As you might expect, ZI staff frequently chats on Skype about Zelda. It’s a big source of inspiration for some of our discussion-oriented articles. Today we’ve been talking about strategies for a successful debut for Zelda Wii U, which of course led us to discuss recent entries in the series: Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time 3D, and Skyward Sword.
If you don’t know already, while Skyward Sword managed to rack up millions of sales in a relatively short time, it’s now become a blip on the radar. Nintendo heralded it as the fastest-selling Zelda game ever… but that’s not 100% true. Twilight Princess‘s Wii and GameCube versions combined reached three million in sales considerably faster. Sure, we love it anyway, but this worries us. We hope it’s not something that happens with the next Zelda.
Why do we think this might have happened? Well, it all has to do with a little device called “Wii Motion Plus”...
Take a look at this showcase trailer for Wii:
Doesn’t it look like Wii is supposed to offer really refined motion control that truly mimics your actions on-screen? I’m sure many of us thought that the initial Wii Remote would work the way Wii Motion Plus does not. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happened. Wii Motion Plus wasn’t publicly available until mid-2009, two-and-a-half years after the system’s launch. That’s millions of Wii sales later - and they really missed the boat on the initial Zelda crowd that migrated to Wii to play Twilight Princess.
Bearing this in mind, I don’t know that Skyward Sword ever really stood a chance as a Wii Motion Plus title. So many Wii owners - especially Wii Zelda owners - simply don’t own it. Sure, there are some bundles that come with a Wii Remote Plus with the functionality built-in - but in the States those were in pretty limited supply. And sure, the game got terrific critical reception and has probably turned a good profit for Nintendo, but it doesn’t seem to have the longevity of other Wii titles.
I’ve come to believe that had Wii Motion Plus technology been available from the start, Skyward Sword would still be booming right now. As things stand, though, it’s a pretty hard sell to anyone outside of the diehard fans who show up for every game and especially for those who don’t already own the accessory or one of the fancy new remotes (which didn’t show up until 2010). And sure, I think the game had some glaring flaws that might have turned some people off… but I think this is the most glaring of them all.
Fortunately, it seems unlikely that a Wii U Zelda will run into this problem. Every Wii U should in theory come with a Wii U tablet, a Wii Remote Plus, and maybe a Nunchuk, so all the major control methods will be fairly accessible right out of the box.
For fans of Wii Motion Plus controls, maybe Nintendo has thought about this, too, and maybe it means there’s hope for another Wii Motion Plus Zelda. (I know I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.)