The Zelda comparisons are obvious and prevalent. EA Nintendo DS title features a young, light-haired boy in an adventure-puzzle title — the cell shaded graphics are reminiscent of Zelda DS titles.
But there is more to the title than simply Zelda DS stylings.
"We're really big Zelda fans," says EA producer Nelson Wong. "It's a masterpiece." Developed by new Osaka-based start-up Neuron Age, Tsumuji is an Zelda-like action adventure title but with added stealth.
Tsumuji stars a ninja kid called, well, Tsumuji whose village is attacked and everyone in it has turned to stone. He sets out to help turn the villagers back to normal, functioning people. "The reason why I wanted to make this game," explains executive producer TK, "is that ninjas you typically see in games aren't ninjas. They attack and slash through people. This game has fighting, sure, but there is also sneaking and eavesdropping."
We got hands on with the demo — the game is touch pen controlled. And the demo (and the game, that is) starts off with pretty much a tutorial that teaches players how to do things like throw rocks, crawl and whatnot. According to EA, it's about thirty minutes into the game that the story really kicks into gear.
Since the beginning of the game is a tutorial and since we didn't play with it for thirty minutes to get to the story mode, it's hard to gauge the title. What we did see was interesting: Tsumuji seems to be Naruto meets Zelda meets Metal Gear. Yes, its geared for kids between the ages of 8 and 10, but there's enough charm for adult appeal as well.
The game's sneaking aspect does offer novel game play for titles in this milieu. By pressing the touch pen on Tsumuji, players can have him crouch. There's also a D-pad shortcut (pressing down), which was helpful.
"This is a new market for us," says Takahiro Murakami. EA is really going after the young, Japanese male demographic with this title. Tsumuji is on our radar, and we're interested in seeing more of this title beyond the tutorial stage.