Peer Schneider’s office is decent-sized, appropriate for the senior vice president of content at IGN, but what dominates the room is the plethora of business cards on the walls, arranged in patterns according to company (NOA, of course, is featured prominently). Not to be outdone, a replica of the Master Sword safely sheathed in a fake rock against the wall, for eventual inclusion in the Legend of Zelda conference room the editors are currently working on, he sheepishly says.
It is around this centerpiece that we are supposed to chitchat about Ocarina of Time 3D, but the conversation very quickly transforms into a grand discussion of the failures and merits of the 3DS, the present and future competition of Apple and Sony, and the ultimate destination of portable gaming. Following is an excerpt of the interview, which marks one of the few times he has returned to Nintendojo in the fifteen years since first starting the site up.
Does Ocarina of Time hold up to today’s gaming standards?
I think Ocarina holds up just fine, gameplay-wise. While the overall quest progression (“Hey! Listen!”) and story feel dated by today’s standards, the world of Ocarina of Time remains one of the coolest virtual playgrounds I’ve ever set foot on. Replaying it on 3DS reminded me of all the cool stuff you could do; exploring the towns, climbing Death Mountain, putting on your iron boots and walking at the bottom of Lake Hylia, hunting for spiders, fishing… There’s just so much to discover and it’s all delivered in a tightly wrapped package that just “feels” right. And then there are all the cool puzzles and temples. Yeah, it holds up. While the presentation and general look of the 2D Zelda games (like Link to the Past) is a bit more timeless, it’s impressive how much Ocarina of Time got right considering that it busted open the third dimension for action-adventure games.
Any new thoughts or observations on playing the game 13 years later? Does it still bring a smile to your face?
Having finished the game a few times in the past, on N64 and GameCube, I thought that I could easily blaze through the Water Temple. I was wrong-– I got again stuck in the Water Temple and the Gerudo Valley fortress, looking for that damn fourth carpenter. And, yeah, there were plenty of moments that brought a smile to my face, from the first time you step into the Forest Temple to falling into the same traps in the Shadow Temple after running out of magic power. It’s just an awesome game.
Why isn’t the game enough to help turn the tide of the 3DS’s low sales? Or is it now that the price drop has gone into effect?
I think the Zelda re-release came way, way too early in the handheld’s lifecycle. The 3DS was priced out of the range of most families– and given how many gaming solutions are on the market, core gamers likely wanted more than a re-release of a classic, no matter how beloved and praised. A low price and a bigger variety of titles can really help here. But gamers want the confidence that they don’t buy a dedicated gaming machine and then don’t get the games support they really want. Nintendo is the house that Mario built, so fresh content using Nintendo’s biggest stars will make a much bigger impact than a re-release.
With roughly a one-year lead on Vita, is Sony’s new handheld doomed (to PSP-level sales)?
It’s a nice machine. I’m still trying to figure out how the Vita will reach a mass audience– but it’ll definitely get noticed by core PlayStation fans looking for an on-the-go solution that lets them play the games they love so much on PS3. I’ll definitely pick up one myself, but I’m not yet seeing a lot of people in my expanded circle of friends who are clamoring to buy one. Then again, I’m also not hearing people talking about 3DS. We’ve arrived at an important point in handheld gaming. I’m curious to see if Nintendo and Sony can measure up to Apple’s disruption of the market.