After first two dates, Zelda Skyward Sword overcomes most of its initial flaws

Zelda Skyward Sword starts slower than any other Zelda in recent memory. In fact, it took two dates with her before I decided I wanted to keep dating. 

The reason: I was a little bummed by the pacing in the first two hours before opening the larger story arch. More fetch quests than I would have liked. But once that arc hits, the game accelerates better than any other Zelda in recent memory.

I’ve been critical of slow starting games in the past, and largely still am. But if this thing keeps accelerating like it does, I’m willing to overlook its slow start and washed out visuals. (NOTE: The above screen is not indicative of the games’s actual, often dull graphics, especially when switching between Mario Galaxy and this to ensure it wasn’t a monitor, cable or setting error on my part).

That said, the game also feels massive—lots of empty spaces on the maps where things will obviously manifest themselves later. I could easily see this adventure lasting dozens of hours, if not 50 with all the side quests. Speaking of side quest, several hours in and I haven’t been asked to round up chickens, at least not yet. That’s a good thing. The objectives seem fresh and the sidekick, Fi, is my favorite since Ezlo from Minish Cap.

Strike that, she’s better than Ezlo.

So far, this isn’t my favorite Zelda—at least not yet. The sword play is a little wonky, not as precise as I’d expect. I avoid otherwise harmless Dekus as often as I can, since they require more precision to kill. That’s fine when your Wiimote is calibrated. Bad when it’s not. And I’m not sure how to recalibrate WiiMotion Plus in-game (am I missing something, Nintendo? Can’t see any menus or prompts telling me otherwise.)

Nevertheless, none of the above complaints have been deal breakers. In fact, Skyward Sword carries an uncanny amount of momentum, particularly after its sluggish introduction. The overworld duality reminds me of Wind Waker, which I love. The script makes me chuckle (“Hey Link, you probably shouldn’t open other people’s cupboards without asking first…” etc). And the combat is more thoughtful, dare I say meaningful, than before.

Skyward Sword is the 16th game in a long line of Zeldas. But you wouldn’t know it by playing it. It feels almost as seductive as the first time you played. Yes, you’ll have to save Zelda and restore peace in the land (again). And the formula shows its age here and there.

But after five years since last making an appearing on your TV, Zelda is back.

(Spoiler: Skydiving is cool.)

21 Responses to After first two dates, Zelda Skyward Sword overcomes most of its initial flaws

  1. GameCollector44 says:

    Erm…from what I’ve seen in gameplay videos, the graphics are far from ‘dull’.

    From the early reviews I’ve seen, Skyward Sword is proving to be very good.

  2. *little* concerned about the ‘dull’ graphics? Could you elaborate a little? All the footage/imagery I’ve seen has been the exact opposite! Really looking forward to playing this regardless…

  3. Blake says:

    The sky levels are especially devoid of color. It improves on the surface, but I wouldn’t call this game vibrant. At least one dungeon in. Not a game breaker though. Just not as pretty as most Zeldas or Marios.

  4. Neil n says:

    Everyone else is giving this game rave reviews

    But Blake of Infendo (a Nintendo fan site) nitpicks everything

  5. BB says:

    @Niel n — Your inability to respect a difference of opinion, however minor, validates this very site. Did you read the same post I did? It clearly states the pros “overcome” the “initial flaws.” Is a good Zelda not good enough for you? Must every Zelda game be perfect to be worthwhile? Sheesh.

  6. Joe says:

    I’ll wait to hear what Blake thinks after he’s finished the game. Two out of the 50 hours into Zelda isn’t anything, most of it is to get newcomers up to speed. In terms of the washed out visuals it could possibly factor into the story somehow. I have faith that Nintendo hasn’t let us down, can’t wait until it comes out.

  7. Artefacto says:

    Erm, isn’t the washing out the distance filter that makes things look like an impresionistic painting? If that’s what he’s complaining about, then I won’t care, because I think the videos and screenshots that show that effect look amazing.

  8. Kaherka says:

    It can’t start slower than Twilight Princess. I spent FIVE HOURS trying and repeatedly failing to catch that first fish.

    Except for your screenshot above, every screenshot I’ve seen has had very un-intense, low-contrast coloring. Visually it doesn’t seem to be as strong as Wind Waker.

    Still, I’m incredibly excited for it. But we’re not going to play until Christmas. I wonder if I should get Skyrim to hold me off till then?

  9. LegendofPaperZelda says:

    It sounds like it has a slower star than say, Majoras Mask or ALttP but a quicker start than TP or the Minish Cap. Sounds about Wind Waker slow start length. Also, TP graphics are some of the dullest on the wii. This is a major improvement over that. It can’t be TOO vibrant or people will complain.

  10. Archaic says:

    You press down on the D-Pad to recalibrate motionplus in game. Doesn’t the manual for the game explicitly state that?

  11. johnny says:

    god infendo sure has a knack for finding the negative in everything, keep
    up the trashy work guys 😉

  12. Neil n says:

    @Johnny

    Agreed. Infendo really seems like it’s becoming an IGN clone

  13. Mark says:

    Wow. I really appreciate your honest and thoughtful review of “Skyward Sword”. I am incredibly excited about it’s release and can’t wait to get my hands on it. I am a huge fan of Nintendo, but don’t believe that they can do no wrong even with a Zelda game. Keep playing so you can tell us how good it gets. Thanks again.

  14. LegendofPaperZelda says:

    @Neil N. IGN’s Nintendo team is actually very good. They have thoughtful, usually positive, opinion based articles. And good, honest, non controversial reviews. It’s just that the other teams. (Mainly their Sony team) Finds every possible opportunity to trash on Nintemdo for no good reason.

  15. Kingc8 says:

    I don’t think Blake cares if you think he’s not being nice enough about Nintendo, Infendo’s almost over anyway.

    I have to say this, as a fully grown adult with an ego in check:

    It’s ok to criticise Nintendo AND be their biggest fan. It grinds my dookie that people complain about negativity on a Nintendo fan website. Why?

    Because if you truly love Nintendo, it means calling them out on perceived weakness or crappy value. -Nintendo listens. They really do. They know about Malstrom, they know about Infendo, they care, the criticism forces them to rethink their approach. It makes things better, it really does.

  16. manofgames4555 says:

    I must admit that everyone will be biased towards any Zelda being a good game. Blake has rights. I have come out of my ignorant lean on this inevitable wall recently. Give me more of the same they say. Yet, the same will not make Zelda last today. Their wanting link to talk, they are wanting this and that…Judge it in it’s own world for it lives in that way. Something has to remain…heck next they will want to get rid of link lol! Zelda is about re-telling this story of the tri-force. Rekindling the fire of the tri-force with more flames. Don’t judge this game before it is fully played! I’m seeing people who like to take snap shots of things and judge from this alone when Zelda has proven numerous times it cannot be. Unlike many other games. So we wait..

  17. JaXs says:

    To recalibrate the Wii Motion+, simply set the controller face down on a level surface. This a built in default. It would be awesome if you didn’t have to do it so often though. I had to recalibrate (what felt like) every ten minutes while playing RS2 and FlingSmash.

  18. Bana says:

    Blake, from what I’ve read the controls can be recalibrated with a click of a button, couldn’t tell you which one though :P. Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to more updates! Great job guys!

  19. Joe says:

    @kingC8 – “grinds my dookie”? Is that a saying? I certainly hope not nor do I appreciate the visual image. Ugh.

  20. While Blake has a right to criticize Nintendo and have objectivity, there still is a little bit of contrarian vindictiveness in his writing of this post.

  21. Glcraven says:

    What happens if you don’t use your “parachute” as you approach the ground? Haven’t seen any mention of it. Can you fall full speed into the ground? Does it cause death? Just wondering? Also, can you deploy the parachute right away and float for a long time? can you control where you float to & where you land?

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