The Zelda series is a franchise that hasnít changed much over the years. Thereís an over world, dungeons, a princess in distress and an angry, magical, evil enemy. During every Zelda adventure you traverse various elementally themed dungeons and meet strange and colourful characters Ė this is Zelda as we know it.
For the last ten years or so any changes have been incremental. New features have been added, but the core game stays relatively the same. This is due to the fact that the seriesí rabid fan base seems content with the franchise remaining relatively similar game after game. Many fans still even believe that Link and the seriesí other characters shouldnít be voiced by actors (which is an insane idea), but Iíll get to that later.
seems to be an attempt by producer Eiji Aonuma to break the Zelda mould and return to the series once innovative roots via a revolutionary control scheme. If the words Ďinnovativeí and ĎZeldaí donít mix in your mind, try to remember Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link
for the original NES, a game unlike any other title in the franchise. Looking back, it almost doesnít seem like a Zelda title and is more akin to Final Fantasy or Mario from a gameplay perspective. The only other extremely innovative Zelda title comes later in the seriesí timeline. Iím talking about Ocarina Of Time
, of course, a title that completely revolutionized gaming in three dimensions. Itís renowned as one of the only video games to seamlessly move a critically acclaimed 2D franchise into 3D.
When it comes to the latest epic Zelda tale, Skyward Sword
, the feature that has impressed me the most is itís flawless motion controls. They are the epitome of controlling a video game in an intuitive way and showcase the untapped potential motion controls have for advancing gaming accessibility and immersion. Motion based gaming can be more than silly waggle actions and dancing around in front of your television.
At times, figuring out how to control Link felt so natural that it regrettably reminds me of how Apple products often feel (I say that because Iím not a big Apple fan). Every motion, gesture and menu movement makes perfect sense, just like gestures on the iPhone or iPad are easy to pick up and understand. Selecting items and secondary weapons is an absolute breeze and has been substantially from the control scheme that was featured in Twilight Princess
. Gone are the days of randomly fiddling the WiiMote around to make your sword move, now your movements must be precise and calculated.
There isnít much figuring out to do and after a quick tutorial the motions and actions required to move Link around feel fluid and natural. Some reviewers have criticized the gameís motion controls, stating that at times they are unresponsive and awkward. So far Iíve experienced the complete opposite; I slash left, Link slashes his sword instantly left, I do a diagonal strike, Link wings his sword diagonally across the screen. I havenít experienced any delay and the Motion Plus seems to be working flawlessly giving the WiiMote the extra ability to pinpoint the exact direction I am holding the controller.
Syward Sword does something few other motion based titles actually do, that being the union of motion and traditional button-based directional control. In other words, you control Linkís direction movement with the Nunchuckís joystick, meaning only Linkís sword is controlled through motion (as well as item selection). Having precise physical control over the direction of your sword also ads to the gameís immersion factor. For the first time ever itís actually me swinging that sword around in the game, a feat that has been a dream of mine since childhood. I havenít experienced a title in recent memory (not even Skyrim) that fully engrossed me in itís world as much as Skyward Sword
does. At times, I actually feel like Iím inside the game slicing up plants and various enemies.
Even the way Skyward Swordís
enemies attack you from various angles, forcing you to strike at selected parts of the enemyís body, feels fresh because of the gameís motion capabilities. You can, however, play the game randomly flailing your arm around and still manage to take down most enemies, but that isnít how Skyward Sword
is supposed to be played. Itís much more satisfying to carefully place your strikes and attack the gameís colourful enemies with calculated precision.
Of course, Skyward Sword
isnít perfect. Certain motion controlled actions are far to finicky to pull off reliably. Rolling bombs across the ground is an example of this. Iíve been blown up countless times while trying to precision bowl a bomb through a ridiculously small hole in a wall. Also, the main plot is less than stellar and, as usual itís just another basic tale of good vs. evil. Link and Zeldaís blossoming relationship is rather intriguing though.
Iím also still a firm believer that, at the very least, characters other than Link should be voiced by actors. This may seem blasphemous to hardcore Nintendo fans, but I feel like this is long overdue. The fact that the Zelda franchiseís characters donít speak is making the series feel dated and antiquated and not in the nostalgic good way. Skyward Swordís
characters are quircky, extremely animated individuals and giving them the ablilty to speak would only add to their appeal.
Now, I understand the Link argument, hearing him speak might be rather strange, but Iíve never been able to grasp the argument concerning NPCís. Itís 2012, Skyward Sword
had a multimillion dollar budget, and a simple change like this wouldnít have made Skyward Sword
feel un-Zelda-like. Iím not arguing that the seriesí characters arenít charming, they certainly are, but as I play through Skyward Sword
I canít help but feel that the absence of voice acting makes the entire game feel dated.
Everytime I think about Link talking in a Zelda title I imagine the terrible Phillips CD-I games. Just listen to this awesome quote, ďGreat, I canít wait to bomb some dodongos.Ē
Check out the amazingly sad video Here
But back to the motion controls, the feature that makes Skyward Sword
appeal so much to me. As I played Skyward Sword
for the first time, I thought to myself, ďThis is what motion controls should have been like for the last last five years.Ē
is the first game that finally gets it.