Impressions: The Legend of Zelda GameCube

Impressions: The Legend of Zelda GCN

The GDC has come and gone, with it, a wealth of new information regarding the Xbox Next, PlayStation 3 and Revolution. We’ve seen screens of the user interface of the Xbox Next, we’ve heard that the Cell processor in the core of the PlayStation 3 will be much more developer friendly than Sony’s previous consoles and that the Revolution will go online, with Wi Fi out of the box and utilising backwards compatibility with GameCube software, much like all of Sony’s home consoles.

But then there are the games. New info was presented on the likes of Halo 3 and DS online. Games on the Xbox Next will utilise the Unreal 3 engine in their development while Nintendo have promised a larger launch list of games for the Revolution.

However, the only new imagery that has been presented on the next chapter in The Legend of Zelda for the GameCube in the last 10 months has been three screens. That is, until the presentation and key note speech by Satoru Iwata on March 10th. After revealing a much more aggressive Nintendo both now and into the next generation, a trailer with brand new footage of the legendary series was presented to salivating members of the press. Link swam, he ran, he fought, he rode and he absolutely kicked arse. E3 2004 was a wonderful surprise, it was the only presentation that ended with a standing ovation. The GDC fed the masses a snack with this brilliant new trailer, just before the feast that will be E3 2005.

First off, the overworld, whether it’s Hyrule or some other place, looks massive. There are vast plains, dark forests, deep lakes and a very, very impressive looking entrance to some type of market town at the base of an elaborate castle. Judging from this, it appears that this adventure takes place in a new interpretation of Link’s homeland. Other eye candy to be stunned over is the impressively detailed dungeons and what appears to be some type of sewerage system.

Such tunnels never looked so compelling. Especially curious is the use of some type of item by Link in these tunnels in his first person perspective that revealed ghosts. Perhaps a Lens of Truth of some sort? Nevertheless, the ghosts looked incredibly creepy, and appear to be solders from ancient Hyrule. In the background is a stream of yellow ‘gas’ leading from one chamber to another. A standoff takes place between Link and what appear to be Stalfos pooches in a sinister looking graveyard with tombstones surrounding them. Another scene has Link battling a highly detailed Goron with textured body art, in some kind of training ground. Each is as breathtakingly intense as the last.

There also appear to be variants of each species much in the vein of Link’s very first adventure in The Legend of Zelda. Some Lizalfos are protected by heavy helmets while others appear not to care for that type of thing. Stalfos soldiers have shoulder pads that can be removed if hit in the correct place as well as sappy, weak wooden shields. New enemies include winged dragons, possum-tailed flying fox critters, a gigantic spider that could be related to Queen Gohma and freaky, non-materialistic beasts in the woods. There are sure to be many that are yet to be revealed, along with updates to traditional, long present creatures.

Link’s attacks of his own appear to be the standard variety, apart from a downward thrust (stab), much like that used in The Adventure of Link, and more recent appearances in Super Smash Bros., Soulcalibur II and Four Swords. After being encased in a cocoon spun by a spider, the spider pounces on Link. Much to the agony of the spider, Link pulls off some kind of attack, drawing his sword and slashing the web, and the spider, from him. He ends it with a downward stab, back flipping to recover. Another point of interest, as already pointed out on IGN, Link uses bomb arrows against a flying squadron of dragons. He whips out an arrow that fizzes at the tip, exploding upon impact, bringing the beast to the ground to be trampled on by Link’s horse. The smoke and particles from the explosion is absolutely amazing.

There is the apparent lacking of fine tuning to the detail of Link’s animation. Although he himself appears to be animated well, his leg movements appear to be a little basic. When dodging enemies that he is locked onto, his feet sometimes ‘slide’ across the ground in a very unnatural way. This is something that I expect Nintendo to remedy long before the title is released to the public.

Then there are the facial expressions. Link’s face looks absolutely gorgeous. His eyes, as stated by Miyamoto previously, have the same dynamic lock on system that they did in The Wind Waker. Before Link prepares to dive, he draws in a big mouthful of air and his chest expands. His lip flexes, when they are able to be seen, convincingly suggest that these sounds he makes are coming from him. Then there is the scene of Link running from the gigantic spider. When he is able to see it close behind, Link’s mouth is gaping wide open. As he gains a little lead, his eyes and face turn completely to his front, with his mouth closing, focusing on the terrain ahead, preparing for his escape.

All in all, a fantastic glimpse at what will be, without doubt, one of the highest contenders for Game of the Year. I haven’t felt this excited since Spaceworld 2000 and the impending launch of the Nintendo GameCube. E3 is less than one month away now, and soon, Nintendo will reveal the details into the complexities of the new adventure awaiting departure. For a game that looked so polished in last year’s E3 trailer, one can only assume that the 18 or so months of additional development time between that showing and the final release will result in a spectacular product. 19 years along, and The Legend of Zelda never looked better.