Growing up, no franchise held quite the potential for hype over me as The Legend of Zelda did. Starting with A Link to the Past on the Super Nintendo, and then every subsequent release until Wind Waker, the Zelda series was one that I ate, slept and breathed whenever a new entry was announced.
But then came the Wii version of Twilight Princess. Honestly, for the first time since Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link for the NES, I found myself positively hating the game. My sharp disdain may make me part of the minority when it comes to Link's last console effort, but I thought the game to be massively underwhelming. As a GameCube title, which was the initial plan for the project, I may have loved it. But, for the Wii, and with a lame batch of "motion control," I hated it.
Skyward Sword looks different. I'm not just speaking from the perspective of graphical prowess here; although, the look of Skyward Sword is probably better suited for the Wii's hardware potential than Twilight Princess was. I'm talking about the prospect of the gameplay this upcoming Zelda title brings to the table. This is the first Zelda game built with the Wii and MotionPlus in mind since day one.
The motion side of Twilight Princess was an added feature. The game was not conceived with motion control, and yet Nintendo felt the need to shoehorn it into place in order to bolster the Wii's launch lineup. The result was a batch of shake-to-activate controls layered over a system of mediocre aiming.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will be different. This game features actual one-to-one motion control by way of MotionPlus. Every interaction I've had with the product, across several conventions and preview opportunities, has left me feeling a mix of excitement and satisfaction regarding its design. You're not just dropped in front of an enemy and instructed to attack by timing your spasms of motion. Instead, enemies will give you visual cues regarding when and in which direction you should be slicing.
If you can remember back to around 2005 when Nintendo was showing off the motion control potential of their upcoming Revolution, there was an almost unanimous spark shared amongst gamers. We all, collectively, considered the possibilities of motion control. I remember talking with friends and peers about the potential for things like shooters and sword & shield combat titles. The Revolution, it seemed, was the perfect outlet for such gameplay. A physical sword and shield to wield and hold made complete sense and summoned waves of excitement.
But then we had a chance to play the console. While I'm not saying the Wii was a bad device at launch (I loved it and invested into the machine almost immediately), I am suggesting that the platform's control scheme was poorly implemented right off the bat. Motion control was hardly intuitive or one-to-one. You had to get the machine to understand your movements, and that broke you out of the dreamy swordplay you once imagined.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? This game represents everything we wanted the Revolution to be when it launched five years ago as the Wii. This is one-to-one motion, this is sword & shield play, this is a Zelda game built with its platform in mind since day one.
That, in addition to Zelda's standard for quality story and design, is why Skyward Sword is worth getting excited over.
This game launches on November 20th.