Average User Score: 8.0Apr 20, 2012Zelda: Skyward Sword is a good game that finds itself in the unfortunate position of being compared to previous Zelda titles. While in manyZelda: Skyward Sword is a good game that finds itself in the unfortunate position of being compared to previous Zelda titles. While in many ways it does improve upon the old ones and utilizes the Wii motion controller to its fullest by making intuitive and challenging combat as well as new, if not occasionally bewildering puzzles, the open-world gameplay and sidequests have been at best streamlined and at worst ruined. Before I continue I'd like to stress the fact that this is a good, though I would not say "great" game however due to the shower of praise it has received in the media I'd like to focus on the drawbacks so many "professional game reviews" forgot to mention before I paid $45 USD for a used copy (Closer to $100 if you include the cost of a Wii Motion Plus controller).
First and foremost are the controls. Yes, after 3.5 years into the console's life Nintendo finally releases an add-on to improve the hardware. While I can't deny some improvements have been made in terms of position detection of the Wii-mote, it's far from perfect and the point-and-click ability has suffered a far worse setback than anything has improved, so much so there's an in-game function to recenter its calibration. Furthermore the new bomb-flower rolling mechanic is more of an endurance test as most the time the game can't tell if you're trying to roll it or return to the useless "in-between" stance in which Link simply awaits for the bomb to explode in his hands. Even the simplest of puzzles involving this can take 3 hearts easily.
Next up is the exposition. Yes I know Zelda games have a traditionally slow opening but in all Zelda games I can immediately recall saving is something you can do anytime and pick it up later. Worse that it's been almost 15 years since Ocarina of Time yet there is still no skippable cutscenes, including the schizophrenic treasure dialogues. It doesn't matter if you have 6 Eldin Ore. The 7th one may stop to tell you what you just grabbed and what it's for (vaguely) but then again sometimes you'll get 5 more it will just let you on your merry little way. The biggest offender is the story itself though. Even after you've descended to the surface and solved a few puzzles an old lady stops you and tells you basically nothing you haven't already heard. "The Goddess has chosen you. You're to save Zelda". Had the way out just been unlocked she could've been missing and the only question would've been "why make such a large room just to hide a few items?"
Linearity. OK in a way almost all Zelda games are fairly linear. You need to go to certain temples in a certain order and obtain certain items to solve certain puzzles (although I accidentally went to one temple out of order in Phantom Hourglass) but they still felt like an adventure, largely due to the open world and having the freedom to find side-quests. While some interesting features are there to be found, the hidden "dungeons" that make extrapolating their contents such a challenge are from what I can tell nowhere to be found. Regenerating enemies make sure you don't explore too much on the surface either and seem to be the only indication as where you're supposed to be. It's very easy to not know where you're supposed to be and spend a long time exploring a vast, enemy-infested but otherwise uninteresting map. It feels more like being on an airport's moving sidewalk than on an adventure. Had half the explanation for the story (which largely consists of telling you whom you're looking for every time you find a key to a dungeon or boss room) gone into pointing you in the right direction then I'd probably be able to lose two criticisms and sadly, no, I'm not nit-picking. The exposition really is that forced, there really is a "right direction" in a Zelda game and the puzzles really are this perplexing.
At the end of the day I'd be recommending this to everybody and my brother if, for nothing else, to demonstrate the Wii has potential despite its limitations had it simply been known as "Skyward Sword" in the unlikely event I would give a title a second glance. Fortunately, at least for Nintendo profits, it is known as "Zelda: Skyward Sword" but with that free ride comes a higher standard, including that of an expansive and immersive world and while many of my criticisms can be applied to previous titles of the franchise I do feel that as a Nintendo fan I am entitled to expect some improvement over time, even if that means taking a chapter from previous installments or at the least the "zip-through-speech" button that made the N64 Paper Mario one of my favorite and most replayable RPGs in video-game history.… Expand