by Kabir Kaler
After a highly anticipated wait, our friend in green is back to save the world in an all new adventure called Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Link’s back and this time he lives in the skies with his family and friends – not to mention his best friend Zelda. This small flying island has all the necessities: food, water, even giant domesticated birds. Your day starts off normally: sleeping in and getting a wakeup call from a giant bird, meeting friends, training with deadly weapons – the usual. While flying with your childhood friend Zelda, both of you get swept up in an ominous tornado. Zelda falls to the earth while Link gets sent flying, only to wake up in bed. Now, like every Legend of Zelda, you will have to go to strange lands, fight awesome bosses and save the girl.
The visual design is artistically done by adding cell shading, which makes the visuals pop with life and color (imagine a painting that can move). There are roughly four main areas where you will travel: a forest, a volcano, a desert, and of course the sky. Each area is vastly different in not just the way you see them, but how you’ll get there. There is also a tone that is area specific. For example, the sky is very open with a handful of other floating islands, but only one with an abundance of life, which gives off the feeling that this is something that is precious.
The people are drawn in an anime style with each of the 20 people being different. Usually, with such a small amount of people to interact with there is no connection with them. However, this is not the case. Each of the people helps you with tasks by giving you a hint or quests themselves. The monsters are also area specific and react differently and must be handled as so. For example, you can’t take a metal shield to attack an electric crab, but you can use it to block fire. The animations are clean and glitch free for both the people and the monsters.
As with every Legend of Zelda game, Link has a variety of tools to use in his battle against evil and those tools look both wicked and practical. The bomb, for example, looks like an actual plant you pick up instead of something you buy and is very round.
The game play is easily the best I’ve seen for Wii since Red Steel 2. The main way you attack is with your sword and this time your Wiimote is actually a sword. You can swing your sword in any way you want: from up, down, left and right or diagonally, and also forward for a stab. This is because the motion control is 1:1. However, it is not that accurate, but it is close enough that you don’t really notice unless you start swinging your sword like a maniac. Other than the sword, your other weapons get a control upgrade too.
The way you move hasn’t changed from previous Legend of Zelda games, but in addition you get a sprint meter which helps you get where you’re going faster and is also used for climbing. There is a fruit that replenishes the meter and it is on every surface that you climb so as to not make you enraged. Since Epona, our favorite horse, doesn’t have wings, we get a giant bird instead. You fly across the sky to get to other islands and to the ground via giant holes in the sky.
The store situation is simpler than in previous titles as everything you buy is in one building. In that one location you can buy equipment, potions, house your extra equipment, and upgrade your items. In order to upgrade you will need ingredients which you can find everywhere you go. For potions you will need insects and certain collectibles for your weapons. The monsters are better than previous ones because they react to the way your sword is positioned. Now you must wait for an opening and attack with precision. The further along you get in the story, the harder some enemies get. The boss battles are well done to say the least and very memorable. My favorite (SPOILER ALERT) is the golden one with the multiple arms and swords. You will need to use a weapon you find in the dungeon, but its only 50 per cent now, with your sword accounting for the other 50.
Now the biggest change in the game is the way the dungeons have been made. The whole world in which you travel is actually one gigantic dungeon. Each area is vast, with secrets and special areas where you need a certain weapon to advance or get that heart piece. In order to make sure you don’t get lost they put in markers you put anywhere on the map. The dungeons themselves haven’t changed that much from the usual design of advancing from room to room, except that this is less frequent and the rooms are larger in size and detail.
The game is presented as a story. You see the emotional connection between Zelda and Link, not to mention all the people who help him and the bad guys you have to fight. The soundtrack is awesome and came with the game via a separate disk.
Overall, this is a game that every Wii owner should have. This is a game that Nintendo wanted everybody to play and they have succeeded. The visuals are popping with color and life, the game play is the best so far on the Wii. Since this version of Legend of Zelda was a first there is less content compared to Twilight Princess, but the motion controls and the game play make up for it, making this an excellent game. I give Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 9 skyward strikes out of 10.