Incorporating Platforming and Environmental Puzzles

HanyouFebruary 2nd, 2013 by Hanyou

Playing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. While almost everything about the game–from the friendly protagonist to the exotic, fully realized world–made it an absolute work of art, it was the gameplay that really captivated me and kept me playing straight through its ten hour length. The Prince controlled flawlessly outside of combat, and the environments were designed with his parkour style of platforming in mind.

Sadly, I gave up on the series about two hours in to Warrior Within, as its tone completely threw me off, and I haven’t played more recent evolutions of its style like Assassin’s Creed. But The Sands of Time did get me thinking about the Zelda series.

Many of the puzzles and some of the combat (at least, with bosses) comes from the environment in Zelda titles. Usually, it’s about making the items you earn interact with the environment. You can’t cross over to a specific section of the overworld without getting the Hookshot, Roc’s Feather, or some other “key.” While this has worked wonders for the games, a permanent, dynamic moveset for Link that forced you to think your way through the overworld and dungeons, while still incorporating the use of items, could benefit the series.

Skyward Sword certainly had a more acrobatic, fast-moving Link than we’ve ever seen before. The humble wallrun carried with it so much potential that I wondered if Walljumps might be much of a stretch. From there, it’s not hard to imagine even more acrobatics. While the focus need not move to environmental puzzles, the quicker, more fun-to-control Link in Skyward Sword was welcome, and I’d love to see evolutions of that design.

What do you think? Could action platforming and environmental puzzles incorporating a permanent, more dynamic moveset benefit the series? Would it ruin it or make it too much like other games? Share your thoughts below.

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  • IgosDuIkana

    I am open to new ideas assuming that they do nothing to the core value of the series. I believe that recently the series has become stale due to all of the changes to the working formulas of the series, such as the failing of Skyward Sword to emulate the greatness of A Link to the Past in terms of overworld structure, while instead creating a very stale and unintuitive world that left little if nothing to the player. This would be interesting if it were carried out in such a way that it did not disrupt the tropes that the series created, and that have worked. I would like to take Nintendo’s word that the next Zelda will be better, but they said that about SS.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      No offense but the greatness of A Link to the Past, and it’s overworld structure started to disappear long before Skyward Sword. Ocarina of Time was more or less the start of this trend as less and less freedom started being given to the player.

      Where Wind Waker had lots to explore through out the entirety of the quest, Twilight Princess had little if anything in the form of exploration. Not to mention that the world wasn’t fleshed out at all.

      Skyward Sword may have been linear, but it’s world is fleshed out. Whether or not you liked the sky hub where lands opened up over time, it’s not the first time that a Zelda game has done this…. Majora’s Mask was the first to have a very “hub” field where each land opened up as the game progressed.

      Really all I’m getting at though is that the Zelda tropes of old were disrupted long ago, well before Skyward Sword.Personally as far as actual game designs go,

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.philliber.7 Michael Philliber

    i enjoyed skyward sword, (not saying it did not have flaws) but i do not think it is right how everyone says it is such a terrible game. i do not think it deserves the criticisms it gets. i mean if fi were toned down and the flying area in the overworld more filled it would have been a lot better, but it was still an enjoyable game. people say the game should go back to how it was, when it should move forward and become something new, if you want older style zelda games, play the older zelda games haha

    • Darunia

      Everyone says its such a terrible game? IGN called it the best Zelda game ever.

    • Some Rando

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything I’ve seen acts like SS fell out of heaven (no pun intended). :P

      • Calanekeeps

        Actually, everywhere I look I see people tearing this game apart and calling it the
        worst game Nintendo ever made period (not exaggerating).

        • JuicieJ

          Happens with every new Zelda game. Such is the idiocy of the fanboy section of the Zelda fanbase.

          • Guest

            People have different opinions? What idiots!

        • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

          Most the ripping apart I see in regards to Skyward Sword is towards one of these three issues;

          1. People don’t like motion controls
          2. People don’t like the bright colours/visual style
          3. People didn’t like Fi (felt she made the game to easy)

          Oddly enough very little ripping I’ve seen to the overall game design. It’s usually very superficial issues people had (like Link’s lips).

    • IgosDuIkana

      I am one of the many people who critique the game. I admit that I can be harsh at times with my judgment. I would like to point out, however; that I do not think that Skyward Sword was a bad game in anyway. It had some of the best moments in the series. It also had some of the most unfulfilled potential in any game that I have ever seen. It was hyped of being the best, the biggest and the greatest Zelda game. I’ve played through it three times now, and I can not help but be utterly disappointed. All of the things that were promised, implied rather, were not there. I expected something on par with Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and A Link to the Past, but all I got was a continuation of the trend that is slowly dismantling the series, and turning in into some type of sudo casual game that has a completely different target audience.

      • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

        Out of curiosity what was implied or promised that wasn’t delivered? I found the game fell within my expectations from what was shown or talked about.

        Although I will say I do agree that the game is too linear, which is a product of recent Zelda entries, and even more so, main stream gaming trends (where too much importance is given to cinematics and too much spelling out the obvious).

  • Sir Quaffler

    I think it can, yeah. That’s what I really like about Skyward Sword, it made the act of actually traversing the land fun; no longer was I just wandering through empty fields to get to a destination, the journey itself was fun. It might not have been the most cohesive world out there, and it might not have had the freedom of exploration and the amount of secrets worlds like in A Link to the Past and Majora’s Mask, but I’ll be damned if I can think of on that’s more fun in and of itself.

    And, in the end, that’s the most important factor for me. That’s why Skyward Sword is my favorite game. Because, out of every game I’ve ever played, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.

    And if future Zelda games can take a cue from SS and expand even more on the dynamic moveset seen in it, I’ll be a happy man.

    • shelbyville sucks

      Same here, I was smiling like a 5 year old kid during my whole playthrough of Skyward Sword.My favorie Zelda game, next to The Wind Waker.I really hope Zelda WiiU will retain the stamina meter and make Link even more agile.

  • bob

    ss is cool

  • JuicieJ

    I’d really love to see more parkour-esque elements in future Zelda titles. They wouldn’t need to be a huge focus of the level design, but adding more advanced techniques to Link’s repertoire most definitely wouldn’t hurt.

  • Lupine Hero

    More dynamic moveset… so THAT’s why Kingdom Hearts II is so fun!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Allen-Ryals/624098565 Allen Ryals

    I agree. Running and climbing in this game was very enjoyable and I hope they bring back the stamina meter in future titles. I think that they could make some very interesting zelda dungeons that work similar to a tomb raider/ uncharted game.