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3DS

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

by Carmine Red - April 18, 2013, 10:00 am PDT
Total comments: 32

No nonsense, no fuss, the hands-on 3DS demo of the new The Legend of Zelda was pure gameplay goodness.

It was perfect. Me, a hammer, a sword, a shield, a bow, and 13 floors of Zelda dungeon goodness. No context. No story. Not even a subtitle to the working moniker of "The Legend of Zelda."

The demo Nintendo brought to their Software Showcase event didn't give away any of the narrative or context of the newly announced Zelda game. Instead it seemed designed to show off some of the mechanics and design thinking going into it.

For one, it demonstrated how the 3DS sequel to Link to the Past would leverage its predecessor's features. The SNES game had already featured different levels of terrain, but the new demo went vertical in an extreme way. The tower-like dungeon featured not just 13 floors to ascend, but also multiple elevations within each floor. Indeed, the open plan of the design seemed to give players plenty of opportunity to spring up to the next level (I could hammer down a special floor tile, step onto it, then launch upward when it popped back up) or fall back down one, intentionally or otherwise. Launched upwards onto a new floor, you never quite know what to expect, so it was a bit of an adrenaline rush to ascend to a new level only to find it composed of see-through mesh walkways with plenty of holes to fall through. Bumper hazards and enemies just to make things more exciting. These floors were pretty neat because their see-through nature essentially let you see seamlessly see the floor below, and seamlessly transition (aka "fall") down to it as well.

That's another thing the vertical design demonstrated well: the subtle benefit of the improved 3D graphics and effects. Since the game is inheriting a top-down perspective, all these elevations could be hard to read intuitively, if not for the subconscious depth cues that the visuals provided. The depth effect of the 3DS screen conveys not just these discrete levels within a floor, but the important depth of other elements in the game too. Whereas the SNES title had red and blue blocks that could be raised or lowered to block your path, in this game they can be walked on and used as puzzle solving tools to switch elevation.

As for the new Zelda's visual style, it definitely referenced Link to the Past. At first glance, you might not even notice that it's no longer sprite-based, but actual 3D graphics! The game is still in development, but the models and textures of the 3D game uncannily evoked the spirit of its top-down, sprite-based, 2D Zelda ancestor. In fact, the only time the 3D becomes absolutely noticeable is when you use the new "morph" ability and the camera zooms down from its bird's eye-view perspective into a closeup of Link as a painting (Hieroglyph Link?) flattened on a wall.

This new morphing ability, where Link flattens into a 2D representation of himself, and in this form walks sideways along walls, melds perfectly into the fabric of the Zelda gameplay and puzzles. Essentially a heightened form of the "sidle" maneuver from 3D Zelda games, Link no longer needs any hint of a ledge to move sideways along a wall. This means that in a room with two platforms at the same elevation on either end and no connecting walkway, Link simply needs to morph into the wall on on side, walk along the wall, and pop out at the other end. Since Link couldn't move up or down in this mode, only sideways, it really emphasized an awareness of the relative elevation levels of different sections of the level.

Additionally, almost any wall in this demo level was morphable, so not only was the mechanic widely used throughout both the interior and exterior parts of the tower-like dungeon, but its application wasn't being telegraphed by the game. If I was on a moving platform outside and a wall section all of a sudden shot out to push me off, it wouldn't be a special color to indicate it was morphable or anything. In my panic, my only hope was to realize that it was a wall, that I could morph into walls, and that I had only a split second to hit the A button and hope that saved Link from a seven story fall. Heck, not just walls were morphable, those blue and red pillars that I raised and lowered via crystal ball switches supported Heiroglyph Link too!

Aside from the A button used to make Link morph into a wall, the B button swung the sword and the Y and X buttons were assigned to two additional tools/weapons, like the hammer (used to flip over enemy turtles (terrorpins?) and pound down the aforementioned spring floor tiles) and a bow and arrow. Using either the hammer or bow seemed to take up energy from Link's magic meter instead of any other resource. Also, it appeared to me that Link's Sword Beam attack made a return, possibly tied to the player's life and magic meter levels similar to previous games. As for movement, it seemed that despite the use of the Circle Pad, the game adhered to an old-school eight-direction system with the four cardinal directions and diagonals. I know I'm in the minority as someone who immensely enjoyed the touch screen controls of Phantom Hourglass on the DS, but this return to purely button control felt just fine for me and completely natural.

In conclusion, was it fun? Hell yeah. The focus on gameplay at the event was welcome. The demo dungeon was pure Nintendo Zelda fun, featuring wonderfully tight level design and puzzles that give you pause when you encounter them, but make you feel like the smartest person in the room when you solve them. The new morphing mechanic felt like a natural part of a Zelda game. And there was definitely that feeling of nostalgia.

The demo revealed little else about the rest of the actual game, but I didn't care. There was a Moldorm waiting for me at the top of the thirteen dungeon floors. He was an old friend and I was happy to see him.

Talkback

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterApril 18, 2013

Sounds fun! How long have you known about this game?

A little more than 24 hours.

ShyGuyApril 18, 2013

Good news Ian, no touch controls.

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterApril 18, 2013

Hahaha, I see. Was this game demonstration held like just a few hours after the ND?

Quote from: Caterkiller

Hahaha, I see. Was this game demonstration held like just a few hours after the ND?

Yes. There was an event in San Fran yesterday afternoon.

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Quote from: Caterkiller

Hahaha, I see. Was this game demonstration held like just a few hours after the ND?

Yes. There was an event in San Fran yesterday afternoon.

Afternoon? It was yesterday MORNING!!! T-T

I'm on the East Coast, buddy. I'm sorry you all live in some dream world where the morning for you is like 2 p.m. for me.

But anyways, I'm stupidly excited for this game. It sounds incredible so far.

TrueNerdApril 18, 2013

Part of what makes Link To The Past so great is that it isn't as rigid and structured as every Zelda game since LttP. You can approach some dungeons out of order. You can get loads of weapons/items outside of dungeons. I'm pretty excited about this game regardless, but it would be neat if they gave Zelda it's breathing room back. Ooh, and I also hope the difficulty level of Lttp also returns.

Could you use the D-Pad to move Link around as well?

LouieturkeyApril 18, 2013

Quote:

I'm on the East Coast, buddy. I'm sorry you all live in some dream world where the morning for you is like 2 p.m. for me.

You're on the wrong side.  All the good games are made on the left side.

LouieturkeyApril 18, 2013

Quote from: TrueNerd

Part of what makes Link To The Past so great is that it isn't as rigid and structured as every Zelda game since LttP. You can approach some dungeons out of order. You can get loads of weapons/items outside of dungeons. I'm pretty excited about this game regardless, but it would be neat if they gave Zelda it's breathing room back. Ooh, and I also hope the difficulty level of Lttp also returns.

Well, if you've seen anybody play OoT or WW these days, those can definitely be played out of order as well. :)

Evan_BApril 18, 2013

Haven't they stated that completing dungeons out of order and self-progression is what they're trying to emphasize in future Zelda games?

Quote from: JusDBerube

Could you use the D-Pad to move Link around as well?

I'm sorry, but I honestly didn't think to try at the time.

Ian SaneApril 18, 2013

Hooray for normal controls.

Nintendo, forget the following games ever existed:
Yoshi's Story
Star Fox Adventures
Metroid: Other M
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Just carry with those respective series as if those games were never made and thus could have no damaging influence on later titles.  Thank you.

Back on topic... Moldorm!  Argh, I hate those guys!  Every time I get knocked down and have to start the fight over again is agony (which is probably the intention of the devs).  It's the boss-equivalent of Wallmasters.  Enemies that instantly kill you are nicer than ones that send you back in progress.

IgnoramusApril 18, 2013

So does it seem more like a puzzle game or an adventure game? I know Zelda is typically a mixture of both, but from what I've seen it looks like the game is segmented into stages where you complete the puzzle of going from top to bottom (or vice-versa) in order to get to the next stage.

Quote from: Ignoramus

So does it seem more like a puzzle game or an adventure game? I know Zelda is typically a mixture of both, but from what I've seen it looks like the game is segmented into stages where you complete the puzzle of going from top to bottom (or vice-versa) in order to get to the next stage.

This was a demo completely out of context from the rest of the game, designed specifically to show off what it's like to play this unique mix of new and old. Ultimately, I don't think we can say yet in which direction the final product appears to be leaning.

RasApril 19, 2013

Call me crazy, but I'm betting there will be an option to play the original LTTP.  Maybe included, maybe as DLC.  Miyamoto was always saying he wanted to remake that one using the 3D--that either changed into this new game, or both.

SundoulosApril 19, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Hooray for normal controls.

Nintendo, forget the following games ever existed:
Yoshi's Story
Star Fox Adventures
Metroid: Other M
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Just carry with those respective series as if those games were never made and thus could have no damaging influence on later titles.  Thank you.

I'm assuming you meant Star Fox Command here, but Adventures works, too.  I've always hated the stylus control system forced upon the user, at least in games where multiple options would have made sense.

I couldn't be more excited about this news.  The only other series announcement I would have been more excited about would have been another 2D Metroid.

It would be great if they eventually made this, or another demo, available on the 3DS.  I fully expect this will mean that A Link To the Past will be made available on the 3DS eshop this year as well, since they did make that GBA port years ago.

AdrockApril 19, 2013

I'm not really digging the whole turn-2D-and-jump-into-walls thing. Also, I made the mistake of watching some Four Swords Adventures videos last night when I show my brother the trailer for the new game. I'd much prefer the graphics look like that. Oh well. This is most certainly a must-buy for me anyway.

noname2200April 19, 2013

I was pleased when the game was announced. Now I'm just flat out excited.

martyApril 19, 2013

Man do I want this game to be good.

Chad SexingtonApril 20, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Hooray for normal controls.

Nintendo, forget the following games ever existed:
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Just carry with those respective series as if those games were never made and thus could have no damaging influence on later titles.  Thank you.

Phantom Hourglass was amazing.

A little easy, but one of my favorite Zeldas.

Quote from: Chad

Phantom Hourglass was amazing.

A little easy, but one of my favorite Zeldas.

OMG, I though I was all alone in the world! *cries tears of joy*

MagiteknightsApril 21, 2013

There's something about the art style of the game that just doesn't seem right to me. I mean the hyrule-glifics (I'm so sorry for the pun) effect for walking on walls and platforms is really neat, and looks like the Link from the intro to Wind Waker which is pretty awesome. There's just something off about the link character model. It just all looks kind of plastic/action figure like. It's a terrible adjective but it just seems lazy to me. I can't explain it.

Quote from: Magiteknights

There's something about the art style of the game that just doesn't seem right to me. I mean the hyrule-glifics (I'm so sorry for the pun) effect for walking on walls and platforms is really neat, and looks like the Link from the intro to Wind Waker which is pretty awesome. There's just something off about the link character model. It just all looks kind of plastic/action figure like. It's a terrible adjective but it just seems lazy to me. I can't explain it.

In all honesty, I wasn't bothered by any of this while playing, except for the Stalfos' skulls looking a little too shiny and globular. Link's character model actually never bothered me while I was playing the game in motion.

The game looks a lot better when watching the video than it does in the screenshots, imo.

Granted, I find that to be true for most 3DS games.  I'm actually pretty pleased with the way it looks overall.  I've read some hate online, so I was concerned at first.

StogiApril 22, 2013

I remember when Nintendo fans HATED Windwaker's art style.

I remember when Nintendo fans would argue gameplay over graphics.

I remember when Nintendo fans would beg for a LTTP sequel.

This game looks awesome. I especially love the use of 3D to solve puzzles. The hieroglyphic link looks interesting as well. I'm honestly curious how it'll be used during boss battles.

Nintendo fans are impossible to please. No matter what they do, at least some part of the fanbase will bitch about it.

FjurbanskiApril 22, 2013

Well that's the way it goes, you know. You can't please everyone, so don't even try. Just try to make a good game, that's all.


I agree with Stogi. I think the wall-link mechanic could end up being really good. It might lead to some level designs that we haven't really seen in a zelda game before. For instance, if I hadn't seen it in the trailer, I would never have guessed that you could sneak out of the barred window to get outside. I think it would be really cool if we see it used for more than just traversal, like boss fights. Or if the wall already has drawings on it, you can interact with those drawings. Like, maybe you are in the wall, but the wall has water drawn on it, and you can't cross the water. Maybe even enemies that can go in and out of the walls just like you can. There's a lot they can do with this mechanic. Don't write it off so quickly.

This thread is giving me an idea for an article for the site.

AdrockApril 22, 2013

Wall/graffiti Link reminds me of reverse Lost in Shadow. You spend most of the game on walls as a shadow, but late in the game, you can briefly interact with the 3D world to solve puzzles.

MagiteknightsApril 23, 2013

Quote from: Stogi

I remember when Nintendo fans HATED Windwaker's art style.

I remember when Nintendo fans would argue gameplay over graphics.

I remember when Nintendo fans would beg for a LTTP sequel.

This game looks awesome. I especially love the use of 3D to solve puzzles. The hieroglyphic link looks interesting as well. I'm honestly curious how it'll be used during boss battles.

I still to this day don't care much for the "toon link" art style.

I'm highly interested in the gameplay mechanics, especially the overworld exploration with wall movement transitioning to 2D.

And now that I've seen it in motion on the actual console via downloadable video I don't really mind the character models as much any more. Gameplay seems fine, there's never really gameplay issues when it comes to Zelda titles. I would much rather see a sprite based game though. But either way this is the sequel Ninty fans have been waiting for.

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Nintendo
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Nov 22, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce 2
Release Dec 26, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Nov 22, 2013
PublisherNintendo
Rating7+
aus: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Nov 23, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral
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