Let me start by saying that I would not recommend people importing the Japanese version of the game, unless like me, you are only after it because of the collecting-value the game has. I did not really intend to put it into my GameBoy Advance at all, since the European version is released in just a few days, but the temptation was too big, so I had to give it a try.
From what I have seen so far, the game depends very much on text dialogue, so you’re really missing out on a huge part of the gameplay, unless you know Japanese. Even after playing through the first dungeon, I can’t actually say that I’m sure of how what my objectives really are, and what the story is, but I will give you the low-down of what I’ve gathered so far.
The game starts out with Link asleep, as has become mandatory to a Zelda game by now, and he is awoken by none other than Princess Zelda! Once you are on your feet, you go downstairs to the Swordsmith which Link seems to be living with, and you get your very first item, a sheath. Not a sword, but a sheath. And you use it to scare off enemies by making them think you have a sword. That last part was of course a joke, but anywho, now that you’re equipped to leave the house and face the dangers of Hyrule, you go outside and follow Princess Zelda to Hyrule Castle, and what seems to be Hyrule Castle Town (reminds a lot about Ocarina of Time, really).
As you follow the Princess, you will receive your first shield (which looks like a sprite replica of the Hylian Shield from The Wind Waker), and eventually also meet the King of Hyrule (or so I am assuming), who also looks like a sprite replica of something from The Wind Waker, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, but since I have no way of understanding the dialogue, it is impossible to tell if it is him or not.
Now this is where the action starts. For some reason, the King’s men bring forth a large chest, which is sealed by a sword. After this, a bad guy, Vaati, appears, fends off the guards, and breaks the sword which is sealing the chest, and evil is let loose, throughout all of the land it seems. As if that wasn’t enough, Princess Zelda is turned into a statue of stone. Thus, your adventure begins — The King and his men gives Link the bottom half of the Sword that was sealing the chest, and I am just assuming that the other half was lost in the “explosion” that Vaati caused to break the seal, and Link has to find it.
Now you venture out on the fields of Hyrule, and soon you will find some Octoroks which are torturing a hat, for one reason or another. Link steps in, saves the day, and the hat decides to help Link, and introduces him to the Minish people, which soon will lead you further on your quest, and to the first dungeon.
All in all I have to say I am impressed with what I’ve seen so far. The gameplay mechanics work excellent, the sprite-animations are simply gorgeous. The first thing I noticed with the mechanics, is that Link can finally roll around in a 2D game. For those of us who’d rather roll from place to place, than just walk, this is a nice touch, and it works really well. The new items which I have encountered so far, which is limited to only one, really, the suck-and-blow Magic Bottle, is actually quite innovating and works very well.
Overall I’d say that the game doesn’t seem very hard from what I’ve experienced so far. Up until and through the first dungeon, I haven’t spotted one puzzle which should have anyone who has completed a Zelda game before, 2D at least, stumped. But hopefully this is something which will improve later on in the game, because it is really about time us Zelda fans got a real challenge on our hands again!