posted by Fruehdom (SALT LAKE CITY, UT) Mar 23, 2013
Member since Mar 2013
It's interesting what one comes to expect from a Zelda game after 20+ years of playing them. Every time you pick up the newest installment, there are certain things you can count on. The format serves as both a blessing and a curse for the series. To an large extent, the formula works and gamers continue to want more, so why break it. Also, there is a certain nostalgic quality every time a gamer comes back to the series. It takes you right back to the first time you watched 8-bit Link swing a sword on the NES.
What often suffers is innovation and storytelling. What is most surprising is when the game designers find a way to bring those two elements into the series without breaking from its core structure. Twilight Princess was a milestone because it allowed for actual depth in storytelling via Link's sidekick, Midna. Even though Link stays a blank slate, Midna underwent a very real change through the game, to the extent that you really cared for her by the end.
The other place where Zelda games still allow for innovation is in graphical style. Windwaker was a huge departure, and a very successful one in my opinion. Twilight Princess was also a success in its darker, almost graphic novel style.
Skyward Sword delivers on all the core components one expects from a Zelda game. Its dungeons and puzzles are well designed, and it adds its own unique spin on a number of elements from the core cannon. Perhaps the biggest innovation comes from the Motion+ swordplay. The designers really added a unique element to the series by forcing the player to use the wiimote like an actual sword.
There are plenty of things to like about Skyward Sword, but in the final tally, it just feels a little too safe to be one of the true greats of the series (Twilight Princess, Windwaker, Link to the Past). It delivered on all the things I expect of a Zelda game, but it never distinguished itself enough to stand out from the truly great games it has to stand next to.