I’ve been very hesitant on reviewing this game since I beat it nearly a couple weeks ago. I always tend to feel as if I’m a little biased towards this series, so I normally need to wait a little bit after I finish a new Zelda title for the first time so I can allow it to sink in logically versus anything else.
Before I talk about anything relating to the story of the game, I want to point out control issues first. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword took me nearly 66 hours to complete on my first playthrough, but the first 10 hours is how long it took me to get to the first temple in the game; Skyview Temple. Before playing Skyward Sword I had never played a game that used the Wii Motion+, but I was almost about to rage quit the game around the 7th hour, and then I almost rage quit again when it took me 5 deaths before I could kill the first Skulltula! Despite the controls starting off feeling absolutely horrid to me, by the time of the second temple I had gotten a general feel for the controls, and then as if like magic this game started feeling like it could have the best controls in the entire series… At least that was what I was beginning to think until the Whip item severely hurt my wrist trying to use it, and then the controls started inverting themselves whenever I had to re-calibrate the controller after the batteries would die. Also, that frustrating flying test towards the end of the game as well.
However, something that the game excels really well at doing is bringing the characters to life and developing them over the course of the game. Characters I despised at the beginning of the adventure ended up becoming some of my favorites by the time that the story was done; and even I became attached to the robotic Fi even though her personality didn’t change much. Even in the NPC characters, it felt as if everyone was exploding with a personality of some kind. Not only did the characters seem to be brimming with emotions, but these things were also shown well on the character’s bodies too; as the facial and body expressions were animated extremely well!
Another aspect of the game I enjoyed were the dungeons and environments. You backtrack quite often in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but regardless of that, it did not always feel like you were going through the same areas over and over again; even if the Faron Province had to play double duty of acting as both the Forest and Water locations. The dungeon designs were refreshing and new as well. The Pirate Ship was a fun new take on what places could be described as a dungeon, and the art direction of the Ancient Cistern almost brought a tear to my eye the first time I played the dungeon. Speaking of dungeons, the Goddess walls were a nice addition for helping players out, but it seemed like nothing I could draw would be recognized by the wall, and instead I was just always given hearts.
Getting to the story of the game, it feels like it starts as a typical “You and your childhood best friend are happy, friend gets kidnapped, you become a hero and save them”-kind-of-story-line. However, while it still somewhat feels like this by the end of the game, the story grows beyond that, and actually connects with instances in other titles in The Legend of Zelda series; feeling like it brings everything together of the constant Good vs. Evil battle. However, this game does use a bit of Time Traveling, and time traveling tends to be a sticky subject sometimes. This being an issue of at the end of the game, you defeat imprisoned form of Demise in the present… However, you have to go back in the past, and defeat Demise there as well; after he is resurrected by Ghirahim. Though, if he is defeated in the past, then what about instances that happen in the future, and I don’t think there are two of him around, but people still have the memory of you fighting his present self, despite him technically not being there after you defeated him in the past…?
Graphically, Skyward Sword garnered a lot of mixed opinions early on, most of which were rather hateful; as it seems to follow in the footsteps of one of it’s predecessors, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. However, upon playing Skyward Sword, I was blown away by the graphics. Yes, The Legend of Zelda is not “HD” yet, but that still doesn’t stop it from being beautiful. As a friend of mine pointed out, upon first look the backgrounds in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword appear to be blurry… However, the backgrounds are meant to mimic impressionistic watercolor paintings from a distance. Combining that with how well the game transitions from that to the normal graphic style once you move towards what is in the background is astounding.
However, there were times that the graphics began to grate on my nerves, but sadly, this was a problem that is found in quite a few games, spanning many consoles and developers, when the game tries to push the limits of the system it is played on. In Skyward Sword, this nuisance boiled down to constant white pixel flickers across the screen from time to time. At first, I thought this was a system issue, so I did the logical thing and began testing other games I own for the Wii; as well as looking up the issue online. Upon research, it was just an issue with the game itself, as nothing else I owned caused it to reappear; except for Skyward Sword.
Last but not least with this game, the music is absolutely fantastic. From the first moments of taking to the sky on Link’s crimson loftwing to battling the demon lord Ghirahim to even playing the handful of mini-games, there was not a track that felt out of place. Even on it’s own, I can listen to the songs from the game, and instantly be brought back to the moments played in the game. Each track on it’s own is wonderfully and beautifully composed, but brought together for the game as a whole, and it just made the experience of Skyward Sword even more incredible. Aside from the new songs made for the game, there are also quite a few nostalgic songs from older Zelda titles hidden among the game as well.
Overall, the game, the story, the characters, the music, everything of Skyward Sword astounded me… except for the gameplay sometimes; since normally when I sit down to play a game I do it to relax, not to throw out my shoulder.