The Legend Of Zelda is my favorite video game series. I wrote my first ever article on Ocarina of Time, and recently wrote one on Wind Waker. I have beaten almost every installment in the series, but one game that alluded me for years was The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This game has really split the Zelda fanbase, with some calling it the best game in the series, and others hating it. Instead of Games Growing Up, this time I’m going to take a look at Skyward Sword and we’re going to find out how good this game really is.
First off, I’m going to talk about the most obvious polarizing aspect of the game, the controls. This game used the Wii Motion Plus add on, which makes the sword move almost one to one with your hand. This is an amazing idea on paper, but the Wii Motion Plus was still semi new at the time, and this translates to iffy motion controls. There are often times where they will become uncalibrated and I rarely feel that it’s my fault when I mess up. The enemies now block your attacks unless they’re perfectly executed, and the controls make it very hard to actually hit them. The Nunchuck is used to move Link around, but also when you shake the nunchuck, Link will Shield Bash. Sometimes, if you accidentally move it a little bit, Link will Shield bash when you really shouldn’t and mess you up. The Wiimote can be thrusted and link can jump while he’s climbing around, but sometimes the game doesn’t register your thrust. There are birds called Loftwings that Link can ride around the sky on. The controls are mostly fine for Loftwings, you shake the wiimote to flap the wings and point the wiimote in the direction you wish to travel. Sometimes the controls can desync, but flying is pretty fine. The controls of Skyward Sword are really good on paper, but unfortunately don’t execute well in the game.
The gameplay of Skyward Sword is very spotty. The game has some amazing elements, but also some horrible elements. The opening to the game is in my opinion the textbook example of how to not start a video game. Link wakes up, and has to go see Zelda. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. Seeing Zelda involves about two hundred text boxes, and like five boring quests that Link needs to do. It takes about three hours for the game to actually get to a dungeon. The dungeons are arguably the best they’ve ever been in Zelda in Skyward Sword, but there are only seven of them in the entire game. The Dungeons are also rather short, and once a dungeon ends, the game returns to being boring. I felt like a lot of the things that I was doing in between dungones were unimportant and unnecessary. Should I really have to search all around for a pirate ship? Should I have to find parts of a song? The game pads things out and Skyward Sword ends up being a much longer game than it should. There is about five hours of gameplay between the second to last dungeon and the final dungeon, and that’s honestly ridiculous.
The main hub of the game is in the Sky, on an island called Skyloft. You’re able to fly around the sky, but there really isn’t much to do. The sea in Wind Waker has so many islands with sidequests, but the Sky has next to nothing. There are a few chests on barren islands, but that’s about it. The world of Skyward Sword on the surface is very interesting, but I don’t really feel much openness. Most of the world consists of straight paths, with some exceptions. The entire game holds your hand and Fi, this game’s equivalent of Navi, is SUPER annoying. In Ocarina Of Time, when there was a hint for Navi to give you, it would give you an option to press a button to hear the hint, while making a sound effect. In Skyward Sword, Link stops in his tracks and Fi pops up to tell Link something that is rarely important. Fi is super annoying and I’ve heard next to nothing good about her from other fans of Zelda. Skyward Sword also introduced the Stamina Meter. The Stamina Meter tracks Link’s Stamina as he climbs, dashes, and fights enemies. If you have more stamina, you can climb and dash faster than normal, but it depletes quickly. Link will become very tired if the meter reaches zero without you allowing it to recharge, so there is a sense of timing when using your stamina meter. The Stamina Meter is a good addition, since it makes all movement in the game a lot quicker. The items in Skyward Sword are amazing. There are new items like the Beetle, Whip, and Gust bellows. The beetle is an item that can fly around and collect items, transport things, and hit buttons. It’s a really interesting item that uses the motion controls well in my opinion. The whip lets Link swing around and activate levers from a distance. Simple, but well executed. The gust bellows just blow dust around, but they’re still unique. Overall the gameplay of Skyward Sword is a mixed bag.
The graphics in Skyward Sword are very pleasant to look at. They’re cel shaded, and the game is a lot more colorful than most of the 3D titles. Even though the graphics look nice, there are a few issues. Some things look a bit washed out, like the game is colorful, but some grass textures look like they could have more color in them, things like that. The outlines of all the characters are pixelated, which is a little off putting for a game released in 2011. The music, like every Zelda game, is fantastic. While I can’t really remember any specific tracks, besides the main theme of the game, which is actually one of my least favorite Zelda themes, and the amazing Skyloft theme, the majority of the music was pleasant to listen to throughout the game as background noise.
I’m not going to spoil the entire story, since I’m only talking about aspects of the story, but there are spoilers here, so beware. Being the first game in the Zelda Timeline, this game does a lot of things I love, storywise. The main villain of the game explains all of Ganondorf’s encarnations, and the Master Sword is created in this game. Instead of following a prophecy of a former hero, Link follows the prophecy of the Goddess’s chosen Hero, which turns out to be him. It’s got a lot of stuff like that, which I love. The story of Skyward Sword is arguably my favorite part of the game.
The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword was a game I really wanted to love, but couldn’t. While it has great ideas, almost none of them are executed well. When the game takes one step forward, it takes two steps back, which is a real shame because if done correctly, this could easily rival Majora’s Mask as the greatest 3D Zelda game. Unfortunately, I can’t say that Skyward Sword is a good game.