Weekend Game Review – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Skyward Sword draw me in upon first being revealed because of the artstyle. I liked the realistic style of Twilight Princess, and I liked the cartoony look of Wind Waker equally. However I always thought that there should be a Zelda game that took the middle ground, and lo and behold, someone at Nintendo was thinking the same thing. Rejoice! The watercolors and colorful visuals prove that in the era of HD, poly counts, and huge explosions, proper art direction still reigns supreme, and Skyward Sword is excellent proof of this.
The music is similarly well done, with ambient tunes and refreshing tracks that make it one of the best Zelda soundtracks I’ve heard in years. I mean, I don’t even remember most Zelda tracks other than the main ones, but some of the music in Skyward Sword is just excellent, so props there. The aesthetics for the game, as a whole are resplendent.
The story is well written, dialogue is well done, and the characters are definitely memorable, with the concept of an island in the sky and the surface world being unexplored being pretty novel. The dungeons are really creative and the artstyle lends itself well to the environments featured in the game, and the puzzles are pretty fun. Combat is a blast, too, since the motion controls are pretty much spot on. Skyward Sword is probably my favorite game in the series so far, despite the random backtracking prevalent throughout a good chunk of the game. There are some issues with the motion controls when flying (which itself is a horribly underdeveloped system, as the sky is so empty), but as a whole Skyward Sword delivers.
Speaking of motion controls… let’s talk Wii. More to the point, let’s talk Nintendo.First of all, Skyward Sword is the first game to fully realize the potential for the Wii’s motion control and Motion Plus. Let that sink in for a minute. Have you discovered the problem yet? If you said to yourself “wait a second, five-plus years since the Wii was released… why are they just now realizing the full potential of the console,” then congratulations, you are not a corporation run by a bunch of douches who think their devices will keep printing them money.
Back in November 2006, when the Wii was released, we had been given a whole song and dance about how the Wii would offer one-to-one movement and revolutionize how we played our games. Well, the release came and went, we played games like Twilight Princess where the movement was not 1:1 but Link did some reasonable facsimile of what we did, and we played games like Red Steel which were just pieces of shit. Fast forward a year and a half later. “We’re releasing a new add-on!” Nintendo announced, “It will give you true 1:1 movement and let us unleash the true potential of our system!”
That did happen, but it was on the heels of their Wii-U announcement. So here I am, years after the fact, and asking myself, why did Nintendo only capitalize on the full potential of their system AS THEY’RE ROLLING OUT THEIR NEXT ONE? Are they insane? This entire five-year period has been a waste of time as most of the games on the Wii worth playing don’t even need Motion Plus, and the suckers who bought it and want to play games that have reasonable staying power with it only get Skyward Sword and Red Steel 2 (which is much improved, admittedly). Pretty much other games worth playing don’t use motion plus … or motion controls at all! I don’t know about anybody else but after buying my Wii at launch and then getting burned like this, I’m holding off on the Wii U until they prove they won’t pull shit like this and assume we’re all idiots again.
Speaking of assuming we’re idiots, I’m reminded about the single most heinous atrocity that bogs down Skyward Sword. Your companion, Fi, is the single most irritating character in the history of all video gaming. You think Navi was bad with her “Hey, Listen” and “Hey!” exclamations? Well, at least those were optional! With Fi, you’ll get done talking to a character, then Fi will jump out and tell you exactly the same thing the last conversation established, sometimes taking even longer to do so than the original conversation lasted, essentially doubling the amount of time you have to spend in conversations.
There’s more: if you’re low on health in a fierce battle, she’ll jump out suddenly to tell you that your life is low and that health potions do, in fact, replenish your health. She’ll jump out when your remote is almost out of batteries and remind you to switch batteries (by the way, suspension of disbelief? Shattered. So, thanks for that). She’ll jump out when you get near to the next story point. About the only time when she’s not yapping her mouth off is when you actually need her if you get stuck somewhere because then she’s totally useless. Nintendo’s (hopefully unintentional) condescending attitude towards its players in the form of idiotic handholding is baffling for a company that made horrifically difficult platformers in its heyday that included no tutorials or handholding at all. What the fuck is wrong with them nowadays?
However, despite my distaste with Nintendo’s practices and game design choices, I have to give Skyward Sword a recommendation because I love it so much. It might not warrant more than one play, but that one play is an incredible experience.
+ Aesthetically breathtaking
+ Motion controls are generally well-implemented
+ Overall better story and writing
+ Well done dungeons and puzzles
- Constant need for backtracking
- Motion Plus only now hitting its stride
- Flying controls are terrible
- Flying in general is lost potential
!? Why, Nintendo, why?