The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review
Another Great Zelda!
Novemeber 2011 was a great month for gamers. In a 30 day period, the majority of the years most anticipated games were released and I was struggling to decide which of these games I should spend my $110AU EB voucher on. I was already playing Skyrim, and being the RPG enthusiast that I am, Zelda was the obvious choice. I hadn’t heard much about the specifics of the game, frankly because I didn’t really care. It was Zelda, and for that reason, it was going to be a quality game. So out of the store I strolled, planning to head straight home and into my gaming room, when I heard a faint “excuse me, sir” coming from behind me. I turn around only to see the store clerk waving me down. “Do you have a Motion Plus controller?” It turns out that Zelda: Skyward Sword requires a special Wii controller capable of detecting even more precise movements. Not having played many new Wii games for quite some time, I was unaware of this. However, now I can look back and say that the additional $60AU was a fair investment, as the motion is considerably enhanced and allows for some pretty badass gameplay. In fact, most of the game is just that; badass. Skyward Sword provides everything you would expect from a Zelda game and its 50 odd hours of gameplay was very satisfying. There were of course a few areas that could have been improved upon, but they were quite minor issues. Put simply, Zelda: Skyward sword is a must have title for all Wii owners, and certainly lives up to the Zelda name.
The game is set before any other Zelda title on a floating land mass known as the Skyloft, completely cut off from the world’s surface due to a thick blanket of clouds. Can you guess what happens next? Of course you can! Zelda goes missing and it’s up to our hero, Link, to travel below the clouds and save her from the evil “Demon Lord”, Ghirahim. To do this, and to save the world, Link must complete the usual quests such as obtaining the Master Sword and the Tri-force. The plot is very average, as can be expected from a Zelda title, but still manages to throw in a twist or two along the way. The characters are much like the plot; ordinary, but still enough to get the job done. Ghirahim is an interesting enough antagonist and the few times that I got to kick his ass put a smile on my face. The only real down side to the way the story has been structured is the amount of back tracking that it requires you to do, but I blame the lack of an expansive world for this (more on this point later). The plot is far from a riveting tale but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows for more freedom to create a true adventurous feeling.
This epic adventure that Link undertakes is enhanced by the Wii Motion Plus accessory. It allows precise movements that are simply impossible for the basic Wii controller to accomplish. This gameplay really assists in putting you in the shoes of our hero, Link. If you swing the Wii remote upward on a 36 degree angle, Link will do the same. If you thrust your controller towards the TV, Link will do the same. While the response isn’t perfect, it’s still 100 times better than what was possible in the past and makes for some really awesome slashing action. I’m very excited to see how Nintendo will utilise this technology in the future as it certainly did Skyward Sword the world of good! Below is a video of the gameplay in action. Note that the angle that Link is holding his sword a direct response to how the gamer is holding his Wii Remote.
As any Zelda fan would know, there’s more to Links arsenal than his sword. Through his journey, Link will acquire several tools to both assist him in battle, and in solving the many puzzles he will face. Some of these tools work very well. A personal favourite of mine was a mechanical flying beetle. When released, the beetle will soar into the air and move in response to how you tilt your controller. Steering it through narrow caves in an attempt to gather gems or to attack enemies made for some awesome moments. Other tools include a Gust Bellows that enables Link to blow away enemies or sand and the whip that allows you to swing on certain objects or steal items from enemies. Then there is of course the typical set of tools common to most Zelda games, such as the slingshot, bomb bag, grappling claw and the bow. Most of these items are a lot of fun to play around with and make for some very interesting puzzles and boss fights (especially the amazing final dungeon which requires the use of all items at one point or another), but others just seemed like wasted potential, such as the whip. It’s a whip! Whips are awesome! Surely they could have utilised it more effectively...
Upgrading these tools was one of the most enjoyable parts of Zelda to me. When you discover a tool in a dungeon, its functionality is standard. In town, however, there is a scrap shop owner who is able to upgrade some of these items if given certain items. For example, you can upgrade your regular bow into an Iron Bow (with increased distance and attack power) for 50 Rupees, 3 Tumbleweeds, 1 Evil Crystal, 3 Monster Claws, and 2 Eldin Ores. These items are found all over the world and hunting them down for your next upgrade is a lot of fun and very rewarding. This RPG-like addition is very nice considering the only other way you can really become more powerful is by collecting heart containers to increase your life.
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..... well not quite but it is May the Forth today, so I’m excused. Many, many years ago, the Goddess Hylia sent a huge chunk of land into the air in order to protect the people from the chaotic, demonic army lead by Demise, the one who the games antagonist, Ghirahim is trying to resurrect. Today, the Skyloft is home to the human race and is unfortunately the only town in the game that you’ll be able to explore. I love discovering new towns, talking to the residents and seeing what secrets I can discover, but this time around, the majority of people you can interact with are located above the clouds. The Skyloft itself has a dozen or so smaller land masses surrounding it (including a pub) and to reach them you’ll have to travel on your Loftwing (giant bird). However, the amount of explorable land up there is fairly limited. I hate to say it, but the land below the clouds was a disappointment too. There are essentially three main areas that you can descend to (the Faron Woods, Lanayru Desert and the Eldin Volcano). Each of these areas are moderate in size but they are completely isolated from each other meaning that you have to return to the sky and descend at another location in order to change areas. I’ve always been a fan of large open worlds but this felt very limited and linear in the way that you are told when to change areas and when to backtrack back to areas that you previously thought you were done with. The variety in the locations is still very diverse, but I didn’t appreciate the lack of an open world and the amount of backtracking I was forced to do. Below is an image of the three distinct areas on world’s surface.
One of the true joys in Zelda is taking some time out from the main story to take on the side quests. Despite the lack of an expansive, connected world, Skyward Sword still manages to please in this regard. The main single side quest in the game revolves around gathering Gratitude Crystals in order to turn a friendly demon, residing in the depths of the Skyloft, into a human again. These crystals can be found by making the Skyloft residents grateful, and this is done by completing individual quests for them. I really like the way that all of these smaller quests contribute to one main quest and Skyward Sword should be praised for this. In addition to the Skyloft quests, there is also lengthy quest to complete on the surface of the world, and that is to activate the many Goddess Cubes scattered around the world. By doing so, a previously locked treasure chest above the clouds will be unlocked, allowing you to take its contents. These Goddess Cubes are well placed around the world and getting to some of them will take some brain power. It’s all worth it in the end because some of the rewards are very useful.
And there you have it; Zelda: The Skyward Sword; a very worthy addition to the massively successful Zelda series that has graced Nintendo consoles for the past 25 years. Just about everything this time around is delivered at a very high standard, and the Motion Plus enhanced gameplay is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Zelda games are always “must play” games and this is no different. With the release of new generation systems in the near future, the Wii is on its last legs. I suggest you experience what Skyward Sword has to offer before these new consoles become a distraction!
About the author
- Side Quest 1
- The Mogma Problem 7
- Feral Skyloft kitties 21
- Demise is of no threat to anyone but the Picori 1
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- City in the Sky was part of Lakebed Temple. 0
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- Introduction Thread 75
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