This weekend, Wii owners around Australia dusted off their consoles and spent some time with the first A-list Wii-exclusive title since Donkey Kong Country Returns was released this time last year*: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
While we’re not ready to review it quite yet, we thought we’d touch on what we’re loving (and what we’re not so wild on) in the first (and only) proper, made-for-Wii Zelda title.
The cut-scenes: While they don’t compare to what we see on the other two home consoles, Skyward Sword’s cut-scenes are certainly an improvement. Since Ocarina of Time, fans have politely sat through stilted, barely-staged scenes (constantly scrolling through text). Movements are more fluid this time around, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we said Nintendo’s producing anything close to what they teased at Spaceworld 11 years ago.
Link and Zelda: Nintendo has pulled Zelda into the action like never before, and actually given us a relationship we care about in Link and Zelda. It’s a relationship that’s only ever been implied and blindly accepted, and it’s great to see it brought to the forefront with Skyward Sword.
The pre-dungeon dungeoness: Puzzles aren’t restricted to the inside of dungeons anymore. Sure, we’ve had overworld puzzles before – plant the odd seed, blow up a few rock formations, collect seemingly irrelevant objects from the other side of the world map, prance around as a wolf hoarding light orbs – but they’re nothing compared to what Nintendo has served this time around.
Weapon customisation: This is a great addition, and it really helps haul Zelda into the current gen. That said, shield strength is mighty annoying.
Stamina: Giving Link a stamina gauge adds another welcome layer of strategy to the game, and it really makes Link feel like a living, breathing (and at times, exhausted) person.
Graphics: Sure, the Wii is seriously underpowered by today’s standards (ACK, JAGGIES), but adding a blur filter and making your characters look all Kingdom Heartsy can only do so much to disguise the fact that your game wasn’t made for 50” displays… Screenshots do this game too much justice, and playing it right after Skyrim? Painful.
Flying: Don’t get me wrong, flying around is an awesome way to cut travel time, but… you can only fly by jumping off certain spots of the floating isle. This is so cripplingly last-gen it makes my brain hurt. Jump off a wooden ledge? You can call your bird. Jump off the edge right next to your wooden ledge? You can’t call your bird and instead, simply plummet toward your doom before being saved and scolded by a more experienced knight. Speaking of which:
The Knight Academy: Seriously, Nintendo? Your hub-world is a giant school? And, tell me, if it’s such a peaceful sky-high society, why the need for knights? Oh God, now I just reminded myself of Sky High…
No passage of time: Why my Sun no set, Nintendo? Since Ocarina, suns rising and setting have been a big part of our Zelda experiences, but in Skyward Sword, no matter how long you play, time doesn’t pass. What do we get instead? A menu that asks us if we want to sleep until morning/night when we stand near a bed. Poor form.
No waggle alternatives: As someone with a dud wrist that only gets aggravated playing your console games, I beg you, Nintendo, give us some control alternatives. Even when your waggle isn’t aggravating my RSI, some days, a boy just wants to use a joystick and regular buttons.
Camera fail: And this is what happens when your controller doesn’t have a second joystick.
So, in short, Skyward Sword is good, but it’s by no means perfect. And it isn’t the massive game-changer we were promised (either in graphical style or gameplay). But of course, once the plot kicks into high gear, we’re sure all grievances, including the waggle-related ones, will be forgiven.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is available now. It requires Wii Motion-Plus to play, and the limited edition comes bundled with gold controller that isn’t actually gold (thanks for clarifying that one, JB HIFI) and a special 25th anniversary orchestral soundtrack (we don’t get the ‘Lost Woods’ theme, but we do get the ‘Great Fairy Fountain’ one, worth the $120 RRP all on its own…)
*Are we missing one? Seriously, has it been that long since Nintendo threw us something to play?
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