I think it’s safe to say that everyone had worries about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword after that infamous E3 demo. A game as motion control central as this had to have flawless one-to-one response. Now, I’m no motion control fan. Hell, I’d rather play Wii Sports with the dial from Pong. Needless to say, I had a fair share of nervousness for Skyward Sword’s being a motion centric game.
I had just comeback from the land of convicts and kangaroos when this game was finally available to me. The review scores had been piling in. After what I saw, I still didn’t know how I should feel about playing. I’m seeing 9’s and 10’s for a game entirely based off of controls that I didn’t think I would like. Not to mention that I don’t always agree with the general public either. I mean, my favorite Zelda game is Wind Waker!
To make a long story about being as indecisive about this game as Paul Christoforo is about how to spell “wwebsite” short, I finally started playing Skyward Sword and was blown out of whatever sort of figurative water I was in.
From the start to finish, this game was an absolute masterpiece. Well, save for a couple filler missions that could have been scrapped from the final version, but I’ll ignore those like Greg Miller ignored Uncharted 3‘s plot holes (love ya, Greg!). From the greatest Zelda story to come out so far, to the surprisingly well crafted motion controls, Skyward Sword delivered in every aspect I asked for. The gameplay, the story, the art style, and the music. Oh momma, the music!
Starting with gameplay, like I said before, the motion controls delivered. The enemies all became small meta-games instead of the standard dodge/defend/attack deals. Finding out where an enemy had an opening in defense was an intricate little puzzle that made each fight more interesting, especially with the bosses. By the end of the game, the bosses demand so much of you’re patience and Raw Dog Rausch brain power that the conclusion of the fight leaves you mentally exhausted but oh-so satisfied.
The origin story of this Zelda installment was greatly handled as well. Instead of being a rescue tale from the older games or taking Hyrule back from Ganon, you’re chasing after Zelda in order to keep order in the world. You have to prove yourself worthy to protect Zelda. It’s an awesome change in the standard formula of the series. And, much like the timeless Wind Waker, Skyward Sword doesn’t take long to get the gears moving. Even before the quest for Zelda begins, the tutorials are made interesting and surprisingly fun. Of all Zelda games I’ve played, Skyward Sword made me look forward to each encounter with the heroic princess. It’s one of the more powerful motivations to keep playing. It’s a treat each time she and Link interact.
The style was another aspect of Skyward Sword that didn’t grab me in the beginning. It looked like a failed attempt at crafting the cell-shaded Wind Waker with a more mature environment a la Twilight Princess. The colors looked washed out, and the textures were in a stylistic limbo. I half expected Leo Dicaprio to do his patented stroll across the streets of Skyloft (Inception jokes aren’t old yet, right? Right?!). At that time, it looked like Nintendo didn’t know whether to lean more towards Wind Waker or Twilight Princess. Luckily for all of us, the final product sported possibly the best graphics we’ve seen on the Wii. The environments turned out to be incredibly lively and gorgeous places to venture, and the character models for both Zelda and Link are the two best I think the series has ever had.
Now for possibly my favorite part of the game. Well, at least most respected part of the game. Nintendo finally hopped on that new-new shit and orchestrated the entire soundtrack for Skyward Sword. No longer shall we be confined to computer generated tones! No longer shall we be confined to the Midi noises of the past! NO LONGER shall we be confined to YouTube videos of Orchestrated Zelda tunes! Yeah, I kind of like the music in this game, I guess…
This was hands down the best game of 2011. It gave me everything I wanted from a new Zelda game. Hell, it even showed me that I can deal with Zelda games not having voice acting in the future. I had my doubts, and Nintendo proved them all wrong. This is easily the… almost best Zelda game to ever come out (sorry, Wind Waker still has the number one spot).
In a year of some truly great games, Portal 2, Dead Space 2, Killzone 3, Bastion and so many more, Skyward Sword stood above them all. Thank you, Nintendo, for making me eat my words.