4/15/13

Zelda Skyward Sword was a horrible game.

By: 14th Lord



Alright, I tried very hard to enjoy this game, I really did, but it's a abomination. It's terrible as a stand alone game, it's terrible as a Zelda game, and it's terrible as a story. This game's a travesty, I don't even know where to begin. Let me give you a bit back ground information from me, as a fan of the franchise since I could properly read.

Back in my earliest memories, I remember having a Nintendo, the original one, with a decent amount of games, but no game did I enjoy more and keep coming back to then Zelda. I never beat the game, since I couldn't ever find the last few dungeons despite even making a map, using fire on every bush I found, bombing every tile and trying to push every tile in the game, it was just beyond me. I couldn't get through the lost woods, nor did I ever learn to drain the lake into dungeon 7. As the years went on, I got a Super Nintendo and played Zelda, A link to the past, which I fell in love with. The game was amazing. The gameplay, the bosses, the secrets, the minigames, the pacing, and the story.

Lets focus on Story. Zelda's Story has started pretty minimalistic, but even by Adventures of Link, they started integrating story into the franchise, bringing elements that'd be called back for years. When we got Ocarina of time, we got a true taste of a rich world with amazing storyline, inhabitants and characters that felt alive, and a world that you could actually see changing thanks to your interactions. With Majora's Mask, they went one further and made a game with immense depth. It truly felt that ever last person in the world had their own life, rituals, family, making you want to see these people get their happy endings and survive the end of the falling of the moon. I wouldn't of been surprised if each and every person in the world was given a couple people to develop a story for. Since A link to the past, Zelda was a franchise that could truly make you feel emotions as you played. Well, to be fair, Skyward Sword made me feel emotions, annoyance, frustration, disappointment.


When Wind Waker was announced, it was a shock. Link suddenly looked like a cartoon, giving feelings of betrayal over a series that has always been pretty dark, making it feel as if they decided to make the next game targetted for children, to keep children playing the franchise and not those who grew up loving the series. I got over the art style and found a gorgeous game, rich with story, characters, depth, amazing gameplay, and an expansive world. I'd spend hours, just sailing around enjoying the game, finding treasures, mini-quests, and new islands. Even the empty islands were fun to look around in. While the insitial reaction for Wind Waker was poor, it did not disappoint.


When I first heard about Skyward Sword, I'll admit, I was skeptical. While I thought Twilight Princess was amazing, there was nothing in any of the Skyward Sword trailers that “wow'd” me. Then again, it looked like it'd be a simple light hearted adventure that meant for yourself to become engrossed in the beauty and the adventure itself. Keeping myself open minded, while my expectations low, I waited, and my was I disappointed. Skyward Sword in a word? Tedious? Annoying? Filler? Shallow? Disappointment? Take your pick.

We begin in the menu where we create a new file. Suddenly, I noticed the impact of the Wii Motion Plus accessory. The cursor felt stiff, requiring a lot more movement to effect its placement on screen, much to my surprise. I mention this because it's my first impression of the motion plus, and it threw my mind back to friends who'd play and swing their control far off to the side when you just needed a simple and slight nudge of the wii mote to the side, to place your cursor on what you mean to select. I figured that this was implemented to cater to the mindset of casuals who'd constantly have issues of their cursor going off screen, and made my file. Much to my amusement, I found that Link's already entered into the name selection as the default for the name, a series first. I started the game.


The beginning cutscene shows this massive Goliath of a beast peering over from the world, with the 25th anniversary logo. This was it, the game that was in the making for four years, longer than any Zelda title to date, they must of pulled all the stops surely.

We're immediately taken to see the gorgeous view of Skyloft as Zelda sings the Ballad of the Goddess. The soundtrack and art is immediately gorgeous and entrapping.

As the game begins, they introduce you to Skyloft and its inhabitants, and most notably, Groose, the local bully in town. Now let me say this. The beginning is good, it's really good. I immediately fell in love with the game and was eager to play.

Before long we meet Fi, the essence of the Skyward Sword, who leads you to it. Fi starts out as a snarky character, who acts very... robotic, berating Zelda's father for oral history being unreliable, and giving the true history afterward, along with her constant ranting on percentages and probabilities. While this character comes off initially as a fun idea, you quickly begin to see otherwise, as Fi continued this trend of retelling what you were just told, throughout the game. This is where we meet the first big issue of the game.

Fi as a character didn't have to be bad. The concept was enticing from the very beginning, to learn of the creation of the Master Sword and this strange creature who's its essence. Fi would of effectively been the new Navi, Tatl, Midna, and I expected a role very similar to Midna, with her having a personality of her own in addition to assisting you. While many were annoyed by Navi, every once and awhile going “Hey Listen!” when she has advice for a puzzle, or wants to tell you about something new, Fi takes it to whole new levels.

Constantly throughout the game, Fi will pop out of the Sword, not just to tell you the mechanics or give you advice. Instances include a moment where upon completely going through a temple and passing the room with the master key repeatedly in this effort, only when I finally collected the key and come to use it on the door, she pops out and tells me that she detects a 95% chance that there's something important behind the door! Gee Fi, thanks, I would of never figured that out! This isn't even near the beginning of the game, this is over 30 hours in that she still pulls off antics like this, REGULARLY.

Alright let me illustrate the scheme of Skyward Sword, so that you can understand how insignificant it feels your interaction has with the actual story. Wake up, meet Zelda, find your pet bird (THAT NEVER GETS A NAME). Zelda gets kidnapped, Fi haunts you late at night, you get the Skyward Sword. You head to the surface. Mission: Rescue Zelda. Go to the forest temple, but first you need to go through the Faron Woods Dungeon. Once you gone through the Faron Woods Dungeon, go through the Deep Woods mini-dungeon. Then you get to finally go into the Forstt Temple and complete the first real dungeon where you meet the games antagonist, Ghirahim.


Ghirahim, wow thats a tough name to spell. Well, Ghirahim is a very flamboyant looking enemy, that actually plays out pretty interesting. I actually quite liked his personality, and after fighting him in the forest temple, I was pumped. This game was looking like it was going to be good. The Overworld being a dungeon with pointless bottomless pits was a bit annoying and odd, but eh, I supposed it'd only be annoying the first time going through until you cleared it out and created all the short cuts to get through easily. Fi was a bit tedious, constantly explaining everything. Okay, not explaining everything, but RE-EXPLAINING WHAT WAS JUST EXPLAINED. Thats right. You'll find a tablet that'll give explain to you that the next area to go to is Eldin Volcano, when Fi pops out, does a crazy dance, claiming new knowledge was unlocked, and telling you she detects a 85% chance we should go to Eldin Volcano next. Gee, thanks Fi. But before that, we have to return to Skyloft with the Tablet to unlock the next area.

You go to Eldin Volcano and proceed up it as a mini dungeon. Then once you're ontop, you go through another mini dungeon to finally get inside the Fire Sanctuary. Still all good. Meet Ghirahim once more and he sends a baddy after you in form of a boss battle, Okay, this is looking interesting, we have a reoccurring enemy that constantly getting in our way of rescuing Zelda, and apparently a mysterious girl has joined the fray and rescued her before we get there!

We find the next part of the tabley, by the way it was split into 3 parts, this being the 3rd as we collected to first to unlock Faron Woods. Lanaryu is unlocked and things looks like they're getting on the roll.

Oh lord Lanaryu Desert was annoying. This area starts very interesting, but its so unbelievably long. I spent 1-2 hours going through the desert. At first it seemed interesting because we saw a symbol that made me squeal in surprise and interest at the distance, and we're wondering whats going on, but 4 hours later, I barely care. Get through the desert, and you make your way into the next dungeon, just to discover that you were too late. Zelda leaves beyond your grasp and there's no way to get to her. We meet Ghirahim once more, but thats it for a very long while. So we're well into 10-20 hours of the game by this point.

The next 10-20 hours of the game you spend going through 3 mini dungeons to upgrade the Skyward Sword. To find each of the places to upgrade the master sword, oyu must first pierce the Cloud Storm you been seeing at the distance, where the Isle of Song is. You must go there to get the song to unlock each test. Once you unlock each test you go through a mini dungeon. Once you complete this task, you are dazzled by the biggest reveal, apparently the Skyward Sword is now called the Master Sword! Wow. Really? That was a bit anti-climatic. I mean, I expected the creation of the Master Sword to have a bit more meaning, this is the Origin story after all. I still pondered though, would something happen to Fi, as none of the other Links in the future game have ever met him? Does he make a heroic sacrifice? What? What do you mean that he's a she? No way.

Alright, remember this. Doing all that takes 10-20 hours. That's ALL you're accomplishing! You meet a sea dragon but he doesn’t exactly matter at this point. Once you accomplish that, you finally get to proceed with the games storyline First, you must follow Zelda and be told that there was NO REASON for you to chase after her, because you cant do anything to help her. She'll stay behind to maintain the seal on the big bad demon that Ghirahim has been trying to release, and asks you to return when its all over.

Then we embark on a journey to collect 4parts of a song so we can get a gem that will maybe unlock the next dungeon if we can find where it goes, somewhere in Skyloft. In order to do this we must first find the Sky Dragon. Once we talk to the sky dragon we must go back to the surface and find the 3 other dragons who each know a piece of the song. You cant go to the sea dragon because, well, Faron woods is randomly sealed and the Old Woman nor Groose are any help. Alright, Eldin! The volcano erupts as you fall and you awake to find a morbid sight. Link's captured, bokoblins are everywhere, you're in jail and have to sneak about to get back your inventory which took about a hour. Once you do that you can finally go to the next area and reclaim your Master Sword, and oh god PUT IT BACK PUT IT BACK. Fi pops out. I didn't realize how sweet it was. Once oyu find the dragon he says sorry, he farted and caused a volcanic eruption, which randomly caused bokoblin to be everywhere, but by the time you leave his cave, all should be back to normal. Gee, and here iwas thinking this was story development. Perhaps Ghirahim caused the eruption and was doing something to the volcano, but nope, there is NO STORY DEVELOPMENT IN THIS GAME.

By the way, I REALLY hope you LOVE bokoblins and Deku Plants, because I detect a 95% chance that the high majority of the enemies you face in this game are variation of these two creatures!


You spend about a hour doing that, then off to the next zone. Spend a hour collecting tadpoles in a flooded Faron Woods, which is flooded because fuck you it is, and you need to collect these tadpoles because fuck you. Spend a hour swimming around circles nonstop. Alright, my bad, not non-stop, a creature you met earlier comes up with a brilliant idea that you can Dowse for them! Gee Fi, thanks for not thinking of that yourself, useless sword. This is absolutely vital as a tadpole is hidden under a leaf that you'd never see it under, unless you knew it was there. Once done, the sea levels drop because you didn't think story development caused it to rise did you?

You're now at Lanaryu desert and have to go through a new zone to find the last Dragon, and you find his bones. Oh, what happened here, this looks interesting. There's chains. Was this the demon kings doing? Was Ghirahim behind this? You use a timeshift stone and discover nope, he just has the chicken pox and needs a special seed to be planted to create a fruit that will heal him. The problem? It taks awhile for the tree to grow and it wont grow here! Once you solve that problem he gives you his piece of the song, you find the sky dragon once more, get the full song, and told you can finally proceed to the last temple, which they have no idea where it is, but you need this song to unlock it. Alright, lets surmise the story development we get here. We discover there's 3 dragons. One died from the chicken pox. The second accidentally erupted a volcano, and the 3rd flooded the woods. None of this had ANY relation to the main storyline, yet you spend 5 hours like a headless chicken with this.

Spend a hour looking for where it goes because you have no clues besides its in Skyloft, and you finally get to go through the final dungeon, which I found very interesting, perhaps the most interesting dungeon in the game, if not for the fact it was just gimmicky replicas of the previous dungeons.

Then we finally destroy Demise, all is well, you free Zelda, and begin the end of the game, 35-45 hours into the gameplay. Thats right, after 10 hours into the game, nothing you do has ANYTHING to do wit hthe main storyline. Its fetch quest and dungeon to do a fetch quest, one after another. There's NO character development besides Groose, who goes from being a bastard bully pining after Zelda, to a true hero, helping you in your fight with the big evil that Ghirahim has been trying to revive, even going so far as to be the one to actually rescue Zelda! You just spent 40 hours on a game with 10 hours worth of story development, that lal happened in the FIRST 10 HOURS.


Characters: 3/10
Alright, I'll be generous. I'll give 1 point per character that has character development in this game. There's.... Groose... There's... um... Groose. There's the Shadow Figure that shall not be named for spoiler reasons? Though her character is a bit unexplained, like, at all. Why is she there, who sent her, whats her history? Never answered. There's Ghirahim! Perhaps the funnest and most lively character there.
Plot: 4/10
Again I'll be generous. Lets add one point per story development we have in the game. We begin with a story dump and discovery of the big bad demon in the first couple hours of the game, with Ghirahim trying to revive it. We discover Zelda has her own task and that there's another out there to aid her. Groose is one massive character development himself. Then 40ish hours in we finally get to the end of the game where we finally get some more story development. Nothing in between.
Fun Factor: 2/10
What I love in video games is exploration, discovering new things that dont have to do with the main story development, immersing myself into the world, learning the storyline and lore, and immersing myself with the characters. Sure games like tetris doesn't need this, nore did the earliest zelda games, but this beast, you can't say the same about. It keeps introducing you to characters that goes no where, have no real personalities, to gorgeous terrains and environments that aren't enjoyable, and the only redeeming quality is the controls that annoyed me like crazy.
Engine and Controls: 8/10
This is where the game shines. The motion controls were well implemented, the game engine was very intuitive and accommodated for many different tasks, from sky diving to the intuitive combat. What I didn't like was the automatic re-calibration the game contentiously did throughout gameplay. You're navigating the beetle and time runs out so you send a new one? It goes the wrong way because your controls were still to the side because you were turning the beetle.

The game is CONSTANTLY recalibrating where the center of target is, forcing you the playing to constantly recalibrate it manually yourself, which becomes extremely bothersome where precise movements are necessary.

The motion controls also suffers from being too intuitive at times. When you swing the wii mote, you're often not doing a full body swing and just flicking the wiimote. If you do that, you might find that you're flipping the back of the wiiomote one way, to swing the wiimote another, causing it to register the back motion as that's where the motion plus device is. Other times you find yourself trying to swing the sword fast and repeatedly, causing the motion controls to respond oddly. This requires the player to take a moment and allow the full sword sing to play out before attempting a second swing, but just as often the game will demand you to have quick reflexes in this aspect, so the player isn't solely to blame in these regards.

Perhaps it may just be me, but I suffered moments where the motion plus just spazzed out, and Link would run a random direction until I pulled out the motion plus accessory and placed it back in, forcing the game to recalibrate manually. Perhaps the motion plus device is faulty, perhaps the nunchuk is to blame, so I wont hold it against the game, but I'll state that the issue has occurred.
Overall: 4/10
This game is the 25th anniversary game, and it doesn't do the series justice. It get rids of many familiar aspects to the series, which in itself is fine as its trying to re-imagine and break free of the tropes its earned for itself, but doesn't do any of this successfully. Its the only game to not feature a great fairy in the main series, despite having the great fairy song in the opening. It explains the origins of things in the most lack luster way, and makes you feel that you're learning more about the origins of hyrule, while giving you nothing new. It feels that the head ups told the developers in this game to hit a short list of notes, introduce a list of concepts and characters, and to make it 35 hours long, while adding NOTHING ELSE that could remotely effect how you see Hyrule, or effect the story of any game thats supposed to take place at a later date. The gameplay was repetitive and bland, the story was scraps, and it did Zelda no justice.

I was a bit iffy after the disappointment of Spirit Tracks but still optimistic as Zelda was my favorite game series, constantly topping itself. When I saw the trailers, I found that never did they show a moment that “Wow'd” me. Playing this game, I can see why, as even the biggest and greatest moments in the game, aren't much to look at.

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