I absolutely adore Zelda. Not the Princess herself – she’s decent enough, although I wouldn’t traverse the land of Hyrule to save her from the evil that has stolen her away and imprisoned her; I’ll leave that to Link. No, it’s the game series we all know as The Legend of Zelda that I find truly amazing – I like to think I always have but in reality it’s only been twelve years or so.
The 'Blair + Zelda = happy' formula is just a myth, it seems.
Now I’ve played Skyward Sword – the first game in the series made for the Wii alone. Nintendo, as with the Mario series, never seem to go wrong with Zelda; the 3D instalments always retain a certain quality and I never expect anything below excellence – yet Skyward Sword didn’t hit that high bar.
It’s not that it’s bad per se, just that I really wasn’t blown away by any of the three sections I played. Perhaps it was the rushed nature of my play. I never really got a feel for the game on the EGX show floor; playing the dungeon level is something more suited to sitting down at home. I couldn’t really get in to solving the puzzles, and the new mechanics, such as the Beetle-type item you use to hit switches, confused me.
I learned from my mistakes; the middle of the Sky Temple with little introduction was not a good place to start with Skyward Sword, so I attempted a racing mini-game involving Link’s new pet bird. This section, set up above the clouds, and I imagine therefore nearer the start of the game, quickly introduced the flying controls – move the Wii remote to fly the bird, diving down to gain speed; it was all very reminiscent of a certain mini-game in Super Mario Galaxy 2. And it was very much a gimmick, disappointing and not what I’d usually expect from a Zelda game.
Of course, it was just a mini-game so I was willing to forgive it, as I did with the Sky Temple. It simply wasn’t the time or place to play it. So, on I went to play the third and final level I could choose from; the boss battle. In my opinion boss battles are almost always fun, with Zelda’s above most in terms of variety, methods and general enjoyment. The boss that I faced in Skyward Sword, though? Again, like the other two modes, it didn’t really stand out.
It just felt off and a departure from a traditional Zelda boss, with seemingly random attacks being thrown at you and no solid method to defeat him other than dodging out of the way as he attacks – he being a thin, nimble character and also the main antagonist of the game. It was fun quite fun however, and easily the best of the three; it showed the new real-time healing, where you have to avoid the enemy’s attacks as Link downs a bottle of red potion. It also provided a good introduction to the new control system, without being too challenging.
It was just a mini-game. A disappointing mini-game.
Something that didn’t disappoint in Skyward Sword were the visuals. A mix between the more realistic graphics of Twilight Princess and the vibrant, colourful style of Wind Waker, it all created a very sublime treat for the eyes; it’s exactly what Zelda should look like in my opinion.
Perhaps I just played three bad sections of an otherwise excellent game, but there’s no knowing until it comes out this November. Or maybe I just let myself get too excited for Skyward Sword and that’s why I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong - it’s a good enough game, for sure; it’s just might leave those who’ve been waiting for years for Link to make his debut on the Wii somewhat disappointed.