June 7, 2019
My last article here on TGPZ was all about my least favorite Zelda games, and boy did I have some opinions. It was a little hard to write, since I basically had to denigrate great games for the sake of putting them into a top 5 list… or perhaps a bottom 5 list. The one I felt I was harshest on was Skyward Sword, which I ranked second to the bottom. I mean technically I bagged on Adventure of Link harder, but I didn’t feel as bad about it because that game IS actually terrible. Skyward Sword is among my favorite Wii games, and it brought a ton to the table despite falling short of what I believe makes Zelda games great. Today I’m going to go over what I really love about the game to make up for trashing it in the last article. The game legitimately deserves love, so here’s my two cents.
Despite being easy and often repetitive, the combat in Skyward Sword was some of the most refined in the series. Watching Link follow the movements of my golden Wii Remote in a Master Sword jacket made for some of the happiest moments of my inner-nerd’s life. The feeling of holding the sword in my hand was incomparable. No other game has immersed me in combat quite like this. Some overall experiences are better in my opinion, but the 1:1 tracking made for something unique and memorable to say the least.
Along with this, the enemy designs, though often similar to fight, looked great and absolutely captured the essence of their surroundings. Skulltulas were intimidating, Gleeok’s first 3D appearance was intimidating, and even simple Moblins and Stalfos felt fresh even after (at the time) nearly twenty years of fighting them. Beyond returning foes, bosses such as Moldarach, sub-bosses such as Scervo, and original creatures such as the Trial Guardians, the game had a lot to offer. Not everything was a gem, but it didn’t have to be. The overwhelming majority of monster designs were spot-on, creating a depth of immersion that was only broken by a few REALLY bad eggs.
While I don’t care for many elements in the story, namely the tween love triangle that takes up a large portion of the narrative, it has quite a bit going for it. The creation of the Master Sword was an important arc for not only the game, but the series as well, since obviously one of the most powerful artifacts in Hyrule’s history is worthy of its own story. In fact, another important thing is created in this game, being Hyrule itself. In terms of lore, no game adds more to the Legend of Zelda series than Skyward Sword. I love Zelda lore, and the mark this game made on it is as undeniable as it is indescribable. It clicks together so many other pieces of lore in the series like a puzzle, shedding light on the reason for recursive themes and characters, and LINKS each game together like never before, whether you use the official timeline or not.
Finally, despite having one of the weakest overworlds, my exploration itch that only Zelda can scratch is easily expunged by excellent dungeons. Every one had a unique setup that fit the world well and never felt out of place. Even seemingly cliche dungeon themes like fire and water turned into masterpieces, overshadowing all but the best the series has to offer, and no other series can even compete. From rolling on a sphere through lava while dodging Lizalfos attacks to revisiting rooms in different orders to complete a slide-puzzle, there was a ton going on to keep you entertained as well as stumped on some of the more clever puzzles. And of course, if I’m talking dungeons, it simply wouldn’t do to let the Sandship go unmentioned. This is perhaps the best 3D Zelda dungeon of all time, and the key to that is time itself. The timeshift stones, as cool as they were, found the absolute best use out on the sea of dunes. Entering the dungeon using a timeshift-powered speed boat was cool enough, then using the stones bit-by-bit to explore new (and old) areas and finally a duel ON THE PLANK with a ROBOT PIRATE solidifies this as my favorite dungeon in the game. Honestly the only thing holding this place back is the most disappointing boss in series history, and that’s like if Big Ben had a black smudge across the number eleven. It’s still one of the most spectacular manmade wonders ever conceived.
All right, am I off the hook for roasting the game last week? I like it, okay? It’s far from the best Zelda game ever to me, but it is absolutely worthy of the series’ moniker, and I love it. I still have my issue of Nintendo Power with Skyward Sword on the cover on display at my house, as well as my previously mentioned Golden Wii Remote. I love nigh on everything about this game, just a handfull of gripes can’t escape my mind when I think about it.
What do you think, though? Was I right to criticize this game? Does it deserve the flack it gets, from me as well as many others in the online community? Is it the greatest game ever made and us Ocarina nuts are just blinded by nostalgia goggles? Drop a comment down below or hit me up on Twitter or the Two Guys Playing Zelda Discord server and the conversation can continue to paddle!