Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Review of Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword

     I realize I might be a little late writing a review of this game that came out a while ago, but I just finished the damn thing now because I'm always too busy to play games. First off, I'm a little biased. I love Zelda games. I've played every one of them (except the horrifying CDi games). I wish I could say that I've beaten all of them, but a couple of them either gave me so much trouble that I couldn't or I thought were so weird that they didn't interest me. All this said, I'd like to propose that Skyward Sword is not the worst game in the franchise, but it's definitely nowhere near the best... and it should have been.
     To begin, I'd like to get us all on some sort of equal level here. My favorite game in the franchise is The Legend of Zelda:A Link to the Past for the SNES(or whatever other consoles they've put it on by now), but I will concede that The Legend of Zelda:The Ocarina of Time is probably the best game in the franchise. It has everything you could want out of a Zelda game (except top-down perspective). I just want to get that out of the way so we all have some even footing when thinking about a Zelda game. So, why does Skyward Sword not live up to these standards?
     It's boring. The conversational and expositional text scrolls at such a horrid pace. You can speed it up a little bit, but it's nowhere near enough. There are so many situations in the game that you will likely have to repeat, like falling off a cliff at home or talking with anyone at the Bazaar, that will give you the same canned text every time. This text becomes a grueling chore to sit through. Also, Phi, your companion for the game is made to talk like an emotionless robot. That's supposed to be her personality if you can call it one. The other companions in the history of the games have had emotions. They seem to get angry with you if you are ignoring what you should be questing for. Everyone who's played Ocarina of Time(Oot) remembers how annoying Navi's constant "Hey!" could be, but at least there seemed to be some kind of emotion behind it. The Kind of Red Lions (the boat) in Windwaker will berate you for doing something you shouldn't be. Ezlo (the bird hat) in Minish Cap is a very animated and opinionated character as is Midna in Twilight Princess. My whole point is, that no matter how annoying all those characters became you still began to care about them because they had a personality and they seemed to go through a lot with you. Phi is just annoying without many redeeming qualities. They try and get you to have an emotional moment with her at the end, but since she's so boring it's like having an emotional moment with a piece of cardboard.
     The adventure is missing. All Zelda games are a series of tasks to be carried out in a semi-ordered fashion. The thing that makes it fun is that there is a world to explore. You can travel from one part to another and see the country side along the way. You begin to notice areas that you can't get to and hope that you will receive an item, like a hookshot, that will allow you to get into those areas. You find hidden treasure or characters in unlikely places. You begin to know you're whole world by crisscrossing it multiple times. Skyward Sword breaks this up by putting you in the sky and allows you to go into each area of the surface world separately. The forest, the desert, and the volcano area are all kept separate. For example, you can't go to the forest from the desert even though they are on the same surface. They  even show up next to each other on the map! But you can't reach the other with out first returning to the sky. I found myself disinterested in visiting these areas since it forced me to return to the sky and fly over there and descend into them. I never wanted to wander around in them because it was such a chore to enter or exit them.
     It's trying to do too much. This is also why I say that it should have been the best in the series. The game tries to be a prequel to all of the games in the franchise. Therefore, they have included something from every game. You get the Gust Jar like in Minish Cap, There is a part where you sail a ship like in WindWaker and Phantom Hourglass, The Wind Fish from Link's Awakening (another one of my favorites) makes an appearance, etc... But, because it takes on so many of these elements, the game fails to do anything original and memorable. The only thing I can think of that's original is the motion controls while flying and swimming and those are more a pain in the ass than anything. Even the sky world where you live is a lot like the ocean and islands in WindWaker. All these islands with their waterfalls to nowhere as well as the story about bonding with a flying mount when you reach a certain age, just made me think that the creators had watched James Cameron's Avatar movie too many times.
   Again, this is not the worst game in the franchise. There are some truly fun moments in the game. Sometimes I even laughed out loud. I understand why it's gotten a lot of good reviews, but I think some of the nostalgia for the other games in the franchise has clouded people's vision of this game on it's own. I recommend playing it if you enjoy Zelda games, but don't expect it to top any of your favorites from the series.

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