The New Zelda Didn't Make Me Angry, Not A Bit

It has come to my attention that people get angry about Zelda video games.

This should have been obvious. People can be angry about anything, and I do recall some anger when the bad-ass Zelda game shown by Nintendo in 2000 turned into a Zelda that looked like a children's cartoon. (And was excellent, by the way.)

More recently, I went to E3, just last month, and filmed one of our interns play the demo for this fall's Wii game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and I guess I got a smidge angry at him that he didn't know how to Z-target. And then, just yesterday, I shot a video of a Nintendo official playing the boss battle in that demo and, wow, so many people who commented on that story seemed angry about this game.

Folks, the new Zelda is not an angering game. It's quite nice. And also maybe the most complex Zelda in a while?

I played the dungeon part of the demo yesterday so I could get more of a feel for the game. I do fancy myself a Zelda expert. I've played the NES Zeldas, the SNES one, the Game Boy colour Oracle duo, the N64 ones, the GameCube ones, the Wii one, and the DS ones. I've collected many rupees and found more boomerangs in treasure chests than a man should have to. I know my Zelda.

This new Zelda has dungeons, of course. The one in the E3 demo, the Sky Dungeon, was locked on a 10-minute timer. The demo starts with Link in an enclosure that surrounds some sort of large bulbous room. The scene is colourful and bright, like you're inside the closed petals of a flower. It was essentially an area rich with opportunities to test Link's moves against a variety of enemies.

The controls of this new Zelda are complex. Because the game requires a Motion Plus attachment for the WIi Remote - or a Wii Remote Plus that has the tech built in - the developers can and do ask for more carefully planned motion gestures. You swing the Wii Remote sideways to swing sideways, vertically to strike down or up. You hold the Wii Remote aloft to charge Link's sword (his move mimics yours) and you can even slice diagonally. The controller knows what you're doing and matches your moves more closely than the last Wii Zelda did. The enemies I fought in this dungeon area blocked some of my strikes. They'd hold their guard to their sides, leaving only their head open. Vertical slice down. They'd guard all but their right side. Horizontal slice from the left. But to access the bow-and-arrow, you need to press the B button on the Wii Remote, hold the C button on the Nunchuk controller in your other hand, yank it back to focus a first-person view, aim at your target with the Wii Remote and then release C to fire. Complicated? Yes. Putting more control in the hands of the player? Definitely. This is not a Zelda of simple altercations. It makes each encounter a puzzle, an evolution of the light strategy introduced in the locked-on one-on-one fights that filled The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (In screenshots, you'll see that the game's control scheme is shown over the right part of the screen. No word from Nintendo yesterday about whether it can be turned off, helpful as it might be.)

It surprised me when Kotaku readers reacted to the video I shot of the demo's boss battle in frustration. What they saw - what definitely exists in those controls - is something I didn't feel. They saw a delay between what the player does and what Link does. They saw lag and they didn't like it, knocking Nintendo for failing to deliver a 1:1 motion-controlled experience. Yes, there is a veryveryshort delay, but it's not a delay I felt as I played. I'd face up against an enemy in the dungeon, size up his stance, spot his vulnerable spot and strike. Not once did I feel that the window of opportunity close. You may see the delay. I see it now too. But in the swordplay it did not hamper the experience.

I think this new Link will be trickier to control than earlier ones. When I checked a radial menu that shows Link's inventory, I saw that he was carrying three shields, one of them activated for battle. Each sword had its own durability meter. At times during combat a small green meter full of pie-shaped slices appeared. The shield meters represent how close Link's shields are to being broken. The pie-meter indicates Link's stamina, which can fade as he sprints or - and this is the one thing in the whole demo that worried me - when he's pushing boxes around to solve puzzles. A Nintendo rep who was showing me the game said that Link might have to sprint up a hill and the player will need to ensure that Link has enough stamina to do it. Not since Zelda 2 have I seen this many indications that we'll have to manage Link's vitality like this. It feels, for lack of a better term, more video game-y than Zelda has been in a while, which is not a turn I expected on the non-gamer-friendly Wii. I shouldn't have been surprised, I guess, considering the revelation at E3 that part of the game's terrain is doubled in a Link to the Past-style alternate reality. This is not a simple game.

I ceded my control of the new Zelda dungeon to a Nintendo rep so I could take notes. I watched him race through a few basic puzzles (shoot an arrow at a gem to unlock a door; push a block, climb atop it and wave a sword to make some enemy eyeballs dizzy. Basic Zelda stuff. But I kept noticing a recurring theme: multiple ways to solve the same problems.

There is, in this new Zelda a faint whiff of the tactical variety of, say, a BioShock. Zelda games have never been a one-solution-for-each-problem bunch of adventures, but Skyward Sword stands out. Inside the dungeon were giant spiders dangling from long single strands of spiderweb. In Ocarina of Time you wait for these guys to turn around and then strike their weak underside. In this new game, you can knock them side to side until they fall of their strand of web, the Nintendo rep told me. I tried something different: I unsheathed Link's remote-control flying beetle gadget and flew it, guiding it with the Wii Remote, in a loop until it cut through the spider's strand of web. The spider fell to the ground. I canceled the beetle's flight, flipped the spider over with the sword and struck. I got a signal that I could make a motion-controlled finishing blow. I did it. Link pounced on the giant spider and killed it. I guess I could have used arrows against the spider. I didn't get a chance to try. In other battles I found that I could use Link's shield to parry and daze opponents; for some puzzles, I saw, the arrow could be used or the beetle.

I don't think Skyward sword provides as many different viable solutions to its combat and puzzle problems as a BioShock. But I do get the sense that the motion control in the game has forced its developers to create a world that is a little but less of a set and more of a system to which different acts of physics can be applied. This opens up the tactical options a bit and that, for a Zelda game, is exciting.

Few Zelda games are bad and this one seems to me like it could be quite different and wonderful. The ways it veers from the established norms are the ways it most intrigues me. Skyward Sword didn't make me angry. It made me excited that this is not a safe Zelda, that it's an experiment.

The new Zelda will be out this holiday. May it be half as good as the best Zelda: Majora's Mask. (What, did I just make you angry?)


Comments

    I've never been made angry by a Zelda game... except Crossbow Training... but that was more the Zapper's fault.

    I loved WindWaker as well as Majora's Mask :)

    GAH ANGRY NOW MAJORA'S MASK SUCKS WIND WAKER IS THE BEST!!!

    LOLJKS I don't have my panties in that much of a bunch.

    I completely agree with the fact that everyone seems to get angry about the new Zelda, when I told a friend of mine that the story would be more like a school drama as was said in a recent interview she raged epically.

    In my opinion it is what it is, if you don't like it there's no pressure to buy the game. I personally think it's going to be epic myself, mainly because it, along with Xenoblade will give me a reason to blow the dust off my Wii.

    Hmmm... You've renewed some hope in me good sir!

    wind waker mad me extremely angry, hated the "art" (term used as lightly as possible) style, which ruined the feel imo, just couldn't immerse myself, was too busy being angry at the animation.

    was so happy when they went back to a good visuals in the latest games.

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    I loved the shit out of Wind Waker, one of the things I like about Skyward Sword is that it kind of copies the art style, not to the same extremes but it has that sort of cel shaded look. Hopefully the rest of the game is up to scratch.

    Sorry, but for the first time, I wont be picking up this console Zelda.

    Well, at least it can't be any worse than Twilight Princess.... am I right?

    Not trying to make anyone angry, but I never finished Twilight Princess cos, well, it just got boring for me.

    But after reading this about more complex controls and tactical variety, I might have to fire up the ol' Wii once more.

    p.s. Link to the Past is the best game of all time!

    I'm still not sold on the motion controls. I know it worked in No More Heroes, but this one looks like you'll be gesturing twice as much, which is not a good idea.

    I didn't like Twilight Princess. I was hooked from the get go, but it got repetetive around about the ice temple, and let's face it, the exact same story in every single game isn't exactly compelling. I hoping this one has less tedium than previous entries, as every new one has been a step backwards since Lttp.

    Majora's Mask is amazing.
    I actually just finished it for the first time over the weekend.
    Am I excited for the new one? Not really. Why? It's on the Wii.
    Will I buy it? Probably not.
    I've still got Wind Waker to finish, then I'll track down a Gamecube copy of Twilight Princess. I've got plenty of Zelda adventures to finish before I'm forced to play with motion controls.

    Majora's Mask is the best! I'm so glad someone else thinks so! ^^b I was disappointed with Wind Waker's art style at first glance, but I loved that game. I have no doubt this Zelda won't disappoint!

    The only Zelda games I've gotten angry at are the new DS ones - Phantom Hourglass (especially!) and Spirit Tracks. But I've loved Twilight Princess and OoT. Majora's Mask, not so much, but then again I haven't really given it a good go since I've last tried playing it.

    I don't think that I've played a Zelda game that wasn't somewhat tedious, or had anger inducing moments, though. The fun parts are always about the new tricks and tools for Link, and finding the secrets & collectables - I really enjoyed the bug collecting in Twilight Princess.

    A real Zelda expert would have played the two Gamecube Zelda's not 1 GC and 1 Wii!
    >_>
    <__>

    I honestly didn't mind the DS Zeldas.
    The only thing I hated with a violent passion, was the Ocean Temple, and that was fairly simple after your first 50 run throughs.
    Spirit Tracks, on the other hand, was really enjoyable for me.
    And as for people saying Wind Waker was bad because of its lighthearted art styles, it had one of the most serious plots in the series. It's as close to Bioshock as we are going to get!

    I actually agree, Majora's Mask is the best Zelda game. Unlike others in the series, the story is more in-depth, the characters are well developed unlike the stereotypical ones you see in every other game and the game is more darker in tone.

    Meh, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Link to the Past are all my favorite Zeldas. For one reason or another, I could not stand the N64 Zeldas - mostly because I felt the characters, puzzles and world were so out of place for a old school Zelda player (although I will give the remake of OOT a try).

    Skipping past that, I really dont care what anyone else is thinking about the new Zelda, I think it looks awesome. From the get go people wanted a more 1 to 1 Zelda sword gameplay, now we are getting it. The graphic style I like, bringing a slightly different tone to the world which is always welcome. Personally, I think this Zelda will probably end up being the best Wii game released in the consoles lifetime.

    I might play it.

    But, does it annoy anyone else that link is now RIGHT handed?

    I am right handed, but Link is left. That would bug me while playing, knowing that it has broken continuity.

      Actually it changes depending on the game. I say he's ambidextrous

    Looks good. Sounds interesting. Can't wait.

    I remember people looking at me strangely on the train during rush hour when I was blowing out candles by blowing on my DS.

    Hmm I still don't understand why people think Wind waker's graphic's were crap? Did you not watch Disney movies when you were a kid? I have wind waker as my dreamscene wallpaper. I love it.

    Can't wait for this game.

      I love Disney movies. Ones made before the 80s, that is.

    Totilo! You haven't played Link's Awakening!? What's the matter with you!?

    Skyward Sword looks great, btw. It seems like Nintendo really tried to make another great, unique Zelda game. I was a little worried, since we haven't had a great Zelda game in a lOOONG time now, and the last one wasn't developed by Nintendo, but the more I see of Skyward Sword, the more my fears are put to rest.

    OOT was the first 3D zelda adventure, and had plenty of people to talk to and places to explore.

    Majoras Mask, my favorite Zelda, expanded on those characters and ideas of sidequests.
    The time limit in the game gave the game a feel that the world was alive. Every character their own story and adventure, and all have their daily routines. You wouldn't find these unless you actively found them out.
    Where as OOT was the same every single day. Everyone said the same thing no matter what, unless you did the mask side quests, or it changed to night time.

    Wind Waker, despite the 'kiddy' art style, was by far the most adult zelda game. You're playing a zelda game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic hyrule where the world has been flooded, and those that live build their lives on the tips and ends of those sunken land masses.

    From aaaaall of the information I've been keeping tabs on since this games first unveil has me excited. Another new zelda game that doesn't try to hock back to Ocarina of Time and please the fans that still think its the best zelda game ever.

    Well, if it has even one side-quest that isn't a rupee collector, then it'll have half as many as Twilight Princess had.

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