Thursday, July 26, 2012

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii review


I will let you all in on a little secret on how I score games. I used to go the whole 7.5 or 8.6 kind of thing, but I decided to change that in my later reviews to just doing solid numbers. I only give games a score number from 1-10, so when I find something wrong with a game, and it’s just a minor gripe, I take off half a point. However, if it is a major annoyance, I take off a whole point. Sometimes, if the gripe is so minor, I won’t even take it off the score. Overall, I give a game a 10 to start out with, and then chip away at it to lower numbers when I find something wrong with it. I have already given a handful of games perfect scores. They are, God of War 3, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Dragon Quest 8. Those games had just tiny gripes in my opinion that weren’t worth taking out of the score itself. Now, here is another game that is up for a perfect score, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. How come it seems like Nintendo is the one of the few companies that can make their games consistent? I mean, yeah, they have a small blunder here and there, but usually their franchises are always great. I know there has been a lot of controversy with Skyward Sword’s review score and the mainstream critic’s opinions about this game. Some love it to death, some think the motion controls are annoying, and some don’t like it at all even though it has gotten scores like 9 and 10 out of 10’s. For the record, I love this game. I love it to death. It is one of my favorite games of all time. So, let’s begin with this wonderful 25th birthday of Legend of Zelda. Oh, and a quick congratulations to Shingeru Miyamoto for making such a wonderful franchise for so many years and winning that Hall of Fame Award at the Spike Video Game Awards back in December.

The story starts off with a little backstory of a powerful goddess fighting off the demons that were 
 slaughtering and plaguing the land. The goddess then sent what was left of human civilization into the clouds 
 in the form of a floating continent called Skyloft. “Insert your Castle in the Sky reference here” and let’s keep going. This Link is surprisingly filled with character as he acts like a young adult and is sleeping in at the Knights Academy where he trains. In a rather hilarious way, he is woken up by a giant bird called the Loftwing that happens to belong to Zelda, which has a letter from her to give to Link. After some time with developing the relationship between Link and Zelda this time, which I will explain a bit more later, Link wins a competition to get a prayer from the Skyloft Goddess that happens to be given by Zelda. While flying through the air with Zelda on each of their Loftwings, Zelda gets taken down to the land below by a giant tornado that was conjured up by a demon called Ghirahim. Link must go down to save Zelda and discover the wonders of the world below. The best thing that anyone can say about this game is its story. It is weird to think about, since the only time I really cared about the story was in Majora’s Mask. The characters here are just given much more personality. Zelda really stands out with her quirky, lighthearted tough girl act while Link is just a humble, kindhearted guy who would do anything to save Zelda. Even the characters that do and do not play a huge role in the story are given a lot of charm. I just don’t know what I can say that wouldn’t sound like I was repeating this paragraph over and over.  It is probably the only Nintendo game that made me care about what happens to Zelda and Link. That alone gives this game huge points!

The gameplay. Oh, my goodness, the gameplay! It has been revamped to make some much-needed improvements. I mean the mold is pretty much the same. You go through a large overworld that consist of three areas, you go into dungeons, fight monsters, get new items, beat bosses with said new item, get heart pieces, do side activities, and buy items like potions, bombs, arrows, and you get the idea. It is just the little changes that make this game so much more fun. Instead of using a horse since you live in a continent in the sky, you use a giant bird and you fly around the sky to little islands and to get to certain holes in the clouds to enter said 3 areas below the clouds. The combat is more strategic now, since enemies have the ability to block and actually think a little. Even certain enemies can’t be destroyed unless you hit them the right way like slicing horizontally or vertically. You won’t be able to just hack-and-slash while mashing that one button. Once again, there are some very fun items that you find from your quest, like a whip, a wind cannon, and everyone’s favorite item, a flying beetle that can be upgraded to pick up items and drop bombs on enemies below. I guess I should mention the upgrade system. Throughout the game, you can find random items that are put all over the overworld and you can take it to a mechanic. He can then, for a bit of cash, take certain items and upgrade them to become stronger. This is helpful since items like your shield have a health meter that will make the shield shatter if it’s hit too many times. Other items like your bow and arrow can also be upgraded. Besides strategic battles, puzzle solving, and epic boss fights, later in the game you will need to go through 4 different trial areas called the Silent Realms. You get special story progression items here if you can find things called light seeds and not get killed while collecting them. I will explain my thoughts about them later. Overall, the Zelda formula got some much needed improvements with a stamina bar for running, upgradeable weapons and items, more complex combat, a boss rush mode, and an actual Zelda story with characters that matters. 

The graphics while people have stupidly complained about them, look amazing.  I actually love this mix of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker art styles meshed into one. It is easily one of the best looking games on the Wii. Even if the characters do not have real mouth movements like in Red Dead Redemption, everyone is animated well and gives off a lot of personality. The music is amazing with Koji Kondo of course returning to make another wonderful score. I especially love the main theme of the game, which is of course the infamous Zelda’s Lullaby played backwards. I just can’t get over how amazing the characters are. Link, Zelda, and just everyone brings so much personality than before. It is just hard to explain how amazing it is to actually care about the characters in this game, when in the past I didn’t really care.

So, what could possibly be wrong with this game? Well, I got a few minor gripes. I wish, in the Silent Realm areas, that the environmental hazards did not get put into the equation because these areas are already tough since you can get killed with one hit and you have no way to defend yourself. It made the desert area so tedious when I kept dying over and over because I ran into quicksand trying to outrun the guardians of the realm. I would also criticize these silent realm areas because they almost end up like the wolf sections from Twilight Princess, but I decided not to make it a huge criticism because they give you something in the end and are not entirely pointless. Plus, they test you on how well you know the level design. I also wish there was a bit more to explore, but overall, I just have a bunch of little gripes that don’t take away from the experience or the score. 

I guess it is no surprise that I really love this game and it’s hard for me to believe some people hate this game. I love just about everything about it, and I don’t feel like repeating myself here. I know not everyone is a fan of this game’s design and I am not saying this is how future Zelda games should be made, but what they did here worked extremely well. Here is what’s on the down low. Go buy this game. If you can find one of the limited editions that come with a soundtrack from the recent symphony dedicated to 25 years of Zelda and a golden Wii Mote plus, then get it. If you can’t, just get the normal version. Anyway, if you can get a copy of it that isn’t pirated, just get it. You will not regret it. Nintendo had a lot of hard work put into this game and I think they pulled off the best game of 2011. The question now is where will Nintendo go with the Zelda series now? They did so much to the title already, but where will they go now? Voice work? Motion capture? A cross bow instead of a bow and arrow? Let us just hope they make a new title so they can take my money.
This game gets a perfect 10 out of 10

No comments: