It has taken Nintendo 5 years since the release of the Wii to prove that motion controls were not just a gimmick. The legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is the product of Nintendo vision of motion controller. It is the game we all envisioned we would playing throughout the Wii’s life. It is rather unfortunate that the Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword arrived so late in the Wii’s lifetime. Nevertheless it was well worth the wait. Skyward Sword is the best motion control game ever made and one of the best titles this generation.
Skyword Sword doesn’t venture away from the Zelda Cliché’s. Princess Zelda has been kidnapped again so Link embarks into an adventure to save her. The plot evolves in a predictable manner. The twist and turns, drama or any form of strong character development are missing. What we get is a simple fantasy that is trademark of the Zelda series.
What really livens up the story is the quirky character of the Skyward Sword. One thing that was dearly missed in Twilight princess was the Zelda charm, the charm that was typically brought out by the inhabitants of Hyrule. The characters in Skyward Sword are all lovable and memorable.
Skyward Swords antagonist, Ghirahim, is a particular devious character. At first glance Ghirahim is an eloquent and calm. But beneath all this, lies a sadistic and a psychopathic villain, an antangonist that has never been seen in a Zelda game. Ghirahim is a superb villain, much better than the bland Ganondorf. Groose, an overconfident and arrogant character with the heart of gold is by far my favourite character in the game. He is a character which at first you will hate, but by the time you reach the end of the game, you can’t get enough of him. The other inhabitants of Skyloft have their own individuality and stories to discover.
Much has been said about Skyward Swords visuals. Personally, I think the art style suits the Zelda universe, at least much more than the realism of Twilight Princess. Skyward Sword draws inspiration from the Impressionists artists. Like Monet, you can visibly see dabs of colour from the distant. I particularly like the bright colour palette of the game. It does bring the word around Skyloft to life.
There are certain parts of the game that are awe inspiring and downright beautiful and other parts where you wished the game was on stronger hardware. The artstyle can lend itself superbly to the environment capturing the serenity intended by the visual designers. For a game on the Wii it is one of the best looking games on the system behind the Mario Galaxy games. I just wished Skyward Sword was on stronger hardware.
A first for the series is the inclusion of Orchestrated music. The superb quality of orchestrated music is a much needed upgrade from the old midi files. The tunes are good but they don’t stack up well with the series best.
Depending what side of the coin you are – you will either hate or love that Skwyard Sword still uses text instead of voice acting. Personally I would like my Link to be silent but I would like the series to take on voice acting for the rest of the cast. The script is well written with a lot quirky moments between the characters.
The biggest change in the series, is the inclusion of motion controls. You can see the driving focus of the game’s development was around motion plus. Skyward Sword nails one to one motion controls. Nintendo has reached absolute perfection.
Combat in Skyward Sword is a dream. You wield the Wii remote just like you would a sword. The game detects your swing superbly. It really does feel like you are holding Link’s sword. Enemies have a distinct behaviour pattern that compliments the motion controls. Most enemies will block in a certain direction – you need to exploit and attack an opening on the enemies defence. As you progress further into the game, enemies can get devilish, really testing your reactions. Nintendo has described as a puzzle, but I have to disagree, there is no puzzle. Combat is rhythmic and strategic, and when you have a good flow going on, combat is downright fun.
Motion controls have been embedded in all items and weapons in Skyward Sword. You can tell Nintendo was adamant that motion controls should be a primary focus as all items have a motion gesture. My favourite item, and perhaps the most useful, is the beetle. The beetle is a remote controlled flying beetle – you control the beetle by tilting the wii remote to the direction you intend to go. The most marvellous aspect of motion controls is that it imitates the gesture of using the items as if you were using the items in real life. Readying an arrow or bowling a bomb feels incredible. This is the type of experience the Wii desperately needed in the early years of it’s life, but I am glad Nintendo delivered the goods.
Perhaps the biggest change to the Zelda series, is the blurred line between Dungeon and overworld. What is typically known as an overworld now has a series of puzzles and challenges that would normally be seen in a dungeon. I have mixed feelings about this change. The game moves at a good pace – there is always something to do down the world below. But the problem with this desigin, is that Skyword Sword feels too structure.. It feels like you are going through the same motions. Dive into the world below, complete the challenge, enter the dungeon then beat the boss – rinse and repeat. It was nice that Nintendo changed up the formula a bit – but I just wished there was a bit more variety and unpredictability to the games structure.
Speking of Dungeons – Skyward Sword’s dungeons are amongst the best In the series. Zelda tropes like lighting torches and moving large blocks are gone. Puzzles and challenges in the dungeon are inventive and the top of the class in any game. There are no more superlatives to the genius level design in Skyward Sword. Lanaryu mine is my favourite. This dungeon plays on an original concept of the time and space paradigm. It is a sight to behold and a highly original concept.
Zelda fans will be disappointed that exploration is minimal in Skyward Sword. The Sky is baron with very little to do. Much of the Overworld is empty spaces with a couple dozen floating rocks scattered. The sky is more a hub for the world below than a traditional overworld. It seem since Wind Waker – the Zelda team has been struggling to get exploration right.
The main quest will take around 40-50 hours to complete. To supplement the main quest you can do optional side mission. Most missions revolve around earning gratitude to transform a demon called Beatreaux into a human. The majority of the sidequests are merely fetch quests. A certain Skyloftian lost an item and it’s your job to find it for them. It’s boring, I know!
You can also collect small ornaments ranging from insects and to birds feathers. Hoarding a supply can be useful. Bug combinations can be used to make potions and ornaments can be used to upgrade your weapons. Weapon upgrades add light rpg elements to the Zelda experience. It is great start to add for the Zelda series to evolve to a much deeper experience. Upgrades are not vital to finish the game, but add to the potency of the weapons ability. It is unnecessary but also welcomed.
The Wii was born with a Zelda game, it should also be fitting that the Wii should die with a Zelda game. Skyward Sword flies to heights that no game has ever reached. The super 1:1 controls and amazing dungeons have cemented Skyward Sword as one of the best games on the Wii and of this generation.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,