Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 35 ~Midna's Theme~ (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

Origin: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Plays in: Various cutscenes
Status: Original Composition
Composer: Toru Minegishi

They say that whenever Nintendo holds a stockholder's meeting or the like, you should always expect the worst and hope for the best. Predictably, the results have lately been falling upon the former, and today's bombs are no exception. The nebulous NX console won't be arriving this year as most expected, but instead March 2017 so as to ensure a strong launch line-up. The next Zelda title has once again been delayed, as it'll launch alongside the NX next March. What this means is that Nintendo will once again have to ride its current money-making waves from amiibo figures and their mobile ventures, as the Wii U's paltry lineup will hardly sustain another Christmas season.

I've largely come down from the disappointment this morning, but there's no denying things are looking bleaker than ever for Nintendo. 2015 was already one of their roughest years despite their high-quality output, and the ways thing are going, 2016 looks to be even worse. We still have no idea what exactly the NX is, and outside of Pokemon Sun and Moon, who knows what else they'll have scheduled for this fall.

 That's not even getting into what's possibly the most shocking news of the meeting: for this year's E3, not only will the NX not be present, but the new Zelda will be the only game playable from Nintendo. Nothing else on Wii U, nothing else on 3DS. Just Zelda.

They also say E3's been losing its relevance in recent years, yet this struck everyone as the most bizarre of today's announcements. Speaking personally, it's the most disappointing for me, and that ties into the "big news" I've been hinting for some time now. Over the past half year, I've been making plans to attend E3 as a representative for Nintendojo. I talked it over with my boss, had an electronic reference card made, and registered earlier this month. I've been frequently checking my email regarding a confirmation for nearly three weeks.

And now, even though this was going to be my very first E3, I don't feel any incentive in going anymore. For the past six months, I'd been riding on daydreams of vindication. What had started out as a platform to experiment with writing about games would end up launching me into the most gaming event of the year. I'd be right there for the unveiling of Nintendo's new console, and trying it out firsthand. I'd be playing Zelda and Pikmin 4. I might even run across the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto or Reggie Fils-Amie. All for the web publication that first introduced me to online game journalism, no less.

But now that won't happen. Regardless of journalist discounts, I'm not about to pay a thousand or two bucks for airfare and hotel costs all for one game. The PlayStation booths would welcome me with open arms, but it'd be kinda my job (or rather, a volunteered one) to stick around the Nintendo ones. What a bummer. Maybe next year will be in the cards...I know how much I wanted to write impressions straight from the show floor.

Of course, it's not all about me. If there's any upside to all this, it's that the 2017 release date is all for the sake of a strong launch window line-up. We know Iwata failed to keep his promises before, but that such drastic actions are being taken under Kimishima's rule has me a little hopeful. I'd much rather have a complete post-launch experience than the rushed messes of the 3DS and Wii U, and I dearly wish they can pull it off. If only we knew just what the NX was!

And then there's Zelda. I've recently begun a playthrough of the Wii version for Zelda: Twilight Princess, and I'm aghast at how terrible the game's opening is. It's padded to the brim with tutorials, irrelevant mini-games and plot sequences, lacks proper conveyance to the player on how to progress (looking at you, fishing section!), and text upon text upon text. And wow, have the Wii Remote controls aged terribly or what? The sound effects that come out the speakers are so gimmicky and garbled now. There are elements of the game I enjoy, but it's not a title I hold in especially high regard.

That I chose Midna's Theme--one of the few memorable songs from the game's "good, not great" soundtrack--for this column is no coincidence. Twilight Princess was a title everyone awaited with lofty expectations; a game that would take the gaming world by storm just as Ocarina of Time before it. A second Greatest Game of All Time. And despite its financial success, it never maintained such accolades past the honeymoon period. There are setpieces and individual moments that capture such magic, but it's too entrenched in its gameplay missteps and boring artstyle to stand proudly among the very best of Zelda.

What's eerie is that we have a new Zelda title following its same footsteps: a game that seeks to revitalize the series following a title that underperformed in the market (Skyward Sword, a game I care even less for). The next game is unveiled to great anticipation and is generally in-line with what the audience desires, but protracted silence and numerous delays on the game lead many to suspect it'll be moved to Nintendo's next console. As of today, that is indeed the case.

Will the next Zelda game revive the series as a top shelf franchise? That it's the only game they'll be presenting on E3's show floor shows just how much confidence they have in the title, but that it's once again been delayed has heaped another strenuous pile of fan pressure and expectations. Enough for everything to be riding on this one game; another Greatest Game of All TIme. Considering that it ruined my E3, it sure as heck better be the case.

Final Thoughts: By the way, it's about time I reviewed a Zelda game, isn't it? You'll have to wait just a little longer, but I did mention the first game I had in mind in this post...

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