It may not be the most well-known fact that I’m a pretty big Zelda fan in the world, but I do have a few opinions and knowledge of the Zelda lore in my back pocket. I played through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and I have to say it is a good game. However I am a bit more notorious through GenGAME and other realms of media concerning my dislike of motion controls. First off, I know that other people have gripes about the motion controls solely, but I go further than that and take a look at the development of the game and it’s entirety as a game that’s not only a game; it’s a Zelda game. I found that bosses were reused, the art style wasn’t my personal favorite, and the game just tended to break normal Zelda protocol. I would have liked a Zelda game which played more like Twilight Princess, which some claimed was boring and not structured well, but I personally loved the dark world aspect with the Twilight Realm. It also felt like it fit into the games I remember as a kid; namely A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask. Rather than argue about which game is better and why, I’m going to focus on Skyward Sword and analyse some of the typical issues that people found with the game.
Sprinting; a mechanic used everywhere and anywhere. I feel like they just threw this in at some points and it didn’t flow like normal Zelda puzzles. In some areas it worked well, but felt a tad overused. A minor gripe but we’re just getting into the think of it. I also found the controls to be a bit jerky at times, and hated how many time I tried using it and ended up running up walls. It seems like you gravitate towards the walls and run up them.
Items; Getting prompted by everything that you pick up. Every item you pick up from each time you boot up the game prompts you even if you’ve found that item before. I’m relatively sure that by the time you’re a good 5 hours into the game that you understand what a Jelly Blob is, or a Monster Claw. In Twilight Princess the same issue is seen in rupee pickup. The worst part of this is picking up items as you’re fighting enemies. It really slows down the game, and really kills the epic fights.
The Treasure Pouch; in theory it’s a good idea. I’m just not a fan of allowing the player to put the bottles into the item check. The bottle has been such a staple in the Zelda series that allowing the player to essentially run around without bottles is silly. The bottle in the Zelda games is arguably the most useful item in the games. I don’t think you should be allowed to put it into the item check especially since it is required to complete certain parts of the game.
Motion Control Woes
Flying; waving up and down is a chore. Skyward Sword relies too heavily on motion controls plain and simple. There are many other ways for these controls to be used more easily. I do understand that this is a Wii game and utilizes the Wii Motion Plus but there should be a fine line drawn between motion controls and button presses. Using the lean/tilt to move left, right, up and down while using the jerk of the remote up and down to fly isn’t enjoyable. Using the joystick for some functionality would help fix flying. When you try to use the up and down jerking motion to fly higher there is a good percent of the time where you end up just pointing up or down as opposed to using the mechanic that you’re supposed to.
Sword; you end up focusing on swinging the remote with precision against enemies that use blocking. Mostly every enemy uses a type of blocking mechanic that makes you use the sword in a specific way. Even the early enemies like Deku Baba’s require precise slashes. When it boils down you end up flailing the sword around after you get one slash on an enemy and break it’s guard. This doesn’t create immersion into the game and bogs down the experience with frustration. The motion controls are used a bit too often for my liking. The sword feels slow and you end up focusing more on the precision of it, and flailing your arms around as opposed to pulling off combos of moves like in the previous Zelda games.
Minecart; another instance of relying too heavily on motion controls. You use the Wii Remote to lean left and right. That alone works. When it comes to switching rails you need to ‘shake the Wii Remote.’ I guess this comes down to vague descriptions of the controls and perhaps some stubbornness on my part. I feel like the term ‘shake the Wii Remote’ can be used to quantify most of the controls and mechanics in the game. This is yet another instance of using the motion controls too much. I feel like the game could have taken a few gestures from the mechanics of the boat which uses the joystick more. I understand that this game uses the Wii Motion Plus, but overuse of it makes the game feel clunky.
Bug Catching; you just feel dumb doing this. It’s bad enough that you’re a grown man that’s catching bugs; the immersion factor here boils down to you basically swiping the remote back and forth attempting to catch virtual bugs. I feel embarrassed controlling a grown man as a grown man who’s out bug collecting. It’s arguably optional, but did this really need to be in the game? Bring back Gold Skulltulas.
Skydiving; skydiving is an annoying little mechanic that isn’t too difficult to use, but if your remote is out of calibration then you end up falling to the ground or out of the sky or you’re forced to call your Loftwing to save you as you try to plummet onto one of the boring islands in the sky. It’s especially a bother to go from the flying controls directly to the skydiving controls right away because you have to mentally prepare yourself for the act of skydiving. After a while you’d think you’d learn how to do it, and I may just be a slow learner but I don’t do the skydiving very often so I always get surprised when I have to do it.
Tightrope/Jostle; tightroping was initially confusing to me. I assumed that it would be similar to the flying controls in the game. When I got to Faron Woods and got on a tightrope for the first time I fell off because I tried holding the remote out in front of me and tilting the remote left and right to balance. Needless to say I fell off, and learned that I had to balance by holding the remote upright and moving forward. I’m just glad that you don’t have to tilt the remote forward or backward to move forward and back. Then comes jostling. One of the most bizarre instructions given to you, the player. By definition it means:
a : to come in contact or into collision
b : to make one’s way by pushing and shoving
How does a kid know what jostle means? It’s also described as to push roughly. But this instruction is given to the player if they get one of the exploding spiky balls on them while they’re on the tightrope. I still don’t know what to do to ‘jostle’ the tightrope that you’re walking on. I just flail the remote around and either I fall off or I effectively ‘jostle’ and knock off the spiky ball which is my biggest enemy in the game.
Bow; the bow worked in Twilight Princess. It worked really well, but it had to be changed to better fit with Skyward Sword because y’know.. Instead of offering another button to zoom in and out, as soon as you draw an arrow you’re immediately jerked around and your sight is zoomed in dramatically. I’d rather have more control over the bow, and it really doesn’t make sense for Link to focus really far into the distance every single time he draws the bow. The mechanics of the bow make me feel like I’m playing Red Steel again. The only part I’m glad about is that you don’t have to move the Wii Remote closer to the screen to zoom in like Red Steel did. It almost seems kind of classless to compare Skyward Sword to Red Steel, but that’s the best example I can draw with my experience with motion controls on the Wii.
Calibration Issues; this goes without saying. At least you can recalibrate your controls when you want to. It happens, and it’s understandable but I’d rather have the ability to remove some motion controls or at least have options that can change the sensitivity of certain mechanics as I play. Offering different control methods or layouts would be great to do.
Rolling Bombs; rolling bombs is one of the most frustrating thing for me to do. I end up physically touching the floor with my Wii Remote to attempt to make Link hold his bomb underhand and assume the bomb rolling position. Then the second most frustrating part is that if you slightly move the remote again to attempt to roll the bomb then it reverts you back to the other bomb positions. If you have to pick up a bomb flower and need to roll it then it doesn’t make sense to have this mechanic that may take so much time to set up when the bomb may explode by the time you get into the bomb rolling position. Once you get the bomb bag this becomes less of an issue, but I still couldn’t get the motion down to a science. Seems petty, but I didn’t want to do this. Link doesn’t need to be bowling with bombs. He had Bombchu’s that did that in older games.
I was spoiled from the beginning of my playthrough of Skyward Sword because I had seen other videos of the game before I started playing. I don’t want to claim I know everything about the details surrounding the story or completely understand it, but I know enough of the game from playing it that there are just things that don’t make sense. I could go ahead and talk about how the Desert could become a lake in the future, the Temple of Time’s location, Gaepora’s relation to Rauru and everything else. But I won’t. I’m going to go ahead and say that this is not a typical Legend of Zelda storyline because of factors that aren’t even the story. The main overall grievance I have with the story is how the other variables in the game affect the way the plotholes fall into the story. For instance, the various races and their interactions, the temples, the way the bosses are played out, and the establishment of Hylia and Demise. I talk about these various issues in their respective areas in the other parts of this article.
I hate how this game decides that it’s going to flip the formula of the Zelda series upside down and sideways. It has three main areas which is perfectly fine. They’re connected by an overworld which is also fine. But it’s always been Forest, Fire, Water. These three things have been a staple in Zelda games for so long. Now we have Forest/Water, Fire, Desert? That’s not fair to Faron for it to pull double duty as the water area as well. Technically the Lanayru area uses water elements as well, but the Faron Woods houses Zoras. This is a no-no. The Gorons are wandering fools who don’t fit the general mold of the Gorons that live in a fiery and warm climate. While not entirely pertaining to the story, these are basic things that should be the most essential parts of a Zelda game. The way that they play out is completely out of order as well. I was willing to overlook the desert, but the storyline had to throw a curveball at me while I played. You progress through the Faron Woods area, then the Eldin Volcano, and the Lanayru Mining Facility third. When you go to revisit the Faron Woods area in search of the Sacred Flame you are guided along slightly by the Water Dragon. I’m fine with that, although a little peeved that the Faron Woods houses the ‘water temple’ of the game. At least it follows the flow of the game and revisits the spots in order, after you go to the Spirit Realm.
So let’s look at this logically now. It would make sense to revisit the Eldin Volcano, go to the Spirit Realm to get some item, find some sort of Fire Dragon, and beat a temple to find the Sacred Flame and improve your sword. Instead, you end up going to Lanayru. Why in the world would you go to the third area after the first area? Why do you not follow the formula that was instituted when you revisit the first zone? It could be seen as petty, but it would make more sense in my eyes if you went to through the zones in order again.
Skyward Sword contains a collection of Unexciting Weapons. We get a Beetle, Slingshot, Whip, Bombs, Bow, Clawshot, Bug Net and Gust Bellows. Some of these weapons seem to come way too early in the game. I feel like I got a few of the weapons earlier than I should have. I also think that I got the bow a tad too late. In some of the Zelda games you got the bow earlier on and it worked. I guess it could be deemed too unbalanced, but Majora’s Mask pulled it off pretty well without the bow being overpowered. The whip was slightly underused and I wish it had more uses in the game other than beating a boss and using it like a grappling hook just a few times. I was expecting the Gust Bellows to work like the Air Jar item in the Minish Cap. The items in truth weren’t too bad, but I wish that I could pack a punch with a few of them or have situations with enemies where I relied on them more or was rewarded for using the items in certain instances. For example, using the grappling hook stole items off of enemies. The whip functions similar to this, but I wish the whip packed a bit more of a punch and followed the lead of the grappling hook. In the next Zelda installment the Boomerang would be a welcome come-back.
Skyloft Townsfolk; the characters in Skyloft are very uninteresting and very unoriginal. There are some quirky characters that I particularly like though like the scrap shop guy, and Batreaux. The Zelda games have been known for creating interesting NPC’s that fill the towns that they inhabit with something interesting to do. It’s cool to see Beedle back, but his antics are a one time deal, and climbing up to his shop becomes a chore. It would be cool to see re-imaginings of other characters from the previous games, The Windwaker, and Twilight Princess. Beedle was re-used from Windwaker, so why not see a few more people pop up in the game. I suppose the timeline could be an issue, but if Beedle shows up in this game which is supposed to be the first one, and he shows up in Windwaker as well which is a title that takes place much much later in the Zelda series then why couldn’t we see characters that bear resemblance to Kafei, Anju, the inhabitants of Castle Town, Kakariko Village or the various islands in Windwaker. It’s cool that new characters were created, but the inhabitants of Skyloft are just so boring. There’s little to do here, and once you finish the three tablets that go into the Temple of the Goddess you find that coming back to Skyloft is more of a chore than anything else. The concept of a paradise here is rather contradictory as well. Why have these mystical flying birds that can take you off of an island that is an ideal paradise? There isn’t really much more to go to in the grand ol’ Sky unless you have a hankering for pumpkin soup.
Fi is the most annoying companion to date. She coddles you in annoying ways at the worst times. Her voice is obnoxious, and she warns you every time your hearts are low. As if blinking red, and hearing the annoying beeping isn’t enough, Fi has to rub it in your face even further. She says the same “autotuned” thing when she pops out of your sword too– “Madi-masha.” I cringe when I hear that.
The races left a bitter taste in my mouth. We have the people of Skyloft which are not called Hylians after the goddess Hylia but worship her and have a statue honoring her. These people have a target painted over at them that screams the name Hylians at them. But no, they’re referred to as humans. They eventually travel to the surface, but it seems odd that they wouldn’t be called Hylians at all.
Kokiri; the Kokiri haven’t been prevalent since Ocarina of Time and it can make sense that they evolved from the race in Skyward Sword called the Kikwi. Similar to the Korok’s which were supposedly the Kokiri that changed into small wooden creatures. I’m alright with the idea of the Kikwi.
Gorons; the poor Goron race is a magical race that is nearly extinct in several games. I feel bad for the way that the developers treat the Gorons by completely changing their lore as the games go on. It would make sense for the Gorons to live in the Eldin Province near their seemingly natural habitat. Instead the Gorons have been relegated to being explorers that visit areas very out of their habitat and it seems like there are only a few of them once again. As one of the surface tribes that are talked about in the game it doesn’t really speak to the Goron race by only showing three of them in the game, and no other area that has them in a large group.
Zoras; there are no Zora’s in this game. A key race that was in the original trinity of the races from each area in Ocarina of Time. How could they not put the Zora’s in this? How could they not have the Zora’s in Lake Hylia or any similar body of water. Well they have these weird little Zora things but they’re in Faron Woods. I’m glad to see that it’s some kind of Zora in the game, but at the same time why would they be in the Faron Woods? The Lanayru area is a desert now so it could be surmised that the Zora’s migrated to the Lanayru area when it filled up with water again. A rather trivial thing but I don’t like the way that they fool around with the races in the games especially the Zora’s which are one of my favorites. I would have been fine if they threw me a bone and the Water Dragon filled the Lanayru Desert with water or something incredibly ludicrous like that. She filled the Faron Woods for seemingly no reason so why not refill up the water in the Lanayru Province which is noted for it’s water.
Robots; initially I had reservations about the robots. I still do, because it doesn’t make sense to have these huge advances in technology in such an early game. However having them all break down in the desert due to their over-mining of the area makes sense. It turning back into a lake during later games doesn’t make as much sense but Lanayru’s terraforming could be a plausible thing. Having a desert that collapses into itself and destroying any of the traces of the robots, and anything else tied to events that happened before the other games makes sense. It totally fits, but here’s my one gripe about the robots. It’s not about the timeshift stones. It’s the simple question of who built these guys? It seems to be completely neglected in the storyline, only with them being said to have supported Hylia when she fought the war against Demise. The creators of the Ancient Robots just raises another mystery that really could have been answered by a simple reason. Perhaps maybe one man created these robots and then they made more versions of themselves? It’s plausible. I cant imagine the Bokoblins making these guys or the mole people.
Mogma; these guys are funny and there’s little to complain about. They kind of fit in to the Minish Cap so I’m fine with the Mogma. It’s assumed that they become extinct and it doesn’t come as a shock because they’re kind of stupid.
Overused character design; the slugs that pop up everywhere are so unoriginal. I can understand maybe seeing them in the water areas while they swim, but seeing them in the sand areas and in lava as well just points to unoriginality. It’s boring to see these same stupid slug things that bob around in water, lava, and sand. If these things have adapted so well to other environments then why do we never see them in other games? If a new race is made at least make them defeatable, or at least give them the ability to become extinct/evolve or change the way they look.
Electrifying characters; it seems to be the hip and cool thing to do. Want to make the enemies more difficult as you play? Just give them electricity and slow the game down even more. Keese are electrified, the aforementioned slugs, Chu Chu’s and Bokoblins. I think I nabbed them all there. It doesn’t help that enemies like Beamos use electricity as well, along with the rolling snails. It’s ok if a few of the enemies use the electric mechanic but leave it to the mini bosses or boss battles. Not every enemy in the game needs an electric makeover to make them feel different. The electric stick wielding Bokoblins are the worst because not only do they use the block mechanic, they use an electrified weapon as well. The added electricity makes me want to use the sword less, and use one of the other weapons that I have to stun them or kill them. If the blocking mechanic and electricity factor was to add challenge to the sword combat, then it did not work at all.
In general, the boss battles in the game are a mixed bag. There are some engaging fights, and then there are some bosses that appear way too much in the game. Ghirahim and the Imprisoned are key examples of bosses that appear way to much. Ghirahim’s character is bizarre and feels like a strange anime cartoony villain that is laughable and has no true threat that is apparent. I feel like Zant was a better pseudo main enemy because he set a tone of true evil and only showed weakness and a different personality after you defeat him and the main enemy is revealed. Ghirahim just starts off being wacky and comes off rather cheesy. You end up fighting him too much, and he has too much control over the bosses that you fight which really removes the threat from them as bosses.
The scorpion boss is used twice in a game which really makes it seem less threatening. You first fight the scorpion Moldearach in the Lanayru Mining Facility as the main boss. In the revisiting of the Lanayru region in search of the Sacred Flame you end up fighting another Moldearach in the Shipyard again. Could the game have been any less original? It’s like if in Ocarina of Time if they just threw Gohma in the Forest Temple without any explanation or care. I could understand if it was a mini boss, but the scorpion was a full fledged boss and it was just dumped into a sandy room which had no story ties or relevance to Moldearch.
There isn’t even a boss in the Skyview Temple. All you do is fight Ghirahim and that’s it. I understand that it’s the first temple in the game and this introduces the guy who follows you around for the whole game, but every other Zelda game followed the general mold that the first dungeon has a boss. It almost seems laughable that you fight Ghirahim here as opposed to a boss that makes you use a specific item that you get from the dungeon. I guess they figured using the Beetle would be dumb to use?
The next two temples give you a boss to fight, why not the first? Scaldera is a fine enemy to fight. It makes you use the bombs that you acquire in the dungeon and you need to use the sword to pierce it’s eye. It fits the general mold of the Zelda games unlike the first temple. The same is true for the Lanayru Mining Facility except for the aforementioned re-appearance of Moldearch. Story elements aside, the main gist of the Zelda games introduces a boss after each dungeon/temple.
Battles with The Imprisoned are just silly. You fight it too many times for it to be worthwhile and semi-challenging or enjoyable. The whole idea is to stop this strange caricature of an enemy from making it to the top of the hill. The design for this weird enemy looks like it belongs in the movie Monsters Inc. and also bears a striking resemblance to the eel boss in Super Mario Sunshine.
Tentalus is another enemy that looks like it belongs in Monsters Inc. The design here is just laughable with this boss. It’s not too difficult to beat, and I suppose it fits into the theme of the boat, but this plays into the whole timeshift stone issue here. Where did this thing come from? The pirate mini-boss was explainable, but this giant monstrosity just doesn’t make sense. The whole invisible boat that has existed on the Great Sand Sea doesn’t make sense as well. How this boat managed to sail through water that only exists in the past is an anomaly. If it makes the sea invisible around the ship then I suppose that’s a bit more viable. What these pirates have been doing for this ridiculous amount of time is beyond me.
The whole concept of Demise is just stupid in my eyes. He’s Ganon, always has been and always will be. I guess this version of Ganon just levitates him up to the status of being super Zelda villain, or Hylia but it raises more flags about the origin of Ganon. He’s said to be the Gerudo king, but the Gerudo haven’t been prominently mentioned in a game and tied to the story since Ocarina of Time. Sure they were in Majora’s Mask but that was in Termina, and in Four Swords Adventures. Arguably the Gerudo are mentioned in the Windwaker but it seems that as the games go on, Ganon’s ties to the Gerudo seem to be diminishing quicker than the magic bar after Windwaker.
-What?! Complaints about the music, but the music in this game is great! Yeah the music is very good. I like the Goddess song and some of the various music in the dungeons and overworked areas. I do not like the music in the Sky.
-I generally don’t like the Sky so this could attribute to my distaste for the music but there’s more behind it. The flow of the Sky is annoying as well. You end up bouncing back and forth through this hub world only to go to the next area or back to Skyloft. This makes the music play over and over again with little variety. With no day/night cycle the music doesn’t change as well. The game doesn’t have a lot of music that relates back to the older games. I’m not saying to copy the music from older games, but maybe a tune or two that is a throwback to music from the older games. This is seen greatly between Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time, but in addition we see this with Windwaker and it’s use of music like in the Forest Haven which uses tones from Sarias Song.
-I think that the Sky music is short and repetitive and the Eldin Volcano music gets annoying very quickly. The music is done very well overall, but I just get sick of it quickly. When I thought that the musical immersion couldn’t be worse than in Twilight Princess which had howling notes, and blowing a whistle for Epona they went ahead and gave you the Goddess Harp.
-Never have I felt more in tune with my inner desire to play the harp. Honestly? The harp? I know that the harp is relevant in the Zelda series, there is little immersion and musical connection from holding A and swinging the Wii Remote back and forth. I feel like there could have been a more intuitive way of using a musical instrument in this game. Giving players back the Ocarina and allowing them to warp with it would have been a welcome addition. I know it’s not too original, but maybe the Ocarina would have had a better resonance with the game. Seeing more music that fits the tone of the game would be great to see in the next Zelda game. As a comparison, Twilight Princess had some great music which fit with the game really well. It may be a twister bias, but I felt that Skyward Sword had some parts where it didn’t quite know what it wanted to be where the music melded with the game.
All-together; a lot of these qualms about the game are minor grievances and issues that shouldn’t have been in the game. Do I like Skyward Sword? Yes. Do I like it as a Zelda game? No. I’ve been known to not like games that have motion controls in them. The reason behind that dislike for motion controls is because they are becoming too heavily used and in my experiences they hinder the gameplay experience for me. I’m a gamer that prefers a joystick to use and buttons to press that perform actions. Motion controls are a new thing for me, and I’m sure that other gamers share at least a few of the issues that I’ve listed here. Obviously I overplayed some of them a bit much, but I feel like there is some merit in what I’ve said here. I don’t claim to know all of the lore behind the Zelda games, and I have a basic understanding of the timeline, and various theories that others have proposed. I have my own reservations about The Legend of Zelda series that conflict heavily with the way that other people think about the game. Go ahead and take this article with a grain of salt and think about it before you write something hateful about what I’ve said or how horribly wrong I am about something. My opinion of the game will not change, because everything I’ve stated pertains to the experience of the game through my eyes and with the Wii Motion Plus.
Thanks for the image Nintendo!
Also please don’t give me a lot of hate mail
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