Ah… The Legend of Zelda. I remember telling my friends all about Ocarina of Time as a child, trying to get them to play it – but in a way, I kind of appreciate it being my own. Hyrule has always offered such a unique experience; the ability to travel dense forests, conquer castles and dungeons, sail the ocean, or go to an entirely different dimension. When I walked into Walmart to pick up my copy of Skyward Sword on the opening weekend, I knew another unique experience was waiting for me on the other side of the golden case I held in my hand. I was ready to pick up my sword and dive head-first into the clouds – and that’s exactly what you’ll find yourself doing in this majesty of a game.
The graphics are initially the most jarring, different thing about the game. For years Nintendo has played around with different art styles, looking for what ‘fit’ – and they really hit the mark with this one. Distant trees and building look like a painting underneath a beautiful impressionist filter, and the nearby flora and characters look akin to something out of Wind Waker or Okami. The graphics are fun and refreshing, but most importantly, play well into the cinematic experience Nintendo is trying to get across. Whether you’re carousing Skyloft or tackling the next massive temple, you can’t help but stop to enjoy the incredible art Skyward Sword gives you.
However good the graphics are, they appear pale in the light of swordplay. Nintendo’s use of the WiiMotionPlus in this game is so precise and comfortable, you’ll never want to return to a regular controller. Every battle is a challenge, forcing you to effectively use the remote to attack in very specific ways – and you’ll be required to do so for the entirety of the game. The puzzles are unique, yet nostalgic; you’ll find yourself facing some classic techniques that really utilize the arsenal of items Link collects this time around. Nothing is overdone; every challenge is refreshing and new.
Skyward Sword’s biggest triumph (in my opinion) is how it presents itself as a story. Being the first game in the known timeline, Skyward Sword’s real challenge was to explain how everything in the other games had come to be – but it did so much more than that. Zelda is shown in a different light as Link’s childhood friend, completely devoid of her royalty. You, as a person, begin to truly care about her well-being. Even without voice acting, the game is much more like a cinematic experience than any of the others.
The only thing that really got to me was the music; in comparison to Nintendo’s fantastic music in Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword’s music seemed like a bit of a let down (which is odd, because it’s the first game with actual orchestrated music). In the light of the game itself though, I don’t think the music effects the overall experience enough to take it down too much. Definitely a 9.8/10.
[review pros=”Incredible story, amazing controls and gameplay; refreshing graphics and overall brilliant experience.” cons=”Music is okay, but doesn’t live up to the Nintendo standard.” score=98]