Skyward Sword: Why you should be Excited

Published: October 31, 2010 By Stealthylight | Updated: October 31, 2010 | Comments (0)

Well, I was going to post an editorial praising Zelda for its artistic prowess as a video game, and how it may someday lead video games into acquiring the status of an art form; if not for the notably infelicitous negative spotlight The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has been receiving since its debut at E3 months ago. It is understandable that many may have been disappointed at the moment of the game’s reveal (myself included), but it is clear that sense then, much of the fan base has not attempted to partake in the notion that SS will be a game worth pursuing. Quite frankly, this is a closed, and narrow-minded trend of thought, which, coming from the fan base itself, is a bit of a disappointment. 

First and foremost, we must turn our attention to the SS’s gameplay; perhaps the gams’s biggest distinction in terms of change from previous Zelda titles. It’s no new news that SS’s controlled gameplay mechanics will be completely integrated into the Wiimote as well as the Wii Motion-Plus technology. Also standing is the game’s evident redefined foundation, with significant alterations to the game’s core structure, such as the abolition of the rudimentary “Field, Dungeon, Field” game mechanic. It seems that almost everything else in the game points to the gameplay, most notably being the game’s art style. This being said, it is clear to see that the subject of art style itself has been the primary source for criticism. In the same respect, I believe it is art style that will offer the game’s greatest staple; a factor that will distinguish SS as its own unique Zelda, as well as add diversity and memorability to the both the game and the series as a whole. It has become common for fans to draw similarities between SS and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In this light, the parallels between SS and the WW can’t be ignored, and I will use them as a prime reference in my defense against SS*.

*note. I am not defending SS merely because I feel like it needs defending, or that I’m yet another mindless Zelda fan who praises every aspect of every game. I give credit where credit is due, and vise versa. I am arguing for SS because I believe it has proved it has the potential to be an incredible gaming (and Zelda) experience.

Again, let us focus on the gameplay. Nintendo has clearly stated that it has been most concerned with the aspect of gameplay throughout SS’s development. During last year’s E3, Nintendo confirmed that SS’s gameplay was all but complete, and In a later interview, it was revealed that SS art style has yet to be decided upon. And then, at this year’s E3 Shigiru Miyamoto stated that the game’s simplistic art style was chosen based off of the the gameplay. For those of you who need a reminder, the simplistic, more exaggerated graphic style was chosen so that players would be able to better interpret enemy’s fighting strategies and counter them (needles to say, a derivative of gameplay.) Eiji Aonuma followed by saying in the 258th issue of Nintendo Power that they felt it crucial that gameplay always be put first when approaching game design. It would make sense to take from this that Nintendo not only downplayed art style, but ignored it. This, however, simply isn’t the case. Nintendo has not only embellished the new art style, but has gone so far as to base it off of the art styles of famous past artists, such as Edward Degas. To look more closely at the importance and history of the relationships of art styles, it is necessary to look back at a Zelda game who’s legacy is shaping up to be very similar to that of SS’s. Of course, I am talking about The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Upon the WW’s unveiling, we can observe a reaction akin to that of the one we are seeing with SS. Though at that time, not having witnessed any changes that dramatic in the history of the series, tension and criticism was much higher. There were those who welcomed the change, and others who swore to never think of the game again. Of course, we now can all speak for what the game’s outcome truly was like, and I feel I speak for the entire Zelda community when I say it was one of the most unique, yet incredible gaming (much less Zelda) experiences of our lives. Was it perfect? No, but it was the first time that Nintendo had taught us it knows what we want better than we do. Most importantly, it showed us that some of the best Zelda experiences can come from the most unique and unexpected of places. So, why else is it important to look back at the WW when discussing SS? Well, some may recall an interview with Aonuma in which the subject of art style was discussed. It was then that he revealed that the cell-shaded, colorful, cartoon style was chosen because of its direct influence on the atmosphere of the game. The art style was perfectly suited to create the world in which the player explored, as well as the behavior of Link and the other characters in it. Through the implementation of the art style, Nintendo was able to give us a new Zelda experience by definition of the overall atmosphere, and the affect it has on the player. To get as close to the fans hearts as possible, the affect of atmosphere on the player is usually what gives certain settings and moments in Zelda that abstract, yet bold warm and memorable “Zelda-esq.” quality.

If one where to apply this philosophy of to SS, then you would get an outcome similar to the WW wouldn’t you. Now mind you, the WW and SS are, and will be to very different games. What I mean by the “philosophy” is the balance that is created by the games many different elements. Nintendo isn’t going to abandon art style just because they have chosen to let gameplay take precedence in the 


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