Skyward Sword is set around the time when Zelda was a teenager and Link was going through his Justin Bieber phase. They both live on a floating chunk of land called Skyloft, which is a beautiful, idyllic place where everyone has a bird “guardian” to fly on. Skyward Sword’s graphics have a soft, illustrated look that’s inviting. The exotic musical score is amazing and familiar sound effects will make Zelda fans feel right at home. Instead of using voices, the characters murmur to displayed text, and that’s a good idea. New concepts are gradually introduced and motion controls are used extensively.

I wouldn’t call the sword controls “precise”, but it’s fun to slice through ropes, cut down trees, and target unprotected body parts. Other interesting motions let you “bowl” bombs and guide a remote-controlled flying beetle. It’s cool how that beetle can actually pick up and drop items – like bombs. Other motion moves are more tedious than exciting, like tightrope walking or “dowsing” for hidden items. You might expect heavy use of motion would make the controls more intuitive, but that’s not the case. There’s a lot of stuff to remember and the motion detection can be temperamental. Strenuous moves like pushing, running, and climbing drain your stamina gauge, so you can only perform these in measured bursts. This forces you to be deliberate in your actions.

The overall design of the game is extremely clever, and I like how easy it is to travel between Skyloft and the various ground locations. The dungeons incorporate a lot of original ideas but some rely on subtle visual cues like cracks in walls that are really hard to see. I often found myself wishing there was an “on the fly” camera control, which might have prevented me from walking into lava so much. Skyward Sword takes a while to gain traction, so you need to invest a few hours before that classic Zelda “magic” kicks in. Save points come in the form of ubiquitous bird statues. Skyward Sword can be a little slow at times, but it’s such a well-constructed adventure that you’ll want to stick with it.

Used by permission © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.



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