The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

This is a tale that you humans have passed down through generations...

It’s been five years since the last major console Zelda game, Twilight Princess. Twilight Princess is actually my favorite Zelda game, as it was the first one I ever owned. I never really got around to finishing/buying Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, or any of the handheld spin-offs, so, I may not be truly qualified to review Skyward Sword. All I can give you is an unbiased review from the perspective of an average gamer who is somewhat educated in the Legend of Zelda series. By now, you’ve probably read a bunch of reviews claiming how Skyward Sword is the “true successor” to Ocarina of Time, and how it evolved off of what Ocarina did, instead of just repeating it. Whether Skyward Sword is better than Ocarina of Time is completely your own opinion. But there is no denying that Skyward Sword is a fantastic game, filled with charm, memorable moments, and other great things. One thing you should know about this game, if you’ve never played a Zelda game before, is that this is not some mediocre “family game” for the dimwitted parents who bought a Wii for their children. This is not some game where you play generic mini games and stand up, pretending to be fully energetic, and fling your arms wildly with your family. This game is an experience, it’s an adventure, and it has a story to tell. Trust me; this is a game where you wanna play by yourself.

The first thing I noticed about Skyward Sword, is just how beautiful the game is. I have to give credit to Nintendo for working with the Wii’s graphical limitations. SS goes for a “watercolour painting” art style, and it achieves it flawlessly. 

As you fly towards Skyloft, you will truly be amazed how it fades in without any frame rate issues, the same goes for all the scenery in the background. I don't know how much more I can stress this, but the art style in this game is amazing, I’m not just talking about the background scenery fading in; I'm talking about the scenery up close, Nintendo has done a fantastic job of creating the mood of each environment. As you travel from Skyloft, to Faron Woods, to Laryaun (or however it’s spelled) Desert, the mood and atmosphere is always changing, and never fails to fully immerse you into the world. The same goes for all the dungeons and boss battles. I also have to give credit to the game’s soundtrack. Each area and boss has a certain soundtrack to it that helps to create the mood. Oh, and speaking of boss battles, they’re epic, but you already know that. In true Zelda fashion, the boss battles are always on a huge scale, but in SS, there are a few twists to this formula. The games main antagonist, the Demon Lord Ghirahim, is the first boss battle within the game. Unlike other the bosses, which are usually ten times the size of Link, Ghirahim is around the same size as Link, and during the entire battle he simply walks around, displaying a very calm and gentleman-like manner. The battle against Ghirahim is on a very small scale, but this is a nice little twist to the Zelda formula.  

The other boss battles are on a much bigger scale, and over all they aren’t impossibly difficult, but still offer a challenging experience.

            I almost forgot to talk about the game’s story, as the stories in all of the Zelda games are good and keep the player engaged. In the Legend of Zelda timeline, Skyward Sword comes first, right before Ocarina, so the beginning of the game takes place in Skyloft, an island in the clouds, and just like all Zelda games, you play as Link, or a reincarnation of Link, or something like that. In SS, Link is a student at the Knight Academy along with Zelda, who shares a very close and deep friendship with him. When Link and Zelda are flying together on their Loftwings, a tornado comes out of nowhere and sucks Zelda down to the surface. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but just so you know, like all the other Zelda games, the first 15-30 minutes are usually pretty boring, as you’ll be running around the starting area, performing tasks for the villagers, learning the basics, etc. I really wasn't bored with the beginning of Skyward Sword, as the characters you’re interacting with have a certain charm to them, that make performing their tasks some-what less boring. Hell, there’s even a “Biff” like character named Groose who envies Link’s and Zelda’s friendship (Back to the Future kids). 

After Zelda’s disappearance, most of the game is about Link searching for her, and that’s all I’m really gonna say, but just to let you know, the story in SS is very good, as you learn about who Link and Zelda are, you will also learn the origins of the Master Sword and Ganondorf. I also have to talk about the major improvements Nintendo has made in animating the cut scenes for this game. The cut scenes in this game are truly amazing in their size/scope and fluid animation of the characters on screen, when performing actions and displaying emotions. Seriously, at times I felt as if I was watching the best Legend of Zelda movie that was never made.

            Another important thing you should know about Skyward Sword, is that it is the first Zelda game built from the ground up for the Wii, which means that they built this game with motion control in mind. The last Zelda game that featured motion control was Twilight Princess, and it didn't fully deliver the level of immersion Nintendo said it would. The flaw in TP’s motion controls was that the player could simply flick their wrist in any direction and Link would swing his sword left to right, the controls weren’t broken or anything like that, it just wasn't as amazing as Nintendo hyped it up. In Skyward Sword, thanks to the Wii motion plus, when you swing the Wii remote in a certain direction, Link will also swing his sword in that direction, you won’t necessarily be standing up and swinging your arms in the air wildly like in the commercials, but you will have to take into consideration the direction in which you flick your wrist when facing certain enemies. This is another thing that Skyward Sword does great, sure, Link will swing his sword the way you swing the remote, big deal, I’ll still just swing my Wii remote in any direction I want to slash away at my enemies. WRONG! You cannot do this, as enemies will react and block your incoming attack, this forces you to wait for your enemy to expose himself and attack at the right angle. 

 This mechanic works great, and fully utilizes the Wii’s motion controls. This will however take some time to get used to, if you’re like me, and played a lot of Twilight Princess on the Wii, and are used to just flicking the Wii remote in any direction. But once you get used to it, you’ll never want to go back to a regular controller for a while.

            The last thing I want to talk about is the inclusion of RPG elements. The Zelda games have mostly been just “Action-Adventure” games with very light RPG mechanics, Skyward Sword however, takes it a step further by adding the ability to upgrade Link’s equipment, such as his shield. I was a bit worried at first, as I thought that Nintendo put this into the game simply to pad it out (make it longer) by forcing the player to go and grind/farm for the materials necessary to upgrade Link’s shield. But that is not the case, as this ability to upgrade Links shield and other equipment is completely optional, in fact, you could actually try and beat the game without a shield! (This of course would be incredibly difficult). If you do choose to try and upgrade Link’s equipment, you will benefit from this, as the upgrades actually are significant, and will make the game significantly easier for you. Some of the benefits include making your shield stronger, so it can take more damage before breaking, or increasing the damage and zoom in of your bow.

            Just like all the other Zelda games, it’s not so much about that conclusion of the story that makes the game memorable, but the journey to the conclusion that makes the game memorable. Skyward Sword is a fantastic journey from start to finish, the story is great, the characters are charming and memorable (despite there being no voice acting!), and the game is an absolute blast to play. It will most likely last you about 30-40 hours, depending on whether or not you do all the side missions, or explore all of the areas thoroughly. At the end of my play through of Skyward Sword, I had almost no complaints. I couldn't think of a single thing the game did wrong. One minor complaint I do have is that three of the boss battles in the game are a bit repetitive and frustrating, but this pales in comparison to what the game achieves successfully, which is why I give Skyward Sword:

10/10 - Truly an amazing game to experience

You buy now, yes?

No comments:

Post a Comment