5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
To steal a phrase from a certain video game, better than I'd feared, worse than I'd hoped,
This review is from: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with Music CD (Video Game)
So I recently finished Zelda: Skyward Sword. I originally got it for Christmas but didn't really pick it up until recently, what with the Mass Effect 3 face glitch (simply will not play until I can play as my Shepard!) All in all, it's a good game. It's even a good Zelda game. But still far from perfect.
Graphics - I'm not going to get in depth with graphics because as we all know, the Wii uses last gen hardware, and so graphics aren't going to be all that great. They're pretty comparable to Twilight Princess despite the game being 5 years newer than its predecessor. That's all that needs to be said on that. It gets an 8 (average) because it's average in terms of what we expect from a Wii title.
Sound - Sound is very good. I enjoyed most of the music the game had to offer. I didn't think the song playing between the water dragon's cave and the entrance to the second forest temple fit too well in a Zelda game, but hardly brings it down all that much. The song for the end credits was a good homage to the original entries in the Zelda series. For some reason Nintendo still has sounds it delegates to that monotone speaker in the Wiimote controller, though.
Controls - And speaking of controls, this is where the game takes a big black eye. I was hoping that after Twilight Princess, Nintendo would've seen fit to focus less on motion controls. Instead, they made an even heavier emphasis on said motion control. The motion control scheme sounds good on paper - swing your Wiimote to swing your sword, aim your Wiimote at the screen to aim your bow, etc. - but it doesn't prove so good in execution. It proves to be cumbersome, unwieldy, imprecise and in some cases, maddening. At least in TP, you had a fairly small set of moves, each distinguishable from each other. In this game, just with the sword alone, you have horizontal strikes, vertical strikes and diagonal strikes, two of each, in fact, and many enemies where only one set will work, the others fail, and the controller is so hairline sensitive that it's far too easy to do a vertical slash when I needed a diagonal, or a horizontal slash turns into a ham fisted shaking of my sword, or a forward jab results in the enemy laughing at Link's inability to produce the same result. If I'm fighting a boss, I want to do that - fight the boss. I don't want to be fighting both the boss and my controller because it thinks I want to do something completely ineffective. This is especially true when having to manage that awful whip weapon, especially seeing as how both it and the sword rely on the same controls, so using the one when you need the other is far too easy, especially when fighting the boss found in the dungeon where you get the whip. The boss himself isn't hard - it's the fact that you have to fumble around with the controls almost as much as you do fight it. But the most damning of all is the tilt controls. The tilt functions (yes, plural) are found everywhere in the game. You need tilt to free fall, you need tilt to swim, you need tilt to control your free-flight Beetle, you need tilt when flying on your mount (and the tutorial for flying the mount is misleading - tilting up on your Wiimote does not - I repeat - DOES NOT cause your mount to fly up. You need to "flap" the controller to do that, yet this is never mentioned in the tutorial,) so suffice it to say, you're going to be tilting a lot. There's a reason why Sony's Sixaxis was a colossal failure. It's a simple enough question - why use tilt when you have the thumbstick - a much easier, more reliable, more easily reproducable, more fine tuned control system than tilt could ever be? Somebody might respond that Nintendo wanted to take full advantage of the WiiMotion Plus. It's understandable if they want to showcase its capability, but not to the point where that's the one and only consideration at ANY AND ALL COST. That desire has to be tempered and balanced with a consideration towards how well the game will play - if the controls are cumbersome, it's time to make some changes. I've yet to read an unbiased review for this game anywhere that didn't have at least one mention of the control scheme giving issues. Having no option to change the sensitivity hurt this score as well.
Gameplay and Presentation - As controls directly affect gameplay, it is impossible to give a perfect score in this category. But despite that, the game is still fun. Nintendo promised that they were moving away from the Zelda games of old, and... to some extent they succeed. Many of the conventions we expect to see in Zelda games are still intact, but they did throw us a few new curve balls. The second trip to the desert was probably my favorite dungeon, despite having to find an invisible and actively moving target, and what sold me on it was what happened immediately before the actual boss fight begins, as it's not something that a Zelda game's done before. (At least, that I'm aware of.) A common enough convention in other games, sure, but I wasn't expecting what they did with that particular dungeon so I will give them kudos. A certain other boss you have to stop from reaching its destination was another good twist.
On a sidenote with the gameplay, I almost wish I could give Link the t-shirt that says "Let me just drop everything and work on YOUR PROBLEM", as the townsfolk, like always, are needing his help with everything. It's probably a good thing that we can't interject our own personality into the main character, because I'd probably tell them, "Okay, I'm in the middle of trying to find my childhood friend, someone dear to me, who's gone missing and whose life is in serious danger. I'm also trying to stop an evil entity from breaking out of its prison and destroying the entire planet. There's also a magic-wielding sociopath who wants find my childhood friend for his own nefarious schemes and kill me in the process. But SURE, I'll be glad to dust your house/find your (Fill in prized possession here)/go fetch something you could easily get yourself for you, since you don't want to do it! Not like I've got anything important going on, right?"
I do feel the need to bring this up as well the dialogue feels like it's straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. A lot of us have been playing Zelda games since the first one when we were kids, and so I do not know why there's yet to be a Zelda game with dialogue that is on the level. This is especially evident with the first dialogue with Link, Zelda and her father. And I'm not saying there should be the kind of dialogue we have in Dragon Age, Skyrim or Game of Thrones, but is it so much to ask to have a script that isn't cheesier than the state of Wisconsin? Ghirahim is far too much of a clown to be taken seriously. If Nintendo was trying to make a nuanced, sinister, disturbing villain out of him, then they failed at it miserably.
I do like Fi, however.... well, okay, SOMETIMES I like Fi - her emotionally neutral, overly analytical, almost computer-like speech is humorous, especially with how oblivious she remains to just how she sounds. Now if she'd just stop reminding me that my batteries or health are low.... or if she'd stop saying something that's either blatantly obvious, or give away the solution to the puzzle 30 seconds after I've encountered it.... she could at times be more annoying than Navi, and that's saying something.
Nintendo did get both the intro and ending right. Considering those are the two most important elements of the story (especially the later) I will give them credit where credit is due.
And I really hope Skyward Sword is the first and last Zelda game where our mount is a flying bird. This is Zelda, not StarFox.
Upgrading makes its debut, and it's a good addition. Get some supplies from the enemies, upgrade your shield or other item(s.) I do not know why the Slingshot is still a weapon in this series, however. It was obsolete the moment the Beetle was found (longer range and no ammo to collect) and twice obsolete when the bow is collected (why use a sling when you have a bow and arrow?) I didn't bother investing into it, as I had more important things to put my materials into than seed satchels. Arrow quivers, on the other hand, received the full upgrading experience. One related gripe regarding the process - whenever a bug or upgrade treasure is found for the first time in each and every playthrough, the game deems it necessary to pause the game, just stop it dead, and repost the information we've seen thousands of times before before letting us continue. Even if you collect a given bug, go save your game, quit, enter back in five minutes later and collect another of that same bug type, the game will once again pause the game and give its full description of what that bug is. And it does that with each and every type of bug, and each and every type of upgrade treasure you find. I think I've got a good handle on what items do what when the last dungeon in the game is looming on the horizon.
And why, oh why are we limited to selling only 4 types of treasure or bugs at a time? Randomly selected, at that?
Also, why are we over a decade past the turn of the 21st century and there's STILL no voice acting in a Zelda game? Before any ultra-hardcore Zelda purists (read: Raving psychopaths) start breaking their keyboards pounding away their righteous fury at how voice acting would somehow break the "holy sanctity" of the game, or start talking about how that'd turn Zelda into another mass-marketed series that only wants to turn a buck, let me stop you right there. First of all, every video game, regardless of when it was made or the genre it was built for, is a mass-marketed game, intended for a business to make a profit. Second of all, again, note the year we're in. It's time for voice acting, already. Should it be good? Absolutely. But for the last time, start giving voices to the characters. Reading text is boring. Boring is bad. And considering the sheer amount of written dialogue... the sheer amount of BAD dialogue.......
One last thing on the subject - I'm not sure why Nintendo would think we'd need tutorials if we're playing on Hard Mode, given that we have to go through the entire game once to access said mode. I wanted to say "I think I've got a good handle on this, thanks!" more times than I would care to admit.
And that stamina bar? That has to go.
Replayability - There's a Hard Mode after the game's completed once, but like every other Zelda game, Skyward Sword is completely linear in fashion - no branching story lines, no moral choices with long-term consequences that dynamically change the story, nothing like that. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, as it shows evidence that Nintendo has listened to its fans decrying the easy difficulty of its previous Zelda games.
All in all a good experience. I'm not going to say if it's better or worse than Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess, because nostalgia can cloud an otherwise objective point of view. So, it's a good game in and of itself. Hopefully when the next Nintendo console comes out, they'll have given something more responsive and dependable than the motion controls we have to put up with now. While control and general presentation issues do prevent the game from being perfect, or even as close to perfect as games are capable of becoming, it's a solid entry in the Zelda series and one of the best games the Wii has to offer.
Overall: 8/10 (NOT an average of the other scores.)
Replay Value: 5/10
Overall score: 8/10