Two Creators Frustrated With The Legend of Zelda Are Bringing You a Great-Looking Graphic Novel

Illustration for article titled Two Creators Frustrated With The Legend of Zelda Are Bringing You a Great-Looking Graphic Novel

Some people felt like Skyward Sword soared. Others felt like the latest entry in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series was saddled with annoying issues. Even current steward Eiji Aonuma feels like changes may need to happen to the long-running franchise. While the impact of these mixed feelings on the next Zelda game is a long ways off, some good may come out of the response to Skyward Sword in the form of a very promising graphic novel.

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Second Quest is a comics project that has a writer and artist trying to recapture the sense of discovery they felt when playing older Zelda titles. And it's not just any writer or artist wither. The art's being handled by David Hellman, the creator responsible for the beautiful painted backgrounds in Braid and he's collaborating with Tevis Thompson, whose critical essay on Skyward Sword echoed the thoughts of other die-hard fans. Here's how they describe the graphic novel:

Illustration for article titled Two Creators Frustrated With The Legend of Zelda Are Bringing You a Great-Looking Graphic Novel

Second Quest is a comic for those who love videogames but want more compelling worlds and a sense of real discovery. Zelda fans will enjoy familiar motifs turned upside-down, but you don't have to know Zelda to enjoy our story. It's for anyone who's felt the pull of distant landscapes and longed to explore a world full of mystery.

Second Quest takes place in a world that has already been saved. Chaos was banished long ago, and the people were united. It is now the Age of Harmony.

A young woman discovers that she can draw out memories from objects just by touching them. But what these objects show her does not fit the legends she's always been told. What will she discover about her island home? And what place does a curious, daring young woman have in a world that has already been saved?

Second Quest also engages many conversations that are happening in the videogame community right now – about the representations of women in games, the failures of triple-A titles, the role of achievements and trophies, and why we even play games at all. We hope our comic will offer a unique take on these issues.

The art shown so far look great and there's clearly passion for Zelda and video games in the team's hearts. Take a look at the Kickstarter project pages and see if you're swayed into opening your wallet. Who knows, it might be like opening one of Link's treasure chests.

DISCUSSION

Zuldim
Zuldim

Skyward Sword is by far the worst Zelda game (AND NO THE CD-I ONES DON'T COUNT! Also, admittedly, I haven't played Zelda 2, so maybe that's awful, I wouldn't know). And I say that as a huge fan of the franchise, and someone who did play Skyward Sword to completion.

The Zelda games have always appealed to me for very specific reasons, exploration, and puzzles. The combat was a non-issue, it was button-mashy, but it didn't need to be anything else, because it wasn't why you were there. You were there to explore the incredible world they had created. Ocarina of Time had all sort of interesting locations, and all sorts of little stories and quests you could find by exploring. Majora's Mask is the best game in the series simply because it had the most going on, a smaller world then say, Wind Waker (or Skyward Sword, for that matter), but one which felt packed to the brim. A Link to the Past felt like it had a huge overworld with all sorts of locations (at the time, admittedly I haven't revisited it lately), to explore. Both Oracle games, especially Ages, had large overworlds with varying environments, and lots of characters to meet. Wind Waker had by far the best artwork the series has ever seen (and if you think it looked bad, that's fine, you're wrong, and I can accept that), and, again, all sorts of varying environments to see and explore (plus the best soundtrack in any game ever).

And the dungeons, of course, were just as varied as the locales. Ocarina alone had everything from an ancient fortress (Forest Temple), to an ancient prison, home to countless executions (Shadow Temple), to, well, an actual place of worship (Spirit Temple), to the INSIDE OF A WHALE (Jabu-Jabu). Each one felt unique, and interesting, and like nothing you'd seen before. Majora's Mask then followed this up with it's own incredibly interesting and unique locations, like a poisoned swamp, a frozen mountain, a... Whatever that Water Dungeon was, and an ancient stone tower.

Now let's contrast that with Skyward Sword. One of the biggest flaws with the game is sticking two dungeons in each location. The backtracking was absolutely painful and had I not been such a huge fan of the series, I absolutely would have thrown the game aside and never picked it up again. The game was packed, instead of with content, with filler. Majora's Mask had half the dungeons, and yet still felt like it had more content, because the content that was there was there in the form of dozens of side-quests (and actual puzzle designs). Backtracking, spirit realms, dragon songs, everything that wasn't a part of the dungeons, was absolutely awful.

And then there was the dungeons themselves. I actually really liked some of the dungeons in this *Spoilers about some of the dungeon themes in the rest of this paragraph* Lanayru Mining Facility was cool. The Sandship was awesome and absolutely the best part of the game. The Ancient Cistern was really cool, and very well themed. But the problem here is that even these felt very puzzle light. The puzzles in the previous games were the reason for the dungeons to exist. In Skyward Sword, there were some puzzles here and there, but they were mainly replaced with just having to figure out where to go next, and what to fight when you get there. And of course, it didn't help that the combat was fundamentally broken as there was no way to reliably know when the motion sensing would work, or when it would think my arm was on the wrong side of my body, getting me killed. Compound that with the MOST ANNOYING SOUND of low hearts, and, as everyone has complained, the CONSTANT handholding from Fi, and the game was an exercise in frustration.

The combat was broken, and frustrating. The world felt empty, and devoid of any reason to explore it. The overworld was large, but with very little in it (Skyloft, the Pumpkin thing and... That cannon minigame?). The game was absolutely packed with filler (to give it a very lengthy playtime). The puzzles were few and far between.

Understand that it hurts me to say these things. The Legend of Zelda remains one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time, and was a staple of my childhood. We only get these games ever five years or so, so for me to say I didn't enjoy one really sucks. But even something as just-ok as Twilight Princess (Midna is still awesome, FYI) stands leaps and bounds ahead of Skyward Sword in my opinion. Plus, as someone who is actually kinda into the storyline of Zelda, the retconning of EVERY GAME IN THE FRANCHISE in the last fifteen minutes of the game kind of felt like one last "F U" from the game.

I see a lot of people say that Skyward Sword's failings were sticking too close to the formula, which baffles me. While I admire Nintendo's ambition to breathe life into the franchise by shaking things up, almost nothing Skyward Sword brought as new to the franchise worked (and I do mean almost, Zelda having a larger part, and feeling like an actual character was great, and more emphasis on story and character development was, of course, much appreciated). The failings of Skyward Sword were not sticking close enough to the working formula for Zelda games, or at the very least, not replacing that formula with something that was actually fun to play. Skyward Sword was not fun. It was a few occasional moments of fun constantly blocked by handholding, backtracking, padding, broken combat, and reused areas.

Skyward Sword is, in my opinion, the only bad Zelda game. And it breaks my heart to say that.