Hey, Listen!- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Remember that game you were addicted to in the late ‘90s? You know the one with the blond haired kid with the sword and the shield? All your friends called him Zelda and you were like, “His name is Link, dammit!” Well, he has returned after Twilight Princess and five long years for a new adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo’s new masterpiece starts you off in the sky, but as the story progresses to the ground, the gameplay takes off to new heights!
You again resume the role of the Hylian hero and are sent once more to rescue Zelda from certain doom. Skyward Sword utilizes the Wii Motion Plus to incorporate you into the game. When you move your arm, Link moves his arm. This addition kept me entertained – especially once I acquired my sword. I ran around town, pointing my sword at the townsfolk and making meaningless threats towards them, then running away, laughing maniacally. Yet with every gift typically comes a curse. The Motion Plus controls are fantastic… if you are standing. I tried to play while seated, but the sword motions just didn’t want to cooperate. Standing greatly improved the gameplay, creating a more immersive experience. After all, Nintendo originally designed the Wii to be an active system, and it seems that they are trying to remind us of this.
You control Link’s movements with the control stick which players may find to be a little wonky at times. His movements are not all that smooth, which sometimes for example, results in him making very sharp turns despite what you may have intended. Also, you’ll find yourself trying to jump a gap two or three times before you finally make it across. Skyward Sword also has the new addition of vines in places that you need to swing across. Jumping onto these can be troublesome because you need to run off the cliff to jump, and with jerky movements this can turn into a headache. However, the introduction of vines also clearly highlights the newest Zelda innovation – the stamina meter – which you use when you run.
What players will undoubtedly love about this game is the fact that Link can actually run now (motor skills were not fully developed in Ocarina of Time). What you may dislike, however, is that Link can only run for about seven seconds before he becomes tired. A lot of running is required and there are fruits that you can collect to fully replenish your stamina gauge, but it seems like they are never there when you need them. Most of the boss battles involve some running, so you have to make sure to save your fruits when you do come across them. This element of strategizing, however, made the game more challenging, which the Legend of Zelda is known for. They make it just hard enough to keep you playing even if you die five or six times. Running is a fantastic new addition, but during your first play through, I’m sure many of you will be tempted to spend a good amount of time walking around and leisurely taking in the gorgeous scenery.
The artwork in this game is stunning. If I had three hands I would give their art team three thumbs up. I played the game on a 1080p TV, and even though, as we all know, the Wii is not HDMI compatible, it still looked amazing in standard definition. The watercolor style backgrounds blend very well with the coloring of objects or enemies in close proximity to (or fighting with) your character. If you took a little of the art style from Ocarina of Time, mixed it with a little bit of Wind Waker, and threw in a little flair of individuality, you’d have the visual grace of Skyward Sword. The color makes the game seem more alive than its predecessor Twilight Princess, which was gloomy and dark. The art seems to stand in a class of its own this time; it proves that you don’t need the world’s greatest graphics processor to make a great looking game.
Music is another thing that makes Zelda quite outstanding. If you have been playing the series for a while, you can probably name every song you hear and know exactly where it is played in the Zelda universe. Whether you’re a veteran or new to this franchise, you will have these catchy tunes stuck in your head for days. The songs are simple, some are even just ambient noises, but they are very effective for the environment they are placed in. As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the franchise, each copy of the game also comes with a CD of the orchestra music played in Zelda. This is an awesome addition for hardcore fans of the series, as it’s the first time that Nintendo has released a CD since 1998.
This installation also introduces a few other new elements into the Zelda universe. You can collect bugs that you see running (or flying) around each of the lands and use them to enhance potions you buy from the bazaar. Similarly, you can collect relics, plants, or other curiosities from downed foes or from the environment to enhance your gear. The ability to fortify shields has been added because they now have a damage meter. If your shield meter drops all the way, the shield breaks, requiring you to buy a new one. Most of your items can be upgraded twice in order to give them better statistics or unlock new abilities. This new system works wonders and is very simple to use; I had no problem finding the objects I needed in order to upgrade my equipment (and the upgrades really did help).
A dowsing system is another helpful addition to the game. By holding the “C” button on the nunchuck you can search the area for the direction in which you should be headed to locate Zelda. You can also unlock other things to dowse for, such as people (who’ll give you clues to Zelda’s whereabouts) or key items that will help you through the given area. This is particularly useful if you find yourself in a situation in which you feel lost.
The story leads you from temple to temple and keeps you engaged throughout the game. The music and scenery is infectious, making Skyward Sword so immersive that it’s hard to break away from and leaves you coming back for more. The innovations that were developed take the series to all new heights; you may even say that the franchise is moving “skyward”. As always, Nintendo has outdone itself and released a blockbuster hit that was definitely worth the wait. With the amount of content that has been crammed into this game, you will spend hours trying to find out every little secret and complete all of the side quests. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a must-buy for every gamer and I can’t wait for another adventure with Link and the crew.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword gets a 4.5/5.0
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