When someone is playing a video game, the basic idea is, of course, to beat it. To do everything you’re supposed to do and essentially “win” the game. But within the game’s story, players generally need a bit more than that. Why should your character run through a swarm of flesh-eating zombies? What’s the purpose behind fighting a jailhouse full of psychopaths? Why should anyone go and save the same princess for the trillionth time?
Fortunately, the designers behind The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword realize this, and they’ve gone out of their way to develop a relationship between the hero Link and the titular princess – which, according to the game’s director, will make it easier for the player to care about Zelda.
Skyward Sword‘s director Hidemaro Fujibayashi explains that they didn’t want to rely on the same old story for Zelda, and just make Link rescue her because she was the princess. He felt that the more recent games in the series had diminished the relationship the two characters had, and he wanted to restore that.
Fujibayashi does have a point in that regard. Twilight Princess in particular, didn’t even introduce the princess until partway through the game, and she and Link barely interacted without Midna involved. Some players may not want to play through a 70+ hour game without a good enough story or character-based reason for it.
Fujibayashi explained that they couldn’t develop a full relationship between the two, as it would take up too much time and make the game drag along quite a bit, so they took the “childhood friends” route to be safe. However, they made up for it by having Zelda appear frequently throughout the game, rather than once or twice before the end.
They also tried to “tease” the player a number of times, by having various moments where you think you’re close to rescuing Zelda, only to just miss her and have to move further through the game before succeeding. The new “dowsing” ability introduced in Skyward Sword may contribute to this, since players have to use it a number of times to track Zelda down.
Do the Zelda games need deeper stories with more character development or is it all about the gameplay?
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is out now for the Nintendo Wii.