More than 20 years old, the venerable Legend of Zelda series is getting quite long in tooth.  Nintendo is trying to mix things up with the upcoming LOZ: Skyward sword for the Nintendo Wii.  The only problem is: why am I reminded of that terrible Zelda cartoon from the 80’s whenever I look at Skyward Sword’s game-play footage?  Have I lost my faith in the series?  Certainly not, I’m just not feeling the whole ‘retro’ feeling Nintendo is going for.

Keen gamers will be quick to point out “hey the original Zelda and A Link To the Past both had a similar style and they were incredible games!” .    The style and simplicity of the early Zelda games was very appropriate for the era considering the resources developers had at their disposal.  The design of those games would certainly not hold up in today’s market, just look at Zelda: The Four Swords Adventures released for the Gamecube in 2004.  That game received the lowest – although good – reception from the critics and some of the lowest sales of any Zelda game.  Skyward Sword is certainly not on the same level as Four Swords yet allusions of simplicity can be drawn to the poorly selling Gamecube title.

In the 90’s games didn’t require expansive story lines to be fun and sell well.  The trouble is, games have become much more cinematic since those days and with the the past few games in the Zelda series focusing more and more on story development, I can’t help but feel like Skyward sword is regressing the series back to a simpler time.

Visuals and style appeal certain games to certain audiences although as games like Team Fortress 2 have taught us, you can’t assume that if something resembles pixar it’s for children.   In terms of style, colorful graphics in themselves aren’t the problem with Skyward Sword.  Wind Waker adapted a colorful cell shaded style yet contained one of the more engaging stories and original worlds in the series.  Majora’s Mask, perhaps the most original game in the series in terms of gameplay, told a brooding tale of Link’s quest to save the world in three days while simultaneously helping to solve people’s problems.  To revert back to the simplicity of the early 8 and 16 bit games for a major console release is quite disappointing.   This is the sort of game that should belong on the 3DS instead the updated port of Ocarina that it is receiving.

There is no doubt in my mind that the game-play mechanics will be solid – thanks to Nintendo’s Wii Motion +.  Unfortunately a Zelda game has to have more than simply good game-play in 2011.  I may be entirely wrong in my early assessment of this new entry since the full release is still quite a ways off.  There’s allot of competition out there and some Zelda fans are waiting for something more substantial than what has since been shown, fortunately the big N still has time to work in a well crafted and non-gimmicky story.  I’m not holding my breath though.