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by the NWR Staff - July 25, 2000, 5:03 pm PDT

This weeks editions include Questions about our IGN64 Rebuttle, The Next Zelda, and of course...the demise of the D-Pad.

Digital Shadow asks, I

always read everything on Dolphin that's available for me to read,

and dammit, I loved it. The system sounds almost perfect. When IGN

released their news the other week, I was even more excited than I

could ever be. However, I read your "rebuttle" and that

really put a damp cloth on my happiness. The way you guys put it,

you make it sound like Nintendo is again making bad choices. I

will always have great faith in the company. However, I really

can't stand to here that they are, after the release of the 64,

still not getting it. Most of the stuff on the internet are

rumors, but I want to really hear your opinion on Nintendo's

stance. Also, is that Mini DVD a rumor, or an actual fact? Thank

you, and here is to Dolphin.

Mike Says: The

mini DVD stuff, like almost everything, is rumor until Nintendo

says anything either way. So IGN's material has to be taken with a

grain of salt, as do our comments about their comments.

Nintendo is doing a lot of

very right things with the Dolphin, regardless of our IGN replies,

but nobody should expect things to be perfect. People say Dolphin

is nicer to program for, but they can't due to lack of tools.

Nintendo finally drops ROMs, but the system doesn't play DVD

movies. There's a flipside to everything, but they are still going

in a right direction, in my view.

Ed Says: Sorry if

I dampened your enthusiasm at hearing the IGN64 news. I just

didn't want anyone to get too excited one way or another. The

information they released can be taken either positively or

negatively, I think, and none of it is carved in stone...

scratched maybe, but not carved. Still, as I said at the end of my

rebuttle, I thought most of the news was pretty good, with the

controller being the glaring exception.

I believe Nintendo is doing

a good job with Project Dolphin so far. Even if they use a smaller

DVD (still not a concrete fact yet), they should still have plenty

of space for most games. And while the second-party situation (and

third-party situation, for that matter) concerns me, Nintendo's

own software is where it all starts, and we were given no inkling

as to how they stand. Afterall, the "killer apps" are

likely to come from in-house at first... and it's these games upon

which our faith in Nintendo is really based. There's nothing in

the IGN64 story that's made that faith waver... er, well maybe the

controller... but I'll ignore that for now. :>

Billy Says: Yeah, no

one is trying to rain on anyones parade. It was our opinion on

IGN64's speculation. I agree with Ed on this... the surface was

scratched, but I am still weary of what Nintendo will ultimately

unleash at Spaceworld this year. I'm not worried.

The mini DVD is rumor, but

could be true. I don't mind it. I would want them caddied though.

Max Says:

Very little is actual "fact" at this

point and as I dredge myself back into the whole "Dolphin

World" I have to tip my hat to anyone who's dug up ANYTHING

on this elusive console. IGN64's article was really well-done and

provided some great new details, albeit ones comprised of rumors

& speculations (and that includes the "mini"

proprietary DVD format they talked about). So, keep in mind

everything said is possible, even probable-- just don't get too

excited.

Justin Says:

Well, since I'm a lazy bum and didn't get my comments in during

the last crack on the IGN article I'll say my mini-piece here.


Mini DVD tech-- Generally I'd consider this a good thing as long

as we aren't talking getting below 2 GB or so. Just enough to be

in the healthy middle between Sega and Sony. Look at DC games,

though developers have an extra 200+ MB of space over a

traditional CD many of them are still making CD-sized or smaller

games. With the exception of movie-laden games, you don't need

THAT much space 80% of the time. Still, you have to think 4-5

years ahead and assume that less than, say, 2 GB may not cut the

mustard. I also agree with Billy... they need that sucker to have

a caddy to keep in their kid-safe mode and it could also be useful

to make piracy more difficult depending on the design.

As for all the rest, I

didn't find much of it interesting since it was all smoke and

mirrors and you could tell they were stretching. That's OK, it

makes people think... just don't put much stock in it just yet.

Volvagia asks, Am I the

only person who feels that Zelda shouldn't be available on the

release on the Dolphin? It took about 4 years for Zelda: Ocarina

of Time to become so great, and in my book, the best video game

ever created. If Zelda is on the starting lineup, what kind of a

rushed job will that be? I, as well as many other fans, would be

deeply dissapointed. So for those who are screaming for a Zelda

release when the Dolphin comes out, think twice... you don't want

to rush the master, Miyamoto.

Any idea how far Miyamoto

is on Mario? It would be cool for that to be in the starting

line-up.

Mike Says: Nintendo

knows better than to rush Shiggy, and that is a reason why there

are console delays. I don't think Zelda will be a launch title

because that's shooting your whole wad at once. I believe they'll

go with the primary figure head, Mario, and have solid supporting

cast from Rare and others.

I think

they'll hold on to Zelda since gamers will still be drinking in

Majora's Mask. It will be 5 years since having a Mario sequel, so

we are due for a splash.

Ed Says:

I really wouldn't expect a Zelda game at launch either. The only

way it'd be there is if there's no Mario game at launch. I

remember reading a quote in Next-Gen a while back about Miyamoto

saying he was working on a Dolphin game that could be either a

Zelda or a Mario game. So if we do see a Zelda, it'd be that

game... and thus a Mario game would have to wait.

As for how far

along that game is? Based on a launch for the middle of next year,

I'll guess 60%. If it's going to be at Spaceworld, the foundation

is there and the general structure/design of the game is done.

It's a matter of fleshing out levels, detailing, and tweaking

gameplay, which hopefully can be done by next March. Just a guess,

don't quote me on that, unless I'm right. Oh, and whatever game it

ends up being, Mario or Zelda, it won't be rushed because it won't

be released until it's right, which could mean system delays, but

when it's done, it's done right.

Billy Says:

Zelda at Launch? It's not going to happen. Granted Miyamoto said

that it would only take 2 years for Nintendo to make another Zelda

title, but I would predict we won't see another Zelda title until

at least 2002.

Why not?

Nintendo doesn't have to.

Zelda is a

title, like Mario, which should be treated like a fine wine. It

shouldn't be rushed. Zelda is a title that comes out usually two

years after the system. Mario at Launch with a Pokemon title is

the beginning of a wonderful launch. Zelda isn't needed right

away. Hell, you got Majora's Mask in October... that should

satisfy your Zelda cravings for a while.


Max Says: Whenever Zelda

comes out, it will definitely help sell systems. The series has

set such a benchmark in quality, it's no wonder folks are worried

Dolphin's Zelda may come "too soon."

Personally, I'm

willing to believe that a Zelda game may appear shortly after

launch. If rumors are to be believed, it may be one of Nintendo's

first games with online features (such as head-to-head online

mini-games).

I'd be the last

person to hurry Miyamoto, though by his own admission he seems to

be already working on a new Zelda game for Dolphin (it may be at

Spaceworld). Miyamoto's teams struggled with getting Zelda into 3D

with N64's Ocarina of Time but he seems eager to talk of how new

tools & familiarity with 3D will ensure that development won't

take anywhere near as long as the 1st N64 Zelda, and says it

should be complete within the year.

Nintendo's not

as conservative with sequels as they once were, which is a good

thing. As great as Zelda is, I'd rather have it sooner into

Dolphin's lifecycle, allowing Miyamoto to devote time to

developing new franchises, bringing back a few more old ones

(please), or even doing a Zelda sequel!

Justin Says:

I'd tend to be in the camp that says, without hesitation, that a

straight-up Zelda title at or near launch would be a bad thing.

The Zelda series, since the SNES days, has become the one that

truly benchmarks the power of the console and the programmers at

Nintendo. To have it at launch would be to make it less than the

stellar title people would expect. Now, that doesn't mean that

some sort of Zelda oriented title couldn't appear... some more

watered down, online capable game that uses the world of Hyrule

somehow and doesn't actually utilize the players like Link. I

could see that possibly. But you can't expect a masterpiece at the

system's opening in terms of Zelda. That's a title that requires

true craftsmanship.

Nightcrawer

asks (says), I personally liked having a D-pad, but I guess it

just isn't needed in the future of gaming. I would much rather

have a pad instead of a camera stick. Even though the whole camera

stick thing might just be some sort of propoganda invented to keep

the truth from surfacing. Anyway, most of that stuff is subject to

change at any time, so I guess you shouldn't believe everything

you read or hear. Nintendo will come through and make a great

system that will bring hours of enjoyment to gamers across the

world regardless of what the controller looks like or how games

and the platform formats have changed over the years.

Ed Says:

Regarding the D-pad, I think it's a significant loss. Sure,

Nintendo may be trying to take games to another level by excluding

it, but it could irritate puzzler and fighting gamers/developers,

two genres in which the D-pad tends to be superior to the control

stick.

Billy Says:

From what I've been told, the D-Pad is gone. This does upset me. I

am a huge fan of Puzzle games. The next version of Tetrisphere,

Bubble bobble (Bust-a-move), Wetrix (make a freakin' sequel!, etc,

will be a BITCH to play with an analog stick.


As I said in our rebuttle, I hope a 3rd party makes a stick with a

D-Pad. Granted, I'm not a huge fan of third party controllers, but

it's better than nothing.


And fighting games? I'm not the biggest fighting game fan, but

when played, I use a D-pad. It will be interesting to say the

least. Nintendo take note... People still want a D-Pad.

Max Says:

The lack of a D-pad to me is a little upsetting, but strikes me as

bold too. Nintendo practically invented the D-pad on the NES

controller; every system since it has followed suit.

Our concerns

are uncerstandable, D-Pads ARE better for fighters &

puzzlers--primarily those in 2D. Not including a D-pad makes me

think Nintendo's confident they don't need one. Maybe they've got

something better, perhaps analog buttons?

Overall,

Nintendo-made controllers have yet to let me down in regard

durability or comfort, so I'm not losing sleep over it.

Justin says:

Erf, having been playing all of the Capcom

fighters all weekend on Dreamcast, I can say without a doubt that

playing these with an analog stick just doesn't cut it. While you

want a firm-but-losse feeling in a stick for your standard gaming

fare, for fighters you simply need that tight control that only a

D-Pad or digital and firm joystick provide. Lets hope Nintendo

doesn't get themselves into the same trap that Sega did where you

end up with reviews calling fighting game X (or any other game for

that matter) almost unplayable with the standard console

controller. Nintendo is usually smart enough to know that there is

money to be made in hardware sales too, so hopefully they'll have

a plan that may not involve the default controller, but at least

in a quality fighting style controller.

Scott asks,

Loved the review on IGN's comments on Dolphin; but there is one

case where I disagree with you. While, at first, I was thinking,

what the Hell is this two gigabyte DVD crap, I have to admit upon

futher thinking I've changed my mind. Yes it can be a small pain

in the ass, but like any other CD/DVD media they can simply add

more discs. Plus, even if they don't want to, they could possibly

have a double sided disk, like any other DVD movie. Therefore, I

say that the discs won't hurt them that much.

Mike Says:

We run a fine line when we do a lot of speculating on speculation,

mixing the two and confusing the hell out of everybody, so we

dodged a lot of questions regarding the IGN article for this

edition of the Mailbag. Our official comments speak for

themselves.

In a general

sense, the discs can theoretically be both double-sided AND

double-layered. I imagine that's where IGN got their "up to 2

gigs" from, accounting for the layering. If they go

double-sided, then that could cancel out the locked-in caddy

theory, which in and of itself is more speculation. I say our

speculation about the system surely seems to suggest we need to

seek some sort of psychological support.

Bah, Let's wait

for Spaceworld to get these answers. If 1-2 gigs were all we got,

I'd be ok with it. Most 32-bit games didn't fill out CDs, so I

don't think most 128-bit games will fill out DVDs either anyway.

Ed Says:

You know, part of me hopes the IGN64 info was almost 100%

accurate, as I think we'll all look a bit silly if the facts

surface and show us that we've been speculating about fiction.

However, seeing as I'm supposed to be some sort of Project Dolphin

journalist, I'd better comment, even though Billy still hasn't

given me back my llama.

Yes, things can

be done with the disc to put in more info, or as you mentioned you

can use more discs. Either way seems like a viable solution. Even

if Nintendo's disc has 1/2 the space of Sony's, it's still much

better than the 1/10th (at best) of the space that Nintendo carts

had vs. Sony CD's, and if the Nintendo discs are significantly

more secure than Sony's, the size difference will be even less of

an issue.

The bottom

line, heed Master Merrick's words, "Size matters not... judge

me by my size, do you? And well you should not, for my ally is the

Miyamoto, and a powerful ally He is!"

Max Says:

I don't feel all that silly speculating on Dolphin matters, seeing

as there are so many folks out there dying to know. The trick is

to speculate responsibly (and with all the pre-Spaceworld

excitement, we may be getting out of control.)

Should the

"mini-DVD" pan out, 1-2 gigs is still lotsa room to work

with. Ed's right about size difference being negligible if the

format complicates piracy.

Interesting

idea w/multiple discs! As is the dual-layered, dual-sided discs.

However, these measures will probably be reserved for more

"epic games" in order to keep things economical. Still,

both techniques would be viable options for developers seeking to

push the envelope.

Justin Says:

Well, with the dual-layered theory I see one potential problem...

having played movies on my DVD player I can attest that there is

always a 2-3 second pause when the laser has to switch layers and

continue, this may make dual-layered discs somewhat tough to deal

with. Just one more access hoop a developer would have to jump

through. Could be weird, trying to segregate their data so that

the game won't have those stutters you see when the game isn't

loading texture info fast enough. Dunno.

As for

dual-sided discs, I'd say there are two downsides. One, you lose

your pretty disc labelling, and two if the general lack of

dual-sided discs in the DVD movie territory is an indicator I

don't believe there are actually that many shops that are able to

produce dual-sided, dual-layered disks that reliably... making it

more likely to just opt for more discs instead. You'd have to

manually flip over the disk anyway, why not just make you put in a

different one and save some trouble?

Butros asks, I

have heard talks about Squaresoft making games for the console,

but most seems speculation. I want to know if Nintendo or

Squaresoft has made announcements or told the media about there

plans on the games?

Ed Says:

I think everything you've heard about Squaresoft making games for

Project Dolphin is speculation. The only thing that's been said

was a comment at a shareholder meeting or something saying that

the console seemed interesting. That's it. Until there's a formal

announcement, and you'll know when you see one because it'll be

all over every game site, consider all talk about Square and

Nintendo getting together as speculation at best.

I'd only want

to see Square working with Nintendo for the business aspects, i.e.

their games sell (especially in Japan) and making non-PS2

exclusive games would hurt Sony. As a gamer, I'm fairly

indifferent about Square. I acknowledge their technical prowess

and their skill at crafting RPG's but I don't see them as being

terribly innovative. Yes they do RPG's well, but their other games

are a mixed bag. Still, they'd be a nice third-party pick-up for

Nintendo, purely from a business stand point, though I doubt it'll

happen.


Billy Says: As far as we know, Square hasn't announced

anything for Dolphin or GBA. I'll be totally honest with you, I

could care less either way. It's been quite a while since Square

did anything that was innovative, or blew me away.

I like watching

movies at the Movie Theater, and I like playing games on my

console. Those are two separate entities.

Ty Says:

Well, I had an interesting conversation with Stephen earlier. If

Square is planning to make FF XI an online game, and Sony doesn't

have their online plans together, I'm guessing we'll see it on

Dolphin/Star Cube or even the Dreamcast. PC sales aren't enough

for 'em.

The thing that

stumps me is, er, why aren't they making GameBoy games? I mean,

it's got a user base equal to at least several Mongol hordes...

Sony must be cutting them an awfully sweet deal, or they've lost

their minds.

As for what I

think of Square, well, I like them well enough. But they hit their

prime with the 16-bit games...

Max Says: I

have to agree that all of my favorite Square games are from the

16-bit era (FF3/6, Chrono Trigger) though I'm encouraged by

everything I've heard about FFIX. If only we had some equally

cheering word about Nintendo/Square relations.

The good news

is that Square seems to have an open mind about Nintendo again,

though there's been no announcements of them signing as a Dolphin

developer. Of course, most developers are being courted secretly

and binded by NDA (non-disclosure agreements) so there's a chance

something's happened that we don't know about. Considering

Square's partnership with Electronic Arts, the reports that

Nintendo has been negotiating with EA is certainly a good sign

too.

The climate is

good for a reunion, though don't get your hopes up just yet...

Square and Sony still seem awfully chummy.

Justin Says:

Bleh, honestly, screw Square. They don't live up to their own

incredible hype anymore. Even the most diehard Sony/Square fans

have begun to question their sudden attempts to break out of the

RPG biz into everything else they can find. Ultimately one phrase

comes to mind to epitomize the predominant Square philosophy

anymore, and that is 'style over substance'. Yes it is pretty, yes

it makes your eyes pop out the first time, but ultimately the

experience is flawed and hollow when you've seen the great things

they did before they went hog-wild for FMV sequences. Hell, in

terms of movies they're being upstaged by other sectors as well,

some of the cinematics even Blizzard has created recently are

right up there. In the end the gameplay has to shine or all the

pomp and circumstance is crap. Since Nintendo hasn't shied away

from saying as much in the past few years, I'm not so sure even

Nintendo cares anymore aside from the economic factor the Square

sheep with money bring along for the ride.

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