The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Review by Aegis_Runestone
"A practical review of Skyward Sword"
There's are a few questions we must ask when looking at a new game: is it good? If so, what is good about it, and what are its flaws? Also, will the game last the test of time? This review will look at the game, and answer these questions.
-=Graphics=- Score: 8/10
Since there is no HDMI support for the Wii, and the best one can get to improve the look of the graphics are component cables, this review is throwing out HDMI graphical support as a reason for judging Skyward Sword's graphics.
The graphics are, in general, gorgeous in this game. For example, the sky is breathtaking to look at, and the environment of the areas is beautifully crafted. Skyloft, as another example, fits the very feeling of a peaceful place with its own culture.
However, on the flip-side, the graphics are very cartoony. While that's to be expected with a game that combines the cel-shaded style with the "realistic" style of the Zelda games, it still seems like the player is engaging with a GameCube game, and not a Wii one in terms of graphics.
Another issue with the graphics is that some parts of the models and the textures appear a bit flat. They could have been brought out to appear more three-dimensional in appearance. Especially, since this is a more advanced title than Twilight Princess--which was originally built for the GameCube. Nintendo indeed, could have done more with the models and the textures--just a little more--to make the graphical look of Skyward Sword perfect.
-=Sound/Music=- Score: 9/10
The music in this game is fantastic; the important songs soundtrack are orchestrated, while the remaining songs are well synthesized. For example, the "Ballad of the Goddess" is one of the most beautiful songs in the Zelda Series. The music for the environments create an excellent atmosphere that immerse the player into the game. Skyloft, for example, sounds calm, peaceful, yet lively. And the piece for when the player is flying through the Sky fits with the ambiance like two jigsaw pieces. There is a sense of freedom in flying through the sky with your Wingloft (the bird).
The sound effects are excellent. They add to feel and atmosphere of the game, immersing the player into the world. Whether it's the slashing of the sword, the cackle of the enemies, the cries of the Loftwings, or the wind flowing past the player while flying, Skyward Sword delivers with the sound effects.
There are some annoyances with the sound. Since some items and the sword require the use of the wiimote's speaker when used. They can be very irritating for the player to listen to repeatedly. For example once the play draws their sword, there will be a "schwing" sound that escapes the speaker. If one is playing with headphones, that sound will still be released whenever the player draws their sword, or uses a specific item. It makes playing silently difficult.
-=Gameplay=- Score: 8/10
Skyward Sword has had one of the most anticipated styles of gameplay in the Zelda series. The first apparent aspect about the gameplay is the difficulty of it. Skyward Sword is hard. Enemies will actually take off half and whole hearts on single hits. Some enemies are smart, fast, and dangerous to fight. This adds a level of fun that the previous Zelda games were missing--challenge. The player can defend with their shield, but be warned, the shield can be destroyed just by overusing it.
The biggest aspect of gameply that Skyward Sword promised and delivers is sword-play. It is very satisfying to wave the wiimote in the direction you desire to swing your sword. The freedom to do this allows the player to feel more and more like the hero than just by pressing a button.
The variety of puzzles in this game are also very satisfying. Dungeons make you ponder on what to do next, and the items need to be used creatively to solve problems. The sword, even, is used a lot to solve puzzles, which are not just hitting a switch. In Skyward Sword, the sword is used much more for solving puzzles with monsters, general problems, etc. to move forward with the game.
However, there are some problems with the sword motion controls. It is not as fluid in motion as advertised, and sometimes, Link just won't swing the sword, and instead will just move it in the direction the player moved the wiimote. When these issues present themselves in combat, it can be somewhat frustrating. Another wall-banging aspect with the sword is the fact that some enemies will use their weapon to block the sword. It is difficult to predict where the enemy will place its weapon to defend and sometimes the player has to resort to random swinging to get any results.
Flying can also be frustrating at first due to the the fact that flying is totally controlled by the wiimote. There is no use of the control stick, and without practice, a player may be become very irritated at the mere fact of flying. This aspect of the game is also, a major part of the game. So, if the player is not familiar with diving, swinging the wiimote up to gain momentum, and boosting rocks, it's a very unpleasant experience.
The advantage is that gradually, flying becomes easier and easier, however, and becomes one of the more entertaining parts of the game. It merely requires patience.
-=Story/Characters=- Score: 8.5/10
For a Zelda game, the story is well-written and memorable. Little will be said about the story to avoid spoilers. But not only does the player go along with the story, they are allowed to choose how to react to certain characters with dialog choices. What the player chooses will change the responses of the various characters, though it will not affect the overall story, save a few characters. Some, based on how you reacted will act differently toward you for the rest of the game. However, it only applies to few characters, and not the main storyline.
The story begins with Link awakening from a terrible dream from a letter Zelda has sent to him. She wants to meet him at the Goddess statue and tells him to hurry. What follows is an interesting series of events, yet slightly cliche at the same time. Zelda and Link are childhood friends and tend to be close. When Link arrives at the Goddess Statue to see Zelda, he finds her in a new outfit in which she is to play the part of the Goddess in the Wing Ceremony. She called Link over because she wanted him to be the first to see her outfit for the Wing Ceremony. The story continues from there, eventually leading to Zelda getting into trouble.
The amount of cliches in the game are the flaws with the storyline. All Zelda games have a tendency to have cliches in their storylines, so this is nothing new. However, it does give the storyline a slightly stale taste for the player. However, because of some of the new additions to the storyline, it also has a slightly fresh taste to it. In that sense, the story carries a double feeling for the player.
Regardless, the storyline is as memorable as Twilight Princess's storyline. Skyward Sword's story has depth to it, much like the fore-amentioned game. As the player progresses through the game, they will be begin to see the depth that the story has. Each block of the story builds upon the previous.
Skyward Sword also has more developed characters that will not be forgotten. An example of a good character is the villain himself, Ghirahim. He has a personalty unlike any previous Zelda villain. It will be difficult not to laugh at Ghirahim's "character flaws," and lines. He's also extremely creepy in an entertaining way, while having gentlemen-like qualities at the same time.
A character who is not forgettable either is Link's "assist character," or partner: Fi. Fi is a mix of good and bad things. She is akin to Navi, constantly reminding the player of things they already know, and alerting them to situations that they are aware of (like when Link's life is low). On the other hand, Fi has an interesting sense of humor, and a well-developed character. It comes down to the player whether they will love or hate Fi.
Overall, the storyline is very immersive, and hard to forget.
-=Replayability=- Score: 10/10
Skyward Sword has strong replayability, not only because the player can see how characters react to different dialog choices, but also because of Hero Mode. Hero Mode is a very difficult version of Skyward Sword. There are no heart flowers, nothing that will drop hearts, and enemies and lava deal double damage. The difficulty of Hero Mode will satisfy most who seek a good challenge, and will give the player a reason to play the game again.
-=Overall Score: 9/10=-
Time to answer the questions: is it good? Yes, and many aspects about the game are very good. The graphics are pleasing to the eye, the sound and music immerse the player into the world, the gameplay is fun, and the story is memorable.
What are its flaws? The graphics, despite their beauty, are not as advanced as hoped, some of the sound effects do not flow well with the theme of the game, the gameplay can be frustrating at times, and the story has many cliches.
Finally, will it stand the test of time? Most likely, it will. Ocarina of Time is considered the best Zelda game for most fans, and the reasons stated for that is because it was the first 3D game of the Zelda series and it introduced many new mechanics for combat, puzzles, etc. With the new variety of puzzles, items, and combat system, Skyward Sword will make its mark on video game history as a game in league with the other Zelda games of legend.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/07/11, Updated 02/27/12
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Controller Bundle) (US, 11/20/11)
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