Zelda: Breath of the Wild Site Is A Breath of Fresh Air Today

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Yep. While the disappointment of the release slipping possibly into next summer is a bit annoying, the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild now has an official site chock full of too much info is a really good thing. Go poke around, please. Especially if you’re a big, cranky skeptic who didn’t get the chance to play the demo this past June and think an open world Zelda is somehow a bad idea despite the series being chock full of open world goodness from the very first entry.

-GW

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Wii U Quickies: PONCHO, Meet Severed

With the Wii U seemingly in its final year of being a viable console to some pundits and players, it’s very important to note the console has in fact been the recipient of a number of incredible indie games over the past few months, most recently through the eShop Nindies selection.

Sure, first party titles are always key and should be on any console worth its salt. But the indie scene on Wii U is chock full of cool titles that Wii U-only gamers have either gotten in the past, are getting now or have been popping up as improved ports over versions previously released on PC or other consoles. Most are well worth an instant buy for those who want to support both Nintendo and the dev teams that cook up these gems. Here’s a quick look at two of the best you can buy (in no particular order, of course):

poncho-screenshot06 poncho-coverPONCHO (Rising Star Games, via Nintendo eShop, $9.99): Delve Interactive’s gorgeous, highly challenging side-scrolling platformer’s best tricks are the unique gameplay that has you hopping between different planes to progress through levels, and how surprisingly tough yet slyly meditative the game can be.

While a nice retro vibe is indeed here to be felt by nostalgic minded gamers, the lovely pixel visuals get kicked up into the modern age thanks to plenty of tricks older hardware couldn’t pull off so fluidly. The open world mixes in plenty of surprises to discover, with no lives system in play to drive you batty. That said, prepare to leap of faith your way in some cases where you have no other options but to cross your fingers, toes and anything else save for your eyes because you need to kind of stick that landing.

Jumping like mad through foreground, middle, and background elements like a champ, chatting up cute to not so cute robots who have a lot on their metal mind cases and overall, spending a good long time in this rich, intriguing game world learning what’s what makes this one a keeper of a sleeper. And yes, the music is pretty much perfect, emulating and enhancing its 16-bit inspired tunes that drive the action onscreen.

Score: B+ (85%)

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Hands-On: No-Rule Hyrule Is An Amazing Place

Yep. You need a Wii U. NOW. Or when the game comes out, no hurry! Um, the NX version is supposed to launch the same day, so maybe you can get one of those too?

Yep. You need a Wii U. NOW. Or when the game comes out, no hurry! Um, the NX version is supposed to launch the same day, so maybe you can get one of those too?

 

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This blurry photo is a result of my hands shaking because I was about ten seconds away from firing up the first of two demos. Oops.

Other than a trip into the rabbit hole a few years back after an early teaser trailer, I’d deliberately been ignoring any and all news, gossip and other speculative to factual bits of info about Nintendo‘s new Zelda game because for my purposes, going in cold makes for the best gaming experiences. When the opportunity arose to be one of 500 people who weren’t going to E3 to play the demo, I cleared my calendar and made sure I got my butt down to the Nintendo World Store bright and early to score a slot. Once that was done, the breath holding began with the hope the demo wouldn’t disappoint.

It didn’t. Although a mere 40 minutes was spent with it (two timed sections of 15 and 25 minutes each), the demo of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the most memorable times I’ve had with any game I’ve ever played and definitely the most interesting Zelda game I’ve sampled.

The team has recreated the sense of wonder of the original NES game, but with a much larger and absolutely drop dead gorgeous open world Hyrule devastated by time and disaster starring a Link who’s been awakened after a 100-year slumber. How this ties into previous Zelda games is unclear at this point, but there are enough visual, aural and gameplay cues that give the new game a sense of familiarity longtime fans will get right away. The lucky ones chosen to play and plenty of onlookers at the demo event got to experience a game long in the making that’s going to feel fresh and incredible to longtime Zelda fans who may not play PC role-playing games like The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher series that offer massive maps and an amazing amount of quests to tackle. Breath of the Wild’s freshness brings manual jumping and climbing everything from trees to mountains to the franchise for the first time, no in-game companion/follower for Link (other than Amiibo support noted in the video below the jump), and a world where there’s a lot to do, but one in which the freedom to do as one wishes actually makes things MORE thrilling.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Trailer Leaves a Few Folks Breathless


 

And that is a mighty good thing. Some (well, TOO many) gossipy babble fight web sites were going on for weeks about the decision by Nintendo to focus heavily on ONE game, complete with too many gullible gamers falling for the rumors that it was the ONLY game coming to E3 (it wasn’t). But as you can see, all that time and type in the rumor mill was wasted. Speculation sucks, doesn’t it? This game won’t. Back in a few hours with some hand-on impressions. Go watch the gameplay demo yourself over at Nintendo’s E3 site. It started at 1PM EST and will be going on pretty much all day. Back in a few hours with a few words on how it plays.

Hello, Zelda! The Crack of Dawn Gets That Golden Ticket in Hand

Zelda Ticket

Whee, you! I was initially going to pick a later date (Thursday, because I have another media event in the evening of the 16th), but thought better of that when I saw 6 and 7pm slots still open on Tuesday.  The earlier times had been snapped up (3 to 5 PM), so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed my session runs fine, I don’t drool all over that Gamepad,  and I get the most out of my demo time.

 

It REALLY pays to get out of bed early in the morning. Or not sleep at all and get one’s butt downtown to wait five hours or so for a once in a lifetime opportunity. May was crappy, but June is looking nicer at least on this front. Back in a bit, as I’m still a bit groggy… but also very happy.

 

Link for Prez backwards

Yeah, I wore this shirt today. One of the Nintendo NYC employees handing out the bracelets got a good chuckle from it. Yeah, yeah. I need a selfie stick, but I really hate them.

Humble Friends of Nintendo Bundle: Big Deal on Some Big Deal Games

Humble friends of Nintendo Bundle 

As if I didn’t have enough of a backlog. Wow. Humble Bundle and Nintendo need to do this more often, especially in the case of the Wii U needing more love in what’s looking like its final year or two as a “current” console. Anyway, a mere buck for Retro City Rampage DX (3DS), Affordable Space Adventures (Wii U) and Shantae & the Pirate’s Curse (3DS AND Wii U versions!) is awesome enough of a steal. But toss ten bucks into the mix for more fun, thirteen for two more games and both those tiers unlock even MORE games in a week’s time. Deal of the century of the week, I say!

Humble Nintendo BUY IT Bundle 

Yeah, BUY IT already if you own a Wii U and/or 3DS. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some downloading to do… (*poof!*).

Lost Reavers Beta Hands-On: Fun, But Needs Some Old West Tweaking

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LOSTREAVERS_keyartWhile it hasn’t sold in the numbers Nintendo has liked to have seen, the Wii U isn’t dead just yet. Bandai Namco’s online-only action shooter/RPG-lite exclusive Lost Reavers popped up last Friday as a public beta until April 26 (the final version goes live a day later) and after some extensive playtime, the jury is in on the gameplay (solid and accessible fun), but out on the lack of certain features that make these online games hugely popular and more enjoyable to western audiences. Let’s start with what works before commencing with the constructive criticism, as some things can and should be ironed out once the final release is out.


 

While the “plot” is thinner than a sheet of rice paper on a recently paved road run over by a dozen brand new steamrollers, it’s not *why* you’ll be playing at all. The game is a throwback to a simpler arcade style of play: Run through maps killing monsters and picking up drops before making to a relic room where that prize is retrieved by a single player and carried to an exit warp while the others protect hm or her. Most maps are relatively short and can be completed in less than five minutes to closer to ten minutes each with a good set of teammates. The Unreal-powered visuals are okay and occasional lag and bug issues (that will hopefully be squashed before launch) aside, the game runs at what looks like 30fps most of the time. While it’s a third-person game, each of the four classes plays differently and the heavy gunner guy has the only optional first-person view. My own preferences are the third person furthest view camera because it allows for seeing more of what’s around you, but there’s also a second third-person view that adds a targeting cursor as well as a lock-on function that should help casual players get used to things quickly.

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Lost Reavers Killed My Productivity Today (Thanks, Bandai Namco!)


 

So yeah. I only planned to give that Lost Reavers beta a try for oh, about an hour or two. I got online at noon (after a few attempts at logging in after midnight failed because the beta wasn’t ready for its close up), and the next thing I know it was 6:47 and anything else I had planned earlier was toast. More in-depth impressions to come tomorrow. It’s fun and really easy to get into but REALLY needs an offline solo and up to 4-player co-op mode so even MORE people can play it.

Back in a bit. My eyeballs need a break, I’m at level 16 and there’s a big, bad boss that needs to be dealt with (later this evening, perhaps?)

RIVE: Two Tribes’ Final Title Looks Like a True Treasure


 

15 years in the game development business is a long enough time to do a lot of different things and Two Tribes has indeed done just that and then some. The indie developer has decided to pack it (at least as far as making new games) in after a decade and a half of console and PC titles with what looks like a dangerously fun arcade-style romp called RIVE. The game has the look and feel of a classic Treasure game but with that even more notorious European difficulty scale that makes for a supremely challenging and highly replayable slice of nostalgia. If there’s a ‘Metal Wrecking, Robot Hacking Shooter’ sub-genre, my money is on RIVE being among the best of the best.


 

These guys at TT are going to be missed, but at least RIVE is coming out on multiple platforms so console and computer gamers who need their big meal bang-boom-boom fix can get in on the fun at a glorious 60fps soon-ish. PC/Mac/Linux (via Steam), PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One are all supported here, but I’m betting Vita owners are hoping for some Cross Play action because this looks as if would be perfect on the road. Then again, the game also looks as if one would need to have at least one extra controller handy just in case one “accidentally” busted their main gamepad. Hard walls and game controllers are a poor mix. Padded walls on the other hand – those get the DAF seal of approval every single time.

Capsule Reviews 1: Some Games You May Have Missed (Me Yak About)

Well, 2015 zipped by too quickly (he typed, knowing that the year isn’t quite over but hey, everyone else seems to be doing year-end articles) and I while didn’t get to write as many reviews as I’d have liked to, I took a ton of notes on things so I could sit down and catch up a some point. The best laid plans of mice and men (and Bemis!) often go wildly astray, so instead of long form full reviews, I’m going to do a bunch of capsule commentary on games, films and books over the next few days just so you have a little something to read when you pop by. Anyway, some quickie game impressions to get started: 

Tales of Zestiria Cast 

Tales of Zestiria (PS4/PS3/PC, $59.99/$49.99 respectively) – Namco’s Tales Studio pulls out all the stops in this latest installment in the long running JRPG franchise (15 Tales to date!) with a game that’s part throwback and homage to the first Tales (of Phantasia) back on the Super Famicom while bringing in an all-new cast, storyline and for the first time, an open world map to explore. Although PS4 owners get the better visual end of the deal on console, the PC version should more than please those fans who pick it up looking for something to play and show off to friends. The game is consistently entertaining from the fast-paced combat to the usual humor found in character interaction and dialog choices. Yes, the use of classic literary references, myth and other tropes is piled on thicker than your mom ever spread mayonnaise, but it works well enough to keep the game fun. I’m actually still playing this one because there’s an extraordinary amount of things to do, stuff to collect and some 93 hours in, I’m close to the endgame but will probably dive in again at some point to revisit a few save files. There are enough divergent paths and interesting encounters (make friends with the Normin you meet!) to keep this one in the play stack for a while. Score: A- (90%)
 
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