News Article

Zelda: Spirit Tracks To Appeal To a Wider Age Group?

Posted by Damien McFerran

Will Nintendo dumb down Link's latest adventure?

As you may have noticed, Nintendo has released its sales figures for the fiscal year end 2009. In the document there's plenty of predictions for the coming year, and one small item that has caught the eye of Nintendo fans worldwide.

The report states that:

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks...will appeal to a wider age group of people, and will launch in the later half of the year.

Now it's worth bearing in mind that this report is produced for investors and its job is to inspire confidence. Wider age group = more sales, which in turn results in happy investors.

Hopefully this is just marketing spin because we'd really hate to see the Zelda franchise dumbed-down to cater for less experienced players.

It's the old hardcore vs casual debate again, isn't it? Sigh.

[via kotaku.com]

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User Comments (57)

Wrenski

#1

Wrenski said:

Dumbed down from WHAT? The modern Zelda games that are supposedly so incredibly hardcore despite offering no mental or reflexive challenge whatsoever?

i8cookie

#2

i8cookie said:

totally agree, especially phantom hourglass, that game was so boring... definitely give this a miss i think.

timp29

#3

timp29 said:

Yeah, I agree, apart from the need to use the s-bomb... The modern 3d zelda franchise is way too easy. Apart from the frustration of learning some of the finer aspects of control during fights for the newcomer, the games offer no significant challenge other than deciphering some of the puzzles.

Wrenski

#4

Wrenski said:

Well no, then again Majora's Mask did try it's darndest to be creative and challenging again, but lord knows how well 'true gamers' supported that one.

i8cookie

#5

i8cookie said:

i don't understand this hardcore vs casual mentality. there's no such thing, i was about 10 when i first played link to the past, i found it really tough, i didn't complete it properly till much later, but that didn't stop me thinking it was a great game.

Luigi_La_Bouncy

#7

Luigi_La_Bouncy said:

It's time for Nintendo to stop cashing in on it's former fan favourites and make something fresh for the real gamers out there. Phantom Hourglass wasn't anything special and nor will this be. I'll pass.

Terra

#9

Terra said:

They could just have different difficulty levels in the game. I don't know (Or can't remember) if Zelda has had difficulty levels in the series before, so I'm not sure how likely that will be. Having an easy mode would certainly be a way to appeal to a wider age group among children and the "Casual" market and having the option for harder difficulties would bring in the more of the "Hardcore" audience.

i8cookie

#10

i8cookie said:

I agree with Luigi (no matter how ironic his name is) i think nintendo should try making a new 'cool' franchise, no more of these nintendogturds!

Luigi_La_Bouncy

#11

Luigi_La_Bouncy said:

@i8cookie. One of the mods changed my username. I don't get it either, I'm always whinging on this site, maybe it is meant to be ironic :-)

Regarding 'Zelda', That word doesn't gaurantee quality to me anymore. Although I would love to see a new NON-TOON game I think they should leave the franchise alone for a while and as I say - concentrate on something fresh.

maka

#12

maka said:

a new "cool" franchise for the "real" gamers out there.But who are those "real" gamers anyway?

I enjoyed Phantom Hourglass and found it easy enough, but not too easy. Is it easier than Link to the Past? Yeah, but also because modern Zelda games offer nicer features like being able to go directly to the Boss in dungeon levels after you lose a fight against them (unlike in A Link to the Past). I call this better design.

Anyway, Zelda games weren't that hard to begin with. My girlfriend (not a gamer by any standards) finished Link's Awakening with no problems back when it was re-released for the GBC, mainly because she really enjoyed it and just made the effort. Phantom Hourglass is not much easier than that game (if anything) and some parts were actually hard (like the final fight) just not hard in a frustrating way.

Frankly, I've played videogames since the ZX Spectrum days and will say that I'm sick of unfinishable games. I want the game to be hard enough to present a challenge, but if I have to play through the last boss fight for weeks to finish the game, then I'll just move on...

Nintendo knows how to make games with different layers of difficulty, like the Warioland game for the Wii. Finishing the game is not that hard, but completing all the tasks for all the levels is almost impossible. That way everyone is happy because the game can be fun even if you're not that good at platform games.

It's like a game like Contra compared to Megaman. I can't finish more than 1-2 levels of Contra, but I managed to finish Megaman 2 and I'm on my way to finishing MM9. Megaman has a reputation for being super hard, but it really isn't because it gives you tools to make the game easier (extra lives, energy tanks,etc...). Also each level is an individual challenge. A "real" hardcore gamer might be able to finish the game with one live. Good for them. I can just play the game and have fun also, actually archiving something (instead of just getting stuck after 2 levels and never seeing what the game has to offer).

Objection

#13

Objection said:

A good game is one that you want to see to completion. If it sucks or is overly difficult, then perhaps its not good enough to be worth finishing.

Starwolf_UK

#14

Starwolf_UK said:

Its Phantom Hourglass with the sailing being even more on rails than it was before. I really couldn't stand Phantom Hourglass so yeah, I'll give this one a miss (that used to the thing with Zelda each game was unique so it wouldn't be like "Oh I hated Adventure of Link, I'll give Link to the Past a miss then")

Luigi_La_Bouncy

#16

Luigi_La_Bouncy said:

Yes, difficulty is subjective and depends on how much you like the game. For example my girlfriend can finish Dr Mario on the hardest settings (till level 20), where as I can't and really I can't be bothered too. Whereas it was a breeze for me to collect 120 on Mario Glaxay and she struggles to collect 5. It really depends on how the game motivates you.

Phantom Hourglass didn't motivate me to play until too completion even though I new it wouldn't have to been to difficult to manage it, which is wh I'm not holding out much hope for Spirit Tracks.

seanehawk

#17

seanehawk said:

Now they're gonna make their real franchises for non-gamers too? I'm still gonna buy it anyways though .. .

TourianTourist

#18

TourianTourist said:

@Terranigma:
Yes, there were difficulty "levels" in the Zelda series in form of the "2nd Quests". But this was only supported by the original Zelda game on the NES, Four Swords and Ocarina of Time with its "Master Quest" version.

See, the difficulty in Zelda is very complex. You can't just do difficulty settings like for example in Metroid, where the enemies deal more damage and it's fine. Enemies, damage, puzzles, locations of hidden items, complexity of sidequests, level of non-linearity... there are so many factors that are important for the difficulty of a Zelda game, you can't just cover them in a simple difficulty level system like in other games. That's were the so called "2nd Quests" come in, but so far Nintendo haven't made a lot of efforts in this category. Some games like Oracles or The Wind Waker for example got a 2nd Quest, but it didn't change anything in terms of difficulty.

And I really doubt that Spirit Tracks will get something like this.

Knux

#19

Knux said:

Just great they are going to dumb this game down like Zelda Wii.

Terra

#20

Terra said:

@ToruianTourist
I didn't consider all those factors when i made that post. When you put it like that, i understand why they don't add the difficulty levels. It would be rather difficult.

There's still so much more i need to learn about Video Games.

pixelman

#21

pixelman said:

Bah, before I get angry I'll wait for the reviews. I'm hoping they won't turn Zelda into Mario Party, but I highly doubt they would.

And Phantom Hourglass sucked.

KDR_11k

#22

KDR_11k said:

I don't think Zelda can get any easier, at most they might cut down on the complexity of the whole thing (especially the 3d Zeldas have terribly complex combat) but then again PH already did enough of that so it should be fairly easy to learn. The dead wood they SHOULD cut is the complexity of the story scripts and stuff, enough people have complained about the starting village in TP and PH also had tons of unnecessary crap like forcing you to yell into the microphone (which is a complete gamebreaker for something you're supposed to play in public).

Mama_Luigi

#23

Mama_Luigi said:

"And Phantom Hourglass sucked."
I don't really want to used the word sucked, i think Phantom Hourglass was very good, but not as good as most of the Zelda Games.

Anyways, i can't wait to get Spirit Tracks! :)

Rapadash6

#24

Rapadash6 said:

As some have already said, Phantom Hourglass already did this, pretty much, and that game really surprised a lot of Zelda fans, including me. I'm looking foward to this game!

Hardy83

#25

Hardy83 said:

OOC what pretty easy as well.
I mean really. The last time I was challenged in a Zelda game was the SNES one (NES ones were hard also)
The Gameboy ones were easy, and Majora's mask was easy once you figured out the time. :P

It's probably marketing because Zelda isn't hard anymore. It can't get any easier.

TwilightV

#26

TwilightV said:

Maybe what they mean is they're implementing that copyright we saw earlier? The one about the easily accessible gameplay videos?

Wiiloveit

#27

Wiiloveit said:

Hmm... I suppose it wouldn't be the worst thing ever, but if they included easy and hard modes of the game, that would be fine, I suppose - although many reviewers will likely only try the easy mode to play through the game quickly, and thus won't even try the "core" side of things.

theblackdragonAdmin

#28

theblackdragon said:

i've been kinda worried about this one myself, to be honest. I hope there's more to it than just trains... trains just aren't my thing. :/

Edwin

#29

Edwin said:

I think a "wider age group" means that it will appeal to 3-8 year-olds instead of just 3-5 year-olds.

EDIT: When I first read this I interpreted "wider age group" to mean that the game would try to cater to an older audience since Phantom Hourglass so clearly catered to young people already. However, after more consideration, I realize that "wider age group" means an even younger audience. Crap. It is being dumbed down. I only hope that Nintendo will not do the same thing with the new Wii version, but I'm pretty sure that they will.

Kirigirisu

#30

Kirigirisu said:

I'll wait until the game is released or we have some early views from reviewers before I decide anything, I actually really liked Phantom Hourglass and while it wasn't overly difficult and at times rather easy it was definitely a worthwhile distraction!

SmaMan

#31

SmaMan said:

I remember Ocarina of Time was the first game I beat back when I was 9 or so. (My parents didn't buy me a game console for a long time, but my dad had an Intellivision and C64) But I heavily relied on a strategy guide. I think the difficulty in Zelda games is just right. Not too terribly easy, but not too terribly hard. It's a challenge that makes you want to complete it not because you want to unlock anything, but just for the feel of accomplishment.

I haven't played Twilight Princess that much, and I've only played the multiplayer on Phantom Hourglass, so I don't know how the difficulty's really changed on the new ones. Let's just hope it's not as easy as SMG. My little brother beat that game in a week!

bbb7002004

#32

bbb7002004 said:

New Zelda games are easier because we have more experience with the Zelda formula. Solving a water level puzzle in TP seems easier to seasoned players since we have solved similar puzzles in plenty of games over the last ten years.

Its like saying multiplication becomes easier once you've memorized it, but the fact is that you're just better at it.

Bahamut_ZERO

#33

Bahamut_ZERO said:

@bbb: My God, you're here too! Does everybody on Neo that I know seem to have an account here?!

And as always, I agree (though it is a few paragraphs less than usual :P ).

MarkyVigoroth

#34

MarkyVigoroth said:

I think its conversion to trains is their main change to a wider audience. (Then again, I read somewhere that a certain game would be the last Zelda game as you know it...)

Edwin

#35

Edwin said:

@ bbb7002004

I think you're only partially correct. While people no doubt get better at games with practice, the Zelda games have definitely gotten easier. Just look at the hearts (life meter). In recent games when you get hit by certain enemies you only lose A QUARTER OF A HEART. In earlier games you would lose more life. Also, I think the dungeons and the puzzles in them are generally easier than they were in the past.

SupermarketZombies

#36

SupermarketZombies said:

I wasn't planning on buying it anyway. I just don't like the idea of having to wander around on a boat/train to get to locales. I'd much rather have a traditional topdown Zelda.

Kid_A

#37

Kid_A said:

They said the same thing with Phantom Hourglass. The exact. Same. Thing. And people freaked out, just like this, and then it came out and it turned out to be amazing. Calm down people. Nintendo knows what's Zelda's all about. Even if they make it accessable to a wider age group, it's still Zelda.

Kid_A

#38

Kid_A said:

Oh, and Maka said it best. I don't care if the game is easy as long as it's enjoyable. Some games, like Punch-Out, I want to be really hard. But games like Megaman 9 just annoy me because they're so hard that I get frustrated and never finish it. Phantom Hourglass was easy, but it was also tons of fun. As long as the game is fun, I don't care how easy it is.

#39

said:

Good! why not? you say "dumbed down" I say "refreshing". If more people gets atttracted to the zelda universe, the best, right?

Stuffgamer1

#40

Stuffgamer1 said:

I agree with Edwin, that it's a combination of experience and game design that makes recent Zelda games easier.

I also want to say that while I am a life-long gamer who pretty much eats, drinks, and breathes games, I am NOT a seeker of excessive difficulty in most cases. As long as they keep making new Zelda games fun, which imo Phantom Hourglass was, it's okay if they're easier! One thing I firmly believe Nintendo excels at is making games FUN, regardless of how difficult they are. In fact, I generally find their less difficult games to be MORE fun, just because the frustration of constant failure isn't ruining the experience.

So whatever happens with Spirit Tracks, I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it. And I'm glad to see confirmation that it would release this year. I saw no reason it shouldn't, with it reusing assets from Phantom Hourglass, but official confirmation is always nice. :)

Rawk_Hawk

#41

Rawk_Hawk said:

I think just adding the trains to Zelda is what they are referring too. Also I am on the hype train for Zelda Spirit Tracks

TourianTourist

#42

TourianTourist said:

@Stuffgamer1:

Exactly, that's the whole point: fun. But everyone connects something else with the term"fun", some people think that hard and challenging games are fun.

I personally don't care if the enemies deal tons of damage or not, I don't think that something frustrating like Zelda II or Megaman is fun. But what I want, and that's really important to me, are clever puzzles and well hidden pieces of heart or other collective items and a good level of non-linearity. I think a fun dungeon is one, which always offers multiple ways to go. A linear dungeon (like all the dungeons in TP for example) isn't fun in my eyes, it takes away the fun of exploring things. The same with the overworld, I should have the possibility of going nearly everywhere from the early stages of the game, like in Ocarina of Time. And it's always a good thing if you can play the dungeons out of order. A linear game doesn't let you freely explore the world and it's not fun in my eyes if you get forced to much. Freedom and exploration = fun. Linear game design = not.

And sometimes you want to be challenged. I said it before, I don't care about the enemies too much, but what I like are well hidden extras. It goes nothing over finding a well hidden piece of heart after a long time. Sidequests should and can be challenging, since the casual gamers don't care about them anyway and are not forced to play them. They always should add something for the Zelda veterans, because those are the people who bought their Zelda games over ages now. And a long time Zelda fan is looking for a challenge and his experience level is quite high. So, at least have some well hidden secrets or add some challenging minidungeons to satisfy some of the long time fans.

Digiki

#43

Digiki said:

I'm with the people who are wondering how it could be dumbed down more than it already is.

lockelocke

#45

lockelocke said:

Um, I beat Link To The Past when I was close to 5 years old. I think the franchise has always been directed at a very wide audience, and has always done an excellent job at incorporating challenges for those who can handle it, while still allowing younger gamers to complete the main quest. I have been concerned with the diminishing amount of optional equipment and quests over the last few entries, tho.

AlexSays

#46

AlexSays said:

Thank the lawd.

Nintendo wants more people interested in Zelda. That's great.

They need to find a way for new people to get interested in the franchise.

HOT-ROD

#48

HOT-ROD said:

I do agree that Zelda games have gotten a lot easier. I remember being slightly intimidated by bosses and dungeons in Ocorana and Majora. Now, it's no big deal and the bosses only take a few minutes to beat. Same goes for dungeons and gameplay. It's real easy. But that being said, it is still really fun, and I loved Phantom Hourglass. Gameplay was great, and I had a fun time playing it. I will buy spirit tracks for that reason. It is still fun and adventuring. Zelda is still one of my favorite IPs.

Chunky_Droid

#49

Chunky_Droid said:

Phantom Hourglass appealed to my wife who has no video game coordination whatsoever. It appealed to a wide audience.

This will be no different, but still be an excellent game :)

Bensei

#50

Bensei said:

Whatthe? TP's difficulty was ridiculius, especially the bosses, PH was abit better, but the dungeons were a bit easier. I hope they add at least some hard and rewarding side-quests for the older age-groups

Ricardo91

#51

Ricardo91 said:

Just great they are going to dumb this game down like Zelda Wii.

You know that was just a patent, right? And most patents aren't usually used...

SanderEvers

#52

SanderEvers said:

Guys your jumping to conclusions, PLEASE DONT!
Rember: this is still Nintendo we're talking about!
Okay, they've been releasing some "casual" games over the past few years. But I liked TP and PH (my favorite is STILL TWW, though) and I will buy and love this one as well.

Luigison

#53

Luigison said:

Hmm. Maybe this means it will have more of a focus on puzzles a la the Personal Training games. Train you Link in Minutes a Day. I'd play it.

Or maybe it could rekindle some NES/SNES Zelda vib of thirty-somethings like myself. Ditto.

gamerboyshadow5

#54

gamerboyshadow5 said:

Man, I can't wait! I am a long-standing Zelda fan and I promise all of you that if I don't get this game at LEAST the day after the day it comes out, I will DIE! XP

Oh, yeah and @Bensei
You're right dude, TP was SO FREAKIN' HARD!

Linkuini

#55

Linkuini said:

Has it occurred to anyone that the big N says stuff like this all the time? It's just marketing terms to tell us that the game will be rated E (or thereabouts). And sure, Phantom Hourglass was a breeze for veteran gamers, but I still found it a joy to play. As an aside, why should high difficulty stop a younger audience from enjoying a game if the game itself is still fun? It sure didn't stop me when I was playing Mega Man X in elementary school...

LEGEND_MARIOID

#56

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

I'm a gamer sort of 55%-60% towards the "core side" of gaming, yet I still have a lot of appreciation for some so called "casual" , accessible titles (mainly becuase I am now a "family gamer"). I've got no problem with ST being made accessible BUT I felt Phatom Hourglass got the blanace between accessibility and challenge spot on. There's no need to "dumb down" the "fiendishness" of Spirit Tracks to below PH's level is there? Not that they are saying that they will.

mjc0961

#57

mjc0961 said:

"Will Nintendo dumb down Link's latest adventure?"

Probably. Look at how much they dumbed down Phantom Hourglass. I could beat that game in my sleep, and I almost did because it was so boring.

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