Why The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword is like Wind Waker (According to Tim)
By Lo-Ping - Mon Feb 28, 8:23 pm
As many of you people who will read this blog and the articles posted by me, you’ll soon find out that I’m a Zelda fanatic. I’m downright obsessed with Zelda and I can’t stop myself from being all giddy about a new Zelda game whenever Nintendo announces one.
I’m not alone either. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who crave playing as a young man wearing a green hat and tights, fighting off evil with the help of the sword of evil’s bane, the Master Sword. It’s quite enthralling, travelling through dark and mysterious dungeons, fighting off Moblins and finding items stashed hidden away within the depths of a room guarded by Stalfos.
However, let’s turn the time back to 2010, during E3. It’s the beginning of Nintendo’s press conference, and the audience is waiting with baited breath. Either the Big N is going to falter like it had done two years prior or it is going to bring the show to its knees like it did the previous year. And sure enough, out of the Big Three press conferences, Nintendo had arguably the best one. Kirby: Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns? Great First Party exclusives, like always from Nintendo. Then the 3DS was announced, and out came Kid Icarus and a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, arguably the single greatest game ever made. I’m probably stretching it, but to many, it is the top of the pyramid, covered in a golden Triforce. But let’s not talk about the 3DS, I’ve got another opinionated piece that will deal with that three dimensional monster later.
Let’s focus on the first Zelda that was announced. That’s right, the Skyward Sword. Nintendo had released a poster earlier with Link with his back turned, looking over his shoulder, while a mysterious silver figure (who’s in the shape of the Master Sword by the way) standing in front of him. From the looks of the poster, the new Zelda game was to model itself off of the earlier console Zelda game, Twilight Princess, in terms of graphics, with a mature, edgier, realistic looking Link.
But then the bombshell dropped. Out goes the realistic Link, in comes…what is this? Cell shading? Again, Nintendo? You pulled that trick on us 9 years ago with Wind Waker! That’s just unfair, man!
That was the cry of the internet. Down with cartoon Link, back with realistic Link! Keyboards were smashed, faces were palmed, and many a nerd spat his Mountain Dew out at the screen as they watched Shigeru Miyamoto bring out the demo.
Then came the actual demo itself. It was downright terrible. The new Zelda focuses on precise, 1:1 motion sensing, thanks to the Wii Motion Plus, and enemies have a weak spot that is only accessible if you swing your Wiimote up and down or left and right, instead of the normal smashing of B until you beat the enemy, or for Twilight Princess, lazily waggle the controller. It worked fine and well for the editors and those lucky enough to get tickets to E3 on the showroom floor, but in the press conference, where everyone had their cell phones and their laptops and their whatnots up, trying to break the story first, the IR interference threw off the Wii and its sensors, causing the game to look broken as all hell.
More keyboards were smashed, faces were palmed to the point of breaking, and Mountain Dew was spilled all over the pants of nerds, screaming for change. Nintendo fans are loyal at they come when it comes to brand loyalty. We defend our underpowered, wagg’lan, kiddy machine against the hordes of 360 and PS3 owners who look down on us as inferior, casual gamers. Most of us have been playing games longer than they have, but no matter what, Nintendo isn’t cool anymore with super hardcore gamers. Not when there’s no Call of Duty to camp in, or Halo to rage on, or whatever it is you kids play nowadays. But this was different. This game looked broken. Nintendo is notorious for not releasing games until they’re definitely done, unlike some developers. And it looked cartoonish. We’re tired of cartoons, they screamed, we want reality, we want HD graphics, we don’t want wagg’lan! We want Twilight Princess version 2!
I sat there, conversing with my fellow sitemates on Gametrailers, and watching the live stream via IGN, pondering what I had just watched. To be honest, my first impression was “Oh God, Miyamoto, what did you do now?” Not to the graphics, but to the controls and how bad they looked. In the back of my mind, I knew it was an accident, there’s no way Miyamoto would let this happen. Then I learned of the IR interference, and all was right in my minds. In the coming days, I’d see a “THE NEW ZELDA GAME LOOKS DUMB” thread, and I plunged down like Link’s Down + A air attack in Smash Bros. upon the thread, looking to unleashed vengeance on anyone who dared insult Zelda. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. On the internet, yes, but in real life, I’d done it countless times. With Skyward Sword’s grandfather, the Wind Waker.
Rewind to March of 2003. The Gamecube is newish. It’s been on the shelves for about a year and 4 months old by now. And I loved it, despite what people say about the little purple box. Nintendo releases Wind Waker, and the fans are already rabid. The previous game? The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, the darkest Zelda game to hit consoles ever. And fans were treated to a cartoony version of their hero, sailing across gigantic amounts of water (my only complaint with the game) to small little islands. Gone was Epona, in was the King of Red Lions. Gone was Princess Zelda, in was the pirate Tetra, which turned out to be Zelda (the game’s almost 10 years old, you have no right to scream spoilers). Fans were angry about the graphics, and they concluded “dumb graphics will equal a dumb game.” But I knew better. I had just moved to Maine, about a year earlier, and I was still struggling to fit in. I had one really good friend, a few good friends, but that was it. I turned into the shut in, anti-social jerk I am today. And Zelda fueled it. I spent hours playing Wind Waker. Travelling from island to island, marking my maps, collecting treasure. It was a wonderful experience. At least it was for me.
All across the internet, we heard “This game is terrible, it’s too easy! It’s for kids, it’s a terrible game!” All the while, I shook my head and sighed. The thing people didn’t realize with Wind Waker was that the game wasn’t about the graphics or the difficulty, but about the experience of it all. Zelda, despite all of the talking with NPCs and the connection you form with different characters, is a game of loneliness. Take the original Zelda, you get to talk to a few people every now and then, mostly to expand the story. But look at it. You wander alone for the majority of the game. People talk about Metroid being about loneliness and atmosphere, but Link’s stories are equally as sad. And Wind Waker focused on that. Miles and miles of in-game area on nothing but open water. If that’s not lonely, I don’t know what is.
The graphics of the game fit everything the game wanted to do. It had a more humor than the previous games had, combined. The best moment I remember was when the pirates put Link in the cannon. The look on his face is hilarious, the annoyed scowl, and then the camera pans out and you see him on the cannon. If you put that in Twilight Princess graphics, you don’t get nearly the same hilarity impact as you would have when you have Wind Waker graphics.
Now, the purpose of this article isn’t to describe how awesome I thought Wind Waker was, and I put it as my 3rd favorite Zelda game of all time, but to compare the reactions of the gaming masses to a game with an odd visual style to the reactions of people now when it came to Skyward Sword.
At first glance, Skyward Sword looks odd. It’s a blend of cell shading from Wind Waker and the more mature look of Twilight Princess. It’s as if someone took paintings by both Picasso and Rembrandt and smashed them together and made a game that looks like a fantasy version of a Suda51 game. But people screamed at it, hating on it like they did with Wind Waker. But people on the internet have a tendency to see something and derive their opinions off of their first impressions, much like people have done with Fortresscraft. Now look back on Wind Waker. Wind Waker went from black sheep of the series to one of the better games Nintendo has released. People moan and complain about Skyward Sword now, but once you get the game, the chances of you changing your tune are almost a hundred percent. People who have played the game at E3 or the Tokyo Game Show have said it plays so smoothly and is clean and polished enough to be released, but Nintendo wants 200% quality.
The morale of this article is this: Don’t judge a game on the look of it. Give it time, if a game’s good, it will grow on you until it becomes one of your favorite games.