Posted on April 24 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Easter is upon us, and so with all the hullabaloo you probably shouldn’t expect too much activity from us today – not that there’d be anything to report on, since I imagine all’s quiet on the Nintendo of America front as well anyway. However, I would like to leave everyone with a Certain Other Second Coming to think about – Skyward Sword.
Typically people expect a sequel’s sales to decline over its predecessor – it’s a phenomenon known as the Sequel Curse. But with Skyward Sword being in large part a complete overhaul of the Zelda game engine rather than a same-engine sequel, is it really vulnerable to this trend? And with Wii controls and the console’s rather large established userbase doing wonders for other series, do you think that Skyward Sword could be set to soar higher than any Zelda game before it?
I mean, look at Mario Kart – its userbase nearly tripled between the SNES, N64, and GCN eras versus the over-20-million-install-base of the DS and Wii editions. We saw similar trends with games like Smash Bros. and Mario Party, both of which grew exceptionally. Of course, these are multiplayer titles, and Wii definitely had a strong focus on multiplayer – but it’s also had a strong focus on Wii motion controls, particularly with the Wii Sports titles, which by now pretty much everyone has since they tend to be bundled with the console. Fans of Wii Sports Resort will be able to adapt easily to the Wii Motion Plus control scheme in Skyward Sword – and it’ll be their first chance to really use those skills in a true adventure.
But this generation has been good to other single-player franchises, too: New Super Mario Bros. DS and Wii are the two best-selling games in the series behind the original Super Mario Bros. (which had the unfair advantage of being a bundled launch title), the Galaxy games both performed exceptionally well, and even Twilight Princess‘s Wii version, despite having a fractured userbase thanks to the GameCube edition, is the third best-selling Zelda title ever.
With solid motion controls, the right marketing, and good enough game design, Skyward Sword could skyrocket the series’ popularity in much the same way that Ocarina of Time‘s brand-new 3D world swept the rest of the series out of the way to claim the top spot. And Ocarina of Time was a Nintendo 64 title – the Wii has an audience that’s about two-and-a-half times bigger.
Personally, I think that if any Zelda game is poised to take away Ocarina of Time‘s top spot, it’s probably Skyward Sword. It’s certainly offering innovation of a similar caliber – it won’t change the face of the series altogether but it offers enough to probably influence the direction of the games to follow. And I think that if they really do nail the motion controls and offer a solid combat experience and balanced world design, the fans will respond favorably – at least more favorably than they did for its predecessor, Twilight Princess.