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The Legend of Zelda GC
(working title)

zelda_ngc2.jpg (3884 bytes)
Due early 2003 for Gamecube.

10-01.jpg (5303 bytes)If you’re a Zelda fan, you’re probably in either the love-it camp or the larger hate-it camp that formed shortly after Nintendo released the first screen shots of this venerable license. The cel-shaded cartoon look has sent more than a couple of Zelda fans into fits of hysteria as the increasingly polarized groups debate the merits of the new cartoon look.

2-01.jpg (5771 bytes)This years E3 show ought to silence the critics; if it doesn’t, a few minutes with the controller surely will. Perhaps more than any other game in history, the new Zelda game delivers a fully interactive cartoon into the hands of gamers everywhere. If you’ve been nervous about the graphics, or the presentation, or any other aspect of the new Zelda title, rest assured -- Nintendo’s second most bankable title makes its way into the next gen arena in grand style.

1-01.jpg (6747 bytes)The first thing I noticed was how much this game looks like the Saturday morning cartoons I grew up with—only much better. The second thing I noticed was how smooth everything is. Every aspect of the game just seems to fit together seamlessly, and it creates an aesthetic unlike anything else on the market. It’s much later that the rest of the details become apparent. In one scene I played at E3, young Link is crossing a rope suspension bridge. The enemy on the other side spots our hero, and, abandoning years of videogame villain strategy, decides to charge across the bridge instead of waiting for Link to walk up and smite him. Once on the bridge, Link engages the foe with sword and shield; an errant sword stroke misses the enemy and slices through part of the rope suspension bridge. The bridge teeters and threatens to fall, which would send hero and villain alike into the river far below. Another misplaced stroke and young Link might be pulling an Indiana Jones or going for a swim.

5-01.jpg (8072 bytes)Perhaps the biggest advantage to the new cartoony look is the ability to show facial expressions, and more importantly, raw emotion. If this is combined with excellent voice acting and solid dialogue (which remains to be seen) the results could be compelling. Though my only complaint after spending some time with the demo at E3 is that I can’t really identify with a prepubescent child-hero, and I really hope I don’t have to hear him grunt and whine too much. The final product should reveal all.

6-01.jpg (8564 bytes)Link can pick up torches to light his way, or pick up enemy weapons if he needs a new one or just wants a little variety in his thug whacking. Things just seem willing to interact with Link, and this is a very good thing. Link also has a variety of gadgets and tools to provide varied game play. His grappling-hook looked especially interesting, with both offensive and defensive capabilities.

3-01.jpg (8721 bytes)There also seems to be a lot of variety in game play. In addition to the standard dungeon crawling and general exploring, Link is put in a variety of situations to keep things interesting. In a playable section at E3, Link is sailing the sea, catching air off the barrels he needs to hit and avoiding the explosive ones. It had a mini-game feel to it, but looked to be woven into the story. Most of all, it all looked marvelous.

So far, all we know about the story is that Link’s sister is kidnapped and our young hero sets off to find her. To find out more, we’ll have to wait until early Q1, 2003.

Jeff Luther (06/06/2002)