Shortly after Christmas, when I was six years old, my mother took me the store so that I could pick out a game to play on my brand new Nintendo Gamecube. I’d played video games at my friend’s houses before, but this was the first time I owned any myself. I remember looking through the shelves, trying to find the perfect one. Eventually, I found one game that stood out to me. It didn’t have a colorful case, and didn’t look like anything I’d played before, but I still decided that it was the one I wanted. That game was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and it was the beginning of a life-long love affair.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed every game in the main series, from the classic original game on the NES to the critically acclaimed Ocarina of Time to even the obscure Oracle titles on the Gameboy. I spent hours doing completion runs of our favorite games with my sister, and even met the love of my life through our shared love for the series. So naturally, I can’t wait to play Breath of the Wild, which is being released along with the switch on March 4th. However, I’m also hesitant to get too excited over it, namely because of the disappointment that was the last installment in the series, Skyward Sword.
Skyward Sword is not a bad game on its own – it still captures the adventurous spirit of the games before it, through its creative worlds and interesting characters. However, when compared to other games in the series, it falls flat. The first immediate issue that the player notices right away is that the controls are not quite right. It tries to take advantage of the Wii’s motion control, but it just feels awkward and clunky and strips away any immersion the game could have had. It seems that, rather than trying to create a realistic world through natural movement, which is what the Wii purported to do, the developers tried to create the world through constant cutscenes and story-telling.
Obviously, storytelling is a huge part of the Legend of Zelda series, and part of the reason that it became a cultural icon, but Skyward Sword went too far. Every couple of minutes of gameplay is interrupted by a cutscene, some of which last for several minutes, and most of them aren’t necessary at all. Your adventuring companion, Fi, is by far the worst offender. Companions are common in the Zelda series, beginning with the notoriously annoying fairy, Nav,i in Ocarina of Time, to The King of Red Lions in The Wind Waker and Midna in Twilight Princess. With each iteration, they became less of an irritating nuisance and more of a well-rounded character, culminating with the aforementioned Midna, one of interesting characters in the entire series. Fi was a gigantic step backwards. She’s cold and robotic and completely out of place in the fantasy series. She constantly interrupts the gameplay, often telling you things you’ve already learned, and offers nothing to the storyline. If she had been removed from the game, nothing would have changed.
Between Fi not allowing me to play and the controls being so off that I didn’t really want to anyway, I went from waiting for months to finally play the game to disappointingly handing the controller over to my sister within two hours. Hopefully, after Skyward Sword’s misstep, Breath of the Wild can help the series gain its footing again.