Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Impressions of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

I have the greatest wife in the world. As proof, I offer exhibit Z: she got us the newest Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword, for Christmas. That's right, while everyone else is obsessing over this "Skyrim" stuff, I'm going old-school and working my way through yet another amazing Legend of Zelda experience. We've been taking turns playing it. I've only gotten through the first dungeon so far, but I humble offer up my first impressions of the game.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.

Argh, why the hell isn't Link left-handed? Like every other Link? Ever! The motion-control wii-mote interface is pretty cool, really. Link swings his sword the way you swing your wii-mote. It works really well. The nunchuck accessory serves as your shield. However, Link in this game is right-handed, and there is no option to make him left-handed. As a lefty, who naturally holds the wii-mote in my left hand and the nunchuck in my right, this makes for a clumsy experience. The sword-swings just don't seem to work the way they ought to if I'm holding the devices in the wrong hands. So I have been forced to play right-handed, as weird as it feels. A couple thoughts on this. First of all, they really should have included some kind of option for playing the game using the Classic Controller. It could have been done if they really wanted to. And they should have given the player the option to be right or left handed. As every other lefty knows, we are part of a persecuted minority. Everything around us is designed for the majority of people in the world who are right-handed. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons I identified so much with Link in these games is that he, like me, is left-handed. Having a lefty Link is a big reason I prefer the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess over the Wii version (if you don't know, go here).

Now that I'm done bitching, on to the good stuff.

First of all, Nintendo stole my "Islands in the Sky" campaign setting. It's okay, Nintendo, I won't sue. Yet. Flying around on your giant bird is pretty fun, and the controls work really well. In fact, all the controls in the game work work pretty darn well (if you're right-handed). There are a lot of different places to explore, and a lot of areas to work through down on the "surface", where the dungeons are.

The sword-and-shield-play aspect of the game is particularly fun, and is a pretty big departure from previous Zelda titles in terms of gameplay. The direction in which you attack with your sword, and the timing of a shield-bash, are quite often key to defeating monsters. Monsters carrying swords will parry your blows. Other monsters have weak spots that must be attacked in a certain direction.

This game includes a companion for Link, this time in the form of Fi, the guardian spirit of the Goddess Sword, which Link pulls from a stone early in the game. Fi is very much a Data or Spock-like character, constantly deducing logical conclusions based on evidence as you uncover it in-game (although, really only the obvious things, she doesn't really help you with the puzzles, thank goodness).

So far, it's a very solid addition to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Like I said, I have yet to get very far, but I'll be slowly working my way through it over the next month or three.


  1. Interesting. I have Skyrim, which I've been playing for a few weeks now, and I got my wife Skyward Sword to play while I'm wasting away hours in Skyrim. I love the Zelda games as well. She managed to beat Skyward Sword in just a couple of weeks (we got it before Christmas) of steady playing, which differed greatly from her experience with twilight princess, which she never did finish despite logging over 100 hours in the game. I actually had to beat the boss for her at the end of skyward sword, which was disappointing for me as I plan on playing it when I'm done with Skyrim, but still, she enjoyed the game overall. Going back and forth into the same lands and fighting the same bosses over again got repetitive for her, but for the most part she really enjoyed the game.

    I agree about the classic controller bit. But this game REQUIRES you to have the Wii motion plus adapter to play it, which was obviously a marketing ploy to force fans into buying this other product (which we had to do) in order to play the damn thing. I did not have, nor would I have invested in the wii motion plus attachment were it not for this game. I was also disappointed to hear about the repetitive nature of the bosses and lands. Considering it was 4 years between games, you would think they would have put some more effort into the design of it. Still, I'm a fan of the series, and will end up playing it.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. That is a bit disappointing that it gets so repetitive; I haven't gotten that far yet. And thanks for pointing out that bit about the motion-llus attachments. We've had a couple of them for quite a while (I believe they came with the Wii Sports Resort game) so I didn't even think about it, but yeah that's totally a ridiculous money-grab. Although I think newer controllers come with the motion-plus attachment as part of the whole device.

    Anyways, I'm enjoying it so far. I'm not sure if it's gonna top Wind Waker or Ocarina or Twilight Princess, but we'll see. It may be a bit too gimmicky to really measure up to those three.