Pros: Lengthy Adventure, Great Story and Character development, Top Notch Dungeon Design
Cons: Final Boss is a let down, Fi makes Navi seem charming
This is the Origin of the Legend, from the first Zelda to the forging of the Master Sword, it all begins here. This is the longest intro in series history, taking almost two hours before you even get a sword, but it does serve a purpose. Link, Zelda and the supporting cast are all much more developed in this release, and the relationships between them help the Player to become invested in the world. Skyward Sword takes it's time to establish the history between Link and Zelda to get the player emotionally attached. And it worked, this is the first time I actually connected with Zelda and actually wanted to find her, and not just because the game told me to.
The main Antagonist is Ghirahim, quite possibly the creepiest villain in the series and a constant thorn in Links side. It is a very nice change of pace to have a villain that is present through the entire adventure. The game does a great job of making you despise him early on. The confrontation after the third dungeon is one of my favorite Zelda moments. The story continues to pick up through the entire adventure with some pretty impressive twists towards the end. If not for the final boss being such a let down this would have been the perfect Zelda adventure. He really needed one more form instead of being a simple duel.
Making full use of the Wii Motion Plus, Skyward Sword is probably the first game that shows what motion controls can really do, shame it came so late in the Wii's life. Swordplay is 1:1 mapped you the player's movements, the bow uses the gyroscope instead of the IR pointer, flying is controlled by motion. None of this truly feels like a gimmick, though you can't help but think that flight may have been easier with an Analog option in some of the trickier mini games.
Combat is all about knowing when and how to strike. Enemies take full advantage of the fact that you can swing in any direction at will. The first boss battle against Ghirahim is a test of how well you have learned this and the enemies only get smarter as the game progresses. Wildly swinging the Wii Remote won't do much good against these foes, but it still works just fine on a stunned boss.
The lands that Link explores are structured more like the Game Boy Color Zelda titles, with the environments themselves often being a puzzle. This leads to a much more linear progression, which is amplified by the lack of interconnectivity between the three lower regions. At first these areas seem small, but later visits show that the engine could easily handle massive areas through the entire adventure. This was a design choice, not a limit of the hardware. Nothing showcases this better than the second visit to the desert, and what may be the largest dungeon in Zelda history, spanning time and an entire Desert/Ocean and ending on a Pirate ship.
To make up for the lack of processing power, Nintendo employed a water color style filter to everything, with distant objects being smeared to look like they were painted in. This is very effective in hiding any draw distance issues.
When has The Legend of Zelda ever failed to have amazing music? No exception here. There is no voice acting, just basic sounds and voice samples. Fi will get on your nerves even more than Navi, that is an accomplishment to be ashamed of.
Say what you want about the Wii, but Nintendo produced some amazing games for the little guy. Skyward Sword stands toe to toe with any past entry in the series, and is a real contender for my favorite entry in the franchise. (That honor still goes to the Oracle games) The need for the Wii Motion Plus add on obviously hurt sales as the hardcore Nintendo fans had all picked up the console long before it was included with every system being sold. Many of my friends passed on Skyward Sword because of this, and I almost did as well. Hopefully Nintendo continues with a larger focus on story and character development in future entries, even if they don't give them a voice.
480p Widescreen at 30fps
Played to completion on my Sharp 70LE732 using stock speakers