(Originally posted July 2, 2010)

Anyone else see the awesome screen shots for the new Legend of Zelda game? (Game to be released sometime in 2011.)

They are possibly the most beautiful video game images I have ever seen. If you haven’t seen them yet, do yer self a favor and check them out Here.

Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword is set to come out sometime in 2011. It’s been a long time since I have been anxious for a new game release like this. It’s a good feeling. It makes me feel like I’m not too old for fun stuff.

I really just want to talk about the art, but there are a few other things that I feel I should discuss first, just to get them out of the way.

Usually, I am a rabid Nintendo fan who believes that Nintendo can do no wrong. But even that’s not blinding me to the problems with the Wii Motion Plus controller. I case you don’t know, the Wii Motion Plus is an add-on that supposedly makes the Wii Remote more articulate. Game producers Miyamoto and Aonuma have stated that they didn’t want to use the Motion Plus because it didn’t seem to be working out, but then Wii Sports Resort used it successfully, so they have decided to put Motion Plus back in Skyward Sword. I read that statement as “We didn’t want to use it, but the company is making us.”

In all fairness, I don’t think the Wii Motion Plus will be a disaster that will ruin the game. Skyward Sword will probably play as well as any other Wii game, maybe even a little bit better, but I’m not counting on Motion Plus to bring any significant improvements to game play.

The other thing that got my attention was the announcement that this game is changing the Zelda formula. In the past, all Zelda games have followed the same pattern: Link finds out he needs to retrieve something from a well-guarded dungeon (in RPG’s “dungeon” can also mean “palace,” “temple,” “tower,” etc.). Link must complete some task in the overworld and then journey to the dungeon before he can begin the dungeon crawl. This has been the roll-playing game formula since the dawn of time (or the 1970’s, whenever RPG’s were invented). Now, we are told the the “overworld, dungeon, overworld, dungeon…” formula will never be used in a Zelda game again. What could they possibly be replacing it with??? Of course, none of the Super Mario role-playing games have ever relied on this pattern (except for the first Paper Mario game). Although there have been mixed results, the team has gotten some pretty fun stuff to happen there. Maybe breaking with tradition will put new game conventions to better use.

Now I feel free to discuss the art. I think Skyward Sword is what Legend of Zelda games are meant to look like. In the past, whenever I thought of Zelda, The Ocarina of Time art style was always the first thing to flash in my mind. I also liked the controversial cell-shaded toon style of The Wind Waker. Okay, those exaggerated chibi drawings will never replace the more traditional Zelda art, but it was bright and clear, and I liked seeing how all of the classic items and characters adapted to it. Plus, the cartoon drawings worked better then the overly detailed images on small hand-held systems. I had some mixed feelings about Twilight Princess. It was refreshing to see the more realistic images again, but I felt like they had lost too much of their cartoon-ness, which made them a little less friendly. But now we have Skyward Sword, which combines everything that’s good from all the previous games. It has a little bit of the cartoony smoothness and colors, but that style stops just before getting silly. It has a nice level of detail, but the detail stops before the images get cluttered. The characters look well-posed and well-proportioned. The backgrounds look interesting and easy to interact with. It seems like the new Kingdom of Hyrule is a place we’ll enjoy looking at while we spend hours solving puzzles and stabbing things.

If that weren’t enough, the designers also announced that they are borrowing some inspiration from Impressionistic Art to make the game a little more classy. They mentioned, in particular, the work of Paul Cezanne. I have never thought of this before, but Cezanne’s style already lends itself to video game art. Most of Cezanne’s work used clear geometric structures covered with textures and vibrant color to show light, shadow and detail. This description already sounds like 3D model based computer graphics. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the work of Paul Cezanne, here is a picture. Educate yourselves.

cezanne

Yes, I have decided to get my hopes up for Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword. Will my expectations be met? Probably. Will Zelda jokes work their way into my comics when it comes out? Likely. Will I annoy my family, friends, acquaintances, and random strangers on the street by talking endlessly about my thoughts and feelings on the Zelda Universe? Safe bet.

-Marj

P.S. After Skyward Sword comes out, I plan on revisiting this blog to see how the real game stacks up to my expectations. Stay tuned.