Thursday, June 17, 2010

Skyward Sword: Back to Basics

Watch the Iwata Asks Interview about Skyward Sword from the E3, in case you haven't yet. Their message at the end is the important one.

"Back to basics". That's the best approach of making a Zelda game they could possibly come up with. It's the first five Zelda games including Ocarina of Time, that are the magical ones. These are the games everyone remembers.

Essentially I see two things, that are very important when you want to go "back to basics", or back to the roots. One is the combat and it seems like Skyward Sword is going to deliver here. The demo at the E3 looks like tons of fun and everyone, who has played it, says the swordplay feels great. There are these nasty Dekubabas on the middle of the road and you can totally avoid them, but no one wants to, because they want to hit something with their sword. It's that much fun. I guess, in this category the game will really shine.

I was actually shocked, when Aonuma said, that he didn't want to utilize MotionPlus at first. That's like saying, that he doesn't want Link to use a sword at all. "It's much more fun to run away from enemies, so in this new Zelda game Link won't have a sword." I'm not overstating here, that's what they partially did in the Nintendo DS Zelda games, where you've been constantly running away from invincible enemies, which could kill you with one hit. That wasn't fun at all. Well, it seems like Miyamoto pushed Aonuma and the game in the right direction, much appreciated. He also pushed this new art style, you can say what you want, but without the new art style and MotionPlus this game would be just Twilight Princess 2.

The second important issue, when they want to go back to the basics, is freedom and exploration. A continuous, connected overworld, which can be explored freely in a non-linear fashion like in the first Zelda game. It's what I've been praying since I opened this blog and longer. A linear game design, where everything guides you and holds your hand, is absolutely boring. It's missing all these interesting choices you can make and the experience of exploring the fantasy world of Hyrule all by yourself, discovering it's secrets. You should be able to play the dungeons in different orders. You should be able to visit the very dangerous areas, where the later dungeons reside, early in the game, so that you're basically running into trials, that are still too challenging for you. You have to test for yourself, where your boundaries are, and not let the game protect you from everything. Let the player run into a place, where he will probably get killed by the monsters. At least that way the game leaves an impression. If you remember how it was to play the older Zelda games as a kid, you would have all these interesting stories that you had shared with your friends, who also played the game. Like that you found the hidden Ice Rod near Lake Hylia in A Link to the Past or that you died the first time running into the Redeads in Ocarina of Time and that you were scared to return to the graveyard because of that. Or you would talk about, that you found Level 8 in the first Zelda game just by accident very early in the game. These exciting experiences were created by a less linear game design, which you don't get that in newer games like Twilight Princess, where every single part of the game is linear and guided. If you now talk about video games today, the main question is always "how far are you into the game?" and this question covers everything there's to talk about. Because everyone is having the exact same experiences while playing the game and this is boring. Only by getting rid of linearity you can achieve a much more interesting experience for Zelda games.

The demo again looks very promising here, because it seems to be very open. The player isn't told, where he has to go. There's this forest area and he can explore it for himself, trying everything out on his way. Eventually he will find the way to the scorpion boss. It looks like fun and I really hope the entire game is designed in a similar open fashion. However, I'm concerned it won't be, but more about that in my next post.

1 comment:

Saurabi said...

Nice post, i like it.
I wll wait for the release day, it's in 1 or 2 months, the game it's very promising to me and the graphic part, items use, the sword use would be very nice.