Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

After being in development for five years by over a hundred full-time developers, the chronologically first Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, was released to the world this past November. Though I'd had my eye on it for most of that half decade, I did not obtain it myself until late December.

This was the game I had been waiting for longer than most people knew it existed. Critics and developers alike had been saying that it may be the greatest Zelda game of all time, and the hype for the game before its release had grown so large that my expectations were extremely high. When I started the game, I thought to myself, If this game doesn't live up to the hype, I'm going to be pretty dang mad. Within three hours of playing . . . those oh-so-high expectations were already exceeded.

The setting in Skyward Sword is unique. It starts in a world far up in the clouds, specifically the town of Skyloft. Throughout the millenia this strange sky world existed, there have been legends of a vast surface world far beneath the clouds. I would give a short synopsis of the story, but instead of typing one up myself, since I can't find a good one online, you should just play the game yourself. The story, in itself, is probably one of the best video game stories I have ever played through, and I found myself falling in love, once again, with the magnificent world Nintendo created.

One really cool aspect of the game is its use of Wii MotionPlus technology. You wield the Wii remote as you would a sword, so to speak, and the accuracy is truly great. It makes for a fun new way to play through a game, being able to actually slice through obstacles with your saber. Just be sure you don't accidentally break anything in your house from swinging that remote too wildly.

At the first public release of what the game would look like, many were disappointed. It looked like a mixture between Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker, and it just looked horrible. The visuals were eventually changed ever slightly, and regardless, they are actually quite beautiful once you get used to them. As one of the lead developers mentioned years ago, it's meant  to look a little bit as if it could be in a painting. This is especially true when looking off into the distance. I am quite satisfied with the final graphics, and they fit the game better than any other style could have.

I usually give a game's soundtrack a good rating if it fits the game well, regardless of if it's a good score on its own. For Skyward Sword, however, the music was not only fitting, but it was one of the best game soundtracks I have ever heard. Though it has never happened for any other game, I've found myself wanting to buy the OST. Unfortunately, it is not currently available.

The amount of content is actually quite large, and you can literally spend hours playing minigames and completing side quests. However, I do have to say that with Skyward Sword's format I really do miss Hyrule Field. The game takes place long before the kingdom of Hyrule was ever established, so it would be impossible to implement it in, but there is so much more you would be able to do if you had a massive overworld field to explore. Most other games in the Zelda series have one, but the game that took the series to its highest peak didn't. It was a little disappointing, but the amount of content they fit into a game without such a place (without packing it in tightly at all) is outright inspiring.

Skyward Sword uses many elements from previous Zelda games, and improves them, ranging from returning enemies to items to even the treasure system. There are numerous subtle references to games that take place later in the chronology, such as finding a forest spring identical to a key location in a game that takes place thousands of years later, or occasionally finding Hyrule's sacred crest without the Triforce.

Of course, there is no such thing as a game without flaws. Skyward Sword has furthered the maturity of the Zelda series with its upgrade in quality level, full effort put into the soundtrack and story, and several other aspects that have made the game amazing, but there are still little things here and there that did not make the jump to higher maturity. The dialog of the game is all in text, so there isn't vocal speaking for the player to hear, yet still there are voice actors for groans, breathing, sighing, etc. In theory it's not a bad idea, but in Skyward Sword it's terrible. In addition, the poses and expressions Link still makes when he gets a new item are sickeningly childish.

The biggest downside of them all is actually your sidekick and companion, Fi. Fi is the intelligent being or artificial intelligence who lives in your sword, and who's duty it is to guide and assist you on your quest. She can project an image of herself, but can make no physical contact. The only good thing about her is the fact the that she looks cool, but that's about it. Of all the companions who have assisted the different incarnations of Link throughout the thousands of years that different Zelda games take place, many have been unbearably annoying. Navi, your ever-constantly-bugging-you fairy in Ocarina of Time, has often thought to be one of the most annoying companions in any video game. I would have to say Fi is even worse. She seems to have an obsession of telling you the completely obvious facts (and not the things you actually need to know), and making sure she elaborates in full, or more than full, often boring the player to the point where they feel like throwing their controller across the room. It doesn't help that she . . . always . . . talks . . . extremely . . . slowly. . . .

In conclusion, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword may be one of the best games I've ever played. At present it is dueling The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for being both my favorite Zelda game of all time, but also my favorite Wii game of all time. The story, setting, graphics, music, gameplay, variety, locations, and overall ingenuity of it all made for an amazing experience. Nintendo doesn't cease to amaze me, and I can't wait for the next home console Zelda release. No doubt that will be in another five years.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword gets a well-deserved 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! And I would have to agree on... everything. Lol