Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the 4th game in the Rhythm Heaven series. Like its predecessors, RHM features plenty of quirky, musical minigames that test your ability to follow a beat. Although the game is filled with a breadth of enjoyable content, a sizable portion of it is borrowed from the first 3 games in the series. While it’s unfortunate that this game is mostly a best-of compilation, new challenges and repurposed minigames give both newcomers and veterans a reason to get back into the rhythm.
The gameplay of RHM centers on rhythm games, in which you press buttons to the beat of the song. The games vary, both in terms of playstyle and music. Some games have you follow simple cues that go along with the song while others ask you to keep a steady beat throughout. All are easy to learn and require very simple button presses (or as an option, touchscreen taps). As the games become harder, the inputs become more complicated, asking you to press different buttons for each cue. The timing eventually becomes harder, introducing syncopated, faster tempos to throw you off. Thankfully, before you begin each game for the first time, a helpful tutorial ensures that you get the hang of its particular beat, cues, and instructions. For veterans who want to dive straight in, the tutorials are skippable.
The rhythm games are all fairly short, with the average song lasting one to two minutes. These bite-sized intervals are perfect for quick portable sessions. Additionally, the short lengths allow you to practice and improve. RHM grades your performance on a “Flow” meter, with Flow measuring how many beats you accurately hit and how close you are to a perfect beat. Built-in feedback stars on the bottom screen indicate how close you were to hitting the notes. A colorful array of stars shine from the middle if you got the beat perfectly. Otherwise, yellow stars will appear closer to the left or right sides depending on if you were too early or too late. Getting the minimum 60 Flow to conquer a game is pretty simple with the feedback stars guiding you. Since the game also rewards “superb” ratings for getting at least 80 Flow, the feedback stars are excellent additions that serve to improve your timing and sense of rhythm.
Part of what makes RHM stand out is the quirky nature of the rhythm games. Each game has a unique premise that drives the rhythm. For instance, you may play as a “Karate Man,” punching and kicking oncoming objects to the beat. Other games have you in a spaceship shooting at enemy ships, playing badminton with a cat on a plane, or pulling beard hairs off of a mustached onion using tweezers. Some of the games are so ridiculous that they’ll likely make you laugh while playing.
For veterans of the Rhythm Heaven series, it is important to note that roughly 70% of this game is recycled content from the first 3 games. This may be disappointing for those hoping for a new full game. Since most westerners would have missed out on at least one of the games, especially the Japan-only Game Boy Advance entry, Rhythm Tengoku, this isn’t such a bad deal. In fact, as a best-of compilation, RHM is effective at offering nearly every game a fan could have wanted, all in one complete portable package. Plus, the brand new rhythm games are some of the most stellar ideas ever devised. Highlights that will put a smile on your face include cats contorting their bodies to gather logs for a muscular woodcutter fox, an 8-bit samurai slicing pixelated enemies on a skateboard, and perhaps the best new idea of all: a pair of huge sumo wrestlers wackily slapping each other and making amazing poses, all to a Japanese folk song. The only disappointment is that we don’t get a full game filled with more of these outstanding ideas.
RHM is the first game in the series to have a story mode. It’s a goofy tale of an afro bear trying to get to Heaven World. Unfortunately, it slows the game down with strange, pointless interactions, and the dialogue tries too hard to be funny. In an attempt to ease players into the story, the first 24 games are watered down versions, designed to be tutorials. After getting past this slow start, RHM reuses the games from the initial sets, using the proper full-length musical track. This results in redundant gameplay. Another way that story mode hinders the game is through mandatory boss trials, in which you must pay gold coins earned from successfully completing rhythm games. These challenges are less dependent on music and more focused on precise timing. If you fail, you must pay more coins just to try again, introducing a tedious grinding system that has no place in this series.
On a more positive note, the most interesting aspect of Rhythm Heaven returns here: Remixes. As the name suggests, Remixes take older songs, accompanied by their specific rules, and mashes them up into one cohesive song. With almost no breaks, Remixes take you from game to game, testing your mastery of the beat and cues that you should have learned throughout your experience. Everything happens so rapidly, invoking the style of this developer’s other hit series, WarioWare. The thrill of reacting instantly to a new ruleset every few seconds effectively rounds out Megamix’s package.
Music & Sound
Music is understandably important for a rhythm-based game, and RHM delivers. Nearly all of the songs are catchy. You may even find yourself bopping your head and tapping your toes to the music. While the gameplay is certainly enjoyable, it’s the music that makes this game worthwhile. All of the music is completely original to the series and composed by prolific songwriter Tsunku.
There are plenty of different genres represented, from pop to rock and even tango. The music most shines when there are vocals, which sound good enough to be played on the radio or in an anime. Although I wish there were more vocal arrangements, the ones included are enough to satiate most musical appetites, especially when combined with the other fun tunes. As a bonus, you can switch between English and Japanese audio tracks in the settings.
The sound effects are also very effective in prompting your beats and providing feedback. Most games have cues in the forms of bells, whistles, or vocal commands to guide your rhythm. When you hit the beats, your sound effects will be a part of the song. If you miss a beat, a “boing” sound plays to let you know that you’re off.
The artstyle is consistently fun and cartoonish. The graphics also lend themselves well to the humorous premises of each rhythm game. Some are so laughter-inducing that it may even be distracting. In fact, RHM purposefully tries to distract you with the graphics so that you don’t become dependent on the visual cues. Occasionally, your vision of the action on-screen will become obscured or distorted, forcing you to rely on the audio. Other times, the game goes for cheap, but effective laughs, like having wrestlers make ridiculous poses directly at the camera. The humor is all in good fun, and is part of what gives the game its charm.
Story mode takes you through the majority of the games, roughly lasting 3-5 hours. Despite its short length, RHM sports an impressive amount of replay value. Merely trying to get a superb rating on each game, which requires at least 80 Flow, can take another several hours. Achieving the difficult 100 Flow requires constant perfect beats, but will increase replay value tenfold for the determined. With over 70 unique games, there are plenty of songs to master.
Challenge mode repurposes existing games for added excitement. Perfect Challenge is a returning mode where you must go through a whole song without missing a beat. However, you only have three attempts before the Perfect Challenge expires. If you fail, you will have to wait until the next Perfect Challenge randomly pops up. The next challenge may be for a different game altogether, making practice difficult. Even worse, you can’t earn a perfect rating by just playing the game in story mode. You must earn it through this 3-strikes mode. While it’s certainly a worthy challenge and one that will make you feel proud upon completion, it’s too stressful and punishing. Limiting it to three tries makes it devastating if you lose, and the pressure alone can lead to failure.
Challenge Train is a more enjoyable experience that is brand new to the series. In this mode, you face a set of three rhythm games, each with certain conditions. For example, some games require you to get a certain amount of Flow while others ask you to get less than three missed beats. Sometimes, the songs’ tempos are faster than usual. This mode can be played multiplayer using multiple carts or the convenient single-cart download play. This turns it into a cooperative mode in which all players must collectively achieve a certain level of flow. Everyone plays at the same time on their own screen, but indicators tell you how your friends are handling the beat, introducing a competitive flair.
Finally, a café acts as your hub when you want to relax from the story. Here, you can feed turnips to a goat in a calm pachinko minigame. StreetPass mode pits you against a CPU controlled Mii in a head-to-head rhythm boxing competition. The StreetPass is limited since you don’t actually face any human opponents, but it’s a nice inclusion that also informs you of a passerby’s favorite game and overall Flow level. You can also buy goodies at the shop, including new rhythm games. These bonus games aren’t part of the story and can be played at any time. However, they cost rare Flow Balls, only gained from completing challenges. You gain very few balls from a single challenge, and rhythm games are pretty expensive, making the unlocking process overly tiresome.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix is a very entertaining game that comes with own set of flaws. A story mode and a long tutorial hinder the game’s pace, while a reliance on grinding makes this game feel longer than it needs to be. Being a compilation game is a mixed bag, but will overall please anyone looking for a rhythm fix. The majority of games, especially the brand new ones, are nothing but enjoyable. Hilarious graphics and toe-tapping music guarantee smiles and laughter throughout. Challenges and multiplayer keep the game alive long after the credits roll. If you’re a fan of the series, this game is a worthy purchase, offering portable versions of your favorites while delivering some of the best new songs ever produced in this series. If you haven’t played any game in the series before and enjoy music games, then Rhythm Heaven Megamix is the gold standard, filled to the brim with wacky entertainment and musical pleasure.
What are your thoughts on Rhythm Heaven Megamix? Do you have any fond memories of the Rhythm Heaven series? What is your favorite rhythm game in the series? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below!
I had the honor of meeting Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and so many other video game characters, at Indy PopCon 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The following is a brief testimony of my experience followed by a transcript of several panel interviews with Charles Martinet.
My Magical Experiencewith Charles Martinet
I felt nothing but excitement knowing that I was finally going to meet the man behind the voice of Super Mario, Charles Martinet. Ever since I had first heard him in Super Mario 64, I have been a huge fan of his work. That iconic voice saying “Here we go!” and “Wahoo!” has echoed in my ears throughout my many years of gaming. He was one of my childhood heroes, and the opportunity to meet him fulfilled one of my biggest dreams in life.
As soon as I walked up to Martinet, he greeted me with the most wonderful smile. I told him how much he and his work meant to me and he gave me such a sincere “Thank you.” He is a truly happy guy, with much more energy than you could imagine for a 60-year old man. He is very animated when he talks, raising his arms, making faces, and shouting with elation. He is also very kind to his fans, providing plenty of inspiration and hope.
My wife and I were able to interact with him all weekend, participating in a photoshoot with him (in which we donned our Mario Bros. hats!), conversing with him at his booth, and attending panels in which we could ask him questions. Charles Martinet was kind enough to record the following message below:
This means so much to me because it’s the voice of Mario acknowledging who I am. I have big aspirations in my life. This grand meeting with Martinet is an important stepping stone in the journey of my life. To hear Mario saying all of this fills me with confidence and gratitude. Everything that Martinet says in the video truly reflects how I feel about you all. You really are the best: to read my articles, comment with such kind words, and converse with me. Your support means everything to me, and I want you to know that Mario says, “You guys are number one!”
Panels and Interviews
The following are some stories that he told to start off his panel, followed by answers that he gave to the audience’s questions. Please enjoy learning about Charles Martinet!
On His Start in Acting
Charles Martinet was originally going to be a lawyer at UC Berkeley. He was inspired by whom he thought was the greatest political science teacher in the world. However, when he tried to take a class from him again next year, he couldn’t get a single class. Martinet wanted nothing but him, and was devastated. So he left.
A friend of Martinet later asked him to take an acting class from him. Martinet believed he would absolutely never, ever take an acting class because he was shy. Nevertheless, he was somehow convinced to take the class. Students were to give monologues from the Spoon River Anthology about different ways they had died. Martinet was extremely terrified, and his body was shaking nervously as he gave his monologue. He was convinced everyone would be laughing following his performance. Instead, they looked at him, applauded, and said, “The amazing thing about what you just did is, you’re the only one who wasn’t nervous.” Martinet laughed, and was able to shake less as he continued doing more monologues throughout the class.
One day, his college was performing A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Martinet believed he was perfect for the part of Oberon, and worked hard to audition for him. He was so excited, believing he had gotten that role for sure. To his surprise, he didn’t receive any parts at all. He attributed his desire to learn how to be an actor to this “wonderful failure.”
Martinet studied theater, speech, and everything else voraciously. One day, a Berkeley representative came to the school for apprenticeship auditions. He auditioned with his original monologue for Oberon, and got the apprenticeship! From there, he continued to pursue acting for many more years.
On His Start with Voicing Mario
Martinet began doing corporate videos on the suggestion of a friend. Satisfied with how much more it paid than theater, he pursued more, doing about 600 of them. One day at a session, he was asked if he knew how to do voice-over. Learning that he could make even more money doing those, he declared happily that he was a voice actor!
Sometime after, Martinet got a call from a friend suggesting that he crash a certain audition. He followed the suggestion, even though he had never crashed an audition before. Once he got there, he asked if he could do the audition even though the casting director was already heading out. They informed him that he would be auditioning for an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. He was then told to just make up a voice and start talking until he ran out of things to say, and that would be the audition. In his head, he thought, “I can talk without stopping.”
When thinking about what voice to do for the audition, he wanted to make a nice and fun voice especially since it was for children. He decided to use a voice similar to one he had previously done for Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew and make it younger. He was still nervous about the video game aspect because he didn’t know much about video games aside from Pong and Pac-Man. Regardless, once he was asked to start, he immediately used what is now the iconic voice of Mario. He talked on and on about random topics using the voice. He dragged it out because he was never told to stop. He was finally told to stop talking when there was no more videotape left. The casting director said that they’d “be in touch,” which Martinet implied to mean that he was likely never going to hear back again.
As it turns out, the casting director got on the phone with Nintendo and told them that he found their Mario. He sent only Martinet’s long audition tape to Nintendo. The rest is history.
Interview with Charles Martinet
Note: The following is a transcript comprised of two separate panels at Indy PopCon 2016. One panel starred Charles Martinet exclusively, and the other featured three other voice actors, Nolan North (Nathan Drake), Jennifer Hale (Samus Aran), and David Eddings (Klaptrap; Gearbox Software). For the purposes of this transcript, only Charles Martinet’s answers are included. Different people in the audience, including myself, asked the following questions. For the most part, the answers are Charles Martinet’s words. The questions and answers are only edited if a) It was a personal matter regarding the interviewer or Charles Martinet, b) He repeated his answers earlier in the panel, or c) It was irrelevant crosstalk between Charles and another panelist, interviewer, or himself.
With that said, please enjoy the transcript, and please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Q: Have you played the Nintendo games you’ve starred in, and which one was your favorite game?
Charles Martinet: First of all, yes, I play the games – not very well. I’m really fantastic at getting to that level where I find out that the princess is not in this castle. I’m not very good at getting past that. Once I get [to] the first one…. I can get to the second castle sometimes, [then] the third castle, but I’ve never once rescued Princess Peach. (frowns and droops head) But one day, I will watch somebody do that! (laughs)
If I play Smash Bros, I’m the guy in the bubble coming back 2 or 3 times. I don’t even know what’s happening in that game! I forget who I’m playing in that game! It’s funny, because when I play the games, I do all the sound effects. I go, (Mario voice) “OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!” And when I’m playing Galaxy, I’m going like this (pretends to hold Wiimote and Nunchuk and leans way over to the side). I can’t not do that!
Favorite game of all time? That moment with the dancing in Super Mario Bros. Wii. I also love (makes cat paws with hands) “MREOW” in Super Mario 3D World.
Q: How often do you play Mario games?
CM: I play not everyday, but every time a new game’s coming out, I play with that game. Like, I play with Zelda. I love to know what’s going on.
Q: How did you come up with the other Mario characters’ voices?
CM: I did this Mario real-time thing for several years — 5 years before the game — and we were doing tours around the country. I’d go around, and all we had was Mario. I had these things glued to my face — surgical glue, surgical tape — and then we’d go through this [process]. I would move, and it would make these little rollerballs move. This mask was [attached] to my head. That would go through a supercomputer — we had dry ice and the supercomputer because it was crunching so many numbers. The character [on-screen would go], (Mario voice) “Hello, I’m-a-Mario!” So I’m talking to young kids (in Mario voice), “Hello, you have a blue shirt on today.”
This was at a Wal-Mart in Arkansas. The kid would ask, “Hello, Mario. Can I talk to your brother Luigi?” (blank stare) (Mario voice) “Ehhhh, hang on a sec. He’s a bit shy. He’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs. Hang on a sec. I’ll let him know. Hey Luiiiiigi!” And so I couldn’t move my mouth [because the Mario on-screen would move his mouth too], so I go, (without moving mouth in Luigi voice), “Yeah, what do you waaaaant?”
(Mario voice) “My friend here, he wants you to come and say hello.”
(Luigi voice, mouth barely moving) “Tell him I’m too shy. Besides, I’m in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs.”
(Mario voice) “Oh, he said he’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs.”
The kid said, “Oh pleaaaaase?”
(Mario voice) “Oh pleaaaaase?”
(Luigi voice) “Sorry.”
So I would do this whole monologue….
In that process, I’ve created this entire imaginary [family]…. Luigi’s in the bedroom. Dad’s in the den. (Italian Wario-like voice) “Don’t touch-a that remote controllo, I’m using it.” Mom’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs. So when people ask [about them], I go, “Hold on a sec.”
(Mario voice) “Hey, momma. You wanna come out and say hello?”
(Italian mom Mario-like voice) “Oh yes, you little handsome-a plumber boy! I can’t! I’m in the kitchen!” So that’s how I did Luigi (and the imaginary family’s voice).
Then one day, I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, and there was Wario on the set. [They said], “Hey, we want you to do Wario.” I look at this character, and he’s angry all the time. So I’m like, (Wario voice), “Oh have a ROTTEN day!”
Then I did Mario Tennis, and there was this wonderful character, Waluigi. (flails arms around and says in Waluigi voice) “Waaaaaaah! Self-pity!” The emotions have to be real, and these nemeses have to be the opposite of the happy, joyful, fun-loving Mario, which is this angry sort of thing. [For Luigi), he’s a little bit shy, so the opposite is a little bit of self-pity.
Then… I had to do Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, and there were the two little babies. It was so cute, aww… (Baby Mario voice) “Mamma mia.” So sweet. And then, (makes Italian-like gibberish noises from Mario and Luigi series). They just told me to keep playing with it and having fun. It was so great.
Q: How often do you record voices? How often is it reused from an older game?
CM: I never know how many games they’re going to do. This is a huge year. Zelda’s 30 years old. The Zelda stuff looks awesome. It’s just unbelievably magnificent. They have a library of a million sound effects of the things that I’ve done. But we often record new things because there’s a new aspect of the game, new action, new elements… So I’m recording all the time. It’s a wonderful variety of experiences. I can’t tell you what’s coming. But I can tell you you’re going to have so much fun. It keeps getting better! Like life!
Q: Out of all your voices, which one is your favorite voice?
CM: Absolutely no question, Mario! I love it. Because to do a character, you need to feel that emotion. Total elation, total joy, total love, total fun, total respect, total innocence. It all clicks inside of me. The ultimate joy is doing Mario. I dream as Mario. I’m often flying over lakes and rivers and outer space. The character’s like a real aspect of me.
Q: What has been your favorite role outside of the Mario universe?
CM: Honest to goodness, I love every single thing I ever get to do because, it’s all, “Come and play the new toy in the sandbox! So I love everything. I love doing Paarthurnax [from Elder Scrolls]. It was really so fun. I was reading the dragon speech, and you get to this thing on the TV, and I would absolutely have no idea [which dragon name it was]. And so, they would call the writers and say, “Was it [this name] or [that dragon name]?” and they would say, “No, it was [this dragon name].” It was so much fun. It was so cute to do that! It was a whole language, and I got to speak it and forget it!
Q: What was it like working on an indie game like Bit Trip Runner 2 [in which Charles played the narrator]?
CM: They were so nice. These are the nicest guys in the world. They said, “It’s so great to work with you,” and they brought me [a gift]. For the second game, I was in London, and I was staying in a friend’s house. It was a church converted into a house. And I was in the bedroom, and I put the covers over my head, put them on the telephone, and did the session underneath this bed in a church. You don’t get to do that everyday! That was so fun, and they are so nice! I sure hope another one comes out, because they’re great, terrific people. Every experience is great.
We’re the luckiest people in the world. That’s why I say, “If you want to drive trucks, drive trucks with joy and passion in your heart.”
Q: How do you feel when your character is going to die? Note: Directed towards other panelists, but Charles Martinet chose to answer as well.
CM: I do Mario in real-time, so that kids can talk to Mario at the Nintendo World Store. And this little child comes up to Mario and says, “Mario, when you die, do you see God?” You know, I’m willing to talk philosophy with anyone at certain times, but at that second, I said, (Mario voice) “No, I just go ‘WAAAAAAAH!’ And then I press start again!” (laughs)
Q: What’s the funniest thing that ever happened during your career?
CM: This is not really funny, but I was doing Luigi. I was getting excited as Luigi, and I literally hit my head onto the microphone. Then, I went, (Luigi voice) “I bumped my head.” (laughs)
Q: Do you have a favorite story about Nintendo or about anything else?
CM: One of the things was when I got the phone call saying, “Mr. Miyamoto wants you to play Mario in a game. I was like (makes excited noises). I was so ecstatic. And then going in and doing that session. For 5 years, I had been doing a real-time animation system. So all of a sudden, there I am going into the studio, and they’re wanting me to do the things I’d been doing for 5 years and adding to them, (Mario voice) “Mamma Mia!” and “Here we go!” Seeing the animatics, seeing the video games for the first time, and seeing Mario moving the way the artists had created it was absolutely magic to me.
Everyday’s a different, wonderful experience. I was in Australia, and these 5 boys came into the GameStop that was there and said, “We want you to sign our foreheads.” I said, “What do you mean? All I have is pen and marker!” And they said, “Yeah!” So I did it. (laughs)
Life is such a great gift, and every experience is so wonderful. The great thing about humanity is that we all go through the same things together…. The common bond of humanity is our hearts. We all get there to experience the joys and sadness. So I appreciate so much when I have those one-on-one connections. — This little boy today, with a Mario balloon — and I said, (Mario voice) “Oh, you have a Mario balloon! I’m-a-Mario!” And he goes, “Yes, he’s on your t-shirt. And also, you have Yoshi on your t-shirt.” He’s like 3 years old, and I’m like, this is the most golden moment of my life! Everyday has moments like that! Just thinking about human connection, it’s so great.
Q: Are there any particular moments you’ve had working with other voice actors?
CM: In the old days, when I used to do more cartoons, television, corporate videos, there used to be rooms full of actors. The only time I get to see actors nowadays is when I come to cons like this. I did have a wonderful dinner last night with Nolan [North], Jennifer [Hale], Tara [Strong]… Oh, I love actors. I don’t get to see them because when I work, I work alone in the studio in a box. I have the producer and director. We have wonderful rapport and creativity. But you don’t get to bounce things off other actors like in the old days. It’s different.
Q: What do you think of some of the other portrayals of Mario like the Super Mario Bros. Super Show or the Super Mario Bros. movie?
CM: I love actors, and I love artists. I love everybody’s interpretation. I love Mario art. I love people that are inspired to do art because I think creativity inspires creativity. I don’ think the script in that Mario movie was great. But I thought Bob Hoskins did a wonderful job — not portraying him the way I would – but he’s him and I’m me! I thought John Leguizamo did a wonderful job. Now, how he ended up with the princess in the end… (raises arms in confusion and shakes head) I don’t know! But I love interpretation. If you asked Shakespeare, “What do you think of the way people perform your plays?”
He might go…. “Oh roller-skates… I like roller-skates.” It’s all wonderful.
Q: Would you ever be interested in doing a Mario Bros. movie, and do you think Mario would do well in the movie format?
Charles Martinet: My life is such a joy. I’m filled with happiness and joy. I get to travel the world. I get to meet wonderful people in places like this. If somebody calls me up and says, “We want you to come into the studio and put a cap on your head and say, ‘Whee!’” I’ll go “Whee!” And I’ll be so happy to go do that.
So would I be happy doing a Mario movie? It would make me ecstatic beyond belief. Because I love working with Nintendo. I work with the most wonderful people, and I’m sure that they would get the most wonderful people to work with. And it could be a project that I could do for many weeks. And so I’d be ecstatic doing that, but I’m also happy anytime they call and say, “Come on up and do a voice in a game.” I’m like, (Mario voice) “Woohoo!” So thank you, I would absolutely love it, and I love everything I do.
Q: Would you be interested in doing a fully voiced Super Mario RPG?
CM: The great thing about my relationship with Nintendo is total trust. If Mr. Miyamoto said, “I’ve been talking with the creative teams, we want to do an RPG fully voiced,” then I would say, “Woohoo!” If he said, “We want to do an RPG with no voice,” I would go, “Whoo!” Of course, if I get to play in the sandbox, I’m happy. I’d say, yes, like I’d do a movie or anything else. Whatever they call me for, I’m ready.
Q: Besides Mario, are there any Nintendo games or franchises that you particularly enjoy?
CM: I love Zelda, and I love Kirby. There’s something about a big pink furball that gets to eat a lot. I love it. Wait until you play the new Zelda. It’s so amazing! It’s a fun and funny amazing adventure!
CM: Sonic the Hedgehog. Who’s that? (laughs) I love Sonic. It’s a funny thing. I love that we got the Olympic Games now, and Sonic and Mario are playing the Olympic Games with all these other characters. There was a day when Sonic and Mario were fighting for first place. It’s like, “Oh my gosh. What if Sonic becomes number one?” At Nintendo, everybody there loves making video games. Everybody there plays video games. There’s a passion and joy for video games like nowhere else in the world. That joy, that passion, and that love for making great games is what helped the company endure for all these years since 1985, and before that when they made all the great games from before. I love that Sonic and Mario are playing now. It’s great. (laughs)
Q: You have voices for Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. Do you have voices for Senior Citizen Mario and Senior Citizen Luigi?
CM: (Mario voice) “Wahoo!” (falls asleep and snores) I am convinced that when I’m 97, that that’s what I’ll be doing. (Mario voice) “It’s-a-me, Ma…” (falls asleep)
Q: What are some of your other hobbies?
CM: I travel. (repeats this phrase 5 more times). In the last year, I’ve been to: Bali, Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand several times, Myanmar, Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam North and South, China 7 times. I just got back from Peru, on a mini-trek to Machu Picchu, and I did a show there. I’m going to Ecuador this year, and also to Abu Dhabi. I love travel for work. When I’m not traveling for work, I travel for pure joy and pleasure.
Q: If you could create any character in a video game, what would it be?
CM: Mario. I love this character. I try to be more like him in my real life. Facing challenges with kindness, agility, and love. Everyone loves the people they’re close to. The true content of your character is how you are with people who really mean nothing to you and can’t give you anything. [I do all these characters], but I try to be Mario, and be nice [in real life]. It’s a good lesson in life.
Q: What is one thing you like about each of the characters you voice?
CM: I love their innocence and joy. I’m a big believer in life…. It’s amazing because everybody goes through hard times. Everyone can be cynical. It’s their option to choose innocence. I fully believe that adults can choose innocence. I don’t want to believe in the memory of pain or scars of the past. I want to live right now in the joy that I’m in. I want to be in the present.
I try to create all my characters out of joy. There seems to be a valid creativity theory that you create from the lack in your soul. It’s the loss in you….. that will never be fulfilled. Out of that, you create because your drive is there…
I love the purity of every character. And every character that I’ve tried to do, I try to do it with great clarity and purity, but from a position of innocence. So even [with] my “villains” like Wario… [He says,] (Wario voice) “Have a rotten day!” All the humor is going to come back at him.
It’s an interesting dynamic. I love creation from innocence. As an adult, I love choosing innocence, and connecting and realizing the beauty, joy, truth, and goodness of every person and every life. I try to instill my characters even if they’re like, “Bip!” I want that joy… that spark.
Q: Is there something you’ve always wanted to say to your fans that you haven’t gotten to say until now?
CM: (smiles) I love you.
Q: Thank you very much!
CM: Thank you so much! Live your dreams. Yahoo!
I want to end on this very important and special message from Charles Martinet.
On Life and Dreams
CM: I could never say I [grew up thinking that I] wanted to be the voice of Mario. But I could always say that I want to be happy. And I want do what gives me joy, which is making other people have joy and have a sense of fun. It’s what I wish for absolutely everybody here. My wish is that you live your dreams, and you live your life, and that you decide what it is that gives you joy and gives other people joy.
Life is very much like a video game. You choose who you’re going to be in the morning, — who your character is – and you go out into the world. As you’re traveling along in your world of your day, making choices and decisions – picking up these weapons and putting those ones down and deciding where you’re going to walk through instead of fight trough – Eventually, you’re doing this for a long time, and then you discover that’s [your] destiny. [You are] the hero of [your] game. Because life happens so fast! There’s no time to waste. You have to start having fun. You have to start living your life. You gotta start loving.
If you want to be loved, go out and love. If you want work, go out and work. You do those things that give you joy. If you wanna be a voice actor, yes you can be a voice actor. You can go and learn about voice acting and do that stuff.
Mainly, be happy. If you’re focused on being happy, then that’s where you’ll be. I knew that I didn’t want to just work for work’s sake because that’s what my dad did, and he hated it. I knew I didn’t want to make that choice. I wanted to be happy. And [now] suddenly, I’m an actor.
Live your dreams!
Thank you very much for reading!
For a list of works that Charles Martinet has done, you can visit his IMDb page. You can also follow him @CharlesMartinet on Twitter.
What are your thoughts on the legacy of Charles Martinet? What’s something you learned or found interesting from his interview? What is your favorite voice that he plays? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below!
Nintendo delivered on their promise to bring a full day of their newest Zelda game at E3 2016. Each stream featured a great amount of footage focusing on different aspects of the gameplay, from exploration to combat. Nintendo kicked off with a gorgeous trailer of the game. Read on to find out more about the new gameplay, enhanced equipment system, exciting combat, expansive map, puzzle-filled Shrines, special Rune powers, unique aesthetics, and amiibo support. I’ll also be examining other things such as the voice in the trailer, where this is in the world, the Sheikah technology, and where this could possibly fit on the timeline. Get ready for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild!
Initial Gameplay Demo
The game demo begins with a female voice, speaking with full English voice acting! This is definitely an exciting change from all previous Zelda games, and will hopefully make the world feel richer. While she talks at the beginning and once another time to give Link a hint about where to go, she is generally quiet. There hasn’t been other voice acting so far besides Link’s usual grunts, and all other dialogue is displayed through the usual text boxes. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome change of pace to have real voice acting.
The voice tells Link to wake up, and we see a nearly naked Link submerged in a black tublike pod. It’s not clear where he is or why he was sleeping there, but he is told by the disembodied voice to activate a small obelisk, from which he gains the Sheikah Slate, an item resembling the Wii U GamePad that Link uses to look at maps and activate special powers.
Following this, some important things happen that teach gamers some crucial mechanics. First of all, there are treasure chests with some clothes for our bare hero. Link can now equip different tops and bottoms that give him more defense, which is a stat that wasn’t present in older Zelda titles. In the official trailer, Link can be seen wearing knight armor and later streams show Link wearing the iconic blue tunic from initial trailers. There appears to be a variety of clothes that affect his defense as well as how warm or cold he is.
A second big mechanic is that Link can finally jump with the press of a button! This mostly comes into play when jumping onto cliffs to climb them or when trying to reach items in trees. Regardless, it’s a huge upgrade for the usually earthbound hero. Scaling cliffs is also a big part, allowing you to go past the boundaries of where you could reach before. There is a stamina meter, represented by a depleting green circle. Similar to Skyward Sword, stamina decreases as you run and climb. Naturally, this means that there is a limit to how high you can go. Hopefully, there is a way to eventually increase stamina.
Link finally escapes the cave and runs towards a cliff. Accompanied by a beautiful piano track, Link reaches the edge of the cliff, and players are greeted with a wondrous view of the expansive environment. In the distance, you can see many mountains – a tribute to one of the original illustrations for The Legend of Zelda for the NES, in which Link stands on a cliff overlooking Hyrule. Other locations you can see in the distance include a vast forest, an old monastery, and what appears to be Death Mountain.
The screen shows you an old man walking towards a bonfire, then leaves you to your own desires. You could go to the old man, and the disembodied voice tells you that you might want to use your Sheikah Stone to find out where to go. But you are otherwise free to do whatever you want. Seriously. You can explore anywhere that you can see, and although the game demo is limited to the opening area, you may be able to go further in the full game. Even on the way to the old man, there are so many distractors, from trees and cliffs that you can climb to apples and mushrooms that sparkle, awaiting your attention.
This freedom is one of the best parts about Breath of the Wild. Like in the original NES LoZ, you can do anything. Of course, there is a path that you must ultimately follow to get through the game. Even then, like in the original and A Link Between Worlds, you can go at it in any order you like. Explore until you find a place of interest, then choose to conquer it now or wait until you’re better prepared. Additionally, you can play the game however you like, with a myriad of ways to solve puzzles or get through enemies. What items or abilities will you use to solve the puzzle? How far outside the box can you think using the resources you have? Do you sneak up on enemies, perform an all-out assault, or attack enemies from afar? Everything is your choice, and the wealth of actions you can perform in a single area is remarkable. And we’re only talking about the demo so far!
Finally, it’s amazing that the game does not start out with a proper tutorial as has been the recent trend with Zelda games. Instead, they give you an opening cave (without telling you what to do), and then throw you out into the world with vague hints about where you need to be. There is no partner like Navi or Midna, nor are there objectives constantly reminding you where to go. Just explore and figure it out yourself, because it’s a big world out there. This is just the injection of exploration this series needed, and I’m glad to see that the team is delivering on their promise to bring forth an expansive open-ended world!
Weapons and Items
Like in other open-world games, Link can now switch weapons with a few simple button presses. Different weapons have varying attack strengths, as to be expected. The bigger change is that Link can use a myriad of weapon types. Unlike in older Zelda games, these weapons are not subweapons, but rather a complete alternative to the sword. For example, Link can wield spears which have a longer reach and axes that can also chop down trees. He can throw certain weapons too, which can especially help if your weapons are on fire, in the case of flinging burning sticks.
As you use weapons, they eventually degrade, which is a bit unfortunate. However, weapons are quite plentiful in the world apparently, at least according to the demo. There are different weapons lying about in the many chests throughout the land, as well as swords just sitting on pedestals, awaiting your control.
Stealing enemies’ weapons is a mechanic that returns from The Wind Waker. Here, it’s as important as ever since you get to keep the dropped weapons. You can only keep a limited amount of weapons in your inventory. If your stock is full, you must drop or use up a weapon in order to pick up another. This constant item management may sound cumbersome, but it will likely become strategic and exciting as more new and exciting weapons open up.
Hunting and foraging will also be important, as they may be one of the few ways to regain health. Cutting grass and defeating enemies appear to no longer drop hearts. Instead, you must eat the items you collect, such as acorns, mushrooms, peppers, and meat. Each item gives you a certain amount of health, which is indicated in the item description. Ingredients can eventually be mixed and cooked to create new dishes. Raw ingredients net you less hearts, while well-cooked items can give you more health back. Specific foods provide other bonuses such as cold resistance. Other foods may even temporarily increase your max health, indicated by yellow hearts extending past your current maximum health gauge. Although no Heart Containers or Pieces of Heart were obtained during the demos, the amount of hearts that can be regained on some foods exceed the initial 3. This implies that there will still be ways to increase your maximum health. On a final note regarding items, Rupees were not seen once during any of the gameplay streams, indicating that they might not be necessary in this game. It would be interesting if this were the first Zelda game to not include Rupees.
Two other pieces of equipment are your sailcloth paraglider (similar to Skyward Sword’s) and shields. Using your paraglider, you can float away to far distances. Shields also function similarly to weapons, and you can find stronger shields as you progress. The real treat of shields this time around is using them as snowboards! Sliding down ramps with an item intended for defense is a fun touch.
Combat and Enemies
Combat is similar to other titles, with the classic L-Targeting system returning. Arrows appear above enemies that you can target. Once your sights are set on an enemy, you can perform the typical L-Targeting attacks such as jump attacks and backflips (as seen in the trailer). Although this iteration takes away the motion control combat of Skyward Sword, Link still attacks enemies with different angles of sword slices. He can also perform the iconic Spin Attack.
If Link attacks an enemy with perfect timing, he will activate a Flurry Rush, in which the enemy slows down for a moment, allowing Link to counter with a barrage of attacks. It’s not clear exactly what perfect timing means, but it’ll probably become easier to do with experience.
Enemies seen throughout the demos include Bokoblins (very common), Chuchus of different colors, and one-eyed Keese. There are many ways to take them down besides regular attacks. You can use a bow and arrow to take them out from afar, or even target explosive barrels to annihilate a group of foes. You can even roll boulders down cliffs to smash enemies as seen in the trailer. Enemies have interesting AI this time around, and will readily respond accordingly to your actions. If you are quiet, they may not notice you at all, but if you slip and make a tiny sound, they will have a question mark appear above their heads and search for the noise. Exclamation marks notify players that enemies have found you and are ready to respond. They don’t just stand around either. Some enemies will immediately head towards you, while some will try to surround you, hoping that its partners will do likewise. There will be plenty of enemy groups in the forms of camps and tree forts, and it will be interesting to see how the battles will differ based on the groups. You can use the Shiekah Slate to see an enemy’s current and maximum hit points, which helps to gauge whether you should engage it or not.
There are also bigger enemies, which are much stronger and have more hit points than the typical enemy. Two big enemies shown were the Steppe Talus, the golem seen in the trailer (who also gave the Treehouse their first Game Over), and the Guardian. The latter is an interesting creature featured prominently in the trailer as a technological being that shoots lasers. When you initially encounter them, they appear to be turned off and in ruin. However, they eventually awaken and cause havoc with their lasers and long tentacles. One of the first Guardians that appear in the demo sports an impressive 500 HP. For comparison, a scanned Bokoblin only had 13 HP.
Maps and HUDs
The map alone reveals that this is a huge game and the biggest Zelda overworld yet! Getting around will require strategic use of the new Sheikah Slate, the GamePad-like item that Link finds at the beginning of the demo. Using the Sheikah Slate’s Scope, you can look in first-person and examine landmarks that you see in the distance. You can place a pin on anything that you find interesting, and it will be marked with a red symbol on your map. The world is so massive that just because you pin something that you can see, it doesn’t mean it’s anywhere close to you. At one point, Treehouse pinned a tower that ended up being way past the opening area. Important areas receive special blue pins that allow you to fast-travel to those locations.
You can also place different stamps wherever you want on the map to remind you of important things. For instance, you may want to put a skull stamp on a big enemy that you can’t defeat yet and a treasure stamp on an area where there are chests that you can’t quite reach yet.
The demo only includes the Great Plateau (although Treehouse streamers did eventually start up games in areas outside of it). The Great Plateau alone looks bigger than Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field, and there are many more huge areas that can just barely be seen on what little of the world map they’ve shown us. This extraordinarily massive world should please any fan of exploration.
The Great Plateau includes a wide array of locations and terrains, for what is considered a “smaller” area. From the map and gameplay, you can see Mt. Hylia in the southwest corner (an icy area that includes the highest peak in the plateau), the Forest of Spirits in the north, the Hylia River that goes past the left side of the plateau, and the Temple of Time. In particular, the Temple of Time appears to be a ruinous area with overgrown vines and seemingly dead Guardians. The end of the trailer shows the iconic Master Sword, somewhat rusted and sitting on an old pedestal. At the moment, it is unknown if it is in the Temple of Time, but it can be assumed that you’ll be able to get it at some point.
The heads-up display, or HUD, reveals some gameplay elements. On the lower right, there is a circular mini-map that shows where you’re going. An interesting change is that on the bottom of the map is the current in-game time. The game is heavily impacted by what time it is, such as a day/night cycle, temperature changes depending on what time it is, and enemies being asleep at certain times. The game follows a 24 hour day cycle, but 5 seconds of real time equate to 5 minutes of in-game time.
Just left of that are two smaller circles. The top one is a temperature gauge that can inform players if it may be too cold or hot for Link. If it’s too cold, Link can put on clothes (which one Treehouse streamer refused to do because she preferred shirtless Link!), or eat certain foods like Spicy Peppers that increase his cold resistance. Below that is a purple sonograph that records how much sound you’re currently making. This is important for measuring how stealthy you are when approaching enemies. This will likely also come into play if BotW follows the trend of having an obligatory stealth area.
Shrines and Runes
Breath of the Wild features both dungeons and shrines. The former was never shown on a stream, but was mentioned as being more or less a typical Zelda dungeon experience. Shrines, on the other hand, are new mini-dungeons that test your mettle with a certain type of puzzle or ability. The first 4 Shrines are not too long and only took Treehouse streamers about 10-15 minutes each, but later shrines will be longer. There are over 100 of these mini-dungeons, ensuring no end to those seeking puzzle-room gameplay.
The first 4 Shrines are required to obtain the sailcloth from the old man, but they can be attempted in any order. Within these beginner shrines, Link is able to update the Sheikah Slate with a Rune, or special ability that can be activated at will. Think of Runes like apps that can be downloaded onto a smartphone. The runes we saw were remote bombs, magnetic powers, ice pillar creation, and stopping time. These Runes are more versatile than they seem. For instance, Magnesis can be used to pick up metal slabs on the floor, open doors, and pull treasure chests towards you. Remote Bombs come in both round and cube forms, forcing you to choose whichever one works for a given situation. Creating ice pillars is a fun throwback to the Cane of Somaria, which allowed players to create blocks out of nothing in A Link to the Past. Through the Cryonis Rune, you can make a climbable pillar of ice emerge from water without the need for Ice Arrows. Finally, you can stop time for a single item using the Stasis Rune. An obvious use is stopping moving platforms and gears. However, Treehouse showed an interesting use as well. By wailing on the item in stasis, you can build up force applied to it. Once stasis expires on the item, it will go flying. It’ll definitely be exciting to see how these Runes impact gameplay and promote further exploration and shenanigans!
Graphics and Sound
The graphics look incredibly gorgeous so far, showing off a gouache painting style, signified by its opaque watercolors. It resembles an even more realized version of Skyward Sword’s graphics. The game comes alive with each item fitting into the world, and yet standing out so beautifully. The Treehouse team likened it to an artform called open-air painting, as if the artists sat down in front of an object and painted it in a real-world setting. There is a lot of attention to detail as well, with particles of soot falling down from the mountaintop and Link’s clothes dripping wet when emerging from water.
On the music side, BotW distinctly lacks it. Most of the time, you will only hear sound effects. Occasionally, pieces of music will play like the beautiful piano piece heard when Link first stands on the cliff’s edge and a sweet piece while Link is floating with his sailcloth. Music will also play during enemy battles, but it’s not as loud as in previous titles. In fact, the music is sometimes not that noticeable when immersed in gameplay. It’s as if the music just flows naturally, coming and going. This choice was made to account for everyone’s unique experience with the game. Everyone will play in a different style, and the musical pieces that play will represent that. Music will play during key moments, likely evoking emotions in players. The Treehouse promises an aural experience with music that will resonate and stand out when juxtaposed with the overall lack of music. As a fan of Zelda music, I firmly hope this is true.
There will be voice acting, and it will be for more than the woman from the beginning. Not every character will be voiced, as seen through the old men who only communicates via text boxes. However, there will be more voices, most likely main characters. Link will remain silent as usual, only making grunting noises and shouts.
Four amiibo were announced to be compatible with BotW. Three of them are brand new figurines created for the game and include “Archer Link,” “Rider Link,” and a “Guardian.” The Guardian will be the first amiibo to include posable parts (its tentacles). The functionality has not been revealed yet.
The 4th compatible amiibo is an already existing amiibo, Wolf Link. This amiibo originally came with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U. When scanned with BotW, Wolf Link will suddenly appear next to regular Link. In what is the cutest functionality of any amiibo, Wolf Link will fight alongside you, hunting for food while you run around. Your faithful wolf companion comes with 3 hearts, but you can increase that number based on how many hearts you have saved onto the amiibo when scanning it in Twilight Princess HD. Once Wolf Link dies, you must wait a full day in real life before scanning it again.
Theories & Analysis
Here, I will present some quick thoughts on questions and speculations based on my analysis of the gameplay and trailers. The following represents possibilities based on what already exists, but does not necessarily indicate the truth of what’s going on, as we lack pretty much all story information and a full game. This makes talking about it even more exciting, though!
Mysterious Female Voice
Starting off, who is that mysterious female voice who tells Link to wake up? The most obvious speculation is that it’s Zelda. In A Link to the Past, the game begins with Zelda crying to Link for help through some telekinetic power. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the same is happening here. The disembodied voice also seems to know that Link is the special light in the world who will shine throughout Hyrule. It could still be any other female sage or maiden, as in other Zelda games, but Zelda herself would be the most likely and probably best choice. Also, it’s interesting that she calls him Link. That would imply that you can’t change the name, since it’s already been voiced so clearly.
In fact, the bigger question is where is Link when he starts off the demo? Assuming this is also the start of the game, Link begins by opening his eyes. Lying nearly submerged in a black tub filled with water, it seems like he was sleeping for quite some time. Either that, or Link has some odd sleep habits. Link usually begins his games by waking up, but this is a unique case where he was sleeping inside of a cave. So why was he sleeping and how did he lock himself in that cave? Maybe he was put there, left in stasis until a certain time when he’d be needed. Perhaps this slumber was longer than a typical sleep. He may even be a Link from long ago (not necessarily from an older game, but a Link that was put to sleep until evil arose). Either way, he was woken up by a voice telling him to open his eyes, so that might have been the magic trigger to summon the Hero of Time.
Where in the World is Link?
We know that the game begins in the Great Plateau. We also know that this place is indeed known as Hyrule, according to the first old man Link encounters. However, where is the Great Plateau exactly? Brief glimpses of the map indicate that this is part of an area known as Central Hyrule and that the Temple of Time is an area within it. In Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and The Wind Waker, the Temple of Time is indeed somewhere around the middle (not perfectly so). Depending on where this is in the timeline, this is likely that same area, based on the Temple of Time’s location alone. There are other interesting areas on the Great Plateau like Mt. Hylia that are not accounted for on a regular map, and we don’t know exactly what lies outside. The exception is a mysterious black castle surrounded by pink mist. This is probably Ganon’s Castle, though it’s very unclear. Interestingly enough, there is a shadow monster with pink mist in the trailer, so perhaps that’s related to this mysterious castle’s surroundings.
Where does this fit on the timeline?
The Legend of Zelda timeline is extremely complicated, so this is written with the assumption that you know what the timeline looks like. Here are our big clues to figuring this out.
There are old men that look very similar to the ones in the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.
According to the old man, they are in Hyrule.
Ganon, both the creature and the name, exist in this time.
The Temple of Time is present, but in ruins.
Guardians seem to represent old technology, similarly to the robots from Skyward Sword.
The Sheikah Slate and symbol exist, representing technology again as well as the presence of the Sheikah.
The Master Sword is in the trailer, and is rusted.
A location that resembles Eldin Bridge appears in the trailer.
Koroks, the cute leaf creatures from The Wind Waker,
The final clue alone is huge enough to narrow it down, but let’s look at the other clues as well. The old men in this game (and the fact that there is a reference to an original NES Zelda illustration within the first few minutes of the game) appear to be throwbacks to the original Legend of Zelda. It makes sense given the open-world gameplay of BotW and its insistence on making players feel like they’re playing a fully realized 3D version of the classic game. So although it feels like it could just be along the timeline of the original games, it’s hard to say judging just based on that.
Ganon exists in this timeline, so it is most likely after Ocarina of Time, since Ganon in his recognizable pig form (or thief form) has never been in a game before OoT in the timeline. This makes it complicated, since there are three alternate branches following OoT, but it helps to know that our favorite pigman is already well-known.
The Temple of Time’s presence helps confirm this, since it has also not been in a game preceding OoT. It has only been in the child and adult timeline branches so far, in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess (in ruins and in past form) respectively. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be in the timeline in which the hero dies. However, there are already so many games in that timeline without the Temple that it’s likely that Ganon destroyed it upon winning during Ocarina of Time. The Master Sword is rusted in the trailer. Although the Temple of Time is also in ruins and filled with overgrown vines in Twilight Princess, the Master Sword seemed pretty nice and pristine when Link picked it up in that game. In contrast, The Wind Waker had a world of ruin already, and there was no chance any regular Joe was going to get the Master Sword. This is due to the hero being forgotten, which I’ll come back to in a second.
The Sheikah race exists, based on the fact that there is a key item known as the Sheikah Slate. The Sheikah race has always protected Princess Zelda, starting with Impa in Skyward Sword. However, we don’t regularly see Sheikah in games following Ocarina of Time. We do see Impa sometimes, but she is never confirmed to be a Sheikah in games following OoT. Based on the Sheikah Slate’s importance and the fact that everyone at Nintendo is wearing a shirt with the Sheikah symbol on it, they are probably important in the game, and we will likely learn more about it. Thus, it doesn’t help us at the moment to know about the Sheikah.
What is more useful is the fact that both the Sheikah Slate and Guardians seem to represent old technology. We saw technology in Skyward Sword through the Ancient Robots, which could only be activated in the past. Even in the first confirmed game in the timeline, robots were considered ancient technology. What’s most mysterious is the fact that the Sheikah Slate and Guardians appear to be working in this point in time with seemingly no explanation. As established before, the game could not take place before Skyward Sword, so an explanation for this technology is unclear.
Our final two clues reflect two completely different timelines. The place resembling Eldin Bridge, from Twilight Princess is seen briefly in the trailer. Koroks, leaf creatures from The Wind Waker are seen throughout the livestream gameplay. It’s unclear whether it is the Eldin Bridge, and it wouldn’t be unheard of if something like the Eldin Bridge also existed in the Wind Waker timeline. Plus, Koroks are living forest spirits that were only in The Wind Waker, making somewhere in that timeline the probable answer.
As to when exactly it takes place, there are two possibilities. It could be sometime following The Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass saga, in a world where land has finally come back, ripe for exploring. There are 100 years that take place in-between PH and its sequel, Spirit Tracks, so it’s entirely possible we’re looking at the rebirth of Hyrule (you know, before they added trains). The name Breath of the Wild implies wild exploration and what’s wilder than venturing through an unknown land. My initial thought while watching the streams was that this could be directly following Skyward Sword in which a new Link is exploring the unknown land of Hyrule. However, that contradicts every paragraph before this, so this is the other land to pioneer.
BotW could also theoretically take place before The Wind Waker, highlighting the downfall of Hyrule before the water appears. This makes a little less sense to me since the reason Ganon took over the world in that timeline was because adult Link wasn’t there to stop him anymore. So unless BotW has a tragic end, this seems less likely. Plus Koroks already exist, and I assume that they and the Rito tribe (also from TWW) came to be after Hyrule was flooded.
One thing to note is that they have confirmed that there will be towns and people in the game, but that it would spoil the story. Perhaps it would be spoiled because these would all be upstart towns. It might reveal that people are just looking for places to inhabit. This is all theory, but this is why I believe the proper place in the timeline for Breath of the Wild is between Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks when the land of Hyrule returned to the world.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is slated for March 2017 and will release for both the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo NX consoles. There are no indications that they will be different. By next year, many players will be able to experience this absolutely massive game, filled with the open-world that producer Eiji Aonuma has always promised. It is yet unknown how expansive the world will be, but given the map and the incredible length of the demo for a singular area, this game will be packed to the brim with content. And that content will be amazing, with lots of unique weapons, puzzle-filled shrines and dungeons, fun Runes that change the game, and a story that unfolds itself as you learn about the lore. Backed by gorgeous graphics and beautiful piano pieces, this game is already primed to be amazing.
Most importantly, the game looks fun! Everyone at Treehouse Live was just enjoying the game, whether using runes to make mischief or just doing wacky things on screen. The sky’s the limit for this game, and you can play it however you want. That’s the best part about it. I look forward to diving into this open world, speculating about this iteration of Hyrule, and experiencing the largest game in The Legend of Zelda franchise with you when the game finally releases!
What are your thoughts so far on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Are you looking forward to playing it? What is the best thing you’ve seen so far for it? If you’re at E3, have you played it and what do you think? What are your own theories and speculations regarding the game and what are your thoughts on my own theories? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
In place of the usual review this week, I wanted to focus on giving some updates. The first big celebratory update is that my wife and I just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! Hopefully, that satisfactorily explains why we took a vacation this past week!
The next update is that The Well-Red Mage and Retr0pia75 have nominated me for the Liebster Award! I’ll get to more of that later in my post, but I just wanted to make sure you all knew how incredibly grateful I am for your readership and support! I started this blog during a time when I needed a getaway. As people who know me very well (and probably anyone who reads this) can attest, I am a huge fan of video games, especially Nintendo titles. The one thing I almost love more than video games is talking about them. Writing video game reviews has been a great way for me to compose my thoughts and inform others about the merits and demerits of games that I’ve been playing. Being able to share what a game is about and whether it’s worth looking into fills me with joy, and being able to engage in related discussion with you in the comments has been just as rewarding.
I have dreams related to the games industry, and everyone’s support and encouragement have consistently made me feel like I am making meaningful steps towards achieving my dreams. Even though I just started a few months ago, I have been incredibly blessed to be working with Miketendo64, contributing my content to this excellent site. I have also been so grateful by everyone’s support through your likes, comments, responses, and encouragements. My first review, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, was simply something I put up in an effort to jumpstart my entry into games journalism. My latest review of Banjo-Kazooie was met with many likes and comments that made me feel like it was all worth it. My Pokemon Sun and Moon Analysis garnered in the most views I have ever had, and I absolutely loved working on it and talking about the next generation with you all! Because of all of you, I have managed to get over 1000 views, which is beyond my wildest dreams! Please know that I’m not saying any of this to brag, but rather to show how absolutely humbled I am that you would read and discuss video games with me. It means so much to me, and I just have to say a resounding, “Thank you!”
I am happy to announce that I have written my first review for Darkstation.com. It’s for a game called Paranautical Activity for the Wii U, and you can find it here. This step in my life is significant as I’ve always wanted to write professionally and have my reviews be a part of GameRankings and Metacritic. It’s thanks to the support you have shown me during these past few months. Don’t worry though, as I will still be updating this site and Miketendo64 following the same schedule of bringing you high-quality informed reviews on a weekly basis. In fact, with E3 happening just next week, I look forward to writing up previews and analysis of what Nintendo has to offer (which is now more than Zelda U!).
I also wanted to promote my brand new Facebook page, which you can find here and on the left sidebar. Please feel free to like, comment, and share anything on there. You can also follow me @MrPanda2002 on Twitter, which you may have seen on my sidebar. I like to update mostly with news and insights on video games, anime, and nerdy anime/comic conventions. Your help will always be appreciated! I want to continue building my network of supportive writers, gamers, and all-around awesome people like yourselves. Likewise, please let me know how I can support you!
Thank you again, everyone! Thank you to my wonderful wife for supporting me every step of the way. Thank you to Miketendo64 for taking a new writer like myself in. Thank you to Darkstation for believing in my skills. Please make sure you check out both of these sites for high-quality gaming news, features, and reviews! Finally, thank you all who have ever liked and commented on my posts and to those of you without WordPress accounts who have supported me with encouragement and affirmation!
This brings me to the second half of my post. It means a lot to me that The Well-Red Mage and Retr0pia75 would even consider nominating me for the Liebster Award, and I wanted to give a shoutout to both of them. The Well-Red Mage (and the rest of the mage team) runs an excellent site full of quality gaming news and reviews. They’re great sources of knowledge, and The Well-Red Mage has been very supportive of me since I started, which means a lot and has gone a long way. Retr0pia75 runs an excellent site featuring some of the best reviews of obscure games. Seriously, it’s impressive to see so many forgotten games make a comeback through this site. Please check them out! If there was anyone else who had previously nominated me, and I didn’t acknowledge you, please let me know. I may have just missed you (I only found out about these awards because I was told).
That said, the Liebster Award is a special one that recognizes bloggers, bringing them together with the focus of helping others discover new blogs.
Here are the rules:
Thank the person who nominated you and answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
Nominate 11 people and give them 11 different questions to answer.
Since I have 2 different nominations, I’ll just answer both sets, for an even 22 questions.
DC or Marvel? Marvel, mostly because of the excellent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies
Favorite superhero? Somewhat of a cop-out answer, but Goku from Dragon Ball Z. Hey, I believe he’s a superhero of sorts.
Favorite book? Another cop-out, but the manga Death Note. Nothing beats the cat-and-mouse detective thriller coupled with its amazing artwork!
Favorite non-gaming pasttime? Anime
Favorite thing about blogging and your blogging goals? I have particular personal goals that I’d rather divulge to those I know, but as far as my favorite thing about blogging, see the entire first 5 paragraphs above!
Favorite thing you find most inspirational in life? The support of my wife and friends
Favorite thing about The Well-Red Mage? The Well-Red Mage is a great individual, willing to lift others up and promote them. Hats off to you, Well-Red Mage!
Favorite plant? Bulbasaur
Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon? Probably Crash Bandicoot, though I didn’t play these games when I was younger, to be honest.
Best E3 ever? 2005, in which Shigeru Miyamoto donned a sword and shield in front of a crowd to promote the brand new trailer of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Most overrated TV show? I’m not too big on non-anime TV, so I don’t know if I can accurately answer this one…
Favorite Nintendo character? Link
Worst movie you’ve ever seen? Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, in a hilarious way.
Best video game soundtrack? I could cop-out and say Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but I’ll be fair and say Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest.
Most tragic downfall of a video game company/franchise? Sega
Least awful Michael Bay film? The first Transformers
Here are my 11 nominations for the Liebster Award. Please feel free to do with it what you will. Even if you don’t want to participate, know that I respect your work and encourage others to check out your sites! I’m sorry if you were already previously nominated. For those not nominated, know that you’re still doing a great job, and that’s why I’m following you!
When the Nintendo 64 came out, Super Mario 64 jumpstarted a genre of games known by fans as “3D collectathon platfomers.” They were similar to sidescrolling platformers, except featuring bigger 3D open worlds that players could explore. As the word “collectathon” implies, these games tasked players to amass large amounts of collectibles to progress. UK-based developers at Rare wanted a piece of the action and repurposed one of their unreleased RPG adventure titles, Project Dream, into their own 3D platformer. Following in the footsteps of SM64, they created explorable 3D environments, lovable mascots with an arsenal of moves, and loads of in-game collectibles. Little did Rare’s developers know that they would create one of the most beloved video games of all time and one of the pinnacles of the 3D collectathon platformer: Banjo-Kazooie.
Banjo-Kazooie has a simple story that invokes a fairytale-like charm. The hideous witch Gruntilda wishes to be the most beautiful woman in all the land. Upon learning that a young female bear named Tooty is more beautiful, Gruntilda kidnaps her, planning to sap her looks using a beauty-transfer machine. Enter Tooty’s older brother, Banjo, the kindhearted bear, and Kazooie, the smart-alecky red breegull who resides in Banjo’s backpack. This unlikely duo sets out to rescue Tooty and defeat the evil Gruntilda once and for all. The plot works well to evoke feelings that one might find in a classic Disney fairytale movie and sells the talking animals vs. wicked witch premise effectively.
While the story may sound a bit dry, its execution is anything but. The whole game comes off like a parody of children’s entertainment, told confidently through its cheeky dialogue, self-referential jokes, and instances of hidden adult humor. Even the way characters are presented is untraditional. Banjo is unlike your typical platforming hero and would likely have stayed home if Tooty wasn’t his sister. Kazooie, on the other hand, is outgoing and wisecracking, taking every opportunity possible to insult everyone, including characters who are on their side. Even Gruntilda is silly, communicating exclusively in rhymes and concocting schemes that make little sense, like using a machine to steal beauty and hosting a game show. There are plenty of other likable characters, such as Bottles the nearsighted mole, Gobi the unsuspecting camel, and Mumbo Jumbo the skull-faced shaman. Although all of these characters help you in some form, they usually first engage in witty dialogue filled with quips and sarcasm, mostly thanks to Kazooie’s berating nature.
The goal of Banjo-Kazooie is to explore the different locales of Gruntilda’s castle to collect Jiggies, jigsaw pieces that unlock new worlds. Like in Super Mario 64, the castle acts as a hub world connecting you to 9 diverse themed worlds, such as a beach, swamp, haunted mansion, ship, and desert. While these types are commonplace now, BK was one of the first to showcase these areas in a 3D environment.
Each world is filled with enemies, puzzles, switches, and minigames that you must complete to earn the 10 Jiggies hidden within. Unlike Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie allows you to stay in the world after collecting a Jiggy, fostering an emphasis of exploring and collecting. In a true open-world sense, you are free to achieve these goals in any order within a world. Provided you have learned the necessary moves, you can choose which objective you want to tackle first, or even go back and forth between them. The worlds are like self-contained theme parks with no shortage of attractions. Yet the game guides you to new tasks seamlessly, taunting you with places in the distance and teasing you with collectibles nearby. Even the hub castle has a floor plan filled with secrets and hidden passageways. Rare pulls no punches in the variety of ways you obtain Jiggies. Prepare to go inside a mechanical shark, stomp a camel to force it to unwillingly water plants, get flushed down a toilet, lead a turtle musical choir, and sled onto a polar bear’s stomach to make him cough up a valuable puzzle piece.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a collectathon if Jiggies were the only MacGuffins. There are also honeycombs that refill your health, egg ammunition for shooting, feathers that let you fly, Mumbo tokens that allow you to transform, Jinjos who must be rescued, and Musical Notes. There is plenty to collect, but it never feels overwhelming compared to its sequels and competing 3D platformers. In particular, Musical Notes are the only other collectibles vital to completing the game. There are 100 Notes in each world, and they unlock Note Doors throughout the castle. The primary caveat regarding Notes is that they reset whenever you die or exit the world. Since you need a majority of Notes to beat the game, you will essentially have to stay within a world and collect every Note you can find (ideally all 100). You may be missing a few, not know where they are, accidentally lose a life (which can happen unforgivingly in later worlds), and have to start over. Although this problem is rectified in later installments and remasters, it can be frustrating for those playing the original N64 version.
Banjo and Kazooie have a solid moveset that expands with each level, courtesy of Bottles the move tutor mole. The duo feels very natural to control, and each move is easy to learn. They work well as a team, with Banjo providing the mobility and Kazooie in charge of wing flap jumping, pecking enemies, and shooting eggs. In many ways, Kazooie feels like the true star due to her versatility. Even mobility-wise, she eventually learns how to Talon Trot, walking on her legs at a brisker pace and carrying Banjo for a change. The pair can also fly and swim. When Kazooie takes to the skies, it feels liberating as you explore the heights of what the world has to offer. In contrast, swimming is pretty clunky with Banjo’s slow turn radius and a depleting oxygen bar, preventing this from being a fun experience. Thankfully, there is only one level with a focus on swimming for long periods of time. Finally, the camera is controlled by the C-buttons. Instead of moving gradually, the camera instantly shifts to one of several angles depending on which button you press. Occasionally, the camera will move on its own to present a forced angle. Overall, there aren’t many issues with the camera, albeit being archaic by modern standards.
If it weren’t enough to control a bear with a bird in his backpack, you can also transform into different animals and objects with the aid of the shaman Mumbo Jumbo. By paying him Mumbo tokens, you gain the ability to transform into a termite, crocodile, walrus, and a few other surprises. These transformations keep gameplay fresh, providing a new angle to look at the world and opening up exclusive missions that you can only complete as that morph.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are vibrant, bright, and colorful. The textures aren’t always smooth, but the cartoonish art more than makes up for it. Every character is designed with personality, and it shows through their animations and idle poses. Worlds are full of detail, with intricate designs of houses, ships, and interiors. There is also a sense of scope, allowing you to see explorable mountains that are far away. As a middle-era Nintendo 64 title, Banjo-Kazooie looks as good as they come.
The music, composed by Grant Kirkhope, is exceptionally pleasing to the ears. Every song is catchy and upbeat, with each one fitting the level’s theme perfectly. Even Gruntilda’s hub castle is a fun inspired rendition of “Teddy Bear Picnic,” with slight variations of the melody based on which world you are near. The jingles that play when you collect each individual item are distinct and recognizable. They’re so memorable that you will likely remember the Jiggy jingle long after you’ve finished the game. Sound effects are spot on and make slapstick cartoonish noises whenever you hit anything. The fact that everyone talks in mumbles and gargles is so lovable and gives each character a unique personality, despite no proper voice acting.
The game takes roughly 10 hours to beat. It may take a bit longer to get 100% depending on how your perfect Note runs go. Since a regular playthrough basically demands close to 100% completion, you will likely have explored almost everything by the time the credits roll. For Banjo-Kazooie, the replay value is in simply wanting to play it again. It’s fun to just go back, relive the magic, and collect everything. This game is fairly short that speedruns, no-death runs, and completionist playthroughs are easy to justify and fun to boot. For completionists especially, this game is a dream come true with plenty to do and rewards for accomplishing it all.
The 3D collectathon platformer genre has not been explored in recent years, and yet Banjo-Kazooie is so exemplary that revisiting it is nearly enough to whet that appetite. Between the worlds, moveset, and transformations, there is so much variety in the game that it hardly ever feels tedious. Every world is an adventure waiting to happen, sprinkled with missions, minigames, and collectible goodies. There is plenty of personality in the characters and dialogue that contribute to its charm. If you have never played Banjo-Kazooie, it’s worth checking out as it truly is at the peak of 3D platforming.
What do you think of Banjo-Kazooie? What about any of its sequels? What is your favorite 3D Collectathon Platformer? Would you like to see this genre come back? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Note: This review was requested by Sam Lilly of Hub World HQ. If you would like to request a review, please do so in the comments below! I will try to fulfill as many requests as I reasonably can!