Tag Archive: The Legend of Zelda


The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences held its 21st annual D.I.C.E. Awards at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, celebrating the tremendous year in gaming that was 2017. The D.I.C.E. Awards are the only peer-voted award ceremony in video games, where developers from around the industry cast ballots on 24 different categories that recognize the best of the best in gaming.

Not surprisingly, Nintendo had a huge night, which mirrors the success they had with the launch of the Switch in 2017. With games nominated in 14 of the 24 categories, Nintendo-published games won in a whopping 10 categories (Mario+Rabbids also won an award but is technically a Ubisoft game). The bulk of Nintendo’s success was due to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s four awards, the most for any game this year, and which includes the coveted Game of the Year Award. The next most awarded game was Cuphead, winning in three categories. Horizon Zero Dawn, whose 10 nominations were the most of any game at the show, walked away with two awards.

“Every year, the D.I.C.E. Awards brings the global interactive entertainment industry under one roof to recognize and honor the very best in video games – the games that captivated and inspired us, and kept us entertained for hours on end,” said Meggan Scavio, president, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.  “On behalf of the Academy, I am thrilled to congratulate this year’s winners of the 21st D.I.C.E. Awards.”

Considering Nintendo’s success, it was only fitting that the D.I.C.E. Awards would also recognize Genyo Takeda of Nintendo with only their seventh ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Takeda was a critical figure at Nintendo for decades. One of his first major accomplishments included creating the save-system in the original The Legend of Zelda that would revolutionize games on the NES. From there he helped design the N64’s analog stick on its controller, worked on peripherals with the Gamecube, and was a key architect of the Wii.

The winners of this year’s D.I.C.E. Awards categories are below. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order, with winners in bold.

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • Cuphead
  • For Honor
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Cuphead
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Little Nightmares
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Character

  • Bayek – Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Iden Versio – Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Chloe Frazer – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Cuphead
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • RiME
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • Destiny 2
  • Injustice 2
  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Story

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Night in the Woods
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Outstanding Technical Achievement

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Hellblade: Senua’ Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Lone Echo
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Action Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Cuphead
  • Destiny
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Adventure Game of the Year

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Family Game of the Year

  • DropMix
  • GNOG
  • Just Dance 2018
  • SingStar Celebration
  • Snipperclips

Fighting Game of the Year

  • Arms
  • Injustice 2
  • Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
  • Nidhogg 2
  • Tekken 7

Racing Game of the Year

  • DiRT 4
  • Forza Motorsport 7
  • Gran Turismo Sport
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Project CARS 2

RPG of the Year

  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • NiER: Automata
  • Persona 5
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera

Sports Game of the Year

  • Everybody’s Golf
  • FIFA 18
  • Golf Clash
  • Madden NFL 18
  • MLB The Show 17

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

  • Endless Space 2
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Total War: Warhammer II
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement

  • Lone Echo/Echo Arena
  • Robo Recall
  • Star Trek Bridge Crew
  • The Invisible Hours
  • Wilson’s Heart

Immersive Reality Game of the Year

  • Lone Echo/Echo Arena
  • Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin
  • Robo Recall
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Wilson’s Heart

D.I.C.E. Sprite Award

  • Everything
  • Gorogoa
  • Night in the Woods
  • Pyre
  • Snipperclips

Handheld Game of the Year

  • Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
  • Metroid: Samus Returns
  • Monster Hunter Stories

Mobile Game of the Year

  • Cat Quest
  • Fire Emblem Heroes
  • Gorogoa
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Splitter Critters

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Destiny 2
  • Fortnite
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • Gorogoa
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • PlayerUnknwon’s Battlegrounds
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

  • Gorogoa
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  • What Remains of Edith Finch

Game of the Year

  • Cuphead
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Advertisements

It has been a great year for games overall, and one of the best in recent memory. I can’t remember the last time I had to wrestle with my top five as much as I had to this year, because there were honestly 15 or so games out of the 89 that I beat before official EGM game of the year voting that I could’ve slipped into these slots. After much internal deliberation, however, I hammered out a list that I think provides a variety of incredible experiences that are all more than worthy of your game-playing time.

#5 Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: MachineGames
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
There were literally three games rotating in and out of this spot for me before I finally decided that talking about how great it is to kill Nazis—and in such a variety of ways—was worthy of a nod. There have never been a more disgusting or vile people on the Earth than the Nazis; they are the ultimate evil. And, reigning havoc on this fictional Reich was cathartic at a time when people seem to be forgetting just how heinous they were. If this game weren’t already in my top five, it’d be getting a special award just for being able to kick Hitler in the face. Throw in a terrific end credits scene that should get every patriot’s heart pumping, along with just how amazingly smooth the game’s gunplay was, and there’s no doubt that Wolfenstein II should be near the top of everyone’s lists.
#4 Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: PS4, PC
Pyre
The folks at Supergiant Games are nothing if not expert storytellers. In each of their games, they’ve created unique worlds that you can’t help but get sucked into, and Pyre does that again here. It finds a way to make you care about the characters in your caravan right from the get-go, and as your party grows, the roots you place in this world only become stronger until it’s almost painful for you to leave it. What’s even more amazing is that the gameplay’s main mechanic—besides chatting with your party members in standard RPG fashion—is to basically win 3-on-3 basketball games. Of course, boiling this mechanic down like that to its very core peels away the stakes that surround each game. There’s a real sense of risk here, as well as loss should you fail. Pyre is a gorgeous game, both visually and content wise, and is a can’t-miss experience.
#3 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is no doubt a game-changer for one of Nintendo’s most popular flagship franchises. It was a bold choice to focus more on puzzle-solving and world interaction than combat, and it paid off. People are still discovering new ways to interact with this latest iteration of Hyrule and its inhabitants, and it again proves that few companies are as good as Nintendo at just making games that are pure fun. Plus, there is plenty of fun to be had considering how massive the game’s world is, not to mention a tremendous amount of customization here, with Link being able to wear just about anything. I could’ve done without my weapons breaking so often, and I worry about Nintendo embracing the idea of DLC with this game, but even still, this is an instant classic.
#2 Publisher: Studio MDHR
Developer: Studio MDHR
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Cuphead
It’s rare in today’s world for something to be hyped for as long as Cuphead was, and for it to then live up to that hype. And yet, somehow, it did. After 188 deaths, I had completed this game and was thrilled for every second I got to play with it. There is a randomness to each boss fight that tests your reflexes in ways few games like this can, as you can’t just sit back and memorize patterns. It’s an action-shooter, but there are definitely moments where this feels like a bullet hell, too—especially in the flying levels. On top of this, the art and musical style of 1930s cartoons is a surprisingly fresh take for a video game, and proves that sometimes what is old can be new again. Combine all this with tight controls (especially around the parry system), and Cuphead sits as one of the year’s most complete experiences if you’re like me and don’t mind the difficulty.
#1 Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Resident Evil VII
It’s rare for a game that releases in January to hold throughout the year at the top of my list, but Resident Evil 7 surprised us all in a lot of ways in 2017. It’s both a return to form and a strong step forward for the franchise. The atmosphere and intimateness of the Baker compound down in the bayou harkens back to earlier games in the series, helping to set up some truly horrific moments. The move to first-person was controversial for some, but for me I found it to be a smart step into the future that only enhanced the terror the game instilled in me. When you include the clever traps and puzzles, the unforgettable characters that were the Baker family, and the new enemies in the Molded, Resident Evil 7 quite simply might’ve saved the franchise. It also, though, was the first full game to completely support VR. Sure, the graphics took a hit, but playing with that headset on is a true test of anyone’s fortitude.
The 7th Annual “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game presented by Popsicle (not really, but I wish)
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Continuing my annual tradition of giving an award to the prettiest game of the year, Assassin’s Creed Origins’ visuals blew me away. This was one of the toughest years yet to judge for this award, but when everything was working—whether you were perched atop one of the Pyramids of Giza, or just soaring over the Nile with Senu—Assassin’s Creed Origins could take your breath away. The diversity of the landscape also played a huge part in Origins coming away with the win here, as there was so much more to explore than just the desert you likely first think of when thinking of Egypt.
The Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” Award
Injustice 2
For as great a year as it’s been in video games, few games have got me coming back for more as consistently as Injustice 2. Earning new gear in the game’s Multiverse mode has become something of an addiction, as I’m constantly trying to make my favorite characters stronger through the system. Online play has been solid—I’ve got a .540 winning percentage with my main, Batman—and the steady flood of new monthly DLC characters has kept things fresh with all these new characters to learn and arcade endings to discover. In a year full of memorable experiences, Injustice 2 just might be the most addicting.
The Don’t Let It Fall Under Your Radar Award
The Sexy Brutale
There have been a flurry of AAA-blockbusters that took our breath away this year, but we can’t forget to give indies their proper amount of love. While some smaller projects were fortunate enough to catapult themselves into the limelight from their first showing at fan expos and trade shows, others have toiled away hoping to breakthrough. The Sexy Brutale is a terrific murder-mystery with the added caveat of time-travel thrown in to help you relive the same day over and over in order to solve all the murders taking place around you. Throw in a stellar soundtrack and The Sexy Brutale is a game you might not have heard of until now, but is one you must go back and experience if you find the time.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

Although the Nintendo Switch is only going to have five games released on launch day, it’ll have over 50 games impressively come out during the system’s initial launch window. I had a chance to go hands-on with over a dozen of these launch window games—including the five coming on day one—and put together a list of the ten best titles you should be looking forward to in the early days of Nintendo’s newest home console.

12Switch

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 3, 2017
1-2 Switch
It wouldn’t be a Nintendo console launch anymore it seems without a fun collection of minigames available to show off the system’s potential, and hopefully draw the entire family into the Big N’s warm embrace. 1-2 Switch features a handful of games that take full advantage of the Joy-Con’s variety of motion sensors while bringing out your competitive nature. One game requires you to listen for the sound of a ball smacking a paddle and to keep up with the rhythm in table tennis—minus the table. For all you wannabe cowboys out there, having to quick draw your Joy-Con and press the trigger in an old-fashioned duel at high noon might be more your speed. And the first game to fully take advantage of the HD Rumble, one minigame requires you to move your Joy-Con around and determine how many marbles are inside it—and, unbelievably, the sensors make it feel like there are actually marbles inside your controller. The most interesting thing about all these minigames is that they implore players to look away from their TVs and instead look at each other, livening up the play space and again driving home the potential portability of the fun the Switch has to offer.

ARMS

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Spring 2017
ARMS
Another new IP being introduced during the Switch’s launch window, the ARMS demo we played touted five different fighters, with a variety of titular appendages that you could snap into place, potentially providing a greater advantage on the battlefield. Each player requires a pair of Joy-Cons, with each representing a player’s left and right arm respectively. By turning the Joy-Cons you can move or block, and by punching forward you can send your spring-loaded arms forward at incredible speeds. You can even throw hooks by twisting your arms mid-attack, or throw your opponents off by punching both arms at the same time. Each armament touts different positives and negatives in terms of how powerful they are, and how many times they can potentially hit. The Trident, for example, shoots three finger projectiles out, while the BIG wrecking ball arms are slower but can do a ton of damage. Similar to many fighting games out there, each player has a lifebar, and each avatar also has their natural advantages and disadvantages in terms of health, speed, blocking, and other parameters you’d expect from a game such as this. Meanwhile, ARMS touts multiple ways to play: single-player versus the computer, local versus, and also online versus. Whether or not there’s an accompanying story to go along with ARMS is yet to be seen, but at the very least, if you can snag a second set of Joy-Cons, ARMS could be another game to potentially get the party started on the Switch.

FASTRACINGRMX

Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
Publisher: Shin’en Multimedia
Release Date: March/April 2017
FAST RMX
FAST Racing NEO took the gaming world by storm by harkening back to the futuristic racing of games like F-Zero, and was a rare surprise hit on the Wii U. So, it was with great glee that I found that the original game is being ported over to the Switch with more tracks, more cars, and more modes than the original. Once again, players will hop into the cockpit of a futuristic, super-stylized, hovering race pod and will have to change the colors of their jet streams mid-race in order to get the biggest and best boosts possible if they want to exceed speeds of 1000 miles per hour. Impressively, you can play the entire game with only a single Joy-Con by turning it sideways, or use the Switch Pro Controller if you so choose. In another rarity, FAST RMX touts four-player local split-screen as long as you have enough controllers. There’s also 8-player online versus, and taking advantage of the Switch’s ability to connect with other consoles locally, even touts 8-player local multiplayer if everyone has their own Switch. If you missed FAST Racing NEO the first time around, this remix is a perfect time to test your racing mettle.

LoZBotW

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 3, 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
There was easily no other game that excited us more about the Switch than the newest chapter in one of gaming’s greatest franchises. After having played demos on both systems, I can attest that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks better and plays smoother on the Switch over its Wii U counterpart. Playing with the Joy-Cons inserted into the “puppy dog” dock felt amazingly comfortable, and it wasn’t long before I was off trying to figure out the secret behind Calamity Ganon in the largest Hyrule yet. The map was absolutely massive, but I couldn’t wait to explore every single inch. Of course, the demo was quickly cut short after only 20 minutes, but I found everything to be easier in the Switch version, from managing my inventory to combat, and I believe again it’s in large part to the Switch controller being far more comfortable than the Wii U tablet. Of course, if I so chose, I could also snap the Joycons to the side of the Switch console and take it on the road. There’s a small loss of quality there—the 900p visuals becomes 720p on the console’s 6.5-inch screen—but the fact I could be flying across the country and playing a Zelda game makes up for that in spades.

MK8DX

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Besides getting an obvious bump in visual fidelity on the Switch console, this latest version of everyone’s favorite kart racer is filled to the brim with content. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is easily the definitive edition of this game. All previous DLC characters are unlocked from the get-go, along with a couple of new ones added to this version. New tracks are also included, again upping the content and replayability should you have played the original the first time around. The most telling addition, however, comes on the multiplayer side. Yes, like many of the other games on this list, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe touts a variety of local and online multiplayer options all depending on how many Switches and Joy-Cons you have available. You can even play 2-player split-screen locally with just a pair of Joy-Cons, with each player turning them sideways like NES controllers. But the biggest multiplayer addition is the inclusion of old-school balloon-popping battles in classic arenas that were noticeably absent from the launch of the original Mario Kart 8. With all these additions and new features, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is almost an entirely new game, and a must have for fans of the series.

Snipperclips

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 2017
Snipperclips — Cut It Out, Together!
Lengthy title that should be shortened to just Snipperclips aside, this is another new IP that shows off the flexibility and creativity games on the Switch can potentially afford developers and players. This two-player game gives each player a single Joy-Con turned sideways, and sees them take control of living pieces of construction paper. By cutting your partner—and them cutting you—into a variety of different shapes, you must create the tools needed to solve puzzles of ever-increasing difficulty. No matter if you’re popping balloons, putting a basketball through a hoop, bringing a pencil over to a sharpener, or just matching shapes given to you, Snipperclips – Cut It Out, Together! will test your ability to collaborate (and maybe your patience) as you attempt to overcome all the challenges in your way.

SonicMania

Developer: Headcannon/PagodaWest
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Spring 2017
Sonic Mania
One of the big things seemingly keeping the industry afloat at times is its regular reliance on nostalgia. When that nostalgia hits home, it’s hard to deny the impact it can have on a particular fanbase. Of course, when that same nostalgia leads to disappointment, the impact it has can be felt even more harshly in the other direction. Few franchises have seen both sides of this effect as clearly as Sonic the Hedgehog, with most recent entries falling on the unfortunate side of the nostalgia effect. It’s no wonder then that SEGA is turning an eye back to the beginning—to Sonic’s clearly-defined roots—and bringing the blue blur back home with Sonic Mania. A combination of the original Sonic the Hedgehog and an entirely new adventure, Sonic Mania combines the 16-bit breakneck speed that Sonic blasted onto the scene with with new worlds, harder levels, bigger bosses, and even the inclusion of his buddies Tails and Knucles this time around. While Sonic Mania is the only non-exclusive title to make this list, it needs to be mentioned that being able to play the game with only a single Joy-Con controller might feel the most similar to how it did when we were children as opposed to the larger, bulkier controllers of the PS4 or Xbox One. Considering Sonic only ever needed a couple of buttons, even the single Joy-Con might be overkill to some. To the rest of us, it is an extra tool in SEGA’s efforts to re-hone in on Sonic’s core, and bring his fans back to happier times.

Splatoon2

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Summer 2017
Splatoon 2
Disappointment over the fact this wasn’t named Spla2oon aside, Splatoon 2 is doing everything you could hope for from any and every sequel. Aside from supporting both Joy-Con and Pro Controller play, and offering up local 8-player multiplayer if you have enough Switches, Splatoon 2 is coming at us bigger and better in every way imaginable. Just like in real life, two years time has passed in the world of Splatoon, and with it Squid-kid style has changed—along with their weaponry. New devices like the twin pistols allow for more accurate painting, and new modes, maps, and more are promised to bring the experience as a whole to a new level. I played a pair of classic turf war matches during our brief time with the game, and the core of bright colors and easy to pick-up gameplay remain centered on the Wii U’s biggest surprise franchise. We can’t wait to paint the town red (and blue, and green, and yellow, and pink) all over again this summer.

SuperBombermanR

Developer: HexaDrive
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Super Bomberman R
During the ending montage of Thursday night’s press conference where Nintendo really showed off the Switch for the first time, there were two things that I noticed. First was the confirmation of NBA 2K18, coupled with the earlier announcement of FIFA showing a clear sign of Nintendo finally supporting sports games again. But completely unrelated, and even more exciting for most of us, was the brief image of a familiar explosives expert who we hadn’t really seen in quite some time. The original Bomberman back in the day was one of those perfect little arcade-inspired adventures that flourished on the original NES. Over the years, the lore of Bomberman and his enemies was expanded upon, and he’s become a cult-classic for those of us who can’t get enough of his brand of demolition and destruction. Thus, Super Bomberman R was an extremely pleasant surprise that fantastically captures the essence of what makes Bomberman great, while giving us tough puzzles, persistent enemies, and just enough friendly fire to keep us on our toes when playing couch co-op. Another game that utilizes a single Joy-Con controller held sideways, Super Bomberman R is a great throwback for fleshing out the Switch’s launch-day lineup.

USF2

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: TBD 2017
Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
Another retro surprise, Capcom is giving fans what could end up being the final revision of Street Fighter II in the game’s over 25-year lifespan. Featuring two new (to the game) characters in Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, the roster of that fighting game classic is finally considered complete now alongside original additions like Cammy and T. Hawk. The game plays exactly the same, as you would expect if you caught the title the first time around, and features Pro Controller support, unsurprisingly. Besides the two new characters (that channel aspects of Akuma in different ways), the game can be played in two different visual modes. The first mimics the 16-bit sprites of the SNES days, while the other uses the new art UDON provided for the game’s HD Remix release, giving every character a gorgeous coat of anime-style paint that just leaps off the screen. As great as the game looks, the real question now is if it could join the professional fighting game circuit—and how long before we see Ultra Street Fighter II alongside Street Fighter V at tournaments like EVO.

TriForceHeroesHeader

Fashion faux pas

When a new Legend of Zelda game comes out, it’s damned near impossible for me to stop playing it until I see the end credits roll. Ever since that first golden cartridge hit my NES when I was a little kid, those initial playthroughs spurred marathons that likely contribute to my insomnia today. While most of them were worth it, there have been a couple of misses along the way—and it seems that The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes falls into that category. While I hate to see most Zelda titles end, I couldn’t wait until Tri Force Heroes was mercifully over.

Tri Force Heroes does not take place in Hyrule, but instead the world of Hytopia, a land where all the people are fixated on fashion. When this realm’s Princess Styla, the most fashionable person in Hytopia, is stricken with a witch’s curse that traps her in a black body stocking, the king sends out a decree searching for heroes to strike down the witch and bring peace (and high fashion) back to his kingdom. And, according to Hytopian legend, three fated heroes who look alarmingly alike will have to come together to break this curse—with you destined to be one of those heroes.

Since Hytopia is such a fashion-obsessed society, a big element of Tri Force Heroes is that what Link wears plays a large part of being a hero there. After grinding for different crafting materials by repeatedly beating dungeons, he can have the local seamstress put together new costumes that give him subtle benefits while out battling in the Drablands—Hytopia’s fashionless equivalent to Hyrule’s Dark World and where most of the action in the game takes place. For example, the Kokiri Suit allows Link to fire three arrows from his bow in a spread formation, while the Big Bomb Suit increases the size and strength of your bombs.

As ridiculous as it all may sound, it’s not the first time the Zelda franchise has made it so that Link wasn’t saving Zelda, doing work in a realm outside Hyrule, or even teaming up with duplicates of himself. It’s also not the first time we’ve seen unique gameplay elements added to the series, with games even as recent as 2013’s A Link Between Worlds immediately coming to mind. So, while I may have been hesitant upon first hearing the premise, I put my misgivings aside and tried to look at Tri Force Heroes as I would any other Legend of Zelda title.

Surprisingly, I didn’t really have problems adjusting to life in Hytopia or the garb-centric gameplay. Instead, it was everything else involving gameplay that ended up preventing me from enjoying this experience.

ZeldaDress640

The biggest disappointment with Tri Force Heroes is that there is no exploration in the game whatsoever. Hytopia acts as a small hub world before Link sets off in a linear adventure where he must beat four levels in each of eight different worlds, as Link looks to collect the parts of a dress that will allow him to break the princess’s curse. The levels are broken down into four mini-stages with each requiring you to solve a puzzle, usually oriented around the three heroes of the story working together.

In fact, the levels are so puzzle focused that Link doesn’t have an item inventory. After selecting your costume from your wardrobe, each area then starts you with the items you’ll need to beat each stage. For example, you never have to worry about finding the bow in a dungeon because it’s gifted to you in certain levels, but then taken away and replaced by the boomerang (or other classic Zelda item) in others, depending on the level design and puzzle parameters. It simplifies the gameplay to a point there is minimal challenge because there are so few variables when all you have is your sword and a single item. Plus, this removes the fun of discovery that most Legend of Zelda titles have, and only compounds the game’s linearity since there’s no opportunity to backtrack and unlock the secrets of an ever-expanding world. Unlike the magical garments that populate the game, what you see is what you get with Tri Force Heroes.

To try to replace some of this lost replayability, each level has three optional challenges that you can complete. Beating a level within a certain time limit or completing it without having used your sword are just a couple of the numerous challenge variations you’ll come across. This means that the 32 levels the game touts actually can turn into 128 if you are patient enough to try and beat each and every challenge. It works well, but it feels out of place being the sole focus for something in The Legend of Zelda series.

Another misstep for Tri Force Heroes comes in the form of the heavily touted co-op. As the title and plot imply, you can play with two friends and tackle the levels as a group, but the option to play with two people and with one AI is oddly missing outside of a tacked on versus mode. You can even play locally with only one cartridge per three 3DSs. And trust me, the local option is the preferred route. Although playing online with people over great distances is all well and good, the communication system in Tri Force Heroes is limited to eight emojis that translate to “Hello”, “Good Job”, “Go Over There” and other simple phrases that really handcuff your team when trying to solve the game’s puzzles—making the already limited core gameplay even more difficult to enjoy. Playing with people in the same room, whether with one or three cartridges, is really the only way to go because communication is key when working with others towards a common goal.

BossBattle640

With so many of the puzzles revolving around three Links needing to solve them, the issue then arises of what do you do when playing by yourself. Luckily, much like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, players going it solo can control the trio of Links. Unfortunately, however, Tri Force Heroes’ system of control is far less efficient than that Gamecube classic.

Instead of allowing players to control all the Links at once and put them in formations like in Four Swords Adventures, you have to switch between each one manually. As the story goes, Link is actually traveling with two “doppels”— enchanted dolls that he can pass his soul between. This means that many times you’ll have to backtrack in order to drag the sometimes-left-behind doppels to the end of a stage after clearing the path, because you can only beat a stage when all three characters are on a Triforce symbol. (Which makes no sense, really, when you consider Hytopia is a world without Zelda, Ganon, the Triforce, etc.). This repetition only adds to the inherent grind the game already provides if you try to collect all the items necessary for the various outfits Link can wear.

All that being said, let me be clear, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes isn’t a horrible game. Hytopia and its people are as charming as those found in any other Zelda title, and the fashion gimmick is an interesting gameplay twist. If you like the idea of solving simple puzzles with a Legend of Zelda flair, and small, quick levels for short bursts of gameplay, then this game delivers.

For those of us who have grown up with Zelda, and who can’t help but be sucked into nearly each and every one of Link’s subsequent adventures, though, I can’t get past the sense that this could’ve been any other adventure game minus the Legend of Zelda coat of paint. Tri Force Heroes just comes off as too one-dimensional in its focus for diehards of the series to get into it—but it might make a decent time sink for more casual fans who can chip away at the levels and their challenge variations on their daily commute.

TriForceHereos640

Developer: Grezzo, Nintendo • Publisher: Nintendo • ESRB: E – Everyone  • Release Date: 10.23.15
6.0
Tri Force Heroes is a Zelda game in name only. When you dig just past the surface, poor gameplay mechanics and key missing elements for a Zelda title tarnish what is otherwise a serviceable adventure game.
The Good Tons of content. Puzzles are good in short doses.
The Bad The grind for unnecessary gear. Difficult to complete without friends who are in the same room as you.
The Ugly Anyone who has wanted to see Link in a dress for an entire game can now get their wish.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes  is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive. Review copies were provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review.

A magnificent mash-up

Whenever players first hear about a videogame mashup, there are typically two distinct reactions. Some will freak out as their eyeballs gush tears of joy in a manner befitting an anime character and their mind explodes due to the onslaught of unbelievable awesomeness. Others have a more subdued reaction: their face plastered with a look of puzzlement as the world around them slowly shatters due to the immense confusion with which they’re suddenly burdened.

When I first heard about Hyrule Warriors, I admit I fell into the latter category. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Legend of Zelda. I even like Dynasty Warriors, to be honest. But mixing the two together? Please don’t tell Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé, but my body was simply not ready. My state of corporeal preparedness aside, the day has come where Hyrule Warriors now sits in my Wii U.

What surprised me right away about Hyrule Warriors was the story. On the surface, sure, we’ve heard it all before. A hero named Link must once again save Hyrule from an unfathomable evil. But this time, he must do it across time and space, visiting Legend of Zelda realms from the past (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword specifically) to prevent the four fragments of an eternal evil from reuniting.

Though it sounds simple enough, the story finds a way to stay true to the classic Legend of Zelda formulapaying proper homage when necessarywhile also adding its own wrinkles on how characters came to be and how they aid Link on his quest. Everything’s familiar enough to give welcome pangs of nostalgia, but not quite so unoriginal as to feel brainlessly derivative or lacking in value of its own.

The narrative was also far longer than I expected. The main campaign lasts 18 missions, each about 30 to 40 minutes, and the story takes unexpected twists and turns, thrusting you into the shoes of heroes besides Link to take advantage of the Dynasty Warriors gameplay elements. The only part of the story that disappointed me? The fact that Koei Tecmo couldn’t find a way to work with Nintendo and make this adventure fall somewhere in the convoluted Zelda canon.

If the story makes brilliant use of its Zelda source material, the gameplay is where the Dynasty Warriors part of this mashup comes through. Droves of Bokoblins, Stalfos, and other classic Zelda enemies fill the screen as you hack and slash your way through literally thousands of them during each mission while trying to capture castles, keeps, or forts, and rout the dark forces.

However, it seems like the the development team’s efforts went into trying to fit all those enemies onscreen at once, because the levels that you fight through are some of the most generic, bland locales ever to exist in Hyrule. At least you get something for flaying as many baddies as possible, since Link and the other playable heroes and villains can level up by grinding through those seemingly endless hordes, earning better weapons and crafting materials that provide stat boosts to each character.

To give the gameplay a Legend of Zelda twist, however, each new level often contains a classic dungeon itemsuch as the boomerang, bow and arrow, hookshot, or bomb—which are then used to vanquish familiar bosses like King Dodongo or Gohma.

Unfortunately, even the addition of these classic items can’t prevent the gameplay from getting a bit tedious, even for the most devoted of Zelda fans, since the game quickly devolves into the mindless abuse of a single button. The lack of enemy difficulty is only trumped by the pitiful ally AI that always seems to find a way to get into trouble with these simpleton minions. Even the boss battles quickly become tiresome and simple, with no single creature proving to be a true threat—except when you’re surrounded by the never-ending waves of underlings that often come to their aid.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more waiting to be discovered just beneath Hyrule Warriors’ surface if you can tolerate the somewhat monotonous gameplay. After beating the story, you unlock Hero Mode (an ultra-hard difficulty for all the levels), as well as the ability to go back and replay any level with any hero in Free Play mode. Each level also has hidden gold skulltulas—with a grand total of 100 in the gamethat unlock special art and items as you find more.

The biggest replayability factor, however, might be Adventure mode, which opens up on a 8-bit world map from the original NES Legend of Zelda. Here, you can take on an assortment of challenges, such as killing a certain amount of enemies within a specific time limit, fighting all the bosses in quick succession, or even just answering a quiz based on the game. Each completed challenge unlocks more and more of the map and will sometimes reward you with new items that can be taken back into Story mode. You can also level up the heroes you don’t play with as often, since some sections require specific characters to earn an “A” completion ranking.

Overall, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo did a great job putting a unique spin on one of gaming’s crown-jewel franchises. It’s a mashup that most of us didn’t really want, but we should be happy now that we have it. If you love hack-n-slash games or are just a Legend of Zelda aficionado, then there’s more than enough in Hyrule Warriors to satisfy both those needs.

Developer: Team Ninja, Omega Force • Publisher: Nintendo, Koei Tecmo • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 09.26.14
8.0
If hack-n-slash games are your jamor you can tolerate them but really just love The Legend of Zelda in all its iterations—then Hyrule Warriors is a more-than-worthy warmup for Link on the Wii U.
The Good A unique take on the Legend of Zelda formula that will appeal to fans of the franchise.
The Bad The hack-n-slash gameplay can get repetitive; bosses feel like pushovers.
The Ugly Darunia’s victory dance makes me never want to play with him ever again.
Hyrule Warriors is a Wii U exclusive. Review code was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review.

Birth of a hero

As reserved and conservative as they may come across at times, Nintendo knows how to celebrate the big moments. Mario’s 25th anniversary saw the release of a limited-edition Super Mario All-Stars, reminding us that it’s OK to look back on the past and appreciate those old games for what they were—and what they’ve done for so many of us as gamers. Well, now another Nintendo mainstay’s joined the 25th-anniversary club, and he’s got a brand-new game that pays tribute in its own special way: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Featuring classic elements, characters, and enemies from many of the best Zelda games of the past—with plenty of nuances to make it its own standalone title—Skyward Sword’s conceived as a prequel to Ocarina of Time, a title not only considered by many to be the best Zelda game of all time, but also one of the best videogames of all time. Those are some pretty heavy Iron Boots to fill.

Skyward Sword opens with a brief history of Skyloft, an island in the sky created by the Goddess to save humanity from the massive monsters that populate the earth below. To protect the remaining people, the Goddess devised a cloud barrier that would both keep humans off the land and the monsters out of the sky. Once this backstory’s established, we find Link, as always, oversleeping. Zelda—who’s portrayed as Link’s lifelong friend in this game—sends a majestic bird called a Loftwing to wake up our pointy-eared hero, and he heads over to the statue of the Goddess as Zelda prepares for a traditional Skyloft ceremony. After a short opening quest that introduces Skyloft’s many denizens, Link must participate in the ceremony, which serves as the game’s flying tutorial. Once victorious, Link and Zelda embark on a celebratory flight across the clouds until a dark tornado from beneath the fluffy barrier reaches up and knocks Zelda off her Loftwing. Link must now find a way down below the cloud barrier—and, in the process, fulfill his ultimate destiny.

The first thing you’ll notice is the distinctive look the adventure takes this time around. Strongly inspired by impressionist art, Skyward Sword will take your breath away as it mixes elements from Wind Waker and Twilight Princess to suggest the feel of a living painting. But this new graphical style also has gameplay elements in mind, as it allows for exaggerated enemy designs that still maintain elements of realism. That creates more obvious strengths and weaknesses in many of the foes Link faces, and it’s also an obvious nod to the controls—but more on those later. You’re constantly solving puzzles and meeting challenging foes even when you’re not dungeon-crawling, which adds a lot of playtime to the overall adventure. The audio’s also brilliant, featuring a full orchestral composition that seamlessly flows with the story. And, of course, music once again plays an integral role—a traditional Zelda motif for many years now. All in all, this game will please your eyes and ears better than any Wii release—aside from, perhaps, the Mario Galaxy titles.

Skyward Sword lays enough groundwork so you can see how this is indeed a prequel to Ocarina, but you’ll also notice parallels to later games in the series: Link’s crimson-colored Loftwing acts as Link’s transportation in the air much like the King of Red Lions does for Wind Waker’s oceans. And Fi, the spirit of the titular Skyward Sword, acts much like Navi does in Ocarina, locking onto targets and providing hints and information when needed. These elements work well, and I’m sure they’ll stir up timeline enthusiasts once they see all the connections, but it’s when you start to scratch past the surface of Skyward Sword that you begin to see some of the flaws. Though many key elements from past games are still present, like exploring diverse regions, conquering puzzle-laden temples, and collecting fantastic items to help you overcome larger-than-life bosses, some changes might irk fans—beyond the fact that Link starts with six hearts instead of the traditional three.

The most blatant annoyance storywise definitely has to be Zelda’s disempowerment. Though she still plays this society’s role of princess as the knight headmaster’s daughter, she almost comes off as pining for Link from the second you meet her. In the EGM offices, we likened it to Metroid: Other M’s unfortunate relationship between Samus and Adam. I understand that Zelda and Link are played off as best friends in this game, but she just comes across as reliant upon Link long before she falls below the clouds—following him around like a lovesick puppy and hoping he’ll win the ceremonial festivities so they can take a celebratory ride together above the clouds. You could argue that since this may be the very first Zelda, she hasn’t yet evolved the characteristics that come with being a princess of a large kingdom. Still, it just comes off wrong and dampens the moments when she tries to be the more strong-willed character we’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

In the grand scheme of things, this could be construed as minor, but what really keeps Skyward Sword from reaching the level of several of its predecessors is the control scheme. Remember how I mentioned that the visual design emphasizes enemy strengths and weaknesses? Well, this graphical quirk comes from the conscious decision to make Skyward Sword too reliant on motion controls and Wii MotionPlus—and it’s this element that singlehandedly holds the game back from elite status.

Twilight Princess’ motion controls worked because the game was more forgiving of your movements; simple flicks of your wrist would provide the desired results. Now, due to the enemy design revolving around the motion-control gimmick and being forced to use the MotionPlus—which follows you too well—you’re often pulled out of the immersion, because you’re constantly reminded that you are holding a controller whenever the controller doesn’t do what you want.

A perfect example is the miniboss you face in the first temple. It’s a Stalfos, a Zelda enemy staple from the very beginning. This dual-sword-wielding skeleton towers over Link, so in order to do damage, you must swing where the Stalfos isn’t blocking. If he’s holding his swords horizontally, you must swing horizontally through the gap; if he’s holding them vertically, you strike vertically. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and have played a good amount of button-mashers over the years—or even just older Zelda titles—your instinct is to attack hard and fast. But if you swing too fast, even with MotionPlus, Link won’t be able to catch up to you. Or, worse yet—since I’ve yet to meet someone who prefers to play games standing up—if you’re sitting down, it’s impossible to swing the controller perfectly horizontally or vertically every time, and you’ll often have to reset your position, destroying the illusion of immersion.

Another failure of Wii MotionPlus comes with bombs. For the first time in the series, you can roll bombs into crevices and holes instead of just dropping them or throwing them, and this is necessary at certain points to open doors or take down particular enemies. The problem, though, comes from the way most people hold a Wiimote. Think about it: You have your thumb on the A button, your index finger on the trigger, and your other fingers wrapped around where the batteries are stored. If you attempt to roll something, like in Wii Sports Bowling, you’re going to turn the Wiimote to its side so that the bottom of your hand faces toward the sky. The problem in Skyward Sword is that this makes the bombs sail far off to the right of your intended target and forces you to overcompensate with an uncomfortable palm-down technique more akin to throwing a bocce ball.

So, yeah, the controls are pretty rough. And it breaks my heart, because I think this could’ve been one of the greatest Zelda games yet had the controls just worked. But, despite the controls, this is still a great Zelda game. You’re looking at a 30-hour-plus adventure if you’re a Heart Container fiend like myself—and probably still a good 20 hours if you’re just looking to complete the story, even if all those fetch quests get a little tiring after a while. Even with cruddy controls, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is still an epic adventure worthy of the franchise—and it should absolutely be played by all fans of the series.

SUMMARY: Skyward Sword has all the elements of a spectacular Zelda tale, but poor controls prevent this from reaching an Ocarina-like level.

  • THE GOOD: Classic Zelda elements remind us of 25 years of greatness
  • THE BAD: Poor motion controls remind us of 5 years of flailing futility
  • THE UGLY: The hole in my living-room wall after throwing the Wiimote through it in frustration


SCORE: 8.5

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a Nintendo Wii exclusive and therefore reviewed only on the Wii.

The golden rule

The Legend of Zelda is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and it is a big deal as few franchises are as beloved, or last as long, as this one. And many of us who were around for the first go around, remember how we felt when we saw that golden NES cartridge for the first time and knew we had something special in our hands. Since then, whenever Nintendo has had a big release for The Legend of Zelda franchise, they have made sure to do something that incorporates that original golden finish that has since become iconic for the series as much as the Master Sword or the Triforce itself.

In that vein I give you the contents of the Limited Edition package for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Although not as involved as some of these other special packages from other publishers and developers we’ve seen over the past few years, it isn’t necessarily the size of the box, but the contents, that matter. For the suggested retail price of $69.99, as opposed to $49.99 for just the Skyward Sword game, you’ll also receive a limited edition golden Wiimote with the Hylian crest etched in white on it, as well as the smallest MotionPlus sensor to date built into the controller as it is required for the game to work its best.

On top of this, you’ll receive an 8-track sample of the 25th Anniversary The Legend of Zelda Symphonies that were held in Japan, London, and Los Angeles over this past month. The shows themselves usually featured at least 15 songs, but this disc still contains 45-plus minutes of the most iconic of music from the series and is a must have for any true diehard Zelda fan and might make you want to go grab a shield and sword and save a princess yourself!

So for only an extra $20, you get a limited edition golden controller and a soundtrack CD for one of the greatest video game scores of all-time. Well, consider me sold because that sounds like a bargain no matter how you cut it.

What do you folks think of this limited edition bundle? Will you drop the extra $20 for the CD and controller? How do you think Skyward Sword will compare to other titles in the franchise? Were you able to attend the special symphonies that were held around the world? How important is game music to you, especially for a franchise like The Legend of Zelda? Sound off below!