The lights are on
Every now and then a game comes along that simply brings you utter joy. There are plenty of great games out there, some of which have complicated and intriguing gameplay while others deal with controversial story elements. And then, there are games that are majestic, adventurous, and just plain happy.
Skyward Sword is one of those games. The entire adventure is filled with so many moments of creativity, excitement, and vastness that the experience comes together to fill one with a feeling of euphoria. The experience of Skyward Sword is a diverse one; the player often goes from clearing out a dungeon to exploring the expansive overworld and then clearing up a few sidequests. I would spend hours at a time just goofing off in Skyloft, taking in the wonderful setting, intriguing characters, and humorous dialogue. The sheer number of sidequests is impressive, even in a day and age where games like Skyrim provide an infinite number.
The story is the best of a Zelda title to date, and intrudes more often than previous installments. The characters are vibrant and even see development; Link becomes a very likable hero (surprise surprise), even after starting out as a lazy adolescent. Groose also sees impressive character change, as he evolves from an annoying jerk (who slightly reminded me of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast) to someone aware of their destiny and willing to help however they can. Even Zelda undergoes some development, and her character sees much more fleshing out than many previous games, which is fitting for a series named after her. Many people complain about Fi, but I actually found her statistic speak to be funny and refreshing, even when her advice was so obvious a Goron could have told me about it. The story takes a few twists, throws in some references to older Zelda games, and has a very satisfying conclusion, which to me felt almost poetic. I also appreciated Nintendo's various humorous references; the "25th anniversary," "Grooseland," "You look born to wear green," and "The Legend of Groose" all had me laughing out loud.
Gameplay tends to polarize some of the players. Many people have griped about some of the motion controls being unresponsive, but I can testify that for the most part they worked well. While playing, I got better as I learned to exaggerate the different movements of the remote, especially for using the sword. This is especially notable because for the entire game I was using a remote not made by Nintendo, which likely means the control was worse than it would be otherwise. I was very satisfied as a whole with how the Motion Plus turned out. I did find the harp-playing moments to be difficult and annoying, as it often took several minutes for me to get it played correctly. I have my doubts that it was entirely my fault; I am a drummer, so I would think my rhythm would be sufficient. Either way, it isn't too difficult and I managed to persevere.
The boss fights were among the most entertaining I've played, not just in this series but in all games I've played. Very rarely did I get frustrated, and most of the time the battles made me feel like a master player for fighting well and a genius for figuring out how to win. Since I am not either of those, I'd say that the game did a great job of making players satisfied. The last two boss battles are also enticing, despite what many (including Tim) have often suggested. While the final boss is somewhat short for a Zelda game (the final battle in Twilight Princess took me an hour), it is cinematic and epic.
The music is beautiful and really helps convey great feelings within the game itself. Classics like Zelda's Lullaby, the House Theme, and the Main Theme are all redone in full orchestra. I never once grew tired of the music, and it made me feel even more adventurous. Similarly, the art style and graphics are beautiful, despite being standard definition. I never once felt that the Wii limited how the game looked, and the art style really suits itself well to such a fantastical tale.
I haven't had a chance to start Hero mode yet, as I opted to finish up some loose side quests instead. Still, I believe I still have several hours of enjoyable Skyward Sword gameplay left. My playthrough lasted me 64 hours or so, which is the most I've had on a Zelda title yet.
This was the favorite Zelda game that I've played so far. Having gotten into the series only last year, I don't hold the nostalgia most other gamers have, so I can say with complete integrity that this game is better as a whole than any other title in the franchise. I would even go as far as to call it one of my favorite games ever.
At the end of the day, games are meant to be fun, and no other game does that better than Skyward Sword. It utilizes every part of the media to create an lengthy experience that never stops creating pure bliss. It helps define the genre as an art form, it proves innovative motion controls can mix with "hardcore" games, and it renovates an entire series of games. Truly, there isn't much more you can ask for.
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