Nintendo’s Left-Handed Persecution
Here is some actual news for you. I will be making my way back through The Frigid Northeast in the next few weeks. Actually the main reason I am going now is that it is not quite so freezing there now as is will be in a month or two. September through October is my absolute favorite time of the year to return to my homeland. I’m excited. I will be spending a goodly amount of time at Old School Apps HQ, playing games and scheming with The Dan, the man behind our webs here at Smashing Avatar. The Smashing Avatar team (that’s me and Ryan) will be temporarily separated by a three thousand mile rift, but that has yet to prevent us from continuing to pump out comics. For all you should be able to see, business will continue as usual over on our comic page.
On to the games. If you pay close attention to the original Legend of Zelda and most of its sequels (thought not all!) Link holds and swings his sword in his left hand. This has been attributed to a number of things, not the least of which is legendary Zelda creator, and master of numerous Nintendo universes, Shigeru Miyamoto, being left handed. So the hero Link is left-handed. This is canon! So when the Wii version of Twilight Princess came along with Link’s sprite mirrored to make him right-handed I was a bit disappointed. Certainly many swordsmen are ambidextrous. In a famous scene in The Princess Bridge, both Inigo and the Man in Black start fighting with left sword-arms and switch with a quip as to how they are not actually left-handed. It was not to prove a truth of swordsmanship though. Nintendo switched :ink to a right-handed fighter to please the vast majority of players who are right-handed. In the GameCube version of Twilight Princess, Link is left-handed.
It is understandable to appeal to their player base, but, knowing this ahead of time, I question why they have not implemented the ability to choose the handedness of the hero in Skyward Sword, as could be done in a number of other Wii titles, including both Wii Sports games. It can’t be that hard to render Link in one of both ways, depending on the option chosen by the player. In Twilight Princess, which could be played from the couch while gesturing vaguely to swing the sword, Link’s handedness was much less important. A lefty player could fake the movements fairly easily. Now with the upgraded one-to-one control of the Motion+ attachment, Skyward Sword will require much more intricate control of the remote. Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo noticed this issue, but decided that it would not bother lefties for too long. I think people can manage, but it will hardly be as enjoyable for normal left-handed players as for those right-handed masses. I played the game at E3 and managed, but I have been forced to use my right hand when wielding a real sword for several years now. Chinese Martial Arts entirely forbids the use of a left hand sword-arm, and the matter has never been up for discussion. At this point I could not use my left hand for sword-play if I wanted to. You can learn to be right-handed.
At least for gross motor movements. The stylus controls in Kid Icarus are a completely different matter. I cannot write whatsoever at all with my right hand and using a stylus is difficult by extension. The control scheme, with the slide-pad on the left and buttons on the right, is setup to make play with stylus in the left hand impossible. Movement is governed with the slide-pad, while the stylus is used to aim, and shoulder button to fire. There is no way to hold the stylus in your left hand and use that same hand to work the slide-pad. So when I played the game at E3, I had to clumsily use my right hand to aim with the stylus. I would not play the entire game like this. I cannot imagine it being a fun experience. Thinking about it now, that ugly second slide-pad attachment is looking really tempting. If it is supported, it will fix everything.