Posted on December 15 2014 by Fernando Trejos
A little more than a week ago, Nintendo surprised us all immensely with heaps of new footage of the new Zelda game for the Wii U, providing an incredibly climactic ending for this year’s Game Awards. What we saw of the game, however, was presented in a very different format: it was off-screen footage of regular gameplay, which formed a great contrast with the largely cinematic trailer for every other game showed off at the event.
The question we have for you guys is, was this the right way to go?
Many have praised Nintendo for the way they handled this, and it’s true that it’s a very “Nintendo” thing to do to just show two people sit down and play the game rather than try to impress viewers with a dramatic scene from the game, which would have told us nearly nothing about how it actually played. We’ve probably learned more about how Zelda U plays than we did from any other game revealed that evening, which is remarkable considering how little we actually know of this game so far.
The trailer allowed for us to see tons of small details, such as the sailcloth, a more detailed view of Epona, and the awesome slow-motion move that can be pulled by jumping off the horse, as well as trivia and conversation regarding things like the release of the new Star Fox title and Majora’s Mask 3D.
Despite all this, however, I would have far preferred a cinematic trailer for the game, as I feel it would have done a much better job of showing off the game’s true potential, and would have gotten much more attention from the more “hardcore” gaming crowd that watches events like this.
The first reason is the simple fact that this event was not made for us, at all. The Game Awards are mostly attended by a much more “hardcore” and “mature” crowd, many of whom have famously abandoned Nintendo in favor of Sony and Microsoft in the past years.
The Wii U is a vastly unpopular system with this crowd, and is the butt of all kinds of jokes regarding its processing power and it’s target audience; the whole point of showing off Zelda U here, rather than in a more controlled Nintendo Direct or at E3, is to get many members of this crowd excited for the new Zelda game and want to buy the system. There are hardly any gaming series in the world as famous and prestigious as The Legend of Zelda, and most of this crowd probably has a lot of experience with the series from their childhood, making it the perfect way to get people to respect the Wii U more as a system, and consider buying one.
A cinematic trailer would have done a much better job of getting people excited for this game, and would definitely have been a lot more dramatic. Look at the reception for the trailer for Twilight Princess back in 2006, or even the first reveal of Zelda U at this year’s E3 conference; people that aren’t fans of a series aren’t interested in seeing direct gameplay and finding out that you can eat apples and that Epona won’t hit the trees, they’re interested in seeing massive boss fights and unique enemy designs and things that will make them eager to play the game as soon as possible.
I’m not saying this in a negative way towards them, they’re just not as interested in the series as we are. I personally could not care less about seeing footage of a game like EVE or Uncharted, because I’m not a big fan of either genre, but trailers for both have gotten me incredibly excited to play them on various occasions.
I suppose one of the things many people will say against this statement is simply “Who cares about them?” Well, Nintendo does, because they need to make money. As fans, we always need to take Nintendo’s finances into account, even if it means making a few sacrifices here and there. This is a concept that many people refuse to understand.
There’s a second reason, however, as to why I believe we should have gotten a cinematic trailer rather than gameplay, and this one has a much bigger benefit to the fans of the series: I honestly think we wold have found out more about the game if we saw a cinematic trailer.
Don’t get me wrong, through gameplay footage we got a better picture of how the game will actually play.
A cinematic trailer, however, would have shown us more about the enemy design, the different landscapes, the dungeons, the items, perhaps a boss fight, but most importantly, maybe a fragment of the story. In an attempt to give us the most dramatic and varied view of the game, it would have included as many different aspects as possible.
I understand that we have no idea how complete this game is, or how much they would be comfortable showing, even it if is ready, but it’s not totally unreasonable to assume that we would see multiple enemies, various landscapes (like lava or water sections of the world), and some type of sword combat, as well as a very rudimentary look at a dungeon or two. It might have even shown us one of the antagonists, or some kind of plot point, to give us more to go off of, which would be excellent, as that’s one of the things I’m most interested in regarding Zelda U.
Additionally, it might have given us some nicer kind of title card or dramatic scene to screenshot and use as headers for these articles. It’s tedious how we’ve been using that exact same screenshot of the game since E3 (you know which one I’m talking about) for literally every article regarding the game, and now we have nothing to use other than some incredibly grainy off-screen shots of Link running around a forest.
If you think about it, the gameplay footage we got was incredibly one-sided, as limited gameplay footage always is. Everything was from a certain area of the overworld; we only saw one type of enemy, one weapon, and though we got a few varied landscapes, they are still just a small fraction of the actual size of the game’s world, and all had a more simplistic, grassy or forest-like design.
Regardless of whether you think the gameplay footage or the cinematic trailer would have been a better approach, I think we can all agree that it would have been loads better to get an actual direct feed of the game rather than off-screen footage. Honestly, it’s a wonder why they did this at all, unless the game isn’t up to standards yet graphically, and they wanted to draw less focus to it. Perhaps they could have cut to Miyamoto and Aonuma conversing when they were talking about actual important matters like Star Fox, or when they showed off the use of the GamePad, but for the most part, I think everyone would have preferred to see the game in its actual resolution rather than on a distant and awkwardly angled TV.
I realize that this article may have come a little late, seeing as how it’s been a while since we got the footage, but I’ve been very interested in discussing this topic for a while.
In the end, what do you think? Do you like the way the game was shown off, or could it have been handled better, through a more cinematic trailer? Why do you think Nintendo chose to do what they did? Is gameplay footage truly better than a trailer? Let us know in the comments!