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.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Comics for this week

This week brought some really decent comics. I picked up Avengers:X-Sanction #3(of 4), X-Factor #231, Invincible #88, Clive Barker's Hellraiser #10, Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #4(of 4), and finally Sergio Aragones Funnies #7.
     Avengers:X-Sanction continues our fight between Cable and Red Hulk. After a couple of funny bits courtesy of Blaquesmith we get a flashback that sheds some light on why Cable is so gung-ho against the Avengers. We see that (in the future) the Avengers have lots of tech that would be used to take down the X-Men. Cable blasts Rulk out the side of the ship, but it isn't enough. Rulk gets the upper hand and makes some vague threats until Cable lashes out and infects him with the Techno-Organic Virus. Cable then notices his virus receding in response, but no time to dwell on that because Hope and Cyclops show up to have words. This too is cut short because we need Spider-Man and Wolverine to show up and say something dumb. This book is pretty standard Event-fare. I'm just surprised that they are using Blaquesmith. A character that could have only come out of the 1990s and one that has largely been ignored ever since.
     X-Factor continues it's "they keep killing Madrox" story. I love this book. It doesn't always have the best art, but it's an incredibly fun read. I genuinely have no idea what's going to happen next from issue to issue. Right now, since MadroxPrime was killed, Jamie is jumping into the dead bodies of himself from other timelines. It's the same kind of thing we've seen recently in Batman books and Captain America books, but this time we get to see how Peter David would handle this type of story. This issue has Jamie stuck in a world where instead of saying "no more mutants", the Scarlet Witch said "no more humans." Tony Stark was in space when it happened, so he became one of the only humans to survive. He fought and killed nearly all the mutants using his technology and giant sentinel-like robot iron men. A Deathlok version of Captain America shows up and starts a battle with Iron Man. Jamie gets caught in the middle while trying to find out what's going on from the mysterious Mr. Tryp. Jamie almost gets flown to safety by one of his dupes and then dies in a humorous fashion only to wake up in the body of another Madrox. This time he's been killed by what looks to be Dormammu:the Sorcerer Supreme! I know all of that sounds confusing as hell, but it's such a fun book.
     Invincible brings us back to the stand-off between Alan and Invincible. Thragg shows up and tries to reason with Alan about why he shouldn't try to kill off all of the Viltrumites with his new virus. Some interesting dialogue happens and Alan is swayed by what Thragg has to say. Invincible's brother Oliver is not so easily swayed. Robot and some Gaurdians show up and a fight starts. Invincible tries desperately to control the situation and keep Thragg from killing all of them. In the confusion Oliver grabs the gun containing the virus and flies to Earth to finish what they came to do. Invincible flies after him and the two struggle over control of the virus until Oliver accidentally shoots Invincible in the face with the virus. Alan helps and tries to explain how the virus is spread to which Invincible just replies that he feels fine and his virus must not work very well, but we get a reveal at the end that it may be working better than he thinks. Bum bum bum. This book is consistently good every month. I love this book and implore everyone to read it.
     Hellraiser is like everything Clive Barker writes; some cool stuff happens and some incredibly confusing stuff happens. Kirsty has traded places with Pinhead. She believes that she can fight the good fight from within Hell. she, of course is finding that it's a little harder than she anticipated. Meanwhile, human Pinhead has been trying to remember who he is until Kirsty decides to let him have all his memories back. Human pinhead is flooded with all his memories of Hell. This book is strange. I love Hellraiser and having Clive Barker writing it makes this a must-have for me, but it's not the most exciting read every month. I would suggest waiting for a collections to read this book.
     Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes shows us why Dr. Zaius went from a human sympathizer to a human hater. This has been a good read and leads into another upcoming mini series. If you like the old films, you'd like this book. Get the collection when it comes out.
     Sergio Aragones Funnies delivers another fantastic issue. Aragones is one of the greatest cartoonists to have ever lived and this book is always full of poignant, touching, hilarious, and fun stories. Not to mention puzzles and fun stuff for kids. This book is a must-have for adults and children alike.
     This week delivered some good books. They aren't all the best that they can be, but I'll take it over the quality I sometimes get out of comics. Till next time, Taa Taa!