The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is not even set to be released until 2011, and with 5 months still remaining in 2010, I think it is safe to predict that Skyward Sword will be 2011’s game of the year across all platforms.
Twilight Princess was released at the end of the Gamecube’s life on an already near dead console, and on the Wii which was not full in the market yet due to supply shortages. Still, with such disadvantages in its release period, it managed to sell near 7 million copies. When expressing feelings concerning low sales of Twilight Princess (despite being number 2 all time in the series), Miyamoto said, “a lot of the people who would want to play it can’t find a Wii!” As of June of this year, nearly 71 million Wiis have shipped, giving Skyward Sword a much larger market base than Twilight Princess had at its prime market life. Making a conservative estimate, I think it can be safe to say that Skyward Sword will, by the end of its life, sell a minimum of 8-9 million copies, even surpassing sales of The Ocarina of Time.
Sales is not all that determines a games place in the market however. While it is safe to assume it will sell quite well, it will also bring new things to the Zelda and gaming community alike. Every time a Zelda game is released it comes to much acclaim, but as Retro Studios fine tuned Metroid’s gameplay to the Wii’s emersive controls, the Wii-motion plus will do the same for Zelda. Gone will be the simple methodology of wailing on a fallen or unguarded opponent, and for the first time in the series will come true precision combat. As demoed at E3, the player will literally control Link’s Sword using the wii-mote. From precision attacks, to how Link yields the Sword, where he aims and strikes, the player will be in full control. No more will we only pull the sword out and swing wildly, this will be all about stepping into Link’s shoes and being in control.
Behind the game play will also be a brand new storyline that ties into the other Hylian myths already presented in past titles. While bringing out the nostalgia side in all of us through giving the origins of the Master Sword, and of course returning characters such as Zelda and presumably Ganon, we will also be seeing a new side of the myth and perhaps the very beginning of it all.
Nintendo has been known to make some controversial choices in graphics concerning The Legend of Zelda franchise, ranging anywhere from cartoons to the first ever T rated Zelda portrayed in realism. New to the series will be this surrealistic style that mixes vibrant colors and a rough palette with realistic designs. And to accompany the new graphics will of course be a fully orchestrated soundtrack, bringing new depth and excitement to the Zelda world.
On a final point, Nintendo always puts advertising dollars into its Zelda series and game critics have consistently rated the games in the high 8’s. 9’s and almost 10/10’s. Just adding good publicity to an already excited fan base, new graphics and soundtrack style, and brand new game play and controls and we are looking at the top selling and critically acclaimed game of the year, Zelda Skyward Sword.