The Great Nintendo Delay: Gaming Apocalypse or Gift in Disguise?


posted 9/13/2005 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
The past weeks have brought hot debate to the gaming community, concerning one of the most anticipated upcoming titles. All three current generation consoles have one foot in the grave, with the impending November release of the Xbox 360, and 2006 ship dates for the beefy PlayStation 3 and enigmatic Nintendo Revolution. It seems that this generation’s consoles are slowly dying as is typical every five years or so, but Nintendo’s GameCube has one heavy hitter left: The Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess.

Zelda is arguably Nintendo’s flagship franchise, with its enchanting fantasy setting and subdued, mysterious characters. GameCube’s first Zelda title, Windwaker, sported a controversial cell-shaded art style and gameplay almost identical to past installments, but Twilight Princess promises to be the spiritual successor to Ocarina of Time, the most popular Zelda yet and a groundbreaking title in and of itself.

There’s just one problem: Twilight Princess has been delayed. Substantially. Originally slated for a November 05 release, the new Zelda’s been pushed back to April of 06. That’s a mighty fine stretch, especially for hungry fans. What’s more, many insiders speculated that Twilight Princess’ November release was originally positioned to steal the 360’s thunder. Now they say that Nintendo has shot themselves in the foot by not challenging Microsoft’s console. Well, let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Eiji Onouma, the director of Princess, says that Nintendo needs more time to perfect the title. If a longer wait means a better game, I’m all for it, as long as it doesn’t reach the embarrassing proportions of Duke Nukem Forever. Also, pitting Zelda against the new Xbox is foolhardy. It’s a game, granted a damn good game, a game with a LOT of anticipation, but the 360 is a CONSOLE. And Microsoft is already hyping the holy hell out of it.

Even if the 360 turns out to be a little disappointing, it won’t matter; Halo 2 was admittedly underwhelming but fans showed up in droves to throw their money at EB cashiers. Microsoft is an expert on hype tactics. Even if the 360’s launch list is somewhat weak, even if Halo 3 is absent from launch, even if the full 360 package costs 400 smackers, people will still line up to buy it. Zelda can’t change that, and Nintendo knows it.

And now we have the curious possibility that Princess will become a launch title for the Revolution. Personally, I don’t think it’s likely, but again we’re dealing with Nintendo. So it’s possible, if not probable. In the end, it might turn out to be a killer app for the Revolution anyway; the console will be backward compatible with all GameCube software. No matter what Nintendo machine you have, you’ll be able to play the new Zelda when it arrives.

Overshadowed by the Zelda situation is another delay: Metroid Prime Hunters. This one’s been in development for the DS since before the portable launched. The DS even comes packaged with a Hunters demo, so why is the full game being pushed back to first quarter 06? Simple. They’re implementing online play. Starting this holiday season, the DS is going Wifi in a big way. Mario Kart and Animal Crossing are already onboard, and an online Metroid title will really round out the deal.

The emphasis of Hunters is its multiplayer, using the mechanics of the Cube’s first-person Metroid Prime series in a deathmatch scenario. Hunters goes a long way toward showing that the DS is an honest-to-god shooter console, and without online multiplayer, Hunters would feel almost neutered. While Hunters previously would only support blue tooth connectivity, Nintendo recently revealed that the game would be enabled for the Nintendo Wifi Connection service. Check the game’s website,, for confirmation.

So in the end, look at it this way. Good things come to those who wait. Is the Zelda delay a bad idea? Not necessarily, if we’re getting a better game because of it. And honestly, how many people are going to buy Cubes this late in the lifecycle for one game? The bottom line is we’re getting a masterpiece, and the delay means that it’ll be even juicier when we finally get out hands on it.

The Hunters issue isn’t as devastating, because we’ll have Mario Kart DS to keep us sated and we have online Metroid to look forward to. Not to mention Metroid Prime Pinball and that nifty rumble pack peripheral, coming out this October. Bottom line, DON’T JUMP OFF THAT BUILDING YET. Everything is going to be just fine.
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