The lights are on
One of the most anticipated games of 2011 is here at last as Nintendo writes another chapter into the Legend of Zelda Saga. A series that is defined by challenging puzzles, wonderful characters, exploring the beautiful land of Hyrule and it's many Dungeon while you are sucked into a world that has a rich yet violent history. Skyward Sword received some flack during it's buggy demo during E3 2010 when a frustrated Miyamoto was trying to work his magic with the new Wii motion +. It slowly started to pick up steam after E3 as the game became more polished and the excitement the series always seems to generate was there again. Can this Zelda dethrone Ocarina of Time or even A Link to the Past as one of the best games in series? It's not even close as Skyward Sword might possibly be the worst game in the series.
Instead of going with its gritty, dark, etiolate pallet, the creators decide to veer off the left and design a more lush, colorful, artistic game. While the design in and of itself is nice, it just doesn't fit with what the Legend of Zelda is all about and doesn't fit the tone of the story. There was talk about murder, violence, and a brutal war yet they have rich colors and a cartoony look that doesn't make the setting believable. You will quickly notice the game is plagued with Jagged edges and has a hazy, foggish look that lacks any sort of sharpness. This also hurts the design of the game since it's meshing different colors creating some ugly scenery. I understand this is a Wii game and HD is non-existent but the improvements graphically compared to Twilight Princess is very thin and Twilight Princess was a ported to the Wii. Character/Enemy design is pretty bad too and looks as if a child created some of these awful looking creatures (ie; Squid-Thingy Boss). Link's face looks like his father might have been Michael Jackson.....the white version.
Skyward Sword is about to get the Golden Sombrero and strike out on all design fronts because the Level Design is abysmal. The game starts out on a piece of land that floats high above the sky, Skyloft. During the wars down below the Goddess took the Humans to the sky. Skyloft serves as a central hub connecting to all but 3 locations down below called "The Surface". The land down under feels completely dead with only a few creatures residing in each area. These places act as a "pre-dungeon" where you will have to complete task, favors, complete trials, and locate items to proceed to the actual Dungeon. It honestly felt like I would spend at least a half hour doing these tedious tasks so by the time I got to the Dungeon I was exhausted with boredom and had little desire to continue. I just couldn't sit through this game for long periods of time. When you progress through the story you will do a lot of back tracking which leaves you with the feeling of repetition and became quite annoying to be frank. Dungeon designs are better but you either get really good ones (Green Flame Dungeon) or really bland ones (Blue Flame Dungeon)...no consistency.
Now last time I checked the year was 2011 and most games include Voice Acting. I know some of charm that the Zelda series generates are those cute little grunts that the characters make but it's just not working anymore. It's time for Nintendo to join the 21st century and start to include some verbal dialog. Link can stay a mute because it's hard to imagine him with a voice but voicing the other characters should be quite simple. Overall the game doesn't sound great and might have the weakest soundtrack in the series.
If I wasn't frustrated enough, unfortunately I had to experience this journey with what could be the worst supporting character in a Zelda game and one of the worst supporting characters in video game history. Fi, is a some sort of Humanoid, Artificial Intelligence(?) that dwells within the sword you carry. What makes her the worst (or one of the) is she is the epitome of the term "Captain obvious". She will literally pop out whenever she gets the chance to and spew out some garbage that you already know and/or can see. It's not like you have the option to ignore her because she does it automatically! She also likes to throw out mathematical probabilities at you, making her have 0 personality and is completely unlikable. I rather have Slippy the Frog yell "Fox, Help me!" because I know that I can shoot that stupid frog down.
While traversing the vibrant (but dead) land below with your annoying companion you will encounter enemies that will test your skills as you use the new Wii Motion + too strategically land blows. The enemy will sometimes leave an opening in their defenses and you have to swipe the Wiimote in the direction of that opening. You can also hold point your sword to the sky, charge it up and unleash a beam of energy. The Wiimote not only controls your sword but you also use it to fly your bird, swim, and is needed to turn some nobs for some puzzles. The game always seems to challenge your intellect by constantly putting you into situations where you have to think about where to go or what to do. The puzzles in the game are though out very well and challenging. Some other new editions to gameplay is the ability to upgrade weapons using materials you find. It's an interesting concept but I went through the whole game without upgrading a single item. The feature seemed pointless and tacked on. I didn't feel like making pit stops just to do some minor upgrades. You might find yourself going back to repair your shield because it wears down over time which ultimately makes the a shield useless since the durability quickly fades with a few strikes.
Some of the weapons are pretty cool though. The double hookshot makes its return as well as the always popular bow and bombs. New editions include a digging claw that will give you the ability to burrow underground which is awesome and a whip that can stun or steal enemy items. There are weapons that are kinda lame; One blows wind (exciting) and the other is a slow moving, flying beetle. The game does do a nice job making all of these weapons relevant so it's hard to ignore them. Unfortunately there isn't any quick selects so you have to go into the menu and manually select which weapon you want to use. It's not terrible slow but it would have benefited from having quick options. It's just another issue-as minor as it may be- that just built upon the multiple problems that have already been bothering me.
I tried to like Skyward Sword because the Legend of Zelda franchise is one of my favorite series in gaming. I get lost in the world of Hyrule and explore all these well crafted Towns and Dungeons while learning it's deep, dark and violent history. I was surrounded by characters I developed feelings for and to be enveloped in all of this by it's outstanding soundtrack. The ending tries hard for you to care about some of these people but due to limited interactions it became impossible for me. Skyward Sword fails on so many levels and I am a little confused how it got to this point. The Art, Visual, Sound, Level design just doesn't seem to match the creativity that the series is known for. I never felt attached to the people or believed in the world that was given to me.
Out of the 20 or so hours I spent playing the game, the last half hour were the best. Over the long and drawn out journey, the story began to take shape as the climax began to build. The Akuma look-a-like and Anti Hero vs The Hero. Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes cannot make up for the mediocre 20 hours that were put in. All the game did was manage to annoy, frustrate and bore me. I wanted to give up on the game and that's something no Zelda game has ever done.
My ranking of the Zelda Games;
11. Skyward Sword
10. Zelda 1
9. Wind Waker
8. Phantom Hourglass
7. Oracle Seasons/Ages
6. Zelda II
5. Majora's Mask (Not yet Completed)
4. Minish Cap (8,5)
3. Twilight Princess (9)
2. A Link to the Past (9.5)
1. Ocarina of Time (10)
(Have not played; Four Swords, Links Awakening, Spirit Tracks)
I haven't beaten the game yet...about 35 hours in and almost at the end. The first 20+ hours of the game was extremely boring with the same old dungeons and designs. It only starts getting interesting when the story finally pick up AFTER 20 hours or so. i got maybe 2 or 3 hours left of the game but so far I would give it maybe 8.5 but NOT a 10. Twilight Princess WAS a 10 but this don't deserve a 10.
You didn't mention Wand of Gamelon, Faces of Evil, and Zelda's Adventure. And before you say it, yes they do count even though they are a complete disgrace.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who disliked Skyward Sword nice review!
Nice review. While I don't agree entirely (this is my favorite Zelda and yes I've played most of them), you make good points and support them well. It's refreshing to see someone look at the other side of a game universally praised and not troll.
While I respect your opinion, I just wanted to point out a few things. You mention you never bothered to upgrade your items and then go on to say the shield was useless and beetle was too slow. An upgraded Goddess Shield is nearly indestructible and an upgrade will also fix the speed problem with the beetle. Also, an upgraded bow is the strongest weapon in the game (even more so than the Master Sword).
Okay, like some others I don't entirely agree with your review. Personally I think these games cannot be rated under an 8 on principal (though Majora's Mask and Zelda II are exceptions), but I wanted to thank you for the first user review that seems to not sugar coat it, or come off as a advertisement. Again, Thank you, even I don't agree.