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Before you white-page search my address and ransack my house, allow me to say first that I am a HUGE Zelda fan. I have worshipped our green-clad hero since his first and most well-known foray onto the Nintendo 64. I look forward to every encounter with elaborate and colorful bosses in which the one new tool you acquired will be used in very obvious ways to defeat him/her without challenge. I look forward to the inevitable confrontation with Ganondorf that somehow always ends with the Master Sword stuck in one of his orifices.
But, as part critic, I've decided to ruin my own fun and analyze what makes Zelda a great game. Ignoring the scores game sites normally give it, I decided to dwell into it objectively.
It's not as though the story is brilliant; there is none. Boy needs to save land, Ganondorf in control. There's a little variation in between, but not enough to change the feeling that we've seen it before.
The gameplay is tight, but linear. Yes I know there's side-quests, but that's like saying Pokémon isn't linear because you can go out and battle trainers and get items in the field. And each of the items you have are only used in specific points in the dungeons, so much so that you could basically have big colored buttons on the walls that say "Press Y to hookshot here" and "This big cracked rock will break if you bomb it". And while the usage of different tools is varied enough in combat with enemies, there just aren't enough enemies in Zelda at any given time for that to play a big part in the gameplay.
The bosses, while great looking, are often incredibly easy. It basically amounts to "Target, dodge telegraphed attacks, use tool found in dungeon to stun boss for half an hour, use sword, repeat". It really kind of took the wind out of my sails to put in hard work to encounter an elaborate boss only to have it die 60 seconds later.
Like I said before, I still LOVE Zelda and plan on buying Skyward Sword as soon as it comes out and I'll have several @$$loads of fun.
I've highlighted before that "fun" and "good" games are actually quite different. Gauntlet Dark Legacy is a fun game . . . but when you try to review it you're like wow this game really sucks. And I'm not going to deny that I'll have massive fun with ANY Zelda game you put in front of me, so it really shouldn't matter should it?
But unlike games like Force Unleashed and Boom Blox, I prided Zelda in being a game that was both fun AND deserving of the 9.5 – 10 it always got, and I suppose it saddens me a little to think that it is undeserving.
I'm not trying to rip into Zelda, I just wish I had analytical proof it's still one of the seminal games of our generation. Regardless of whether or not their isn't, I'm buyin the damn game.