Defending Swordsman Foes While Wanting More Monsters

Axle the BeastAugust 1st, 2013 by Axle the Beast

I’ve made absolutely no secret in the past of my love of monsters. I mean, hey, I wrote an entire article about my favorite ones in the Zelda series! Sometimes my favorite monsters are anthropomorphic or humanoid, but in general I prefer my monsters to be pretty bestial.

Why am I getting into this? Well Zelda’s always had its fair share of humanoid foes. Ever since the original game, Darknuts have been a big part of the series… and they’re really just knights who are occasionally jackal-headed for some reason. And there were others too. But even with these humanoid foes present there were always plenty of bestial enemies as well. Far more interesting foes, with creative designs, strange anatomy, and sometimes creative means of fighting them. Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask excelled at this, as did most of the handheld games. I think it was around Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword that swordsmen or other kinds of very human enemies and monsters started becoming very common, though it was seen to a degree in The Wind Waker as well.

Oh don’t get me wrong, both games have a ton of totally inhuman beasties as well, but they still significantly ramped up the “human element” in their enemy lists, either in the form of a large amount of different but still very humanoid enemy types — such as Twilight Princess’ Bulblins, Bokoblins, Darknuts, Lizalfos, and more — or in the form of a few heavily recurring and dominant enemies that fight like humans — like Skyward Sword’s Bokoblins and Lizalfos. Both games had a heavy presence of humanoid minibosses as well, particularly Skyward Sword. So there’s no denying that these two games have way more humanoid foes than was the norm in the past.

And, even though I love monsters, I will defend that. Skyward Sword tried out an entirely new control scheme centered around realistic swordplay, so of course there were going to be enemies you simply sword-battle. And while Twilight Princess didn’t really have that control scheme, it pretended it did, just like many other early Wii titles, while still being sword-centric regardless of whether you played the Wii or GameCube version; through Hidden Skills and the like, it was also a sword fighting game more than previous Zelda games. I don’t mind that once in a while, and again, I will defend these games — especially Skyward Sword — for having more of these sword-fighter enemies given what they were trying to do.

That said, it’s time to chill out with all these humanoids and freak out with some monsters again.

I think the enemy roster always looks a lot more interesting when it has a lot of very wildly different-looking foes, and of course you know my preference for beasts, so there’s multiple angles from which I like monster-heavy enemy rosters. Even if Zelda Wii U, by some miracle/curse, still has Skyward Sword’s motion controls or an evolution of them, it would still be good to ramp up the amount of beasts. We got the sword-fighting out of our system in Skyward Sword, so now would be a good time to experiment with those controls against a wider variety of enemies. Using motion controls to exploit natural weaknesses, either piercing shells or armor or perhaps getting past natural weaponry. There’s a lot of interesting enemy designs and fights that could come out of that. Who didn’t think that having a sword duel with a scorpion in Skyward Sword was cool? Let’s have some more of that.

And of course, even without motion controls it’s good to have a wider variety of beasts because that’s still more creative designs and more ways to use your items and abilities as well. It’s just better combat depth, a bigger variety of designs, and… well, monsters!

So tell me what you guys think about the balance between humanoid foes and totally bestial ones, as well as your opinion on how various games in the series have handled this. Do you like monsters or prefer humanoid enemies? Tell me in the comments!

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  • wrendalex

    i personally want a game with both lots of humanoid enemies such as the blins and bosses who can talk and all sorts of monsters like the chuchus and peahats. i would also like lots of new enemies too.

    • Midnafan

      it was pretty interesting what the bosses had to say in LA and how it contributed to the story. Ghirahim in SS was pretty talkative, but all he said either made me want to tear up his man-card or majorly creeped me out. so yeah, i’d like to see some of the monsters talk too, gives them more of a reason to be there, cause as of late, most of the monster bosses are pretty random. TP did have an excuse though with the Fused Shadows and Mirror Shards corrupting normal light creatures.

  • Hero of Scotland

    I really wish that ACTUAL humans make it into the next major Zelda title, I think the only times humans are used as enemies is in aLttP. In OoT Ganondorf has a whole army at his disposal (the guards) and what does he do? You’d think use a clever way to manipulate them into fighting for him right? Well no, he kills them.

    • moBliNkeBab

      GENIUS
      Ganondorf: ooooh i can haz army! I can take over hyrule! But nah. Why bother? KILL DEM ALL

      • Midnafan

        Ganondorf=overconfident jerk who kills anything and everything just to prove he can.

        • wrendalex

          Unless your playing wind waker.

          • Midnafan

            haven’t had the chance for that though, he sounds like a really awesome character in that game. i keep thinking i already know everything about WW, but then someone says something or i see a clip and i think “what? that happens?! i have to play this game!” i’m almost done with my second play of SS, and i found what i needed to play WW, so i’ll be getting to it soon. :P

      • Roth
    • Midnafan

      You fought the Gerudo in OoT. aren’t they human enough? also remember, this is for the most part a game for all audiences, young and old, so it would be a real problem if you were allowed to go around killing humans. it also goes against the concept that humans, or Hylians, are the good guys and the ones in need of saving from demons, which are all supposed to be in the image of terrible monsters.

      • Hero of Scotland

        So, killing possessed creatures is better than killing possessed Hylians? Is that subtle way of being racist?

        • Midnafan

          no. that’d be the case if i were okay killing possessed Zora’s. we never actually kill any Gerudo women in OoT except for the witches. and i’m also under the assumption that the vast majority of monsters we fight are not possessed creatures but demons created by the evil currently infesting Hyrule. in some cases like TP, they are normal creatures, or simply weaker monsters that have been corrupted beyond repair. luckily the likes of Yeta and Darbus were able to be saved. :)

          • Hero of Scotland

            What about the Stalfos? According to MM they’re not really evil.

          • Midnafan

            i haven’t played MM, so i don’t know that explanation, but they look pretty darn evil to me, coming at you with their swords and bonemerangs. I would kind of assume human skeletons coming to life, sometimes in inhuman reformations, is pretty evil, or linked to it somehow. :/

        • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

          Preferring to kill monsters (animals) over humans isn’t “racist”. It’s only racist if you’re killing one race of humans and not another.

          • Hero of Scotland

            Racism was never really clarified in Zelda games, all of the races are sentient, so in Hyrule, calling a Goron fat could be classified as racism, as being fat is one of the Goron’s natural traits, it’s not fair, just like it’s not fair to call someone of dark skin a N***** just because he was born that way. That’s racism to me.
            BTW: It was just a joke

          • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99
          • Hero of Scotland

            HOLY CRAP! I never noticed his belly! I’m usually too distracted by his lips and back to notice that kind of stuff.

  • MusubiKazesaru

    I just want a lot of hard enemies like the Darknuts were in Twilight Princess. We need them to be bigger and stronger

  • Jebus Mearkat

    I really loved the motion controls in Skyward Sword and would love to see them return; however, I’m also interested in seeing what they could do with the gamepad.

  • Truth

    I really hope Zelda U has some menacing-looking non swordsman monsters. Skyward Sword didn’t do that very well, the monsters there looked more friendly than evil…

    • Midnafan

      they looked more idiotic than evil. it was hilarious some of the ridiculous ways you could kill Bulblins, especially when knocking down their towers. they were really supposed to be more like idiotic minions than demonic monsters. that seems to be a trend as of late, though i hope it stops. Despicable Me’s minions don’t need to be reincarnated into every form of minion in every other media. :/

      • Franklin Howell

        The minion Idea was taken from the rayman raving rabbids.

        • Midnafan

          and while those things are hilarious, their nonsensical screaming gets annoying pretty fast. i don’t know how much i can handle of their new show. still, it’s a trend to have a lot of those idiotic type creatures serving as man power, and for the most part, its hilarious. for the rest of it, its annoying.

          • Franklin Howell

            agreed. I wish there will be smarter enemies in future games.

      • Ordona

        I really liked that humour. I found it sadistically satisfying to shoot an arrow through the Bokoblins at the top of the hill and watch them roll all the way down. But I wish they hadn’t made the moblins goofy blundering fools – I much prefer their more malicious incarnations.

    • Franklin Howell

      Especially on that sunken ship boss. I see tentacles and i was expecting to fight the kraken, instead i fight Mike Wazowski’s girlfriend.

  • Mangachick14

    I just really want Dark Nuts or Iron Knuckles to return. Those things were so much fun to beat in Twilight Princess and quite possibly my favorite enemy to go up against. So, I guess you could say I like the Humanoid enemies better, but I also like the beastly enemies because it makes the world seem more fantasy-like, rather than just in the past.

  • Smegzilla

    I’m going to give my vote to monstrous enemies, I find the sword fighting gets a bit tedious after a while. The Bokoblins in Skyward Sword were a pretty egregious example of an overused concept. They were all fought in the same way, and there were tons of them all over the dang place. I got really tired of seeing them because they were annoying to fight. I’m not saying eradicate them entirely, it’s fun to have sword duels occasionally. I’d just like to see more monsters.

    • Midnafan

      were they annoying simply because they were there and you had to fight them because they wouldn’t really leave you alone? or did you genuinely have a hard time with them? cause eventually fighting bulblins is literally no different then the bamboo mini-game, you just have to be fast enough.

      • wrendalex

        The SS bokoblins are tough to fight because they come in huge numbers as well as almost always being able block your attacks.

        • Midnafan

          like i said, you just have to be fast enough. often enough, they’re easy to sneak up on, but when they go to attack you, they raise their weapons, so once you hit them once, you can hit them repeatedly and they’re done for. and at least when i play, i also tend to hit several others in the process, i rarely have to use and ending blow to defeat even the strongest of Bulblins, especially once you have the True Master Sword.

      • Smegzilla

        I didn’t have a hard time fighting them once I got used to how they fought, they were just very numerous and I groaned every time I had to fight a group of them. They seem to always turn up in places where I wanted to explore around and just took up my time while I had to kill them before I could look around.

        • Midnafan

          pretty much all of the monsters in SS did that. they were always right where you didn’t want them to be. doesn’t help if you’re like me and get lost in Faron Woods ever time you go there either. :’(

    • Ordona

      Totally agree with you there. I love sword fighting and the motion controls but the Bokoblins were just too numerous. They were good for learning the ropes of the motion controls but after you got the hang of it, it was just a nuisance placing your swings so they don’t block.

  • Brian Frost-LaPlante

    Monstrous enemies to an extent, but I like the crossovers they have, like the Moblins in Wind Waker that look hilarious. Those were good enemies; faught like humans, but didn’t look very human at all.

    • Midnafan

      most “humanoid” monsters that Axle is referring to are like that. very few enemies in the series actually look like humans. the Gerudo, Twinrova, Ganondorf, Darknuts and Ghirahim are some of the exceptions. while he does defend them, Axle wants less of the enemies that fight like humans.

  • epic crab

    I like the sword fighting beats in TP but in SS they were a little annoying because the could parry so well, as for normal monsters; i like hoards of them so i can STABBING!!!
    SS had no hoards so i couldn’t STABBING!!!
    engh… SS is ok but I HATE the silent realm!

    • Mystery

      There was one hord at the end before you battle Grimahim for the last time.

      • moBliNkeBab

        Best part in the game IMO

        • Midnafan

          a little annoying if you think you have to beat all of them before moving on though, cause they re-spawn infinitely. o.O

          • Midna’s Sister

            Everyone hates magical despairing scorpions in your shoes. Nasty little hoarde monsters.

      • Midnafan

        but what about the Bulblin camp in Eldin Volcano? Bulblins almost always came in hoards, just not to the scale of at the end of the game. :/ Keese and especially those little scorpion things came in vast numbers as well.

    • Midnafan

      totally with you on the Silent Realm, but what are you talking about SS having no hoards of monsters? SS had almost nothing but hoards, at least of Bulblins in the overworld. right before the battle with Ghirahim you have to slice your way through hundreds of monsters, especially if you take your time with them. SS’s hoards are just harder to notice cause the motion controls let you slice through them just as fast as slicing through the bamboo mini-game. :/

  • Mystery

    People were saying that the Zelda WiiU will have tremendesly long Dungeons. I say Dont make them llong in distance but long in turn of Moster fights and Hords and at least Have some challenging bosses… please!

    • Midnafan

      I have been hearing the dungeons will be immense in size and take hours to complete, so they’re obviously going to have to fill them with something. unless they have teams of puzzle makers the likes of for the Professor Layton games, they’ll probably have monsters fill a lot of that. i do hope they have more creative battles though, more puzzle aspect to regular monsters, or a gigantic boss that is actually difficult. :)

      • http://www.triforcetalk9.blogspot.com/ Linkfan99

        I know this is kind of unrelated, but I’d rather have a HUGE amount of medium-sized dungeons than a medium amount of huge-sized dungeons.

        • Luke Kavanagh

          I reckon they should go for a handful of huge, main-questline dungeons, and a shit-ton of medium, optional ones. That’d also keep up a sense of exploration and discovery, without sacrificing plot like completely sandboxy games do

          • Midnafan

            that’s a good idea, but maybe with the smaller dungeons they could do something like what TP did, where it had a few more cave-like extra areas. extensive caves that feel like dungeons make more sense when exploring the overworld and coming across them, as nothing’s worse than having 10-20 temples across the land, and it also doesn’t feel like you’re spending a ton of time in dungeons, like it’s just a natural branch from the overworld. in order to have that many dungeons though and not have them feeling crowded together, many of them would either have to be uniquely hidden, or the overworld would have to be massive. and again, the issue of what you’re going to fill it with. TP had a good size overworld, but not much to find unless you had bombs, and even then. TP did have the advantage of an overworld that was nice to look at though. :)

        • Midnafan

          sounds good to me. still, it is a matter of what’s put into them. :)

  • Midnafan

    Humanoid enemies tend to be a lot tougher, especially when they’re more common later in the game (like TP’s Darknuts). Luckily, most humanoid enemies still look very beast-like, only a select few throughout the series have really resembled humans, so it sticks to the concept that you’re battling evil demons, not evil people. but it wasn’t till just now that i realized how little your items are used for combat in SS. it’s so much more fun when you have to experiment with you’re items to see what works, especially in the 3D games, as in the 2D ones for the most part its simply a matter of what does more damage faster. even without motion controls, i find it likely the enemies will continue to have puzzle aspects to them, and with hopefully easy access to items on the Wii U Gamepad, Zelda U might put a lot of focus on that. :)

  • zing

    “realistic” swordplay lol

    • Midnafan

      okay, rule #27 in Zelda: “realistic” is relative. -_-

  • Roth

    The funny thing is, while I very much agree, the monsters I want to return are essentially humanoid. But monster-y in spite of it.

    One word:
    Eyegore

  • Jaimep1143

    Honestly, i dont care to much if they are humanoid or not (in a degree). WHAT I really want is that i can be a lot more harder, because the only parts in the games that are hard are those temples that are really weird, like the Light temple in Master Quest in OoT

  • Matthew

    For the 3D games I like humanoid, but for the other ones I prefer to fight beasts.

  • Bribz

    Some of the best foes area always the ones in humanoid form. While we love the bestial battles, we always remember locking swords with enemies like Darknuts, Iron Knuckles, Pirates, Garos, etc.
    Fighting enemies revolves around fighting simple creatures in your path, but the humanoids feel almost intelligent, as if they present a duel or honorable combat (sometimes).

  • Marvel

    It all depends on how they work. I like all of my enemies difficult, whether they’re monsters or humanoid things. I’ve always preferred humanoid enemies and sword duels, though, just as long as it isn’t overkill.

  • Franklin Howell

    I kind of like the idea of fighting both. I mean, not all humans/hylians are good. Enemy humans could be bandits, assassins, bounty hunters and the list goes on. I think it would be cool if Hyrule was ever in a war with another nation. Link travels in between nations, Because he is seen as a hyrulean, the people from the the other nation would attack him. Just ideas.

  • Majora’sSword64

    I think that most of the games do a good job of leveling out the two and I think it should stay that way

  • K2L

    I don’t really mind the type of opponent , really. I can’t even see how this is an issue. =/

  • Affliliant

    I think that an organised balance between the two is best. For example, minions of, say, Ganondorf could be humanoid, while the more bizarre enemies could be natural opponents of the environment.
    I also think that even humanoid enemies can, and should, be interesting and creatively designed. Darknuts, in both TP and tWW, are examples of this.
    Humanoid enemies can also provide new strategic elements, an example being the armored lizalfos from TP. Instead of just, “Oh, an electric chu chu, hit it when it’s not having some odd sort of seizure,” it’s “An armored lizalfos, find a way to damage it, because any old attack won’t necessarily work.”
    What I’m trying to say is, historically, humanoid enemies have been more strategically creative, challenging players in ways that aren’t as straightforward as “don’t do this.”
    By the way, I’m not at all disagreeing with you, I’m just making some points of my own.
    But yes, the roster of odd, monstrous, and/or bizarre monsters should be revitalised.

  • steele

    dragons dogma! great balance betweem humanoid and monster foes. just saying i love that game and i wish everything could be more like it

  • Ordona

    I LOVE a good swordfight. Skyward Sword was right up my street with its take on Stalfos and all three fights with Ghirahim are probably in my boss fight top 10. Most of the beastial boss fights I always run around panicking until the opening/weak spot is revealed. I much prefer the more calculating nature of a sword fight, you get to circle your opponent and think about how best to land your attack. It feels like more of a challenge and you’re not just running on adrenaline. I definitely want to keep the good humanoid boss fights.

    I totally agree about the small enemies though. The -blin family of enemies just seems to be expanding. The Bulblins were unique to Twilight Princess. I liked them because they seemed more human-like and intelligent and they had a cool boss and a base you had to infiltrate. Why on earth did TP also have to have Bokoblins? They were basically a dumber version of the Bulblins and they could have easily been replaced by a foe with a different style of attack/defense. More bestial enemies will almost always make for a more creative fight, like Axle said. It’s a balance, and I think the recent 3D titles are weighted far more to humanoid enemies.

    • Lupine Hero

      Technically, there were bulblins in Spirit Tracks- they shot bomb-arrows at your train.

      • Ordona

        Ah, my bad. I haven’t actually played the DS titles yet. They’re next in my list after aLttP.

  • Luke Kavanagh

    I like both, but I’m feeling now that goblinoids are getting a bit played out. Maybe in the next game moblins/bulblins should be pretty much neutral, so that a) other kinds of enemies can take centre stage, and b) we get another npc race (they did it with zora after all)

  • hollander

    the best enemie over is the chuchu original and its in a lot of zelda gamess

  • Jimmy Rustles

    I just love it in a Zelda game when you draw your sword infront of a huge monster instead on a human looking guy. But that’s just me.

  • Zzen

    While I do agree with axle I feel there should be more sword bosses like odolwa from MM.

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