Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Beginning to Forest Temple

To a degree, I get why every Legend of Zelda game has to begin the same way. The series is, at its core, simply a succession of remakes of itself. Every game must begin in Link’s pastoral hometown because that’s what the formula says. Someone on the roof will always ask you to talk to them in order to teach you targeting. You’re going to get your sword and shield through a couple of events. Fine. But by sticking to this formula so closely, the initial stages of Skyward Sword are some of the worst I’ve played in a long time.

Zelda has never been about plot to me. Given that they’re just retellings of the same piece of mythology, it doesn’t make sense for there to be a huge story focus. There’s always Link, always Zelda, always Ganondorf, stuck in some kind of eternal struggle between wisdom, courage, and power. By sticking to this formula, Nintendo could have been well primed to provide us with ever-increasingly-complex iterations of the same story–made more intricate dungeons, or added different twists. And they’ve done that in a lot of ways–the main mechanics of Ocarina of Time are different in Majora’s Mask, are different from The Wind Waker, are different from Twilight Princess. But they’ve also upped the focus of the story, leading to a very long beginning filled with several short cutscenes. I feel like I’m watching an insultingly bad children’s cartoon when I’m watching them. And I’ll take the argument that these games are targeted towards children in a large part, but Nintendo must know that it has a very large adult audience, one who grew up with the series. and in a lot of ways the storyline is targeted towards them. The game wants an audience who knows the implications in the fact that Zelda–not a princess this time that I can tell!–is the daughter–yes, we see Zelda’s father!–of a man named Gaebora or whatever–the same name as the owl from Ocarina of Time! Holy shit! Even if everything’s covered in skies or something, the ground below is in the same configuration that Hyrule always is!

So the game wants that hardcore audience, and it’s strange that there was no desire to write a script which was friendly to the younger audience but written in such a way as to entertain the adults. I’m bored during the story segments because there’s so little to glean from them beyond checking off the bits of Hyrule mythology that are touched upon, and as a result I don’t care about the story, as a final result I resent every single time the cutscenes take control over the game. And the cutscenes take control a lot..

The controls are bad. No two ways about it. The camera–while it’s not as unusable as Epic Mickey’s it’s still an indication that no one has ever really figured out how to make a good camera on the Wii. Swinging the Wiimote to swing your sword gets very tedious after a very short while, and I honestly don’t notice any improvements for having Wii Motion Plus. And while Zelda’s control scheme has needed some additions, a stamina bar was not one of them..

I’m coming off of playing Dark Souls–technically I’m taking a break to play something colorful, hence Skyward Sword–and so I have an almost unfair point of comparison, but there hasn’t been a single area so far that I’ve been able to keep a map of in my head. I don’t know what it is, a certain smudginess to the graphics, perhaps–by the way, the game looks ugly–or a lack of visible landmarks or something, I’m not sure. And the map seems singularly unhelpful–so I’ve spent most of the game just aimlessly wandering until I’ve stumbled upon something..

The game is at turns overcontrolling and aloof. There’ll be segments that walk you through down to each button press, and then it’ll become wilfully obtuse for a room, requiring an esoteric action you didn’t really think was helpful, and deadending until you figure out the puzzle..

Wind Waker’s sailing segments are widely and rightfully criticized, but the flying segments are not only confusing–there seem to be fewer landmarks in the sky than there were in Wind Waker’s ocean–but difficult to manage. You have to not only figure out proper timing for when to dive and climb, but you’ve got to do that while wrestling with the Wii controls, which are nowhere near as responsive as they should be..

I really don’t know where all of the praise is coming from. The game could turn into an excellent game later on–but that doesn’t excuse the beginning. I certainly don’t see how this game would ever merit a 10..

I’ve just entered the Forest Temple or whatever–I’m not paying enough attention to know what it’s called. I’ll probably be checking in at significant points. Again, it could pick up, I’m open to that. But the little I’ve seen of this dungeon isn’t very good. Traditionally the first dungeon isn’t the best, I’m aware of that, so I’m holding judgement for the moment–but I don’t have much hope.

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