Posted by: Chris | December 6, 2011

What Zelda Can Learn From Skyrim, Ctd.

Apparently, my original post came out too late for Aonuma to take its initial recommendation to heart;  Mitch Krpata, amongst others, bemoans Nintendo EAD’s continued insistence on terrible and overlong tutorials:

The first two hours of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword are just plain bad. You spend a lot of time reading endless boring dialogue; you receive lessons in the most banal gameplay mechanics, such as how to jump over a gap (you run toward the gap); you are leered at by grotesque circus freaks that represent some twisted Nintendo designer’s idea of whimsy. You get a lot of minor quest objectives like, “Go talk to Pipit!” and “Hey, why not talk to Pipit again?” It’s not a tutorial for people who have never played Skyward Sword, it is a tutorial for people who have never played a video game before, and it is excruciating.

For the record, I thought Skyrim’s opening was pitch-perfect for an open-ended game.  It was shorter and crisper than either Oblivion’s or Fallout 3’s, yet managed to convey more plot/game relevant information and keep those who were more inclined on a path to “the good stuff.” 

In that vein, it reminded me a lot of the opening for Farcry 2, which both I and apparently Krpata enjoyed immensely.  In fact, now that I think about it, the two actually hit many of the same beats: the long ride in from the border, the near-death experience at the final destination interrupted by general chaos, and then the frantic escape where knee-jerk choices reverberate out onto your allegiances in the ongoing civil war.*  I would not be surprised if the similarities weren’t entirely coincidental.  Of course, Bethesda really does not attempt to follow through with premise the same way that Ubisoft Montreal did, but that’s a topic for another day.

Either way, I really hope that it is somehow conveyed to Nintendo EAD that the recent trend in godawful introductions needs to end.

*Maybe I am the only one who did this (I can be oblivious), but I only realized way after the fact that I made a (mutable) commitment to one side over the other during my escape from Helgen.

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Responses

  1. Good point. I think the tendency of games to lazily depend on tutorials to teach the mechanics is a bad one. Not sure if you’ve seen the video parody yet, but here’s one in the same vein – if Quake came out today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1ZtBCpo0eU

    On the flip side, when the game doesn’t force things down your throat, you can go a long time without realizing some of its nicer features (i.e. quick slots in Skyrim).


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