Welcome, one and all, to a new era at Zelda Universe. With all the excitement over the revamp and getting everything done in time, we took the opportunity to interview the UK’s leading Nintendo magazine, Official Nintendo Magazine. We were able to sit down with ONM and clear up a some questions that have been burning on our minds for so long now. The man we specifically had the pleasure of exchanging words with was Chris Scullion and, although he has done his best to answer the questions we put to him, there are obviously a few things he can not reveal or talk about because such information would be worth more than his job. So without further ado, please welcome Chris Scullion representing Official Nintendo Magazine.
1. ZU: Let’s go a predictable route: Who are you, and how are you affiliated with Nintendo?
ONM: I’m Chris Scullion, and I’m the staff writer for the Official Nintendo Magazine, which is currently the best-selling Nintendo magazine in the UK (and possibly Europe, but don’t quote me on that!). Basically, my job entails playing games long before they’re out, and writing up reviews and previews based on them. I also do interviews and the like, so this is interesting because I’m not often the one on the receiving side of the questions!
2. ZU: I was reading through your December ’07 Zelda Special Edition and I came across an interview you did with the man himself, Eiji Aonuma, and I think everybody wants to know: What is he like? Can you describe him for us?
ONM: Unfortunately, it wasn’t me who interviewed Aonuma-san, so I’m afraid I can’t answer that from personal experience. I understand he’s an extremely intellectual man though, and is very friendly.
3. ZU: As video games go, the Zelda series seems excellent. However, some fans cite that sometimes the Zelda franchise seems adamant about sticking to tradition rather then setting foot on truly new ground. With the rumors about a new Zelda game from Retro Studios, how do you feel Nintendo will respond to a changing gaming environment with the Zelda franchise?
ONM: Well, first of all, I should say that those Retro Studios rumors are just that: rumors. That said, given how popular the Zelda series is and the recent success of Phantom Hourglass, it’d be silly not to guess that Nintendo has a studio working on another game, whether it’s Retro or someone else. Personally, I’d like the see the series try something different… in a way, I feel it needs to. Wind Waker seemed fresh and original to me because of the obvious graphical change, but it was still effectively the third time I’d played through a game with that engine, after Ocarina and Majora’s Mask. Then there was Twilight Princess which, while incredible, once again used the same engine. If Nintendo ends up making another Zelda game (and I hope that’s the case), I’d personally hope that they do something different with it, if only to freshen things up a bit. They did it with Phantom Hourglass and that was fantastic, in my opinion.
4. ZU: As the years have passed by, the Zelda series has seemed to become collectively easier. Would you think a new Zelda title should be as easy as, say, Phantom Hourglass – or should Nintendo up the ante and give its fan base a more challenging game?
ONM: Simply put, I think there should be difficulty levels. You know how the Master Quest version of Ocarina Of Time was more difficult? I think if there was another Zelda game there should be “normal quest” and “master quest” modes. That way they can keep the basic storyline the same but just make the dungeons and enemies trickier, or put necessary items in locations that are harder to access.
5. ZU: Which franchise do you think will be receiving some attention on the Wii next? F-zero or even Kid Icarus perhaps?
ONM: I can’t say what I think will be getting attention, because due to my job I may already know stuff that I’ve been sworn to secrecy about. However, speaking as a guy who’s been a Nintendo fan for 21 years, I’d love to see a Kid Icarus game, I want another Balloon Fight (for some reason), and – now this is pretty obscure, but it was the first NES game I owned after Super Mario Bros – I’d love to see a Wii-make of Mach Rider. I’d say those were pretty unlikely though!
6. ZU: Can you tell us what Nintendo has got planned for this years E3 show?
ONM: Technically I can, but morally and financially (don’t want to lose my job!), I can’t.
ZU: You’re absolutely sure about that?
ONM: Yup! Sorry, but I love this job and I can’t put it in jeopardy by spilling the beans. It’s like Spider-Man: with great power comes great responsibility. Except I don’t shoot webs, I just play stuff like Mario Kart Wii early.
7. ZU: You obviously have a deep interest in video games for you to have this job. What would you say is your favorite video game series or title, and why?
ONM: This may not go down too well on a Zelda site, but my whole life can be tracked using the Super Mario Bros series as a guide. The original was the first Nintendo game I ever played, I got the sequel for Christmas one year, I spent hours a day playing the third one, and so forth. The Mario series will always be my favorite, those games were so important to me when I was younger. I even traded in my Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and 104 games for an N64 with Super Mario 64. Over a hundred games and a console all traded in for one single Mario game, because it was so expensive… and it was worth it.
8. ZU: My favorite game quote would have to be from No More Heroes. “I don’t care about titles and power, I just wanna be number 1”. What would be your favorite quote?
ONM: Hmmmm… either the classic “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this”, or maybe Resident Evil’s hilariously bad “You were almost a Jill sandwich”.
9. ZU: Being a huge fan of Horror/Thriller Zombie-slashing hack-em-ups, I couldn’t help but drool over the press shots of Fatal Frame 4 coming later in the year for the Wii. It certainly looks stunning but underneath all that loveliness, is it just looking to be another run of the mill Horror game?
ONM: Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to play much of Fatal Frame 4 yet because it’s still pretty early days. But I’m confident that with the involvement of Grasshopper’s Suda 51 (who is an amazing person, and the most interesting I’ve interviewed yet), it could potentially be something pretty special. I too am I huge fan of survival horror, so I’ve got high hopes for that one.
10. ZU: Street Fighter fans unite at the news of the forthcoming release of SF4. We all know there is definitely going to be a PS3 and 360 version, however, is Nintendo planning on giving us a slice too?
ONM: Again, I couldn’t say, even if I knew. In this instance however I simply don’t know. In fact, I don’t even think 360 or PS3 versions have been confirmed for definite yet (though it’d be silly to think they wouldn’t be eventually). I suppose it all depends on the game engine. Looking at the screens and movies of the arcade version it seems pretty clear that it’d be impossible to replicate that perfectly on the Wii, but if the game engine is simple enough they could scale the graphics down. Hell, if the engine was simple enough they could probably get it on the DS if they really wanted to. But like I say, I’ve heard nothing as yet. I think Capcom’s going to concentrate on finishing the arcade version first before even considering home versions.
11. ZU: Do you cry at night thinking about how the Americans have Super Smash Brothers Brawl and you must sit huddled around your imported Wii waiting for it to clear our airports?
ONM: I do, but then again I get to sleep pretty quickly because I’m pretty exhausted from all those Wii Fit sessions I’ve been having a month before the Americans can.
12. ZU: If you could chose one character to represent all of ONM in a Smash Bros. Brawl battle against anyone, which one would it be?
ONM: Hmm, now this depends on what you mean by the question. If you mean anyone, not just existing Smash Bros characters, then I’d say me. If you mean existing Smash Bros characters then I’d have to say Link. Not just because this fine website is dedicated to the man and I’m trying to suck up to your readers (even though I am), but because Link has always been my first choice in Smash Bros ever since the N64 game, so it’d be madness to stray from that.
13. ZU: Video games are getting more and more associated with the internet and the online world. What’s it like being a print publication in a world there so many go for their information online? What do you do to try to remain fresh and relevant in a world where online news sources can update instantly, whereas print magazines still produce once a month (eg, exclusives and the like)?
ONM: It’s difficult. Thankfully we’ve got a website (Gaming News, Reviews, Previews, Cheats & Tips – Official Nintendo Magazine) which means we can still provide daily news and multimedia and all the other stuff that web-only publications can offer. However, the difference is that, with respect to the websites, we have many, many years of gaming experience between us on ONM and we’d like to hope that people buy the mag for stuff that you simply can’t get online: namely, our opinions, our reviews and our features. It’s impossible for a magazine to beat the internet in terms of quantity: the internet is limitless. So we try to beat it in terms of quality, and that’s why I think we continue to be successful.
14. ZU: Do you have any advice to any budding journalists looking to get into your line of work?
ONM: Get experience, both academic and work-related. I did a four-year degree in Journalism at university, which then helped me get a couple of weeks of work experience at an XBox magazine. I made enough of an impression there that they added my name to their files, so when the ONM job came along I was able to get an interview. The hardest step is always getting your foot in the door, because this is the sort of job that doesn’t exactly grow on trees (there’s only one Official Nintendo Magazine UK staff writer, one Official Xbox 360 Magazine UK staff writer, etc), but a proper academic qualification will help people take notice and realize you’re a serious writer and not just some kid who wants to play Super Mario Sluggers before anyone else. An academic qualification will also help you get another job if your attempt at games journalism falls through. Just because you want to do it now doesn’t mean you’ll want to do it a few years from now, after all.
One other thing: read. I know that sounds really simple (and maybe a bit patronizing), but seriously. Read as many game reviews and magazines as you can. I mean reputable ones, though: ones that have established themselves as the leaders in games journalism. The thing is, we get loads of reviews from readers who want to eventually have a job like mine, and (harsh as it sounds) the vast majority of the reviews are really badly written and just don’t fit in with our magazine’s style. The more video game publications you read, the better your writing will become as you get used to how each article is structured.
15. ZU: Our little site has been getting really excited about the interview with yourselves. Would there be any possibility of a small mention in one of your coming issues?
ONM: Hey, you’re asking the wrong guy, buddy. You want the editor for that. Either way, thanks for asking me to answer some questions. I’m just a normal guy doing a job I love so something like this is a bit of an honor for me.
Thank you for chatting with us, Chris – much appreciated, it’s was as much of an honor for us as it was for you! Everyone else be sure to check Official Nintendo Magazine out for yourself at www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk.