Review by elxar

Reviewed: 10/09/13

Link is back to take the series Skyward.

I normally think of clever openers, but right now I cannot right now. So I’ll cut the foreplay and get on with my review. This is a game review about the latest Legend of Zelda Title on the Wii which is dubbed Skyward Sword. Link traveled in time and sailed the great seas in the past to save Zelda. Now he will take it up on the skies. Will this game soar or its will its wing be clipped only to crash behind its great predecessors. Let’s find out.

First of all I think most of the people who will be reading this would have already played at least one Zelda game (or you could have an idea about it) because if not, then I doubt you’ll be reading this review because you rather play this game. Okay so I said it, this game is THAT good or to more accurately describe it it’s innovative. So I’ll speak for the majority of the readers during the course of this review. Perhaps you’re still in the fence whether to skip or invest your money and time playing this game. I’ll remove your doubts before we go in detail. Stop reading this. Go get a copy of the game and start playing it. It’s one of those unique experiences that you would rather live through yourself than someone telling you his/her experience about it. Still unconvinced? Okay then let me tell you my take about it.

The game starts with the same classic Zelda format you’re in a town training to be a knight this time. You have Zelda and company with. You do your training which is the tutorial of the game and eventually Zelda goes missing because of an evil omnipotent enemy. You wear your green overalls equipped with a sword and shield. You set out for another journey to save Zelda. You explore every corner of Hyrule, enter dungeons, solve puzzles, fight monsters, and get certain items/weapons along the way like the Bow & arrows, Bombs to help your quest. Gather heart pieces along the way. Forge the Master sword and triforce then confront the evil doer himself to finally rescue your Princess. Happily ever after. I told you you should have stopped reading earlier and played the game. What? You played this games already in the past? We’ll news flash, it’s the same formula the most with Zelda game and Skyward Sword is no exception. Link to the past perfected this formula almost two decades ago. And it has worked ever since. So people complaining why it’s the same thing over and over again should stop and think. They can’t take away anything of those elements because it’s the foundation or else the castle might crumble. Ideas be copied game after game, but never passion and execution, which Skyward Sword have. They copied the idea of the Zelda game but this time they boldly executed these ideas in a different way.

So let's start with what makes it different from the previous games. First and most importantly this is a game for the Wii and it uses motion controls, heavily. In fact it relies solely on it that the game needed another motion sensing peripheral called the Wii Motion Plus just to play the game. The device lets you accurately have a 1:1 motion which is the most integral part of the game. Without this feature the games is just another Zelda game. This game embodies the motion controls that I am much more inclined to call it as much as THE Wii game rather than THE Zelda game. This is by far the one of the best Wii games and THE best wii game that uses motion controls. It is one of the best Zelda games and actually my favorite Zelda game that it compelled me to write my opinion about it. The only drawback about the motion plus control is that it is sold separately. You have to buy it just to play this game. On a marketing point of view this game suffer because of the lack of accessibility to more players unlike say Wii Sport or Super Mario. Frankly the Wii Sports was a hit because of its accessibility. Sadly best rated games are most of the times not the bestselling games. Moving forward…

LInk is yet again training for knighthood. This is yet another new incarnation of Link and as far as the Zelda timeline goes it’s the very first game in the series. Though after many installments it’s hard to care for it because story wise every game can stand alone. The opening chapter is the tutorial phase where you learn everything basic. The first parts is getting acquainted with the new controls. If you have played previous 3-D Zelda then you’ll get the hang of it in a jiffy. All the buttons function almost the same. The biggest difference is that now Link has a stamina bar. Link can now run or dash but it depletes his stamina. Instead of being just concerned about your hearts, now you need to take into account Link’s stamina. Now climbing walls and performing strong sword attack will require stamina. Once depleted Links tires out and you won‘t be able to do anything for a couple of seconds which can live your vulnerable. It’s a great addition that give more realistic feel to the game. Though there are stamina fruits that can refill your stamina and they are abundant throughout the game. Instead of Epona or the Red Lion Boat, you will be having a Giant unnamed Red Bird as your main ride. You will be flying with this Loftwing half of the game. You get to ride your bird and control it with the Wii remote like how you play with a toy airplane air plane supposedly but I find it hard to push the buttons for dash. Though navigating the skies offer a unique experience at the first hour or so, you will find that its really not that deep. After learning how to fly it will be a repetitive task though out the game. Like Wind Waker there is no alternate way to travel the over world. You have to fly from island to island. What’s disappointing is that there are almost no aerial combat in the game which could have been cool. There are monsters but you can just ignore them as you fly to the sky. There is one sky battle but that’s all.

Once you get your first sword then the game will be starting its high points. Now instead of a push of a button. Your sword is emulated by the Wii remote. You actually now have to swing the Wii remote to wield your sword. It’s very accurate slash horizontally, vertically and diagonally and you will see Link do the same. You can also thrust your sword and do spin attack with a flick of your wrist. A new ability called skyward strike which is done by holding Link’s sword upward to charge and then it will produce a slicing projectile beam. Perhaps out of all the uses of the Wii remote, using it as a Sword is the best fit and the sword gameplay is kicked up a notch in Skyward Sword which adds a very depth realism to the game. Alongside it are the enemies of the game also adapting to your new sword control. One major addition is they are now able to parry your attacks. They are given a set of blocking moves so that you need to think where to swing your sword for a clean hit. Else you will be unable to move for a split second giving enemies an opening. You will be facing the Goblins, skeletons and other enemies that will require you to cleverly defeat them with your swordsmanship once you find their weak points. So basically facing enemies are a test of your wits, at least on the first time you encounter them. The first dungeon of is the general training for your sword skills. On a side note the game does not require you to do big motion swings when using the sword. A simple flick of your wrist in the direction you want to slash could suffice but it’s much more fun if you are pretending to hold the master sword. Link was originally mean connect us to the game and this feature sure does add up one way or another. The only negative thing I can say about the sword is that Link does not stay on a still position so you will find it awkward to do a precise strike. Though that can be remedied with the Z button so the perspective moves behind Link.

Aside from your sword, you once again will be obtaining a repertoire of equipment as you progress. And this is the bread and butter of the game. All of them will be using the motion controls at varying levels. I wanted to explain all of them but I’m afraid I might bore you out so I’ll just give you a bit description and what cons I notice. As awesome as the sword, the shield is the exact opposite of it It is assigned to your nun-chuck and while you have full control over your sword the only thing you can do with your shield is parry attack in front of you. Sure it really come in handy but it’s nowhere a deep as the sword. Though they added a durability meter to your shield. Now your shield can be destroyed after a certain amount of damage. Also there are different types of shield throughout the game that you can obtain. Also its worth to note you can survive the game without using much of your shield. Aside from your basic knight weapon you will also acquire a mix of old and new weapons like the Sling shot and bombs and newcomers to the series like THE Beatle my second favorite weapon in the game. All weapons cleverly uses the Wii’s motion controls. You will find using your bombs in a new way. I wanted to explain them here one by one, but instead maybe I should write another article about it instead. Anyway unlike past a games where some items are only useable for one time or dungeon you will be reusing all of your weapons time and time again in multiple areas or dungeons. The set is fewer than past games but they are more valuable this time around which is giving more emphasis on the quality over quantity. You will fully appreciate the Wii’s motion controls after playing this game. In fact I hope all the next Zelda game will be using motion controls from now.

Another added feature is the ability to upgrade your weapons and potions. You can now upgrade your shield into a sturdier one and have your potion restore more hearts. This is done by collecting treasures or bugs which is another added feature. You collect treasures by mostly by killing enemies. They drop a certain item and you pick them up. Bug catching is the replacement of the Fishing mini-game though this time you get to keep the bugs. Using a Bug Catching-Net you can capture Bees or ants that are scattered throughout Hyrule. There are more than a dozen of bugs and treasure to collect in the game. You can also sell them for extra buck. Going back to the upgrade, once you collect the right amount of ingredients you will be able to upgrade your weapon/potion with a small fee. Upgrading is by no means necessary to progress in the game nor abut I find that by doing so you can have extra boost to accomplish task or missions easier. Yah, it’s nice to know that you have a few more bombs in your bag at times. Lastly is the new adventure pouch. Unlike before where you can keep all your equipment’s, this time around you can only carry a number of equipment to how many pockets you have in your pouch. This is the first Zelda that has a customization feature. While you still carry all weapons, equipment like your shield, empty bottles and bomb bags takes up space in your pouch. You start with four pockets but can be later upgraded. Another new equipment items are the medals. It’s like a charm you can carry around and has various effects. Heart medal will drop you more hearts, rupee medals can drop you more rupees. So you have to take in consideration which item will you carry in your journey. It’s almost like Link’s stats feature take of the game. Depending the items you carry, can add up on the difficulty of your quest. All of your excess items are kept in storage.

My review is getting really long but I’m only half through. I basically be concentrating to what has change or new in this game. So if you are already tired reading you can relax by playing Skyward Sword now.Still not hyped I see… The game starts in Skyloft an island in the sky. There is a legend about the battle of the Goddess and a Demon King. The Demon King was sealed using the joint effort of the Goddess and her guardians. Eventually that’s how Skyloft came to be and the legend is passed through the generations. Like I said earlier you will find the story the same with the past games especially the 3D incarnations of past Zelda Game. Though the execution is again different, you’ll find that it have been done before. If you’re looking for a heavy plot driven game then you’re better off playing games like Final Fantasy or Metal Gear. I think it’s actually a mistake if you think that the Zelda games are driven by the plot. In fact it’s the other way around. The gameplay drives the plot. The story is a tool to give designers choreograph how the player will experience the gameplay in a much enjoyable fashion. That’s not to say that the story of the game is bad, but it’s not revolutionary. You’ll see a couple of twists and the CGI are better than ever. Also its worth to note voice acting is still not present aside from cry and grunts. So you will be reading text again which, as an avid reader, I really don’t mind. Though it could be disappointing to people who were telling Nintendo that Zelda games need voice acting to compete with modern games. Though I trust Nintendo already learned games like Metroid Other M.

Visually the game is the one of the best looking Wii game. Developers became really resourceful on how to mask the Wii’s graphical prowess. It combines the Twilight princess realistic look and Wind Waker’s cel-shade approach which results to what I can say the perfect art style for a Zelda game. Its tone is lighter than Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess but it’s not kiddy like Wind Waker. You will also find that the creepy side are gone as every character design is more on a cartoony feel because of the cel- shading. The characters in the game are mostly new. You will meet new races of creatures in the game all of them designed interestingly. Of course you will still meet familiar faces from previous games so I won’t spoil who.

The games map is perhaps one of another change in the game. Now instead of just one main map the game will give you four main regions. The first one is the Sky Region. It acts as the over world of the game with Skyloft as your central hub where you can take a break from your main quest. It holds the bazaar where you can buy equipment’s, potions etc. You get to travel from Island to island with your game collecting treasures and doing most of the side quests here and there like helping NPC with their average problems. While they are fun to play the rewards you get are not essential to complete the game itself. Link has been somewhat an errand boy since and this game does not change it. The other three regions are where the beef of the game really is. Faron, Eldin and Lanayru are the three provinces of the game which is located at the surface or the Land itself. In previous games puzzle solving are almost restricted to dungeons/temples .But this time the 3 regions are actually 3 massive dungeons where you will be testing your wits while battling hordes of monsters along the way. After the game’s prologue Link will land in the Faron region a lush of green forest. Seaching for Zelda he will be lead to the first temple deep in the woods. Skyward Sword will break the norm because once you set foot on Faron you will be in in a massive dungeon already. The only difference now between a proper dungeon / temple is that they have their own maps and keys to find. But none the less you will need to solve puzzles before you get to each one. The puzzles are actually cleverly designed. You will find that solving them will require motion controls along the way. The three regions are different from each other. Faron is a Forest. Eldin is a volcanic region and Lanayru is a desert region. Link needs to visit each region in search for Zelda. Unlike past Zelda games where you need to visit multiple locations for every dungeon, Skyward Sword focuses on the three regions where certain areas are not accessible. As you progress to the games new locations will be unlocked and you get to explore them. You will be meeting the new races along the way. There are no proper towns on the regions just plain sandbox where you can navigate and play your new toys. You will encounter new types puzzle where the motion control is involved but also familiar puzzles like the step on the switch type. The three regions are very different and the temples in the game are different from each other. I have to say that this is the highest point of the game. Though the puzzle solving is routine. That means you will still follow a certain path to get to your objective. This has been the norm since the SNES days, you don’t get to choose which order you go through the game until really late in the game. The first two thirds of the game, you have to follow the plot. Though like I said before this lets you experience the game in a more enjoyable way. Though gamers who don’t want a sense of direction can find the linearity unfulfilling. Nonetheless the puzzle design and most of the environments are pretty solid. You will have a lot of variety like using time switch stones to alter the time for solving puzzles, rolling a boulder on a lava, flipping giant water lilies and much more. Half of them could have been original with the motion controls implemented. It will keep your attention the whole time. Bosses on the other hand a mix bag. Surely enough I can say that they are different enough but they are not that tough. After discovering that unique way to defeat them it will be a breeze. This is one of the weakest point of Skyward Sword. The main dish was so satisfying but the dessert a disappointment. Though there are one or two bosses that are really good. Also you will be fighting same boss multiple times on your quest. Although they require more skill it gets really repetitive. You can finish the Main quest in 40 hours or so. After that there is Hero Mode, a crank up difficulty or lots of side quests to complete. Though you could be better off to move on or play another game.

Wow. It has been a long review so let’s wrap it up. Skyward Sword is the best Zelda in terms of execution of the Motion controls. It dared to be different. Succeeded on applying the Wii’s vision and mission that motion gaming is fun while keeping intact the game’s core. It delivered. It’s not perfect but the experience itself is worth your 40 hours and 60 dollars. If you have doubted the Wii. Play this game. It’s what could have been the future of motion gaming, it’s not a gimmick. Now the question is will we still be swinging the sword for the next Zelda game? It's also interesting to note that as I'm submitting this it was announced that they are trying to break the game's core with a new Zelda 3DS title. New Zelda Formula combined with the motion controls could be the series future.Just shows that this game can take risks and still be fun.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (US, 11/20/11)

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