Dec 29, 2011

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

After twenty-five years, The Legend of Zelda series has captured the hearts of millions with its heartwarming characters and epic storylines. One does not simply forget a Zelda game. Nintendo’s newest installment, Skyward Sword, redefines the entire series. This is the Zelda that no one should miss.

The game starts with Zelda penning a letter to a drowsy Link. This isn’t a plea for help, but rather an invitation for a friendly visit. Link’s starter town this time around is called Skyloft, a floating island in the sky. The first steps in the game are a great intro to the world. You quickly learn the characters, the lore of the world, and, of course, the big bad guy you’re up against. One thing that’s a major difference in Skyward Sword is the relationship between Link and Zelda. Right from the beginning you have a sense of hope for the two. It’s almost like a romantic movie where you can’t help but have feelings for the main couple, which makes Zelda’s inevitable capture all the more emotional and the adventure more crucial. The game’s story makes you want to know what’s going to happen to these two, and you keep asking yourself, “Is Link ever going to see Zelda again?” That’s what makes this story hit home.

The previous Zelda game on the Wii, Twilight Princess, had a battle system that was all about wagging the Wii remote until something died. Rinse and repeat. On the other hand, Skyward Sword adds something new to the mix. Thanks to Wii Motion Plus, your Wii remote mimics Link’s sword. If you swing horizontally, so will Link. Enemies this time don’t go down without a fight. You can’t just tap repeatedly to win every battle. Every enemy has a specific way you must defeat them, such as a specific swing of the sword or a shield bash using the nunchuck. While sometimes this may seem like a slow process (especially when you’re trying to solve a dungeon puzzle) the satisfaction you feel from winning a battle is priceless.

Your companion this time around is named Fi and acts much like Ocarina of Time’s Navi. She isn’t annoying like her fairy counterpart; instead, she’s a helpful guide and beloved character. She’ll not only guide you through dungeons and puzzles, she’ll also give you hints on how to defeat boss battles if you’re having trouble. The only issue I have with the controls is the lack of a camera button. The camera isn’t bad, but it can get a little crazy sometimes, even during battle. A button to center the camera would be great. As usual in Zelda games, Skyward Sword has memorable boss battles. Each boss not only tests your skill with the sword but also uses the tools you picked up in the dungeon. For example, you may have to stun a giant octopus monster using your bow and arrow before slashing at him with your sword. Some boss battles even test how well you swing the sword. There is one boss you have to face three times on different occasions, but each time is more epic and challenging than the last.

Speaking of dungeons, Skyward Sword‘s are actually shorter this time around. However, that doesn’t mean they’re less fun. The puzzles in the dungeons are more about common sense, yet still as challenging as past dungeons. The dungeons also make you use all of the tools you have accumulated, making you think about what you have to do with each puzzle. When you’re not in dungeons, you’re exploring the overworld in the sky on your trusty bird. Zelda’s usual overworld is replaced with a vast open sea of clouds scattered with small floating islands. Flying on the bird reminds me of sailing in Wind Waker and is just as fun. While distant islands can make flight feel slow, there are times when flight is exciting.

The game makes you backtrack to areas you’ve been before, but you’ll see the area in a new light with items and abilities acquired in your travels. Phantom Hourglass had the issue of forcing players to retread familiar ground, and Skyward Sword has a similar theme with Skyloft. Skyloft is Link’s home base for Skyward Sword. This is where you can buy potions, shields, and fortunes, along with upgrades and ammo for your bows and slingshot. Some may say coming back to Skyloft is repetitive, but in the long run, it really isn’t – making return trips allows you to collect different bugs and materials used to upgrade your tools.

The Legend of Zelda series has always had amazing music and Skyward Sword is no exception. The music that plays while flying in the air is probably one of the most epic traveling themes I’ve ever heard. The music Zelda plays on her harp is both beautiful and epic, while the battle music is exciting and intense. Much like Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword has a musical gameplay element with the harp given to you mid-game. Unlike Ocarina’s titular ocarina, the harp doesn’t have much of an impact on the game. Still, it’s exciting to learn the new songs.

The Wii isn’t known for its beautiful HD graphics, but Skyward Sword doesn’t need them. Skyward Sword’s graphics look like Twilight Princess and Wind Waker collided. This is how a Zelda game should look. The graphics are perfect, and while it’s not in HD, it’s still beautiful and breathtaking. There were some weird-looking textures here and there, but out of my 46 hour journey, I only saw a couple of those.

Skyward Sword is probably one of the best Zelda games so far. I won’t go on to say it’s better than Ocarina of Time, but it’s definitely up there. The story is nearly perfect, the graphics are beautiful, and the controls are practically flawless. There are a few flaws with the game, but none that hinder it from being great. This is the game that Wii owners have been waiting for. If you have a Wii, do yourself a favor and buy this game.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Platform:Wii
Genre: Role Playing
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2011
Developer:Nintendo
Publisher:Nintendo
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
MSRP:$49.99


9.5