By David C
I got a chance to play Zelda 64 at the CBS annual video game test (held in downtown Seattle) and thought you would enjoy my personal report on what the game is like. I felt I should send it here since you DO have the coolest Z64 site and I had fun doing Japanese translations here before. Here goes...
After waiting about an hour and a half amongst noisy ten year olds and grubby teens, I got a chance to play a test version of Z64 in the CBS Holiday Video Game Test. I think it was the same version that was shown at E3, because I was in a similar setting and the text was Japanese. The voices however, were English, and Link sounded like a girl! This was my big worry about adding voices to our favorite characters, that they might end up sounding like wimps or weirdos. Mario was okay in Mario 64, but I -really- hope they change Link's voice.
[Bowza: When he says voices, he means yelling, Link doesn't actually speak "Hi how are you" but he'll scream when attacked for sure.]
As I started playing the game, I found myself in a moat, swimming Mario-style. The first thing I noticed was that the green button changes functions depending on what Link is doing. We already knew this from pictures, but it was interesting to see it change to "dive" in the deep water and "Navi" (the fairy) in the shallow. As I wandered out of the moat Link climbed out automatically, but I could make him jump on command with the green button. This stayed consistent the whole time I was playing: Link would climb up tall steps or grab cliff edges when falling off by himself, but I had enough control over him jumping around that I could make him do whatever weird stuff I wanted.
Wandering around in the field outside the moat, I noticed there was a map in the bottom corner of the screen. Maybe I missed it, but I had never seen it before in any of the screen shots. Wherever I went, there was a topographical map in the corner showing hills, valleys, where Link was, and which way he was facing. It came in handy because there's LOTS of space to wander around and get lost in.
That was also a bad thing, because it took a lot of walking time to get across the big field. Maybe it will change with the Pegasus Boots, but as it was, Link had a lot of hoofing to do.
After a while I found Karkiko village (I know I spelled it wrong, but it's the same one as Zelda 3) and walked inside. The screen did a quick fade-out and annouced my new location, but there was no load time (eat your heart out playstation!). The first thing I spotted was a chicken! Of course one of my favorite tricks in Z3 is beating on the chickens until the flocks come after you, so I whipped out my bow and took a shot. THOK! The chicken almost seemed to be laughing at me when I missed with my first shot. I smacked him with my second shot and he let out a loud "Cock-a-doodle-DOO!" and ran away. This is about the time I started laughing out loud and thinking, "I LOVE this game!". Shooting the bow felt just like shooting my real bow in the back yard except it was really tough to aim using the analog stick. That'swhere the enemy-lock came in handy...
As I walked around the village, most the doors were open. However, as soon as I would walk towards them, the people would slam them in my face! I have a feeling this has something to do with the story (remember Link being a thief?), but right now I'm not really sure of the reason behind it. I walked out the top entrance of the town and entered "Death Mountain Area". Scary! There were a couple of the hopping spiders (can't recall the name right now) bur they were really easy to kill even without the enemy-lock. Speaking of which, it works like a charm, and makes it really easy to fight the tougher baddies, I'm sure.
At this point, I started experimenting with Navi, the fairy. When I pushed the green button and no one was around, she'd just swirl around me a bit, but when the spiders came along, she'd turn bright red and point them out. When I got to the top of the path, Navi pointed out a friendly Mole-person with a yellow glow. Since the green button lets you talk to people when you get close, your sword is still free to hack at people while you're talking to them >:-) After talking to the Mole guy for a bit (all I could make out of the Japanese was "this is Mole town" or something like that), I sent him rolling down the hill with some quick sword swings. I tried jumping off the cliff after him, but Link caught the edge before falling and said, "Whoa!" in his girly voice.
Inside the mole cave there were lots of moles and a mole king to talk to, but they seemed to be saying the same thing. There was a really neat shop in the bottom floor with a mole salesperson. Following Zelda tradition, there was bouncy sales music, and I could walk up to the shelves and pick off the item I wanted. At this point I hit start and looked at the inventory screen. There's actually about 3 or 4 screens with maps, items, and other information that swirl around you as you scroll through them. Very neat. Wow! The hookshot (my favorite item) was in my inventory, so I took it out into the mole caves and tried putting it to use. Unfortunately, I seems to bound off most rock and dirt, so it wasn't very useful in getting out of the cave.
Around this time, the Nintendo people came to drag me away, so that's all the story I have for now. You can e-mail me your questions at email@example.com or send them through the Z64 page if you want more info. Zelda is definately worth the wait!