GDC 2009 Media: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Trailer, Nintendo’s Press Release, and More

Sorry to keep hammering you all over the head with the same stuff here, so hopefully this will count as the definitive recap of news from Iwata’s keynote at GDC.

First up, a direct-feed trailer of the newest Legend of Zelda, dubbed “Spirit Tracks:”

I have to admit, bringing a train into the realm of Zelda is a move I didn’t exactly expect, but I sort of hoped for something along these lines. I’m not sure what to say about Link’s conductor’s outfit, however.

Nintendo has also added the game to their official Zelda Universe website, though all that exists for it there presently is just a larger version of the trailer.

What follows is the official press release from Nintendo, which basically summarizes all the news which emerged from Iwata’s GDC 2009 keynote… as well as a little of my own insight.


Keynote Details Nintendo DSi News on Eve of Launch

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25, 2009 – Nintendo President Satoru Iwata today revealed surprises for consumers and an expanded palette of video game development opportunities for the industry during his keynote address at the Game Developers Conference. Iwata announced a new storage solution for Nintendo’s Wiiâ„¢ home console and showed video highlights of a new Nintendo DSâ„¢ game from The Legend of Zeldaâ„¢ franchise.

Video game developers now have expanded opportunities given that worldwide shipments for the Wii system surpassed 50 million units and worldwide shipments for the Nintendo DS franchise are at more than 100 million units. Iwata said, “It is in the power of game developers to invent things that gamers have never seen – or even imagined – before.”

Nintendo also noted several key initiatives that are on the way for consumers, some of which are available at the Nintendo GDC booth.

Nintendo DSi

• The new portable Nintendo DSi system goes on sale in the United States on April 5. For the first six months after launch, consumers who buy the system and connect to the Nintendo DSi Shop will automatically receive 1,000 Nintendo DSi Points, which can be redeemed for downloadable Nintendo DSiWare™ games and applications through the Nintendo DSi Shop. In order to receive the free Nintendo DSi Points, consumers must access the Nintendo DSi Shop by Oct. 5, 2009, and the Nintendo DSi Points can be redeemed at any time after that (wireless broadband access required).

There had been some stirring about some advertisers in the US retracting statements about the DSi coming with 1,000 Nintendo Points, and perhaps the nature of their acquisition is why. Given that they are obtained by logging on within a given time frame, rather than by say, entering a code from a card included in the box, I imagine it’s possible that they felt this might reduce any liability held towards them if anyone gets confused or something.

• Similar to how the WiiWare™ service works in the Wii Shop Channel, the Nintendo DSi Shop will feature a variety of downloadable Nintendo DSiWare™ games and applications. These games and applications will be available at four different price categories: free, 200 points, 500 points, and 800+ points. Consumers can purchase Nintendo DSi Points in the Nintendo DSi Shop with a credit card or by purchasing a Nintendo Points Card™ at retail locations for redemption in the Nintendo DSi Shop. All points from one Nintendo Points Card will need to be redeemed at the Nintendo DSi Shop. Nintendo Points Card will start to become available at select retail locations beginning Apr. 5.

• Iwata gave conference attendees a glimpse into some of the upcoming Nintendo DSiWare games and applications such as Moving Memo (name not final) and WarioWare™: Snapped!. Moving Memo (name not final) lets users create animated digital flipbooks of their own design, while WarioWare™: Snapped! uses Nintendo DSi Camera functionality for a fresh gaming experience.

I’m actually just a little surprised that WarioWare: Snapped! is being sold as a DSiWare title. Last I heard, the games did well at retail, so why the switch?

I guess there’s a chance it might not be what one would consider a “full” WarioWare game, and given the seeming nature of the title’s use of the DSi Camera, I guess they didn’t want non-DSi people buying a game they couldn’t use.

Not to mention, WarioWare is probably a good, high-profile name to get more people looking at the service.

• On the show floor, conference attendees are able to experience some of the Nintendo DSiWare games and applications that will be available soon. Bird & Beans™ and Art Style™: Aquia™ are fun mini games that will be perfect to play on-the-go.

Nintendo DS & Nintendo DSi Software

• The new The Legend of Zelda™: Spirit Tracks game that Iwata announced will utilize the intuitive touch control of Phantom Hourglass in an all new adventure that will please longtime Zelda™ fans while keeping the game accessible to all DS owners. The concept behind this Zelda game includes utilizing a steam locomotive to travel around the world, switching Phantom and Link to explore the dungeons, and solving puzzles using new items.

…”switching Phantom and Link?” I’ll guess those who finished Phantom Hourglass know what that means better than those who haven’t.

All the same, this title makes me wonder if we’ll see any other early industrial-revolution type stuff in the next console game.


• As the library of downloadable WiiWare and Virtual Console™ games continues to grow, Wii owners have asked Nintendo to provide easy, expanded storage space. Starting today, Wii owners will be able to save downloaded WiiWare, Virtual Console video games, and Channels directly to High Capacity SD cards, in addition to SD memory cards. To play games that have been saved to SD cards, consumers will be able to select and launch them from an SD Menu icon on the Wii Menu. (Note that when launching games or channels from an SD card, an equivalent amount of internal Wii memory is required. To clear space from the internal memory, users can transfer games or channels from the Wii Menu to the SD card). This feature is included in the latest version of the Wii System Menu Update, which owners will receive immediately after performing a system update today.

Glad this has finally arrived. And there’s a little clarification about running the games from the SD Card, too; it sounds like it won’t exactly be directly from the card, but from a temporary program in the Wii’s internal memory.

Of course, for all intents and purposes, that’s just getting technical. The point remains, no more “refrigerator” shuffling!

• Gamers will be glad to have that additional storage space, as the Virtual Console will expand to include the arcade versions of classic third-party games like STARFORCE by Tecmo Ltd., and Mappy, Gaplus and Tower of Druaga by Namco Bandai Games Inc. starting today.

I’ve been wanting arcade games on VC for some time now, and it seems my prayers have finally been answered!… sort of. I’ll go into greater detail about that later on.

• Upcoming games Punch-Out!!â„¢ and Excitebotsâ„¢: Trick Racing are available to play at Nintendo’s booth. Excitebots: Trick Racing, a new and refreshing take on the classic Excitebikeâ„¢ series from the arcade and NESâ„¢ days, is slated to launch on April 20, while a new game in the classic Punch-Out!! series will be on store shelves on May 18.

I believe my excitement has been sufficiently expressed elsewhere.


• To highlight new development opportunities for independent developers, Iwata unveiled a game for the WiiWare downloadable game service called Rock N’ Roll Climberâ„¢, which uses the Wii Balance Boardâ„¢ accessory to help users simulate the experience of rock climbing. The game is being developed by Vitei.

Sigh, nothing remotely to do with Ice Climbers. This saddens me. Nonetheless, it’s a funky concept which warrants a look, if nothing else.