How will the new Zelda hold up?
By the time Skyward Sword is out, it will have been about five years since the last console Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released. When Twilight Princess was shown for the first time in 2004, the Zelda community went haywire with speculation and hype. Indeed, any console Zelda title is subject to a huge amount of anticipation, especially since they released so irregularly, and they have such a strong legacy to live up to. Zelda titles have typically broke new ground – the last console Zelda game, Twilight Princess, was released to near-universal critical acclaim – but can Skyward Sword do the same?
Skyward Sword radically departs from the traditional method of game control – the joypad – and instead makes full use of the Wii Motion Plus system. Potentially, this will allow the player. Will it feel ‘realistic’, or merely gimmicky? Chances are the former. At E3 2010, despite the difficulties faced by Shigeruo Miyamoto in controlling the Skyward Sword demo (later discovered to be due to the wireless interference from all the laptops and phones in the crowd), players who got the chance to play the Skyward Sword demo provided generally strong feedback, especially regarding how fluid the controls were. It’ll be way, way better than the melee combat in Red Steel, that’s for sure!
Skyward Sword may also exemplify a marked change in the way Zelda games are structured. Traditionally, a Zelda game consists of an overworld which is connected to a series of dungeons, contained in seperate instances. In other words, it is very obvious when you enter a dungeon. Yet Nintendo has hinted that this boundary may become very blurred in Skyward Sword, that is, the ‘dungeons’ will feel more integrated into the main world – for example, with the possibility of outdoor dungeons. Generally, not much has been revealed about Skyward Sword’s structure at all, but it’s pleasing to see Nintendo attempt something different here.
So, two things may allow Skyward Sword to become a highly distinctive Zelda game – the experience of the new Wii Motion Plus controls, and a (potentially) deviating game structure. Indeed, when all the Skyward Sword walkthroughs are made, they will be forced to adapt to this – perhaps the best way being through the use of youtube videos with a screen in the corner showing the hand movements of the player? Overall, Skyward Sword is unlikely to break any new grounds in gaming in technological terms, a consequence of the limitations of the Wii. But Skyward Sword may be a crucial pioneer of peripheral, motion-based technology. Certainly, it will cause more people to put down their joypad and pick up their Wii Mote.