It’s been one year since the 3DS came out?

Well it has in Japan at least, with the console being first released on February 26 2011. Wow, time flies doesn’t it?  I still remember the days when Ocarina of Time 3D was months away and Super Mario 3D Land was called Super Mario or Super Mario 3DS.

GoNintendo reminded me of this here:

So I may as well recap some of what has happened since that time last year when the 3DS first came out:

February-May: Sales were a bit tepid based on a terrible line up of launch games.  You have to wonder exactly how Nintendo thought Pilotwings and Steel Diver were going to be successful.

Some time around this point: I finished university and happily decided I have no plans for any more education for a while.

June: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D comes out.  I finally have reason to buy the console and do so, and presumably many others agreed.  In other news, it actually made me enjoy Ocarina of Time, having missed out on the Nintendo 64 original.  I know, not exactly surprising (because the game’s a genuine classic), but before the updates I always found the game a  bit difficult to complete due to how poorly things like the graphics had aged.

Ocarina of Time 3D pretty much sparked off a short lived two month long fad about now where people were treating it as the latest big thing.  Guides, glitches and reviews were common, and it seemed for a few moments like the hype that accompanied its Nintendo 64 debut would be making a return.

July: The price cut, which helped save the console sales wise.  Nintendo finally realised that people weren’t exactly willing to buy it at $250.

August: Nothing much happened.  The forums for this site kept going, people kept buying the 3DS and its games, and practically all Ocarina of Time 3D discussion had died outright.

September: Star Fox 64 3D came out.  Some more people bought the console.

October: I don’t think much happened about now, did it?

November: Super Mario 3D Land came out!  Another big release, it prompted me to open Super Mario 3D Land News purely to cover this one game.  It was also a fantastic Mario platformer in general and it brought a massive surge of activity to Nintendo 3DS Community to boot.

December: Mario Kart 7 is here! Also, my first experiences of playing video games online.  With Christmas on the way and both Mario Kart 7 and Mario 3D Land being some of the must have games of the moment, forums about the 3DS were booming and Mario mania had basically made a return.  It seems that by this point, we knew the 3DS had caught on the general public and that it was destined to be a DS or Wii level phenomenon.

January: Nintendo 3DS Community celebrates it’s one year anniversary!  Hooray for us I guess.

February: Nintendo 3DS Daily launches to cover the latest Nintendo 3DS news, reviews and information.

It’s been an interesting year so far, so here’s hoping for an even better year in 2012!

What the Legend of Zelda really needs to be more successful

With Skyward Sword only selling about 3 million copies and the recent slew of internet articles about how Zelda is going downhill, it seems like an increasing amount of people want the series to go back to like how it was in the NES days.  But that’s a mistake.  What worked then doesn’t work now, and the sales figures for the individual games in the series has honestly given me a much better idea about how the Legend of Zelda franchise could be popular once more.

1. Style should be realistic

This doesn’t mean I hate the toon style of The Wind Waker or the hybrid style of Skyward Sword, but just that sales wise a realistic style makes much more sense.  Those games with it sell greatly (Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess are top of the overall worldwide sales lists for the series), those without sell worse.

Personally, I think this comes down to a few things.  The more realistic, gritty style is more popular in the west in general (note how the best selling fantasy games/RPGs/action adventures are those with such an art style), it tends to cause an explosion of hype online which gets the Zelda fan community interested (note how much more popular the trailers for Twilight Princess were compared to Skyward Sword) and it generally brings back memories of Ocarina of Time.

Keep in mind that this was probably the most well received game trailers ever released for the series:

Just hear that crowd when the game was announced.  People were jumping from their seats and the internet hype train was about to explode with excitement.  There’s just something about a more realistic or just darker style which interests people, and Nintendo should just accept that by now.

Oh, and Nintendo, if you’re doing this to attempt to make the series popular in Japan.  Don’t bother.  People outside of Japan don’t generally like ‘cute’ for a franchise like this one, and as much as I hate to say it, America is basically the biggest market for the series.  It’s not that popular in Japan, and honestly, various trends over there have made it irrelevant.  Don’t bother.

2. This type of game should be the very next game after Skyward Sword

In release order, obviously. That way, you don’t accidentally further kill off the series by releasing what turns out to be a poorly selling game straight after a previous one.  People don’t like to be sold multiple games they don’t like in a row, and ignoring this and trying to be creative as often ended as many series as you can count. By Nintendo not considering this in the past, they literally killed off Donkey Kong’s sales for about two generations in a row (every game from 64 to Returns bar the ports has failed at retail). Not to mention the Wario series, which went from World to Master of Disguise to Shake Dimension and has literally lost more than half its audience.

Don’t rush out games either, that pretty much killed half the series Activision owned.

But yes, you want a massively high selling Zelda game out on either 3DS or Wii U in a few years time.  And it really needs to win back the crowd.

3. Have a decent overworld

Ocarina was closest, but the games from Wind Waker onwards have all failed in this regard in some way or another.  Wind Waker had a mainly empty ocean (yes I know there were technically islands in each square, it’s just that about half only had either reefs or rocky stacks with nothing to really do), Twilight Princess had too little content for a vast world and the sky in Skyward Sword seems empty and overall quite dull.  Oh, and let’s not even mention Spirit Tracks…

For this game, there should be no gimmicks.  That’s not to say sailing or flight couldn’t be used to expand the world a bit and as additional extras you can unlock later in the game, but the basic world should be entirely interconnected, filled with content and geographically varied in the same way a real country is.

There should be multiple towns and villages.  Sure there’d be a castle town/market with side quests, shops, Hyrule Castle and other such things, but there’d also be a Kakariko Village type area or three with their own assortment of things to do and their own unique characters.

And the sky and sea wouldn’t be empty, nor as large as in Skyward Sword. When you find a boat you get to explore a few islands with their own dungeons and side quests.  Maybe even a town on some remote island.  When you learn some method of flight, you then get to explore the sky and higher mountains with their own secrets and perhaps more towns, mini games and dungeons to explore.  An ideal overworld should tastefully mix in the transport mechanics from the past few games but actually have enough content that no one ‘realm’ is boring to traverse.

Enemies should play a bigger part in making the world interesting as well.  Pirates would roam the seas, Bokoblin and Moblin troops march across the plains and through the forests and Guays and flying monsters would attack anyone in mid flight.  For a more interesting experience, the types of enemies you face on the overworld would change as you progress through the story, with the early game having weaker ones and later game having the villain’s tougher troops sent out to take down Link.  Perhaps bring back the system from Ocarina where clearing out a region would get rid of the monsters there for good too.

Similarly, night would also change the creatures you found wandering about.  Remember how at night in OoT you had Stalchildren come out the ground and attack when in the past?  Well similar to that, the overworld should have monsters like Stalfos and maybe Redeads and such like attack at night in larger numbers and have even the towns filled with the forces of evil when the sun goes down. Have it so the shops and houses (bar maybe Link’s own) are locked/bolted shut at night and you’ve made the world so much more interesting.  Can you survive the night with no NPCs, Ganon’s (or whoever the bad guy is) soldiers roaming Hyrule looking for Link and random monsters trying to ambush you even in the middle of Castle Town or Kakariko Village?

Optional things like side quests could be improved too.  Why not have whole bonus dungeons with bonus bosses like in RPGs? You know, with really nice rewards found for beating them like a double magic meter or greater strength or an infinity plus one sword? That’d then let Nintendo provide a dangerous gauntlet filled with tough monsters for those that can handle it while letting those that can’t have a game they can still finish.

Secrets should also be packed into every corner.  Every rock, island and floating landmass should have at least some rupees or a significant bonus gauntlet to find, a cave of ordeals like location should exit and fishing should return as well.

Bringing back the day and night system would be good too, with the change that it should only stop when in dungeons.  That way, people can’t play chicken and just stay in their friendly village for hours on end (admit it, a lot of people who played Ocarina or Wind Waker did this, didn’t they?) and those that did would find themselves surrounded by enemies very quickly.  Have it so side quests can only be undertaken at certain times of the day like in Majora’s Mask and the world would be so much better and more life like in general.

Oh, and more variety in areas.  Why were there only three provinces in Skyward Sword anyway?  I mean, it was nice how you had to return to each one twice and how each had at least two dungeons in them, but a truly great Zelda game needs about 15 or 20 seperate areas with that amount of content in each.

Continue Reading…

Pokemon Black and White 2 Announced!

For standard old DS again, not 3DS.  But while some people will say this falls just a little bit outside the general scope of this website, I’d like to differ based on the fact that it gives me something to say about how these games should have been on 3DS.  And because damn, the new forms and idea of direct Pokemon sequels is an interesting development to say the least.

As you can see here, the games really are Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2.  This is the first time in the entire franchise in which numbered sequels have been released, or in which multiple sets of installments have been made for a single generation.

Continue Reading…

Is a new Donkey Kong Country game being shown at E3 this year?

As in, a possible sequel to Donkey Kong Country Returns?  Because that seems to be one possibility as to the game a certain Eurogamer staff member is hinting to on Twitter, saying the internet will go bananas when its shown.

And for obvious reasons, what franchise does the word ‘bananas’ immediately bring to mind?  In the same way people have considered Aonuma’s Zelda swapnote message a hint to a ‘New Legend of Zelda’ game due to the capitalising of the New in the message, it seems to be commonly thought that the use of the word bananas was a deliberate reference to the mystery game.

If it is a Donkey Kong Country game, then you can expect it to be a really good one, the tweets suggest it’s an amazing game which will make a ton of people online extremely happy.  Maybe the return of Kremlings, animal buddies and other Kongs or something?  Because a new game shown with say, K Rool shown as the villain would definitely cause people online to freak out, would it not?

Here are the tweets in question:

And even if its not a Donkey Kong Country game, some of the ideas suggested would be impressive announcements.  Some say its Halo 4 or the next Unreal Engine, heck, I bet some people call Smash Bros or Call of Duty or Pokemon Grey.  Either way, that’s one awesome game reveal to look forward to soon.

What game do you think this Johnny Minkley is hinting at?

Mario Tennis Open Screenshots

Some more screenshots of Mario Tennis Open have been released by Nintendo recently, and here they are.

Oh, and for Mario fans who liked how well the spinoff games paid tribute to the Mario series in general and how many references to older games there were in them (Camelot’s Mario spinoffs were excellent in this respect), you won’t be disappointed in this game either.

First of all, we see this game’s Bowser themed court.  Got to love the Mechakoopas standing on the sidelines here, we don’t see enough of these guys in recent Mario games!

Another screenshot of Bowser’s court.  Is it me or does that look a lot like a Mecha Bowser statue in the background?  Then again, it could also be the castle, which would imply this court is suspended in mid air in front of his castle from Mario Kart Wii.

A court set in Princess Peach’s Castle.  Interestingly, this looks like the version of the castle from Mario and Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story, prior to when Fawful took over and changed the design.  Those windows, that floor and those steps look pretty much identical to something from that game.

Peach about to play Daisy in a match.   I still can’t figure out what that is behind Daisy, a cruise ship railing?

A match on a generic grass court.  Oh well.  Looks decent I suppose.

Finally, here’s the box art for Mario Tennis Open.  Which looks pretty good:

Mario Tennis Open looks a great game, and a fantastic revival of the type of Mario spinoffs that seemed to have died out after the Gamecube era.  Definitely seems like one for Mario fans to check out.