For the past twenty-five years, “Legend of Zelda” has enticing players with the adventures of the elf-boy Link as he rescues the princess Zelda. These games all feature great music, mind mending puzzles, cool items and iconic landscapes.
With its newest addition, Skyward Sword, Nintendo hoped to keep this tradition alive.
This time out, that only kind of happens.
The back story of “Skyward Sword” is that centuries ago, evil has ravaged the land and killed off most of its inhabitants. One day, the goddess came along, defeated this evil and sent the remaining humans skyward to live in the clouds in what centuries later is called Skyloft. Here we meet Link, a knight in training who has one final test to undergo before becoming a knight. Link passes the test and he celebrates with Zelda, his childhood friend. A tornado comes along and whisks Zelda away. Now, Link must traverse below to clouds to find Zelda.
It may sound like the usual save Zelda story we’ve all known all these years, but in fact, as the story progresses, it gets much deeper than that into what could be one of the best Zelda stories to date. The game’s narrative is an improvement over previous Zelda games as it flows better and the characters are well fleshed out. The dialogue in this game is also well written, especially that of the game’s main villain Ghirahim. His dialogue alone makes him come across as creepy, rather than generic evil.
Fi is this game’s Navi where she’s your only companion in the dungeons. She’s like a mixture of Cortana from Halo, GLaDOS from Portal and Navi. She should also be called “Captain Obvious” because she has a tendency to say things the player has already figured out or what another character has already said.
Graphically, the game is beautiful. The world has vibrant colors and everything is nice to look at. The character designs are also some the best in the franchise history. It needs to be said that this game has the best Impa design in all the games. Upon further inspection, however, you will notice there is some jagging in the graphics in certain spots that ruin the whole design of the game. This should have been looked after much closer.
The world, both above the clouds and below them, is massive. It’s very easy to get lost in them and immerse yourself in it. The downside is that the world above the clouds is just Skyloft and a bunch of small islands that may have a treasure chest on it or not. Plus, traveling on bird is like traveling on boat in Wind Waker: slow and time consuming. The surface world is much more appealing than the world above the clouds.
Gameplay is the old Zelda style gameplay we’ve all come to expect with some new additions. There are the dungeons with clever puzzles that are the main reason people play these games in the first place. They are as fun as ever, although it should be said that the dungeons feel a little shorter than previous Zelda games.
One unnecessary feature in the dungeons is that when you get the boss key, you must move it around so it can fit into the hole because these keys have a special shape to them. This is nothing more than a gimmick that makes getting to the boss a hassle rather than a fun puzzle.
Swordfighting works just like in “Twilight Princess,” flick the Wii remote in a certain direction to make Link swing in that direction, lock on with Z and so forth. This style may not suit well with some players, as it requires precise accuracy and randomly flailing the Wii remote will not get you anywhere.
Link’s usual array of items makes their re-appearance in this game as well, seeing as how a hero can’t survive on a sword alone. The usual slingshot and bow are back as well as some new items that make use of the Wii Motion Plus such as the bug net and the highly hyped golden beetle. The golden beetle may at first seem like a gimmick, but after a while it becomes your most valuable item. It can be used as a probe to see what’s ahead in a dungeon so you can plan your next move. When it gets an upgrade, you can pick up bombs to drop on enemies. Dropping a bomb on an unsuspecting enemy never gets old. You can also go to the bazaar in Skyloft to upgrade these items, but it seems almost unnecessary.
Despite some minor gripes, “Skyward Sword” is still an enjoyable Zelda game that’s worth playing. It may not be a classic the likes of “Ocarina of Time” or “A Link to the Past,” but it is still a solid addition to the series.