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REVIEW - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Posted November 29th 2011 by Adam Grayson.

Can you believe it's been five years since the Wii first came out?  Five years since Nintendo was unanimously agreed to be in last place in the console race?  Five years since motion controls were considered a failure waiting to happen?  Five years since all of those Wii sexual innuendos?  Can you believe it's been five years since the last console Zelda game?  What in the wide world of video gaming has Nintendo been doing these past five years?  Well, in addition to enjoying the unexpectedly explosive success of their "subpar" home console, they've been working harder than they ever have to create not only the best Wii game ever, but perhaps, the best Zelda game ever.  With the Wii U, Nintendo's next home console, hitting shelves sometime next year, Nintendo wanted The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword to be their swan song to the Wii.  Ladies and gentlemen, they succeeded.  If you read nothing else in this review, read this: get this game.

Skyward Sword begins like so many Zeldas before it—with Link waking up in his bed, or in this case, falling out of it.  This time though, he is not the child of a sacred forest, the nephew of a great knight, nor is he a rural farmhand; he is a student at a knights' academy on an island floating in the sky known as Skyloft, as are many of the other young adults of the island, including Zelda.  The game's introduction tells us that long ago, there was an ancient war between good and evil (big surprise there).  The goddess, the protector of good, was scared for her people.  In order to save them from the increasing dangers of the land, she broke off a piece of the land and thrust it skyward, creating a floating island in the sky that would act as a safe haven for her people—a place where the great evil could never reach.  After doing this, the goddess was finally able to subdue the demonic power and end the age-old war.  The floating island created by the goddess later became known as Skyloft and is where Link, Zelda, and all the rest have lived all their lives.  Because these events happened so long ago, they are just seen as myths and stories passed down by the inhabitants of Skyloft.  In fact, the stories have become so inaccurate over time, due to slight differences in oral retellings, that the Skyloftians know nothing beyond their realm in the sky.  They have no suspicions whatsoever that there is a whole other world below the thick blanket of clouds.  This belief, of course, changes within the first few hours of the game.

There's so much more I want to say about the story, but, unfortunately, it would be far too spoilerific.  What I can say is that Skyward Sword's story is one of the stronger Zelda stories out there, mostly due to the character development of Zelda and the game's baddie, Ghirahim (who is a wonderfully emotional character).  Even many of the supporting characters, who all have names and individual personalities, will be remembered by players.  Later on, players realize that Link's journey is in fact more important than he or anyone else first realized (who would have guessed?).  This turn of events, of course, gives the game a more epic feeling and allows the story to reveal itself as a very unique and thrilling addition to the Zelda universe.  That being said, the story does seem to leave quite a few questions unanswered, both as it relates to itself and as it relates to the greater continuity of the Zelda timeline (which may not bother some people, but I'm a timeline nut!).  Suffice it to say that the game's story left me satisfied but wanting to know more (especially about the futures of the game's great cast)...  Similarly, there are some really cool points to the story that will likely cause Zelda fanatics to foam at the mouth, but while these points are introduced, that's really all that happens with them—they're introduced, and they're not really developed, explored, or explained as deeply as they could have and should have been.

Regardless, by far the greatest strength of Skyward Sword's story is that Link and Zelda are childhood friends.  On top of that, Zelda's character is quickly established to be that of a strong-willed, yet sometimes bubbly, school girl.  Zelda is not a princess; she is simply another young woman living on this floating island who happens to be best friends with Link.  After the Wing Ceremony ends, an annual ceremony held every year in Skyloft to honor the goddess, Link and Zelda go on a nice, relaxing ride through the clouds together.  However, it doesn't take long for things to go wrong.  A tornado appears in the sky, and both Link and Zelda are thrown off of their Loftwings (the giant birds used for transportation).  Link awakes once again in his bed to find that Zelda is missing.  While Link's Loftwing managed to carry his unconscious body back to Skyloft, Zelda's, apparently, did not.  It is clear that Link is greatly distressed over this news and feels guilty for not being able to protect Zelda.  It is for this reason that the whole "hero saves damsel in distress/the world" plot that has been seen in nearly every Zelda for the past 25 years feels new and refreshing.  Link is not saving a damsel in distress; he is not saving some princess he's only just met and doesn't know; he's not inexplicably accepting a life-threatening destiny that's suddenly thrust upon him.  Link goes on his journey because he's trying to rescue his best friend, his best friend whom he would do anything for, and who would do anything for him.  But Link doesn't embark on this journey alone.  He has you, reader, and your two arms to help guide him through the perils of his quest.  That's right, folks, I'm talking motion controls.

How could you not fall in love with that face?

I first played Skyward Sword at E3 2010.  Zelda being one of my favorite video game series of all time, I could not believe how fortunate I was to not only be in the theatre as the game was first announced, but also to be among the first lucky few to play it!  My excitement that day could not be topped, even by that of Japanese schoolgirls clamouring for the next Gothic Lolita-themed Sailor Moon outfit for Hello Kitty!  Despite my indescribable pleasure, I walked away from the Skyward Sword demo less than impressed, or rather, skeptical.  Even though the game was utilizing the new Wii MotionPlus peripheral, a device meant to make the experience of using the Wii Remote closer to 1:1, Link's arm still didn't really follow my movement as much as I expected it to.  This however, I realized was a combination of my ridiculously high expectations and a limitation of the Wii MotionPlus, and it was not a fault of the game's.  I was also certain that by the time the game released, it would feel much better and more natural to play.  If anyone could do it, Nintendo could.  Thankfully, I was right, but I never expected how right I would be.  Within the first hour of playing, all of my motion controls-related worries were set to eternal rest.

While all of Skyward Sword's features are equally impressive and unbelievably well designed, its motion controls are by far where the game shines the brightest.  To say Skyward Sword's motion controls are a success is a gross understatement; they are the best the console has ever seen by a wide margin and are arguably the best motion controls available in gaming—even compared to games using the Playstation Move or the Xbox Kinect.  Everything from swinging your arm to swipe Link's sword to flicking your wrist to crack Link's whip to pulling back the Nunchuck to ready Link's arrows feels smooth, accurate, and natural.  None of the motion controls feel tacked on or pointless; everything is very deliberate and has a very obvious and intuitive purpose.  Even selecting items or onscreen choices feels improved by the gesture-based controls.





It really is astounding how well Skyward Sword's motion controls work.  Plus, it's refreshing to know that motion controls can actually be done right.

Even though the motion controls allow manipulation of the majority of Link's actions, the game still has uses for the traditional buttons.  Happily, I can say pressing the controllers' buttons feel just as natural as using the motion controls.  One of the problems with Twilight Princess' Wii controls was that it used all four directions of the D-pad, three of which were used for assigning items.  The fact is that the D-pad can be hard to reach on the Wii Remote, especially up, right, and left.  In Skyward Sword, down, which is easy to reach while still being able to press A, is used to call Fi (whom I will talk about later)—a potentially common occurrence; up is only used to take out the harp, the game's musical instrument, and is only necessary in a handful of situations, all of which involve Link stopping everything else and just playing the harp.

The controls feeling perfect aren't the only way they make the game great.  Skyward Sword wasn't just built from the ground up with the Wii's unique control scheme in mind—it was built around the control scheme.  Everything in the game is designed to integrate, utilize, and improve from the motion controls—movement (both on the ground and in the air), combat, enemy design and AI, level design, graphical interfaces, puzzles, and more. Everything is interwoven into the experience of using your arms to directly control Link's.  What is probably the most common example of this is the fact that combat is now in and of itself a puzzle of sorts.  Most enemies can only be defeated by slicing your sword in a certain direction with good timing.  Players will rarely progress through the game if they're just waggling the controller around.  In fact, enemies will often punish you for doing this.  Plus, it's not as much fun to waggle your way through the game rather than performing broad, deliberate swings with your arms and seeing Link recreate those motions onscreen.  But back to the point, even hitting enemies from the correct direction may not be enough to defeat them.  Not only do enemies protect themselves from certain directions of attack, but they often predict the player's movement as well.  Now it may seem annoying at first when enemies block your attacks even though you're swinging in the correct direction, but allowing the player to advance like this would be far too easy, wouldn't it?  It's good that the baddies are actually given some intelligence and are able to deter the player for a few swings before slipping up and allowing a hit from the player.  Not only does this make the game more realistic and harder in a very real-world way, but it also gives the player more of a sense of accomplishment once the enemy is defeated.  Everything from simple enemies such as Deku Babas or Bokoblins to the final boss of the game forces the player to stop that mindless shaking and waggling we've all become so accustomed to and make very precise, well thought-out movements with his or her arms.  Even just that fact—the fact that you have to think about how to swing—speaks to the game's successful integration of motion controls.

Another great example of the controls' full integration is the level design.  Usually puzzles in Zelda involve some sort of "third party."  What I mean by that is there's Link, the level, and something else—a block, a torch, a hidden trigger, etc.  Surprisingly, Skyward Sword does away with most of these in order to present, dare I say, "simpler" or "less involved" puzzles that still manage to be just as hard or harder to solve and/or pull off.  While most of the game was constantly barraging me with one amazing feat after another, there was one, rather simple moment that I stopped and said, "Wow, that was really clever."  It involved bombing a wall across a pit of lava.  There was no path for me to walk on, and the wall was too far for me to simply throw a bomb across the lava.  After pausing for a moment, I realized that the sloped terrain to my side (which was too steep to cross by foot), could be used to roll and bank a bomb across.  If I were to angle it just right and roll the bomb hard enough, it just might curve off the slope and make it to the wall, and by golly, it did!  In the end, it was a very simple puzzle, but it's a prime example of the new and different puzzles that are built around the game's motion controls and players' ability to think about how to use these new controls to solve said puzzles.

Just roll that puppy right on over...

While the motion controls are the biggest change to how players control Link, there is yet another very big addition to the main character's mechanics—the stamina gauge.  The stamina gauge is used for a variety of Link's actions such as dashing, swimming, carrying heavy items, climbing walls, and even his spin attack.  In all cases, players will want to keep the gauge from depleting.  If Link dashes for too long, he will become tired, causing him to move incredibly slowly and disabling any form of attack, defense, or evasion until the gauge recharges.  Well why not just ignore these actions?  Why use the stamina gauge at all?  Just like with the motion controls, levels and puzzles are designed to have players dashing, swimming, and climbing all over the place.  There are many areas that you simply cannot pass without using up some of Link's stamina, the most basic example being walls.  If players dash towards a wall, Link will begin to run up it Assassin's Creed style and gain some extra height as well as scale it faster.  Some walls are simply too high for Link's normal jump; you will need to dash up them.

Perhaps the best example of balancing stamina usage, players will find, is when Link enters the Silent Realms.  Throughout the game, Link enters a number of different Silent Realms to collect tears of light and, by doing so, strengthen his spirit.  While this will immediately remind players of collecting tears of light in Twilight Princess, this time, it's timed and has severe consequences for failing or moving too slowly.  The Silent Realms are inhabited by beings known as Guardians who will relentlessly follow and attack Link.  One hit from a Guardian, and Link loses all of the collected tears and must start over from the beginning of the trial.  But the Guardians do not pursue Link all of the time.  Whenever Link collects a tear, the Guardians are put to rest for 90 seconds.  Because of this, players must quickly guide Link from one tear to another before the 90 seconds are up, lest the Guardians awake and chase Link from one end of the level to the other.  Players will heavily use the stamina gauge, specifically dashing, in the Silent Realms not only to locate and collect the tears quickly, but also in order to hastily and, most likely, frantically run away from the Guardians should they awake.  If players make the mistake of using too much stamina at once and emptying the gauge, they might as well just drop the controller and cry; Link will stop nearly dead in his tracks, and the Guardians will swiftly find him.

Gotta run, gotta run, gotta run!

Speaking of big scary dudes who will kill you (though the Guardians don't actually kill you...), let's revisit the game's enemies.  As mentioned above, Skyward Sword's combat has itself become a puzzle.  Not only must players swing in the correct direction to get around the enemies' defenses, but they may also have to do so multiple times in a row as enemies can predict swings.  As if fighting one enemy at a time weren't challenge enough, players will often find themselves facing more than one enemy at a time, all of which will attack Link simultaneously (as opposed to say, Assassin's Creed where enemies take turns attacking).  However, this is not a complaint, no, not at all.  This just adds to the challenge of the puzzle!  How will you defeat three Bokoblins at once, let alone two Stalfos and a Stallord (a more badass and intelligent Stalfos)?  I'll give you a hint: waggling is not the answer!  What's more is that the various different enemies require different strategies to defeat them.  Fighting a Skulltula is not the same as fighting a Wooden Shield Moblin.  The game's bosses are no exception.  They all brilliantly force the player to think about how to defeat them.  Once that obstacle is overcome, players must still be able to execute their plan with accurate movements of both Link and his arms.

So how about the places these monsters call home?  If you've been paying attention to the news surrounding this game, you'll be familiar with the claim that Skyward Sword takes "...some of that dungeon structure and actually move[s] it out of those small connected rooms and, say, into an area that might traditionally be considered a field."  This was one of the game's aspects I was most curious about.  Up until the fourth dungeon, I was convinced that this was just a flat-out lie.  While the different ground areas certainly had more to do than just the traditional "walk here and open the door to the dungeon" mentality, there were still very clearly fields and dungeons existing as clearly separate entities.  So what changed my mind?  The simple fact that, when I finished the fourth dungeon, I realized something: that dungeon I just beat wasn't actually the fourth dungeon.  It was simply a precursor to it; it was part of the path to it!  Mind explosion.  How could I have mistaken the path to the dungeon as the dungeon itself?  Easy.  It's because the game so successfully replaces the "blank" field with areas that are, themselves, part of the dungeon experience thanks to the many puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, and enemies (both big and small) to defeat throughout them.  In fact, in many cases, getting to the dungeon will take much longer than going through the actual dungeon.

In conjunction with the dungeons and their surrounding areas being revamped, the game's pacing is also very different from past Zeldas.  Usually, Link must find a group of artifacts or relics, some big story-related event happens, he has to find another group of artifacts, then he faces the final boss and saves the day.  In Skyward Sword, it's much harder to divide the game into such separate movements.  Obviously Link collects different important relics and there are big story-related events throughout the game, but everything flows together so well that players will find it difficult to say, "Oh, this is the beginning part of the game," "Oh, this is the middle part of the game," "Oh, this is the final part of the game," and so on.  This, along with many of the game's other features, helps this Zelda feel different than many of the rest, and it certainly helps it feel "fresher" for those worried about the series getting stale.

Aside from the dungeons themselves, another of their traditional characteristics, obtaining an item for use in the dungeon, has also been tweaked.  Usually what players expect from a Zelda dungeon is to go through part of it, get an item, use that item to progress to the end of the dungeon, then (almost) never use that item again.  While Skyward Sword doesn't completely  erase this problem, it does come closer to fixing it than any previous Zelda game.  There are still one or two items that become obsolete throughout the game (COUGHSLINGSHOTCOUGH), but for the most part, players will find themselves using their entire item arsenal in all of the game's areas.  On top of that, players can upgrade their items via the Scrap Shop in Skyloft, providing more incentive to continue to use what is, perhaps, an "obsolete" item.  Again though, this discontinued use of a few items is overshadowed by the repeated use of all of the rest.

Much to my surprise, the item I used the most throughout the game was this little guy—the Beetle.

Now how do we get to all of these dungeons and areas leading up to them?  The sky—an overworld in the truest sense of the word.  Like the Great Sea in Wind Waker, the sky acts as a home for various floating islands as well as a hub to access the different sections of the ground below that Link explores.  In comparison to the Great Sea, however, the sky is relatively small.  Not only that, but it's also vastly empty.  While the sky is home to the well-sized island of Skyloft, there really isn't much else up there.  There are smaller (and I mean small) islands here and there that Link can land on, but the only reason they're there is to hold a treasure chest or to initiate or conclude one of the game's many small sidequests.  So really, the only reason players will need to be in the sky is to visit Skyloft or to travel from one ground region to another.  So I suppose it makes sense that it's small seeing as how there isn't much to do up there, but it's kind of a shame since navigating around it on Link's unique crimson-colored Loftwing is so fun.





As disappointed as I was about how little there is to do in the sky, I spent quite a bit of time up there just messing around skydiving and whatnot.

The game's most obvious difference from any previous Zelda game is its art style.  Using a combination of cel-shading to mimic a painterly, impressionistic effect in conjunction with more realistic character models, Skyward Sword makes players forget just how underpowered the Wii is.  Because of its style, Skyward Sword is able to create both characters and environments that can look fantastical and out-of-this-world but at the same time not too unbelievable and cartoony.  This art style was no doubt chosen (at least in part) because of the Wii's graphical limitations, but as anyone can plainly see, the results are stunning.  That being said though, there are some instances that make me wish this game were in HD and had some more polygons to play with—things such as blurry textures, overly pointy models, and pixelated edges on HD screens.  If the game weren't so limited by the tech, it would look that much better.  Regardless of any shortcomings of the Wii itself, the game does so much with what it's given.  Even if the game sucked (which it very much does not), it would still be remembered as (and will be remembered as) one of, if not, the best looking and most visually stunning games on Wii, and arguably of this generation of gaming.

The game has some undeniably beautiful sights.  If only they were in HD...

To go along with these impressive visuals, Nintendo finally took the plunge and gave Skyward Sword live, orchestrated music.  While not all of the game's songs are orchestrated, many of them are, especially the tracks accompanying the game's more "epic" moments such as flying through the vast sky or during an intense cut scene.  Regardless of being orchestrated or not, all of the songs are great additions to the already grand library of Zelda songs.  On top of the songs themselves being great, the way the game transitions from one song to another is also very impressive.  A great example can be heard in the bazaar in Skyloft.  In the bazaar, there are various merchants selling different products and services.  The bazaar itself has its own music, but when Link approaches a vendor, the music changes slightly; it is still recognizable as the bazaar's theme, but it changes to reflect the attitude and characteristics of the merchant that Link is near.  The ever-changing music, especially the orchestrated pieces, along with the gorgeous visuals add a sense of magnificence to the already grand adventure.

What helps Skyward Sword feel even bigger is the amount of time players will sink into this game.  Miyamoto himself mentioned that Skyward Sword would take players 50-100 hours to beat.  When I heard this, I was extremely skeptical of its validity, but I am happy to report that it is very true.  Beating the game took me a little more than 40 hours, and 100%'ing it took me closer to 50.  And let me tell you, readers, I plowed through this game, so it's not like I was taking my time or anything (though I did run into some overly addictive mini-games...).  If you're a veteran Zelda player, expect to enjoy this game for at least 40 or so hours, and make time for more gaming if this is one of your first Zeldas!

In addition to the main game, which will probably take up the majority of those 40 or so hours, Skyward Sword also has lots of sidequests to keep players busy.  Bear in mind though, that these aren't really like the big, time-consuming sidequests of past Zeldas.  While its predecessors tended to have only a few (but relatively long) sidequests, Skyward Sword has a lot of little ones.  Sometimes players may not even realize what they're doing is a sidequest simply because it's so short that they'll think it's just part of the main story.  All of these, of course, are optional and reward the player with prizes that are not necessarily required such as heart pieces, upgraded items, or money.  There are even a few that bring some newer role-playing elements into play.  Such occasions are when the game presents the player with multiple choices that can actually affect the outcome of the sidequest.  Depending on the choices the players make, the characters will react differently.  Though while many of these situations only change one or two lines of dialog, there are a few choices (both chosen as simple answers to questions and actual actions players have Link do) that can change the outcome of what happens to certain characters, meaning that one player's experience of playing the game may be different than that of another player's.

But the sidequests aren't the only thing that will keep gamers gaming, oh no!  Just like in Ocarina of Time 3D for the 3DS, Nintendo has included a way for players to rechallenge bosses that they've already defeated as well as replay the Silent Realms they've already conquered.  If players choose to replay Silent Realms, they are allowed to replay as many as they want in any order they like.  However, if players choose to rebattle bosses, they are only allowed to choose the first boss they play.  After that, the game chooses the next fight randomly.  This isn't so much of a problem, though, since players can choose to quit after any given battle and simply "retry," starting from the beginning which will allow them to choose the boss again.  If players do choose to continue fighting, the damage done to them will carry over from one battle to the next.  Also, to make things a little more interesting, players will only be able to use the items they had at the time they initially faced the boss, they won't be able to use items such as potions or fairies, and if they run out of hearts, it's game over (literally, you get the game over screen).  Again, like in Ocarina of Time 3D, these boss battles and Silent Realm reruns are timed to give the player an extra boost of encouragement (to try to beat their personal best times).

Unfortunately, I can't really say more than that without spoiling some goodies, but what I can say is that Nintendo gives players a reason to replay the game all over again (if that alone doesn't give it away...)!  So yeah, 50-100 hours of gameplay is surprisingly accurate.  What's even more surprising is that the game is fun the entire time.  The game does not get old, and players will be doing something that matters the entire time they're playing.  Unless of course they're just goofing off flying around the sky or something (but that's fun too!).

Now during these 50-100 hours, players may find themselves stuck in certain places.  Recently, Nintendo has been including a hint system of some kind or another that helps players advance through the game.  Skyward Sword is no different, but it features an enormous amount of methods to help the player through sticky situations.  Players can be given hints about what to do next and how to do it; they can view directions on how to do just about any of Link's actions; they can even be reminded of their current objective in case they've forgotten.  What's really great about all of this is that it's completely optional.  If players are Zelda pros, they can go through the game without using any of these hints, but if players are newer to Zelda, they have a huge selection of help methods to guide them through the game.





Thanks to all of these different help methods, players have no excuse for getting lost!

Skyward Sword is fantastic (in case you haven't gotten that by now), but it's not perfect.  The biggest flaw of the game, or rather the one that most affects gameplay (at least in my experience), is that I have a frustratingly hard time thrusting (ha, ha, ha).  In addition to being able to swing Link's sword in different directions, players are also able to quickly move their hand forward in order to thrust Link's sword at enemies.  While the rest of the game's motion controls consistently work with near perfection, thrusting is just plain hard to pull off.  To make matters worse, thrusting is required on certain enemies and to solve certain puzzles.  Even when I would consciously slow my movements in an attempt to make them more accurate, thrusting would still often elude me.  This is my only real complaint for the entire game simply because it negatively affects the gameplay as it is a required move in many situations.

The next flaw isn't a technical flaw, but it's certainly something that Nintendo should have removed.  Just like in Twilight Princess, whenever players get a treasure or bug after turning the game back on, they are presented with the collectible's description and are forced to watch as the Collections Screen comes up and increases the displayed number of the found collectible, all of which pauses the game's action, creating an awkward and reoccurring break in the game flow.  Thankfully though, unlike in Twilight Princess, this constant reminder of what a collectible is is only limited to collectibles and not rupees (in Twilight Princess, the game would display the description of the different rupees as well whenever they were picked up after the game was turned back on).

Yes, game, thank you.  I know what a Jelly Blob is.  You've only told me 50 times now...

The last flaw I will talk about is a glitch I ran into.  Even though I don't think many players will run into this problem, it's the only actual glitch I encountered during my 50 hours of playing.  While I was selecting an item from the item wheel, I accidentally hit C, bringing up the dowsing wheel (dowsing is an action available from Fi).  Quickly realizing my mistake, I immediately hit B again to reenter the item wheel only to find that the dowsing wheel was being displayed behind the item wheel.  Strange...  Even after exiting the item wheel and reentering it, the dowsing wheel was still visible.  Next I tried opening the dowsing wheel to see if that would fix it.  It did.  As soon as I closed the dowsing wheel again, the interface disappeared as it was supposed to.  Luckily I wasn't in combat or doing much of anything really, so it wasn't that much of a nuisance, but even so, it was still pretty jarring (being the only glitch I had seen).

One more tidbit, readers, is something that has potential importance to the future of the Zelda series.  Everyone knows that Zelda games don't use voice acting, that is, aside from grunts and mumbles.  There are a few very rare cases, particularly in Wind Waker, where characters, Link being one of them, speak very short English and/or Japanese phrases.  Skyward Sword seems to take this just a few tiny steps further.  During one of the game's first cinematics, players see a young girl (whom they soon find out is Zelda) standing in front of a large statue while playing the harp.  During this cinematic, there is a voice singing.  "Surely," I thought, "this is just part of the song to go along with the game's introduction.  Zelda doesn't use voice acting.  There's no way the singing came from that girl!"  Not too long after that, however, players see another cinematic as Link first meets up with Zelda.  And guess what?  Zelda totally sings!  Completely voiced!  Don't let those exclamation marks get you too excited though, because she's not singing in any real language.  Yes, I checked.  I would be thrilled if I'm wrong, but I checked multiple text-based and voice-based translators (yes, I'm that much of a nerd), and I could not find anything that matched or even sounded/looked like what Zelda sings.  My best guess is that it's either gibberish or spoken Hylian (or whatever language the inhabitants of Skyloft supposedly use).  But still, this fully voiced singing, performed by a real life voice actor is more than we've ever seen, or heard in this case, in any previous Zelda.  We next turn to Link.  While Nintendo would never have Link speak (at least not yet...), there are multiple times when we see Link talking to someone, though we don't hear it.  For example, when Link wakes up after losing Zelda, he explains to her father what transpired during the two's (romantic) flight.  While the camera zooms out to indicate a long discussion being cut short for the sake of time, we see Link not only using a lot of gestural body language to emphasize his story, but he even moves his mouth (as if he's talking).  This, again, is more than we've seen in the past when Link "answers" a question (usually just him staring blankly at a character while the character reacts to Link's "response") and explicitly shows us that this Link is not mute.  On top of this, there are characters throughout the game who, like in a few instances in previous games, utter short English and Japanese phrases such as "Thank you," "Bye," and "Hai" ("yes" in Japanese).  Also, and this is practically impossible to prove, whenever I hear Fi talk, I swear I can hear Japanese words and phrases, almost as if the sound clips used for her voice are simply jumbled up Japanese phrases.  She definitely uses repeated sounds for certain words (listen for something that sounds like "mari" and/or "matas" whenever Fi says "Master" or "your-character-name-here") which I found pretty interesting. The point of all of this being that with so many of these instances, it seems like Nintendo's almost trying to gauge people's reactions to voice acting in Zelda, particularly with Zelda singing and Link "talking."  Perhaps the day will indeed come when Zelda joins the ranks and becomes a fully voice-acted series...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is extraordinary in everything it does.  The story is unique and gives off a "fresh" new feel to the traditional plot; the development of individual characters and the relationships formed between them are a pleasure to see; the stunning visuals and beautiful music combine to give an already epic game even more of a sense of grandeur; the game is long, has plenty to do, and is fun the entire time; and, of course, the astounding controls totally revamp the gameplay and the way players will interact, both physically and mentally, with the game.  Not only does Skyward Sword draw so successfully from its 25 years worth of predecessors, but is also improves upon all of those things it uses.  It is for these reasons that Skyward Sword will go down in the books as an absolutely phenomenal game, for many, as the best Zelda to date, and as a beautiful tribute from Nintendo to end the Wii's successful life.  That being said, the Wii's life should end as it began—with a sexual innuendo.  Here we go...  Readers, Zelda will make you blow all of that crap off of your dusty old Wii, break out your protective Wii rubbers, and play with Zelda on your Wii for hours on end.

 

  • System game is available on: Nintendo Wii
  • System game was reviewed on: Nintendo Wii
  • Game reviewed was a REVIEW COPY of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Tags: Fi, Skyloft, Link, Nintendo, Wii, Zelda, the legend of zelda, Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, Loftwing

Posted in: Reviews, Gaming

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