Earlier tonight Nintendo gathered a select group of games journalists for a special (and annual) roundtable event focused solely on the Nintendo 3DS and Zelda: Skyward Sword. We’ll get into the details a bit later, but for the sake of getting you the information, we’ll run through the highlights now.
ON OCARINA OF TIME 3D
It’s true – the N64 classic is coming to 3DS. I saw a brief demo of the game, which was only Link riding Epona through Hyrule field, but the 3D effect was still strong and breathed new life into a game we all thought we’d finished playing long ago. In fact, Miyamoto said once he saw the 3DS screen was in development he wanted to see Hyrule Field reborn with this new technology.
It’s not just a straight 3D port though – this along with Star Fox 64 3D will receive minor gameplay tweaks that acknowledge the past 10 years of game design. For example, switching weapons and items in Ocarina will not be as laborious a task in the 3DS version. Series director Eiji Aonuma went so far as to say this new feature will make the infamous water temple much more bearable. “I’ve lived with that for the last 10 years,” he said in reference to the dungeon in question. Actually, he agreed it was “horrible.” Not anymore, it would seem.
ON THE 3DS
Development actually began three years ago, and the finished unit will launch sometime around March 2011. Nintendo’s aiming for battery life on par with the DSi. The system-specific, persistent “tag” mode mentioned is essentially an enhancement of Nintendogs’ “Bark” mode, where you’d close your DS and it would communicate with other DSes nearby.
Now each unit will share data that will unlock new features, download ghost data and other things of that nature. It was suggested that the 3DS versions of Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and Nintendogs + Cats will use this feature.
ON SKYWARD SWORD
This time around Link has been born and raised on a floating island called Skyloft, and one day discovers that there’s a world beneath the clouds (you saw him diving into said clouds in the trailer). Once down there, it’s naturally ruled by some evil force that must be toppled. The previously mysterious sword woman (teased last year and thus far the only image anyone had of this new Wii Zelda) is in fact the Skyward Sword in humanoid form.
If you watched the press conference Tuesday morning, you saw Miyamoto’s demo cut short by technical issues that interfered with the Wii Remote’s motion sensors. That wasn’t the case this time around, as we saw reasonably fluid responses to sword strikes, arrow aiming and item using. Enemies react by changing their stance, requiring you to alter your attack – not unlike the combat in this year’s excellent Red Steel 2.
Miyamoto said the visual style, which is heavily influenced by impressionist paintings (or y’know, a mix between Twilight Princess and Wind Waker), was almost immediately approved with little alteration.
We’ll have much more on all these topics as E3 2010 rolls on. My personal quick take – Nintendo’s on a roll this E3, and between Skyward Sword, the 3DS and all its associated games, I don’t understand how anyone can argue.