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Skyward Sword: Thoughts

July 9, 2012

Image

Edit: Sorry for the terrible size of the comic. I’m new to this!
Panel 1: This forest has trees. It even has a big tree.
Panel 2: There are also animals and flora.
Panel 3. There’s a 98.2% chance that what I just said was trivial and pointless.
Next time it’ll be better!

Skyward Sword is a Zelda game. How could Nintendo mess this up? I got a copy from the library – I love that this is a thing now – to check it out. I had heard it was a bit different from the standard Zelda game but had high hopes because the Zelda series is fantastic. I had just finished playing the Ocarina of Time remake on the 3DS which was fantastic as expected.

The rumours were true: this game is definitely different. The following review comes with a disclaimer. I didn’t get very far in this game. I grew tired of many, many things shortly after entering the forest proper. Take that as you will.

Thing I liked:

1. Zelda is actually an interesting character.

Normally she seems aloof and elegant. This time she is playful and fun. She would have made a great sidekick but alas, I have to rescue her as usual. With the one fun, non-ugly character out of the way I wasn’t feeling too motivated to continue.

Things I didn’t like:

1. The intro was too long.

The sword mechanics are interesting in this one because of the wii motion plus but I was made to run around doing boring errands for quite a long time before I could even get my hands on one. The flying also seemed interesting but it takes even longer to finally try that. Your bird is missing in the beginning so I hoped it was a hook for something sinister. Turns out it was just the class bully. Thrilling. It also took me forever to figure that out because I had to go to a particular spot for a cutscene without very clear directions.

2. Fi is incredibly annoying.

Navi gets a bad rep for being annoying but I just played OoT and she is silent the vast majority of the time. Sure, there is the occasional HEY LISTEN but then you let her tell you something for 2 sentences tops and she’ll leave you alone. Zelda games have had some great assistants. Midna was cheeky. The Minish Cap and Linebeck were hilarious partners. Fi, on the other hand, is a very dull character who talks far too much about nothing (see above comic) and continually quotes probabilities for no reason. I assume what she says is to make her sound less human since she is your sword spirit or something but it makes for some very tiresome reading as she pops up continually.

3. The stamina meter and shield health bar needlessly complicate things.

Stamina meters try to add realism to games but since when was Zelda realistic? Adding running was nice since I didn’t need to listen to Link’s incessant yelling as he rolls but this was replaced with heavy breathing instead. Having to watch stamina before climbing a wall isn’t all that fun. And really, both meters are just things that distract from the rest of the experience. Running is a good feature but having it linked to a stamina meter isn’t. I don’t know how the shield thing works as well since I didn’t get too far but I assume it is there for the upgrades you can get for it. That just doesn’t feel like Zelda, though.

4. The dowsing needlessly complicates things as well.

Good level design shouldn’t need a constant pointer to tell you where to go. This dowsing mechanic worked in Shadow of the Colossus because it was such a massive area where everything was open to you right at the beginning. In Skyward Sword, everything felt open in the first forest so I tried exploring but Fi kept stopping me and telling me to use the dowsing. I felt that it should be obvious enough where to go without it but apparently not. Ugh. The dowsing was supposed to lead me to Zelda but it led me to a weird critter who ran away. It obviously wasn’t Zelda so I tried going elsewhere. Fi wouldn’t let me. Yak yak yak. So I chased the stupid creature until we found out that (gasp) it wasn’t Zelda. And then we went on our merry way along the path I had tried to go on before. Hooray. In most Zelda games a quick nudge in the right direction (Navi: Hey, does that smoke about Death Mountain look right to you?) is all the guidance you really need. This game has constant interruptions to tell you where you can and cannot go.

5. The aesthetic is unappealing.

Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask didn’t have much going for them with graphics but the games themselves were fairly dark and sinister. Wind Waker had childish cartoony graphics which really made it feel like a fun adventure. His dramatic facial expressions were entertaining too; much better than OoT Link’s bucktoothed awe every time he learns a new song on his ocarina. Twilight Princess went for the dark feel again but could really show it with the graphics this time and it looked fantastic. Skyward Sword is a strange combination between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. It has the graphics of TP without the darkness but the goofiness of WW which makes a lot of characters quite ugly, honestly. Zelda, Link, and possibly Fi look good but most others are kind of gross.

I didn’t get to see many areas but the forest is uninspired to say the least. I saw nothing that indicated that this forest was different from any other forest. It just looked bright and open and that’s about it. The Skyloft was ok but I doubt you spend all that much time up there since I already explored the whole thing.

So that’s about all I have to say about Skyward Sword. In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t enjoy the experience. I feel like I should continue since it’s a Zelda game and it must get better. And yet, Fi , the boring forest, the weird character designs, and those pesky extra meters will all still be there. I think I’ll pass.

While digging up some other Zelda games from the past I discovered my old copies of Wario Land 2 & 3. I have since gotten all the treasure in Wario Land 2 and am planning on starting the third one tonight. I’m planning on writing why the old Wario games are so great and what went wrong with the new ones. I’m also really looking forward to the release of Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 on the VC because I never got to play that one!

Cheers, folks.

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