by Keaton Arksey, reviewed on
Simply saying that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a good game should be unsurprising. The Zelda series is a rare breed in videogames, with every new release serving as a benchmark of quality, regardless of the system or handheld of origin. Calling Skyward Sword “good” in general is a disservice to a series that spawned beloved classics like A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. However, Skyward Sword is not “good”, or even “great”.
By the lofty standards of The Legend of the Zelda franchise, Skyward Sword is a masterpiece.
Another Link To The Past
Skyward Sword takes place well before the events of previous games in the series. Once again, the hero is a young man known as Link, a knight-in-training at the Academy in Skyloft, a land high above the clouds. After waves of monsters swept over the land below, the Goddess gathers the remaining humans and sends them to the sky. As a sign of her protection, every member of the Academy receives a Loftwing - giant birds that act as transportation in Skyloft and steeds for the knights. Link grew up with his lifelong friend, and daughter of the Academy’s headmaster, Zelda, and the two have an obvious romantic tension. In an attempt to avoid spoilers, circumstances eventually force Link to travel to the surface as destiny calls both him and Zelda. The story serves as an origin story for many elements that are mainstays in the series, and while scholars may not study it in the future, it is the most story-driven game in the series. Skyward Sword also introduces a new antagonist to the series, the Demon Lord Ghirahim. While it is impossible to take the place of a mainstay like Ganondorf, the story does establish a distinctly creepy vibe for him quite early, and he is definitely one of the stronger Zelda villains.
Skyward Sword is one of the few games that require the Wii Motion Plus attachment, which injects the series’ gameplay with a shot of adrenaline. The technology added by the Motion Plus allows for 1:1 control, and it works perfectly. The Wii remote detects every movement of the wrist and arm and displays it on screen, and it matters now more than ever. Some enemies, like the series’ regular Deku Baba, large carnivorous plants, require horizontal or vertical slices depending on the orientation of its mouth. Enemies with weapons, like the common Bokoblins or the undead warrior Stalfos will block most attacks. Blocking their attacks with a shield bash (by flicking the nunchuk attachment) can put them off balance, but while guarding they leave some opening that a precise strike can hit. Every battle becomes a duel, a test of patience, reflexes and studying the opponent’s movements and position. This new precision also transfers to puzzles as well, with quartered door locks requiring Link to strike certain sections or using the sword as a key.
The complete package: involved gameplay, vibrant graphics, and divine music.