The lights are on
I remember the first time I played Ocarina of Time like it was yesterday. It was given to me as a gift for Christmas, and upon opening it and my N64 (we didn't have one at release), I immediately said thank you and ran like mad for my room, only to be submerged into a world unlike any I had experienced thus far. My young mind became instantly filled with thoughts of this game, day and night I wanted to just keep playing and exploring this game that brought my favorite series to life in ways I had never seen before. With Majora's Mask, I received a game that was brilliantly unique, and provided me with a Zelda game that was much more like a story on it's own, straying from the normal pattern and creating a land utterly unique to itself. The characters, the story, and the environment all intrigued me, and I loved it like no sequel before. I could go on and on about Wind Waker as well, and even Twilight Princess, though I did not have as much adoration for that game, but after all this is a review about THIS Zelda, Skyward Sword. So, does this game provide the same feeling that the past installments have done, or does this one fall into the "too much, too fast category? As I experience more of the title, I will alter this review, but these
are my thoughts as of now, after playing the game for a few hours.
First the story elements. You play as, well, Link (duh), who is actually a student at an Academy in Skyloft, the city in the sky created by the goddess in order to prevent an ancient and precious power from falling into the hands of what seem to be demons from below the surface of the Earth. Among many other interesting students, one classmate is Zelda, daughter of the Head Master of the academy. At first, all seems new, but somewhat expected, as the introduction serves to lay down some of the basics of the "Folklore" of the game and give you an opportunity to explore the new controls and environment. The newest addition is of course the "Loftwing," a species of bird that accompanies everyone in the city. Each citizen is given his/her own, and they are said to be the "other half" of that person, in a spiritual sense. Other than this, Zelda has a bit more of a "tom-boyish" characteristic similar but more subtle that Tetra of WW, and the community seems to be much more lively than past installments. The story takes a turn after Link and Zelda perform in a ceremony that is now 25 years old (go figure) to represent the passing of the golden power from the Goddess to the warrior. The pair celebrate the successful day with an afternoon flight, when Zelda is stripped from her Loftwing by a violent "black tornado." After explaining the events to the Head Master, he is lead away to a secret chamber by a strange blue entity (Fi) that holds the Goddess Sword. He finds that he has been chosen to restore order to the "surface" world that all have long been forbidden from and in doing so, must also attempt to save Zelda. In all, the story, though it follows some of the similar plot lines as past titles, has a twist that is a bit more unique, and sounds as though things will continue to change as the story progresses.
In terms of game play thus far, the game is the right mix of old and new, incorporating the Motion Plus controls without completely removing everything that we are used to from prior installments. The additions this time around include a stamina bar and more involved motion controls than what was experienced in Twilight Princess. The sword fighting does require a bit of getting used to, as it will be looking for precise movements that will seem hard to grasp at first, but once you get more comfortable with them, they feel almost natural. The other addition includes an almost "Prince of Persia" like game play schematic, often having you grappling ledges and moving yourself about to find footing. Be warned, all of this does take up stamina, which does deplete quickly, but can also be replenished quickly, provided you allow it to do so. Characters remain lively and interesting, with some seeming surprisingly more mature for the series while others retain that very-much humorous and strange quality that many have obtained over the years.
In all so far, the game has done just what the past installments have done by luring me in to the game and refusing to let go of my attention. The feeling I've gained from this game matches OoT and MM in ways I've
not experienced in quite a while. In truth, this game feels like
someone took OoT, MM, and WW, and brought them together in one of the
most imaginative prequels I've ever played. Though I am barely scratching the surface so far, I can see many references that have not been addressed yet, and I am very eager to discover how they will be incorporated. Very quickly, to give you an example, and I will note a"SPECULATION/ POSSIBLE SPOILER" although I do not feel it is, I have noticed two very subtle things so far. First, the traditional symbol of the phoenix-like symbol does appear in this game as well, but this time does NOT have the Triforce above it. Secondly, I believe the reason that symbol is usually red on the later Hyrulian shields may be because of the particular Loftwing Link was given. Not sure, but all the more reason I want to get to the bottom of this and discover all that this game has in store. Speaking of which, my controller calls to me.
Expect this review to alter as I progress further into the game, and you can also expect my next review in a couple weeks when "Mario Kart 7" is released. I may find time to rate Sonic Generations as well. Until next time, please make sure you are at least three feet away from my television, grip your Wii Remote firmly in your hand, and keep playing, chosen hero!
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