Game Review: Skyward Sword

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I like Zelda games a lot, but can’t call myself a Zelda fan because I’ve only played four of the sixteen main titles released so far. Here’s my review of the latest game in the series, which happens to be one of the first ones in the game universe chronology.

If you haven’t played any Zelda games before, they are RPG games. Most of them were played with a top view in the 2D days and changed to third person perspective when 3D was introduced. In them, you play an incarnation of the game protagonist, Link, at some point in time in the Zelda universe, and usually you have to rescue and/or help the incarnation of Princess Zelda defeat the main antagonist.

The first game I played was A Link to the Past for the SNES, which I thought was great at the moment and I devoured it in 3 days when I was a kid and had to be at home fighting the flu.

Then, I played Ocarina of Time for the N64, which was the best game I had ever played at that moment. I seriously think buying the N64 was almost justified only to be able to play that game. I could go on and on about this game but reading the "Reception" section at Wikipedia should be enough. It was one of the highest points in video gaming history.

I couldn’t save enough money to get a copy of Majora’s Mask, which was released for the N64 too, so I had to wait a lot of years until I got to play Twilight Princess for the Wii. For me, Twilight Princess was another amazing game. It couldn’t be as innovative as Ocarina of Time was when it arrived, and that’s its only major "fault". Both games can be directly compared. The technological advances in both graphics and game controls made Twilight Princess essentially a sequel in spirit. In Twilight Princess, you have everything you have in Ocarina of Time, but multiplied by a factor of 10.

So we finally arrive to Skyward Sword. I wanted to play this game about a year ago, a bit after it was released, but I had other important things to do then, and a lot of games were waiting to be played.

While still a Zelda game, it’s no doubt different from Twilight Princess. Most critics would say it’s yet another iteration and improvement in the game series, making it the best game so far. And many praised the game controls and how the Motion Plus controller perfectly tracks your hand and allows you to slash enemies with precision.

Yet I didn’t enjoy it so much as Twilight Princess. The game is long and the story is interesting, as always, but I found 3 minor flaws worth pointing out.

First, the game controls sometimes lose the screen center point. This means you can be pointing at the middle of the screen and the game responds as if you were pointing at one of the edges or corners. It’s not very frequent and I’m sure game developers were aware of this small problem, because they made the Wii remote down arrow a "reset" for this problem. You point to the center of the screen, hit the down arrow and that’s the center from then on. Also, while the game follows your movement almost perfectly, it interprets a slash when you move the remote fast. In the heat of battle sometimes I moved the remote too fast while preparing to hit and it considered it a premature slash in the wrong direction. This detail can be important in the game because enemies defend themselves from attacks coming from one side or another.

The second minor flaw is that some side missions don’t seem that well integrated into the main game as with other titles, and the gameplay is a bit too linear at some points.

Finally, and maybe I’m getting old, I found the game too easy for my taste. I’m now playing it in "hero" mode, which you have access to after finishing the game for the first time, and I really think it’s a bit more balanced this way. Most dungeon puzzles were easy too.

As for the score, those minor flaws prevent me from giving it a 10 out of 10. It’s a score I prefer to preserve for other games. This one is a superb game that you should definitely play and it’s a 9 or 9.5 out of 10. Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess get a 10 out of 10, but this one is, after all, a Zelda game and I’m a spoiled child. :-)

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