Gaming Review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

skyward sword coverDespite his effeminate, childish looks, Link is actually older than me, as the screen full of 25th anniversary excellence will inform you when starting the game.  Yet somehow he still manages to be far more active.  Granted I have a really comfy couch, and am not the one destined to save the world.  He can keep that burden, which he must once again shoulder in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

As a boy of this elderly age in the gaming industry, the other problem seems to be that dementia has set in.  “Yo, Link!  You’ve done this all before!  Who are you, Mario!?”  But instead of pegging the story “annoyingly unoriginal,” we will just go with “adorably classic.”  After all, sometimes a game really just needs a love story where a hero will conquer all to save the princess.  Besides, this time the game is set in the sky, and based on The Hangover Part 2 we know that the same story is worth being retold if the setting has changed (see that review to see just how much I loved that repetition).  So machete all of the details from the last game and add a new back-story, new locations, and pick up your wiimote and go.

Oooo… I get it now.  As I have been typing away at this I was wondering why I have been sounding so bitter at this game.  And then I remembered that poor excuse of a controller.  Skyward Sword is Zelda’s attempt to glorify the control of the Wii controller, but as someone who would prefer a left-handed Zelda, I just can’t get on board (no I can’t just swap what hand holds what controller because as a gamer I am used to using my left hand for the movement joystick and just can’t switch that over to my right for one game).  If I can’t swing my sword around in my dominant hand, then what is the point of perfect sync between my controller movement and his sword?  I’ll tell you, there is no point.  That’s right, we are now at what could possibly be the Wii’s final attempt to produce a great game for “gamers” and yet it has not advanced from one of its launch titles’ controls.  While playing Twilight Princess I basically swung the sword with a flick of the wrist, and that’s all I did here.  No arm movement, just full on, cramp-inducing flicks.

So whether or not it was the controller’s build into the game or just my inability to use the controllers correctly, I found myself rather frustrated with the controls of the game.  For starters, I am pretty sure that I spent more time realigning my controller’s aim to the middle of the screen because it only took about a minute to completely get out of sync.  Case and point, I should not have to practically aim over my shoulder to shoot at something towards the top of the screen.  And then there were so many enemies that had some sort of ability to block by reading where you held your sword, so what started as first trying to manipulate the enemy into thinking I was going to swing in the opposite angle that I was actually planning on coming from ended with me just moving the controller around with a directionless furry.  Basically the Wii’s equivalent to button mashing, but far more idiotic looking.  Not only that, but this “advanced” control also takes away auto locking on targets when ranged weapons come into play.  Don’t lock onto something and then force me to aim around the screen as soon as I pull out my slingshot!  That’s just rude.

Before I go on a tangent about how impossible it was for my Wii to register if I was trying to throw, roll, or just simply hold a bomb until it blew up in Link’s arms, I will say that the one thing that was decently done was the flying control.  The Avatar-like relationship between man and bird was a little eye-roll worthy at first, but before long this actually became one of the finer moments of the game.  Air combat wasn’t always a cakewalk, but flying was at least fun enough to make the amount of required airtime necessary to move around the world bearable.

There, I said something nice about the game; now back to the bad.  As fun as adventuring around these worlds, slaying bad guys can be, the one thing that this game does not lack is repetition.  In other words, the game is spread out to the length that it is solely because Link has become the errand boy of the world.  “Hey person, I need you to help me learn a stupid song that will allow me to find something.”  “Oh really, Peter Pan?  Well go find this person and tell them this so they will give you this to bring back to me so that I can then send you to someone else who will make you collect the parts of the song instead of just telling you because after all you have done she still doesn’t think you are the one hero destined to save the world.”  “I HAVE PROVEN MYSELF ALREADY!  ABOUT 80 TIMES!  HALF OF THOSE TIMES TO YOU!”  Not like that dragon lady is going to come help you fight the good fight in the end, just shank her and be on your way.

Then again, as much as I complain about how often I was sent running around the map, the people who should get the most credit for this game are the level designers.  There are only three worlds below the clouds to go to, yet most of the time when you venture back to one area you will discover a new part that wasn’t there before, making it a new experience of sorts.

With that said, towards the end I still found myself debating if they threw in so many fetch missions and trials for Link to beat because they wanted to distract you from the fact that one of the bad guys you fight is a repeat offender to the nth degree, so much so that I lost track of how many times I came up against this boss.  Then again, at least he looked better than the sea boss.  I was laughing so hard at the creature design to that one, which turned out to be something between a Rastafarian and a Monsters, Inc monster that I was surprised that I wasn’t killed 8 or 9 times before I was able to stop laughing at it.

Oh man, so much bitter animosity in this one.  All diehard Zelda fans are probably lighting their torches and picking up their giant angry mob forks to come hunt me down, but I can’t help it that this game was just plain disappointing.  Fun, but I don’t need a “helper” that talks to me like I’m a child and I don’t want to go flying back and forth for hours and hours doing menial tasks.  I am the chosen hero for crying out loud!  And on the 25th anniversary of the series I should feel more heroic than this because I know that Link, who I have grown so attached to, deserves far better than this game.  Stupid Wii with your stupid controller and stupid outdated graphics…

Final Grade:  7/10

After all that angry ranting I am sure a 7 seems too high, but in all honesty a lot of what killed this game for me are problems I have with the system and not necessarily with the game, though it obviously had some flaws as well.

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2 thoughts on “Gaming Review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

  1. This game was not nearly as difficult or as captivating as the other games in the series. Temples were too short (no compass and only a handful of rooms to explore) and too simplistic (one key to find in most of them?!?). I think the last temple had the map treasure chest in the middle of the very first room you enter. COME ON! Although for the most part the temples got progressively bigger and harder, they weren’t very memorable. When playing through the game, I kept thinking about the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time; the eerie music, how difficult it was to find every key, and being able to get through the level in one piece. The only time this game reached that pull your hair out of your head level of difficulty was when I was trying to maneuver the sword/controller to stop hitting the enemy on their electrified stick (I SAID TRUST NOT SLASH!). There was plenty to enjoy about the game, but there could have been a ton more obstacles/enemies to face on you flying bird and the sand sailboat portion was clever and should have been expanded…..Oh well, time to put away the Wii (forever?) and move on to BATMAN ARKHAM CITY!

  2. M Stout: I completely agree with you and what you said. I remember pre Wind Waker it was almost a requirement for me to have the physical strategy guide sitting next to me while I played. Granted I was little and wanted every single mask in Majora’s Mask, but still, this definitely speaks to the level of challenge, which Skyward Sword definitely did not have. Instead everything was pretty straight forward.

    And those electrified sticks… Those things ticked me off so much! Basically I got to the point where if I couldn’t get to them before it lit up then I would just run for it.

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