Nintendo just launched their newest handheld, the 3DS, last week in the United States. At the launch party, the main focus was very obviously the system itself, but a pretty important announcement was overshadowed to the point that only a few individuals are aware of it. This was due to a private screening involving a new title to the Legend of Zelda franchise shown only to a handful of press. The trade-off was that to learn about the new Zelda project, they would not be given a 3DS to review. Unlucky for Toy-TMA, we opted out of the 3DS give-away. Lucky for you, we have the scoop on the newest and supposedly final Zelda game titled The Legend of Zelda: Fractured Timelines.
In attendance were Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Amie, Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, and longtime Zelda game producer Eiji Aunoma. The attitude of the room seemed hushed as only about a dozen or so press personnel were present, though the tone of the four key speakers was equally muted. The reason became apparent when they mentioned that sales of the Legend of Zelda franchise had slipped past a point of salvaging and as a result they were putting the franchise on an indefinite hiatus upon completion of the new title directly following Skyward Sword.
With this doom and gloom in mind, Fractured Timelines was shown off for the Nintendo Wii, utilizing the same engine seen in Skyward Sword, though with an art style far darker than either Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess. Carrying on the notion of basing each game’s style off a famous artist, as Skyward Sword is based off Paul Cezanne and impressionist art in general, Fractured Timelines is inspired by Vincent van Gogh, drawing upon a much darker and abstract palette than the series has ever seen before.
Not much was shown other than a few concept pieces showing what may or may not be the Wind Fish (last seen from Link’s Awakening), and a city spread out in front of Link, though the name of the city hasn’t been spelled out quite yet (speculation is that this is Hyrule in the near-future).
The big question, beyond the reason behind shelving the series, was where this game fits into the timeline, if anywhere. Aunoma stepped forward to field this question, saying that, “Given the scope of the plot, you could say [it]fits into the timeline any and everywhere.” What does this mean? Well, with a name like “Fractured Timelines” and the reappearance of the Wind Fish, there’s a high chance that the game will rely on either time travel or parallel dimensions, a theory that already exists within the Zelda community thanks to the end of Ocarina of Time.
Shigeru Miyamoto was eager to talk about some of the new items we could expect to see, mentioning things like the “Acrobat Gloves,” which gave Link the ability to swing from ledges and such; the “Magnetic Gloves,” an item that lets you push and pull certain objects in the room; and the “Friction Boots,” similar to the Pegasus Boots from previous titles but with a twist that allows them to catch fire in order to solve certain puzzles. You could tell Miyamoto wanted to say more, but he just couldn’t give away all the details, otherwise, as Reggie stepped up and said, “There wouldn’t be anything worth keeping secret.”
The plot itself wasn’t given away, though when I asked if any characters would be returning from previous games, Iwata laughed and blurted out “Midna!” before anyone could stop him. The small group laughed as the four regained their composure before Aunoma reiterated a previous claim that if enough fans wanted Midna back, then they’d absolutely put her in the game.
As to the release date, it is a ways off with a summer 2014 goal currently set, though for a project that’s meant to send off a series as long-winded as The Legend of Zelda, that date could very well be pushed back. Another reporter asked about the possibility of the game appearing on the next home console, only to get the response from Reggie of, “We have no plans of a new console past the Wii at this very moment, so the chances of it being ported is unlikely.”
I’m pretty sad to hear that the Zelda franchise has been given a definite ending point, but if this means one last great title for the series, it should be worth it. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for something new. In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know how you feel about the whole experience. Are you excited? Nervous? Disappointed? Leave a comment and let me know. In the meantime, I have to go pre-order Final Fantasy VII for the PS3.
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