Hey look, one of those blog posts I said I was gonna do eventually. Anyways, I just finished the main story to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a few hours ago, and I have quite a few things to say. Since I could be suffering from "Post-game rush" when making these, anything I say could be subject to change, but here they are all the same. Warning: Contains some spoilers:
- To my pleasant surprise, I ended up digging the presentation a lot more than I thought I would. When I first saw the game at E3 2010, I thought it was pretty bland and forgettable. That said, it looks much better actually playing the game for myself. The impressionist art style makes the whole game look like a living portrait of sorts, and also does a good job of hiding the Wii's technical limitations. The rampant jaggies got annoying, though. I'm no graphics whore, but after playing this, I fully sympathize with PC snobs on the anti-aliasing front.
- I'm quite glad that Nintendo finally incorporated live orchestral arrangements into the soundtrack. You can really tell the difference in songs like Fairy's Fountain. I don't think the compositions are as catchy as earlier games, though. Koji Kondo allegedly only composed one song in the entire soundtrack (The opening cinematic piece, which is great. Sounds like something out of The Lord of the Rings), and it kinda shows. There are still a few good songs that stand up to the rest of the series' works, though. On the other hand, the bonus orchestrated CD that came with my copy is 100% awesome, no complaints there.
- A big one: The controls. They have some awkward moments, but for the most part, I honestly can't imagine playing without them. You actually have to pay attention to combat now, and aiming with the gyroscope instead of fumbling with analog sticks make using items much more fun. They do get off from time to time, but it's not enough to mess with the flow of the game, and it's usually corrected with the push of a button.
- As for the rest of the game, this is where things get murky. I suppose I could pit it side-by-side with Twilight Princess, which is sort of like a surrogate to Skyward Sword. In terms of dungeon design, TP pulls ahead. Compared to TP, SS's dungeons are pretty straightforward and simplistic. Even the Water Temple doesn't require much head-scratching to navigate. However, SS dominates when outside the dungeons. The environments may be segmented and small, but the game milks them for all they're worth, and they end up being used for a lot of cool things unlike the veritable desert that is TP's overworld. Bosses also go to SS. They're much more engaging (especially the one-on-one duels against Ghirahim), and feel like actual battles instead of oversized puzzles. One thing TP will always hold the advantage over, though: Midna. She destroys Fi as a meaningful companion character.
- One last thing: While I do believe that this is a highly-polished game that outclasses many other games on the market (and subsequently my 2011 game of the year, though there wasn't much competition for that), I think I'm finally recognizing the need for the series to start undergoing some kind of retooling. Even if it's a worthy addition that brings more good to the series than bad, I have to wonder where this franchise can go next. Nintendo can't and shouldn't keep this formula up forever, as evidenced by the gradual decline of sales and general excitement for the franchise. Heck, I'm not even sure if I'll even be excited for the next console Zelda when it comes, barring some kind of Majora's Mask makeover. Hey, I've lost interest in the Pokemon series this year, so anything is possible.
Perhaps I should get to work on a review at some point and justify my shiny "Top 500 Reviewers" badge. The last time I bothered with one of those was before I got the badge back during summer vacation. I blame ponies.