Above: At 25:55, I LOLed.
I’ve had half a dozen emails on this video alone (the video has over a quarter million views on Youtube!?). I watched the video in its entirety.
I think he is right on with everything. I don’t view him criticizing Ocarina, LTTP, or LoZ but in looking at them more critically. The games he seems to hate are Skyward Sword. Like many other people, I got bored in the middle of Ocarina of Time and just stopped playing. Perhaps it was due to all the ‘waiting’. (I didn’t play Ocarina when it first came out.)
One thing that Classic Zelda (Zelda I, II, LTTP, Ocarina) [e.g. Pre-Aonuma Zelda] did correctly was have a congruent Fantasy World. You don’t have anime or other wacky stuff in there. This wacky stuff is like trying to watch M.A.S.H. and have 1966 Batman make an appearance. The atmosphere in Aonuma Zelda has become extremely campy with their weird NPCs and non-fantasy world (with trains and robots and other weird stuff).
I think more and more people are asking questions about Zelda’s Aonuma design because they’re ‘feeling’ it more. After Ocarina of Time, Zelda was so high in terms of gamer opinion. Perhaps higher than any game can go. The ‘golden game’ seemed liked it descended from heaven itself. But that ‘golden game capital’ has been slowly eroding with each Aonuma Zelda after Aonuma Zelda. A Zelda game can’t rely on the IP and music and all to just get people to go ‘Yeah, that is Zelda!’ I think more and more people are sensing how Aonuma Zelda feels ‘off’ and want a change. Worse, they play the Classic Zeldas and notice, aside from their historical fatigue (older graphics and all), that the games feel more ‘right’. What is going on?
As much as I bitch about Aonuma and his romantic quests for ‘more puzzles’, I think there is another way to look at Zelda. The video complained much about Ocarina of Time’s combat system.
You know, when I started this site, it was ACCEPTED and DECLARED by Nintendo, game journalists, and the various game forums of the following:
1) Super Mario 64 was the successor to Super Mario Brothers (no 2d/3d split was seen).
2) Super Mario 64 was a ‘complete and amazing success story of turning Mario into 3d’.
These two we know Nintendo had to go back and re-examine… most bitterly I must add. Far from declaring 3d victory, it had to sting when they realized that 3d Mario has never truly been the successor to 2d Mario in audience’s eyes.
3) Ocarina of Time has solved ALL issues of turning Zelda into 3d.
4) The Z target system of Ocarina of Time was a great success of 3d combat!
Zelda’s problem isn’t so much that it is 3d. I do think the video is correct in how awful the 3d combat system is. Nintendo may instinctively know this which is why they rely so heavily on ‘puzzles’ for Aonuma Zelda.
However, I know AND YOU KNOW that Aonuma *hated* the combat system of Classic Zelda. He hated fighting monsters in the original Legend of Zelda. We know this because Aonuma told us so during his GDC 2004 speech.
There is a part of gaming I call the ‘core gameplay’. When I was working on RTS games, what would you guess would the core gameplay be? The core gameplay would be the peasants mining gold/chopping wood, building new buildings, and making a single military unit. So when you stripped a game, say Warcraft 2 down, you would have the peasants, three buildings (town hall, farm, and barracks), and one military unit: the footman. And that’s it. That is the core gameplay. You could play the game with JUST THAT and would have a grand old time. The game was fun with just that.
People think of game making as being ‘creative’ and adding all these units, NPCs, story, and shit. Game making is really a craft. Most of the craft revolves around tinkering, constantly, around the core gameplay and getting it just right. Another example would be Super Mario Brothers and having the game be nothing but small Mario with only goombas. Is the game still fun? Yes, actually. With RTS design, I’d get the core gameplay right first BEFORE we added in the other units, other resources, other buildings, and such. If you can’t get the core gameplay right, the FOUNDATION right, everything else will just not be fun.
Nintendo made Link Between Worlds to explore a question: “Why are recent Zelda games not fun until the very end?” Nintendo assumed it was because you had all the items at your disposal. This is why Link Between Worlds allows you to ‘rent’ the items. The question Nintendo should be asking is: “Why are the Classic Zelda games extremely fun at the beginning while the modern games are not?” (I don’t think even the most dogmatic Zelda fan will defend the tutorial-like BOREDOM that is the start of every Zelda game.)
The answer is that the core gameplay of Zelda has been screwed up. And what is the core gameplay of Zelda? Link being a swordsman. Legend of Zelda begins to be fun once you get the sword (it certainly is no fun if you go through the game without the sword!). Killing octorocks is fun. The sword gameplay is very fun and becomes the basis of everything. The items supplement that core gameplay. The boomerang can stun the enemy for example. But everything returns back to the sword.
No one says, “Boy, the beginning of Legend of Zelda is just not fun!” or “Boy, the beginning of Link to the Past is just not fun!” Hell, they are some of the most fun parts of the game! No one says, “The beginning of Aonuma Zelda is fun!” Less and less people are saying, “Aonuma Zelda is fun, ” as well.
The video acknowledges there was a radical change in gameplay with the combat moving from 2d to 3d. Sword combat is just not that fun in how Nintendo implemented it.
The solution needs to be making sword combat fun again, truly get that core gameplay going, and then build off that. Aonuma’s instincts are to run away from the sword which is why Nintendo should run towards it. The sword is to Link as the jump is to Mario. People cannot imagine Link without his sword. I hoped Wii’s motion controls would have resulted in such a change in sword combat but Aonuma just made it worse (if that was possible) by turning all combat into ‘puzzles’.
Miyamoto said a trick is to combine two easy things to make something fun and challenging. Running/climbing is easy. Jumping over barrels is easy. Doing both is not which is where Donkey Kong got its fun. Attacking with the sword is easy. Dodging enemies is easy. Doing both, not so easy. But addictive fun.
I feel like the core gameplay of Zelda has been lost. I’d rather replay Classic Zelda yet again because it gets it right. With Aonuma Zelda, I am rescuing cats (!) instead. I’m not sure if this is the correct way to go for sword combat, but it is better than yet another ‘hold down trigger to lock on to enemy’ method.
The combat system in Zelda is broken. Once it is repaired, Zelda games would be designed more around that system and the games should become more interesting. Zelda’s cancer is not so much that Aonuma is Pro-Puzzle as he is Anti-Combat.
“Ohh, the octorocks in Legend of Zelda keep killing me. Therefore, I will destroy this entire series! hahahaha”
“Six year old kids could handle us. This Aonuma guy can’t even handle playing Pac-man!”