60 Changes in Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D From the N64 Original

I totally, completely underestimated how long it would take to write this. Blame Monster Hunter.

So I finished The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D on 3DS a couple weeks back, and my oh my, it was quite an experience. This is a game I once called my favourite of all time, so I wanted to make sure I devoted the proper amount of time to revisiting the whole thing. After 36 hours of gameplay (according to the Activity Log app) I had completed the Bomber’s Notebook, collected all the heart pieces and beaten the final boss. As soon as the cartridge was out of my 3DS, what was the first thing that comes to mind about the game?

Well, they sure did make a lot of changes to Majora’s Mask for this remake.

You see as it turns out, ever since Nintendo partnered with co-developer Grezzo to release the 3D remaster of Ocarina of Time in 2011, they were apparently working on this follow-up. Even as Zelda fans went back and forth on the idea that a remake of MM even existed, the developers were tweaking away, rebuilding the creepy, unique game piece by piece. But unlike with Ocarina of Time, which only received a sprinkling of non-visual changes, Eiji Aonuma and his team saw in Majora’s Mask a game with some issues, particularly with regards to a quest structure that may not have been friendly for the generation of gamers who missed out on the N64 original.

As a result, Majora’s Mask 3D is one of the most comprehensive remakes I’ve ever played. It’s still pretty much the same game, don’t get me wrong, but while playing I managed to jot down no less than sixty changes I think are worth mentioning, ranging from miniscule to massive, over the N64 original. And if you ask me, the vast majority of them are for the better. If you’ve played the game before and are tossing up whether to play it again in this new form, this list may help you decide on a purchase. If you’re new to MM, most of these probably won’t make any sense to you, and I may end up in spoiler territory. Regardless, here they are, in the rough order I discovered them.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.37 – What does a game’s length mean to you?


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With the recent controversy over the length of The Order: 1886, Shane,Delaney and I knuckle down and get stuck into a heated debate over the importance of game length on the latest episode of the Mega Ultra Blast Cast! We also talk plenty about our experiences with Evolve, the gigantic Spiderman news in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the rumoured live action Zelda TV show, the amazing first gameplay trailer of Persona 5, the “2-1-3” sequel theory and whether a zombie apocalypse could actually happen in today’s world. It’s hard-hitting and real – it’s the Mega Ultra Blast Cast.

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three jazzed Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-37-what-does-a-games-length-mean-to-you

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!