Zelda Skyward Sword (Review)
This Zelda Skyward Sword review was originally published on December 1st, 2011. Because of changes made to our website the article was missing from our Wii review library.
It’s been 11 days since Zelda Skyward Sword released on the Wii, giving me plenty of time to play Link’s latest adventure, and perhaps the grand finale the Wii deserves. Nintendo’s mastery of it’s own system really pulls through in this fairly long Wii adventure. Everything in Zelda Skyward Sword seems built around proving Wii critics wrong. There are sure to be some Wii bashers who are taken by surprise, when interacting in Link’s latest world for the first time. Zelda Skyward Sword reveals a seamless approach to hardcore gameplay and design, just as powerful and functional as any thing found on the HD consoles. Zelda Skyward Sword is a modern gaming experience, evolving the timeless Zelda franchise and the Wii System to new and full potentials. For Zelda, Skyward Sword is an amazing leap forward and a great entry for the series. For the Wii, Skyward Sword could be a little late to market to save the system from next years more than likely low Wii system and game sales. For anyone that still needs proof that good Wii games exist, prepare to be swayed by Zelda Skyward Sword. The Wii Motion Plus technology required to play really opens the possibilities for user interaction in Wii games. I can’t describe how much fun it is to engage Link’s enemies with total control over his actions, especially when fighting monsters and using one of Link’s many unique weapons. History will Determine the success of the Wii’s latest Zelda game, but some bold changes in direction and mechanics make Zelda Skyward Sword the one Wii game that meets and breaks all expectations. For those stricken by the graphical style or the Wii motion controls you don’t have to worry. Skyward Sword is wrapped in the same timeless Zelda perfection we’ve all come to expect in other Zelda games.
Zelda may never embrace full voice overs to do it’s story telling for the Zelda series, but this isn’t a bad thing. Skyward Sword is an epic tale, one that risks the telling of the the creation of the Master Sword and some of Link’s and Hyrule’s earliest roots. Though Skyward Sword makes an attempt at explaining the Zelda time line and the origins of some Zelda icons, it doesn’t remove the mystery or charm of the Zelda universe.
Controls & Gameplay
One of Zelda Skyward Swords strongest selling points, Nintendo’s Wii vision seems fully realized in Skyward’s perfect gameplay and control system. Take the most current action adventure game on the 360 or PS3 and compare it to Zelda Skyward Sword. With the additional Motion Plus Support Nintendo was able to create a level of gameplay that is just as intricate and deep. What makes the gameplay so good is the simple yet effective control scheme, and level/monster design that make playing interesting yet challenging. Zelda Skyward Sword is surprisingly intuitive and tough, definitely standing as the hardest Zelda game ever released. But I want to make something clear. Skyward Sword is only difficult because it’s enemies and challenges aren’t easy to defeat. Almost every monster and puzzle will take a little more work and thought than prior Zelda games. Bokoblin’s will adjust their defensive stance to properly defend Link’s attacks. The shield in Zelda Skyward Sword is also a new way Nintendo has enhanced Zelda’s gameplay. All shields other than the Hylian Shield (the name of Link’s trademark shield) are now destructible. This is important because the shield is such a vital part of serving the many challenging monsters and bosses. Defending an enemies attack requires only a small nudge of the nunchuck to do a shield thrust. To successfully block an enemies attack with Link’s shield you must time a shield thrust at just the right moment. Failing to do so will decrease the shield’s durability, which when low enough will break and need to be replaced with a new one or repaired at the scrap shop. Link has all of his classic sword attacks, all of which are mapped to the most logical/natural Wii gestures. Swing upward and Link copies, turn the Wii Remote in your hand and Link does the same. Responding perfectly, every action done with the Wii Remote registers perfectly in the game. Nintendo was really clever in how to center a new generation of Zelda items around motion gameplay. Now Link can throw and roll bombs, use a flying drone (the beetle) to remotely fly to unreachable heights and areas all with simple control schemes that feel only natural. Using items like the slingshot and the bow are more fun than every. The slingshot uses the traditional 3rd person camera angle, but hovers effectively around Link’s every move. Link now has a sprint & climb action that works similar to some of the fluid mechanics seen in game’s like Assassin’s Creed and other popular games in the HD fold. Even the in between dungeon phase of Skyward Sword is enriched with new gameplay experiences. Flying around Skyloft’s airspace, nostalgic memories of my Zelda Wind Waker days hit me when discovering a new floating island. Skyward Swords flying creatures “Loftwings” recreate the sailing experience of Wind Waker, but are shorter and more interesting. Exploring the different locations and hidden spots on both the ground and in the sky.
How hard are the dungeons in Zelda Skyward Sword?
Zelda Skyward Sword has the most difficult dungeons of any. I found this to be a good thing. The layouts of every dungeon seem packed with different challenges and obstacles. Minor successes and victories will dot your many dungeon runs. Nintendo’s extra care in dungeon design is extra noticeable and any increase in dungeon difficulty is nothing but a good thing for the adventurous Zelda player.
Many Zelda fans have expressed their disappointment in Skyward Sword’s graphics. Zelda Skyward Sword leaves the realistic Zelda of Twilight Princess look and embraces an art style similar to Zelda Wind Waker’s. Though visually in contrast with Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword doesn’t fall into the “Toon Link” art style. Though cartoonish, the style looks more realistic and grownup. I enjoyed Nintendo’s effort at drawing out the character and charm in the world of Hyrule. Unlike Wind Waker’s many solid tones and outlandish styles, Skyward Sword presents itself like a cartoon Twilight Princess. I felt a constant atmosphere due to Skyward Sword’s original graphical style, one which hasn’t been seen in any other Zelda game. The Wii of benefits from this, and is free to produce some amazing lighting and effects. The textures in Zelda Skyward Sword are non-blocky, even up-close. The textures have deeper color and deepness that can’t be seen from a game screenshot or video. There is a blur effect that sits in the background of many of the game’s screenshots and horizons. I’m one that finds the blur effect to be a nice touch to the Skyward Sword’s graphics, but I can see how this could be a mark against Zelda Skyward Sword for some graphical enthusiasts. Almost every square foot of Skyard Sword is a work of art, and shouldn’t be shrugged as a cheap crutch by Nintendo to avoid the Wii’s lacking graphical ability. Nintendo pushes Skyward Swords graphics in a way that can only be appreciated after playing. The insight into the world of Zelda really brought out my love for Link’s charming world. For example dungeon walls are often decorated with interesting wall murals, while trimmed with rustic Hyrulian trim giving the world an ancient mysterious vibe which feels like a tour of Hyrule and it’s many untold stories. Skyward also contains A+ animation. Seeing my every action translate into perfect animation never gets old, especially when combined with perfect background mechanics that draw into the experience.
Sound & Music
Nintendo didn’t disappoint in the music department either, with a music score that could be arguably the best ever produced for a video game. Nintendo went orchestral with Zelda Skyward Sword’s music. The first wave of Zelda Skyward Sword’s are even bundled with a CD sound track featuring many of Skyward Swords epic ballads. Timeless Zelda music and recognizable sounds can also be found on this limited Zelda music disc. Many people will complain that not having voice overs to help bring life to Skyward Sword’s story is a grave mistake by Nintendo. It does have some weight with how revolutionary Skyward Sword tends to be in other ways. I didn’t mind having to read the story being told to me as I played the game. I felt Nintendo was being faithful to the franchise, which has never included in game voice overs. No matter how you feel about voice overs, Zelda Skyward Sword is a true musical masterpiece.
Zelda Skyward Sword : Final Thoughts
The best Wii experience is finally upon us, trust me Skyward Sword is the most positive and ground breaking game of 2011. Possibly the most important of this entire generation. It’s a blue print for better motion-gaming design, something that won’t go away just because the Wii is slowing after 5 years of leading the console industry. For Zelda fans who’ve remained faithful to the Zelda franchise you should know that your loyalty is rewarded in Skyward Sword. The game took me slightly more than 40 hours to finish, with many diversions and side quests that made my initial entry longer than it could have been. After completing the game you are rewarded with a second “Hero Mode”, which is a different spin on Skyward Sword but I won’t reveal anything. Nintendo doesn’t go halfway with anything in this amazing Wii title, the must have game of this console generation.
- Gameplay & Controls – 10 / 10
- Graphics – 10 / 10
- Sound & Music – 10 / 10
- Replay Value – 9.5 / 10
- Final Review Score – 9.8 / 10