Could Nintendo’s timing be any worse? Finals are a mere week away, and the superpower gaming company just released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. And honestly, if you start playing the game now, you can say so long to your 4.0.
But that’s because Skyward Sword might just be the best game in the series since 1998’s Ocarina of Time.
Bold claim? Yes. But what else can be said of the fastest-selling Zelda game of all time?
Once you take into account the cinematic graphics, the impressively developed characters and the timeless plot, you’ll be whisked away right into the major motion picture epic that has never been, but should be.
Skyward Sword tells the story before the story of Zelda. Players are transported to the time predating the Ocarina. Link and Zelda are childhood friends who have grown up on Skyloft, a floating city separated from “The Surface,” which is inhabited by monsters and evil spirits. When Zelda is kidnapped to the world beneath, Link must set out on a quest to recover his lost friend.
The Zelda series has a history of weaving elaborate story lines in and out of engrossing game play — but for the love of Zora, have the developers taken things to a whole new level. The opening sequence is, in and of itself, a masterfully crafted prologue. It’s a visually striking delight of design.
And the game play is so artfully manipulated that you feel as if you’re directing a movie, unfolding the plot with your commands. The line between what the gamer controls and what is programmed blurs as options for what to say, what to do, where to go and who to be diversify the gaming experience with incredible variance.
Plus, with Wii MotionPlus built into the controller, being a part of the action has never seemed more real and enticing. Unlike Twilight Princess’ attempt at motion-centered gaming, Skyward Sword lives up to the promise: The sword fighting is much more involved.
You actually have to lunge to make a spearing motion. The angle of your swing determines how you strike. You’ll be jumping, chopping, spinning, throwing, leaping and lifting your blade to the sky, all with the remote.
Along with the new action capabilities, Link can also engage in other exciting activities: flying atop giant birds, skydiving, probing for auras and so much more.
But one of Skyward Sword’s most impressive elements is its character development. Though watching Zelda and Link share romantic moments might not be the most exciting aspect of the game, the characterization in this game gives the plot and game play depth. Everyone is unique and memorable, and even the townspeople are quirky as ever, à la Zelda games of the past.
And Zelda has never before been so colorfully animated. She exudes a radiance and poise beyond her years that makes the task of finding her even more personal and enthralling. As per usual, Link’s lack of voiceover makes it feel as if it’s really you embodying the hero of the land.
As an added bonus, each game from the first run of publishing comes with a glorious album featuring the 25th Anniversary Legend of Zelda Symphony that passed through Los Angeles a few weeks ago. The symphonic movements reinvigorate 8-bit classics such as the main theme and the “Great Fountain Fairy’s Song” with vibrant, sweeping beauty.
It’s a fitting companion to the music in the game, which has been invigorated with real instruments and high quality recordings. The soundscapes are as variant and complex as the landscapes. From Skyloft to Lake Floria, the score completes the immersive experience and sets the perfect tone on every level.
Skyward Sword culminates in a breathtaking experience that seamlessly combines action, adventure, story and interface to create an astounding epic worthy of everyone’s time.
Just don’t break the seal until finals are over.