The Nintendo Wii has been out for five years. This console has changed the gaming industry, both by attracting a whole new generation of gamers, as well as introducing a new style of game controls. Unfortunately, many have felt that these controls have never been used to their fullest extent, but Nintendo has changed that with “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.”
“Skyward Sword” is the newest title in the now 25-year-old franchise. With its humble beginnings back on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, the Zelda franchise continues to be a revolutionary success.
There are several factors that set “Skyward Sword” apart from other Wii titles. The first and most important feature is the use of the Wii MotionPlus controller. This has completely revolutionized the combat system. The way you swing the controller determines how Link swings his sword, and at times the type of swing is very important since the enemies have gotten smarter. They will watch the way you hold your weapon and will react to it by blocking and counter-attacking.
Some of the old favorites may not make appearances, like the old Iron Knuckles, but some others, like the hydra from the very first Zelda game, do.
Zelda games have always had a compelling story, and this game does not disappoint. Though still lacking real voices for the characters, the game’s soundtrack backs the new in-game cinematics very well, evoking more emotion than spoken words.
Some may comment that the graphics are not up to par with recent titles for other systems due to the Wii’s limitations, but what this game lacks in polygons it makes up for in style. Landscapes in the distance are blurred, making the long distance shots almost like works of art, especially during the flight scenes. The game’s style has been tweaked a bit: dungeons are smaller, but the open world has so much more to do. Each area has its own side quests that add to the overarching story.
The few issues that I ran into were partly my own doing. Using an older Wii controller with the MotionPlus attachment, I found combat rather difficult and at times unresponsive. After that, I decided to invest in the new style controller with the MotionPlus technology built in and found that my gameplay improved dramatically. Also, as a veteran of the Zelda style games, the amount of hand-holding and in-game hints was frustrating, but I did find some of the hints helpful.
This title, like many Zelda games before it, blurs the line between video games and art. Very few titles are able to accomplish that feat well, but the Zelda games have always been the exception. The landscapes and views are beautiful, the story is compelling, the characters are well developed and the new controls do a pretty good job of immersing you in the game world.
Games like this make it clear that the “Legend of Zelda” series is still able to provide many hours of original entertainment and innovative gameplay in a world of sequels and reboots.