The Legend Of Zelda: Gaiden/Majora’s Mask
RPG fans are drooling over the prospect of The Legend of Zelda 64's release. So far, very little official information is available from Nintendo, but a few facts have already leaked out.
Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's resident game guru and the man behind Super Mario 64 and the previous Zeldas, is heavily involved in the creation of this game. Like 1992's Super NES game, Zelda 64 is an action/RPG with real-time fighting sequences. The red-headed hero, Link, is back, looking older and bigger than he did in the SNES version.
Graphically, the game abandons the 16-bit version's overhead view in favor of the multiple views seen in Super Mario 64. Also gone are the cartoon-style characters that prohibited many details: In doseups, Link now shows distinct facial expressions.
Run-n-slash swordplay dominates the gameplay, though Link will probably carry bombs, boomerangs, a bow and arrow, and other special items as he did before. The most intriguing aspect of the gameplay is the presence of the 64DD, the disc-drive memory-storage peripheral Nintendo may release by Christmas '97 for S150-S200. Zelda 64, with its huge worlds and complex story line, will undoubtedly utilize the 64DD, and in fact may be bundled with the unit upon release.
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Nintendo also showed a short clip of The Legend of Zelda. The action depicted a polygon Link sword fighting a medieval knight wearing an impressive suit of armor that made him look highly chromed. Zelda is supposed to be the game to launch the yet-unnamed disc-drive unit, which should be un veiled at the next Shoshinkai Show in November.
Mere months after restoring peace to the land of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link once again set out on an adventure. One day, deep in the forest, he encountered a Skull Kid wearing a strange mask. Turns out, the Skull Kid stole his beloved pony--Epona--and took off into a doorway that led to a warped alternate dimension. What Link saw when he followed the Skull Kid through the doorway was a strange, yet oddly familiar world full of familiar faces. However, one thing was clearly different: In the vast sky above loomed a gigantic moon that was slowly falling down onto this world..."In but a few short days, this world will end..." So spoke those living there. Even as they waited, time passed mercilessly. "If you can find the Skull Kid with the strange mask, you may find a clue to saving this place." And so, Link's latest adventure began...
What you just read came pretty much word for word from the Nintendo Space World '99 Official Guide Book. Is your mouth watering yet? Currently 50 percent complete and on target for a March 2000 release in japan, The Legend of Zelda Gaiden (translated from the Official Guide Book as "The Legend of Zelda: The Continuing Saga") is shaping up to be every bit the monster hit that its best-selling predecessor was just one short year ago. Originally slated to be a 64DD game, Zelda Gaiden has since moved to cart and will require the Expansion to play (no doubt a side effect of it being in development for the DD for so long). Strangely enough, it's been reported that Ura Zelda (the working title of the DD Zelda before it surfaced as Zelda Gaiden) is still in fact planned for a DD release. Confused yet? Don't worry, so are we. Anyway, back to the game. Zelda Gaiden uses the same game engine as Ocarina of Time, though there are several modest enhancements, most notably in the graphics department. This is thanks to the Expansion Pak, which, rather than offering improved resolution (as it does in so many other games), instead works to provide a better frame-rate, more detailed environments, more action on-screen and a greater viewing distance. For example, at one point in the Dungeon Tour (one of the "Tours" concocted for the Space World demo version of Zelda Gaiden), Link enters a room with six Stalfos knights moving about independently--all without a hitch in frame-rate. Now if only they'll work on getting more than six different enemies throughout the overworld...
Gameplay-wise, Zelda Gaiden seems similar in a lot of ways to Ocarina of Time, but thanks to the quirky (and interesting) story, there's plenty of room for innovation. As you read earlier, in Zelda Gaiden, Link finds himself trapped in an alternate world-one that seems very much like Hyrule, yet unmistakably foreign in many ways. In this world, a giant moon is on a crash course with Earth, and if Link doesn't figure out a way to stop it in a certain amount of time, the world--and Link's chances of finding his way home--are kaput. The thing is, in Zelda Gaiden, time really IS important. You're actually playing against the clock (specifically, a giant Clock Tower--see screenshot below) which counts down in real time toward the impending doom that's going to occur if the moon hits home. This makes for one interesting diversion from Ocarina's gameplay. The masks make for another.
That's right--the masks. Those happy, fun little masks from Ocarina of Time are back, but in this strange dimension, they're a heck of a lot more useful (and there are a lot more of them). Whenever Link dons one of them, he morphs into the creature that the mask represents. On the Space World demo, there were three available masks--a Goron mask, a Zora mask and a Deku Scrub mask. Each provides unique abilities for Link, and each has a special instrument that only that particular creature can play. The Goron form has great strength and can roll into a ball (like Sonic) and zoom around at high speeds. It also plays a wicked set of bongo drums. The Zora can swim with amazing speed and finesse, while also possessing mad guitar skills. The annoying Deku Scrub can walk on water, shoot seeds, hide out in the ground and use special flowers to shoot sky-high, allowing it to fly (actually, it hovers). On the musical side, the Scrub's got a set of horns that'd make Dolly Parton jealous. All this with just three masks! Who knows what else you'll be able to do once more masks are uncovered...
Aside from the time element and the masks, there really wasn't that much new to check out in the Space World version of Zelda Gaiden. Still, what we saw looked extremely promising. Here are a few miscellaneous things you may find interesting: A) Link starts off young and will likely stay young for the majority of the game (since this takes place after he was returned to his youth form at the end of Ocarina of Time). He can now ride the horse (Epona) as a kid. B) There's less room for items in Link's inventory than there was in Ocarina of Time, and in the version we played, there weren't any items we haven't seen before (of course there's gotta be something new in the final version). C) There seems to be a variety of new enemies in Zelda Gaiden--some entirely new, some recycled from previous Zelda games (like Zelda II and A Link to the Past). D) The environments are much more varied and vast than those found in Ocarina. Expect huge dungeons, thick forests, snowy plains, nasty swamps and more. E) Navi's back. Is this good? Bad? You decide.
To sum it all up, we're damn excited about Zelda Gaiden, and you should be too. If this early version is any indication of what the final product will be like (which, while due in March, could easily get pushed back further--let's not forget how many times Ocarina of Time was delayed before it was finally released), Nintendo's gonna have yet another masterpiece on their hands. No word yet on a U.S. release, but it's pretty safe to assume that at the very latest, you'll be crackin' Stalfos heads once again before Christmas 2000.