Why I hated Skyward Sword

SPOILERS AHEAD

So I got Skyward Sword this January, and if your name is Name Undisclosed you've heard me complain about it a great deal. And for once I feel I was justified. I don't think I've ever been so monumentally disappointed. Even Twilight Princess, which I have another post whining about, wasn't this bad. I expected a new, exciting Zelda game with tons of new ideas and engaging gameplay. IGN's glowing review drew me in, closer and closer until I finally got caught in the net.

Let's start off with what I liked about this game. I liked the fact that Zelda was somewhat of a character now instead of a cardboard cutout you spend the whole game lusting after. She was something real, something you could reach out and touch if you wanted to. There was real personality there, too, and God help me it reminded me of myself a little. She even gives you an important item that will undoubtedly save your life many times on. However, THE GIGGLING is what will do you in. She doesn't laugh. She gives a hysteric, high-picted, hello i am a middle school girl CACKLE.

Despite this, you actually interact with her until she is captured. Not captured so much as swallowed by a giant tornado, but you get my point. Anyway, nice "character development" for a Nintendo game. Did I mention she saves your life in the beginning? Well, only after she nearly kills you twice, that's all.

Now for the graphics. I know the game has been catching a lot of flak for being cel-shaded and all, but it actually looks great. There is an insane amount of detail in some places, less in others but there's no use bitching about how it's a cartoon. Just don't look at the leaves on the trees.

I'm going to dissect the swordfighting mechanics here, and I'm going to try being generous. They suck. Your sword is very responsive, but in all the wrong ways. It would've been nice if you could chose Link's dominant hand, which they moved to his right now that people are going to be actually swinging the sword like Link does. To go along with that, and maybe it's just because I was using my left hand, the sword kept jerking around when I tried to move it in a circle. That was important in some places because you do this to confuse giant eyes stuck in the wall. Not that there's any hint you need to do that, so if you're not a fan of Super Mario 64 I don't know how you were supposed to figure that part out.

I found the sword jerky and harsh at the best of times (if that made any sense). At the worst of times, it would just swing when I didn't want it to. This is sort of bad when you're trying to fight something huge.

Show of hands, who has played OoT? Remember how you'd be dicking about in Hyrule Field and suddenly Navi would yell "Hey, listen?" Well, she's got nothing on your sidekick this time. But more about that later, because I want to get to the Magical Degrading Shield.

You can buy a little wooden shield in Skyloft (your starting town). It brought back fond memories of the Kokiri Shield and Ordon Shield, and I bought it because I was getting my ass kicked by those goddamn Deku Babas because my sword wouldn't work right. The first time I took a hit, these little meter appeared. OK, I thought. My shield degrades. This is awesome. But then I took a couple of hard knocks and it broke. Literally, five or six hits and the thing just exploded. By the time I got to my first Stalfos, it would take three shots, sometimes two.

And we finally get to your sidekick. Her name is Fi, which I'm sure is significant somehow. Basically, she comes out of your sword and talks to you. Let's get past the annoying voice and odd sounds every time you click the chatbox. She tells you how long you've been playing and even small hints. But every goddamn time you start a new game, or what seems like every five minutes, Fi pops out, freezes your game and chimes that your shield is nearly gone or your batteries are running low. Not only does she chime on screen, she chimes very loudly from your remote, too. Forget the fact that you probably have an hour once you're down to one power bar on the remote, Fi the hero is right up there and warning you!

Moving on, the actual worlds. You begin in Skyloft, a friendly little hub town with potential for exploring. It's a happy place full of Justified Tutorials and looks a bit like a carnival. Much like Twilight Princess, you have to do a bunch of little chores to get used to the game. Grating, but fine. Then there's the Knights or whatever they're called. God help you if you fall off of Skyloft. They swoop down and save you, but not before you get an unskippable conversation about how you should be more careful and then five more seconds as you watch them fly off.

Never mind that you have a giant bird you can fly on, if you fall off anywhere other than the approved dock-like locations, you're screwed. Aside from that, the first bit is rather enjoyable and it made me excited for what was to come.

The first time you get dropped into the real world, it's in the middle of a giant depression in the ground with a giant motherf-cking spiral track running up to the top. There is absolutely no reason for this giant track which, even while running, will still take a good amount of time to traverse. You crash through some forest, hoping that you don't disturb any bee nests (and God help you if you do). The first thing that struck me was the narrowness of the paths. There was absolutely no room to move around, or explore. Remember Kokiri Forest? Clock Town? All the open space once you got Zelda to the Sanctuary? Where is it? Where is my exploration? Not to sound like I have my head up my ass but I have been longing for the games that gave you space to breathe between temples and dungeons, where you had wide open spaces and heart pieces and items and just room to walk around.

You know how important that is to me? When I was very little, and OoT and MM's dungeons terrified me, I played on my brother's 100% files. I made up little stories and just ran around. You can't do that in this game. You will follow that path, goddammit, or you will do nothing.

Before a dozen of you come out of nowhere and say, "Every Zelda game does that! You couldn't meet the Great Deku Tree until you got a sword and shield! You couldn't leave Clock Town until you got to the top of the Clock Tower on the third day! You couldn't go in many places until you got your first medallion!", let me explain. If you say those things, you are exactly right. But you know what set Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and A Link to the Past apart?

You could still do things! I could run around Kokiri Forest as much as I wanted, jumping off roofs, smashing pots, robbing Mido blind. Until I got bored with all that, THEN I went to the Deku Tree. Clock Town had so much to do and explore before you even beat Woodfall Temple. You ran around talkng and interacting with the NPCs and seeing how it changed from day to day. You tried to run into Kafei's house before he closed the door when you rang the bell. Your Bomber's notebook turned Clock Town into one giant sidequest where you could spend hours upon hours doing what you wanted. Those games put the power in YOUR hands. The player had control. You did what you wanted with those games because they weren't the developer's anymore, they were YOURS.

Skyward Sword looked at all that, said, "lol, fag" and then ran off screaming in the other direction. Your first experience with the real world is a series of forest corridors that box you in. I will give credit where credit is due, though, because when you have the task of finding three little nut-shaped creatures, they plunk you down in an open space and say "Have at it, my friend." For a while, you are tickled with a glimpse of what this game could be, and then it's all yanked out from under your feet like a rug. (Of course, while you're in this clearing, you have no freedom to go anywhere else).

For example, let's just compare maps of the worlds:OoT, Majora's Mask, ALttP. If you remember these games, especially A Link to the Past, every single place was connected and wide open and easy to get to. Termina Field and Hyrule Field were nice, open hubs where you could just pop out of one place, turn, and then run (or roll) to another. There was absolutely nothing stopping you from running to Gerudo Valley while you should've been on Death Mountain.

Yes, Majora's Mask had those barriers (icicles that kept you from getting into Snowhead without the bow). I will give you that. However, it had enough to keep me occupied in sidequests and masks and Anju-Kafei love affairs. So I suppose MM is out of the question for this, but still. The hub.

Here is Skyward Sword's world: Skyward Sword.

Skyloft is not your hub, by the way. It is in the middle of the sky.

Before people begin bashing me, I will mention the bird statues. Remember those Owl Statues and how you'd go into a convulsing rage when you couldn't get to one? You needed them to save but got reduced to begging "Five more minutes" because you COULDN'T F-CKNG SAVE. You use these bird statues, in Skyward Sword, to get back to Skyloft. Once you activate them, you use them to travel from statue to statue. Unfortunately, they are rather sparsely placed in some cases and clustered together in others.

So that's it, basically. If I remember something else, I'll shove it in here. It's not a professional review, I am not trying to be impartial and I'm not claiming there's no childhood bias here. Just try not to flame me too hard in the comments, because I won't be reading them.

I'll be doing absolutely anything other than Skyward Sword.

skyward sword rant review wii musingsthoughts gaming related

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