Video Game Thoughts: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was a 2011 action-adventure game by Nintendo for the Nintendo Wii. I wasn’t sure if I would like Skyward Sword before playing it because I had heard a lot of bad things about it. Mainly, there were many complaints about the motion controls. Luckily, the motion controls held up for almost everything in the game. I’ve written before how I like to learn when I play a game. If I’m not learning, the game gets boring. I think they did this perfectly in Skyward Sword. Every new enemy I faced I had to learn a new strategy to defeat. Every area was filled with little puzzles to solve to get to the next area or complete the main objective. Even when I had to come back to some areas, they would change things up just enough, so I had to find a new solution. The few times I got stuck there was a pretty good in-game hint system, though it was a little tedious having to go back and forth between different visual modes for that.

Initially, I loved the story, but it seemed to lack urgency as time went on. In most Zelda games, the villain, Ganon, had caused destruction around the world. It was up to Link to go to each area and clean things up. That didn’t really happen here. Early on the player knew who the bad guys were, but they didn’t know why. Here and there the villains would pop-up and need to be dealt with, but there wasn’t a lot of motivation for defeating them aside from them being evil or being in Link’s way to finding Zelda. There were almost no innocent people that needed saving, no local problems that needed to be solved. I liked that the main characters actually had character development though. With the exception of Twilight Princess, most Zelda games have no character development.

I saw some influences of the Metroid series, but they didn’t go far enough. In Metroid games after the player got new items, they could return to old areas and find upgrades using those new items. In Skyward Sword that only really happened with the Bombs and, later, the Clawshots. The majority of the items were never any use for finding secrets. I was expecting to return to each area many times with new items and seeing what new areas I could get to or what new upgrades I could find. Some parts of the story did require the player to do this, but they needed more optional secrets in each area.

Getting back to the motion controls, there were some things they weren’t perfect at. I felt they were weak during the swimming sections of the game. It was just hard having to do all the turning with my arm. Using the joystick for swimming would have been better. The worst part of the game was when the player had to hunt down a bunch of items in this big underwater area. It just felt way too tedious.

Some enemies required the player to fake an attack from one angle but then attack from another angle. I consistently found these enemies difficult because the same motion could simply move the sword or actually perform an attack. It was always hard to get the timing right. I had the same trouble sometimes with the shield blocking. Sometimes I didn’t even move the Nunchuk controller, but I would see Link put up a block. Other times I would make the movement to do a block, but Link wouldn’t do it.

I put down a lot of criticisms here, but they were all really minor. I really liked this game. What I liked even more was Nintendo trying out new things in Zelda. My main problem with Twilight Princess was how similar it was to Ocarina of Time. It had much better production values, but the gameplay was just more of the same. No one could make that complaint against Skyward Sword. It was totally different from almost every other Zelda game. I hope Nintendo will keep doing this. I really look forward to the next Zelda game on the Wii U.

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