Last night I finally finished The Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword (after only 5 months), and my general consensus is: good. Not great, but good. Generally the artwork was well done, the story compelling, and the gameplay decent. The MotionPlus controls do add something to the game, but I think they take away something as well. Up until the final part of the game, I felt they worked pretty well, albeit with a few quirks. That is, until the second half of the final boss fight. When that happened, I pretty much changed my mind completely, and as a friend described, they took away the “fun”.
Basically, in the second half of the final fight, you have to strike the boss with Skyward Strikes, which you charge by holding your sword straight up in the air. Great. This generally worked okay in the rest of the game. But, in the rest of the game, there was no pressure. You were hitting Goddess Cubes, or writing on Goddess Walls, etc. In the final battle, you have to charge these, then hit the boss immediately before he charges you. This, sucked. Mainly because the tolerance Nintendo chose for the Skyward Strike was extremely finicky. Hold the sword up straight, you get nothing. Move it around a few degrees randomly, suddenly you have it, but it happens so subtly that once you realize you have it, the boss has charged you and you’re back at square one.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe about Zelda games since the Nintendo DS: Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do something. Those that played Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks remember having to yell/blow into the Mic on the DS to do things. This. Is. Dumb. But, because the DS had a mic, someone thought “oh, this would be cool”1. Queue Skyward Sword… sure, the Skyward Strike seems good on paper, but unless you can make it reasonable to do (say, hold the sword “basically” straight up, but hold A while you’re doing it, maybe?), it just becomes a burden, and pisses people off. Most of the other controls were okay. Shield blocking, finishing strikes, etc. Jabs could be iffy, but they still basically worked. Maybe some type of feedback would have helped, but as it stood, the final boss fight basically made me largely forget everything else I liked about the game, and made me want to just quit then and there. In hindsight, I still like the game. Would I play it again, or play through in Hero Mode (“harder”, but with some added perks)? No. It’s no Link in the Past2.
As a friend has argued, Skyward Sword also makes another “leap”, and like him, I’m not sure it’s a good one: toward RPG3. The Zelda series’ have always been adventure games. Skyward Sword introduced elements of RPGs, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. I never felt it was overly annoying, or obvious, but it did feel much closer to Final Fantasy than any other Zelda game. I hope Nintendo will come back around a bit on this, but it’s unlikely when they see how RPGs succeed with attracting new customers, and selling crap-tons of copies.
If I had to rank the console based Zelda games at this point, it would probably look something like:
- Legend of Zelda – Link to the Past
- Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time
- Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword
- Legend of Zelda – Twilight Princess
- Legend of Zelda – Wind Waker
- Legend of Zelda
- Legend of Zelda – Majora’s Mask
- Legend of Zelda – The Adventure of Link
Now I don’t have ratings for all of these, but as far as Skyward Sword is concerned, my rating is below. I’d suggest playing it still, but I’d also suggest some good pain killers, as certain parts of the games tended to give me a pretty sore shoulder4.
- Pretty sure this is the same thing with the 3DS, and how they expect you to move the 3DS around to see things in 3D. Cool on paper, but try playing on a bus/train [↩]
- which I play once every year or two [↩]
- Role Playing Game [↩]
- I’m not going to get into the whole motion control argument. It’s way too much for tacking onto this review [↩]