on November 20, 2011
The Legend of Zelda series is one of the greatest video game franchises of all time, and arguably, it's *thee* greatest. With each release, Nintendo has showed us the magic of journeying through Hyrule's beautiful kingdom. Now, they have done it again, greatly injecting innovation into the tried-and-true formula of past titles. This is a Zelda game unlike any other, and feels all at once both an incredible nostalgic celebration of 25 years of history, and a wholly new adventure full of wild, awesome new directions. Get ready for a fairly long review, but please know that this is written from the heart of a young man who loves the series above most others in his favorite pastime.
The story and characters present in Skyward Sword are very different among the other Zelda titles, despite the obvious recurring ones. I don't just mean the amazing setting of Link's home, Skyloft, a fantastical city floating above the clouds where everone is bonded to their own guardian birdlike creature, a loftwing. No, from the start, Nintendo truly changes almost everything of what you'd come to expect from a Zelda game. This is the earliest tale in the series chronologically, acting as a prequel, making way for Ocarina of Time's tale to come. Zelda is not a princess here, just another common schoolgirl. She and Link have been best friends since childhood, and may even have feelings for each other (it's pretty obvious, and incredibly touching. My wife and I were both pretty moved by it). In Skyloft, the local school is essentially a knights academy, the uniform being a tunic that is easily recognizable to fans of the series. After completing a ceremony to become a senior in his class (the senior tunic is, you guessed it, dark green), Zelda and Link ride together through the sky to celebrate. Out of nowhere, a malevolent tornado knocks Zelda to "the surface," a vast, unexplored land below the cloud cover and once again, Link takes up the mantle of being a fated hero, destined to save the day. I'll stop here, because this is virtually spoiler free and if I say more it won't be. Just know that Nintendo has really changed up the formula of story and characters we've come to expect from the Zelda franchise, and as a result, Skyward Sword feels incredibly refreshing.
Another immediately noticeable change is in presentation. The story is much, much more cinematic than Zelda has ever been. Cinematic shot angles are much more dynamic than ever before, character expression is stunning, animation is smooth and realistic, and the writing is just fantastic. If anything, this feels like a very intimate entry in the Zelda series, not just epic or grand like past titles. It's a lovely direction for the Zelda series, if you ask me. The characters all come to life thanks to this presentation, of course, but the writing present certainly helps too. Each character has so much personality, and talking to each of them is a joy. Link is a somewhat distracted dreamer with his head in the clouds, loves to sleep, but has tons of courage and kindness, a true hero. Accompanying him in his journey is Fi, a new kind of companion to the series. Fi looks like a ceramic doll, her "speech" sounds like GLaDOS, and is purely logic driven. She is amazing. Zelda is a strong-willed, tough tomboy of sorts, and very lovable. Lord Ghirahim, the new villain, is *extremely* compelling and creepy (Ganandorf makes no direct appearance). All of these characters, as well as the plethora of side characters, are written and presented beautifully.
The art design and graphical implementation is awesome here. The game has married the art design of two past masterpiece Zelda title styles into one wholly unique direction. You have more realistic people and settings, like in the dark, mature Twilight Princess, but you also have the vibrant color and imagination of The Wind Waker, and it is a joy to behold. Nintendo EAD designed the game to look like a water color painting, and I must say, they did a fantastic job doing so. Draw distances are fairly short, and anything beyond is purposely blurred to look exactly like a water-color painting of the impressionist style, full of brushstrokes of beautiful color. I am deeply impressed here. The Wii is a painfully underpowered system in comparison to its two competitors, but it is genius art design like this that shows why the Wii has had some of the most beautiful titles of this generation (Metroid Prime 3,Muramasa: The Demon Blade,Super Mario Galaxy,Super Mario Galaxy 2,Okami, now this game, the list goes on and on). To put it succinctly, Skyward Sword is one of the most beautiful games in recent memory, and that is totally thanks to the absolutely brilliant (and well implemented) art design.
Koji Kondo and Hajime Wakai; any fan of Nintendo will instantly recognize these names as two of the greatest musical composers of video gaming. They are almost unrivaled as composers, writing some of the most iconic music in the entire medium. Koji worked as musical supervisor in this title (as well as composed the main theme and some other songs). Hajime was in charge of music composition. This may be, and I *do not* say this lightly, some of their very best work yet. The music here ranges from the entire spectrum of musical emotion: epic, intimate, touching, sad, meditative, dark, joyous, achingly beautiful, uplifting, goofy/doofy (for a certain character), anything you can imagine. Each theme, whether for an event, a character, a place, whatever, is absolutely perfect for its place and can greatly change depending on the situation. It takes something special for music to not only define the experience for any gamer playing the game, but also convey the emotion and thought its supposed to, and the soundtrack here does so perfectly. Like most Zelda games, Link acquires a musical instrument that helps progress the story (Ocarina of time had... well... duh. Wind Waker had a baton), here it is a harp. You can play it at any time, and when you do, you can actually accompany the beautiful background music of wherever you happen to be on the harp. That's very, very cool. Great job Koji and Hajime! You're amazing.
The gameplay is what you're probably the most curious about. Does the Wii-Motion Plus work? Yes, it does very well, for the most part. You'll have to deal with calibration from time to time, sometimes actions won't register the way you hoped, but it's not too big a deal and doesn't happen nearly enough to mar the experience. The 1:1 swordplay works pretty flawlessly once you become acquainted with it. Link will seamlessly swing his sword however you do. Horizontal, vertical, diagonal, it all works quite well. Pretty much every enemy you will encounter will require a different strategy to defeat, and I have found that the swordplay grows more enthralling with each hour I play (Boss fights are outstanding). It took me quite a while to get used to it, but I must say that this is truly the game the Wii was made nearly six years ago for. It's about time. The quest items you'll find are also a blast to use. They give you some new ones right off the bat, and they're all awesome, feeling completely new yet appropriate for the franchise. Also, Link now has stamina that runs out as he climbs and dashes throughout the world (yes, Link can now sprint around if you'd like). Link's stamina actually adds a small layer of strategic depth to the game, and the concept comes into play in many scenarios throughout the game. This gameplay concept worried me at first, but it's actually really enjoyable, and implemented excellently.
So far, I have been through three temples in about 20 hours (I bought my copy at a midnight release "party" and have been playing ever since). Gone is the field-dungeon-field formula of past titles. Instead, here you have a hub world, the realm above the clouds, with Skyloft as your main town to visit. Here you can restock supplies, buy or upgrade your shield and other equipment using items you've scavenged in your questing rpg-style, and go on very personal side quests that feel very much like Majora's Mask did, making for a character-driven experience. A great change of formula, one I was *very* skeptical about beforehand.
You can ride your loftwing and drop to the surface world below at key rifts in the clouds. Here, you have more concentrated lands you can adventure through until you get to a dungeon/temple that will advance the story. The world below, and its temples, feel quite a lot like the Metroid series. The land is more condensed and concentrated, feeling like dungeon of sorts by themselves, but as you acquire newer items, more and more dimensions will open up in those places as you revisit them. It's a huge change-up to the Zelda formula, but one that feels surprisingly good. As I've said, I've played through three temples so far and I am amazed at the ingenuity of them. Yes, you'll be pushing blocks and shooting targets to open doors, but you'll also encounter brilliant new puzzles. I mean, the puzzles are challenging and downright laugh-inducing in their ingenuity, and feel very satisfying when you figure them out. Combine this with the totally awesome new items, stellar swordplay, and ease of use and you get the feeling that every area feels like an innovation, in much the same way playing through Super Mario Galaxy 2 felt like standing before a firing squad of brilliant new ideas. I am downright astonished. I did not think it could be done, honestly, but this game really has reinvigorated the series through great change to the formula rather than refining it further like Twilight Princess did, and trust me when I say no one is more surprised than me.
This is a brilliant game, even among the other entries in what has been for 25 years a brilliant series. It takes Zelda in a plethora of new directions, while miraculously feeling *exactly* like a true-to-form Zelda game. Color me surprised. If you're a fan of Zelda, then you don't need me to tell you to go get this right now. This series has some of the most diehard fans of any gaming franchise out there, but just for emphasis' sake, I proudly, and loudly proclaim that this game is incredible! Buy it, soar through the realms above, and dive to the vast, mysterious lands below and fulfill your destiny to save the world once again!
* I know this review is quite long, but honestly, this game has so much that merits attention, the review could be much, much longer and still be appropriate. I will edit my review as I play through the game more if I feel there is something worth mentioning that I come across. However, I feel that this is a pretty good summary that hopefully gives you a good picture of the game. Seriously, go get it, like, right now. You won't regret it.
Final Update, 11/27/11:
Ok, after playing the game for roughly 50 hours I have finally beaten Skyward Sword. In short, this game is an absolute masterpiece. Each and every hour spent in this game was filled to the brim with brilliance and excellence, and not one single minute felt wasted. This feels like the Super Mario Galaxy 2 of Zelda titles, where there seems to be an exciting new gameplay/puzzle element at every turn. The story is incredible, with a lot of twists that genuinely thrilled and surprised me. This game essentially acts as an origin story for the entire Zelda series. Pretty much every element that you're familiar with from Zelda games see their true origin here, and it is spectacular (I won't give any spoilers though, you'll be blown away when you experience it for yourself). I have to say that I have not been this entranced and enthralled by a Zelda game since Ocarina of Time or The Wind Waker, and I am a HUGE fan of pretty much every entry in the entire Zelda series, so I don't say that lightly. The music is among the series' very best, which by itself is a massive accomplishment. The visuals the art design are incredibly beautiful, some of the most gorgeous and brilliantly inspired of the past decade, despite the underpowered system it is on. Because of all of this, I was compelled to play this constantly until beating it, AND there's a new game plus mode that adds substantially to the game as well! For fans of the series, this game is an immediate must-own. I give it the highest recommendation possible. I absolutely love this game, and I'm fairly certain most of you out there will too.
*That's my final statement. This is meant to finalize the points I made from my original review, which I think will be as detailed and informative as anyone would want or need. Thank you for taking the time to read my review. Good day. :)
on November 20, 2011
This game is a prequel to all of the other Zelda games in which we find Link is a trainee knight of Skyloft, a town floating high above the clouds where Zelda is not yet a Princess. This is a unique and original adventure that intentionally tries to break apart from the franchise trend.
The sword is Motion-Plus genius in that what you do in real life is exactly mirrored on screen -- in combat there is a perfect 1:1 balance I have not seen in any other wii game. You can wave your sword around while waiting for an opening to strike or just flail it around with perfect precision. Nearly every enemy requires a specific sword technique to defeat it - although there aren't a ton of enemies in this game, each one offers a unique challenge.
Each item is quickly enabled with the remote so there is not much pausing to go through menu pages. Aiming with the slingshot or bow is much easier since you are using the wii motion-plus. Occasionally the controls will be slightly off, but a quick downward tap of the d-pad resets the pointer.
While there are only 3 unique worlds, you find yourself going back to these worlds repeatedly throughout the game as you gain new tools to unlock different areas. You are also able to freely go back to Skyloft to buy items, assist townspeople and do many other quests.
The dungeons are unique and flow naturally. In previous games, dungeons were basically designed for one item, but not this time -- you must use many items in every quest, which makes for a nice challenge and improves upon the level design.
Music is always central in a Zelda game, and Skyward Sword doesn't disappoint -- where Skyward Sword finally uses orchestral music for the first time. On a side note, the CD that comes with the game has songs covering the entire history of the series and is of high quality and production, but in all reality I likely won't play it more than once. Skyward Sword has been rendered using an art style that places it somewhere in between The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess and while that sounds weird, it is an improvement on the previous titles.
I have played for many hours already and knowing this is a 40+ hour game is all the more satisfying knowing that I got my money's worth. (I actually received the game Saturday 11/19 after pre-ordering from Wal-mart and have been playing non-stop).
Yes, there are minor quibbles to be had with motion control inconsistencies, small variety of enemies, and occasional camera issues, but this is a masterpiece of modern gaming. This IS the game the WII was made for! Must buy. (9.8 / 10)
**** UPDATE 11/23/11 *****
I have just hit the 35 hour mark and have yet to actually beat the main adventure. This has been one of the most exciting games I have played in years!
on November 22, 2011
I would like to begin my review by stating that I'm a gamer. I play PC games, console exclusive games, and portable games. I treat all platforms equally and only judge the content. In addition, I'm fortunate enough to have been alive and well pre, during, and post the golden age of gaming.
The new visual direction is amazing and it works. It's art! Everyone has their own option and some will disagree and that's OK. But it works for me and I was impressed. It's a blend between cel shading and the more realistic approach art direction of Twilight Princess with a touch of water paint.
I really enjoyed the music scores and sound effects. Again, it's my opinion and some will really like it and some won't. Everyone has different tastes.
Simply put, one of the greatest aspects of the game. The controls work and are implemented very well. This particular game can't be played with a regular controller because there are gameplay elements that make that impossible. Motion controls adds another level of satisfaction that a person can't get any other way.
This particular game has changed the "Zelda formula". If you've played other iterations of the game, you'll notice the difference early on. There is now a central hub from where you will branch off to complete various tasks including side quests. In addition, the dungeon designs are genius.
There is a crafting system in place that works very well. Though it's basic in comparison to other games, it works very well and adds another level of greatness to the game.
I would love to see a Zelda game with the full glory of voice acting (some will disagree with me) but this game sticks to the traditional text bubbles. And you know what? It still works. Especially because of one particular reason, elaborate facial expressions. It's done extremely well and it fits.
The game interface works well but can get very clunky. Thankfully, there is an option to make most of it invisible.
In conclusion, this new Zelda game simultaneously feels new and familiar. In my humble opinion, it's better than Ocarina of Time which makes it the greatest game ever created.
If you own a Wii, this game is a "must have". If you don't, this game should be the reason to purchase one.
on March 10, 2012
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is begging to be perfect. For many players, the game may seem perfect as they venture into it. And yet both the players and the game know it can't be perfect. Still, SS is by far the greatest Zelda game since it has ventured into 3D with Ocarina of Time. Skyward Sword feels like reuniting with an old friend. Fans will instantly feel nostalgia as they journey both in and above Hyrule. Gimmicks like cartoon graphics and werewolves are tossed aside, as familiar mechanics are enhanced in complexity.
Nintendo has never been very open about the Zelda timeline, but this title's placement is clear: it is the first adventure. The first Link and the first Zelda have to team up to save a land that is yet to even earn the title of Hyrule. There are quite a few plot twists, and I'd rather avoid spoilers, so I'll just touch on the start of the story. Link and Zelda are young students in a knight academy on a floating island, far above the clouds. Little do they know, they are both destined with huge roles in saving the world below, which is on the verge of destruction. The story is beautiful and deep, much more so than most Zelda titles.
The graphics are a breathtaking blend between that of Twilight Princess and that of The Wind Waker - cel-shaded but with realistic proportions. Environments are colorful and everything is incredibly detailed. The Wii was definitely pushed to its limits with this titles, making it a beautiful way to herald the end of the Wii and prepare fans for the Wii U.
The music surpasses the incredible graphics. All of the music is orchestrated, and even classic sounds (such as opening a chest) have never sounded so beautiful. The music CD is a great bonus, as there was a lot of work put into the music and the results are magnificent.
The true meat of this game is the game play. As with other titles, this Zelda game is packed with puzzles. Even more prevalent than that is the combat, which has been escalated. The Wii Motion Plus allows the player full immersion, as Link swings the sword exactly how the player does. This freedom is important, as every small fight actually takes skill and concentration. An upgrade system takes weapons and items to new levels, and there are definitely quite a few memorable items. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws. Fi, Link's partner who is meant to aid to player, becomes a nuisance as she points out every obvious detail. When she's not stating the obvious, she's reminding you how to complete tasks you've completed dozens of times or she's giving you statistics that quickly get annoying (such as, "There is a 70% chance that a key somewhere in this place will unlock this door"). Areas are recycled a few times, making the game feel smaller than it is. These are just a few of the cons, but the pros vastly outnumber them and you will likely not notice most until a second play through.
Game play: 4/5
Replay value is a trick thing to access. This title is extremely long for a Zelda title. Chances are you will not decide to replay it right after beating it. However, a harder mode is unlocked upon completion, and chances are you will want to enjoy this game again. The length may lower the replay value, but you definitely get your money's worth.
Replay value: 3/5
Also, this game should be considered family friendly, so the kids could join in, though it might not be easy for small children.
Overall, this game is a must buy for fans and non-fans alike. This title is the peak for Zelda, and I can only wish Nintendo the best of luck in managing to top this one.
on November 26, 2011
The funny thing is, I got super pissed off when my favorite game review source (X-Play) gave this game a 4/5; and now you see me give this a four out of five, and it breaks my heart. But, once I beat the game, I realized that's what it was.
WHAT IT IS:
Skyward Sword is an origins story. A lot of it is very subjective, and opinion-based, like looking at a painting (which is what the game tried to "look" like). First thing to understand is that mankind (Hyrulians) does not live on the earth yet. They live in the sky (and the story explains why--and to some satisfying, if not cliche, extent). So, obviously, if only baddies live on the earth (with the exception of a few friendly creatures), then of course the exploring world/finding dungeon formula is going to change. The biggest difference is this: the entire world--except for Skyloft and the little islands around it--is a massive dungeon.
Nintendo cut out a lot of the fan favorites because they simply did not make sense in the game (or maybe they were too lazy to make them make sense). For instance, there's no Epona--which is a bummer, and there's no riding any creature except for a bird. Maybe that's a spoiler, but it's a spoiler best known before buying the game. This is just a small gripe, but it takes away the sense of "freedom" that Ocarina, Majora's Mask and Wind Waker had (yes, I'm deliberately leaving out Twilight Princess--I'll get to that in a moment). There's no Skull Kid; no wacky, optional side-quests (like making the Big Goron Sword or finding all the sweet masks in Majora's Mask); there's no magic meter, instead it's replaced by a stamina meter which allows link to do some acrobatics--a blend between assassins creed controls and the stamina in Skyrim. It is not bad, but I do miss the magic meter.
The bosses in this game, kind of like the parasite boss in Twilight Princess, feel organic and, at times, unexpected. It's because the whole world is a dungeon, so it's kind of hard to know when you'll face a boss. Well, I say that rather loosely, because once you get into the rhythm of the game, you'll know. But the bosses themselves, I have to say, are a mixed bag. Some of them are sweet, and one or two just don't fit in with the Zelda mythology at all--and that's awkward. And mini-bosses for the most part are just not really there.
The best change, which is different in Twilight Princess, is the interactions between characters. You don't just talk to them and have it not mean anything. There's actually things you can do to make them like you better. That's why I didn't like Twilight Princess as much . . . character interactions (and interesting characters) were non-existent; though, in Skyward Sword, they're vibrant and refreshing. Although, there just isn't enough to carry the game.
The controls, surprisingly, are the strongest aspect of the game (aside from flying and swiming, which WILL be a hassle). Most enemies require a certain strategy to kill them. Sometimes it's confusing understanding how to kill an enemy, but . . . that's where Fi comes in hand. You can save about $15 by not getting a Guide Book if you just listen to her (the artifical intelligence that helps you and resides in your sword). Basically if you are stuck, talk to her, and she usually gives the hint on a golden platter. She's a little more helpful than Navi. And she's more helpful (and less annoying) than Midna; although, you might be put off by Fi's . . . uh . . . dull personality, but don't blame her: she's an AI.
On the flipside, let's talk about HOW the game is played. I'd like to say that it's an RPG where you can do what you want when you want (and in ways you can) but you ultimately can't. It's straight forward. You can sidetrack a bit, but for what reason? Literally none. Except for some money, some heart pieces, some things to sell and use to forge weapons (like in Skyrim, but not as cool). It's an element that I find cool, but realized halfway through the game that I did not even need to reinforce any weapons. But, unlike in Twilight Princess, you actually need to buy things once in a while. That's very smart. It's something that Nintendo actually listened to fans about, because if you have ruppees, shouldn't there be stuff to use 'em for? Bravo Skyward Sword. But, like I said, the game is never so challenging that you MUST do forging/reinforcing. It's not like in Resident Evil 4 where it helps a lot and is fun to see the updated version of the items.
But, here's the thing. Yes it's practically an on-rails game (maybe even more than Twilight Princess), but the pacing is magnificent and the story is a redeeming quality. I'm one of the Zelda fan's that did not like TP; I thought it was stale, and they changed too many things about the franchise. I didn't like becoming a wolf; it wasn't fun: it was a task. I didn't like the stupid Zora quest, or, matter of a fact, any of the quests in TP--except when I learned Ganondorf was behind everything. But, even though the origin story is good in some parts, it's frustrating in others. Particularly the Ganondorf origins: there's one of two origins they hint at. One being with the final boss, Demise; the other possible origin hinted **(and I don't think this is a spoiler, it's speculation--but it was implied several times)** being that Groose (Link's childhood bully, and a guy who's in love with Zelda but can't have her) actually becomes Ganondorf over time, or at least he's an ancestor: you may have a different opinion. But, it's just too subjective. Yeah, I like the fact that it's like a surreal painting and you have to choose for yourself, but at the same time, I'd like to know for certainty. I won't say too much more for the sake of spoilers.
I really did like the concept that no human's lived on the earth. It sort of took the Adam and Eve story in a sense, mixed in with Zelda mythology.
Where Twilight Princess was trying to be MORE than a Zelda game, Skyward Sword is JUST trying to be a Nintendo game. In fact, it is similar to Super Mario Galaxy. You'll see what I mean. A lot of the characters were too Nintendo-esque , and didn't fit in with Zelda-mythology. Such as the three dragons and then the inhabitants of the desert area (I won't say what they are, because that's a spoiler--and no they're not pikmin, I wish they were). It's a very mixed bag of characters. Some are interesting, some just don't fit.
And then there's the copy and paste enemies over and over and over (not enough variety)--it gets old when you draw near the end of the game.
I compare this game to Resident Evil 5. It has SOME redeeming qualities, but not enough to make it a perfect game. And similar to RE5, they both have changed a successful formula which resulted in mixed reactions. I don't care so much about the formula of the series, per se, but Skyward Sword just wasn't a Zelda game--it was, however, an excellent "Nintendo" game. And in some ways its better than Twilight Princess.
But, it is like an abstract painting. Each person will see something different. I see potential and the failure to exceed it; I see innovative controls with some flaws; I see a condensed world with very little to offer by ones own wandering; the lands are lonely, kind of like Riven or Mist, but not effectively lonely. For me, there are SOME things I can't get past. And I can't describe them because they're spoilers.
You might think what's so wrong with a 4/5 . . . and the answer is, for a Zelda game, a 4/5 is not good. A 5/5 is not good. 6/5 is more like it. And Skyward is not a 6/5. Nintendo has been in some sort of creative slump in the Zelda franchise following Wind Waker. I recommend this game for a Wii user, because this and Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bro's Brawl is really all Nintendo has. But, is Skwyard Sword a reason to buy the system (like Twilight Princess was)? No. Not quite. It's good. But not quite good enough. And I think it lacked a little bit of horror, a little bit of magic, a little bit of WEIRD--and settled for colorful, fun and NINTENO-ESQUE.
on June 8, 2014
First of all, I love this game so much I'm probably going to remember new things about it and add to my review frequently.
Zelda games just seem to get better and better. This game is no exception. There are so many wonderful things about this game, I don't know where to start. How about I start with the gameplay?
The motionplus sword action is amazing. Total interactivity, with everything from sword-activated switches, to raising your sword for a Skyward Strike, to everyone's favorite: slicing up monsters. And non-sword motion: flying your Loftwing (a giant red bird that rivals Epona!), rickety mine carts (classic gaming attribute!), tightrope walking (amazing way to spice up a dungeon!), etc. The motion is easy to understand for newbies who don't have to remember where buttons are, but a player definitely gets better with practice (and video game experience); gamers won't be disappointed with the number of different monsters to kill and different ways to kill monsters. (Buttons just aren't the same when you really want to take your anger out on Bokoblins and Chuchus.) Items are set to B. You can equip only one at a time, but don't worry, that's not as hard as it sounds. (I will dedicate a sentence to the fact that the game does NOT pause while you equip different items, gear, potions, etc., which I find wonderfully realistic. Monsters aren't going to wait while you contemplate how to stun them.) The gaming interface can be changed, from a transparent Wii Remote and Nunchuck on the screen showing how to do stuff, to nothing obstructing your view unless Fi is calling you (more on Fi later). Gamers will quickly learn and change the interface to 'Pro', like I did, but it's nice they put the option in the game.
Treasure, a classic Zelda aspect. Skyward Sword has perfected it. Collect treasure all around and you can then use them in the Bazaar at home to upgrade your stuff (yes, you still have to pay Rupees). There are many, many different kinds of treasure to collect, some you have to kill monsters to get, some you only find in rare treasure chests, to get feathers you can swing your Bug Net over a bird...
Which brings us to bugs, a less classic Zelda aspect but nonetheless very nice. It's simple: Get a bug net, catch bugs by swinging the net. You can use bugs to make bought potions stronger (see Bertie in the Bazaar), and in a later stage of the game you can sell bugs for Rupees. Again, many different kinds, useful in different ways.
Rupees (money): If you've ever played a game like Twilight Princess or Ocarina of Time, you will know these feelings:
1. Dang! Picked up a purple rupee but my wallet's at my max! What a waste!
2. There's nothing to spend my money on... I don't need anything.
Say goodbye to that. Not only is it possible to be able to hold more Rupees than you'll ever need, there's so much to buy, and it's so helpful! Shields, upgrades, medals, upgrades, potion, upgrades, gear, upgrades.... I can't stress upgrades enough. They're awesome. (By the time I finished the whole game for the second time in Hero Mode I had upgraded everything to my max). The point is the money/shopping system has never been better.
As for sidequests there is an excellent system: things called Gratitude Crystals. Nearly every person in Skyloft (your hometown floating in the sky) can give you these if you help them out, along with the occasional handful of Rupees. ;) No spoilers, but Gratitude Crystals are helpful for another reason.
Monsters: I cannot stress the importance of how glorious enemies, especially bosses, are to fight. (Once again, no spoilers, but there is a certain enemy who appears three times. He’s super creepy, even for a Zelda game, and beating him is so satisfying. He also taunts you, which makes him even more fun to fight.)
There is a certain intelligence about the monsters in this game. They are programmed to fight like they ARE intelligent, so they're different every time and there is skill to fighting them, not just a trick with an item. The final boss (Not Ganon!) can only be beat using the Master Sword, which is perfect because it requires skill, like a real boss should. He times his attacks perfectly, and I’ll use that word again, INTELLIGENTLY. He sometimes waits for you to let your shield down and then attacks. All the bosses are amazing, totally themed to their area (giant octopus for the Sandship dungeon, etc.), and just plain fun. Many enemies are familiar to Zelda fans; Bokoblins, Chuchus, Keese, and many more make an appearance. Many are new. The places to fight are creative and original: on the deck of a ship, on the plank fighting a pirate skeleton dude (Peter Pan reference, anyone?), and there’s even a boss fought partly while riding your Loftwing!
Now for a VERY important part: dungeons. Again, no spoilers, but in my opinion, the only dungeons better than Skyward Sword’s are Wind Waker’s (see my review of Wind Waker HD). Skyward Sword dungeons are clever, unique, and there is no shortage of the immense satisfaction you get from solving puzzles. The land consists of Skyloft, Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano, and Lanayru Desert. Each area is gigantic. You’ll have a job just getting around to explore. Each area also has characteristics: for example, Lanayru dungeons have things called Timeshift Stones, which if struck turn the surrounding area’s time BACKWARD. In Lanayru’s past there is a civilization of robots and technological advance, which I think is the perfect way to bring futuristic aspects into a Zelda game.
Items are wonderful. There’s classics: the Bow, the Slingshot, Bombs, the Clawshots, the Bug Net, and new ones: the Beetle, the Whip, and the Gust Bellows. Here’s a description of each. Skip this if you want your treasure chests to be surprises.
Bow: Beautiful. Point at the screen and shoot. Simple. Hold A for more power. Rating: A
Slingshot: Good. Sort of pointless once you have the bow, but pretty cool. Rating: B
Bombs: Motion has perfected these. You can throw them, by making a throwing motion, and (drum roll) roll them by making a rolling motion. Amazing use, classic Zelda item. Rating: A
Clawshots: Great! Much like Twilight Princess: shoot a target, zoom to the target. Lots of fun. Rating: A
Bug Net: A net. Simple. You swing it while targeting bugs. Rating: B
Beetle: Incredible. Imagine a remote-control bug. You fly it around by tilting the Wii Remote to cut strings, bang switches, and just have a peek around to plan your next move. Best Zelda item ever. I find myself wishing for one in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. Rating: A+
Whip: Much like the Grappling Hook from Wind Waker. You can pull whip-activated switches, and you can whip and swing off of some branches and rods. Fun! Rating: A-
Gust Bellows: It blows wind. Works on some fan switches and blowing away sand. Original and fun to mess around with! Rating: A-
Done with the item spoilers. Now, I promised to explain who Fi is.
Fi is the spirit in the Master Sword. She’s essentially your companion. When she wants to talk to you your sword will flash and this little sound effect will play. She is the most helpful thing ever. Many gamers hate her, but really. She’s helpful. Seriously. Target an enemy and press the button, she’ll not only tell you the name of the enemy, but also ideas of how to beat it and how strong you’ve been against the same enemy in the past. She speaks in a strange, bubbly sort of language (but obviously the words are written in English). You can also ask her for information whenever you want, and she’ll tell you what you want to know. At first she seems very emotionless and robotic, but later on, she will show signs of having actual feelings. Oh, writing this review without spoilers is driving me crazy! Just trust me and play the game!
Now for some things that we all know are as important in a Zelda game as gameplay: story, characters, and emotion. This review will NOT have any major spoilers.
This game has more emotion than any game I have ever played. Link’s facial expressions help with this incredibly. Characters are more realistic than ever, and yet still keep that little bright-colored touch that just says ‘Zelda’. It’s beautiful, and you end up thinking like Link and developing love for all the characters. The end brings tears to my eyes. The beginning is a beautiful introduction to Skyloft, and throughout the game you meet new characters who will steal your heart. (Kikwis are a personal favorite of mine!) It’s amazing how Nintendo brings you into the game as a teenage boy trying to save his best friend Zelda, an ordinary person thrust into a world of danger. It’s enough to make you cry. It is even hinted at, for those who want to believe it, that Link and Zelda have feelings for each other. Man, I SO want to give spoilers….
Buy this game and you’ll see. It is, in short, a wonderful, beautiful game, and I didn’t cover half of the wonderful, beautiful things in it. If you want my humble opinion, it is the best Legend of Zelda game, and indeed, the best video game, ever made. A true work of art. And now to tell you to buy this game: Buy this game.
Seriously. Like right now. Click buy. Have fun.
P.S.: The music CD that came with it has some truly amazing music in it, classics that every Zelda fan will recognize. I could listen to it all day long, and choose it over popular music, which maybe is more of a sign that I’m a total nerd than that the music is wonderful, but hey. It’s wonderful.
P.P.S.: As for the game's rating, it's accurate. Enough said. I would let a ten-year-old play this, and maybe an eight-or-nine year old if I thought they could handle it.
May the winds be at your back.
on December 15, 2011
**Disclaimer: For some Zelda fans patrolling Amazon reviews in order to defend the franchise's name from negative experiences from other players, this review may be another outlet for your negative feedback**
I have played all the major console releases of Zelda, starting with Ocarina of Time. Words cannot fully encapsulate the range of emotion or the imaginative zeal that resulted from playing through Ocarina, and it definitely started a love for the Legend of Zelda games to follow. From Majora's Mask to Wind Waker to Twilight Princess, we finally arrive to Skyward Sword, the 25th Anniversary of the franchise. How does it stack up to its predecessors? Personally, I feel there are strengths and weaknesses in what I think makes a Legend of Zelda game, and these feelings are based directly on my past history and experiences with the previous titles.
- Controls. Personally, I don't think that WiiMotion+ has ever been better. Smaller titles like WiiSports Resort showcased the ability of Motion+ on a smaller scale-- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Wii Motion+ fully grafted into the controls of the game to rather accurately manipulate items (primarily, Link's sword) on your quest. As opposed to Twilight Princess' Wii Remote integration into the game, Skyward Sword makes the user feel dramatically more in control.
- Story. Every Legend of Zelda game seems to bring something new to the world in terms of background for the hero, the princess, and the evil which pits itself against them: Ocarina revolved around age; Majora's Mask revolved around time; Wind Waker revolved around water; Twilight Princess revolved around realm; and Skyward Sword appropriately revolves around a land in the sky. The makers of Zelda did not disappoint when it came to an innovative and novel story-- while Legend of Zelda elements exist, the backdrop surrounding them are fresh enough to revitalize approaches to solving puzzles and to interact with the world on a general level.
- Characters. Besides the key characters associated with every Zelda story, Skyward Sword provides certain individuals who are dynamic and progress as the story develops. Even more appreciating than their ability to change, these characters are a large part dependent on your interaction with them in order for their own growth, making you feel like a real agent of change with the sidequests you undergo for them. This feeling of "belonging" with the NPCs of the game models the experience of the characters in Wind Waker, and a departure from the lesser relationships in Twilight Princess. A part of this feeling stems from limited options of responding positively or negatively (and not just "yes" or "no") in certain dialogued conversations.
- Land. As with story, the land is creative and new. The regions that you explore resemble the traditional types of areas found in all Zelda games, and yet the names and faces of what you think you ought to meet are different enough to further instigate the feeling of newness and discovery. Also as with other Zelda games, the different regions of Skyward Sword are not fully accessible at the beginning without later equipment, depending on your own search for rare items apart from the storyline-- it's a sense of adventure.
- Equipment. The past three major console installments of The Legend of Zelda incorporated innovative weapons and items (alongside traditional ones) into their gameplay, and skyward sword is no exception. These added weapons are well utilized throughout the game, whether it be for dungeon bosses and puzzles, traveling to new areas, or fighting the various grunt monsters. Furthermore, the addition of the WiiMotion+ promotes both integration and ease for these novel items, and that includes the elimination of the item-select pause screen in order to select your item in real-time, on the fly. That addition alone is a major benefit and separates this Zelda title from its previous siblings.
- Replay Value. You can repeat the game after you have beaten it in Hero's Mode with enemies that deal twice amount of damage and do not drop hearts (additionally, the grass found in dungeons also do not drop hearts), challenging your skill and use of potions to survive. Your progress resets, allowing you to re-experience the game from the beginning (however, treasures you found in the previous saved game file do transfer).
And now my complaints. Although there are no plot spoilers, other elements of the game may be necessarily discussed.
- Controls. Having been the product of the previous game's button-mashing and combo-utilizing of traditional controllers, I was and still am a cautious gamer with the Wii's interactive controls. Like I stated on the positive side, WiiMotion+ has never been better; it's true: I swing horizontally and so does my sword, I swing vertically and so does my sword, and so on. HOWEVER, a problem arises considering the pace of the game and this control scheme. For solving puzzles where time is no issue or wandering through the various environments, the small flaws of Motion+ are really no issue. Yet, when you are in a more intense situation fighting an enemy and are supposed to swing a certain way, I find that it is really hard to be consciously aware of how your nunchuck is placed, or even if your directional swing with the Wii remote is correctly balanced; too often has my thrusting motion with the remote been misinterpreted as a circular swing because my nunchuck wasn't positioned in a certain way-- it is in these fast-paced fighting situations like these where skirmishes are unnecessarily prolonged because you are not hitting the enemy the proper way/direction. Slowly attacking your target while trying to make sure the controls are in the right places takes away a considerable amount of the feeling of a real battle situation.
- Story. Perhaps I had higher expectations since this is indeed the 25th anniversary of the franchise, but I only found the storyline decent at best. Similar to Twilight Princess, the buildup surrounding the antagonist was just not as personal or emotionally-stirring as it was with Ocarina of Time (for reasons you will understand when you play the game). The result of such (which I would argue as a critical component) only gives the sense of getting the job done or completing a task rather than abolishing an evil you can really relate to. Although it has been stated that this game precedes Ocarina of Time, I don't find that fact enough excuse to neglect the relationship between the small hope of good versus the imminent dominance of evil.
- Characters. My problem with the relationship between good and evil has already been stated above. [Non-plot spoiler] Being the traditional Zelda gamer and fan, I took real issue to the eradication of the Goron and Zora species. True, there are about three Gorons in the game, but as a species, both the Gorons and Zoras were strangely absent (unless you want to count the Floria Lake fish as Zoras). This can again be explained by the fact that this game precedes Ocarina of Time, or is in a different land area, however this game goes against its constituents (you could also put Wind Waker in the same camp, as interaction between Gorons and Zoras were also severely limited) by not having either staple species play a prominent role in the game. I have no problem with the species they introduced in this game, and I know this will be a small quibbling point to some-- but Gorons and Zoras have been a recurring part of the Legend as Link himself. The dungeon bosses also need to be mentioned. I have never been less intimidated by the bosses of the Legend of Zelda than I have in this game. They just do not look the part of hideousness or scare that has been reproduced with every Zelda game. I found myself fighting a large purple Tellytubby with Jamaican dreads for one of the bosses-- the bosses failed to do their part to add to blood-rush or intensity and looked like a misguided band of creatures on Sesame Street.
- Land. Contrary to games like Twilight Princess or Wind Waker, the land of Skyward Sword felt restricted. That's not to neglect all the extended areas made possible by certain parts of the game/equipment; however, as was made known before its release, the non-dungeon areas of skyward sword were largely created to blur the field-dungeon distinction and make even the field-areas more like dungeons. As a result of this, the large-world feel of adventure that one received through Twilight Princess is limited to more puzzle-based interaction with Skyward Sword. This dried the wonder aspect given through "adventure-awe" and hyped up more critical thinking in these areas of exploration.
- Equipment. The only real weakness to the equipment in this game pertains to shields. Unlike the other major console games, shields are breakable (and I'm not talking about a burnable deku shield). After so many hits the shield begins to break, indicated by a status bar on the screen. This poses quite the problem considering that shields can be upgraded through finding various treasures; if your shield breaks, that's it. You have to go and buy the initial shield you upgraded from and redo all of your upgrading. It can be a real hassle.
- Replay Value. This is more of a personal point but for every Zelda game, I look for replay value similar to Wind Waker in which you keep certain items, have a modified look, and are able to accomplish additional content upon your first beat of the game; it adds to interaction and the feel of the game. I have not played through all of Hero's mode yet, but I do not think it will amount to the replay scope of Wind Waker.
If you have read all the above wordage, then maybe you have deduced the underlying problem I had with this game: psychology. All other Zelda games I have played had intensity and scariness from bosses, a feeling of hopelessness against a larger evil, wonder and amazement at new-land discovery, as well as other meaningful emotional ties with NPCs. If Skyward Sword did these things, they were either severely under-played out or were just for the wrong reasons. It is because of the psychological distance this Zelda game has from the others that I would go so far as to say that it didn't really feel like a Legend of Zelda game-- and certainly not one of 25th anniversary caliber.
Would I recommend you buy this game? Yes. For the experience. Because underneath all of these flaws, it is still a Legend of Zelda game and worth at least your initial investment. But do not expect this game to be all of what you have come to know the franchise to be, for the reasons already stated. While the creators focused on championing WiiMotion+ for the Zelda experience, they neglected needed attention on the key aspects that makes a Legend of Zelda game a Legend of Zelda game. If Nintendo continues along this same vein with Zelda in the years to come, perhaps we won't make it to another 25th anniversary down the road.
on January 23, 2012
I actually didn't order this game from Amazon, but I got it free with a deal going on at my local Target! As a long-time Zelda junkie, I couldn't pass it up. I bought the Wii for myself and family for Christmas and I have been hooked to this game since. The graphics are beautiful, and the storyline is awesome. I actually found myself more into this game, than any of the previous ones. It is a very long game, with lot's of going back and forth but everything adds up in due time. All in all, I LOVE this game. It's probably the best game I've played in years.
If you consider yourself an avid Zelda junkie as well, or you just want to give it a go, you simply cannot pass this incredible game up.
on August 5, 2012
There have been some encyclopedia-length reviews on this site, which cover this game in great detail, and those make a lot of good points, which I will not rehash.
For me, the main question is this...is this game fun? And right now I would have to answer that mostly it is not. It is one of the most tedious games I've ever played. After who knows how many hours of playing this game, I have now been tasked with swimming around a flooded forest to collect a bunch of multicolored music notes. Who decided this would be fun? Swordplay is fun. Shooting things with arrows and blowing things up with bombs is fun. Solving puzzles is fun. Running around a fake forest looking for fake stupid musical notes, which I'm sure are quite well hidden in many cases...is not fun. It is tedious. I just want to skip this part. I'm determined to finish this game, but it's almost enough to make me not only quit this game, but to quit video games altogether. It's the sort of thing that makes me ask...what the exactly am I doing with my time? What am I gaining from this experience? What's going on in the world? What are my friends up to? I wonder if it's nice outside. Maybe I should call my parents. Maybe I should put on some pants.
There is A LOT of collecting in this game. There were previously three pretty annoying Silent Realm trials, which, again, involved running around collecting a bunch of light bulbs. These trials were annoying, but at least there was some sense of urgency, because if it took you more than 90 seconds between light bulbs, these giant grim reaper things start chasing you, and so you end up running around in a constant state of panic, just crashing into things and screaming like a lost child. Because if one of those reapers gets you, you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN. There's no urgency with these stupid musical notes, though. They're out there, just sitting around, waiting for me to come get them. And the only thing this quest is testing is my patience. And I'm guessing I'll have to do this twice more, because everything in this game comes in threes.
So, in summary, this game is a chore. It is ridiculously long, but not because they packed it wall to wall with excitement. It's more like a really long music album with 2 hit songs and 17 terrible songs in between. It's 80% filler. Here's hoping when they make the next Zelda game they try to make it, you know...fun. Even if it's much shorter.
on March 10, 2012
Okay first thing I want to say is that I never write reviews for anything. So the fact that I took the time to write this one shows just how great this game is to me. Another thing I want to say is that the people who wrote the one star reviews are out of their minds and have no idea what they are talking about.
This game does take a detour from the original Zelda format in that the villain is not Ganon, Zelda is not a princess, you have a large red bird instead of a horse, and you start with eight hearts instead of 3. Now that being said that does not ruin the game it makes it rather unique and some things stay the same such as you have a sword, you still must navigate puzzle and enemy filled dungeons, and you must face off to amazing bosses such as the six armed automaton that you defeat with its own sword.
The controls are fluid although they need to be re-calibrated every now and again. Sometimes they do seem a little awkward at times like when you have to swim around to get the musical notes, but that's a minor complaint.
The graphics are some of the best ones I have seen on a Nintendo console, beautiful.
The antagonist of this game, Girahim, is almost the opposite of Ganon. Where as Ganon is Large, powerful, and evil, Girahim is small, sleek, powerful, crazy(Even Ganon wouldn't try to grab your sword with his bare hand like Girahim does), sadistic, and most of all very creepy(He literally will lick his sword in the middle of battle and laugh, and he just looks creepy)
The final boss battle is the most epic ending to a Zelda game I've ever seen. I won't say any more than that so as not to ruin the surprise.
- Fluid controls
- Amazing graphics
- Creepy Villain
- Lush colorful environments
- Epic endings
- Sometimes awkward controls
Overall I can describe this game with 3 words: A must buy