Square Enix could learn a few things from Nintendo, in terms of how the later has handled its sacred Zelda series throughout
its twenty five year life span. While Square milked the FF series to no end, including the god awful FFXIII, the Zelda series
has maintained its mystique and excellent track record even though Aonuma replaced Miyamoto as producer and director of the
series, which brings us to the review of the latest console edition of the series: The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword.
you go by the incredibly positive press that the game has received, you would approach Skyward Sword thinking it is the greatest
Zelda ever, and unfortunately no matter what some reviewers have expressed that is not simply the case. Skyward Sword
is another great entry in a legendary series, an entry that makes bold changes some for the better and some for the worst
but still is probably after Twilight Light Princess this is the best Wii game out there right now not named Mario.
Skyward’s visual style is interesting to say the least, the game combines the look of Wind Waker (Colorful world,
simplistic textures, and quirky sometimes right out weird enemy and NPC design) with some of the realism seen in Twilight
Princess (Links character model is very similar to that of Twilight’s as are the villain’s designs) that said
this game looks inferior than the 5 year old Twilight Princess.
I can’t exactly pinpoint why this game looks so mundane
when it was released at the end of the Wii’s life cycle. The graphics are not ugly, but I expected a little step up
from what we saw in Twilight and instead we got a step down. Aside from the water which the Wii always renders well,
everything else looks mediocre, even the artwork is lacking, Ocarina of Time for the 3DS runs sharper and smoother, and in
short I have never been as underwhelmed by a Zelda game’s visuals as I was while I played Skyward Sword.
be no excuse for Skyward Sword looking as bland as this, there is little detail in the levels and even the main character
Link, lacks the detail he did in the previous game Twilight. Perhaps Nintendo’s efforts into the motion sensing technology
left other areas neglected.
This is the first Zelda game that uses orchestrated music and the results are grand indeed. The series has always been
big on musical themes and compositions but it has never reach its full potential until now. There is music in every single
aspect of the game. It must be noted that a welcomed 25th anniversary collector’s edition soundtrack comes packed with
Miyamoto was rumored to be a great obstacle in orchestrating the music of the series, but after this hopefully
Zelda will never return to digital music. Progress is seen in music, but it’s halted in voice acting or the lack of
it. Once again the series retains its traditional grunts and noises for its NPC’s. This is not a game breaking thing,
after all it would be a little strange to get voice acting on a Zelda game special because Link is a silent protagonist, it
took the series 25 years to get orchestrated music and I believe it will take probably 25 more for it to get voice acting…which
is either a bad thing or a good thing depending on which camp you are in.
GAMEPLAY STRIDES GONE WRONG
Nintendo has a strong policy with the Zelda series that everything should revolve around great gameplay (which might
be the reason the game looks mediocre to say the least) and there is nothing wrong with that. Skyward Sword was built specifically
to take advantage of the Wii motion plus controller and the game succeeds at that but at the price of level grand level design
and immaculate precision, two elements the series has been known for since its inception.
To start things off, the real
estate in Skyward sword pales in Comparison to the gigantic overworld seen in Twilight Princess. The sky is a big place but
largely empty, Skyloft is a nice city with many things to do, but even then it doesn’t feel like it matched the size
of Termina (Majora’s Mask). The world perhaps was made small on purpose after all Skyward Sword relies on fetch
quests to a degree that even previous Zelda games didn’t. This means that you will constantly revisit places you have
seen before, and it gets boring after the twenty hour mark.
Not only does the overworld suffer in this game, but
the dungeons themselves are smaller than ever, just to make a point here the Forest Temple in Twilight Princess gives the
player a bigger sense that you are playing an epic adventure than any dungeon in Skyward Sword.
Of course the lack of size
in Skyward Sword is a drawback that will hurt it in the final overall score, but that doesn’t mean that the dungeons
small as they might be are lacking in brilliant design. The dungeons offer nice puzzles, most relying on utilizing the motion
controls which in terms of items that you can you use in dungeons (hookshot, whip, remote controlled beetle bug etc.) are
spot on. Nintendo did a great job in implementing motion controls to the tools Link utilizes during the quest.
however one of the most difficult games in the series, thanks in part to the fact that sword fighting while using the full
range motion of the Wii motion plus, it is not as accurate as it should be and it is very easy to deliver the wrong sword
strike in a critical situation (such as the two last boss battles) which is very frustrating. This created more than few control
breaking instances in which I wondered if it was truly necessary to utilize motion controls in a Zelda game, as it stands
I prefer to play Twilight Princess (GC version) any day over this.
All of my comments so far have been negative, and the
truth of the matter is that when compared to previous Zelda entries…yes Skyward Sword is inferior but when compared
to contemporary games, Skyward Sword is one of the best playing games out there. Eiji Aonuma needs to rethink the direction
in which he is taking this series, because this Zelda borders on the line of Wind Waker as a turn off to more mature Zelda
gamers that were expecting something more akin to Twilight Princess, which as a dark smartly designed game that kindled hope
for the series growth as a mature fantasy adventure.
Finally there is a game breaking bug that can happened to anyone during the Hero Song quest it happens if you talk to
Golo the Goron in Laynaru desert before collecting the other two parts of the song so go for the forest and fire dragon songs
first to avoid this terrible fate.
Story THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The good, is that well this is the definite first title in Zelda chronology and most of the mysteries are explained.
The dialog amongst characters which had been a previous weak point of the series is now a strong point, with Villains actually
having important things to say, and better developed secondary characters.
The bad…where should we start…the
story is too lighthearted though the Villian Ghirahim has a sadistic look to him and speaks like a mad man (reminds me of
Kefka and Kuja of the FF series) *SPOILER WARNING* ------he never actually does anything worthy of remembrance I mean c’mon
Kefka poisoned and entire town and then destroyed the world, Sephiroth killed Aeris in front of us in cold blood, yet no villain
in Zelda history has ever committed a comparable atrocity and Skyward Sword does not care to fix this issue. The demon king
himself while having some very powerful written lines and very threatening appearance never does anything of consequence and
that is not acceptable when the demon king is evil itself personified. *SPOILER END*-----------
So the game lacks a strong
villain, and the supposed romance between Zelda and Link never materializes even though there is more interaction between
the two of them in this game than in any other Zelda before it. The problem in the tale here is that everything is that everything
is predictable and everything leads to a fetch quest, and the pattern repeats itself for over 40 hours and it gets truth
be told boring. On a positive note the ending is touching and it demonstrates the power that the Zelda series has had a whole
rather than the power of Skyward Sword itself, the events that transpire here affect the rest of the game we had already played
for 25 years, so yes the story is good, but not as good as Twilight’s and dare I say even Ocarina’s.
end there is more dialog and its better written here than it was ever before but the story itself it is still nothing to write
home about. The game still doesn’t explain many things well about the only race that is present aside from hylians is
the Goron race, the Zoras, Kokiris and Gerudos are nowhere to be found here, which still leaves open to debate the origins
of these people. Call me a nitpicker but that was important for me to know.
Gameplay: 8.5-This is my lowest score ever for a gameplay in a Zelda game. Smaller world, with smaller dungeons,
and sometimes imprecise controls in critical boss battles take the score a notch down. There are some memorable battles but
the last two battles felt more like a trial of random luck and skill than skill by itself and that’s a bad thing.
Graphics: 7.0-This is officially the worst looking Zelda game ever at the time of its release, Twilight Princess
looks way better, and even the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time is more easy on the eyes than what Nintendo did here.
Music: 10.0-Note to Miyamoto….Orchestrated music is the way to go from now on.
Story: 7.0- There are advancements made in dialog, but the whole light hearted feel of the game really ruins
the mood which is disappointing considering who dark and great the story in Twilight Princess was.
the first time ever in a Zelda game I didn’t feel compelled to collect hearts and other collectible items of the sort,
which is a testament to the boring design of the game world. Once you finish the game you can play in Hero Mode but considering
how frustrating some battles are due to the controls I doubt anyone on their right mind (except the true “completists”
out there) would want to play this game on a harder setting.
Overall: 8.5-By no means the black sheep of the series as this Zelda is better than FFXIII in every possible
way, but compared to the lofty standards set by Ocarina and Twilight, Skyward is lacking, a very good game, but not a legendary