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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - A Review
This hub is going to review The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the newest iteration of the long standing Legend of Zelda series, nominated for Game of the Year. After a long wait, Skyward Sword is finally here, and I daresay that it's the best Zelda game ever created! Of course, I'm not just going to make such a bold statement and leave it at that.
Note: This game requires a Wii Remote with a Wii Motion Plus.
That's enough stalling from me, time to review this gem!
First of all, I'd like to point out that this game is the prequel to Ocarina of Time. That may clear up some confusion so as to the game's setting.
A great war was waged in times immemorial between demons and all the other races, a war that a certain goddess had to participate in. After this war, the goddess took all of the surviving humans and raised them above the clouds on an island called Skyloft. It is here that your game begins.
As is standard for Zelda games you assume the role of Link, a young man that is in training to become a knight of Skyloft. To become a class senior you need to win the Wing Ceremony, which consists in grabbing a bird statuette out of a bird's claws while it is in flight. Since Link can't fly, you have to enlist the aid of his trusty Crimson Loftwing to compete. After an event where Zelda nearly pushes you to your death (you get better), you realize your bird has been kidnapped (birdnapped?) and must go save him, with the help of Zelda. After the Wing Ceremony, Zelda falls to the surface world and you realize that, in fact, there is a surface world to explore. What happens from there on out is up to you!
Unlike many of the early iterations of Zelda, this game is story-driven (much like Twilight Princess was). Since I'm an avid RPG player, this is a huge plus for me. You get an emotional attachment to Zelda that's mostly absent in most other Zelda games. I mean, you do feel for her getting kidnapped in other games, but since she has little backstory in those earlier Zelda iterations, it's more of a "save the princess" than a "save your friend" plot. In this game, you want to save her because that's what Link wants and not only because it advances the game.
This is the meats and potatoes of any Zelda game, and this game has it in spades. This is arguably the hardest Zelda game of all time, and that's saying a lot for a series that has had mostly easy entries. Case in point, you start the game with six hearts instead of three. You'll need each one of them, by the way. :P
With the new motion control mechanisms in place (thanks to the Wii Motion Plus) you can control Link's sword swings at a nearly 1:1 ratio. In other words, if you swing your Remote vertically, Link will swing his sword vertically. However, Link isn't the only entity to get an upgrade; most enemies now require strategy to defeat. Instead of just hack and slashing your way through a room as in previous iterations of the series, you'll have to find out each enemy's weak point(s) and exploit them to win. For example, an early battle is against a red goblin-like enemy. You have to wait until the enemy drops his guard before you swing, or else your sword will be deflected by his. The game's first miniboss dual wields swords and can easily kill you if you try to rush him without waiting for an opening. The list goes on, but I don't want to spoil too much more about the enemies, as finding out how to kill each new foe is half of the fun! ;)
Of course, you won't have to figure out how to beat each foe alone, as your sword has a spirit called Fi that acts much like Navi of Ocarina of Time fame (that is, she gives you tips for solving certain puzzles and defeating enemies). The game designers also made Fi much less annoying than Navi ever was, since you get an audible beep when she has something to say to you, rather than the terrible "Hey, listen!" that Navi would emit at frequent intervals.
As was mentioned in the previous section, you have a bird that you fly around the sky with. As the game progresses, you unlock the ability to travel to the surface world and start clearing the game's dungeons, while also unlocking additional points of exploration (as well as treasure) in the sky. This is done a lot better than the train system in Spirit Tracks, in my opinion.
Speaking of Spirit Tracks, this game also brings back the collection system that game had. You can acquire bugs and items of varying rarities that can then be used to upgrade your shields and equipment. This is the first time a Zelda game has allowed you to upgrade Link's equipment via the use of collected items, at least in the scale that this game lets you. The first time I accessed the Scrap Shop and saw that this got added into the game, I nearly cried in happiness.
Finally, but definitely not least, I have to mention the game's soundtrack. The attention to detail that this game has gotten is apparent even here. When you're fighting a group of enemies, each consecutive sword strike gets a slightly higher musical tone if it connects (I suppose to symbolize that you're winning the fight). It's somewhat hard to visualize through text, but think of a Do-Re-Mi type of crescendo and that's kind of what it sounds like. Classic melodies like the ones for treasure chest opening (and subsequent treasure getting) and the Kakariko Village song (remixed) are still here as well.
The music serves to set the atmosphere in important scenes such as the early scenes with Zelda and your first boss fight. All in all, the game's music can be described as epic.
I could go on and on about this gem of a game, but I have to draw the line somewhere, right?
So, that's about it from me. I wholeheartedly recommend this game to you if you're a Zelda fan, and even if you're not. This is action-adventure goodness that will not disappoint!
Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)