Author Topic: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat  (Read 634 times)

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Offline J_Plays_Games

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http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/editorial/58914/the-actual-problem-with-the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-swords-combat

With the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, a whole new generation of people are experiencing one of the more experimental entries in the Zelda series, which is also one of the most divisive. Originally released on November 18th, 2011 for the Nintendo Wii, Skyward Sword dared to use the system’s motion controls to input commands. Swinging the wiimote left has Link swing his sword left, and a non-zero amount of people hate it. The HD version still has the motion input option, but also includes the option to use the left joystick to input sword strikes. Playing through Skyward Sword HD with stick inputs still left me feeling a little cold on the combat. However, I don’t think it’s the control options that’s the problem; it’s the enemy encounter designs.

When I say enemy encounter designs, I mean the strategy behind defeating specific enemies. The simplest enemies, like Keese, only require swinging the sword in their general direction to defeat them. Most enemies demand a little more strategy. These strategies are either unclear and confusing, or boring. Skyward Sword is the Zelda game that makes the player stand around waiting more than any other one, and it’s about as fun as that sounds.

From the earliest humanoid enemy, Bokoblins, Link has to eschew any combat strategy to swing his sword around wildly. Bokoblins are very good at blocking Link’s strikes. A Bokoblin will move their sword around to block different directions that Link could attack from. One of them holding their sword to the right means that I should be able to swing my sword to the right to attack their unguarded side. Except they have a near instant reaction time. Many times when trying to use this strategy the Bokoblin would immediately block the side they weren’t guarding. Attacking up when they were blocking any other direction would have them block up immediately. My strategy for dealing with them was mindlessly swinging at them until they died.

Lizalfos have a clear way to attack them as well as having a sense of character.

Skyward Sword has great enemies that focus on blocking angles of attacks. Lizalfos will block all Link’s strikes until they only block one angle and taunt Link, which gives him a path to attack that doesn’t close. Stalfos block all but one angle of attack and change the one open direction on regular intervals. This gives them a rhythm game feeling to fighting them. Messing up the timing or attack direction gives the enemy an opening to attack which can be dodged or parried if you’re brave. Messing up an attack direction on a Bokoblin means that Link just has to swing his sword around more.

This lack of strategy gets compounded by the addition of electricity. Skyward Sword will imbue enemies with elemental traits. This can be fire, which causes a damage over time effect and burns wooden shields, or electricity, which will stun Link when he hits an electrified enemy with his sword. The counterplay to an enemy being electrified is to wait. Most common enemies can be electrified from Keese to Bokoblins. The worst electrified enemy is the Chuchu. This enemy is defeated by cutting it in half into smaller versions of itself until the smallest version is defeated. After cutting the larger form in half, the smaller blob will pulse with electricity. Link must wait until the pulse dissipates then cut the creature in half again, which will then, again, pulse with electricity before being attacked. The pattern to attacking electric Chuchu is strike then wait then strike then wait for a total amount seven turns. Link has to stand around waiting for an enemy to be open to attack seven times - maybe five if you're fast - to defeat one Chuchu.

The encounter design of making Link wait around isn’t exclusive to electric enemy types either. Moblins will also force the player to do nothing until they’re open to attack. The first Moblin the player comes across has a spear and a wooden shield. The shield has to be attacked in multiple directions to destroy it. Once the Moblin’s shield is gone, Link can freely attack them. Making an enemy’s defensive tool useless is an interesting encounter design even if they have way too much health. Later types will upgrade to a metal shield. The only way to open the metal Moblins for attack is to parry a strike from their spear. Until they attack with their spear there is nothing for Link to do but wait. Most of my time spent fighting metal Moblins was to stand in front of them hoping they would try to attack me. The "wait to parry" strategy is unfortunately employed by other enemies. Sentrobes will force the player to stand around until the specific attack that can be parried is used. It isn’t an engaging combat design.

Boss fights aren’t safe from Skyward Sword’s weird encounter designs either. Scaldera has a phase in the boss fight where their weak point, their eye, bounces around to different points on their body, but it’s not clear how to hit it. The eye would move up and to the right from Link, so I would use the right diagonal upwards strike, but that would miss. Eventually I just had to swing the sword around constantly in front of Scaldera to do damage. Tentalus has a similar phase where it sends snake versions of its tentacles after Link. The way these snake tentacles are animated made it difficult for me to tell what direction they are coming from. This part of the Tentalus fight almost necessitates me taking damage.

This didn't hit and I don't know why.

All of these weird instances in the combat could have been avoided. There are numerous clever uses of the sword controls to defeat enemies. Every fight against a Deku Baba is genuinely fun. Requiring the player to hit Skulltulas in a way that turns them around to expose their stomach weak point is clever. The first phase of the Tentalus fight features Link cutting down tentacles with the Skyward Strike, which I think is cool. There’s just too many instances of enemy encounters that are unclear or designed around wasting time. It’s a shame because I like the implementation of the motion or joystick controls in concept. Swinging the sword right by swinging the Joy-Con right is neat. On top of that Skyward Sword features the best overall suite of dungeons of any Legend of Zelda that I’ve played. The unfortunate encounter design brings down the experience in a way that could have been additive instead.


Offline Cool Uncle Vince

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2021, 12:03:51 PM »
You're right!  It's a LOT of waiting!

Offline Fi

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2021, 12:20:51 PM »
Such is the will of the Goddess.

Offline Brett

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2021, 12:55:46 PM »
Uh, you know the guys with shields? You can run up the shield, jump over them, and attack them from behind. And you're almost certainly supposed to.

Offline Khushrenada

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2021, 01:07:34 PM »
You can. I did that when playing it but even attacking from behind didn't always eliminate them since they can take a lot of damage and turn around. A few times, they turned around and attacked me knocking me off the narrow ledge they guarded. I guess it's a case of running back up over them to attack on their rear again. Yet, that sometimes didn't occur to me after I started getting into sword swinging mode. The way illustrated here of parrying with the shield doesn't seem that much different from having to run back and forth over an enemy. You're still pausing combat to open a weakness.
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Offline Brett

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2021, 01:49:05 PM »
Yeah, sometimes you have to do it more than once. But there's no waiting involved. And the writer seems to have been unaware of it.

Aside from the electric blob things, there's not all that much waiting involved in the combat.

Offline pokepal148

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2021, 02:58:57 PM »
Having enemies with electro swords in a game where, even in optimal conditions, the game is prone to failing to recognize your inputs correctly, is pretty shitty. NGL.

Offline Luigi Dude

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2021, 10:01:34 AM »
Yeah, sometimes you have to do it more than once. But there's no waiting involved. And the writer seems to have been unaware of it.

Aside from the electric blob things, there's not all that much waiting involved in the combat.

Yeah I've played Skyward Sword several times and most enemies die in a few seconds.  Even bosses go down pretty fast once you know their weakness.  This entire articles is complete hyperbole **** that I'd expect from a random Gamefaqs or ResetEra post.  What's next, are we going to get an article next week about how Super Mario Bros is too slow because the author forgot to use the run button.
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Offline pokepal148

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2021, 03:18:27 PM »
Yeah, sometimes you have to do it more than once. But there's no waiting involved. And the writer seems to have been unaware of it.

Aside from the electric blob things, there's not all that much waiting involved in the combat.

Yeah I've played Skyward Sword several times and most enemies die in a few seconds.
I wonder if there's a connection between points A and B here?

Because I know there are some tricks to Skyward Sword's combat but I also know those tricks are not communicated well to the player, and these tricks are nowhere near as intuitive to figure out on your own as holding a button to run in Mario.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 03:45:02 PM by pokepal148 »

Offline Brett

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2021, 02:53:43 AM »
Well, it's all relative, but running up the big flat shield was pretty intuitive to me. I didn't know the method shown in the above gif was even a thing. It does show how tricky tutorializing things can be though: how much do you need to hold the hands of players who don't figure out visual cues? One could argue that the hated tutorials that open Skyward Sword are inevitable because some people need the help.

One could also write an article on the wide variety of ways Skyward Sword lets you dispatch with enemies!

Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2021, 09:41:58 AM »
Not played it since it was released on Wii, but I wasn't aware that you could climb the shield.

Offline Luigi Dude

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2021, 01:25:06 PM »
Not played it since it was released on Wii, but I wasn't aware that you could climb the shield.

If you lock on to the Moblins and have Fi analyze them she'll tell you climbing their shields is the best way to fight them.  I even found a clip on Youtube where somebody does just that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyHCZCpLgyA

I know people loved to complain about Fi, but as a combat tool she does give good advice on the fastest way to beat enemies.  When the player uses her advice the Moblin in the above clip goes down in about 15 seconds.  If I was playing I could have done that in less then 10 seconds since the player didn't turn around fast enough to start hitting after they first ran up the shield and they ran back a little further then they needed to before climbing it the second time.

Either way it's still much faster then waiting to parry like the author is doing in the gif they posted in the article.

It does show how tricky tutorializing things can be though: how much do you need to hold the hands of players who don't figure out visual cues? One could argue that the hated tutorials that open Skyward Sword are inevitable because some people need the help.

Yeah this is why I can't exactly blame Nintendo for being so cautious in the original Wii release.  Even with all the tutorials and interruptions, there's still things I see people don't realize they can do in Skyward Sword that make the experience flow a lot better.
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Offline BeautifulShy

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2021, 01:55:13 PM »
The way the combat goes is there is multiple ways how to fight certain enemies.  You can make it so you can time a sword slash on some enemies but there are other times where there is tactics which is more effective and quicker. 

This is why I didn't get the complaints on the motion controls in combat.  There was many ways one could fight in battle.
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Offline christapo

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2021, 07:04:22 PM »
I have platinum trophies on Dark Souls but found Skyward Sword weirdly impenetrable. The first battle with the bad guy... I don't even remember the name. Was painful, felt like pure attrition, no idea what I was supposed to be doing.

If it turns out I just didn't pay attention to something Fi said...well... that's unusually bad game design from Nintendo.  There certainly didn't seem to be anything popping up to say what to do other than "git gud".

Offline Jonnyboy117

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Re: The Actual Problem With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword's Combat
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2021, 12:30:21 PM »
I would agree that Skyward Sword's combat encounters often rely on waiting to counter/parry/dodge before you can attack with the sword. It's an approach the Zelda series usually only employs in mini-boss and boss fights, and it becomes tiresome when you're faced with such defensive tactics by normal enemies. However, as noted by other people here, there is usually an alternative method that's much faster and less timing-focused. I vaguely recall using special items, charge attacks, evasive maneuvers, etc. to avoid the timing-based sword combat whenever possible. There may be a trade-off between the preparation and mindfulness needed to use these tricks vs. "brute force" of using the same basic swordplay approach to every enemy.
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