You may have heard the hype surrounding the release of the brand new Legend of Zelda game last week. Just 25 years ago, Link was fresh-faced and new, starting out on his very first adventure to help the princess and since then he’s just grown in popularity, becoming an icon within the gaming world and so this game is a landmark achievement for Nintendo. Skyward Sword takes you back to the start of the epic legend.
Link is a student on a floating island named Skyloft, training to be a knight and dreaming of soaring around the skies upon his bird, you know, like that really famous film released a while ago. Oh yeah! Just like what they do in Avatar! Suspicious activities aside, Link’s world is turned upside-down when his best friend/secret lover Zelda goes missing on the land below the clouds.
Your main task is to find your beloved Zelda, which you can only do by exploring the vast world of Hyrule, which, disappointingly doesn’t feel that vast after a while, especially when not compared to the likes of Wind Waker, where you could spend days sailing around and still not discover everything available to you. However, when you’re on a personal mission to discover every item hidden away, the land seems to multiply in size, recreating the challenge that every Zelda fan has embarked upon previously, and very nicely as well.
Although finding his cherished friend is Link’s true passion, it’s certainly not his destiny. You have to travel through multiple dungeons and wide-open areas in order to defeat the definition of evil in order to save the world. It all seems a bit repetitive, and although many fans enjoy this aspect of the game, it was run into the ground years ago and now it’s just taking a fast track through hell. If you’re familiar with the series, you know exactly what’s coming up and the ending comes as no big shock to you, leaving you with a feeling of disappointment as you reach forward to eject the disc and put it on the shelf to collect dust for years to come.
This time around, Nintendo appear to have thrown in twice the amount of enemies and allowed them to breed like rabbits. In previous games, this wouldn’t be a problem as the combat was smooth and an enjoyable experience, but this time around, Nintendo has made so many changes that you’re better off just running past and hoping they don’t follow. Just one of these changes is the strength of their attacks. Before, it knocked off part of a heart which was easily found a few feet away in the midst of some grass. Now, they take a considerable amount of your health, meaning that you start with twice the amount of hearts as you previously did. That means that there will be no more three-heart-runs to celebrate over, sorry about that fans. Find a new hobby.
The addition of the MotionPlus technology also makes the fighting a lot more difficult, especially if you’re not really used to the precision from previous experiences. You can no longer lazily flick your controller and watch as Link swings his sword around or performs a fatal blow, no, now you have to copy his movements almost exactly, forcing you to close your curtains and keep your actions private since you look somewhat of a prat as you play. It actually makes the game seem as though it’s aimed towards the casual audience, which is great for newcomers to the series but frustrating to the people who eat, sleep and breathe The Legend of Zelda.
Despite these problems, what’s nice about this part of the game is that you get to slice and dice a large range of both familiar and brand new enemies, adding to the fresh feeling of the whole game, while still being accessible and liked by the returning hoard of followers.
Nintendo obviously put a lot of thought into the graphics within this game, almost bragging about how they decided to make them resemble impressionist art, which let them add a lot more detail into the things that the developers wanted to stress the most. It’s a shame, however, that it looks quite ugly when you’ve played for a while. It just looks as if someone’s softened every image up completely, almost to the point where you have to strain to figure out what something in the background is supposed to be because you’re too lazy to go over there and see up close.
As well as the graphics not working well, there are many moments where Link will glitch through the log or block that you’re supposed to be climbing onto, albeit very slightly in some cases, yet still noticeable, breaking that sense of immersion for the next few minutes as you curse whoever was responsible for not caring enough to take more time on the climbing animation/creating of these objects. Other than that, no other glitches or mistakes were discovered, which is always nice.
Some music and sound effects were recycled from previous games within the series, causing you to reminisce to your childhood and relive the excitement as you started a fight or gathered an important item in your quest. Although this is nice, often it feels overly dramatic, especially at the start of the game, where the gameplay and story focuses on the calm and tranquillity of your life, yet the music completely contradicts this. If some of the instruments were toned down a bit, it would have a much better feel and would better set you up for the shock as the game twists in a brand new direction to what Link is used to.
Skyward Sword is an enjoyable experience, as long as you don’t think about the problems that arise as you play through. Once you get into the game, you’re sure to play until you’re completely sleep deprived, whether you remember Link when he was saving the world from a very distressed moon or you’ve just come across this green hero. Sure, it ignores the fans at points, but you have to respect Nintendo for trying to find a larger audience and I’m almost positive that they’ll consider their mistakes and amend them in the next couple of years. Robin Hood can steal a 7/10 from me.