[NickNote: CHECK ONE, CHECK TWO - my buddy Aaron is taking the mic for a guest blog! Here is his review of the latest game in the Zelda series - Skyward Sword! He's a true fan of the series, as you'll soon discover! As always, I love guest bloggers! Holler at me. I'm always open to ideas!]
(This post is spoiler-free!)
Let me start by stating I am a huge fan of the Zelda series going back to the beginning. I greatly anticipate the release of each new game in this series with a mental countdown, followed by many hours of social isolation until the adventure is completed. My obsession with adventure/puzzle games was started with the Zelda series, and will no doubt continue with future releases. Beginning my new life as Link started on November 20th of 2011, which was a life that would not cease until I secured the master sword and slayed everything in my path.
Unfortunately I did not prepare my body for the abuse it would take sitting on the couch for hours on end. The game should have come with a complimentary urine basin to prevent the now likely bladder damage I have from holding my piss to “find one more heart container,” “beat one more temple,” or “open one more treasure chest.” Sleep deprived and almost 1.5 months later, I have finally reentered the world as Aaron. Now with all this extra time on my hands, I want to share with you my review of the game, because what the hell else am I going to do with myself if I can’t kill some evil minions during an adventure to save the princess?
1. Game Background
When reviewing any Legend of Zelda game, I feel there needs to be some reference to the earlier ones. Most fans of this game would likely say the original game, the “Legend of Zelda” on the Nintendo system, and the “Ocarina of Time” on Nintendo 64 are two of the best games in the series. If you meet someone that tells you otherwise, you can slap them in the face, then send them my way and I’ll slap them in the face again for good measure to make sure they learned their lesson. Having played every Zelda for main game consoles, these were definitely best two, but there is now a new legendary story that must be spoken about with equal reverence.
I was originally going to state that “Skyward Sword” is the best Zelda game yet, but after thinking about it for quite a while (remember, I have all this free time on my hands now) I don’t believe one could make such a statement since these three games were released in very different eras. “Legend of Zelda” was released in 1986, “Ocarina of Time” in 1998, and Skyward Sword” in 2011. That would be like asking who is greater: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, or Lebron James? Or….wait. This is Nick’s audience. That would be like comparing The Real World San Francisco (1994), The Real World Las Vegas (2002), and The Real World Cancun (2009). All equally entertaining, but in different ways.
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” has accomplished something amazing, but like the developers who created the game, it is not without its faults. Apparently there is a game ending glitch where you could be prevented from completing your quest to save the princess, and must restart from scratch…that’s if you don’t break your Wii or television first. Check out the link below to learn more about the glitch. This link does not tell you how to avoid the glitch for those of you curious to learn more, but are afraid of any spoilers. It does provide a link within the article if you want to avoid such a fate.
I have talked with other people about the controls of the game, and have heard a number of complaints. The Wii remote controls you use while flying on your giant bird is probably one of the most egregious examples of this frustration throughout the game. Thankfully there is little game play that requires you to be on point while flying, so it did not impact my enjoyment of the game. Those gamers that often play XBOX 360 or Playstation 3 are likely to find the controls inaccurate and annoying, since the controller precision on those systems are mint. Overall the controls in “Skyward Sword” are not perfect, but the player should be able to manage the necessary adjustments to grow and develop with the increasing difficulty of the game. My final complaint about the game is the repetition of the locations you travel to, but the game does a relatively good job in making these tired locations seem fresh while keeping the player engaged.
Commenting on the story of a game is something I almost have to force myself to do. If video games had no story lines I would be extremely happy. In my opinion, the stories in video games are often poorly written, predictable, and truly just serve as a vehicle to transition to the next part of the adventure. Stories within video games that attempt to do more than serve as the transition between actions honestly piss me off. I may be impatient, but all games should provide the player the option to avoid reading or listening to the garbage they come up with. The story line in Skyward Sword is no different, and there were plenty of times where I wanted the fucking dancing fairy that follows me to shut the fuck up and let me get the job done. The part of the story that I truly did enjoy, that I did not predict, occurred in the end of the game. The writers and developers did an excellent job by incorporating a puzzle into the story during the cinema portion. They did what the Zelda series does best, make the player think and engage him/her with mind-boggling puzzles.
4. Puzzle Play and Melee Combat
That brings me to the legendary puzzles often found in each game in the Zelda series. This is the essence of every Zelda game, and what makes them so great in my eyes. The Zelda titles provide the player with complex yet intuitive puzzles, which lend new players to looking up solutions until they learn to think like the developers. Whether you consider yourself a veteran of Zelda, or you think Zelda is the little green guy who runs around with the sword, your pleasure gained from solving the puzzles in “Skyward Sword” will likely be equal. This was a big reason the game was so enjoyable to me. Each game since “Ocarina of Time” largely played with the same puzzle themes (e.g. lighting the torches to open a door) that made the adventures quickly monotonous. “Skyward Sword” allows the old school Zelda fan to use their brain by introducing many new weapons and items to solve fresh puzzles, while likely being pleasurably mind-boggling to the newcomer.
If puzzles are the Zelda series’ Yin, then melee combat is the series’ Yang. To beat most bosses, you have to bring them to their metaphorical knees the classic three times before you can claim victory. Using the Wii remote during combat situations absolutely adds to the overall game integrity. Primarily, it makes fighting monsters a puzzle at times because they player has to figure out the right way to swing the sword to cut the opponent. In all previous games, the adventurer would just have to repeatedly hit the ‘A’ or ‘B’ button to knock around the bad guys.
The part of this game that made it truly amazing, and all 64 hours worthwhile, was a surprising throwback at one point in the game to a much earlier Zelda era. Without giving anything away, this game truly accomplishes something that very few games do. It provides a unique and likely fantastic gaming experience for those who have not indulged in this series prior, but also gives the Zelda fanatic a new adventure that will not be forgotten. My advice? Borrow the portable toilet from the old folks home and buy the game.
Link, Nintendo 64, Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda, Wii, Wii Motion Plus, Zelda