since other threads on the game all seem to be dead, might as well reignite discussion.
Mostly because it's clear Nintendo was trying to change up the formula this time, and not just because of the motion controls or any different aims with the Wii, it is appropriate to comment on what stood out, for good or for ill
1. Generally more difficult combat. Even though i am the controller-throwing type of gamer who completely loses it with games i find excessively frustrating, i felt this game struck a good balance. I never felt bored by what the game presented to me as a challenge, and i only felt seriously frustrated on the second Imprisoned fight, but that was largely because the Imprisoned sometimes fell in such a way that one could not get around him quick enough without losing an entire run on him
2. Zelda. Nintendo once again re-invisioned the Link and Zelda relationship, mainly through reimagining Zelda. Now not the damsel in distress of the classic stories, nor the precocious girl toying with forces beyond her control of OoT, the tomboy of Wind Waker, the somber Queen of Twilight Princess, or the sheltered girl who grows into her role of Spirit Tracks, though i'd argue this Zelda is closest to Wind Waker's. She's proactive, not afraid to go where she needs to go and do what she needs to do, saving her in this game is less a function of rescuing her from captivity (except for the final battle!) than fulfilling your mutual destinies so that you can simply be with her, a believable quasi-romantic friendship you can really feel.
3. No penalties for falling off things (except lava). This balanced out the increased difficulty well, and encouraged experimentation without the game getting too difficult.
4. Upgrades. I loved Monster Hunter Tri on Wii, and nonetheless for its system of mining and grinding. To see it introduced in Zelda was welcome, though i felt they could have done it better. More depth, and optional swords, would have helped make this setup perfect, but i enjoyed it as an improvement
5. Dungeon design. They were definitely smaller in this game, but they still filled out the time fairly well, being cunningly designed, but at the same time they were designed with puzzles that were less obviously puzzles than some of the recent games (the DS games being the worst offenders here), puzzles that led you on ingeniously with what i felt to be just the correct level of difficulty. Thematically some stood out more than others, of course.
Special mention goes to:
Ancient Cistern: It is very fortunate that i received a solid background in Buddhism the same semester as i started playing this game. The metaphors couldn't have been less subtle, starting with the giant statue of Buddha in the center, but also going with all the Lotus imagery (lotus being prominent in certain sects of Buddhism), but going onward to include the need for you to go down to Hell before you could get to your goal, which was the top of the dungeon, heaven (the process of becoming a Bodhisatva which some Buddhists hold is one of the steps towards enlightenment), and the one specific scene where you climb out of hell on the spider's thread, which specifically is a Buddhist fable. Koloktos really kicked ass too
Sky Keep: each room was delightfully challenging, and having to move all the rooms around to be able to access them was exceptionally engaging as well.
6. Scaldera and Koloktos. These better-embodied the ideal Zelda boss to me. Too often in Wind Waker and TP (and yet more egregious in the DS games) you just felt like you were fighting at the toes of behemoths, simply exploiting weaknesses, hitting the eye, and going about your business again. While Scaldera and Koloktos had obvious weak-points as well, fighting them felt more dynamic. You had to move around a lot, for one.
7. Minibosses. Here was where you had the real meat of the swordfighting combat, whether against the Stalfos or the pirate-zombie-robot, but the game's combat really shined therein.
8. The World Below. Again there's a caveat here. I did not feel the world below was very well lived-in. The tribes were generally primitive, though i suppose that was the point given that they had languished down there for 1,000 years, but i would have liked to see a bit more civilization. At the same time, i very much enjoyed how much the overworld really felt dangerous again, crawling with enemies and it only got progressively worse over the course of the game as the influence of evil grew.
9. Goddess Cubes. Seemed to be an interesting two-step way of going about acquiring treasure, giving you more incentive to explore around both below and above.
10. Groose. The Groosinator. The Legend of Groose. Grooseland.
9. The exploit against Demise. Fucking brilliant and hidden just right. Definitely the right way to encourage experimentation. I mean, i was just holding my sword up so i could try to get him to switch stances, then all of a sudden i get a lightning bolt, and hell to the yeah with what comes next.
1. The Imprisoned. There was possibility there, certainly. I felt what the developers were trying for, but in the end i found it too irritating. If they had, perhaps, removed the nonstandard game over that came with his fights, i would have felt less bothered.
2. The beginning of the game. They did a better job than all the incredible bloat of early Twilight Princess, but at the same time it felt entirely too forced. This i suppose comes with the territory of introducing strange mechanics like flying or sky-diving, and so is to a point unavoidable, but at the same time they could have done something to slim it down.
3. Ghirahim fights. Too much of it felt like guesswork, moreso in the parts where you had to avoid having him grab your sword. In the Fire Sanctuary fight, i just opted to take the long road by deflecting his projectile attacks because i couldn't figure him out.
4. Big Key puzzles. Unnecessary way to slow the game down. Just felt like they were dicking with motion plus at that point...
5. Batreaux. Some fun sidequests in there, but pointless rewards.
6. Damned robot escort mission.
I was confused by:
Time travel. If Demise was revived in the past, shouldn't he have conquered the present? Or if it was meant to be that Demise was ultimately killed in the past (as was the case), how was he still around in the present? Given all the discussion of Zelda timelines recently, this particularly bugged me.
Demise himself. Where did he come from? Was he the God of Evil, or some sort of Lucifer figure? These are the questions i am left with.
I only had problems with the controls once: for some reason it started getting weird with using the harp about halfway through the game, such that my strokes had to be very precise, or else i would fail the note.
I enjoyed 2 of the 3 Dragon challenges. The Thunder challenge had an amusing and clever twist at the end, but was a fun challenge even out front, and the stealth mission on the fire mountain was terrific fun. The water challenge was the only one that felt incredibly forced, but it for some reason reminded me of another game, which brings me to my next point
There seems to be a good deal of influence from Super Mario Galaxy, down to the fact that Gratitude Crystals are just a pallate swap of Star Bits
There also seems to be a good deal of influence from Wind Waker, from the navigational overworld down to subtler features, like the slightly more tomboyish Zelda (though not as much as an out-and-out tomboy as Tetra), and a few other things.
So? What did others think?
It's all fun and games until you meet Rathalos