Game Review

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

A legend redefined

In a way The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has very little riding on it: the Wii has already enjoyed huge success, with a library of critically acclaimed Nintendo games selling millions around the world. Its motion controls — dubbed a 'revolution' back in 2005 — have arguably inspired competitor formats to adopt their own kinetic controllers, yet no title on Kinect or PlayStation Move can hold a candle to the artistry of Skyward Sword.

So much of the pre-release discussion centred on the MotionPlus-powered combat, and it doesn't disappoint: the add-on lets you slash in eight cardinal directions and stab with a forward lunge, but it's Nintendo's manipulation of these attack options that most impresses. At first you'll easily overcome a Bokoblin's weak parries; later its defences are electrified, upping the risk and slowing the pace of combat. Enemies grow in size, strength and attack pattern complexity, but each succumbs to a keen eye and articulate wrist: opponents are small physical puzzles to conquer, transforming combat into a more calculated pursuit than ever before.

MotionPlus isn't just a way to make the sword fights more engaging though: it informs the game's entire design, from transportation to inventory management. Real-time item selection is intuitive, with no need for the Remote's infra-red pointer, and using them is just as satisfying: Wii Sports Resort fans will relish the opportunity to put their archery skills to a real challenge, and rolling bombs, twisting your wrist to curl the shot, is a small but joyful touch. Other items call to mind past Nintendo titles — not necessarily Zelda — as if the game is a culmination of years of Nintendo design and ideas, all brought to new life by motion controls.

Link himself is revitalised too: newly athletic, he dashes up steep inclines and scrabbles up walls to grab switches, a stamina gauge limiting his exertions. He's also more expressive than many of his other incarnations, except perhaps his Wind Waker interpretation: ever silent, his facial expressions and gestures lend him personality, and facial close-ups when entering a dungeon find perfect moments of courage that sum up Link over the ages.

Skyward Sword also superbly stirs the spirit of adventure and heroism that defines the series: in and out of combat, no other series makes you feel as heroic. Forget whistling for a horse or sailing the sea in a big red boat: leaping off an airborne island and being whisked off by a giant red bird is the only way to get around. Skyloft is a compact set of floating islands that smartly uses the extra vertical space to give a sense of exploration without ever feeling vast and empty, a problem that's sometimes blighted previous series entries. Most brilliant is the treasure system: in a smart inversion of Wind Waker's aquatic chests, artefacts found on the surface send treasure up to Skyloft, often on islands where smaller puzzles stand between you and the prize.

This meshing of sky and surface extends to the three main areas on solid land: Eldin Volcano, Lanayru Desert and Faron Woods. Whereas previous Zelda titles send you to each area once or perhaps twice, you'll continually revisit these locales with a new objective or item, keeping exploration focused and concise. The boundaries between field and dungeon are more blurred too: fields aren't just areas to travel across, but often provide as many challenges and as much combat as any temple. It would have been easy to produce a wide world of places you only visit once, but instead there’s content stacked up high, letting you drill down through the layers to reveal something new each time.

The areas justify repeat visits, too: Lanayru Desert is one of the most stunning landscapes the series has ever produced, an audacious concept at its centre providing breathtaking moments of creativity, themes that unite the series coming together in a series of stunning puzzles. That's to say nothing of the final dungeon, an incredible piece of ingenuity even by Nintendo standards.

The smaller number of areas and the ease with which you travel sews everything together tightly. New to Skyward Sword is the addition of save points in the form of bird statues which also function as warp points of sorts; find one in a field and you can head straight back to the sky, but most pleasing is the ability to do the opposite. When you dive into an area you can select a previously accessed statue as your starting point, whittling away unnecessary legwork and repetition: a seemingly small change, but one that makes a huge improvement. This approach to dungeons sums the game up perfectly: each return visit reveals something different to do, putting a new spin on familiar territory.

It's not just the refined structure and motion controls that freshen the experience: the new graphical style makes Twilight Princess look drab and dingy by comparison, and rarely has the Wii performed better. Using a brush stroke effect to dapple distant objects and areas isn't just a smart way to work around the Wii's limitations: it's a subtly beautiful effect that shows high definition isn't the be-all and end-all. Flying towards Skyloft to see its mottled landmarks come into clear detail is a breathtaking moment, and the texture work, palette and use of light and shade throughout is second to none: liquids glisten like in Super Mario Galaxy, and there are even spots for you to take a seat and admire the view.

Accompanying the visuals is a rich and expressive score, the central melody rousing and versatile enough to rival the series' famous theme. Composition has always been a Zelda strong point, but as with the visuals it's the way music is deconstructed and deployed that impresses: arrangements subtly change as you explore Skyloft's gardens and bazaar, for instance. Use of a real orchestra for the first time in the series elevates the audio to another level; a better expression of Hajime Wakai and team's audio compositions, just as the graphical style enhances the game's visual design.

Most importantly, though, Skyward Sword feels new: as the very beginning of the official timeline it's got scope to introduce or ignore elements that later games rely on. This is no retread of past glories: familiar species are limited to one or two, augmented by a cast of new characters that create new memories instead of playing on old ones. Similarly, puzzles mostly escape the series' fondness for repetition: there's no torch-lighting, no statue-pushing and absolutely no sliding blocks over ice. There are still familiar elements, of course — when you see an eye in Zelda, it can only mean one thing — but they're repurposed and refined, maintaining the ability to surprise.

Bosses reflect this approach too: the second blends Gohma and Dodongo but comes up with something new and genuinely exciting. Repeated battles against the demonic Lord Ghirahim also switch up the formula each time, but each maintains its focus on sword fighting skill, with the final match-up as intense and demanding as any in the series. The end boss — while doing our best to remain spoiler-free — is a fitting climax for the game and start to the rest of the series.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a game of stunning creativity: the work of master craftsmen and women, it's a breathtaking technical achievement in many ways, with subtly beautiful visuals and audio blending with rampantly imaginative design. It's as good a Zelda game as we've ever played, and one that fully delivers on the revolution Nintendo promised back in 2005.

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User Comments (211)



ThomasBW84 said:

Great review James

It's pleasing that a combination of innovation and solid Zelda gameplay is fused so well. I haven't been this hyped about a game since Mario Galaxy 2, and I hope this title achieves the success it deserves. Poor old Super Mario 3D Land is getting so little focus from me in the hype stakes, my mind is purely on Zelda!



SpaceKappa said:

Fantastic review, James! I'm DYING to play it myself. I know how rare it is to see 10s given out around here and it just seems to solidify all the great things everyone's been saying. It needs to be Sunday, like, NOW.



GigaFlanMan said:

Read the review in it's entirety, absolutley glad that it dosen't disappoint from your point of view. Will gladly purchase this masterpiece upon day one of it's release. Again, fantastic review James



Radbot42 said:

I heard the game was supposed to last anywhere from 50 to 100. it's sad to hear the game fell short of the minimum



NintyMan said:

I know I'll get flamed for this, but this game sounds better than Ocarina of Time, and I'll certainly believe that when I play it this Christmas. When even Nintendo themsevles calls it one of their biggest undertakings, you know this is going to be a gem of a game. I've grown to like the Zelda series over the year, but I'm sure that if I was a Zelda fan since my childhood then I would be all over Skyward Sword. However, this game will definitely leave an impression on me right now. What a way to celebrate Zelda's 25th Anniversary!



johnhood said:

Nintendo manages to produce a prequel worthy of one of the greatest storied franchises ever. Can't wait.



James said:

@zranoll Bear in mind I was racing through it to finish it for a review — I played 34 hours in three days! — but a friend of mine finished it in 44. Remember the old adage "your mileage may vary".



NinjaMario said:

Yay!!!!! Awesomeness!!! My copy will get shipped on the 20th. oh well I just gotta wait... Awesome review!!!



Samholy said:

i dont own a Wii....
ill borrow my friend's Wii for this title, when he will be done.

nintendo is always true to themselves. homebrew titles are always masterpieces. or almost (mario sunshine, im looking at you)



bahooney said:

Sunday can't come soon enough. As a direct prequel to OoT, I don't doubt that this might even top it!



SLiM said:

I am really looking forward to playing this game. I loved the graphic style of Wind Waker and the music in this game sounds amazing. I will also be enjoying that golden Wii remote and the soundtrack



pixelman said:

Nintendo's on the roll! I just wish my wallet was too... haha...
great review James but I agree with Chicken.



thanos316 said:

ign gave this game a 9.5, and said it was the best zelda yet. then 1up gave it a b plus. now ur giving it a 10. i think imma go with ur review. right after i finish xenoblade imma take on zelda. ive played zelda games since i was a young boy. now i gotta play the best of the best. forget about cod, battlefield, assasins creed, this is the game of the holiday season



Spoony_Tech said:

Thank you James for rushing through this review. Now go play it again and slow it down and enjoy what you might have missed!!

@Nintyfan Why would you get flamed for saying that. All games are up to be knock done from their number one spots! Yes OoT is my favorite game of all time but I'm with you on the fact that I'm thinking this will finally replace that masterpiece. It only took 13 years but they finally might have. I also thought wind waker was close to doing that and in many ways did topple OoT. Can't wait to play this and I think I'm just going to take my time!!



Rensch said:

Judging from reviews, this one really seems even better than the magnificent Ocarina of Time.



Shiryu said:

The game was released today along with "Super Mario 3D Land" in Portugal! Can't wait to get home tonight!



Bigdog said:

@Thanos IGN gave it a 10. Called it a masterpiece and better than OoT. Just helping your argument here.

But quite honestly, I enjoyed this review better than all others. It was like one big love letter to all Zelda fans anxious to appreciate this game.

1up gave the lowest review I've seen with their b+. Which really puts it in perspective, doesn't it? Even for those that found "complaints", they were opinionated (stuff that depends on the type of game you particularly enjoy) and not matter-of-fact stuff that can't be looked over. (Like bad controls. Bad graphics, silly story telling/acting, boring game-play) I can't wait till this weekend.



warioswoods said:

It's the usual Nintendo cycle we've seen in recent years:

(1) Nintendo comes up with a new kind of hardware (Motion Plus, 3DS) and crafts a few simple games in order to briefly yet meticulously enumerate all the new things you can do with it (Wii Sports Resort, Steel Diver / Pilotwings).

(2) Then, they sit back and wait for 3rd parties to learn by example and carry these new possibilities into other, more substantial games and genres.

(3) That never happens, and 3rd party developers show themselves to be consistently inept at handling new ideas or following Nintendo's lead.

(4) Finally, Nintendo has to step up again and just do it themselves, creating a sweeping game that shows how the new tech should have been handled all along, and proving that you can make big, traditional games on the new hardware that take advantage of all the unique capabilities (Skyward Sword, Mario 3D Land).

I just wish they'd skip steps (2) and (3) in the future. 3rd party developers will always disappoint when asked to think outside the box, or even just when asked to make use of new tools and tech, even when the capabilities have been demonstrated at length.



naut said:

Thank you NL for another great review. I needed that after the abomination that was GS's review.



James said:

@shworange That's just the storyline: I was really racing through it and barely touched the side quests or minigames, though I really wanted to!



The_Fox said:

Can this game get rid of the stain on the franchise caused by Twilight Princess? Judging by the reviews I've been reading I certainly hope so.



warioswoods said:


Reviews of Twilight Princess were even more unanimous in praise:

IGN: one of the finest games I have ever played

1UP (who gave SS only a B+): takes all its predecessors' raw ideas, perfects them



Robo-goose said:

Enjoying your first 10/10, James? After seeing so many 80's on metacritic, I was afraid that SS wouldn't be as good as I had hoped.
I now have no doubts.



SPEtheridge said:

Cant wait to play this hopefully this will be amazing was little disappointed with twilight princess, well not long now till im locked away playing



Megumi said:

...So lemme get this straight...Ganon is REALLY not in this game, right? xD
Does that...weirdo have some "true form" at the end or what? lol

Don't spoil it, am I right or wrong? xD



blackknight77 said:

I'm not a reviewer, but I loved Windwaker, Twilight Princess and I'm sure I will love this game too. Gonna be a good Christmas



SPEtheridge said:

yes I remember that it was getting loads of amazing reviews felt bit let down bout half way through, the game world just felt empty and barren and a bit of a retread,it was a great game just didn't match up in my opinion with the praise but hopefully the new controls and setting rectify this



JamieO said:

Absolutely magical, what a send off for the Wii and a Christmas treat for Nintendo gamers.

It was also cool to read @James' recent Tweets as he was progressing through Skyward Sword, I think he must have chained himself to his desk and played this game for 34 hours straight, with little bits of kip in-between.

Hats off, Mr Newton! I am overloaded with games at the moment and as I don't have 40-odd hours to spare I probably won't buy this on day one, but it was a joy to read this review.

I am going to savour this game during a quiet period in 2012, so I will definitely be returning to this review for a second read, when I am ready to dedicate serious time to this wonderful new Zelda.



The_Fox said:

That's fine and all but I don't think I've personally ever met a person that wasn't let down by TP. The Zelda games have set the bar so high anything below excellent is disappointing.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@thanos316 Well it says B+ on the 1up site but if you check Metacritic the score is actually a 83 for 1up. They probably use a different score bracket for their grades then what some people are accustomed to.

Gamespot has the lowest score at 75 and their main gripe about it seems to be that Skyward Sword uses the Zelda formula.



warioswoods said:


You haven't met me, evidently. I honestly enjoyed playing TP more than I've ever enjoyed playing OoT, even in 3DS remake form (which is fun, but not gripping). Midna is hands-down the best character in Zelda, and the narrative atmosphere was handled far better than the old sages-and-ancient-seals-doth-thou fare from past games that always feels like bad fantasy fiction.

Note that I played it for the first time at least a year after the vocal internet decriers turned on the game, so I went in with an open mind, having heard both praise and criticism aplenty.



Kid_A said:

The best-written review of the game I've read. Fantastic work, James.
While I'm thinking about it, @James:
What do think is going on with GameSpot's review? They seem to say the exact opposite of most critics--claims of inconsistent, frustrating controls, having to constantly recallibrate. Baffling. Is there any outside factor that effects Wii Motion+ that we know of? That's the only thing I can think of.



warioswoods said:


Is there any outside factor that effects Wii Motion+ that we know of? That's the only thing I can think of




ThomasBW84 said:

@Kid_A - James can obviously talk from experience, but having watched the GameSpot video review it looked like the guy was waggling the remote like an idiot. In fact at one point he even said that weaker enemies can be defeated by a lot of waggling.

If the whole point of the combat system and MotionPlus is to provide a more authentic feel of swordplay, which seems to be the suggestion in the vast majority of reviews, then it probably calls for composed, accurate swipes. I suspect if you waggle the remote like a maniac you throw out the MotionPlus calibration, but you don't 'waggle' a real sword!

Anyhoo, it's telling that only one review (that I've seen, anyway) complained about the controls in this way, with a handful of others saying the controls work well with the 'occasional' re-calibration.




I want to cry tears of joy. Nintendo do it AGAIN. Keep your PSBOX cinematic, soulless gaming - give me Skyward Sword



JonWahlgren said:

A little too excited for this. Very jealous you've experienced it already! Although maybe not so much that you had to power through it like that — can't wait to explore it at leisure.



sc100 said:

EGM's review is the only one I've read besides the GameSpot one that complains about the controls. All of the other reviews praise the controls to a great degree. GameSpot usually gives lower scores than the other review sites, regardless of the system. They''re pretty harsh critics over there. They give 10s about as often as Halley's Comet comes around.



mushroomer said:

i just wish link wouldnt look so stiff walking around.. add some secondary motion.. and momentum.. learn from Ico and Shadow of Colossus.. and expand upon those gems!!!



rjejr said:

2 comments I'ld like to comment on:
"there's no torch-lighting, no statue-pushing and absolutely no sliding blocks over ice."
I find it impossible to believe that ANY 3rd person adventure game doesn't have statue pushing or torch lighting. Just finished Darksiders (fun violent Zelda clone) and that was half he game.

"When you dive into an area you can select a previously accessed statue as your starting point, whittling away unnecessary legwork and repetition:"
I hate backtracking. I enjoy revisiting a place to look for hidden treasure, but I don't want to spend 20 minutes getting there. All games need portals, airships, transporters, whatever. Sooooo glad to read this.
I was also a bit thrown by the 34 hour game length, but I'ld much rather play 34 hours w/ teleporters than 40 w/o and having to backtrack on foot.
Thanks for the review, I've finally decided to get this game on Sunday.



Collinhall said:

I think this is like the 6th 10/10 score Skyward Sword has gotten! I can't wait for my bundle to come it WOOP!



nintygaming said:

There's no way, just no way possible for this game or any future Zelda game to ever exceed or be better than The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES).

A Link To The Past was literal, flawless perfection. Its not possible to get any better than perfection. Yes there may be another "perfect" Zelda in the future that matches the flawlessness of A Link To The Past, but that's as far as it will go, as there's no way to be better than perfect.



SunnySnivy said:

Amazing review!

How long has it been since a Zelda game has been this well received?

I'm so exicted to play this game myself..



Haxonberik said:

I cant believe gamespot gave it a 7.5 (that makes me remember me why I hate them). Someone needs to stop playing good games out there. Anyway no reviews nor scores will change my opinion of the game when I finally play it on Christmas.



Chrono_Cross said:

I hope this doesnt come to a Twilight Princess sucks or not debate.

@James Legendary review my friend. Definitely what I wanted to read. But in an honest opinion do you think Skyward Sword is better than Ocarina of Time?



James said:

@Viewtiful_Joe I deliberately wanted to avoid that question I do say in the review it's "as good a Zelda game" as there's ever been: as for better, I don't know, but I think it's absolutely superb.

RE: MotionPlus controls, I honestly had to calibrate it maybe two or three times in the whole time I was playing it. I found it massively more comfortable than most other Wii games: having M+ means you don't need to point at the TV to select things, so you can play however's comfortable. I spent most of my 34 hours sat on the sofa with my arms crossed pointing away from the TV, and was very comfortable indeed.



FonistofCruxis said:

This looks amazing and it looks like it might be even better than Wind waker and Majora's mask which are respectively my second favourite and favourite Zelda games.



shinesprite said:

Honestly, I could've predicted this score almost a year and a half ago, when it was first on display at E3 2010. now to read the review XD



Majoras_Wrath said:

I don't know if this was addressed already, but I heard you can't freely swing your sword like you can in every other Zelda game. Is this true? That's half the fun in Zelda!



James said:

@ThunderSTM What do you mean exactly? You can swing whenever you want, as often as you want, in one of eight cardinal directions, plus a stab and two spin attacks too. In fact, if you want to cut some of the grass or flowers down low you have can't just swing horizontally, you have to use the right swing, which is pretty cool.



Punny said:

Amazing. This is going to be a great holiday season. This, 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7 are going to make me happy campers. I can't wait to play this masterpiece. The review was well-written, too.



Majoras_Wrath said:

@James Thanks, I read that you could only swing your sword at enemies with a lock on thing, and that had me concerned. Not concerned enough not to buy it, but this is my first motionplus game and I thought that I wouldn't be able to use the cool technology that I've never experienced to its maximum. Thanks for clearing it up!



GlasS said:

That's a lot of chins dude @ Zeeroid

I was just thinking, Nintendo time and time again proves that it can make a game RIDICULOUSLY good, but it does kind of take timid steps into 'the future' and doesn't really redefine anything.

My proof?

This could have been a different game. It was Zelda.

Two or three mario games coming out in the Christmas season.

Basically, they don't like to take risks, and that's understandable for a massive company like Nintendo, especially after having financial issues with the 3DS. They always put TONS of effort into their four staple platformers- Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Kirby- and other games that people have already heard of, but it's been a while since they put Mario effort into a NEW concept. While it's understandable that Nintendo is surging out Mario's and Zelda's and Sonic's, etc., while they recover financially, I would personally be dissapointed if, in the next five years that the 3ds and Wii-U are all the rage, Nintendo doesn't get a 10/10 in some brand new, completely original game.

Jus' sayin'.



pntjr said:

I want it, but i don't have the money.
Plus, I wanna play ONE Zelda game at a time.
I still can't beat the Water Temple on OoT3D!
Oh well...

Nice reivew, James!



BenAV said:

Great review James!

Can't wait to pick this one up as well as Super Mario 3D Land at midnight on Wednesday night here in Australia.
Gotta find something to fill the time for another week.



Chrono_Cross said:

@James Well thats a good enough answer for me.

And excellent. Now I dont have to stand or be slouched over playing a Wii game that has actually motion controls anymore.



Henmii said:

Nice review and nice score! I just knew Nintendolife would give it a 10!

However, it seems reviewers aren't that fond anymore about the Zelda-series. Spirit tracks dipped below the 90% mark, wich I find a real pity since it's awesome! Now Skyward sword has 94% and I think it will go down even more!

I find that a pity since I think Zelda should always be at the top! Anyway, Twilight princess did dissapoint me a bit. Hopefully I like this one better! Tommorow I know!



Wheels2050 said:

Excellent! I'm looking forward to playing this - after some (gentle) persuasion my wife is getting it for me for Christmas.

Should be good!



timp29 said:

13 100's on metacritic. It's at 95 which puts it one point behind twilight princess.
I thoroughly enjoyed twilight princess, but I have the feeling that I will enjoy Skyward Sword even more. (as long as all this hype doesn't get my expectations up!)



AirCop said:

To anyone worrying about the length of the quest - don't.

I've got 42 hours on my save file - that's playing at a reasonable pace, journey to 1st Temple, 1st Temple, Hour or so of side-quests, journey to 2nd Temple, etc.

I'm now near the end (hard to say exactly how close, but the final acts are close to playing out), so should have it all wrapped up, and maybe 100%, in about 50 hours.

That should be enough for anyone.

The game has not put a foot wrong, graphically, or in terms of the game play, in the previous 42 hours, and I'm not expecting it to, in the several that remain.

So relax, you are in the hands of experts, indeed of craftsmen, as the reviewer put it. It looks, sounds, and plays brilliantly.



Supremeist said:

Awesome, awesome review. I can't wait to give Skyward Sword a shot. It's a Zelda game.. a 10/10 (as expected).. What's not to love?

For those of you who have played the game:
Does it top OoT at all or not?



Odnetnin said:

This seems like the best of Wind Waker (my favorite Zelda game) plus OoT 3D (my second-favorite Zelda game) combined, which = best Wii game ever, maybe best game ever period.



Adam said:

Midna was great. I thought Twilight Princess was the best of the 3D games. but I didn't like Ocarina of Time much in either of its forms, so this isn't huge praise. I do wish in retrospect that I had played the Cube version because wagattack was tiresome.

Thanks for the review, NL. Like so many other Nintendo fans, I wasn't sure that this game was really for me.



timp29 said:

Nintendo of Australia sucks... they're making us wait until the 24th of November



komicturtle said:

Kirby Wii is bettar :3

In seriousness, I wish this game came out sooner to demonstrate how to properly use motion controls. It's always up to Nintendo to set things straight when it comes to their own consoles.



NintyMan said:

@EdwardsBoyToy: The reason why I said, "I know I'll get flamed for this" is because of retro-spectacled fans who still highly regard Ocarina of Time as one of the best games ever. It's still a wonderful game, but Skyward Sword will be better. Anyone after playing it would feel the same, and I believe I will. Nostalgia only goes so far.



FonistofCruxis said:

@James While this looks like a fantastic game, my main concern is the apparent lack of variety in locations as I've heard that there are only four main locations which are Skyloft, Eldin volcano, Lanayru desert and the forest area. Is this true?



kobe1724 said:

I have it preordered at GameStop! (albeit it's just the game; I figured I could just use the Wii Motion Plus add-on from Wii Sports Resort) Unfortunately, I can't pick it up until Monday Oh well, I can last one day...I think.



FluttershyGuy said:

Wow... This sounds like perhaps the best Zelda ever! Sunday can't come quickly enough! Oh wait, I have an essay I haven't even started on. It can come too quickly.



WolfRamHeart said:

Fabulous review James. I had a feeling that this game was going to be amazing and I am very happy to see that it lives up to expectations. I am really looking forward to playing this. I hope that my order from Amazon gets here soon.



antdickens said:

I won't really get to play this until middle of December... due to a upcoming holiday. doh!



James said:

@mariofanatic128 They're the basic starting areas if you will but each has different temples/areas branching off from it: you're not just retreading the same ground each time



RedYoshi999 said:

I do believe this will become my new favourite Zelda game! (Majora's Mask previously) Waiting until Christmas will be the hardest wait of all!!



Link245 said:

Did anyone expect anything less than 10? I can't wait for this game, all the reviews are talking about how this is the best Zelda yet!



Tetsuo_808 said:

@James "Use of a real orchestra for the first time in the series..." I'm sure Twilight Princess had already set the precedent in this regard?

Nice review. I've had my doubts about this one based on what's been shown of it over the past few years, but I'm now more positive. It looks as though Nintendo are one step ahead of us all, as usual.



James said:

@Tetsuo_808 It's my understanding that this is the first time Nintendo has recorded a live orchestra for the main soundtrack — certainly this story suggests that — and I always thought TP's music was digitally created, not orchestral recordings.



outrun2sp said:

I cant take the way that the wii looks anymore as it hurts my eyes looking at 480 res.

Sticking to skyrim.



Traxx said:

Played about 4hrs or so, didn't grab me so far, this might be just another "good" Zelda game...

And I don't see how the "art style" compensates for jaggies and muddy textures. Mario Galaxy and MH3 showed the Wii can provide polished visuals, this game does not. Maybe they should have used the Wii's GCN-mode just in order to have some kind of Anti Aliasing... WW looks ten times better.



timcwebman said:

"New to Skyward Sword is the addition of save points in the form of bird statues which also function as warp points of sorts"
Majora's mask had these same types of warp points/save points. So it's not "new" to skyward sword, right?



Mandoble said:

Graphic wise, worst Zelda ever for its time. It is not cartoon style, but it looks like, it is not reallistic, but NPCs seem to dont want to look cartoonish, colour style totally lacks of any emotion in any direction. Art style is in the middle of nowhere, frankly terrible, it doesnt transmit anything to me except lack of refinement. For me, far away from 10/10.



Mandoble said:

I have not advanced quite a lot, I expect an excellent gameplay (hopefully) and at least good music tracks, but gameplay alone should not be the only criteria to score a game. Even using 5 factors, with 4 of them scored with perfect 10, graphics would never go higher than 5 (for me) and final result could never be 10.



James said:

@Mandoble That's not how we score games here but I take your point. I loved the graphical style and certainly don't believe it should detract from the score. Are you playing it in 480P?



SanderEvers said:

I've been playing the game this evening, and I say that the 10/10 is too low. It deserves a 11/10



SkywardLink98 said:

I pick up my copy on Monday. Can't wait. Though my copy of Super Mario 3D Land get's here tomorrow so I should be good 'til then.



Expa0 said:

Not interested in Zelda anymore. Failing 4 times in a row with TP, both DS Zeldas and worthless remake that didn't add anything, Zelda series is dead. Though to be fair I've never been too big fan of it, expect I guess I used to like Winda waker, kinda..



Mr_DSi said:

Hi, I have a question. Is the bundle that comes with the golden Wiimote limited edition? In other words, will the Wiimote bundle also be available in a few months?



luigi_swagg said:

By the time Christmas is over, I will have Star Fox 64, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and THIS!!!! Can't wait until I stay up till 2:00 in the morning playing these games each night!!!



Mandoble said:

@James, it is not a problem of resolution, Im playing with component cable and image quality is decent. The problem is the overal graphic style, the bland colours, the fact that they put too much detail in the NPCs and too low in the environment, the pretty pretty poor textures. I've been always a big fan of Zelda games, but this one seems to be the big exception for me, I dont like at all what I see.



Burny said:

Please let's not go there. If somebody was to play the game with a 10/10 in mind and where to find that there are several aspects, which they consider flawed, that can result in backlash both towards the game and the reviewers. And such aspects are definitely there in SS. If scores inflate too much (which has long happened), there'll be more and more backlash for good (8) or very good (9) scores, because everyone expects their game of choice to be perfect. And if flaws, such as the ridiculous hand-holding in the first hours of SS aren't pointed out in reviews, how are the devs to improve these aspects?

See, I really don't like Jim Sterling's "catch" of just spouting as much profanity as possible in his videos, but this is absolutely true (and comparably low on the profanity side, too).



James said:

@Mr_DSi The Gold Wiimote is just a launch offer: it's my understanding you won't see many (if any at all) after January.



chiptoon said:

Wow. I'm about 5 hours in and I can't believe that there is any negativity about this game. I get that some of the design choices might not appeal to everyone, because we're not all the same, but the balancing act the designers have had to pull off to get this game to work so well especially on Wii), in technical terms and in terms of the density of gameplay, is simply incredible. I have also seldom played a game that is so emotionally engaging, as well as being outright funny at times.

I'm also so far pleased with the difficulty, at least following the early hand holding. I loved Twilight Princess (unlike some vocal commentators), but found it far too easy. This is shaping up much better.



Kage_88 said:

Just lookin' at my sig and smiling a happy smile...

Too bad I won't get to play it until Christmas! Grrr!

@148 - That's great to hear - glad you like it so much!

@139 - Wait, the Zelda series is dead simply because you don't like it? Huh...



Ren said:

Wow, some people love to play jaded devils advocate. I can see there being flaws in it if you are looking for flaws in it to try to be the most balanced possible review critic ever, but calling it dead and bland is pretty silly. I'm not into FPS's like Halo and Bioshock, but I can recognize that they are amazing and fun games to play and I wouldn't call them out as horrible just because I think they're shallow, cheesy ideas, or design styles I'm not into. The lack of environment detail is an obvious design choice to give it a painterly feel, and handle the slow graphics engine and I think it's a brilliant move.



Urbanhispanic said:

Damn it....I need to get this, a 3DS and games for the 3Ds....why oh why must I be tormented by a lack of funds???



Traxx said:

This game def. has its bland moments. There isn't really an art style, just hiding a bad engine that is still incapable of reducing muddy textures, jagged edges and low detail objects. And if there's any art direction, it seems to be of bad taste (mobgoblins, Ghirarhim) and unimaginative (environments lacking flavour).

Granted, it's still Zelda, it can't totally fail and I won't put it down till I finished. But if the last zelda iterations bored you to a certain extend, then this game will not feel very different to you.



Ecto-1 said:

@GlasS post #87
uhh... Nintendo doesn't make the Sonic games. Sonic is Sega's pride and joy. Just wanted to point that out, although I understand what your getting at and I kind of agree with you. However, its not just Nintendo that does that. Companies in general tend to put stronger efforts into projects that stand to be more successful. Just look at Activision or EA with their Call of Duty and Battlefield games.

Regardless, I can't wait to play this for myself.



Junior117 said:

I shall be awaiting my copy (special edition bundle) in the EB Games store that is only 10 minutes (walking distance) away from my house.



arrmixer said:

just got the game today love it!!! almost didn't get the bundle only gamestop had a copy



MetroidofTime said:

I got the bundle, but didn't check it out until I was like 5 hours into the GREAT game, but when I did the music performances were brilliant.



Mr_DSi said:

Hopefully Toys 'R' Us will have more of the bundles tomorrow... I'll probably also go check my local GameStop just in case they have one.



motang said:

Played a lot of it today, loving it. But why can't I save anywhere I want? Save points are so archaic. There also the fact of Link doing this animation whenever gets a new item, it's old pretty fast.



LordTendoboy said:

@motang (165)

Agreed about the save points thing. Ocarina of Time allowed you to save wherever and whenever you wanted, but then Majora's Mask limited it to only save points or by playing the Song of Time backwards (which reset your progress and item collection).

The fact that Skyward Sword brings back this feature from Majora's Mask is only a minor inconvenience.

If you think save points are archaic, then you'll hate the Metroid series.



James said:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 got 10 last year; MotoHeroz got 10 a few weeks ago!



TikiTong said:

When my friend saw this yesterday, he didnt like it all. he complained about the graphical colour style, the way the environments werent realisitic, the sprint, the MOTION CONTROLS, how Ganon isnt in it, and how Zelda isnt a princess. Obviously, if you expect another Twilight Princess, you will be greatly dissapointed. But why would you, its a new game, expect new things. Its my second favourite Zelda game so far(first is Ocarina of Time 3D,since I havent played the N64 original.



Ren said:

Any Zelda fan who doesn't like it clearly just hasn't sat down and spent time with it to see how it plays overall. The greatest Nintendo games are all about balance and this works it's best features perfectly.



SLiM said:

I am really loving the game. The storytelling is superb and I love that the puzzles take advantage of the motion plus. I think the best part is that my son, who is only a toddler, cracks up laughing at the sound effects of me fighting enemies.



Mandoble said:

I would not say that they take advantage of WM+, I would say that they overabuse of it. For the most basic things that could be executed with the NC Stick + a button, you need to keep shaking your arms. Zelda should not be about gimmicking, for that we already have dance games.



MeloMan said:

Wow... just, wow. No time to waste posting here, I gotta get this game played pronto!



3dbrains said:

I am 5 hours into the game and I have to say it is both beautiful and extreme FUN!
I love it.
LoZTP was a good start to the Wii's life but this game makes the perfect end.
This game is my light and joy at the moment in these hard times - I'm actually enjoying a game again!
Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, ans Skyrim don't come close to the immersiveness of Skyward Sword.

I've missed having a good time playing a game.



Pete_Stooge said:

Just played around 4 to 5 hours. I enjoyed it so far, but wasn't really impressed by the controls or visuals. The game looks and plays fine for sure, but not more than that imo.

I was a bit dissapointed that after all this new zelda talk the first enemy i encountered was one of those purple Link eating flowers. And WHY can't i skip text anymore? And WHY are these texts so small sometimes?

Still i recommend it.



stromboli said:

There's no doubt that this should be GOTY. The reviewers gave this a great score, but of course they gave too many other games great score, and will prefer to choose those other options for GOTY. This game though is MILES better than Skyrim, Arkham City (Which I'm waiting for the Wii U version ), and all the other candidates. If it wasn't for general anti Wii/Nintendo bias in the media sucking up to the usual suspects, there wouldn't be any question here.



Sgt_Ludby said:

So many colons!!!

Aside from that, nice review! =D

I can't waaaait to get this game! My sister has been the only one getting any use out of the Wii for a long while now. I'm excited to kick her off soon!



Pete_Stooge said:

another 6 hours later...on second thought: this could also be one of the best video games ever made. Brilliance doesn't come quick.



gsmchris said:

@James This is a great review and honestly this is the best game I have ever played. The gameplay is perfect, the controls, the story, the visuals. Everything combines into a new masterpiece that matches up to Ocarina of Time. I am flabbergasted at the reviewers who gave it a 7 because this game is revolutionary. I hate how the reviewers say this games changes barely anything for the series. They talk about how this is merely a good game that doesn't live up to expectations. The worst offender would be Gamespot however the guy who reviewed it was obviously the wrong person to do it. This is a game meant to be experienced. The Gamespot guy obviously never touched motion controls in his entire life. The controls are perfect the only factor that can change how well the controls work would be the human factor. This guy just doesn't know how to play a game. And thanks again for the review



James said:

@gsmchris I'm glad you appreciate the review! Of course everyone is going to review the game based on their own experience; if I'd had a bad experience, you guys would want to know about it.

Thankfully it's awesome and a well-deserved 10/10



Gamesake said:

It's a good game, but it's not the best Zelda. For one thing Fi is super annoying and 10x worse than Navi ever was. I wish Nintendo would stop holding my hand when I play their games. I don't need Fi telling when my health is low, when to save my game, or when to replace my Wiimote batteries. I don't need a repeat dowsing tutorial, and I certainly don't need Fi ruining the puzzles. I hope none of you bought a strategy guide for this game. You will not need it.



Pete_Stooge said:

Too bad there aren't anymore posts here...About fi: when i was 18 years old i didn't care about being stuck in one place for a month without knowing where to go, and still trying to find out. Ten years later i'm happy that after some toying around i can ask for some help, and get on with it. The hint system is very cleverly done i must say. So imo it makes the game suitable for different players with different ages.



Ancoma said:

I cannot but totally agree with this review. Nothing's perfect and this game isn't, but I really have a great time with it. I'm 41 old now, and this game take me 20 years back when I was gaming everyday (hmm well it's every night now with it). Great musical score, new items, cool graphism, clever level design, and a really immersive game. And not so expensive.



Nilkad_Naquada said:

@SMEXIZELDAMAN I am thanking god that i dont have epilepsy for two reasons: 1 i couldnt play loz and 2 your "image" would frigging kill me!
@heebeegeebee its waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better, but so adventure of link and i hate that game, so yeah, not saying much.



kyuubikid213 said:

Every reviewer gave this game a 10/10 except Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee... Also, I told my friend that Skyward Sword got a perfect 10 everywhere and he replied. "Skyrim is more deserving."



AutumnShantel said:

I wasn't planning on getting this, but my boyfriend (he's not a gamer) made this part of my Christmas present. And I've not been into console games for a long time, but I haven't put this down since I started playing... Ridiculously awesome game, with gorgeous, vibrant graphics.



HanuKwanzMasBif said:

Got the game last Friday. I have to say, it has disappointed me just a little - it's strange that while every other MotionPlus item feels fine, the sword and bug net feel off (especially the latter, but that doesn't matter as much). Other than that this game feels like a gift from the goddess!



The_Ink_Pit_Ox said:

Ok, I heard that the reason you start with six hearts is because the game is harder. Is this true? Also, do they compensate by having the game be longer?



WOLFER said:

Well, I have yet to try this game out, but my only gripe that i heard of in this game is backtracking.... you have backtrack all the time.... i felt that they went a step back..... in twilight princess at least you can warp through different areas on the map, so you wouldnt be wasting your time trying to get there on foot...



Nightsider said:

Absoloutly every gaming website gave this game a 10 gameinformer, ign, nintendolife, famistu. only gamespot gave this anything but a 10 they game it a 7.5 for no good reason they said the controls were bad but you could see he was using no technique he was just swinging the remote randomly. he said too much padding. ign praised this



Varia01 said:

This game still remains more than solid. The motion plus controls was awesome! Shoulda... considered it before trading it... Though Metroid still remains my favorite game series of all time. This game still deserves a perfect 10. Well done NIntendo.



TheAdrock said:

One of the weakest Zelda offerings ever. Too linear, gimmicky, child-like, just "meh". A 6/10 if I'm being kind. (It was also about 4 years late coming to market.)



dampflokfreund said:

This game clearly didn't deserved a 10/10. What's wrong with you? The game is way too hand holdy, the dungeons are way too easy/linear (but creative, yes), the overworld is not a real free one it's very linear, the enemey design is laughable, the soundtrack is mostly not very memoryable or epic, it's way too cheerful and light hearted, it lacks of depth (the dungeons and the world itself doesn't had any purpose there are just for the players) all of the side characters lacked of depth they had no real purpose and the game lacked of epicness.

It's my worst 3D Zelda, I'd gave it a 8/10. Because it's still a good game.



Sparkyboy6 said:

This games is so AMAZING! I love it to bits! I played it again recently, and it was every bit as epic as I remembered.



triforcepower73 said:

Oooh I can't wait to see all the people on here that have been hating this game, or at least disliking strongly, start lavishing it with praise and calling it one of the best Zeldas once they announce Zelda HD, which probably won't be what they were expecting.



soma said:

9/10 for me. The game has a lot of flaws like the story is a mess, a lot of backtracking and repetition (fighting the Imprisoned 3 times! Who was the genius that thought that was a good idea?), some musics are average, and a lot of unnecessary motion controls.

With that said, I still enjoyed it a lot, it was very fun to travel the world even if I didn't care much about the story or the characters. The colors looked vibrant unlike Twilight Princess and it had some awesome ideas in bosses or collecting bugs and stuff to improve your equipment. I really enjoyed that. And I loved the combat with Motion Plus too!

I'm near the end, still looking for the last piece of heart before going to the final battle. It took me a lot of time because sometimes I lost interest and stopped playing it for several days if not months. This also happened with Twilight Princess, both are very good games but with flaws and uninteresting moments that just extend the gameplay and make it more boring than it should.

My Ranking:
OoT: 10
ALthP: 9.8
WW: 9.8
SS: 9.0
MinishCap: 8.6
TP: 8.5



soma said:

Finally finished it! Probably my favorite ending and final battle of all Zeldas!

Great game, with flaws and everything, but I still enjoyed the ride. Unlike Twilight Princess, I have the desire to play it all over again.



RaymanFan2 said:

It's funny, reading this now; there's actually relatively little in-depth analysis.
The review basically boils down to "it's another Zelda, slightly refined. You'll like it"
Which isn't anything against good 'ol James; it just sorta highlights how this was loved upon release and then hated by many in hindsight. perhaps 'just another Zelda' isn't enough.



TheLordAndrew said:

This is an old thread here, but I loved the relationship between Link and Zelda in this game, gave me a motivation to reach the end.

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