Recommendations of the Week: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 12-1-11
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
With each new release, Zelda games have a huge reputation to uphold and a tough act to follow. After setting an incredibly high bar with Ocarina of Time, a title that revolutionized the gaming world, Nintendo has strived to maintain its sky-high standards with each title to hit the market. The developers know what is successful, and have stuck to the classic Zelda formula throughout most of the series. While it is tried and true, I’ve been itching for something new. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword makes positive steps in that new territory direction, bringing fresh ideas to the table, while maintaining the aspects of the series that make it legendary.
Skyward Sword draws its style from two of its predecessors. The colorful and playful tones of Wind Waker are fused with the darker elements (and more realistic body proportions) of Twilight Princess. The result is an artful style that feels one hundred percent Zelda, exploring both the dark and the light-hearted aspects of the franchise. The environments are impressively grand and colorful; Nintendo makes great use of the Wii’s graphical capabilities. It’s one of the best looking Wii games out there.
Skyward Sword’s characters are more fleshed out than they have been in previous titles. You will find yourself establishing a much more personal connection with Princess Zelda, and with Link himself. The unusual side characters bring out the quirky side of Zelda, and though voice acting is absent, you will still find yourself engrossed in the plot.
Previous Zelda games were plagued with vast landscapes of emptiness between dungeons. In Skyward Sword, there is never a dull moment. Puzzles and challenges adorn the land between dungeons, keeping the action nonstop. Environments are packed with interactions that will keep you on your toes. One of the most prominent changes to the Zelda formula is the controls. Wii-to-sword control capability changes gameplay entirely. Combat involves a level of precision and care. Swing your wiimote vertically for a vertical swipe, horizontally for a horizontal swipe, and everything in between. You must place your strikes carefully, as enemies are clever and will predict and block your movements. This new method of controls has a lot of potential, and is well done, for the most part. There are mishaps from time to time, where Link may not do exactly what you wanted him to. Camera angles can be a pain occasionally, and aiming in the first person can be a bit frustrating. But these flaws are easily forgiven when you find yourself absorbed in the grand world of Skyward Sword.
Items you collect are useful for various puzzles throughout the game, unlike the old formula of “get item in dungeon, use it to pass puzzle, never need it again, go to next dungeon: repeat.” Also included is a new upgradeable item system that makes exploring and loot gathering more rewarding. These RPG elements are the types of things that I have been waiting for Zelda games to implement. It is evidence that Nintendo is taking steps toward a more in depth and satisfying Zelda experience.
Skyward Sword is an impressive title, and gets me excited about the future of the Zelda franchise. If you own a Wii, get this game. It is the pinnacle of the Wii experience thus far.