the Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword


Near the start of Skyward Sword, Link is told rather bluntly that him being born under a lucky star will likely be enough for him to beat his more hard-working classmates, and rightly so. The skewed morality gave me pause – did someone actually think this was a good theme, or did they simply do the best they could with a mythos that was set in stone? I got the same feeling for a lot of things with the game – be it the design, interface, art… The craftsmanship was great, but the origin of the ideas were dated and coarse.

At this point I should probably mention that I had to run through it in three days instead of taking the time to explore, which is certainly not how you get enjoyment out of any Zelda game. I did like it (and I wish I could spend another three days or so just exploring the game) but I had hoped for more and this is to be considered an exploration as to why.

Perhaps because of the series’ 25th anniversary, Skyward Sword feels like a combination of the earlier, overworld-style Zelda games and the grand ocean of Wind Waker. There are some nods to earlier games and the variation in gameplay is astounding even for a Zelda title. The broad focus might have contributed to what I feel are some core elements not being quite there though. The mechanics of certain enemies can put you in situations where you will die far too quickly to figure out what to do. Some parts of the quest feel like they’re just there to waste my time rather than being fun to play. The camera is good overall, but too ambitiously intelligent and more often than not ends up behind something. The controls are incoherent both with earlier games and within this one – and that is not even mentioning the wiimote controls.

One thing that is interesting with Skyward Sword is how the comparison to Twilight Princess says something about gimmicks in gameplay. Twilight Princess was developed for the Gamecube and was a relatively “pure” game whereas Skyward Sword is developed around the wii controls – most enemies and virtually every boss requires you to slash in different directions. While this works okay most of the time, it is not as quick or precise as pressing a button by far. The gimmick is fun for awhile, sure, but we get a game that is slower, less exact and more constrained in several ways – the funky controls take up so much place that it is less of a “Zelda” game.

I would like to say that a return to form would be a better strategy for Nintendo, but drawing the line between doing too little and too much in terms of innovation is a hard thing. And it might be that people like me, the people who played the original Zelda before it had sequels on other platforms, are just not the right people to appease for a game that expects you to sink in 50+ hours exploring for exploration’s sake.

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Posted on Dec 31/11 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »