The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword Review
It seems that every time that a new 3D Zelda is released, I have the urge to say it is an amazing game and the best Zelda game ever released. The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is no exception, as it is a great game. However, unlike some of my past experiences, I am not going to make a claim that it is the greatest Zelda game ever made at this point, since it is way too early for that and I have played the game a couple of times all the way through and beat it with 100% only once at the time of writing this article. Although, that does not say that The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is not on the same level as some other entries in the series, as it is a fantastic piece of work and really does set a new standard for the Zelda series and for motion controls.
The Story: The story for Skyward Sword takes place many years before the events of Ocarina of Time, and starts in the town of Skyloft, which is a city built in the sky where Link and Zelda were born and raised. In Skyloft, it is the time of the Wing Ceremony, a ceremony that acknowledges a person as a knight. On the night before the Wing Ceremony, Link has a dream and visions of unknown spirits and demons. Although, this dream does not last long as Link is soon woken up by Zelda (or rather her Loftwing), who tells him to start getting ready for the Wing Ceremony and meet her later before it starts. After meeting up with Zelda and avoiding from being sabotaged by Groose (a classmate of Link from the Knight Academy), Link is able to complete the Wing Ceremony and be declared a knight. However, things do not stay joyful for too long as Zelda is swept away in a storm while flying with Link, and falls to the unknown world below and it is up to Link to transverse the unknown to find and save Zelda. The story for Skyward Sword is pretty good as a whole and it is right up there in terms of greatness with other Zelda games in the series. There are many cool and unique characters in this game, as well as new incarnations of others. The story itself is great and unique and sheds light on new aspects and events in the Zelda Timeline. Whether or not that this is the greatest Zelda storyline ever is not yet clear, as there are many great stories from other games, such as Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time. Although, I will say that story told from Skyward Sword is a great piece of work done by the writers of this game.
The Graphics and Soundtrack: The presentation and the overall graphics for Skyward Sword have been changed from the last 3D Zelda game. The game has a more cartoon look to it, as opposed to the realistic art style of Twilight Princess. Now when I say cartoon look, I do not mean it looks like Wind Waker, as the art style looks like a combination of art styles used in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. With this new art style, Skyward Sword itself looks great and all of the landscapes and characters have great designs. However, I still like the art style used in Twilight Princess a little more. As for the soundtrack, Skyward Sword has the same quality in comparison to the other Zelda games. All of the classic tunes and sounds are still there but are remade to have some variation to make it different from what was used before. Every track in the game sounds great, as the soundtrack for the game is fully orchestrated, and it fits the game very well. However, it is still hard to see if this is the best soundtrack in comparison to other soundtracks from past Zelda games since the soundtracks as a whole do not change much from game to game. Although, I will say the soundtrack in Skyward Sword may be my favorite Zelda soundtrack released thus far.
The Gameplay and Controls: This was the part of the game that can make or break The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. If the new motion controls for this game are done well, this game can be great. If not, this might severely hurt one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises. Even though I am not a huge fan of any type of motion controls, I am happy to say that the controls for Skyward Sword are very well done and great to use. As I said a couple of times in recent articles, I was very skeptical when Skyward Sword was first introduced at E3 2010 and how much of an emphasis there was with the new motion controls made from the Wii Motion Plus. My first thought that Skyward Sword was going to be a novelty game, made just to show off the Wii Motion Plus Controls. I am sure glad I was proved wrong as I started to play the game for the first time. The motion controls in this game really do not hurt this game or change the Zelda formula much. In the past, there were some Wii games that would use these types of controls and would feature some easy puzzles that would appear frequently through a game just to show off the motion controls. Although this time around, Skyward Sword has many puzzles and challenges to keep the game fresh. In Twilight Princess, the game featured motion control, but there really was not a huge emphasis on it except for a few instances with items such as the Bow, or the one to one movement ratio. As for Skyward Sword, the developers for this game did a great job in building on the foundation from what they had done in Twilight Princess and some other Wii games to create cool puzzles and an amazing combat system combat for this game. The new items that you use to solve puzzles, such as the beetle or whip, were designed really well for this game and provide good challenges for you to complete, and the combat provides a refreshing experience, which is the gameplay element that impressed me the most. Unlike most other Zelda games, this game is not a button mashing fest to defeat enemies. It takes a lot more strategy to defeat enemies, as they can now can defend themselves from your sword attacks or some enemies have a certain weak spot that you need to hit in a certain way to defeat them. As I said, these new controls provide a great and refreshing experience for the Zelda franchise and even though I am not a big fan of it, this may have been the best experience I ever had with motion controls.
Other than the improved motion controls, there are other additions and modifications done to this game. The biggest modification done to this game is the Overworld and its layout. In Skyward Sword, there are two Overworlds in a sense; the sky and the city of Skyloft located above the clouds, and the land of Hyrule below the clouds. The Sky Overworld is similar to Wind Waker’s Ocean or like the Overworld from Skies of Arcadia. You fly around on Link’s Loftwing in the vast sky where you can explore other small islands or find drop points to the world below. The Land of Hyrule is sort of like Hyrule from past games but the Land of Hyrule itself has shrunk significantly. There are no longer many towns or places to explore or a big “Hyrule Field” to transverse. Instead, the Land of Hyrule is composed of three main areas, and you will be revisiting all of these areas more than once to complete the multiple dungeons located in each area. The dungeons themselves are not really dungeons, as they are more like areas that are integrated in the part of Hyrule they are located in and are no longer a separate area or temple. I see this as both a positive and a negative. On one hand, you cut down the time needed to get to each area and makes each of the areas more rememberable, and the other hand, it makes the game feel short and lacks some of the exploration without multiple areas or a big “Hyrule Field”. As a whole, I would say that Overworld system in Skyward Sword works very well with all of the modifications they made to it. Other things added to this game were the upgrade system and Link’s Stamina bar. As for the upgrade system, some of the items you obtain are upgradeable, such as your shield. In order to upgrade your shield, you will need to find certain treasures that are found throughout the game and then bring them to the person who will offer the upgrade in exchange for those treasures you find. The whole upgrade system is a cool idea but there are a couple of problems with it. One, it can be tedious at times to find certain treasures you need for an upgrade. Two, in Skyward Sword, you shield comes with a meter which shows the damage done to the shield by enemy attacks. Once the meter is completely drained, the shield breaks and you will have to go through the upgrading process once again to get the better shield. In having the upgrade system, it really discourages you from using your shield so that you do not break it and have to go through the process all over again. One last major addition to the gameplay is Link’s Stamina Meter. Link’s new Stamina Meter is both a cool thing and a little bit of a hindrance. Unlike past Zelda games, Link can just go around swinging his sword nonstop or run around forever. Instead, you will have to be more conservative when doing things such as running or fighting to help conserve stamina and prevent Link from getting tired. Its a cool addition to the game, as it adds strategy to the game, but it could also be viewed as a hindrance. However, aside from all of the modifications, additions to the gameplay, and the new motion controls for this game, Skyward Sword provides a great and unique Zelda experience, as it still plays like any other Zelda game released previously and it does not change the classic formula that make Zelda games so great in the past.
The Summary: All in all, The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is a fantastic piece of work that does a great job in creating a refreshing Zelda experience, while not altering the classic Zelda formula much. The story is great and gives new light on the Zelda timeline. The graphics and overall presentation are amazing (although, I still like the art style from Twilight Princess a little more) and the soundtrack is one of the best in the Zelda series. The new motion controls from the Wii Motion Plus are spot on and give a great Zelda experience with all of the new style of puzzles and combat system as a result of these new motion controls. There are a couple of minor issues with this game such is the new upgrade system being a little tedious at times and not having a big overworld to explore. Although as I said, these are very minor issues that really do not affect how great this game is. On that note, whether or not that this is the greatest Zelda game ever made is still unclear and too soon to tell. There are still great games in the Zelda series when you discuss this topic, such as A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, and at the time of writing this, I still consider Twilight Princess to be my personal favorite. Although, once I play Skyward Sword some more, I may have a better idea to where it stands on my list in terms of great Zelda games. However, even though it may not be considered the greatest Zelda game at this time, Skyward Sword still offers a great and unique experience and I cannot recommend it enough. Overall, I would give The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword a 10 out of 10.