Spoiler Alert: It’s pretty awesome.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was released this past Sunday, and like many hardcore Zelda fans, I picked it up at the first opportunity I could (I even got the one with the golden Wii-mote, because I needed the MotionPlus). Unfortunately, because this is a holiday week and I’m technically on vacation, I haven’t had as much time to play it as I would have liked (I know, it doesn’t really make sense), but here’s what I can tell you about my time with it thus far.
MotionPlus is Excellent
Honestly, when playing Twilight Princess I learned before too long that it didn’t really matter how you swung the Wii-mote, and with the inclusion of lock-on attacks, I would almost forget that I needed to swing sometimes. In Skyward, that is pretty much non-existent. Enemies move to block your moves from certain directions, and you have to actually think quickly to figure out how to attack. Upper cut, horizontal slice, diagonal slice, downward slice, spin attack, stab, or block with the shield. There are a lot of ways to deal damage, the trick is figuring out how to actually apply them.
It feels great to watch Link mimic my own motions so well. Sure there are times where you need to recenter the Wii-mote, but that’s not too difficult so no complaining there. The 1:1 controls are so good at times that it makes the game frustrating, but that moves into the next section…
There are easy enemies, much like there are in any Zelda game, but they can be a challenge when the game does it’s best to predict and learn your movements. Maybe it was just me, but the first encounter with the game’s main villain, Ghirahim, was maddening. I do enjoy the difficulty because it means stuff doesn’t happen quite so quickly and the game is a challenge. I can’t breeze through dungeons like I’ve done in the past because the enemies end up being small puzzles in themselves.
A Solid Companion
Link has been in need of a good companion for years now. Between nagging fairies and a somewhat angsty Midna, Link probably would have been happier on his own, but this time around things are a little different. Fi, the artificial intelligence that the Goddess has sent to help him on his quest, is a bit robotic, and personally I like it. She talks a bit like Cortana, though with a little less emotion. She keeps track of enemies you’ve battled and gives you better detail on how to attack them and how well you’re doing. Plus, she doesn’t pop up all the time telling you to listen to this or something else.
There’s more RPG
Zelda has always been considered part RPG, but if you held it up against Skyrim, you’d be wondering where the RPG elements are. The old formula has been shaken up a bit with an upgrade system, and what seems like a bunch of small side-quests. Throughout this new iteration (though technically the first) Hyrule, you’ll come across small items like ore and shards of things that you can use to upgrade your shields, slingshot, and other various items. Not only that, but your shield has it’s own health system, which means with extensive use and beatings it can break, so keep your eye on that.
Finally, it’s a Zelda game. There’s formula here, but there are plenty of new things to explore. The dungeons are imbedded in rich areas that have plenty to do before you actually get to them. The upgrading has turned me into a fiend, trying to find as many pieces and items so that I can get the best shield and sword. There’s plenty to explore, and the game feels more challenging than previous titles. It’s great to see a different side of Hyrule, similar to Wind Waker, and yet still have a sense of maturity that Twilight Princess had.
It’s definitely a Wii title that we’ve been waiting for. Five years of waiting.