Stepping Up the Challenge of Combat

TroubadourFebruary 8th, 2013 by Troubadour

While I’m sure everyone can agree that Zelda falls into the Action-Adventure genre, I can’t help but notice that the “action” part has felt somewhat lackluster as of late; particularly in the 3D titles. Though Skyward Sword took steps in the right direction, fighting enemies was still not even close to the challenge it had been in older games. I know there have been quite a few complaints these days about the combat in Zelda being too easy, but let’s take a deeper look into why that is, and several possible ways it could be developed into a more polished element of the series. It is about time for Nintendo to take a look at how it’s done in other games, and to try learning from the success of others. In order to keep myself from rambling, I am condensing the combat issues that Zelda is currently facing into two categories, consisting of the behavior of the artificial intelligence, and the way the enemies are encountered. Now understand that these issues have to both be fixed accordingly, or else the combat will not evolve to its fullest extent.

The AI

Let’s take a look at the average combat scenario. The majority of the enemies follow a similar pattern; they advance toward you, and when they get in range, the fiendish monsters stand there and ogle at you for a bit. Eventually, the little demons decide that they don’t like that ugly face of yours, so they do what any evil minion would do: Prepare to attack you. I say prepare because that’s as far as the majority of them seem to get. When the Bokoblin lifts up his weapon, he holds it in the air and leaves himself completely exposed, as if to say “Please, after you.”

Now let’s take a look at the enemy situation we have going on in the original Darksiders, a game that I will be making many comparisons and references to, given its many, many similarities with Zelda. If we analyze the attack patterns of the Phantom Guard, the standard cannon fodder of Darksiders, we will see several similarities with the enemies of Zelda, but several key differences as well. Firstly, the nasty little demons, when they take notice of you, charge in and try to get the jump on you immediately with a jump attack, after which they will back up to a somewhat safe distance and move around you as if they’re Z-targeting. While one enemy does this, his buddy moves in from the side and takes a swipe at you while you are focused on him.

Though they are not a major threat, they tend to be accompanied by a larger baddy or two, who seem to serve the purpose of leading the smaller enemies into battle. The actions and attacks of these larger enemies are rarely interrupted by your standard attacks, and you had best get in and out quickly before he takes a third of of a lifebar away.

Having large groups of enemies, each with their own, highly distinct attack methods is part of what keeps you on your toes during combat in Darksiders, and though Zelda seems to do this, the majority of enemies follow a similar pattern to that of the first paragraph of this section, even if it’s done with different animations. In Skyward Sword’s case, many enemies, such as Lizalfos, simply need their weak points to be exposed before they’re hit.

This is not to say that combat in Zelda isn’t fun, but it tends to lack challenge for many players, or at least becomes too predictable for it to pose a challenge after the first few hours.

Encountering Your Foes

Something I’ve recently noticed in Zelda is that combat is treated as a series of individual encounters, and what I mean by that is that consequences of previous encounters with enemies are often irrelevant to any future encounters. You can easily find hearts to replace the ones you’ve lost after a fight. This would be fine, if enemies did sufficient damage or showed up in numbers that would constitute a threat. However, because hearts seem to drop nearly as often as green rupees, you will likely be completely ready for the next fight ahead. The short little encounters do not serve much of a purpose, then, if they do not wear you out for the fights ahead. Health should not be so common as to be worth less than the least valuable piece of currency in the game. It would be better to make health scarcer, or only available in certain locations, as with the chests in Darksiders.

Enemies also ought to be encountered in greater numbers, or a spawn system where more enemies arrive after you kill one of them needs to be put into place. This would contribute to wearing you down for the upcoming big fight or mini-boss. If the Dark Lord’s lackeys are truly expendable, he should not hesitate to send more to join the onslaught.

Zelda has implemented this before, somewhat, with the Stalkin and ReDead Knights of Arbiter’s Grounds in Twilight Princess, but the Stalkin posed no real threat and the ReDead Knights could easily be picked off with a bomb arrow or two. In a recent article, our good buddy Axle mentioned that he really enjoyed the Stalfos of Twilight Princess. They were good fighters, and if combined with the improved AI mentioned in the previous section, they could pose a true challenge. One of my favorite enemies of the 3D games was the Stalfos from Ocarina of Time. They were probably one of the most challenging “standard” monsters of the game. Enemies like these have good concepts behind them, but sometimes seem to lack polish.

Of course, Nintendo has been around long enough to know what they’re doing, but taking a leaf out of someone else’s book could, in my opinion, change things for the better with Zelda’s combat. I feel like combat is starting to fall from its own category and into that of the puzzles. Seeing Zelda Wii U with enemies that always pose a threat to our hero could make for a truly legendary adventure.

What do you guys think of the combat in Zelda? Should the enemies be more aggressive, or should we leave them alone? Perhaps you have other ideas on how to alter the current state of the combat system. Please leave your thoughts, feelings, and feedback below!

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  • Nevan Lowe

    FIRST! I really want things to be hard again. Like in A Link to the Past, they would go “After You.”. They’d attack while they’re approaching you. I hope in WW HD/ Zelda Wii U things are hard again.

    • Guy

      i dont think that WW HD will be harder, but i hope it has a harder master quest.

      • Zach Jackson

        Agreed, although I hope unlike in OOT3D, they’ll give us Master Quest from the start.

        • Guy

          That would be nice. I didn’t mind having to replay OoT, because its my fav game, but it still would be a nice thing to do. I do not think this will be done with newer titles, but it would work well with older ones.

  • erikingvoldsen

    Don’t even compare Zelda to Darksiders. Darksiders is meant to be a challenging game for adults while Zelda is meant to be a simple game kids can beat and is playable by everyone.

    • Daniel Taylor Nash

      Uh Darksiders pulls elements from Zelda. Pretty sure they don’t mind being compared to one of the most awesome action/adventure series out there.

    • gamer

      Actually, that is what it has become. The earlier games were much more difficult than the pushover SS and TP were. The games are not made ” to be a simple game kids can beat”. They are made to be just as hard and on level with those games. Just minus the mature themes.

      • gamer

        I know it sounds harsh, but I feel Nintendo has dumbed the games down, for the current generation, who lack the patience gamers once had, and need instant, easy, game gratification.

        They run to their Fi and strategy guides instead of getting the great feeling you get when you finally figure something out that you have spent hours trying to beat or solve.

        • Will S


        • Guest

          I think part of the problem is also that people don’t have as much time to spend hours trying to solve just one puzzle or beat one boss.

      • erikingvoldsen

        “early” games. You mean the original four that weren’t even that popular by comparison? Yeah. But OoT, MM…and especially tWW are very easy. I mean just look at OoT’s Boss Guantlet on the 3DS. It has to rely on Fake Difficulty with 3 hearts and it’s STILL much easier than the Cave of Ordeals or Lightning Round.

        • Zach Jackson

          Agreed on the last few points, but just to clarify something…

          The original four games have (for the most part) individually outsold every other Zelda besides TP and OoT. I’d actually say they were more popular based on that.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they can run an easy and a hard mode. Easy mode will be normal strategy, hard advanced AI.

    If they want to be interesting, enemies can have multiple “stats”. Each enemy type has different strategy stats that are the norm for their species. However, within a species, individuals can have different increases or decreases in each stat.

    Observance, caution, battler, defender, evader, and team player are some example stats. Observers can sense your presence better. A high observance level can not only see you, but can hear you running behind them, and may even smell you if you’re too close (and maybe upwind). Cautious tells how close their “hover range” is. A medium caution level means they stay well out of your sword’s range and only come in to attack before retreating. Battler means how often they attack. A high battler will attack more often. Defender means how often they’re actively defensive. A low battler and low defender means a lot of time where they’re doing nothing and are wide open to attacks. Evader means how often they can “anticipate” and try to evade your attacks. A high evasion can see your weapons and dodge, like Lizalfos in SS, but also includes ranged weapons. Team player means how well they coordinate with their fellow enemies. High t.p. means they work together, alternate attacks, don’t get in each other’s way, and/or may even cover for weaker allies.

    • trippytriforce

      Seriously, Nintendo needs to read this, this is a great idea. However, to make things more interesting, the enemy level should be completely under the hood. so that you have to come up with a strategy while you are fighting.

      • Anonymous

        If by “under the hood” you meant hidden from the character, I kind of had that. While Navi will give the same rant for a species, she can’t notice the enemies personality/preferred fighting style. If figurines return, Link may be able to see the base stat and max altered stat, but the figurines won’t tell him what a specific enemy will be.

        Each enemy species will have a base stat, while individual enemies of the same species have different boosts/deficits. However, the total % of change to all stats combined (10+5 and 25-5 = 48% change) will have a max value for everybody within the species, and each individual stat also has a max increase %. This insures no enemy can be too overpowered or different from the others. While there will be a basic pattern we can predict, there will be some adapting to individuals. Also, each time they respawn, those stat changes will also reset, so you don’t encounter the same enemy twice in the same room.

        As the areas get harder, these simple enemies can gain more base stats, but may grow in some areas more than others. For example, Moblins may become more team oriented, but not gain as much a growth in terms of observance. This allows for a broader range of altered stats, since higher numbers mean more combinations of values within that % (using the previous numbers with different multipliers, we’d get 40 + 20 and 75 – 15. 20 and 15 are larger than 5 and 5, but add up to the same %).

        • Anonymous

          Whoops. Bad math. 10+5 and 25-5 = 30% change.

  • blue

    I think one thing that could help would be to make weak points less obvious.

  • HyruleHistory10

    My biggest fearis that if they do this then it will not feel like Zelda but like DMC or God of War. Which just turn into button mashing games. Plus nintendo is not making games for M rated audiences. They are making games that can be enjoyed with the whole family. They need to adjust to diffculty according to that. Now those problems can be amended but it would have to be in a difficulty setting system that you can choose from the begining of the game.

    • tim

      If you think Devil May Cry is a button mashing game, you’re playing it wrong. Very, very wrong.

    • alex

      hard games don’t have to be button mashing games

    • Locke64

      Difficulty has nothing to do with rating.

  • Cinnamon

    When it comes to battles, I’m one of those people who proritize story, exploartion and puzzles before it. But sometimes I wish there was some more… variation. I like bokoblins the way they are. I don’t like every other enemy behaving like them. Neither do I like that “upgraded, stronger” enemies only gains some armor, health and hitpoints. I think the AI should scale upwards as you progress through the game. That the blue bokoblins would be smarter than the red.

  • Guy

    I totally agree. I feels like half the enemies in SS just had u wait, until you could attack. And i dont think hearts have to be that much rarer, but I agree that the enemies should be in greater numbers. Maybe the hearts dropped by enemies should be reduced.

  • Cinnamon

    Hmm, my previous comment dissapeared mysteriously, so this will either be a double comment or it really did dissapear…

    When it comes to Zelda, battle is low on my priority list. I enjoy the story, exploartion and puzzle elements beforehand. But I still wish there was some more variation in the battles. For example, upgraded enemies only get some extra health and hitpoints. It would be better if their AI improved as well, since the player has by that point learnt how to deal with the weaker version. I don’t mind the red bokoblin, but the blue one should be smarter.

    But at the end of it all, what I really think Zelda needs is various difficulty levels. Maybe there could be a “battle mode” and “normal mode”, where the normal mode allows players to focus on the puzzle aspect of the game and the battle mode is for players who want a fight.

  • Morick

    To make Zelda better Nintendo could make more like Darksiders or more like Elder Scrolls, make it hard like Dark Souls, make it more gory, more mature so the hardcore crowd could keep feeling macho playing it but, it would not feel like Zelda anymore. My point is there are other games in the market catering to players who prefer hard, gloomy and gory games.

    • Zach Jackson

      But there really aren’t any games like that on Nintendo platforms. That, and gory/gloomy have nothing to do with a game’s difficulty, so Zelda could definitely amp up the challenge of combat while keeping it suitable for all ages.

  • WPenguin

    I thought the darknuts in twilight were quite a challenge, offering a real sword fight after waves of standard enemies. They were especially challenging in numbers!!

    • Zach Jackson

      Personally, they were only a challenge to me until I realized how much you can abuse the Back Slice against them, and most other enemies in the game for that matter. I do think, however, that they were challenging in the last room of the Cave of Ordeals where there are three of them. Just like the article says, the battles get more interesting and challenging when there are multiple enemies to deal with since you have to focus your attention on their differing attack patterns.

    • Demise

      At first I though that too. In the temple of time the only way I could hit my first Darknut was using the Mortal Draw – which requires you to stand back, sheath your sword, and wait without moving, while in range of the enemy, all for just one hit.

      Then, I realised that the backflip-jump attack formula still works perfectly against them (just like any other heavily armored enemy in the series). They became just too easy after that. (I also used the slah-jumpslash, then slash as much as possible for their 2nd phase). I think Nintendo needs to design enemies specifically to eliminate this method in the future: the only enemy that had a sword fight and was invulnerable to this combo was Dark Link from OoT, and you can only fight him once in the whole game.

      (For the Cave of Ordeals, I got infinite bomb arrows and pwned the darknuts with them. :P:P)

  • Linus Lehmann

    Playing Zelda 1’s Second Quest on the Wii’s virtual console has made me realize 4 things. 1. Skyward sword is super freaking easy (especially the final boss who was a major let-down), 2. Story isn’t everything, 3.Sword Beams rock, and 4. Zelda needs a better combat system, specifically they need bigger hoard who attacks more practically, rather than stupidly. Thanks for the good read, Troubador. I agree with most everything you said.

    • Calanekeeps

      You know…compared to Zelda 1, every game is the series is easy except Zelda 2. Don’t just single out SS.

      • JuicieJ

        People always seem to single out the latest entry of a franchise. It’s pretty sad, really.

        • guest

          That’s because SS was supposed to reinvent Zelda’s combat with motion controls and improved enemy AI. But instead we could slash through dumbed-down enemies with quick waggles. I won’t deny that games like WW or MC weren’t also easy, but I had recently put WW back in my GameCube the other day and realized how much more challenging the combat was than SS’s.

          • Zach Jackson

            Except in Wind Waker, enemies did barely any damage and you could abuse the parry attack so that would never take damage since it isn’t that hard to execute.

          • JuicieJ

            TWW’s combat more challenging than SS’s? Did we play the same games?

          • guest

            Yes, because even with the occasional opportunities to parry, enemies were smarter and blocked your attacks. In SS, enemies also block your attack, but the moment you find an opening, you can slash away without fear of your opponent countering. I have never been more bored of fighting enemies in a Zelda game than I was in SS. By mid-game, the enemy difficulty and variety had stagnated to pitiful levels, with hardly any adjustment in attack patterns.

            I’m not saying WW’s combat was challenging…I’m saying it was moreso than SS. Or, at the very least, WW had more interesting combat. Perhaps that would be a better way for me to word this.

          • JuicieJ

            Parrying is ultimately the equivalent of a pointless QTE. It doesn’t do anything to enhance or stimulate the gameplay, as they’re not powerful moves and not very impressive to watch. Enemies also only block attacks due to having a set block that can’t be broken through. That’s a case of waiting for them to drop their defenses, which is boring. Skyward Sword often requires you to read and react on a moment’s notice, forcing you to think on the fly and *exploit* enemies’ defenses. It’s a lot faster-paced, engaging, and challenging as a result. It’s not even a contest. (Not to mention TWW has the easiest combat in the franchise.)

          • guest

            You have to wait for enemies to drop their defense in SS, too. Wait for the Bokoblin to raise its weapon for a few seconds and slash away. Wait for the Deku Baba to open it’s mouth and slash away. Wait for Lizalfos to mock you and slash away. There’s no “moment’s notice” going on in SS. Your enemies opens up their weak spot, you exploit that, and with a bunch of slashes you win. It’s not as complicated or smart as you make it out to be.

          • JuicieJ

            Except you don’t have to wait for anything. It’s all instantaneous stuff that you have to react to quickly.

          • guest

            The same could be said for any Zelda game. Specific (but certainly not the only) examples: you have to react quickly in LoZ when a Darknut turns around or a Peahat lands in LoZ so you can finally hit it before you miss the chance to do so. You have to react quickly and dodge in OoT when a Gerudo guard is about to spin-jump you. You have to react quickly and move in MC when spear Moblins rush in on you, giving you a good opportunity to strike.

            And you have to react quickly when a Bokoblin raises its weapon to attack and exposes its weak spot, or when a Deku Baba opens its mouth so you can slice in the appropriate direction, or when an Octorok spits out a projectile so you can deflect it back.

            These are all enemy action you have to wait for–they are not instantaneous. Your reactions, however, need to be instantaneous. If you don’t dodge or attack when the enemy essentially prompts you to do so, you’ll be attacked yourself or miss an opportunity to strike. This is not limited to SS but to every Zelda game, ever.

          • Mawk

            I agree with your statement completely. I do recall dying more times in The Wind Waker than in Skyward Sword. I also do believe it was more challenging. Especially towards the end of the game, you had to fight a great number of enemies at once with little time to think about your next attack. I think I had the most challenges with the Stalfos and Moblins in that game. In Skyward Sword, the Moblins were just fat asses who took their sweet time to finally attack you, and when they did you already got their HP down to basically nothing already. The Stalfos’ in SS were also very easy as they exploit their weak points in such an obvious way that it was almost a joke. But, the enemies were stronger in SS, so, in the next game, the intelligence of the AI in TWW should be taken along with the power of the AI in SS, and make powerful, yet smart enemies. Would be much more interesting than the usual hack in slash you see in most modern games.

      • Linus Lehmann

        I did SS since it was the most recently released, and among the other Zelda games it is one of the easier ones (I really like SS, however.)

  • Kravik

    I often wonder if my experience of SS would be better, if I had not gotten the hyllian shield as soon as it was possible..

    Had I known what I was doing, I would have not gotten it..

    That way the last boss could have actually been a challenge.. Not just something I thought to be the “warm up” to the real boss fight..

    MAN was I disappointed when the fucking game ended.. :(

    But as said. I guess it would have been more of a challenge without the hyllian shield..

    • Calanekeeps

      It would have been more challenging without the shield at all. You can take it out you know.

      • Kravik

        I forgot to save.. But in time I will replay it.. And you are right! :D

      • Kravik

        As I said; I was seriously hoping there was more to the game..

        Never been so disappointed about a Zelda game in my life.

        Gonna replay it some day though. And yeah, …

  • sunavabeach

    I had a pretty hard time with the last boss(i can’t think of his name). Just trying to get the lightning for the skyward strike and hitting him with it before he knocks you silly was a real chore for me. Other than that, I believe you have a good point.

  • herooftime127

    I thought that ss had good combat. It was pretty easy, but i liked it.

  • Roth

    Here’s another factor: how Link reacts.

    How can a fight be active if either you beat the crap out of the monster or it slams you to the ground, stopping the action until you get to your feet? One way or the other, the 3D format has made the combat advantage both absolute and fickle; it flips from one side to the other like some kind of binary scale, devoid of the kind of struggle in between where you can’t say for sure who’s winning. There have been exceptions like the hoard battle, but not many.

    • ZSTroubadour


  • Scott Reika Ripberger

    I remember battles as early as Majora’s Mask (my third Zelda after Ocarina and A Link to the Past) being easy. Perhaps I was just used to Ocarina and they had the same enemy AI logistics, but I was 11. The GREATEST thing Miyamoto could do with Zelda might not be possible yet while including the intricate story we all want.

    I would very nearly pay, I mean take out a loan and pay, for the Zelda series to have a skill calculator built into its games; something to calculate how fast and efficiently the player deals with enemies and adjusts enemy AI accordingly. I’m not sure how much memory is available, but with the advent of multi-layering on discs surely there can be at least a rudimentary attempt at this. I’m very sure it would at first be glitchy as all hell, but with testing and improvement…

    • S. Mario

      I totally agree with this. I had previously thought that a “skill calculator” would be an excellent addition to the Zelda series, and most other games as well. I do believe that there is one in Smash Bros. It doesn’t appear to do much right off, but the CPs in Smash Bros will slowly learn how to react to your style of play. If Nintendo could improve this and incorporate it into Zelda, that would be great.

  • Sir Quaffler

    I do think you have some good points, but I still like the way battles are handled in Zelda games more or less. Now while on reflection I do think it would have done SS better if the enemies in general were more aggressive in their attacks, I still like their defensive measures and seemed more like fighters rather than kamikazis. I think a lot of the strategies from Darksiders could be utilized here (as with the differing enemy types as stated above), but I’m not sure I like the constantly respawning enemies as much (unless they’re serving a direct point, like at the end of SS where they were doing their darnest to stop you from getting to the bottom).

    But all the same, I also like the other aspects of Zelda games, and so I feel like putting so much emphasis on the combat like what Darksiders does would change Zelda into a beat-em-up, which I don’t like.

    Perhaps there should be a choice of normal-mode and hard-mode from the get-go, so that those who want to be constantly fighting and don’t care for the story as much can do that, and those of us who want to have the regular Zelda experience can do so.

  • JuicieJ

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but this editorial completely missed the point of Skyward Sword’s combat scheme. The entire premise was to make it a game of wits by often requiring quick reflexes and precision swinging rather than button-mashing with a guaranteed hit every time. (There were also plenty of times where a group of enemies would flank Link, upping the challenge significantly.) The way Darksiders does combat is fine, as there are always loads of enemies, but that’s just one way of going about combat. It seems too many people overlook this fact and completely misjudge a combat scheme like SS’s as a result, and that’s just frankly not fair.

    • Zach Jackson

      Yes, the idea was that the increased precision would create situations that required wits and quick reflexes, but that did not apply to most of the game. Like the editorial says, many times enemies will simply stand idle for a long period of time before they decide to attack, giving you ample time to figure out the often simple solution to defeating them. That, or you can wait and just shield bash, an action which is extremely overpowered and, in most cases, easy to execute. This system could have been improved if more situations actually required constant alertness and reflexes, rather than just using one’s common sense (i.e. not flailing around the Wiimote). This is why for many people Hero Mode was not much of an increased challenge, because it didn’t change the fact the enemies were essentially puzzles that people had already figured out how to solve on their first playthrough (not to say that some enemies still aren’t difficult to defeat). The editorial is insightful since increasing AI and the amounts of enemies can definitely apply to and enhance the combat system introduced in Skyward Sword. Like Alex Plant mentioned in an article awhile back (, some of the battles in the Sky Keep executed the idea of battling multiple foes brilliantly. In short, I thought that the combat was a great idea, but it could have been improved in the aspects that this editorial suggests.

      • JuicieJ

        What you (and, shamefully, Alex) don’t understand is enemies like Bokoblins not attacking right away was an intentional part of the design. If enemies that required precision swinging had immediately attacked, there would be no chance to exploit their defenses by swinging the way they were defending. I’m honestly shocked so many people fail to realize this. Whether you realize it or not, SS’s combat DID require alertness and reflexes due to having to read and react to each and every enemy. It wasn’t an all-out assault, no. But it wasn’t trying to be.

        As for the battling of multiple foes… the way SS handled it honestly makes sense. Seriously, having waves of enemies like we saw at the end of the game around every freaking corner would have been tedious and burdensome with the way 3D Zelda handles its combat (it’s a stop-gap kind of scheme, not a hack-and-slash one). It would also have resulted in bad pacing. Games should constantly build on themselves from beginning to end, which is exactly what SS did.

        I’m not saying SS’s combat was perfect, but it was a tremendous improvement over combat seen in all other 3D titles and the best combat system the series has seen so far. Quite honestly, one of the best combat systems in general gaming.

        • Zach Jackson

          I completely agree that it makes sense for the red Bokoblins at the very beginning of the game to attack less because it gives the player more time to get used to the combat. Over time though, you’d expect there to be some kind of difficulty curve so that as you become more skilled with the system, it further challenges you to hone your skills. However, this doesn’t really happen. The mini-bosses and bosses do get harder as the game goes on, but in between these encounters, there isn’t really much substance to combat. And yes, it was probably Nintendo’s intention to have battles be primarily one-on-one, but it would have been far more interesting to have to read and react to multiple enemies at once.

          You’re basing your argument off of the idea that 3D Zelda is a “stop-gap” scheme, but I don’t believe that it is very effective that way. The most interesting, complex, and tense combat moments come from battling multiple enemies in my opinion. To me, the pacing of the game would be pretty well paced if it constantly created new, challenging combat situations. In fact, it would feel faster paced because you’d constantly have to reassess your situation. You would have to combat multiple foes rather than just pay attention to one enemy while the others unrealistically spectate rather than get involved in the fight.

          I also think the Skyward Sword’s combat system was well designed both for a Zelda game and for games in general, however it was hindered by only presenting the player with small packs of stupid, weak enemies.

          • JuicieJ

            “…it would have been far more interesting to have to read and react to multiple enemies at once.”

            There were multiple times where a group of at the very least 5 enemies would appear. We DID have to read and react to multiple enemies on many occasions.

            I honestly just can’t see why you don’t consider SS’s combat to be fast-paced and action-packed. It’s not the same kind of action as what you’d see in hack-and-slash game, but it was most definitely quick and engaging.

            You mean basic enemies that are supposed to be relatively easy? (Also enemies that do 1 whole heart of damage and are as much of a physical battle as mental?)

          • Zach Jackson

            I’m not asking for it to be a simple hack-and-slash game, I like the thoughtfulness of battles in Skyward Sword. My issue is that the most complex situations were too far apart when they should have been the core of the game, and that they just never made it complex enough. Sure, there were situations when you would be surrounded by maybe 5 Bokoblins, but the simple solution is to do a spin attack and pick them off one by one. Even if you don’t do that, the other enemies will very, very rarely attack you when you’re focused on another enemy. This is more a problem with the current Z-targeting system and the camera in general which would make facing multiple enemies at once difficult to see, so they should probably rectify that as well.

            Basically, I thought SS was quick and engaging AT TIMES, but most of the time I felt like I was sitting around waiting for one enemy to show me its weak point. Particularly the same enemies over and over that I already knew how to exploit. Essentially, they should have expanded on the enemies to make them more than just “hit me here” puzzles.

          • JuicieJ

            It’s not really a “hit me here” kind of deal. That would describe the bosses’ glaring weak points from the GameCube games. The more accurate way to describe it is “react and swing the proper way if you want to damage me”.

            If you didn’t find this engaging all the time, okay. That was your experience. I personally found that the game constantly built on itself difficulty-wise to the point of near perfection. (That’s just difficulty-wise, mind you. The game had pacing issues in other areas.)

          • Zach Jackson

            I agree with you that it’s an improvement over the GameCube titles, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Skyward Sword, but I’m just analyzing what I think could further improve it. For me, it was great the first run, but the game has very little replay value since almost all of the challenges in the game were memorization-execution puzzles (which includes the enemies), of which I’ve already solved.

            For it to be a Zelda game that would truly last with me, the enemies would have needed more substance so that their attack patterns weren’t so predictable. After two playthroughs, I know the optimal way to defeat each enemy and I’ve done it enough that I can do it effectively without losing many hearts at all. Sure, there are SOME well designed, unpredictable enemies, but still if I was to play through the game again, I would just be going through the motions (no pun intended) and I wouldn’t really get much out of it.

            And just out of curiosity, what do you mean by other pacing issues?

          • JuicieJ

            Well, yeah. Of course you already knew how to do things the second time around. Shouldn’t that happen with pretty much every game you play through?

            “Other pacing issues” meaning padding such as the Scrapper escort mission and the Song of the Hero quest, and the game’s second half failing to truly build on the new ideas established in the first half.

          • Zach Jackson

            It definitely should not happen with every game. If that was the case, then no game would be replayable. Games should be something that everyone can learn, but that takes a lot of time and practice to master. That’s the reason why I still play games like Super Smash Bros., because I can always improve on my skills.

            In a game like Zelda though, where its a predefined length (which I think is a flawed idea in itself, but that’s a whole different topic), there should still be a measure by which you know how good you are. Some people do this by speedrunning, but I think a really cool thing that earlier Zelda games did was keep a death counter. With each new playthrough, you could tell how much better you were getting at the game by how many fewer times you died each time. I’m really hopeful that Nintendo will do something like this with the next Zelda, and with non-linearity and multiplayer I think it could be possible.

            Also, yeah. The fetch quests have seriously got to go. No more artificial game lengtheners plz.

          • JuicieJ

            You contradicted yourself by saying games shouldn’t be easier a second time through and following that up with the statement “there should still be a measure by which you know how good you are”. The only way a game is going to get easier the second time is if you understand the mechanics of the game. It should always be like this if you go back and play through a game again on the same difficulty level, as that shows that the game is intuitive, meaning the game’s challenge is due to depth rather than cheapness. It should only be hard again if you go back and play on a higher difficulty level (one of the reasons Zelda should adopt this feature in the future).

          • Zach Jackson

            I didn’t contradict myself though. The Zelda games since OOT have been almost entirely puzzle based, and this applies to enemies as well. There is a specific, optimal solution to defeating nearly every enemy in them. These games I don’t think have a way to measure skill, but merely a test of one’s memory and ability to execute usually simple actions. With games like Zelda 1 and A Link to the Past, there are a myriad of ways to defeat enemies and bosses with varying strategies, and I’m to this day continuing to improve my strategies to defeat hordes of enemies. Not to say that these two games are perfect at measuring skill, but they are a hell of a lot better at it than the 3D Zeldas. I still go back to these games and get a challenge out of them which is more than I can say 3D Zelda games for the most part.

            I’m sorry for my cynicism, but I really just want to see a 3D Zelda game that can properly recreate the 2D style gameplay.

          • JuicieJ

            Well you got that with Skyward Sword. Enemies had a lot more depth due to improved AI and a plethora of ways to be defeated, and many bosses allowed for diverse strategies (and required quick reflexes). It was a great blend of 2D and 3D Zelda combat.

          • Zach Jackson

            That’s not the only part of enemy depth though. Individual enemies had their own strategies of being defeated, but there wasn’t much mixing and matching. What made some battle situations really interesting in the 2D games was having to adapt to certain complex situations like, for instance, facing several Wizzrobes and Darknuts at once. Sure, you know how to defeat Wizzrobes and Darknuts individually, but your tactics and positioning change completely when you take them all on at once. Skyward Sword rarely provided situations like this, mainly because you only take on one enemy at a time, which is extremely restrictive on just how much the game COULD present you.

            On top of this there weren’t many situations where you felt you had to be really smart to win, because the game was very forgiving. In Zelda: Battle Quest, if you hit an enemy’s shield, you are punished and lose a heart due to your less than ideal reflexes. In Skyward Sword on the other hand, you are rarely punished for making mistakes (electric enemy’s aside). I agree with you that AI has improved, but only when it comes to defending. The enemies are mostly unaggressive.

            Also, you start off with 6 hearts, which gives you the impression of forgiveness from the get go. I bet you’ll say that this is because enemies do more hearts of damage in this game. When you think about it though, the number of hearts of damage that enemies do never increases until the second phase of the Demise battle, all the while Link is picking up a heart container after every dungeon.

            Lastly, the only reason that enemies seem to have more ways of being defeated is because they are better defenders in the game. There are certain enemies that can be defeated by other means, but all enemies are best defeated by sword at close range of bow and arrow farther away. In Link to the Past, for example, you could use the Fire Rod, Medallions, Hammer, Cane, Bombs, and Arrows as alternate means of attacks and the Ice Rod, Boomerang, Cape, and Hookshot to stun enemies. This presents so much diversity in battle because there are so many ways to defeat the onslaught of enemies that you have to face. None of the 3D games have really come close to this amount of diversity because most items have become puzzle based. The sword and bow became the best possible way to defeat most enemies.

            For these reasons, I don’t think that Skyward Sword was really a blend at all of 2D and 3D gameplay, although it was a small step in the right direction.

          • JuicieJ

            I’m sorry, dude, but enemies had multiple ways of being defeated in SS both via the sword and use of items. Hell, there were sometimes even different ways you could go about using the items to defeat a foe. If you didn’t know this, then my guess is you didn’t experiment nearly as much as I did.

            There’s also the difference of enemies being designed in specific ways in SS where using different tactics is intentional, whereas it was more of a side effect in the past. We’ve always been able to use multiple items on enemies, but there was never things like Deku Babas catching bombs thrown at them until SS came onto the scene.

          • Zach Jackson

            It’s a cute little effect in Skyward Sword, yes, but from a practical standpoint it’s just stupid to use anything other than your sword against nearly every enemy. Why waste a bomb on a Deku Baba when using your sword is just as easy and just as effective? In every scenario, using the sword, shield, and bow is the most effective way of defeating enemies and every other method was programmed in the game just for an added sense of immersion.

            Using other items in the older games was actually vital to being as effective as possible. Since Skyward Sword was clearly designed around the sword with the items being puzzle-solvers and impractical combat tools, diversity only existed for people who felt like experimenting. But after experimenting, it becomes clear that you should just use the sword. Maybe people like using bombs when they fight, but it can’t be because its effective and it’s just because it looks nice.

          • JuicieJ

            What makes it any more stupid than in the past? And what makes it stupid in the first place? If it’s an effective way of taking out a foe, then it’s an effective way of taking out a foe. It can’t get more black and white than that.

          • Zach Jackson

            Simple. You have a limited amount of bombs. Your sword doesn’t run out. Use your sword because it isn’t wasting anything.

            In the past, using other weapons to attack was strategic because they had different effects. Placing a bomb in LoZ could take out multiple foes at once if placed correctly. Using your boomerang could stun foes shortly so you weren’t as overwhelmed by baddies attacking you. Bow and Arrow was a strong ranged weapon. The candle left a fire that lingered to both keep a distance between you and your enemies and to kill weaker enemies like Keese. The Magic Rod did the same thing at long distance, and is an optional upgrade. Using this strategies actually mattered too because taking out enemies with your sword could be extremely difficult.

            Flash-forward to Skyward Sword. The Beetle, Clawshots, and Gust Bellow are completely impractical means of attack. The Slingshot is rendered useless once you have the bow and arrow. Everything the Whip does, your sword can do better (unless you’re fighting a Furnix). The only thing besides the Bow and Arrow that could be remotely useful is the bombs, but they’re generally inaccurate and using the sword is just easier and more efficient.

            So that’s why it’s more stupid than in the past.

          • JuicieJ

            I’m sorry, but what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense and completely ignores what you can do in Skyward Sword. You have limited bombs in every Zelda game, you can throw a bomb with precise timing to take out multiple enemies in Skyward Sword, you can stun or kill foes with the Slingshot depending on their strength (assuring it never becomes useless), you can use the Clawshot to kill weak enemies, you can use the Skyward Strike to shoot across a certain range and knock down/kill enemies, and can drop bombs on enemies to kill them (and cut down hanging Deku/Quadro Babas).

            Please explain to me how this is less effective than in the past and how it is stupid.

          • Zach Jackson

            Granted I did forget about the Skyward Strike, that actually just emphasizes my point. The sword is both a close combat and a ranged weapon, and can pretty much efficiently defeat everything the game throws at you. There was a sword beam in older games, yeah, but only at full health so you couldn’t always rely on having it. You simply don’t need much else, making most of the other items just fluff.

            It is simply a waste of time to use other items to fight enemies when better options exist. You don’t need to use them, and taking them out simply wastes time. All you ever need is the sword and every other possible method wastes time, ammo, and is generally less effective. You mention an example with utilizing perfect timing with a bomb. All that does is leave room for unnecessary error, and those enemies were probably easy to defeat anyways. The only thing it does is make you feel cool for doing something creative, which is okay, but not really great game design. Either make the items entirely for puzzles or give them legitimate, useful combat purposes. Making them somewhere in between the two shows a lack of design focus.

            Like I’ve mentioned with LoZ and aLTTP’s items though, in many situations they are actually better than the sword. That is the difference, and that is why the items used to be a lot more effective.

          • JuicieJ

            What you fail to understand is every option for defeating enemies in SS is equally effective. Just because the sword had more uses doesn’t mean other items are rendered useless. What it results in is yet another option among lots of options, creating more diversity in how you can approach enemies. There’s really no way you can argue against that.

          • Zach Jackson

            Haha don’t worry, I can argue against anything. :P

            I’m not saying you can’t use them, but they aren’t very useful. It’s giving you options you don’t need. If you’re familiar with Egoraptor’s Sequelitis of Super Castlevania IV, it’s kinda like how he points out that the whip in the game can do everything you need so the secondary items are entirely unnecessary.

            So go ahead and use them if you want to in battle, but you never need to is my point. It merely makes it appear that the items have a use. You see, you can pretty much get through Skyward Sword without using other items, but good luck being successful doing that in LoZ or aLttP.

          • JuicieJ

            Pretty sure you can’t argue against the fact that having more options creates more diversity.

            Except they are useful. Not only are they equally as effective as the sword, but there are actually plenty of times where using items helps tremendously, such as using the Beetle to grab a bomb to kill a Hrok to avoid it chasing you, or use the Bow to snipe a Bokoblin Archer to avoid getting shot at. Speaking of which…

            So you’ve forgotten about portions in the game that provide extreme benefirst by using items to take down enemies? It’s also not much different than what is found in the classic titles. Their focuses were slightly different — classic games focused a bit more on resource management, whereas SS focuses more on wits and twitch reflexes — but they have very similar functions. SS just managed to pull it off better due to streamlining.

          • Zach Jackson

            I’ve already mentioned that the Bow is useful. The Bow is one item that has always been useful. And all the situations you mentioned are situations where defeating the enemies is unnecessary, and you can just keep running. The point I keep making is, yes there are options, but they are completely meaningless options. The sword, shield, and bow are always the best options. The implemented “diversity” did nothing for the game besides provide the illusion that there were meaningful decisions to be made. If no other combat items existed beyond those 3, nothing about the way the game played would change.

          • JuicieJ

            The options aren’t meaningless. When it comes to, say, the Whip, it’s basically no different than using the sword, but using almost every other item allows for a different approach, each with its own benefit. That’s exactly how diversity should be executed.

          • Zach Jackson

            Most people probably went through the game without using any other items besides the three I mentioned. That is not how diversity should be executed. It should be implemented in a way so that while it is not necessarily required to use anything else, when they are used strategically they will help you defeat enemies more efficiently. This is not how it is in Skyward Sword, where if you just get tired of using the sword, you can just use something else if you feel like it basically. You seem to believe that using the bomb can be strategic, and maybe it can. In a harder game with more enemies, maybe it would make a difference. But in the game in its current state, it won’t change the fact that either way you’ll breeze through everything anyways.

          • JuicieJ

            Dude, each choice is always available for use every time you approach an enemy, and quite a few enemies actually require different uses of the available choices. How is that not how diversity should be executed?

          • Zach Jackson

            Because if you need to use a different item to kill an enemy, it’s because it’s required and not because you made the decision to do so. That isn’t diversity, it’s just solving a puzzle. When I use a different item, I want it to be because I thought for myself that it would be a smart way to go about defeating enemies. It shouldn’t be a situation like “oh, I think it would be cool if I whipped these bats instead of using my sword. That could be fun.”

          • JuicieJ

            The Whip isn’t a good example of SS’s diversity. It was severely watered down from what we saw in Spirit Tracks, unlike most of the other returning compared to their past forms.

            As for needing to use an item to kill an enemy, you just proved my point. There’s no diversity in that. Skyward Sword avoided that by providing loads of different options, even with its small inventory. It also doesn’t make sense for you to say that a game with loads of different options that are each extremely effective doesn’t have you think for yourself as to how you’re going to use them. Each approach requires a different tactic, as I’ve gone over already. Once you get use to each approach it becomes second nature, of course, but that’s the same for any Zelda game (or any intuitive video game in general).

            Like I said, it’s fair for you to consider SS’s combat options to not be as effective as I do, but what you’re claiming just doesn’t have any backbone to it.

          • Zach Jackson

            Except you still haven’t given one good reason WHY you would use another method besides the fact that you can. Multiple options to do the same thing is simply redundant. Having several options all of which do something unique is something to aspire to.

            “It also doesn’t make sense for you to say that a game with loads of different options that are each extremely effective doesn’t have you think for yourself as to how you’re going to use them.”

            If the options are just as effective as one other, diversity need not exist at all. There were no scenarios in the game where you really had to think hard about how a certain item could save you from losing hearts. So I will repeat: sure, your inventory is diverse enough that you CAN use items to attack, but doing so will never make you any more successful in the long run.

          • toonlinkuser

            Just to let you know Zach, JuiceJ is NEVER wrong. Logic and reason have no effect against him.

          • Zach Jackson

            No, he definitely has some good points. And it’s very engaging to discuss Zelda with him because he puts a lot of thought behind everything he’s saying. I just personally think some of those views are misguided, but no worries, I can argue forever ;D

          • toonlinkuser

            I once thought I could argue forever with him too…

          • Guest

            JucieJ can’t handle anyone making a legit criticism against SS. His bias of that games makes him absolutely blind to its flaws, and I can’t stand reading his comments/articles because of that.

          • JuicieJ

            That explains why I’ve pointed out its flaws in the past.

          • JuicieJ

            So I can’t argue my point of view when someone else’s points have holes in them?

          • JuicieJ

            Oh, my gosh, dude. I’ve gone over many times that using the different options is often smart and that they DON’T do the same thing. There just also happens to be times where you can choose and have the same level of effectiveness, which I honestly can’t see why you think that’s an objectively bad thing. Would you rather not have any diversity and wind up with a monotonous combat scheme? Your arguments would work if the different options weren’t as effective as using the sword, but since that’s not the case, there’s nothing to back them up.

            …What? “Never make you any more successful?” How much more successful can you get than killing an enemy? That’s the entire goal of any combat situation.

            This is exactly what I’m talking about. Nothing you’re saying has any backbone, nor does it make any sense. I’m sorry, but your arguments are just not logical.

          • Zach Jackson

            Not logical from your standpoint that all weapons should do is kill enemies. That’s just not interesting. Clearly you disagree, and from that standpoint Skyward Sword has great combat. Honestly, yes, if using the other items simply is a different means to do the same thing, I’d rather just use the sword. And that’s what I did. You even said yourself that fighting around enemies defenses was interesting enough on its own. Was it fun? Yeah it was. But was it as complex as it could have been? In my opinion, no. I simply don’t want all the items to have the same level of effectiveness as the sword, I want them to have different kinds of effectiveness. And seriously, so should you.

            Also, please try to be a little less insulting by dismissing my arguments as illogical, because I am backing them up with claims. Just claims you disagree with. I am not dismissing your claims as illogical, because I recognize you have basis for your arguments.

          • JuicieJ

            I’m saying they’re not logical points because they’re either contradictory or flat-out don’t make sense, and I’ve always pointed out why they are (to which you respond with basically the same reasoning, making your points even less backed up than they already were). I’m sorry that that’s insulting to you, but there’s not really a better way to put it.

            Also, I don’t think that SS’s combat was as complex as it could have been. There are more things that could have been done with it to make it even more impressive than it was. The only point I’ve been making this entire time is that SS’s combat was more complex than any other Zelda game’s. Nothing more.

          • Zach Jackson

            My points are not contradictory and they make perfect sense, and you are simply labeling them illogical because you’re biased against my ideas. Just to be absolutely clear, here is a summarization of my noncontradictory, completely sensical points.

            – The Legend of Zelda’s items are diverse out of necessity. If you don’t constantly make good use of your items, there is very good chance you will die a lot (unless you’re very good at the game, which I’ll bring up in a couple points). Certain items are more effective in certain situations than your sword, such as using the candle to place a fire in between you and an enemy shortly so you have one less enemy attacking you.

            – Skyward Sword’s items are diverse for the sake of it. Using different items to defeat enemies is not any more useful than using the sword, like we’ve established. This makes using different items in your arsenal a matter of simple choice rather than a tactical, life preserving decision. Skyward Sword is for the most part an easy game, so effectively using your items won’t really make a difference in the end.

            – The Legend of Zelda is actually a game you can improve at. The combat is very challenging, so even if you’ve beaten the game, you haven’t really mastered it yet. I still die a fair few times when I play it, but the point is I die less. I’m getting better every time I play through it.

            – Skyward Sword is entirely puzzle-oriented, even when it comes down to enemies. I did not die once during my second playthrough, because I’d already memorized every enemy’s attack pattern. Because of that, there is little room for improvement left, so if I go back to the game again, it will not be for interesting gameplay. This differs from LoZ, where the enemy’s movements are unpredictable, so facing them is a different experience that I have to calculate each time.

            – Improvement in Skyward Sword is measured by memorization and execution, not by skill and thoughtful decisions like in The Legend of Zelda. I personally find the latter to be more interesting and engaging.

            Also, to your last point, I agree that SS had more complex combat than other 3D Zelda games, although it had worse resource management than OoT, MM, and WW, based on the points I made above.

            My points are thought out and reasoned, and I can completely understand if you disagree. But do not call them illogical because I believe that Zelda would thrive in this way.

          • JuicieJ


            I really don’t understand how you think having options with the same effectiveness is a logical standpoint. It makes the game balanced so that you can choose whichever one you want according to your specific playstyle. Having things be more or less effective always results in other options being a dumb choice, as it’s, well, not as effective. It makes the diversity less interesting, as the game is encouraging you to use a specific option rather than any of them. The way SS handled it allows customization. The way past games handled it does the opposite.

          • Zach Jackson

            Well that’s according to your idea of good game design. I’ve made my ideas of good design very clear, and you just don’t agree. I’m okay with that, but you’re still just not completely understanding what I’m saying.

            I get that you like to have a variety of options to change up play style, but I don’t because those different options do the same thing. They aren’t very symbiotic, because it’s a case of using one or the other rather than using them together.

            And I did not say in my example that one method should be more or less effective than another. I keep saying that they should have different kinds of effectiveness that are situational and make gameplay more dynamic. Like my example with the candle: it’s not like the candle was LESS effective than the sword in that situation. Actually, using both together created an advantageous situation. You can’t really do much like that in Skyward Sword is my point. It’s one or the other usually, not both together.

            Since we clearly won’t agree on the matter, I hope we can at least understand and respect each others differing views.

      • TheMaverickk

        Just had to chime in to that last part of your comment….

        Sky Keep had the more engaging combat scenarios because it is expected by this point in the game you’ve developed enough skill to manage that amount of enemies.

        The sad truth is in designing and programming the AI, Aonuma had to make the game accessible to a wide array of players…. so for those of us who learned the motion controls and combat very quickly, the enemies became less challenging early in the game.

        Mind you for those who struggled with the motion controls, and combat, they probably were having a hard time keeping up in tenser situations. So that slower progression helped to keep them interested still as opposed to discouraged.

        Mind you a sequel using the same controls would fix the need to water down combat to make it accessible. If they released a new Zelda title with the same control scheme in a year or two, they could develop it with Skyward Sword veterans in mind, making those more advanced combat scenarios present in earlier parts of the game.

        • Zach Jackson

          Granted, yes I understand Aonuma’s reasoning, but I think his approach to a difficulty curve was a bit faulty still. It would have helped new players more if the system became more challenging gradually. However, at least how I saw it, it was kind of like there was a baseline of low difficulty the entire game. There were sudden jumps in difficulty when you faced mini-bosses and bosses, but then it went back down to this baseline. Once you got into the Sky Keep though, that jump remained constant for the rest of the game (what with Ghirahim and Demise, who were pretty challenging). I feel like newer players who grasped the basics they needed in the game beforehand would probably just be used to these basics, so fighting hordes of enemies in the Sky Keep was probably overwhelming. All in all, whatever direction the next Zelda takes, I hope they can handle the difficulty curve better.

          • TheMaverickk

            Truth is to a certain extent they should’ve been more willing to risk upping the difficulty early, and instead just give access to certain items earlier.

            The invincibility potion is clearly there for those players who feel overwhelmed, not for experts who have no problems facing the challenges ahead.

            When you have safety nets in place like this in a title, it should give developers a bit more freedom to up the difficulty.

            Balancing a game is no simple task mind, you and at the end of the day it is what it is. I didn’t particularly mind Skyward Sword’s difficulty curve, but then again I also have done a 6 heart challenge on hero mode mind you. Which if you want to have challenge, that is the way to go.

  • linkmasta427

    improveing the combat with better AI does seem pretty awesome. what really exites me about better AI is that gannon or whatever final boss it might be in the new Wii U game might be a little bit tougher and i hope for that. but i did like the challenge demise gave me in loz:ss the clashing of swords always gets my blood pumping :D

  • Leif the viking

    I agree completely with this article, Nintendo has created some major flaws in the series. For example they give you way to much health in the health meter so you rarely run low. Also they make the attack patterns of enemies way to predictable as well as only having one enemy attack at a time. The Elder Scrolls is a good example because they have a small health bar, enemies attacks are stronger, and sometimes you can be beaten by eight goblins at the same time. Nintendo needs to step it up in terms of difficulty.

    • JuicieJ

      Enemies in The Elder Scrolls were ridiculously easy in Oblivion and Skyrim.

    • gamer

      I think we need to just see some stronger common enemies. The huge amount of hearts you get has been a staple of every game, but it would be nice to see some moblin captains or something of the sort created in the second half of the games that deal a ton of damage. Almost like a mini-mini-boss.

  • gamer

    it would be nice to see the franchise get more fighting based in temples, rather than puzzle based with a random enemy here and there

    • Locke64

      it would be nice to see the franchise get more puzzles based in temples, rather than a group of enemies with a random, simple, easy puzzle here and there

      • KommieSketchie

        That’s what I was going to say. I love the puzzles, even when they frustrate me. What I hate is the puzzle of “Hm. Propeller. I just got the Gust Bellows…. WHAT NOW?!!?!?” Even worse was just randomly getting the item – mini-bosses for items were zelda STAPLES, it’s been a thing since the first game (not really in the second, though), and many of those mini-bosses were just awesome (Arbiter’s Ground “Death Sword,” YES.)

        Skyward Sword… You just kinda wandered into them.

  • Vink

    If people want more challenging combat in Zelda, simply take off ‘Z targeting’, it’s be almost as difficult as playing the first legend of zelda.

    • TheMaverickk

      Z-Targeting is important because it controls the camera during combat.

      At the same time it also makes combat extremely easy because you can’t miss your target.

      Skyward Sword effectively fixed this issue with combat. Where just because you are swinging your sword, doesn’t mean you will automatically land a hit, enemies can block an attack if you don’t strike properly.

      The original Legend of Zelda’s combat didn’t need Z-targeting because the camera angle was fixed, so it was still possible to have engaging combat with out it.

  • Adventurer of Hyrule

    I feel this article is a little backwards, the old Zelda titles were distinctly less complex and less challenging combat wise, as they were basically a game of defendingslashslash and you’re done for most enemies. Twilight Princess brought the difficulty curve up and Skyward sword followed suit with enemies reading your moves, blocking, dodging, calling for back up and making each combat feel like an important event. I feel like they are in the right direction, although i can see the next Zelda game being simplified a little due to the lack of 8 directional slashes of motion controls. But i might be surprised.

    • Zach Jackson

      Twilight Princess brought the difficulty curve up? Ganondorf, the final boss in the game, deals a half a heart of damage during the sword fight while Link has, at minimum, 11 hearts. Ganondorf has to hit Link AT LEAST 22 times to win. I’m sorry but if that is difficult for anyone, they need to stop playing video games.

      • Adventurer of Hyrule

        There is a whole game and dozens of enemy types behind gonondorf’s fight. Which wasn’t very challenging indeed.

        The difficulty in older games was often due to poor or lack of combat animations and consequentially cheap hits, We were very limited in what we could do and often at the mercy of those limitations. We can do a lot more now and so can the AI, that imo classifies as an improvement.

        • Zach Jackson

          Twilight Princess is by far the easiest Zelda game. The Hidden Skills break the combat (although it makes it look and feel awesome) and enemies do little to no damage if they actually hit you. Twilight Princess was good in certain aspects, but it was not a challenging game.

          As far as difficulty in older games, your claim is unfounded since Nintendo’s game design choices for Zelda have always been deliberate. The older games were meant to be difficult, and if so called “limitations” did exist, all they did was make their design goals more focused. It’s one thing to say that you don’t like the difficulty of the older games, but they were meant to be that way.

          AI of the older games may have been simpler, but it worked very effectively on a 2D plane. AI potential has undoubtedly improved since the late 80s, but it has not been properly utilized in a 3D Zelda title. AI can do a lot more now, but I don’t think we’ve seen that happen yet in a really good way.

          • Adventurer of Hyrule

            i really think the AI in Skyward Sword did a great job.

          • Zach Jackson

            Well, to each their own I suppose.

          • JuicieJ

            He’s right. Enemies in Skyward Sword were much more aware of their surroundings and actually anticipated Link’s attacks. Surely you noticed things like how Bokoblins held their weapons according to how Link was holding the sword, how enemies would realize bombs were next to them (unlike in the past where they just stood there like dumb***es), and how freaking Deku/Quadro Babas could actually dodge Link’s sword swings.

          • Zach Jackson

            I’ve said it before, Skyward Sword enemies are definitely smarter defensively than in previous 3D Zeldas. But there is definitely room for improvement, especially when it comes to them being offensive.

            And as far as bombs go, it is definitely more realistic for enemies to run away from them, but that has severely diminished their usefulness. That’s why I loved the Bomb Arrows in Twilight Princess; they accommodated for the realism of using bombs by giving them a new practical purpose (despite them being pretty overpowered).

          • JuicieJ

            You can still kill enemies with bombs in SS. You just have to have precise timing. In other words it requires more skill.

          • Zach Jackson

            Or in other words, don’t use bombs because using your sword is easier and just as effective.

            And I personally found very few enemies to be threatening or challenging. Maybe Lizalfos if anything, but they are still easy to block and have their weak point exposed.

          • JuicieJ

            Or in other words, use a bomb to avoid physical confrontation with enemies.

            You do realize that Lizalfos (and many other enemies in SS) in the past didn’t have any kind of defense whatsoever, right? That hitting them was always a guarantee? That’s pretty much automatically easier and less advanced than enemies that can block and/or dodge.

          • Zach Jackson

            Sure, use that bomb if you want, but what is that helping? Chances are you wouldn’t lose hearts either way. Not really a complex decision if you ask me.

            And most enemies have always had some form of defense, so could you give me a few examples? And even if they couldn’t defend, the difficulty comes from managing the assault from multiple enemies. You could be paying attention to one enemy and one could be trying to get you from behind, for example. But yes, enemies that can block and dodge are definitely more interesting, and I hope they keep using them in the future.

          • JuicieJ

            Who said anything about complexity? That has absolutely nothing to do with my point. My point was that there are loads of options as to how one can approach enemies in SS, and each are equally effective. That’s inarguably good design. There’s no option that is over or underpowered, meaning the balance is flawless. There’s quite honestly nothing there to complain about. You could argue that there could be MORE diversity — which I can agree that would be awesome — but arguing that it’s useless to choose different options has no merit. Since every option is equal, I could easily turn your argument back around and say that the sword is what’s useless and that the items are what should be used.

            Most enemies didn’t have some sort of defense as in all-out defensive abilities. They were simpler things like having to hit a Dodongo’s tail (limiting the amount of options to take them out in the process). This was fine due to the amount of different enemy types that were available, but they still had a LOT less depth than SS’s enemies do, and that’s my point. Not saying either style is, by default, better than the other. Just pointing out basic facts (and that SS executed its ideas better).

          • Zach Jackson

            Lol dude you have to stop saying I can’t argue your points.

            What you aren’t seeing is that diversity doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t any thought going into these actions. The game might as well have given you one option if they all just do the same thing. It’s not interesting to play if your different options don’t do different things that result in different outcomes. The complexity of the different options is what makes the game more fun and interesting, rather than just cool looking.

            Since your point is that there are a lot of options in attacking enemies, you’re absolutely right.

            The options just suck.

          • JuicieJ

            The only points I say you can’t argue are points that can’t be argued. I’m not talking about the topic as a whole. There are individual points that are absolute fact, and these are the only things I say can’t be argue.

            You haven’t provided a good reason as to why the options suck. You claim they all basically do the same thing, but they don’t. Sure, they ultimately kill the enemy (that’s the entire point), but the way it’s done is drastically different between each choice, even more so than in ALttP. Like I said, prior to SS, the different ways to kill enemies were almost always side effects. Items could be used simply because they were there. SS took it a step further and made them part of the design for killing enemies in, again, drastically different ways. They each require a level of skill and a different approach, followed by a different animation, and each are equally effective. It’s fair for you to consider them less effective than I do, but saying they suck is just plain wrong.

          • Zach Jackson

            I’ve provided plenty of good reasons, you just happen to have a completely different opinion on the matter. Just because you believe your points to be true does not make them fact. I am not claiming that everything I’m saying about SS is fact, but I have provided sufficient back up for why I believe everything I do about the game. You believe that just having these different options is enough. I do not. Yes, this is variety, but it is not meaningful variety in my opinion. I’ve stated why; because equal amounts of effectiveness isn’t as interesting as different kinds of effectiveness that vary player and enemy play styles. If you don’t agree, that’s fine.

          • TheMaverickk

            The AI was excellent in Skyward Sword, but the enemies weren’t exactly aggressive, and very rarely are you putted against a horde of enemies, because combat is generally about one on one confrontations.

        • TheMaverickk

          AI is more forgiving in modern 3D Zelda’s…. even if you encounter a group of enemies they each take turns taking a swipe at Link…. they don’t attack all at once.

          In classic Zelda titles, enemies didn’t care how many other enemies you were engaged in fighting, they’d gang up and swarm around you (like the soldiers in LttP) or just continue with their random attack patterns.

          Although we have smarter more advanced AI, at the same time it’s too fair, and too forgiving.

      • TheMaverickk

        Actually at minimum Link would have 3 (you don’t have to pick up those heart containers after the boss… but yes if you can’t find heart pieces, and all you earn are the boss containers then you’d have 11) and even then Ganondorf is a breeze.

        Not to mention that they place fairies in the final battle arena’s if it wasn’t easy enough already.

        I did a check on enemies in the game though recently and enemies like ReDead Knight’s and Armored Lizolfos at max do 3/4’s a heart of damage.

        It’s embarrassing.

        I breezed through TP in 3 heart mode.

        Where as I actually died a few times doing Skyward Sword’s 6 heart challenge on Hero Mode.

  • Locke64

    I stopped reading at “I can’t help but notice that the “action” part has felt somewhat lackluster as of late.”

    I actually think that the problem with the recent games is that they focus too much on the “action” and not enough on the “adventure.” If Zelda wants to set itself apart from other series, it needs to focus on more believable and immersive worlds for the player to explore. I believe I brought this point up in my latest article about The Sky in SS vs. the Great Sea in WW. Focusing on “action” means rushing the player through the Journey to get to the destination. An “adventure” focus would bring the journey back to importance to give the destination more meaning.

    • JustSaiyan210

      Good point. Though it would be great if we could have both a awesome combat system like SS(with more challenging monsters) and a WW style world where there are a ton of places to explore.

      • Locke64

        Yes, I like that they thought of the combat in SS as puzzles. Ideally the combat should be intellectually stimulating, further adding to the depth of the world and the journey. For example, the ability to use fallen enemies weapons in WW helped make the world more interactive and dynamic.

  • TheMaverickk

    ” I feel like combat is starting to fall from its own category and into that of the puzzles.”

    Skyward Sword’s battle’s weren’t any less action packed. Not to mention combat really isn’t a puzzle.

    It may take a few encounters with an enemy in Skyward Sword before you understand the tactic to defeat it, but once you’ve learned how to dispose of the enemy it all comes down to skill and execution.

    Something previous Zelda titles really lacked.

    Twilight Princess was one of the worst for a dumbed down combat system. Enemies in the game were numerous, but very rarely did any pose a threat, or were any challenge at all to defeat.

    Between the wide array of Hidden Sword skills, many of which made killing enemies a one hit kill, and the bomb arrows, which allowed the player to easily bring down even the toughest of enemies (even Dark Nuts) effortlessly

    Sword combat in the game really comes down to spamming attacks and skills, eventually your attacks will land, and by continually moving you avoid damage (side step, dodges, ect).

    Skyward Sword’s combat is the direction combat should be heading in because it comes down to skill and execution, as opposed to simply spamming like previous Zelda’s.

    Overall I do agree with the article in regards to health and how it’s distributed (it’s a little too liberal in handing out healing items) and that would easily rectified. As for enemy being more aggressive, I don’t think that’s a hard thing to push in further Zelda titles…. Skyward Sword seems to give players an opportunity to strike simply as a way to ease people into the controls. It was enough trouble for some to learn, how much more frustrated would those players had been if the enemies attacked in a more aggressive fashion.

  • Austin13709

    Next zelda game should have Ai like this.
    Thier is hard enemies and easier ones.
    Also a variety too, lets say stalfos can now carry bow and arrows;D
    Or monsters that just explode
    (lol not trying to reference minecraft xD)
    Also maybe more advanced combat for Link too
    Like twilight princess did do this a little with the hidden techniques.
    But maybe adding more to that
    Cause links, combat Precisely consists of pretty much brandishly waving his sword around crazily, or random hashes and slashes.
    I mean how hard is it to spin in a circle and slash at the same time making a spin attack?
    Maybe if Link was more powerful for the skills he already has.
    ( back flips, rolling constantly, some parkour, swiming side ways.)
    If he can do that than he should be able to impliment and art form persay to his combat.
    Or just tweaked.
    For example Assasins creed,
    your fighting is completely insane in that.
    With tons of counters, stealth kills ect.
    Maybe zelda could learn a thing or too from that
    Windwaker is a good example too.
    His moves were in combo and were quite interesting
    In conclusion combat like windwaker and certain skills like in twilight princess thats perfected would porbably make a great fighting experiance

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