Posted on May 21 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Pre-release spoilers for video games have become pretty much standard on the internet these days. Games and footage get leaked, stores break street dates, territorial release date disputes mean that one group gets it before the others. One way or another, plot twists, gameplay summaries, and game endings will make their rounds before they’re supposed to.
One of the most infamous examples of this was Twilight Princess. As the first brand-new Zelda game to serve as a launch title for a major Nintendo console, plus its unprecedented hype from E3 2004 all the way to November 2006, it was one of the most anticipated Zeldas ever. Naturally, a number of factors led to the game’s secrets being spoiled for many: a non-coincidental release for the GameCube version and Wii shortages that led to many having to wait to play the game chief among them. Pressure was high to sneak a peek at what you were missing if you hadn’t managed to get your grubby hands on a copy in time for release.
I know I personally jumped right on the bait – and it’s something that I’ve honestly regretted since. I just couldn’t resist. My theorists’ impulse was strong back in those days, and I (along with many others) had deluded myself into thinking that Twilight Princess would be The Ultimate Answer to all my questions about the timeline. I had to find out what those answers were. I quickly watched through all the cutscenes I could find – it wasn’t long before all the famous ones like the attack on Hyrule Castle, the trippy Lanayru scene, and Ganondorf’s execution showed up on Youtube. By the time I finally got to play the game, I knew the whole story backwards and forwards and had seen footage of almost everything up to the third dungeon.
This completely dulled these sections of the game during my first playthrough. There was no suspense, no buildup, no curiosity about what turn the story would take next – I had already seen it all. The dungeons themselves were cool, but since I already knew most of the major puzzles from playthroughs I’d seen they all seemed way too familiar to excite me. Sure, I could recognize how awesome the gameplay had improved over The Wind Waker and could appreciate the level design, but nothing wowed me. The later parts of the game went over much better, but I can’t help feeling that if I’d just waited patiently Twilight Princess might have left a much better impression with me.
I think it’s safe to say I learned my lesson: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks were both very enjoyable, particularly in the story department since I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with either. But
now, with Skyward Sword on the horizon and a chance to play it imminent at this year’s E3, I find myself in conflict. Sure, as someone who provides crucial series news updates I can’t pass it up – you guys deserve to hear what this game’s all about from a fan who really cares about every last detail and isn’t afraid to tell things like they are – but part of me is afraid to.
Nonetheless, I’m bound and determined not to spoil Skyward Sword for myself like I did Twilight Princess – I care too much about my experience with the game to do that. But what about you, dear fans? Did you spoil Twilight Princess‘s story or gameplay back in ‘06? And are you as resolved as I am not to do the same this time? Do you think that spoiling games is okay so you know what you’re getting yourself into? Or are you a proud purist who saves everything for his maiden voyage with the games? Let us know in the comments section!