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WeView: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

I can't think of a good enough Link to go here.

If I were to make a list of my favourite things, the Zelda series would sit somewhere close to the top, only perhaps losing out to drinking beer and making/consuming Mexican food. It’s the franchise that really brought me into gaming, via Ocarina of Time, and over the years it has been a constant in my life. Friendships have spawned from it, my love for games has been strengthened by it and I can’t think of any other series that has delivered hit after hit in the same way as this legendary franchise.

The truth is, I could write thousands and thousands of more words about what the Zelda series means to me, but that’s not the point of this; today we’re focussing on the latest title – Skyward Sword – and its merits.

I wouldn’t say its the best Zelda game (Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker can continue brawling for that title), although it does do a lot for the overarching story (however thin that may be), making some sense of the timeline and clarifying the mystery behind the three recurring roles.

It has some beautiful art direction, too. While the Wii is a bit bad for aliasing, the colourful nature of the game is distinct from the murky Twilight Princess, yet it never seems quite as simple in style as the absolutely marvellous Wind Waker. There are some sections in particular – including the time-spanning puzzles of Lanayru Desert – which show that these level designers really knew what they were doing.

The changes in gameplay were also welcome. It mixed up the usual dungeon-to-dungeon formula in favour of more open-ended (but still neatly linear) challenges. And the Wii MotionPlus controls were the best thing to happen to the Zelda series for years in my opinion. I was wary at first but they really took you into the world, enabling some nifty swordplay, inspired enemy designs and a final sword battle like no other.

Dan reviewed the game back when it released in 2011 (something which I’m thankful for – I’d never want to rush through a Zelda game for review). He scored the game a brilliant 9/10, only let down by the “hit and miss” art style and the “unnecessary” extended play time. While I don’t quite agree, he summed it up very nicely, backing up his 9/10 perfectly with a 90% analogy:

For 90% of the time Skyward Sword is an absolute revelation, with perfect puzzles and well-designed locations. It also provides characters you can care about, and genuinely want to help. The motion controls also hold up well for the most part, although it will still be a sticking point for many gamers.

Unfortunately it’s that final 10% that really does disappoint. After sampling some of Nintendo’s finest work, to suddenly find yourself taking part in some extremely uninteresting, generic quests is a bitter pill to swallow.

Still, push on through and you’ll still find one of 2011′s best games.

Skyward’s only downfall, in my eyes, was the complete lack of exploration – something that had previously become a staple of Zelda games. Hyrule field was gone (well, it technically wasn’t there yet) and the sky felt extremely empty even compared to the expansive seas of Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. There simply wasn’t enough – the temples were absolutely perfect and the length was great but the three ground locations (although changed at points) and the one in the sky felt all too barren and limited.

Still – it’s Zelda. You aren’t going to find games with puzzles and temples as meticulously designed as Skyward Sword. It’s an impressive feat and definitely one of the highlight’s of the Wii’s generation – I’m confident people will look back on it in ten or fifteen years with the same fondness and nostalgia they share for Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time.

Now, if you’ve played the game and would like to leave your own thoughts, with a possibility of getting them on the front page in next week’s Verdict article, then drop a comment below. It’s that easy. You should then add a Buy It rating to the bottom because, let’s face it, no-one is going to rate it any lower than that. Unless you really want to, in which case you can put a Bargain Bin It rating on the end. I don’t expect you to use these, but you’re also able to put a Rent It or even an ugh Avoid It rating if you feel so inclined.

Submit your comments before Sunday afternoon so we don’t leave you out!

  1. Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008

    An excellent adventure that pushed the Wii hardware so much I’m sure my console used to cry itself to sleep at nights. With brilliant pacing and plenty to do this is basically an essential purchase in my opinion.

    Comment posted on 30/04/2013 at 12:46.
  2. Dom El
    Since: Mar 2012

    A fantastic and beautiful adventure that makes incredible use of Nintendo’s hardware. It’s certainly amongst the best Zelda games, though it’s behind Wind Waker as my all-time favourite. If you still have a Wii lurking about, or a Wii U (or a Wii Mini for that matter though surely no one here has one?) you have to buy this game as it’s easily amongst the best Nintendo games ever made.

    Comment posted on 30/04/2013 at 22:46.
  3. Alex C
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Only ever played it for about an hour. It’s the only Zelda game I’ve not finished (multiple times) – I think because of the waggle controls. Frustrating.

    Comment posted on 01/05/2013 at 23:17.
  4. AshCarhart
    Since: May 2013

    Everything about this game was an improvement, if it weren’t for the controls (never got over doing out my wrist with twilight princess aha!) and nostalgia it would be a definite contender for my favorite in the series.

    Comment posted on 02/05/2013 at 00:01.
  5. Megamoppy
    Since: Apr 2012

    Forgive my verbal diarrhea but I got a lot to say about this game.

    I really enjoyed this game but a few things let it down and make it not quite up to the giddy heights of OOT, MM and WW. Gameplay was fantastic the controls worked brilliantly 90% of the time, the music was grand and the art style was beautiful.

    a) The padding in this game is atrocious and probably should’ve been ten hours shorter.

    b) Lack of personality, the characters in town are all varied and interesting but theres simply not enough of them, one town and the overworld being sparse and empty is very dissappointing, its a shame as this was the case in twilight princess also.

    c) Story could’ve been so much better, the beginning set it up beautifully but possibly due to lack of characters and any significant character interaction is almost every 3 dungeons, it’s a shame. Though I did read Shigeru Miyamato enforces a simple storyling on his series.

    d) A lot more variety in enemies would’ve been great, goblins are fun and all but different colours doesn’t quite cut it.

    Comment posted on 05/05/2013 at 15:14.
    • Megamoppy
      Since: Apr 2012

      Oh and buy it! It IS great for all my negativity

      Comment posted on 05/05/2013 at 15:15.

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