Ever since E3 2010, hype has steadily built up around The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and understandably so. Nintendo is positioning this new Zelda title to become the game that finally changes the tried and true, yet ultimately staling, Zelda formula that has been with the series ever since Link’s first days on the NES. The question is: How can Nintendo accomplish such a lofty goal? So far, the going looks tough for Nintendo. Fans have already decided that Skyward Sword will be nothing more than a combination of Wii Motion Plus controls and the art styles and game mechanics of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. While that may appear to be true at first glance, it would serve fans well to remember that during Twilight Princess’ development, series creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, insisted that “Twilight Princess will be, without a doubt, the last Zelda game as you know it in its present form.” To figure out what this quote means for Skyward Sword, it is important to understand what exactly Twilight Princess did for the series.
Whether or not gamers played it on Wii or Gamecube, Twilight Princess represented a pivotal moment in the series that went far beyond the initial Ocarina of Time 2.0 accusations the game received. What Nintendo had aimed for and achieved with Twilight Princess was the culmination of nearly every success the series had attained so far. For starters, the game had Ocarina of Time’s game-play mechanics, Majora’s Mask’s dark narrative style, A Link to the Past’s dual world adventuring, and The Wind Waker’s technologically adept engine. The list could go on as to how each games in the series contributed to Twilight Princess’ make-up, but doing so would also reveal the game’s greatest weakness: It is the culmination of all these things. Sure, the game does venture beyond Ocarina of Time 2.0 territory when it combines all of these elements well, but Ocarina of Time had, unfortunately, already accomplished a similar cumulative task almost a decade before. Link’s first foray into the third dimension could not have existed had it not been for games that had come before it, and current series director, Eiji Aonuma, has long understood this point. Much like today, The Zelda franchise was in desperate need of a freshening up by the time Aonuma had taken charge of the series, and it was plain to him that Ocarina of Time, while impressive, had done little more than to transplant 2D game design into the third dimension. His response to this problem was Majora’s Mask.