This year at E3, Nintendo was not only celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series but also showing off the newest addition to the franchise; The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii. I got a chance to play through a bit of Skyward Sword during E3, and as a huge Zelda fan I fell they are finally doing justice to the series on the Wii.
Skyward Sword’s art team decided to take the cell shaded style from Windwaker, and mix it in with the dark colors, tones, and proportional character models from Twilight Princess. This makes for an interesting art style that didn’t feel too childish or too dark and gritty. The balance that the lighting created gives the rooms played a great ambience and set the tone and mood for the levels well.
This time around, the team has decided to fix the error of their ways with the controls. Instead of having to do slight wrist motions that did the same animation over and over again for attacks, the team has implemented a dynamic combat system. If you stab, Link stabs. If you do a downward slash, Link does a downward slash. While this adds new tactics to how you do combat with some creatures, I still feel rather silly sometimes swinging the Wiimote around. The benefit is that it gave me a feeling of purpose to have me do these longer swings rather then just a simple wrist turn.
The combat itself plays like other Zelda games in the franchise; keep slashing till it is dead, and if it is a boss use the special strategy three times and it should die. Really they haven’t switched up the formula here on this part. Though one of the newest things Nintendo hinted at is the ability to upgrade weapons and equipment you find through out your journey, not much on this has been shown. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months.
My biggest gripe with the Zelda franchise has always been the lack of voice over work. Like all other Zelda games this continues to use large blocks of text to progress the story. So if you were looking forward to finally hearing Link’s voice you are going to be disappointed.
After playing it for a enjoyable twenty minutes, it feels like the promising Zelda experience that longtime fans have been wanting. Stay tuned for more information about it as it comes closer to its fall 2011 release date.