When I meet a new friend who isn't familiar with the Legend Of Zelda I always explain what it is the exact same way. I tell them that Zelda is adventure. They sometimes ask me, so it's like Fable or Elder Scrolls? I twist my lips and move my shoulders alittle; uncomfortable with the comparison, I eventually agree to some extent but elaborate. Adventure, as in, you start off small and you end up big. It's all about that Journey. They usually ask me at this point- what the game part of the game is actually like, not the story. I tell them again. Adventure, the game intertwines itself with the story to create the grand pilgrim of a hero; it blurs the lines, your experiences while in control are as memorable as your experiences watching 'the story'. No games take you on an adventure like Zelda. That's why it's so special, it's not breaking the boundries of gaming, it's not pushing the limits of our expectations. It's taking us by the hand and pointing at the evil around us, giving us a sword and telling us only we can change the fate of the universe, only we have that power. That's Zelda.
That's not to say they're perfect, even as a devoted son of the Triforce, I will make no claims to each Zelda being flawless gems of delight. There is an impression in my mind that tells me, historically, Nintendo have never really tried that hard with presenting their stories in Zelda games but also that it hasn't ever mattered- their sweeping masterstrokes speak for themselves and resinate through what has mostly been poorly animated characters with Gerry Anderson puppet-mouths.
Skyward Sword is a Phoenix Wright OBJECTION to that, showcasing what I cannot express enough, is by far amoungst the best looking Zelda games ever made. The care in the animation is unmatched by any entry in the franchise; everything from ear-rings to individual feathers move and react as the lavishly, lovingly animated characters come to life before our eyes. Not only that but character designs that are memorable and envy-enducingly perfect, locations that ooze with years of presence, life and personality. If Miyazaki made a Zelda game, this is it.
As I previously mentioned, the animation is a personal delight for me, from rolling pots to stretching with a yawn; every part of this world animates in a frenzy of colour, so alive and vivid.
It came to a head for me when Link and Zelda communicated as convincing a romance as I've ever seen in games, and they did so without ever outrightly expressing it. This is huge, I mean huge.
I'm someone who is fascinated with body language and expression, trying to learn and improve my own understanding. I tell stories with pictures and to be able to convey emotions in characters I need to be able to translate the language of the body into my art. Mastering subtle emotions is nothing short of astonishing and certainly something I've yet to come close to. Skyward Sword has done it, not only capturing the tiniest of quirks, winks and smiles but a very real emotion between what is essentially two masses of polygons on your television screen.
In ten to maybe twenty minutes, it could not be any more convincing. When coupled with the most serene scores making an entrance at precisely the right moment, it doesn't just impress to see the two on screen but invokes memories of school days, of seeing someone you liked everyday and never being able to express whatever it was you felt inside. It invokes the true feeling of love, how it makes you feel. It was incredibly powerful to me to see such a display of storytelling. I was blown away. It's so commendable to see on screen emotion be as brave to let us get what we want from it, to not have it arbitrarily forced on us with the confirmation that 'These two love eachother so you should care about that'.
It's no secret that you fly a bird in this game. It might not seem immediately obvious but I'm personally a great admirer of birds, I have bird iconography throughout a lot of my personal artwork and characters. Link not only gets a bird in this game but it's a Crimson one, not only my favourite colour but a word that has grown to have some importance in my life. I realise that won't count as much for many people but that feels like Nintendo have rolled out the red carpet just for me.
An hour into Skyward Sword and it's very fair to say I haven't scratched the surface, maybe even fair to say I've barely played the game but first impressions matter when it comes to Zelda and I'm ready to commit to whatever the game has in store.
It's really the finer details that impress me, details that I'm sure aren't vastly important to many gamers but I came away stunned by the effort and skill on display, there's a huge adventure ahead across the horizon and I'm ready and willing to face whatever evil is ahead. Already, this is Zelda. This is Adventure.