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Not Quite A Legend, But Still A Great Story

 

 

As I sit here reflecting on my experience with Skyward Sword, I notice a lot of good and quite a bit of bad. There was many great moments and ideas in this game, but was ultimately brought down a bit by some issues I noticed. Which ones? Read on for more.

 

Graphics: Generally thought of as an Achilles Heel for the Wii, I was pleasantly surprised here. While you may not be raving about the blast processing used to make it go 1000 FPS or something like that, the visual style supports the tech, and doesn't really leave you feeling unsatisfied. On the contrary, there are some beautiful vistas here that I thoroughly enjoyed. While there may have been a few rather blocky looking corners, overall the graphics are perfect for the game and are pleasing to the eye.

 

Sound: What can I say? Koji Kondo's composing talents continue to amaze and adapt to whatever situation Link finds himself in (he's the composer for pretty much every Zelda and Mario game). Whether he sits calmly under a tree or is in a fierce battle the music always supports the setting. As far as the sound effects, if you've played any 3D Zelda game nothing here will surprise you, just more of the same of Link's sword clanks, grunts, and shouts.

 

Story: Legend Of Zelda to me has never really majorly been about the story. Sure, you have your old archetypes like Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf, but they've never really amazed me. Skyward Sword delivers a pretty great experience in this department, and delivers what is most likely the best story ever to grace a Zelda game. Characters like Groose and the old lady residing in the Sealed Temple add extra layers of complexity.

 

Gameplay: This is where things started to fall apart, at least for me. There were problems with the shields having damage meters, most of them collapsed like they were made of pudding until later in the game. This made me forgo a shield entirely for a good portion of the time. One last problem I had was Link's stamina meter, it felt like it ran out too quickly, leaving Link with a physicality comparable to a fifty year old chain smoker. I was stuck having to consistently re-center the remote during fights, and there were several times where it not being centered got me irreparably behind during battles.  There were a few times where my nunchuk wouldn't register a shield raise and left me open to damage. On the other hand, some of the items are improved substantially by the introduction of motion, and provide new, fresh experiences, in particular an item that flies around controlled entirely by the remote tilt and orientation.

 

Design: While still falling onto the old traditions of locales like desert, forest, and mountain, there aresome clever dungeons and logistical challenges due to new items and many other great ideas. There is in particular the entire Lanayru province, hosting some of the best design I've seen in any Zelda game. There are stones in this province that bring the area around them back to a long-past time when hit. Also, there's an entire area in it you discover later in the game that is utterly breathtaking which I will not spoil. But the game is mired down a bit near the end, where it seems like they're adding on fetch quests and breaking apart items into pieces all for the sake of lengthening the game. I wouldn't have been sorry to see some of the pre-ending missions cut (Tadtones anyone?). 

 

Overall, there were some annoyances, but I still enjoyed the vast majority of my time with the game. I would recommend this to you if you enjoy Zelda, Nintendo, adventure games, or motion controls. While not offering a mind-blowing experience, it was a great play, and a worthy successor to the Legend Of Zelda series.

 

Comments
  • I wish I had Wii Motion Plus... Then I would TOTALLY pick this up, as I've heard such great things about it. I've (shamefully) never completed many Nintendo games, much less a Zelda, but having finished Mario Galaxy 2, I'm itching for another chance to use my Wii.

  • Deja vu...

  • good review. as a wii vet, im hoping the motion control issues that bugged you dont affect me as much.

  • I'll definitely set my mind on getting this sometime, along with Xenoblade sometime... Haven't played with the Wii for a really long time and I'd have to get a Motion Plus to play Skyward Sword so I definitely won't get it soon...

    But I appreciate the heads up with the difficulty of the shield and the stamina... I have difficulty with the Zelda games but I definitely enjoy them.

    Good review, Stranger. :3

  • I have yet to complete the game, really not that far, but I'm loving it thus far. I really haven't run into those gameplay issues myself. Sometimes I have to recenter, but not very often even. I find the tracking is spot on for the most part. I do agree with the stamina, it could be a little longer, but at least its there. No other Zelda game has had the feature, so I like the addition. The shield thing for me isn't a huge problem. Many games have breakable weapons. Some shields though do break far to easily.

    Good Review though.

  • While I disagree with this review, it's nicely written, and I can understand some of your complaints... some. Now go finish Arkham City!

  • Very nice first review, Stranger. Looking forward to more.

  • I can't believe no one is complaining about the ridiculous levels of interruptions in the game. This destroyed the game for me. This game should be called "Zelda: Interruption Sword".

    1a. Why does the game have to explain to me what a particular treasure is when I pick it up for the first time after booting up the system? I can have 50 amber relics, but picking up the 51st relic after loading the game causes the game to show a description screen that you cannot skip, and then it shows the item being added to your inventory. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!
    1b. Worse yet, is when you're fighting several enemies at once and one of them happen to do me the disservice of dropping a treasure just as I'm walking in to it, the battle is completely halted so that it can explain to me what a Monster Fang is for the 100th time. Terrible!
    2. "LISTEN!" One of the worse game mechanics of previous Zeldas was that terrible fairy yelling "Listen" every time there was stupid information to put out. Well, imagine that fairy but now living in your sword and explaining mundane details to death. For example, just before you start your fight against the last boss, Fi, the mechanical fairy, spams you by preventing your entrance just to tell you that you cannot return to the world during the fight. She the proceeds to ask you if you're sure you want to go in. If that is not enough, when you say "Yes, I'm sure", she speaks for another 2 paragraphs before you can start. This happens all the time. The constant interruptions ruin the game experience. It's really bad. My hearts are low? The annoying beeping (another unfixed Zelda problem) and hearts display should be enough to let me know, but that is not the case. The game designers thought it would be a good idea to make your remote chime incessantly so that Fi can stop your boss battle to tell you your hearts are low. Seriously?
    3. Stupid scavenger hunts are my least favorite game mechanic of the Zelda series. This game stretches the game time by sending you on nonsensical scavenger hunts that make no sense in the story line. If I need the third part of the hero song, I should not have to chase down musical notes underwater so you can determine if I'm worthy of having the song. I think the fact that I am holding the Skyward Sword, plus the 2 other parts of the song should be enough. Besides, isn't the world in danger and Zelda imprisoned? STOP WASTING MY TIME!
    4. I alluded to this in point 3, but the game places things far away so that you have to do a lot of walking/flying/sailing. This makes the play time longer so you can feel accomplished for playing a 60 hour game, when it really could be condensed down to 30 with all sidequests and secrets revealed. They accomplish this by giving you no stamina preventing you to run for more than 100ft without passing out. This would be ok in the beginning of the game, but surely they could have made an item that gave you unlimited stamina later on in the game.
    5. This next problem is the worst and it plagues many games today. UNSKIPPABLE DIALOG. If I'm buying a potion from you for the 100th time, I don't need to read the explanation that the red potion fills my hearts. I should be able to skip those. Instead, the game if filled with moments that just make me want to turn off my system and quit the game.
    6. The first 2 hours of the game are brutally slow. It contains all the 6 problems above and very little to no challenging goals to complete. I was very close to putting the game back in the sleeve and trading it in, along with my Wii that I hadn't used for 2 years. Had the game not been a gift, I probably would have done so.

    I almost didn't finish this game because these 5 game mechanics ruined my experience. It is surprising that a company like Nintendo did not take these experience factors into consideration when making this game. The controls are superb and fighting is challenging and rewarding, but the constant interruptions in battle, and in normal game play constantly bring you out of the fantasy world of holding a cool sword to reminding you that you're in your basement holding a Wii remote when you should instead be fixing the leaky faucet in the bathroom upstairs. Finally, The inability to skip repetitive dialog prevented me from talking to anyone in town which also ruins the experience. I have no idea how this game got a 10 rating, or even a 9 with these glaring problems.