Skyward Sword it sucks. The HD Remake: Troy edition

Well I finished Skyward Sword and I have to say it wasn’t a grueling experience but it wasn’t a fun one either. Skyward Sword was that super-anticipated send-off Wii game we got last November, before we jump into Nintendo’s new home console the Wii U. Skyward Sword was met with mainly positive reviews except for one, Gamespot.

Now, if you want to read my UNBIASED review click here; this article here is for my opinion and my experience with the game, you are warned brethren

To start off, I want to say I was beyond excited for Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword. I believe my pre-order package with the Golden Wii-mote and time wasted constantly reading about this game had already sold me it was going to be an awesome experience. Unfortunately, fate wasn’t kind to me as my Wii had broke (can’t read discs) so I was limited to playing the game occasionally at my grandmother’s. Skyward Sword had already changed any Zelda-element I had seen by incorporating a “What line you say next” in its gameplay when speaking with other characters. I didn’t mind that idea too much, as it gave you/Link a little more life to your character rather than just a Yes and No kinda guy [which might still be better now that I think about it]

What bothered me right off the bat was your Stamina Bar. I remember people complaining how is it possible Link doesn’t get tired for venturing around all of Hyrule? Well, Nintendo looking to appease, not its true fans, but dumb outsiders took it to heart and did something dumb. Now, Link would slow jog everywhere he went unless you wasted your sprint which was only fast if you would go straight forward. A good element they added though was the speed of Link going climbing or getting to higher places (meaning like on top of boxes, in which you do a two-step onto the top). It was a nice change from the usual, Link can only climb one pedestal per ladder awkward movement, that we had come to be…be patient with.

Next aspect that bothered me was Link couldn’t pillage anymore. Link may be a Hero of Time, Light, etc. but he also was the best Viking in history but Nintendo decided to ruin that aspect. To get money or hearts, Link used to barge into your house and break pots in addition to checking your cabinets. In Skyward Sword you were not allowed to check others cabinets because it was “rude” and breaking pots was “bad” but, don’t worry though, sleeping in everyone’s bed was fine. Which brings me to my next point, there was no night-time adventuring for Link. If you slept till night, all you can do is walk around Skyloft listening to people sleep or complain while animals attacked you (if you didn’t finish that demon’s quest). I understand that night-time is “scary”, but Legend of Zelda is known to have some memorable night-exploring in addition to moments. From playing with Bombchu’s, to hunting down Poe’s, night-time had become a stable in the 3D Legend of Zelda world which Skyward Sword rid of!

If you believed that was the only thing that was wrong with Skyward Sword then get ready for whole lot more. Firstly, let us talk about Shields and overall items. A shield to have a stamina bar? This isn’t a RPG (few games have the shield HP bar anyway) this is the Legend of Zelda, where items you get are supposed to be already at perfection with the exception of your very first WOODEN SHIELD. Upgrading items is for RPG games; never in any Zelda do I remember ever going to a store and paying a guy to upgrade my weapon. In fact, the only upgrade I would get is the Longshot or finding a Fairy Queen in a secret area (usually river or waterfall) to give Link Magical Items that are already pretty damn good.

The shield in terms of gameplay was useless in itself, as I never used it once. Why do I carry a shield to not use it? In the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, the shield is an integral part of the game, be it from facing Stalfos to even Bats! The lock-on mechanism, a staple for 3D Zelda that was created in Ocarina of Time, makes a return. Unfortunately, it is worse than that of all of Zelda’s predecessors and the concept is flawed and awkward, especially from a shield standpoint. Locking onto targets is generally supposed to use your shield as a support, but in this game an awkward motion that required timing was for a “perfect shield” which in fact was your ONLY shielding from enemies and basically never responded. If you did not “perfect shield” you would still block an attack but you would stumble, opening yourself up for an attack.

Health, as all Legend of Zelda games have hearts to indicate your health meter. Firstly, what are these sit areas? Skyward Sword had some mission to make this game as easy as possible from never getting hurt while you fall down a pit, to these random stools appearing everywhere that restore your health. In fact, it was so rare to find a pink fairy in the damn game I had to backtrack to a dungeon to find one to fight Demise with. Ironic? Not really, that was the most difficult part of the game, but I was surprised not to see a stool in the middle of the heavens when you fought Demise.

Here may be one of my biggest quarrels in this game, the lack of adventuring/exploring. The premise of Zelda is to explore the lands, learn the dungeons, and save the land you have come to learn and love. But, nothing better than going to the forest, than back to Skyloft and the thunderhead and then to the volcano and back to Skyloft and then the gorge/desert and then Skyloft…oh wait. Let me rinse, dry, and REPEAT. This game had one town full of boring people (except making the item check girl fall in love with you) so I really was forced back to go see my neighbors and the Owl [kaepora gaebora] reincarnated as a human. Each dungeon and area pertaining to it, were very small, although I would have to say I did enjoy all the desert levels because of the puzzles with the timeshift stones, but I never felt like I saw anything new. I always had to backtrack in this entire game.

Did I mention that every treasure chest was apparently a “Large chest” meaning we had the cinematic every time, which does get old after a while. While people make fun of Link for holding the item, not all treasure openings are when Link practically dives in the chest to get an item. Forgotten are the days of small chests where small keys exist, in which Link would kick the box.

Let us not forget, the useless bug-catching net, the awkward beetle launcher, and how every dungeon map also counted as a compass (the item required to display treasures on your map, thus adding to the easy element of the game again). The point of items in the game “The Legend of Zelda” is to not one-and-done them. It is for gradual use and immediate use. See, the dungeon in which you get a new item, is usually the key to solving 85% of the puzzles of said dungeon. But later on in the game, the items should be used again to solve other puzzles rather than entirely disregarded. In Skyward Sword, all you need is a clawshot and the arrows, to bad they are your last items.

Seriously, to tell you the truth I am only getting started. Let’s begin (well middle?) with Sideuests. They were boring, uneventful and the worst part unrewarding. Most sidequests give you cool items, think Ocarina of Time, the Mask of Truth or getting the Fire Arrows (required in Master Quest), think Link to the Past where you can obtain a Level 3 shield, fire robes, etc. All these sidequests were fun and very, very rewarding. In this game, most sidequests are just for gratitiude crystals to basically give you a bigger wallet. There are no gold skellatas, there are no fun mini-games; in fact the most memorable sidequest is giving your dumb neighbor juice to do pushups, not fun.

I also had a problem with Link. While this may seem more personal, Link was too animated in this game. I understand most people call him stoic and silent, so in this game Nintendo decided to make Link have facial reactions (another horrible choice). This was a hit and miss, as Link smiling occasionally was fine, but some of the animations were over the top like when he was really happy or freaked out, he just looked….wrong. If you want to make Link emotional again, the Legend of Zelda Wind Waker was a great reference that was ignored.

OK guys, bear with me I haven’t even got to my two favorite  parts of the game yet: Fi and Sword-fighting gameplay. Let’s start with Sword fighting first, it is kind of an integral part to our game. The first thing I have to say is that the controls suck. If Link wasn’t swinging left and right the way I wanted to in a y-axis swing, I was too busy recalibrating my Golden Wii-mote every three minutes.  A perfect example would be every-time I fought Ghirahim, I would lose enough hearts (does not mean I died, I never died once in SS, like I said it was an easy game) because Link would swing the wrong way and this is kinda crucial when fighting Ghirahim 2 and Demise. Also, later in the game the bobokins with the electric wrench, would become so much of a hassle because of lack of control of sword swinging. To make matters worse, if you would try to use your shield it would either not come up, or you would keep using your spin attack until you were….too tired to fight (the stamina bar strikes again).

Now, Fi. I swear, this could be the worst character out of anything I’ve ever played, and by far the worst character that isn’t a main character (that would be Hope from FFXIII). Fi, was annoying, unhelpful, and really weird. From the waste of time and in general terms, dumb, moments of her dancing, while you played on your no skill Harp (really swing/strum up and down and “learn a new song”), to her singing, to her constant your battery are low updates (with your Wii-mote beeping), Fi was something I could live without.

The best parts happen to be when Fi states the OBVIOUS. After every item you receive there is an explanation when it comes out the chest, as per all Zelda games. Fi would appear and tell you the same exact thing….thanks! In addition, she would constantly tell you things you already knew. People who want to bring Navi into this really don’t know much about anything then. Navi would say Hey Listen! And if you didn’t answer she wouldn’t keep doing it, you could leave the Navi Up-C-Pad for a good 5 minutes. Now, Navi was great when it came to battles as she gave you the 411 of enemy and weak points. Fi, on the other hand, wouldn’t have enough “data” when you fought your enemies so you would have no idea what to do….the one thing I want, Fi couldn’t deliver.

All in all Skyward Sword had a good, heartfelt ending (though the after credits scene stunk) and while I may have many complaints I enjoyed a bit of my playthrough, probably the tiniest pit of all time though.  A major problem may be that, I fell asleep twice playing the game because the game just is boring and mellow and makes me tired. Really! I just fell asleep on my chair and awoke to see everything on! Only Okami has done that to me.

I would recommend this to any Zelda fan, although I would tell them don’t expect too much. Even Miyamoto admitted he noticed a lot of people “just stopped playing” Skyward Sword and that actually happened to me at one point, I had to fight myself to continue to play the game. In essence, they really need to fix what they broke in the Legend of Zelda.

To this day I will never learn how anyone gave this game over a 9, I never will. I was going to add my Majora’s Mask hatred but that’s for another day.

Did I mention I felt like I didn’t really learn anything this “prequel” brought.

*side note I am not for voice-acting in Zelda, if anyone asks

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Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina

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