Friday, February 14, 2014

Goat In!

The goats are in the barn.  That is, the tutorial section of Twilight Princess is done.  It's been a good couple years since I played it, so my perspective is as clear as possible.

What Are We Doing and Why?

Nintendo has done their best to integrate this game's tutorial with the beginning of the story. Honestly, I think they succeeded.  Each of the little tasks you undertake help establish game mechanics for future use, then put them to the test.  Let's go one by one and discuss where each fits in.

First, you have to find a cradle for the pregnant lady.  Doing this requires climbing vines, jumping from platforms, and using the hawk.  Each of which is given a little instruction via NPC dialogue. The goal is disconnected from the mechanics, and the game is attempting to teach you these things in the background, rather than straight up instruction.

Next, you have to catch a fish for a cat.  I've seen a decent amount of criticism over this one.  People wonder why Nintendo devoted time teaching you fishing, something you don't use for a while, and is a minigame mechanic anyway.  Really, the fishing is incidental: this is teaching you how to equip and use B items.

Then you buy the slingshot, giving you a look at how shops work.  You also have to spend some time gathering rupees. Doing so demonstrates that exploration can often be rewarding in this game.

You also learn to ride the horse and fight in this sequence.  The former is done in a goat herding minigame, the latter in a more traditional step by step tutorial.

Tutorial Dungeon

While I didn't recognize it as such at the time, this is what searching for the kid and monkey really is.  It's a test asking you to demonstrate the things you learned earlier.

You have to use items, explore, and fight your way through a small cave system.  I really like the way the tutorial leads into this, and gets the player up and running rather quickly.

Was It Too Long?

People complain about the length of this section all the time.  In fact, it's usually noted as a starting point for Nintendo's overly long tutorial sections in later games.

All told, it took me an hour to go from the beginning of the game, to completing the tutorial dungeon.  I'd estimate I took around 20 minutes on the true tutorials, including cutscenes, then got stupidly lost in the tutorial dungeon for a bit of a time loss.

That's really not all that long, when you consider that is probably less than 5% of total play time in Twilight Princess.  Plus, seasoned Zelda players will race through this quite fast.

Looking back, the complaints don't seem as justified, and nothing feels like unneeded padding.

More To Come

Stay tuned for stuff I would improve and a comparison to Skyward Sword.

Also, I'm going to analyze the whole game like this.  Be on the lookout for Part 2.

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