Zelda enthusiasts know the drill all too well. When entering a boss’ lair, just slash away at the bright red spot illuminating off the foe. After three precise strikes with the Master Sword (or secret dungeon weapon), Link enjoys his victory, usually with a heart container. But things may not be as formulaic for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
The Zelda demo on display at E3 2010 contains a boss battle with an enormous, gray scorpion. The enlarged arthropod pinches away at Link with left and right jabs, with understated eyes hiding inside the claws. As such, the elven hero must be patient and wait for an opportunity to strategically slice the eyes with his sword. This proves more difficult than it sounds, since the scorpion sporadically rotates its pincers.
After successfully disposing of each claw, the rock-like scorpion alters its attack pattern and seems to be impenetrable. Then, you notice the third white eye on the head of the beast. The problem with the exposed eye, however, is it’s not susceptible to a directional slice like the previous weak points. Link must instead stab forward with his blade, sticking it straight into the multi-legged monster.
The way players must alter their strategies differs so drastically from many Zelda gamers of yesteryear. I cannot recall the last time I had to run away from a boss with Link, buying time to go through new attack patterns in my mind. I was also surprised to find the “three strikes, you’re out” philosophy nonexistent; removing it added a layer of unpredictability and tension.
This new boss design hints at much more difficult and immersive battles for one of our favorite heroes. Hopefully, the new motion controls will go hand-in-hand with a much-needed paradigm shift in dealing with major adversaries.