"The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword" Video Game Review (Wii)
the first Wii-exclusive Zelda title, requiring the use of the Wii MotionPlus controller. The best way to describe this game is “refreshing”, as Nintendo went back into their tool kit and used new ideas to craft this game into something that offers new experiences and diverges from the repetitive gameplay patterns that the major Zelda titles of the past have given us over the years. So the major question is, does Skyward
Sword hit the mark on being another legend to remember? I’ll be
happily shedding some light in my review.
- You will now use your Wii mote and nunchuk to control your sword and shield and create strategies to defeat fierce foes.
- You can now upgrade your equipment by using the items you will find from killing enemies.
- Unlock a brand new hard mode called “Hero Mode” after completing your first play-through.
- Occasionally pick what Link says during conversations.
- Use your Wii mote to control different gadgets and solve puzzles within dungeons and environments.
Taking place before all the previous Zelda titles, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword takes us high into the heavens with a floating town called “Skyloft”. In Skyloft, people ride birds through the skies and have barely any knowledge about the mysterious land below their clouds. We are then introduced to Link, who decides to enter the Wing Ceremony Competition after being requested to do so by his childhood friend, Zelda. After the events of the competition, a tornado comes out of nowhere and snatches Zelda away. Link soon meets a mysterious sword spirit named “Fi” who instructs him on how they can find her. With the power of his newly gained Goddess Sword, Link then flies himself out of Skyloft and journeys to the land below. However, he will soon have to face many foes and monsters who are being led by the antagonistic Demon Lord, Ghirahim.
The story starts off rather slow and it doesn’t become extremely interesting until much later in the game, but the characters keep you interested enough that this isn’t that big of an issue. Skyward Sword’s main protagonist is currently my favorite Link in the series. He is full of emotion and determination to help Zelda, which is wonderfully shown the most during major scenes. If there was ever a Zelda game where I was moved about how Link felt, it would be this one. Without spoiling anything, Ghirahim is also now my favorite villain in the Zelda series. He’s extremely evil, psychotic, and definitely not all talk when it comes to his status as a Demon Lord. Other characters will keep you laughing, like Link’s “rival” Groose. Others will just keep you wondering about their involvement in the story, such as the mysterious Fi.
Overall, the story of Skyward Sword is engaging enough to grasp your attention, and it pays off as its major themes start to unfold.
The gameplay in Skyward Sword includes many interesting changes and marks a major turning point for the series. The environments you explore in the land under the clouds contain more puzzles and exploration, while the dungeons are much shorter than what we’ve been given in the previous Zelda titles. The dungeons will usually only contain two or three big puzzles that will put your mind to the test, while the rest of the time progressing will usually just involve you having to explore the surroundings. While some may not like this, I personally enjoyed the change of pace. It makes the gaming experience much more relaxing, while helping new players get into the series and have an easier time.
Fortunately, there is plenty of challenge to be found. Not only do you lose a whopping one heart from a single hit from an enemy, but almost every foe you will face requires actual strategy to beat. You can’t swing your sword around and hope your enemy dies.
In combat, monsters will be carefully blocking your attacks and it’s up to you to outsmart them by swinging your Wii mote horizontally, vertically, and at other angles to take your foes down.
Nintendo even added a “stamina bar” which gives the player the ability to dash around and jump up onto walls. When the stamina bar runs out after lots of dashing, Link will then get tired and it will regenerate after a few seconds. The concept of the stamina bar isn’t bad, yet it does get rather annoying when you realize you overused the dashing ability and suddenly the boss you are fighting is about to kill you. Speaking of which most bosses are either decently challenging or just extremely easy, depending on how obvious their weak points are.
Skyward Sword’s exploration isn’t limited to just the land below the clouds, since you are able to fly your own bird above the sky and explore different sky islands. Most of the sky islands contain “Goddess Chests” that can be unlocked by
discovering Goddess cubes in the land below and hitting them with a Skyward Slash, which is
done by holding your Wii mote straight up.
There are also different side quests available and new items you can buy at Skyloft throughout the course of the game.
The changes don’t end there, as this is the first Zelda game where you can upgrade your equipment with the use of the items you find from killing enemies. Sadly, this is a hit or miss aspect of the game. Because of this feature your shield starts off very weak and enemies can easily break it. So naturally you will want to upgrade your shield so you can make it stronger, but finding the right items to upgrade your equipment can become very tedious. I had to kill so many bats just to get one simple monster claw for an upgrade, and I needed three. Thankfully, you can get medals in the game. Medals increase your chances for not only gaining rare monster items, but even hearts and rupees. The medals can be held in a “Adventure Pouch” where you can hold bomb upgrades, arrow upgrades, and bottles for potions. The adventure pouch has limited space and you will have to buy and find more slots if you want to carry a good number of upgrades.
Graphics: The graphics in Skyward Sword are nicely cel-shaded and smooth. It’s like a fusion of the cel-shaded graphics from “The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker” and the dark rough graphics from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The characters and areas are all colorfully designed and you can tell there was plenty of effort put into them.
Controls: I have a love and hate relationship with the controls. They work nicely when you are fighting enemies and solving the game’s many puzzles, and the Wiimote and nunchuk controls are both very smooth. I did have some control issues in other areas of the game, however. If I try opening the map with my Wii mote, it begins to become unresponsive when I try dragging it across the screen to mark my next destination. And during the sky diving segments of the game, my controls felt oddly uncomfortable and too slippery. So the controls aren’t bad during all the action, yet they don’t do an amazing job when it comes to the small gaming details.
Sound: The soundtrack in this game is very beautiful and every area has music that perfectly matches with it. The music only continues to impress when you get farther into the game and reach new environments.
The Zelda series has always been known for its wonderful music, and Skyward Sword only continues to show that the series has not lost its touch.
Overall: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a shining example of something new; its characters and well-crafted gameplay are what it does best. The graphics and sound are both very well done and I had no complaints whatsoever about them. The art style continues to impress, and I love the character designs that came out of this game. But, I did have problems with the controls. There were many moments while opening the map or playing mini games where my new Wii MotionPlus would not respond properly.
The truth is that not everybody may like this game because it changes a lot of different concepts that fans have grown up with over the past years. But these changes were not a bad thing at all, as Skyward Sword was able to execute its new ideas in a wonderful manner. In the end, it’s a new and refreshing installment that new and old fans can both enjoy. So get ready to raise your Wiimote and enjoy a new legend that raises itself to the heavens.