Hey everyone, James B. Boss here bringing you my first review on the new site. I’m focusing on huge fan favorite, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which is the newest game in the long running franchise and also a celebration the series’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Like the previous titles, Skyward Sword introduces some new gameplay elements to the series that the previous titles and as I played the game, I was truly fascinated with some of the new things I was able to do in this installment of the series.
For the record, I only played this game with a Wii Remote Plus, so your experience playing with the traditional Wii remote may be different.
Like most Zelda games, Skyward Sword has it’s own unique selection of sound and music to go with the multitude of events, places and encounters you come across in the game. An example of this was when I was visiting the market to purchase items. I noticed that every time I visit a different vendor, the music changed depending on the theme of the vendor’s store. It was a neat little touch seeing as how it added a little bit of character variations through the different stores across village. Graphically speaking, the game has gone back to using a bit of a lighter tone compared to the last title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which had a more darker and dreary tone set for it. The characters in the game look like a blend between the art styles of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As for the game’s story, we find our hero Link living as a citizen of Skyloft, which is a group of floating islands located in the sky. He was a living a peaceful life until one day his friend Zelda was caught in a mysterious tornado and was carried away. Shortly after, Link is given the task by Zelda’s father to rescue her and stop the oncoming evil. Link is then given the Goddess’s Blade and is introduced to a spirit girl named Fi. Her role is to guide Link on his journey and to provide him with help if necessary. Armed with a sword, shield and his trademark green tights, green hat and brown boots, Link then sets off on his next great adventure.
While there are many games that use the Wii’s motion controls, I find that Skyward Sword utilizes the Wii’s motion controls to their fullest potential. To play the game, you (at minimum) need a Wii remote (or Wii remote plus) and a Nunchuck. The Nunchuck moves Link around and uses the shield, while the Wii remote commands the use of items, interacting with characters and objects and most importantly, your sword. Which ever direction you point the Wii remote, Link’s sword will point. The same goes for which direction you swing the remote to attack an enemy. At the start of the game, I noticed that you start off with six heart containers compared to the traditional start of three heart containers. This is probably due to the fact that the enemies in this game are a degree more difficult to take down than they were in the previous titles. I find this increased challenge level to be quite enjoyable, as instead of just blindly swinging your sword all over the place, players are actually forced to think about how to approach some the obstacles and situations in the game. Skyward Sword also introduces the concept of upgrading your weapons by using items you find along your journey. Items you can upgrade include your shield, item bag, potions and secondary weapons in a similar manner. Flying is another new element added to the game. To fly, players take command of a giant bird called a Loftwing. The Wii remote is used to steer the Loftwing in the desired direction. Changes in speed are controlled by upward and downward swings of the Wii Remote. I also talked about Fi in the previous section. Fi is very useful to Link in-game and by extension, the player. However, she can sometimes end up driving the player a little bit bonkers with a lot of her “calculating”. Also new to the gameplay function are a stamina bar and the ability to dash. The stamina bar is used when you executing a special attack, or when are dashing and when depleted, neither action is available until the bar has regained some charge, which is done by walking or idling. Another handy new ability in the game the game, is your sword’s dowsing ability. Dowsing functions as a compass and assists players in helping them navigate when stuck at a part of the game and is also used for tracking down Zelda. This game also introduces the fact that you can now only save at certain save points in the game, compared to the prior method of simply pausing the game to save. Another welcome addition is the ability to select active items from your inventory without having to pause the game. This helps maintain the more active flow that the game was striving to achieve. Blended together, all these aspects of the game provide a refreshing twist on well-established gameplay mechanics and help keep things as user friendly as possible.
While I have not yet beaten Skyward Sword, I can honestly say that I will enjoy my time playing this game until the end. While Skyward Sword introduced a lot of new gameplay tweaks and additions to the system, I would have to say that my most favorite mechanic would have to be the upgrading system. The reason being that in previous titles, players could only upgrade their sword and shield but this time around, upgrades can be applied to just about everything with different purposes like dealing more damage to enemies. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s the type that feels worth it as you’re able to sort of customize and pick and choose your offensive and defensive options to cater to a given situation. The ability fly or explore by foot on the ground gives the game a more grandiose and adventurous feel and it makes you want to play it even more. The Legend of Zelda series has been ongoing for twenty-five years and it has yet to disappoint its fans (with the exception of MAYBE the CD-I games). With fourteen games under its belt and a large number of fans by its side, the franchise is sure to continue going strong and we are certain to sure to experience Link’s next exciting adventure.
FINAL SCORE: 14/15