Review: Skyward Sword truly soars and is the reason to be a fan of Nintendo

When Nintendo sets out to make a Zelda title, there are always high expectations even before a single line of code is written. There are few games that have the legacy of the Zelda franchise, and even fewer still outside of Nintendo. Because of this, The Legend of Zelda is always in the limelight and is always held to a higher standard than any other video game around. With the release of Skyward Sword coming five years after the previous console iteration and two years after Spirit Tracks, gamers have been vociferating there demands for another adventure, and after finishing the game in its entirety I can say that Nintendo has once again delivered. 

To its credit, Skyward Sword manages to capture the attention of the gamer almost immediately upon its commencement unlike the long winded tutorial found in Twilight Princess. There are no goats to herd or baby cradles to find in this game. In its stead are giant birds to fly and a fantastic city in the sky to explore; and just when you feel like you’ve had enough, the game thrusts you into the dungeon where everything you have learned so far comes into play.

The real beauty of Skyward Sword is just that. Just when the game starts to become routine, the developers will throw a monkey wrench at you that changes up the whole formula just when the game needs a breath of fresh air. While Link’s goal stays the same throughout his entire adventure, I was never really sure what to expect behind each turn because the developers seemingly played on what they knew long time Zelda fans would expect from the franchise, and turned convention on its head. You won’t find any torch lighting puzzles in Skyward Sword, and while you will slide blocks onto switches occasionally, those instances are few and far between.

It’s hard to tell when the overworld stops and the dungeons begin in Skyward Sword because each new section that Link travels to is a dungeon in its own right. The heart of the Zelda franchise has always been with its puzzle solving, so Fujibayashi and his team set out to ostensibly make every portion of the game ripe with fresh puzzles to conquer. While none of the puzzles are so difficult to the point of frustration, you will at times be left scratching your head as to what exactly to do next.

As has been made perfectly clear by the requirement of Wii MotionPlus, the swordplay in Skyward Sword is vastly different from anything any other Zelda, or any other game for that matter, has ever done before. Finally Nintendo has made good on their promise of what Wii was supposed to be when it was first announced at TGS 2005. One to one sword action is finally possible thanks to the fidelity of MotionPlus, and I for one can’t imagine playing another Zelda game without it. Now battling takes timing and accuracy instead of the frantic pressing of a button, and almost every enemy has its own unique weakness that must be exploited using pin-point precision. Each item only adds to the enjoyment to found in the game, and leaves you wondering what will be found next.

Every game has its faults, and I would be remiss not to mention the ones in Skyward Sword. While there are plenty of sidequests apart from the main game to keep any gamer busy for hours on end, outside of Skyloft the sky world feels empty and doesn’t leave much reason to mount your bird other then to travel to the next section of the game. While the swordplay is spot on, other control aspects in the game such as flying and swimming leave a lot to be desired, and it begs the question as to whether there should be an option to switch from MotionPlus control to standard joystick control. The game also contains a game ending glitch that could potentially require a full game reset.

None of these complaints are deal breakers however, and Skyward Sword is definitely a game that should be in every gamers library. Not many games have the distinction of being a console seller, but Skyward Sword is that and then some. I would have no problem advising someone who does not own a Wii to purchase one to play it because the game is just that good. From the breathtaking picturesque visuals, to the brain teasing puzzles, to the fantastic boss battles, Skyward Sword is not only one of the best games on Wii, it should be considered as one of the finest games to be released this generation. Nintendo has outdone themselves once again, and have risen the bar for what to expect in the Zelda series. I for one cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Bring on the Wii U!

14 Responses to Review: Skyward Sword truly soars and is the reason to be a fan of Nintendo

  1. Blake says:

    Noting my opinion as this being the best Zelda ever, surpassing my beloved Link to the Past, Wind Waker, and Minish Cap, where do you rank Skyward Sword, Eugene, among other Zelda games? First? Second? Third? Not even in your top five?

  2. Kaherka says:

    Your link to the “game ending glitch” is asking me to log in to a word press account, so I can’t read it. What is the glitch?

  3. Eugene says:

    @Blake
    Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but Majora’s Mask is still my favorite Zelda game because of the attention to detail in all the characters in the game. Everyone has a purpose and the game really felt alive.

    Skyward Sword is a close second however, and my opinion may change as a complete my second playthrough in the ‘second quest’.

  4. Eugene says:

    @Kaherka
    Link fixed. Hope you don’t run into the glitch!

  5. reinhold says:

    It’s only been TWO years since Spirit Tracks, not three.

  6. Eugene says:

    @reinhold

    Fixed and thanks!

  7. Juja says:

    I beat the game just about an hour ago, and man, what an ending. I won’t write any spoilers here, but I would recommend to anyone that hasn’t beaten it to try the final boss without using potions or fairies. I decided not to and I was killed 7 times, but that ended up making my victory very satisfying.

    One semi negative thing I will say about the game is that there a few things they had in Twilight Princess that I wish they had kept around for Skyward Sword. The main thing being the ability to swing your sword while running. That was great, and I’d try to do it in Skyward Sword without thinking about it, only to have Link stop in his tracks to swing. I also really liked the secret fighting skills that Link learned in Twilight Princess; I’m glad they kept the finishing blow, but a few more moves would’ve been cool as well. Speaking of finishing blows: I also miss the way Link would twirl his sword around before sheathing it if you put your sword away after a finishing blow.

  8. Wes says:

    Has anyone listened to the 25h anniversary CD? It’s fantastic! It’s great to finally have orchestrations by Kondo himself of some of the greatest video game music ever created. Someone should start a post about this and have everyone list their favorite tracks 🙂

  9. Diablo2 says:

    held to a higher standard than any other video game around. With the release of Skyward Sword coming five years after t

  10. Juja says:

    Also, what the hell was with Blake not liking Ghirahim? I think he’s one of the best villains in the Zelda series. He kind of reminds me of Kefka from FFVI (my all-time favorite villain). I actually wish he harassed you a little bit more throughout the game.

  11. Richard says:

    Great review, Eugene! I’m a much slower Zelda player; I probably won’t finish this quest until Easter! I agree that the sky world feels empty; it’s my only real (small) complaint about the game. Everything else is brilliant, and the swordplay was worth waiting all this time for!

  12. Link says:

    This title seems to zap all the fun out of Zelda. It’s fun to be Link and explore worlds, but in SS you’re basically drug from one point to the next with overly long explanations. Many interactions have no meaning, and there’s not much reason to explore off the beaten path.

    I love Zeldo, but the Wii might have to be my last Nintendo console. They just don’t know what they’re doing anymore.

  13. Drahken says:

    I juts finished the game tonight and I’m not sure how to feel about it. It was definitely a good game; there’s no doubt about that. But I’m not sure I loved it. I don’t know, it kind of felt… not very Zelda-y. Zelda’s hallmark has always been an open world. The original LoZ created the concept. “You’re not just moving right stomping on mushrooms? You can go anywhere you want at any time? You can even do the levels in whatever order you want? Cool!” (Obviously, it’s not quite so simple as that. I mean, it was never COMPLETELY free. You still needed to get the raft from level 3 to get to level 4, etc.) And I realize they’ve been moving away from this for while. You can do the Fire Temple and the Water Temple in either order, but you still have to do the Forest Temple first, and can’t do the Spirit and Shadow Temples until after. But you still had a large open world. You’d have all the different regions and a hub zone in the middle, normally Hyrule Field.

    But Skyward Sword didn’t even have that. You had three distinct zones, and the big empty sky. (Which felt even emptier than the sea in WW. There was more to see and do in the sea, even if its vastness made it feel empty at times. And the water itself, the day/night cycle and the weather made it at least feel alive. The sky has almost nothing going on, and with literally nothing above you and nothing below you, it feels like being in a void.)

    Anyway, I digress. Three zones and the sky. You want to move from the woods to the desert? Too bad; they’re not connected. You have leave to go back up to the sky and over to the entrance to the desert. They may as well be separate planets. And it’s JUST the three. Yes, I know that they’re much, much bigger than all of Hyrule from OoT, and with more to do. I mean, lets face it, how big was Death Mountain? It was an inclined path leading to Dodongo’s Cavern, then Goron City, then through some falling rocks and up a cliff to the entrance of the crater. Eldin Volcano is practically a series of dungeons itself before you actually get into the real dungeon. When I went into that cave to help the Mogmas, I thought I’d actually entered a dungeon. And that’s a cool way to add puzzles and prolong the game. It certainly made it more challenging. But then the game feels like one long, enclosed dungeon with no overworld (except the brief moments you’re transporting from one entrance to the other across that darn sky).

    With just the three places, two of them hellholes (a patch of fiery, unpleasant dirt and a patch of sandy, unpleasant dirt), that you revisit multiple times, the lack of variety feels confining. Normally, once you finish with the forest area, you move to the fire area, the water area, the desert area, the snow area, the swamp area, etc etc. Instead, you get the same three over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s interesting the way they can do multiple things with the same piece of geography. The initial visit to the volcano is much different than the Silent Realm version is different from the robot escort mission is different from the Forsaken Fortress-esque MGS sneak mission. But I’d rather move onto a different locale than do the same one four times. The areas are large, but that’s not enough. What if they took that to its extreme? The whole came could have taken place in one large desert area, ten times as big as the world in Twilight Princess, including lots of things to see and do. Would it be fun? It could be; Red Dead Redemption did it. Would it be Zelda? No.

    And yeah, I have to reluctantly agree, it’s time for some voice acting Nintendo. I understand that they don’t want to give a voice to Link, so people can imagine themselves as the hero. But they don’t give Link any dialogue at all, even written. So would giving voice acting to the other characters change that? Link still wouldn’t be talking, and everyone else would. We’d just get to listen to it instead of having to read it.

    So now that I’ve rambled enough, time for a conclusion. Is Skyward Sword a good game? Most definitely. Is it a good Zelda game? Ehhh, I’m not sure what to say to that. My feelings are so conflicting. I love and dislike this game at the same time for different reasons. The controls were great (even if sometimes the sword didn’t do what I wanted it to). The world is big but feels smaller and enclosed, and really has little to do outside the actual quest. I like and dislike the story. Alot of it just didn’t feel like I was playing a Zelda game, but another adventure game trying to be Zelda. I think maybe it IS time to perhaps give Retro a crack at the franchise just to see what they come up with while Nintendo EAD works on their own. I mean, they gave it Capcom, after all, and look how that turned out. Even if it doesn’t turn out fantastic, it would at least lessen the time between games. Because even if I didn’t fall madly in love with SS instantaneously, I’m still now super depressed that I’m going to have to wait five years before I get to play a new Zelda. Or if I’m lucky and they release even just a handheld one, three years at the least.

  14. Drahken says:

    Jeez, look at that wall of text, and I realized I hadn’t touched on the story. But I’ll TRY to keep it brief. and watch out for MAJOR SPOILERS***

    They said beforehand that this was the origin story of the Master Sword. But I didn’t recall them specifically saying it was all going to take place chronologically first in the timeline. (Keep in mind this was before that game came out, and definitely before they released the official timeline a few days ago.) So then I saw that Eldin Province was one giant lava flow and Lanaryu Province had dried up from a watery area to a desert. There were “ancient” robots. The Temple of Time is in ruin. They tell you that the Imprisoned was really some warlord guy who wanted the Triforce. And finally, Zelda escapes though a time travel gate. I was convinced; absolutely sure; that the bulk of the game was taking place far in the future, where we’d forge the Master Sword, then bring it back in time, and the Imprisoned was a sealed Gannondorf. Tell me that wouldn’t have been crazy cool. Then I when I went through the gate myself and saw it really was in the past, and I’d just traveled further into the past, I was disappointed. They tell you the past area is really far back in time. But without telling how much time, and with nothing in between, it lessens the impact. Was Zelda asleep for a thousand years, or two weeks? Who can tell? And would it matter, since nothing happens in the intervening time.

    Plus this leaves a bunch of problems and opens up a lot of questions. So Lanaryu went from ocean, to desert, to lake? The hell? What happened to the Mogmas, Kikwi, and, umm, jellyfish-guys? The robots are already considered ancient. How long ago were they made? Same for the Temple of Time. It’s in ruin. How long ago was IT built? How far back DOES the history go? This is by far the first story chronologically and they’re opening up the concept of people older than this. We’re talking about lost ancient great civilizations, long crumbled away, and this is all before the founding of Hyrule. And now the official timeline is talking about “eras”. We’re getting into some Tolkien-esque shit here. Are we just going to keep stretching further and further back? If so, then the earlier games (earlier released. but later in the timeline. I think my brain broke.) have less meaning. “OoT is a pivotal moment and causes the timeline splits off in three!” “Good for you. That effects games B, C, E, and F. But these next six games we’re going to put out all take place 10,000 years before that, so OoT is completely irrelevant to the stories we’re telling now.” Where does it end?

    So yeah. I liked the story. It was good, but I feel like they missed an opportunity for some cool time travel shenanigans. I definitely feel better about it after seeing the epic final boss battle, hearing Demise’s vow, and seeing the ending. But I think they’ve opened up a can of worms and made the timeline potentially way more complicated.

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