Hands On: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

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.

[drop]And they’ve been twelve wonderful years. I’ve never really had a less-than-great experience with a Zelda game, from playing through my first game in the series – Ocarina of Time on the N64 back in 1999 – to my latest playthrough, Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, with the other games such as Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Phantom Hourglass and the rest filling the gaps.


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.

[drop2]The controls didn’t really help though, thrusting your shield with the Wii’s nunchuck wasn’t at all a pleasurable experience and trying to spin the controller to do a spin attack didn’t seem to work well either (well, it either wasn’t working or I was doing it wrong). Motion Plus swordplay worked for the most part though; Link would mimic the moves of the controller (even holding it out in front of him as he ran, which looked quite silly). The fact that it took actual skill to defeat enemies, you had to slash where they weren’t blocking instead of just waggling the controller, was very enjoyable.

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.



  1. Zelda games are excellent, really looking forward to this… but if you’re looking for a “less-than-great” Zelda experience track down a Phillips CD-i and play the Zelda games that were developed for it… your search will be over.

    • Did you actually buy a CDi? I remember thinking Mad Dog McCree was best looking thing, ever. How wrong I was!

      Poor man’s 3DO ;-)

      • unfortunately, yes- actually it was kinda cool… for about a week :)

  2. this is the only reason I have kept my wii, so looking forward

  3. Do want.

  4. My worry is difficulty. Twilight Princess was too easy, I did not die once on my first playthrough. Let’s face it, the Wii software library is full of noobed up, tacked on enforced motion controlled games.

    Thanks for the hands on, I’ve been considering not buying this for a while and now my mind is made up.

  5. I played the bird flying mini game at EGX too and I was somewhat underwhelmed as well. I was oping that ths was due to it being the level that effectively introduces the flying mechanic and that flying is used to a greater degree further into the game, like other Zelda “items”.

  6. I still believe in the magic that comes with a Zelda game and have been holding off watching videos and such.
    Personally I don’t think that Zelda is a very good showcase game (to watch or play at expos) but instead a game you play on your own, at your own pace. I also think the magic comes from experiencing it start to finish, game and story as one.
    My pre-order stands and I’m sure I’ll love it.

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