E3 2002: The Legend of Zelda impressions

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto gives a brief demonstration of the upcoming Zelda game for the GameCube.

During Nintendo's pre-E3 conference, Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage to demonstrate a few games, including The Legend of Zelda for the GameCube. The gameplay in The Legend of Zelda is quite similar to that of the N64 Zelda games. It uses the same lock-on system, allowing you to strafe around a single enemy and focus Link's sword slashes on it. You can also block enemy attacks by using the right shoulder button on the GameCube controller. Additionally, Link can jump, climb, and pick up items such as the clay jars that are scattered throughout the environment. Also, it appears that Link's spin attack from previous Zelda games has returned.

After dispatching a few enemies in a dark dungeon (named Dragon Mountain), Miyamoto revealed that Link can pick up an enemy's weapon after it's been defeated--in this case, it was simply a wooden club that Link lit on fire and used as a torch.

As in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Link could use this item to light other torches on fire, which in this case revealed a large treasure chest. Gathering enemy weapons will actually become an important part of the game, as some areas can be accessed only by using an enemy weapon. For example, in the dungeon Miyamoto was showing, Link had to take a sword from one of the enemies to enter a particular area in the dungeon because the sword he had wasn't strong enough to break through the barrier. Unfortunately, Miyamoto couldn't find the weapon the enemy dropped, so he walked out into a surprisingly large open area that looked similar to the center of a volcano. Miyamoto briefly switched into a first-person view to fire Link's grappling hook up toward a bridge located high above the area, but it didn't quite reach.

The Legend of Zelda truly looks like an animated film. Just about every object in the game animates smoothly, ranging from Link and the enemy characters to the puffs of purple and black smoke that swirl around after an enemy has been defeated. There are also some spectacular special effects, such as the heat distortion effect that occurs when Link's torch is close to the camera. The lighting effects are spectacular and definitely lend themselves well to the overall crisp and vibrant look of the game.

The Legend of Zelda is scheduled for release in February 2003. We'll have full coverage of the five-level E3 demo soon.

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