Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)

Genre: Action / Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 3

The first full Legend of Zelda game built exclusively from the ground up to work with the Wii controller gives you all combat abilities from the beginning. It's perhaps by way of an apology for the actual fighting being so damn awkward.
Over time you’ll learn to compensate for the impreciseness, but there’s nothing in Link’s repertoire of moves that couldn't have been successfully mapped to a conventional controller; a Game Cube controller, for example.

There are one or two minor things that do actually benefit from onscreen action mimicking physical motion but I’d have traded them in an instant, because the sheer number of things that don’t work, that feel like a second-rate compromise, far outnumber them and it needs CONSTANT recalibrating.

There’s an obvious attempt at expanding the scope of the usual gameplay while simultaneously keeping it faithful to the core experience. Consequently, it’s a game with two distinct identities: 50% of it is wonderful, even the overly-familiar stuff, and the other 50% is a depressing chore. It holds the dubious honour of being the only proper LoZ title that I will never, ever want to play again.

There’s a hub world and three main areas with a Dungeon on each. There’s often a lot to do before you reach the actual Dungeon entrance, but once inside it’s business as usual, with some new additions, of course, because each new entry in the series introduces something new.

That’s the mechanics and map, but what of Link’s motivations? He’s searching for one person. He doesn't enter dungeons to rid them of evil or to cleanse the world for the greater good. He enters dungeons to find his friend. It’s a small scale noble endeavour, but he’s essentially trespassing. He helps people along the way but not for what you’d typically call selfless reasons.

I found myself unable to connect with Link emotionally, which is something I've not had issue with in the past. In the end my persistence came down to ‘I want to get through this because it’s a LoZ game and I'm invested in the franchise,’ and not the more enjoyable ‘I want to get through this to save X from Y and restore peace to the land.’ I just wanted closure, not to be a legendary hero. That realisation saddened me deeply, but was a completely inescapable factor.

Scoring is difficult. Compared to regular adventure games it stands apart, but when compared solely to other Legend of Zelda titles it's a disappointing:

3½ grabitude crackles out of 5

NOTE: If you're considering playing the game, FIRST READ the entry titled Song of the Hero Game Ending Error on the Zelda Wiki or you'll run the risk of activating a programming error that'll break your game midway through.

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