The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review
I’ve been trying to write this review almost as long as it took me to play through all of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. After hours and hours of consideration, replaying key moments of the game (both good and bad) in my head and wrestling with my own impressions of the title, I feel like I’m no closer to an accurate way to depict how I felt about it now than I was when this all started. So I’m just going to start typing.
I both love and hate Skyward Sword, and it simultaneously has some of the best and worst of what the modern Zelda adventures have to offer. It highlights some of the interesting experiences Nintendo’s aging motion control technology is capable of delivering, while constantly reminding us that that technology is old, gimmicky, and not especially compelling. It encapsulates some brilliant design ideas while still clinging to, and often embracing, the worst things about Nintendo-made games.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Wii (Reviewed)
Released: November 18, 2011
Standing on the far side of Skyward Sword and long after most of the review dust has settled (with some insane praise going the way of Nintendo’s latest [let's face it] Zelda retread), I’m having all these existential crises. Am I the only one who hated large portions of this game? Is it something wrong with me? Have I become too old to enjoy a Zelda game? Am I out of touch with the Wii mechanics?
After some careful consideration, I don’t think it’s me. I think it’s that Skyward Sword is a mix of great and terrible — everything I love about Zelda and everything I’ve come to hate about Nintendo.
We’ve seen this all before, but the background of the scene is slightly different. We play Link, a layabout kid training at the Knights Academy in Skyloft, a floating island cast into the air by a goddess some time in the past as she was fighting demons. Humans reside on Skyloft and haven’t visited the surface world since the war with those demons was won. They go about their lives in the sky, oblivious to the workings of the surface, where a whole world turns beneath the clouds.
But of course, there’s destiny in Link, and Zelda, his Skyloft pal. After a frightfully long and boring introduction sequence that goes on for hours longer than it ought, Link gets a sword and a sidekick by the name of Fi, and starts the search for the missing Zelda on the surface world. Much more than that, you don’t really need to know.
But the first four hours of Skyward Sword are dreadful, filled with boring characters and annoying, handholdy elements. Skyward Sword assumes you’re a five-year-old, or an idiot, or possibly both. It’s littered with characters giving you vital information, and then repeating that information automatically, just in case your eyes glazed over the first time. And you can’t skip any of it, nor even speed it up. Not only is your time constantly wasted, but huge portions of the game’s mountains of dialog are unnecessary, and yet you’re forced to sit through them. With a 30-hour run-time, I wonder how much of that time was wasted re-reading the same thing or going through two paragraphs of a merchant berating me — again — for choosing not to purchase any of his largely useless wares. More on that in a second.