Ready to take up a sword and shield and rescue the princess? Nintendo released the long anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii, the first Zelda game created exclusively for the system. Dress in your finest green armor, we are off to adventure.
After the creation of Hyrule, the Triforce was entrusted to a deity known as Hylia. Soon she learned a demon king named Demise had gathered an army of creatures to take the Triforce from her. She created a series of floating islands, called Skyloft, to keep the Triforce and the Hylian people safe while she battled Demise and his army. Assembling an army of her own from the remaining tribes, she fought and defeated Demise, sealing him away.
Many centuries later, a Hylian named Link began having nightmares of an evil creature. Before the creature can strike a final blow, Link is awakened by a message delivered from his childhood friend Zelda. It is a reminder that today is the day he is to compete in the Wing Ceremony. Winning the ceremony will promote him to the senior class, on his way to knighthood. As he prepares for the ceremony, he finds that his Loftwing, a large bird that every Hylian receives to travel between the islands of Skyloft, is missing. Link learns that Groose, a rival classmate jealous of Link's friendship with Zelda, has hidden Link's rare Crimson Loftwing in a small cave system on the island.
After recovering his Loftwing, Link participates in and wins the Wing Ceremony. As per tradition, Zelda, playing the part of the goddess Hylian, presents Link with a Sailcloth that she made herself. With the ceremony over Zelda and Link take a celebratory flight when suddenly a tornado strikes. It sucks Zelda down through the cloud layer and knocks Link far away.
When Link recovers he finds he is in his bed while Zelda's father, Gaepora, stands nearby. Link relates what happened and Gaepora tells him it is too late to go out searching and that they will go out first thing in the morning. That night Link is visited by a spirit named Fi. She summons Link to a hidden room inside goddess Hylia statue. There she reveals herself to be a spirit that lives on the Goddess Sword kept in the room. She says Link the chosen one and has him draw the sword. As he draws and activates the sword a map tablet fragment is also activated that opens a hole in the cloud layer below Skyloft. Dressing in his new green knight's uniform Link takes flight for a place no Hylian has ever been, the Surface.
So as to not spoil the story I will stop here.
Controls and Gameplay
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword requires Wii Motion Plus to play the game. This wasn't the case until Wii Sports Resort showed what could be done with the Motion Plus technology. With Wii Motion Plus, the swordplay in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is very simple and intuitive. With the sword drawn Link moves his sword with a 1:1 movement to how you move the Wiimote; make a slashing motion to the right, Link makes a slashing motion to the right, thrust forward and Link thrusts forward. It works very well.
Unfortunately, somewhere between the swordplay and the other weapon controls of aiming and looking around, the Wiimote will slip out of alignment. You may suddenly find that to aim straight ahead you actually have to point the Wiimote up or off to one side or the other. The developers noticed this and built in a quick-key to re-center the Wiimote. While it's not a huge problem, the need to re-center happens enough to make it slightly annoying. Otherwise the controls are pretty solid.
The gameplay for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is classic Zelda adventuring. Exploring strange lands, caves and temples, fighting creatures, finding treasures, and eventually facing a final boss in an epic battle.
Graphics and Sound
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword takes a graphical approach somewhere between "Twilight Princess" and "Wind Waker." The characters and creatures are more realistic than in "Wind Waker," but still have a cell-shaded quality. The backgrounds and other elements are the real treat here. They are rendered in artistic, almost watercolor style.
Not only does it make it look very nice, but it helps hide any pixelation. Unfortunately they did not do this watercolor style with the characters and creatures. Pixelation "jaggies" are easily seen on the edges of them. Still, the graphics are probably the best I have ever seen on the Wii.
The sound for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was also given a great amount of care. The music, while familiar for long-time Zelda players, has some freshness throughout the game. Sound effects and minimal voice work will be familiar to longtime fans, with new touches popping up.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series, so to say the pressure for the development team of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was huge is an understatement. It has a good story that reveals some background to some of the series mainstays, such as the Master Sword, are like a thank you long time Zelda fans and yet is accessible enough to draw in new fans. I believe they have lived up to quality of the series.
While The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an excellent game, it does have some faults, like the aforementioned Wiimote control slip. One is downright game breaking. A specific quest, if done in a certain order, will corrupt the save game file, making the player either have to load an earlier save or start the game completely over. Nintendo currently has a workaround (linked here) and is rolling out a patch soon to fix it.
The last fault I give the game regards Fi, the spirit in the sword. I know she is supposed to help guide Link and in turn, the player, but like other spirits and fairies before her she can become very annoying. Often stating the obvious, telling me my health is low after I can see and hear it is, and telling me solutions after I have performed them. They never quite rise to the level of Navi from "Ocarina of Time," but still annoying.
Otherwise The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is another classic in the series. When Nintendo patches the game, I can see it easily being a " must have" with only minor annoyances. I give The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a 4 out of 5.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is rate E10+ for Everyone 10 and older for Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is available now exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. For more information see The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword web site.