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The Legend of Zelda:Skyward Sword for Nintendo Wii
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduces full motion control enabled by the Wii MotionPlus accessory, which synchronizes player... Read More
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduces full motion control enabled by the Wii MotionPlus accessory, which synchronizes player movements with Link's actions while offering intuitive play control. With the Wii MotionPlus accessory, every movement of Link's sword matches the player's motion with exact precision. If players motion left to right, Link swings from left to right. The precision play control is applied to enemies as well, as players must contemplate strategy when battling opponents that actively try to defend against attacks. Minimize
11 Reviews from Epinions.com
Jan 12, 2012
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: More Like Skyward Bored
Pros: A few inventive dungeons and cool tools.
Cons: The controls, the constant enemy and area recycling.
The Bottom Line:
Skyward Sword shows us that motion controls still aren't as good as a standard joystick. Why force me to play a game with a subpar control scheme?
It seems almost fitting that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will serve as arguably the last major first party release for the Nintendo Wii. After all, when the console launched back in 2006, Link and the titular princess were the first “must have” title on the new machine. Of course, it’s also fitting because Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword give us a firsthand look at how the Wii and motion controls have developed over the course of the past five years.
This would be really great if playing Skyward Sword revealed how primitive motion control technology was five years ago and how far Nintendo had come in advancing the cause. Instead, all Skyward Sword really achieves is highlighting that while Nintendo revamped the motion control system with the implementation of the Wii Motion Plus remote, motion control is still a very long way from living up to its potential. There’s nothing in Skyward Sword that couldn’t have been done (and in most cases, done better) with a standard controller – but that’s not an option for gamers. Nintendo wants to cram motion controls down the throats of the masses, and that’s what they’re going to do. The result is a frustrating experience where players can spend more time fighting the controls than the countless enemies the game throws at them.
The problems with the controls stem from the fact that they’re simply not responsive enough. Even with Nintendo’s Wii Motion Plus controller and supposed “1 to 1” movement, the game often confuses gestures – forcing Link to complete moves the player never intended. This is particularly frustrating in combat, where enemies tend to block – meaning Link must attack with a slash from the opposite direction of the block. This system works well when the enemy is blocking on the left of Link (Link’s right handed) and all the player has to do is slash from right to left. It’s a real headache when things are reveresed, though, because the act of moving the sword to the left side in order to swing right is often read as a slash instead. This becomes super annoying when an enemy is electrified, since hitting their shield stuns Link for a second and causes him to take damage.
That’s just one example of many where the controls flat out fail. To catalogue the rest could be an entire review in and of itself. While some folks report having less of an issue with the motion controls than I did, it’s hard for anyone to deny that these controls often feel sloppy and tacked on. Gamers who’ve felt “waggle controls” were more gimmick than genuine gameplay innovation are unlikely to alter their opinion after spending fifty hours with this game.
Yes, I said fifty hours – which is how long it took me to finally get to Skyward Sword’s end credits. This was without doing everything the game has to offer, even. While this title is shorter than Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time, it often feels longer. This is because Skyward Sword loves to recycle. Dungeons and bosses are repeated throughout the game, meaning there’s a ton of backtracking through familiar areas as the game plays out. In some instances (like the Desert stage), this is tolerable because the dungeon design is top notch. However, the bulk of game’s zones are fairly predictable and not particularly inspired – which makes the incessant return trips feel incredibly redundant. The same holds true with the game’s bosses. Players should expect to see some of the game’s toughest enemies three times before all is said and done.
To be fair, not everything is a negative within the game.
In recent years, Zelda games have been criticized for being relatively formulaic. Link invariably sets out on his quest and finds a tool in the dungeon that then becomes the key item for advancing through that game space. Skyward Sword is still relatively formulaic, but at least the tools are more multifunctional and useful in a wider context within the game world. Some (the remote-controlled flying claw) are more fun to use than others (the sand-blower), but each is used repeatedly throughout the adventure.
As mentioned earlier, some of the dungeons are nicely designed. The desert area features an engaging environment and challenging puzzles. The sand sea boat segment is graphically impressive (despite the Wii’s lack of HD visuals), and the whole “time stone switch” mechanic is well implemented.
The rest of the game’s graphics are surprisingly nice, considering they’re not high def. The visual style of this entry has more in common with experiences like Ocarina of Time than the cartoony (but charming) The Wind Waker. As always, there’s a distinct lack of voice acting, but the music is surprisingly catchy.
Unfortunately, for every thing Skyward Sword gets right, there’s a horrible issue to counter it. That so many of those issues revolve around the motion controls is disheartening. Again, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the controls add nothing to the experience – and actively detract from it at various points. Whether it’s fighting enemies, playing the harp, trying to draw a circle, or flying a bird in the sky area, the controls create a wall between the player and the game experience. While it’s clear that the idea behind motion controls is to remove a layer of distance between the player and the game, this is an instance where the opposite actually happens. Flailing around with the controller breaks the immersion on many occasions, reminding me that not only am I playing a game, but I’m playing a game that doesn’t control as well as it would have with a more standard interface. Given Skyward Sword’s disastrous E3 reveal a few years ago, no one should be surprised that the controls don’t work well – in fact, maybe we should be amazed they work as well as they do. That doesn’t make it acceptable, though – and it’s why Skyward Sword stands as one of the most disappointing Zelda games in the history of the franchise.
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