Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review
Author: Jeff McAllister

I’ll come right out of the gate and say that I have not played every Legend of Zelda game ever created. I eat babies, and punch kittens too. Yes, I am a bad person. I have played the original Legend of Zelda for the NES and I have played Ocarina of Time for the N64, but that’s about the extent of my relationship with Link. So with that said, let’s get into it. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii has been teased and shown in bits and bobs for what seems like the entirety of the Wii’s life cycle and ironically enough, as it’s finally released, it may be the last title that anyone cares about for the system.

The story starts on an island in the Sky, known as Skyloft. It’s here that Link and Zelda attend the Knight’s Academy where Zelda’s father is the headmaster. After a little introduction to the town and its surroundings –and by little, I mean about 3 hours- Zelda vanishes and the game FINALLY starts to kick into gear. Link is contacted by a “thing” called Fi that leads him to a secret entrance in the town’s temple and learns that there is a whole other land below the clouds called “the surface.”

DUN DUN DUN.

Link takes up the challenge of tracking down Zelda on the surface-along with Fi who now resides in his sword – and from then on is able to enter the dungeon-esque regions of the surface that unlock one after another. The regions vary from a forest, to a volcano, and a desert, and you will be visiting each area a multitude of times. That’s not to say each time you go back it will be the exact same, as the areas do get switched up. The Forest and Volcano areas are the usual fare, while the Desert missions offer the most diverse gameplay found in the game. In the desert areas, you will need to change time via time crystals that are found every so often, that when struck, will reverse time in a small range of area, changing the now dilapidated and dusty areas into the vibrant and bustling setting it once was.

Skyward Sword is a long game. My play through clocked in at 59 hours, while I have heard others completing it in the 35-40 range. A lot of this play time is through drawn out missions that have you collecting multiple pieces of an object that you’ll need to proceed. Need a key to enter a door? Chances are that key will be split into 5 pieces that you’ll have to track down. It’s not bad when it happens once or even twice, but when it’s over and over that you are required to go and collect multiple pieces of an object, it just gets so mind numbingly tedious.

Along the journey Link will uncover a number of different items to help him out. There are actually a good number of items that can be found, such as a whip to swing on branches, a bellows to blow air, and the Clawshot that acts as a grappling hook. Many of the items, when used for their purposes are pretty great in both form and function. The only problem being that many of the items you don’t really need to use all that often. The whip and the gust bellows have their fifteen minutes of fame and then are used less than a handful of times for the rest of the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was set to be what a Wii game is all about, and for the most part that’s exactly what it is. A game that while well-crafted has one major issue with it. The way it controls. Having Wii Motion Plus is not an option for this game, so if you don’t have it already, you’ll need to shell out an extra $30 to get it, or buy the Limited Edition which comes with a fancy gold colored Wii-mote with Plus built in for $80. The whole idea behind motion plus for Zelda is to make the interactions with the Wii-mote and the sword as seamless as possible, a 1:1 ratio of movement and recognition.

For the most part that seems to be how it functions but there are too many times that the Wii-mote would need to be re-centered to make the controls as responsive as they should be. Many enemies when attacking will put up a block with their sword or shield, making it so you have to attack in a precise strike in a certain direction. For the most part yes, that’s how it works, but for a game that boasts waggling won’t get you through, waggling like mad does do just that. For example, there are lizard enemies that will block with a shielded arm and can be brutal to take down while trying to place precision slices. A little waggling of the Wii-mote and these enemies would be down in a tenth of the time it took when trying to do it the way the game wanted you to. It’s silly and works on just about every enemy, save for a particular boss.

Skyward Sword is the definitive Zelda game for this generation and with control issues aside, the game does everything it set out to. It is an epic picturesque journey that allows players to fight in the Zelda universe in a way that’s never been properly done. While some may agree with my opinion that the game gets dragged out much longer than it should, Zelda devotees want all the action they can get and Skyward Sword should satiate every single one of them.

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Developer: Nintendo
Rating: E
Release Date: November 21th 2011
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Wii
Game provided for review