If you didn’t catch the earlier entry in this series (#5 and #4), be sure to check it out in the “Discussion and Debate” section.
Now, for #3. This entry was meant to include at least two games, but I ended up writing more than I planned, so entries #2 and #1 will have to show up separately in a day or so. I know, I know–the anticipation must be killing you.
#3 Link’s Crossbow Training (Wii)
Ok, I’m freely admitting that this one may be the least likely of my five choices to receive sequel treatment. But before I offer up #2 and #1, I wanted to take a second to recall this excellent demo game. I’m pretty sure a follow-up would be well received by the marketplace, so perhaps it’s not so crazy to hope that Nintendo might someday take up my suggestion. And lest we forget, Miyamoto had a direct hand in LCT’s development, and we all know how devoted he can be when it comes to his pet projects.
Honestly, until recently, I’d entirely forgotten about this pack-in disc that accompanied the Wii Zapper peripheral. Like the original Wii Sports, LCT came in a cardboard sleeve, meaning that I don’t even have a convenient way to display it in my game library. Thankfully, a recent workplace conversation reminded me just how great this non-cannon Zelda really was, leading me to dig it out of storage. A female coworker had mentioned that her boyfriend really likes video games, though she herself had little interest in his hobby. But she mentioned one exception, describing “this one shooting game on the Wii, it had something to do with Legend of Zelda . . . I played the heck out of that game, it was really fun!”. Inspired, I went home and pulled out Link’s Crossbow Training for a quick visit.
LCT definitely held up in the ‘pure fun’ department. Like so many casual Nintendo efforts, I quickly remembered how entertaining the simple, straightforward gameplay of this basic shooter had been, just a few Christmases ago. I was surprised to see how many family members had spent some time with it; unlike most of my Wii library, the system memory showed 7 registered Miis, all with a decent level of progress. My own avatar was maxed out with platinum medals in all events, so I started a new character for a replay.
Simple, straightforward, charming, addictive. One of my earliest encounters with Nintendo was the arcade classic Hogan’s Alley; in many ways, Link’s Crossbow Training is the direct (albeit evolved) descendant of that early light-gun shooter. Some rounds amount to little more than “shoot the targets / don’t shoot the penalties”, playing against a player’s inclination to blast anything that moves. But the bonus multiplier for sequenced hits takes LCT to a whole new level of addictive gameplay, forcing the wise shooter to check their fire while efficiently taking down targets. The Wiimote/Zapper vibrates with a satisfying buzz at each hit, and the scoring system (chaining 3 stages together for one final total) allows a player to balance personal weaknesses (say, moving targets) against areas of strength (FPS-style sandbox zones). Four medal classes are awarded at 20,000 point tiers, and the fun (for a serious player) lies in figuring out the subtle tricks that let you run up the score and grab the platinum badge.
Throw in a Zelda-themed universe, and you’ve got yourself a winner. It still strikes me as a bit odd to be gunning down enemies as the elfin Link (rather than, say, James Bond), but you’ll be able to overlook it given how deliciously fun this all-too-short game really is. Besides the minimal content (there are only 9 levels with 3 zones each), my only other complaint are the washed-out graphics. Even with hi-def Wii cables, the visuals look a little shoddy to me, almost as though they rendered the game in a hurry, or ported images from the development of Twilight Princess. But again, the solid entertainment value overrides the obvious flaws, at least for me.
So, though I started off by admitting that a sequel to Link’s Crossbow Training is unlikely, I still think Nintendo could seriously consider the idea with good results. The graphics could be updated or entirely revised (Windwaker style, or perhaps Skyward Sword, anyone?) and the content could be greatly expanded.
The only real news on the sequel front seems to be years old, and doesn’t look promising (http://www.1up.com/news/aonuma-wanted-link-crossbow-training . But, if the big cheese at Nintendo WERE to reconsider, perhaps a sequel could be released as a standalone discount game (15-20$?), serving the dual purpose of giving fans another look at this notably entertaining Zelda-offshoot, while also rebutting the all-too-common complaint that Nintendo never supports their own peripherals.
After that, all we’ll need is a 3rd game for R.O.B.
Again, if you didn’t catch the first part of this list, check it out in the ‘Discussion and Debate’ section of this blog.
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#2 and #1 coming soon!