The epic Nintendo series The Legend of Zelda has finally received its latest addition in the form of The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword. Many people, including myself, have eagerly awaited this game with anticipation tinged with excitement and a dash of pure unadulterated nerdgasm thrown in for good measure. Was the wait worth it? Yes. Was it worth the entire wait? Sadly, I’m not entirely sure I can say “yes” without giving everyone the shifty eyes or questioning myself and my answer. Zelda as always delivers a fantastic experience, but with some of the new additions to this title I found myself not fully engrossed like I was in previous titles.
This new Zelda game starts up much like previously installments – you’re given a quick rundown of the myths surrounding the current Zelda game. In the case of Skyward Sword, darkness spread across the land bringing war and destruction to any that stood in its path. The goddess of the land brought all of the people to her and then sent them to the skyward above the clouds, protecting them from the evil. Many years have passed since then, and the history of the world has long fallen to myth. No one knows what lies beneath the clouds, but something has stirred that will pull 2 people from the floating village of Skyloft into roles they were destined for (hmm, wonder who?).
This Zelda game is much like the others where it drops Link (that’s the guy in the green outfit that you play by the way) into the middle of it all. Being the best of his class at school (it’s a school for Skyloft Knights), and his long friendship and connection to Zelda, Link is charged with exploring below the clouds to save Zelda once it becomes apparent he is destined to take and use the Master Sword. Zelda is of course not easily found, and Link must travel all over both the sky and earth seeking her.
Gameplay in this title is very much the same compared to many previous titles in the Zelda series. There is a new travel element using giant birds that every citizen of Skyloft receives; these birds are creatures they bond to and are incredibly important to the people living in the clouds. Using Link’s unique red bird to fly around the sky is very similar to Wind Waker, where players used the boat to traverse the seas. Using the bird (and the wiimote), players will travel all over the sky finding treasure and other quests to accomplish. The real chunk of the game however, happens on the ground far below.
It is on the ground that Link will travel to the various dungeons, meet the indigenous peoples, and battle against the evil creatures that have taken over. Of course over time Link will gather different weapons, items, and tools that he must use in order to defeat the evils that threaten Hylia. There are also some new additions that make for an interesting change in how you can tackle this Legend. There are a number of sidequests that Link can take on (though only 1 major side quest at a time), and they can range anywhere from retrieving an item below the clouds to running errands for people. It’s a nice way to stop worrying about the main quest and focus on helping others which rewards you in multiple ways.
Many Wii owners spent a chunk of time with Twilight Princess, the previous installment of the Zelda series. This game performs and controls very similar however Skyward Sword utilizes the Wii MotionPlus, which is a complete downside. MotionPlus in a Zelda title is NOT a bonus, not a great thing, and certainly not a good thing. If there is one fault I can pick for the game, it is this. I found myself constantly recalibrating the controller in the midst of whatever activity required it, from the flying of the bird to the use of items that Link acquires during his adventure. It was an annoyance that I felt was unneeded and unwarranted.
Graphically this Zelda game is beautiful. It’s not the cel-shaded brightness of Wind Waker or the darker and grimmer look of Twilight Princess, but it’s almost a combination of the two. There are some very bright and fantastic looking settings, but the game is more than capable of producing a few environments that are aesthetically just creepy. In all seriousness though, I love the look of this game. It’s perfect for people setting out on an adventure, and even if the Wii is not as graphically capable of other consoles on the market, it’s still beautiful. In the other half of the graphics/sound combo, the sound and music for this game is amazing as always. It may not be Ocarina of Time with some of the memorable melodies, but it still has some extraordinary music to listen to. Combine that with the great sound effects (hearing the Master Sword clang is still fun) and it’s a perfect combo of sounds and graphics.
I highly recommend people give Skyward Sword a well deserved chance. It’s a fantastic addition to the Zelda series, and seeing as it might be one of the last ones, get into it soon. The Zelda series isn’t necessarily for everyone (I’ve heard a few go “Zelda is so boooooring” which is ridiculous), but it’s still a great game that almost everyone can enjoy without issues. It’s got saving the damsel in distress, the huge adventure, and the swordplay action that is easy to get behind and love
Note: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review was written based on the Wii version of the game.