Why You Should Play ‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’

Unpacking the gripping story behind the origins of the Master Sword


‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’ is one of, if not the greatest Zelda games ever created, winning the VGX Award for Best Wii Game in 2011. When Europe finally got to experience this iconic game in November 18 2011, the gaming community was able to take part in one of, graphically, the best games from the franchise hands down. By raising the bar of what a Zelda game can bring to players, by introducing new transport to soon-to-be iconic territories, Nintendo had produced a dense and perfect gameplay for many future Zelda games to follow – such as the fervently awaited The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With the new motion-controlled combat using the Nintendo Wii Controller and nun-chuck, a stunning level of diversity was brought to this long awaited game. However, the reviews that followed the release of the game were not as optimistic as one would hope. So here is an exploration of why you should play ‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’, despite what the (other) critics think. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

zelda (1)

‘The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’

Like every Zelda story, the beginning introduces the heroic Link, usually portrayed as a handsome and blonde young boy, whom is completely mute. However, quite unlike the tranquillity in Twilight Princess with Link riding Epona across a beautiful landscape, Skyward Sword opens with a horror – an ugly black spiny looking creature bearing the name ‘The Imprisoned’, who appears to Link in a dream. This creature embodies the typical villain of the Zelda franchise; evil and a lover of chaos, though this is not explained until you reach your first province in the tale; Faron Woods. From this point, Nintendo takes Link’s and Zelda’s childhood friendship and uses it as the catalyst for the promised adventure that awaits you, where you fight to save Zelda not because the game says so, but because you care that Link cares about her.

zelda (2)

Zelda’s Lullaby to Link.

But it is not all about the heroics; scattered throughout the Sky Realm above the clouds and the provinces that lay beneath, comedy lays hidden within each character. Take one Skyloftian, Groose, as an example; his love for Zelda, his extreme ginger hairstyle and unruly nature both hinders and helps Link, whilst simultaneously giving the game a laughable anti-hero. This interaction between anti-hero and hero is aided by the series of motion-capturing cut scenes, allowing you to embrace each character’s emotions, despite the lack of voice acting, giving a cinematic and picturesque setting for you to explore and ultimately conquer.

As the story unfolds, we use Link as a vessel to meet a variety of memorable characters from the friendly, if not bizarre people of Skyloft, to the beautiful maiden and beloved friend of Link’s, Zelda. It is important to note the use of minimalistic graphics and stunning music in the scene where we meet the maiden embodying the Hyrulian Goddess; Hajime Wakai, you should be proud. This minimalistic incorporation of the mature graphics in Twilight Princess to the youthful animation graphics of Wind Waker, gave Skyward Sword the outlet to be the graphically best Zelda game to date. From this moment, we are thrown straight into the mystery of the game, beginning with the introduction of the spirit Fi, our masterful guide and companion, who leads us to the dormant legendary Master Sword, waiting for the Hero of Legends to awake its power. It is this sword that unlocks subsequent areas in the game; the picturesque Faron Woods, the dry wasteland of Lanayru Desert, and the fiery pits of Eldin. Fi herself combines the whimsical nature of GLaDOS from Portal and Navi from Ocarina of Time; her failure to comprehend human emotion and her occasional interludes where she figuratively demands you listen to her statistics, ironically giving a new definition to “Hey, listen”, fits the Zelda narrative to perfection.

zelda (2)

Link and Fi: A Companionship to Remember?

 

Skyward Sword’s problem, according to critics, is the use of the Wii controller. Despite what people say, the responsiveness and intuitiveness of the combat is no-less than unique. Guiding your Wind Bellows, or gliding between provinces on the Loftwing by using the remote, gives the game an inclusive feel, where you are Link, rather than controlling yet another protagonist. Admittedly, the new combat system requires skill and time. As the game hardens, enemies begin to predict your movements, giving the player combat involved extra layers of thought. With the lock-on targeting that Ocarina of Time began, Skyward Sword perfects combat by adding layers of strategy, ensuring that the Wii Controller is just an extension of your hand, rather than a hindrance.

 

In general, the Sky Realm above the clouds is momentous to navigate using Link’s Crimson Loftwing, and occasionally provides travel with a time-consuming element. However, the strategically placed islands throughout the map, give the player a chance to upgrade items, or unlock Goddess Chests that make the gameplay easier to commandeer. Arriving at Dungeons and Temples in each province takes time, as you have to battle countless enemies, and occasionally stop-off to cut grass with your sword, as many Zelda players have surely experienced. The Dungeons themselves are locked behind puzzles and creative concepts that use all of Link’s pouch items. Not only do these Dungeons appeal to the more logical player, but allows for every player to experience how one game can create some of the most genius concepts to ever appear in the Zelda franchise. Take the Ancient Cistern; a water-themed throwback to the Lakebed Temple in Twilight Princess. This Dungeon had a well-balanced combination of new items, such as the Whip and Dragon-Scales, and puzzles that involved outside the box thinking. Aside from the logic of the Dungeon, the Ancient Cistern had three levels to it; the first being the water temple. Beneath the first level is a poisonous body of liquid and ominous structures, forming a hell-like setting with a brief encounter of Zombie Bokoblins that Link endeavors to fight through to receive the Dungeon key. This unlocks the upper level which encases the macabre Ancient Automaton: Koloktos, whom you battle to receive one of six classically designed Heart Containers. This is just one of the examples of the impressive Dungeons in the game.

 

The Boss Battles. Typical of a Zelda game, but far from tiresome. In total, 14 Boss Battles are presented to you, from the Pyroclastic Fiend: Scaldera in the Earth Temple, to the Abyssal Leviathan: Tentalus on the Sandship, all of which involve a variety of items in order to be victorious. One reoccurring boss that Link is thwarted by is Ghirahim; a magical Demon Lord who wishes to harness the power of Hylia hidden within Zelda to awaken Demise. It comes to light that Ghirahim is in fact the physical embodiment of Demise’s jagged sword, which ultimately ends the Demon Lord. This sets a waypoint for the Final Battle of the adventure; and it’s an awe-inspiring one. The music of this final battle! It’s more than inspiring; as a player, you feel like you have to beat this entity, both for the future of Hyrule, and for the love of Zelda.

zelda (1)

Demise: An Epic Boss for an Epic End

Of course, Skyward Sword, like every game in existence, is not perfect. The content provided occasionally hints at a younger gaming audience, whilst the motion controls of the Wii Remote can become inconvenient, especially in the light of an intense boss battle. If one aspect could be improved in Skyward Sword, it has to be the Overworld; despite providing new concepts to the franchise, such as the new mode of transport, or giving the Legend of Hyrule a past it deserved, the empty Overworld gives the game a lifeless feel. Perhaps this was intended to show how the Goddess had to isolate her people to save them from the death below? However, it is hard to believe that a small handful of people survived and thrived in Skyloft; Wind Waker. Despite having a far-reaching body of ocean, it was teeming with life and provided the player with an immersive story that presented consistent life and fun. These are a few short observations regarding the game, but ones that are ultimately curtained by the sheer volume of strengths of Skyward Sword. The Award Winning graphics and iconic music give the game life, presenting the Classical Zelda theme crossed with music individual to their province. From each character to each province, the game bursts with emotion and personal elements that formulate a timeless game whose makers should be proud to call part of the Zelda franchise. This game is, as one Skyward Sword character said: “Amazing, right? Wrong! It is beyond amazing!”

 

What experiences have you had with Skyward Sword? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below:


– Beth Rogers

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.