Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Zelda for Two
If you're being charitable, you could call Skyward Sword rooted in tradition. Some would argue that "repetition" is a better word. Either way, there is little denying that Zelda games have a specific formula. Playing with Hanah is refreshing because she hasn't grown accustomed to the formula yet. I know that we're almost done with the first three primary dungeons and we haven't yet filled out our inventory, which means there are likely four to seven more second-wave dungeons to go. I know exactly what happens when you catch a fairy in a bottle. I've done the ghostly toilet paper quest before. But to Hanah, this is all new and the novelty she experiences offers a vicarious excitement.
It's also nice to have someone to diffuse my nerd rage and generally jaded outlook. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter that they Link isn't a lefty in Skyward Sword, and the fact that there are hidden treasure chests all around the world is actually pretty neat. Playing along with someone who is relatively new to the universe is an easy way to appreciate the things I usually take for granted. Thanks to my prior knowledge, we can quickly cut through the extraneous dialogue and didactic explanations of basic moves and get back to what makes a Zelda game special: encountering the unexpected. Thanks to Hanah's patience for questing and item collection, I've paid more attention to the crafting system than I would have on my own. As was the case in Twilight Princess, the world is crawling with insects to catch and utilize. Thanks to my wife's interest, they are more than simply moving scenery this time around.
Of course, not everything in Skyward Sword is a re-hash. Thanks to its extensive use of motion controls, it's a new experience for even long-time Zelda players. Testing the capabilities of the Wii Motion Plus by experimenting with the new swordplay techniques, item capabilities, and even Link's basic movement is an adventure unto itself. Since the motion invalidates a good chunk of my prior skills, we're both analyzing the best tactics to employ. We've already had some in-depth discussions about the game's design choices that, in retrospect, were worthy of a podcast.
While Skyward Sword hasn't always been the most intuitive or technically polished adventure (for example: a malfunctioning nunchuk hampered the first few hours of our journey), it has been a memorable one. Skyward Sword is a dramatic departure for the series in a variety of ways, and it's been nice to have a companion in this brave new world that has such waggle in it.