Nintendo has reworked one of its most beloved franchises in a new Zelda video game designed to appeal to a broader audience.
The Legend of Zelda, which was first released 20 years ago and has become one of the company's most successful game lines, is a classic action-adventure game set the land of Hyrule.
Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass for Nintendo's handheld DS device has already won strong reviews for its beautiful imagery, deep storyline and innovative use of the device's touch screen to control almost every aspect of the action.
It's definitely the big game of the holiday season for the Nintendo DS and reaches the traditional audience as well as the new audience they are starting to shoot for, said Jeremy Parish, features editor for gaming news site 1up.com.
A sequel to 2002's Wind Walker, the new Zelda adventure once again puts players in control of the elfin hero, Link, after he washes up on a mysterious island following an accident at sea.
Instead of mashing buttons, players poke or trace movements on the DS touch screen to make Link jump, somersault, or swing his sword.
That's in line with Nintendo's drive towards making games more accessible to customers outside the core audience of young males who are happy to spend hours a day mastering every nuance of a title.
I think what Nintendo was doing with the series was to strip it down to the essential gameplay and appeal to a broader audience, Parish said.
That should help make the game, which launched just over a week after Microsoft's Halo 3 juggernaut burst onto the scene, a top-seller through the holiday season.
The game is expected to sell more than a million copies in its first two months on the market, according to game sales forecasting outfit The simExchange.
Without a doubt this will be a chart-topper, said Jesse Divnich of simExchange. We're looking at over a million units for a Nintendo DS title which is as strong as it gets when talking about a triple-A release.
Another highly anticipated game on sale this week is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, a fast-paced, graphically rich PC game that pits humans and alien Strogg in fierce online battles.
The Quake series, made by renowned developer id Software and published by Activision has been a staple of online deathmatch competition, and Divnich said he expects it to sell about 210,000 copies this month, not bad for a PC game appealing mainly to hard-core fans.
But it will soon face competition from other shooting games such as The Orange Box collection of games based on the dystopian Half-Life 2 game, and Crysis with its super-realistic graphics. Both games are being published by Electronic Arts.
The consumer base is really waiting now to see how 'Orange Box' does and whether it will overtake Enemy Territory to be the one title that everyone will be playing this holiday season, Divnich said.
On the console side, Xbox 360 owners have Project Gotham Racing 4, which features dozens of sports cars barreling down city streets. Previews have praised PGR4 for its gorgeous graphics and realistic weather effects.
Basketball fans have their choice of EA's NBA Live 08 or NBA 2K8 from Take-Two. Both games are available for the Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3.
EA has a good handle and control on the basketball market. For last couple of years, 2K has scored higher review scores among game critics but the sales are not going to reflect that, Divnich said.