The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword In-depth Review

Warning: Major Spoiler Alert

If there’s somebody that can keep innovating the same franchise for many generations that’s of course, Nintendo. SS is the 16th iteration of the Zelda series and comes as one of the last games that will bid farewell to the Nintendo Wii. Let me tell you, there couldn’t be a better game to do this job because it’s the perfect cherry of the cake as it takes full advantage of everything the Wii had to offer. It’s hands down the best Wii game of all time and can probably be ranked as one of the best Zelda games of all time, as well.

Story

SS’s story is special firstly because it is meant to be the very first chronological title in the official timeline and how well it serves the function of its 15 sequels but at the same time how it manages to make you feel Link in a way no other game in the series has done before. The game is set on Skyloft, a remnant town in the sky which is what is left of The Surface before the bad guys attacked and took control of the whole land. It follows the very first journey of the very first Link that made a step in Hyrule in his quest to save Zelda from his kidnapper, Ghirahim, as the latter is willing to use her as a sacrifice to resurrect his master. For this Link will have to become the very first man to return to the cursed Surface.

You can’t help growing fond of this Link in particular because, as mentioned before, he is the first hero to actually be “a chosen one”. We are used to see every new and veteran Link be so skillful with his trusted weapons from the very beginning and witness everybody praise him for the instant hope he brings to the lands. However, that’s not the case here. This Link is NOT just another incarnation, he has no hero of legend running through his veins. He might be a natural with the sword, shield and Loftwings but it seems he wasn’t definitely ready for this kind of odyssey. This is more noticeable when Impa shows her disappointment after thinking the Goddess might have made a mistake in choosing her hero after being late “again” to save Zelda. I just couldn’t avoid feeling sad for Link when I saw the look on his face after hearing those words. This Link is green as grass and his quest to be the very first Hero of Hyrule is extremely memorable, being rescuing her special one his only motivation.

Which takes us to… Zelda. In this game, she is not a princess yet, she doesn’t even plan to become one someday. She is just an ordinary pretty girl that has never been so charismatic before. Her big, happy heart and relationship with Link is the strongest we have seen to date. As it has happened in other games before it, Link and Zelda are best friends since childhood but it’s the first time we have the chance to see them both taking a more romantic approach toward each other. Even if they don’t kiss or confess their love for one another there’s no doubt how cute they look together. Link’s desperation and, later on, conviction to rescue her and that final gaze at the Bokoblins prior to the final battle with Ghirahim just reflects how Link will not let anything stop him.

All this hero’s thing is made with the help of Fi, who probably is hand in hand with Navi and Midna as one of the most memorable sidekicks Link has had. She catches everybody’s eye since the beginning for being the spirit inside the Master Sword. She has an extremely robotic personality, because that’s what she was created for, but as the story progresses, she starts learning from Link’s emotions, and starts developing her own. It was nice that the game did NOT directly make you be aware of that, but rather let you notice it by your own as Fi’s conversations begin to be more emotional every time. And her last goodbye is definitely touching.

It’s also noteworthy to mention the main villains: Ghirahim and his master, Demise. Ghirahim is portrayed as a villain we would love to hate, and it’s true. He is a unique antagonist in all Zelda games and his moves makes him a formidable rival to Link. Demise, on the other hand, resulted as an amazing way to tell Ganondorf’s REAL roots. There’s no hint in the whole game that some Ganon’s ancestor would be the bad guy (there’s always one if he is) and the fact that they kept it that way until we, by our own eyes with no in-game mention, encounter him in the final battle makes it a shocking discovery.

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The great story of the only Link destined to become a man by himself, his endearing relationship with Zelda as no other game before it, and the utterly likeable characters as a whole wins this game a perfect 10 in Story.

Gameplay

Another great factor that makes the game so immersive is the motion controllers. Thanks to this game, being a swashbuckler has never felt so real and Wii has never been more fun before. SS is the game that takes advantage of the full capabilities of the Wiimote and the Motion Plus because Link’s arm will follow every direction you swing your controller to. The best part of this comes when you find all those enemies that block your moves from, say, the right side of their bodies, so you will need to attack them from the other side. As the story progresses, more original enemies will appear and it will make you replan your strategy. But the cool thing is that not only the Master Sword is the one that takes all the glory, but also your whole arsenal. There are two ways you can control your Bow and Arrow. The casual way, to use the pointer and press A to shoot, or the “immersive” way to hold both Nunchuk and Wiimote as an actual Bow and Arrow. I called it immersive way because it is actually a lot of fun to try it that way, especially with Boss Tentallus, who requires an arrow in the eye to give you a chance to finish him.

As for how the game is structured we still have to go to dungeons and fight boss battles inside and all the stuff we know about Zelda. However, the temples were actually very original, so different. Lanayru’s Mine Facility is probably the coolest because of how you have to make use of the TimeShift Stones to travel to the past and solve puzzles that way. Still, I would have liked Nintendo to put a temple in the sky as well. I know the final temple is in the sky but it doesn’t feel… sky-ish. It would have been awesome to have one that truly made us remember we were in the sky, like City in the Sky from Twilight Princess. But it’s something minor, it definitely don’t affect the rest of the game.

The boss battles are actually quite fun to fight. I liked battling The Imprisoned every single time he has awaken again with his new limbs and ability to fly. He was totally the hardest boss in the game for me, especially with my stamina running out and having to make use of the potions to run without getting tired. Yet, my favorite boss has to be Koloktos, from Ancient Cistern. It just felt so cool to grab his own weapon and smash him to death. And the fact that you can fight all the bosses in challenging new modes with Lanayru is an exciting training mode that requires all your Zelda skills!

To finish with this, it’s true, sometimes the controllers are not that responsive and you have to hold them always in one direction. The shield also has hard times to respond. However. There’s no doubt that Skyward Sword is the game that manages to deliver everything the Wii wanted to offer since the very beginning. It is definitely what the utter successor of Twilight Princess in terms of gameplay.  For that reason and the constant fun with enemies and boss battles, Gameplay receives an outstanding score of 9.

Atmosphere

Apart from the story, what makes Skyward Sword be so immersive is its art style. There was controversy about that decision. The team behind it even admitted they had planned to make it as dark as TP, but instead drew upon this one because the story was more suitable for it. Many will complain but it is one of the great distinctive factors that makes this a beautiful sight for sore eyes. It definitely is like a painting brought to life. It definitely doesn’t have any “childish” attributes because even the music has a great a role every time a relaxing or tense situation is there. I loved the first time I saw Fi. Her theme is so beautiful and it made that situation feel like a spiritual encounter with some random entity. The Gate of Time’s theme is one of the most beautiful Zelda theme’s I have heard because it reflected the sadness and worry Impa feels regarding Demise and how we have to build up enough courage to keep fighting.

When it comes to the world itself, we still have Hyrule (although they really don’t call it Hyrule just yet) and we have the same locations that are present in the other Zelda games, but, instead of an evolved area, it’s a primitive look at them. Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano and Lanayru Desert all serve as what Hyrule was before any other time. The fun thing is that we travel in time to see everything before it became Gerudo Fortress, Lake Hylia, Death Mountain and so on, although no real connection is established in-game. However, there’s something in this category that feels it could have been better.

You see that we have two maps: the Surface and the Sky. In the Surface, once you have completed your mission there’s really nothing else to explore, and the sky feels a little empty. There were not many things that made me want to soar the skies because I had almost nothing to discover. Hyrule as a whole is quite enormous but doesn’t make you feel you can explore it. Although the coolest thing about the Sky was probably Biloctyle. That boss fight on top of my Loftwing was amazing and definitely challenging.

The number places you can visit are actually very low and there’s only one real town: Skyloft and there aren’t exactly many side quests. But, still, the story as such doesn’t demand any more things than what it has. The characters are all enjoyable, the romance between Link and Zelda is so charming and visual aspect is simply gorgeous. All these earns him another great 8.5.

Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a remarkable game. It is definitely a true innovation in terms of gameplay, the story is more endearing than ever, the art style has an impressive beauty and the music is just gorgeous to the ear. The world doesn’t feel that developed but the story has no need of that to remain authentic. It’s true within my heart that this game can be ranked as one of the best Zelda games ever created.

Rating: 9.2

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