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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

Richard Naik's picture

Stuck in the Clouds

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Screenshot

HIGH The boss in dungeon four.

LOW Inconsistent stabs AND falling off a ledge to be respawned next to a lantern ghost in the Silent Realm.

WTF To open the gate of time, you must attain the three sacred flames. To get the sacred flames, you must acquire the three sacred gifts. To get those, you must procure the fifteen tears of the goddess....

Way back in 2006 when the Wii was first unveiled, the first thought on every gamer's mind (besides the dirty jokes) was the idea of fully interactive sword fighting in a Zelda game. Now, more than five years later, we've been given The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword which supposedly fulfills that dream. Unfortunately, it instead demonstrates every single reason that motion-centric controls are not the future of gaming.

I've generally been a fan of Zelda over the years. The Link to the Past-Ocarina of Time-Majora's Mask arc is one of my favorite sets of games, and Wind Waker was still highly enjoyable, if a bit less so than its predecessors. Twilight Princess, while suffering from many of the same problems that Skyward Sword does, was still worthwhile as well. Skyward Sword sits well below these games on the hypothetical totem pole I'm illustrating here, and the reasons for this begin squarely with the controls.

Skyward Sword's motion controls are often sluggish and unresponsive. There always seems to be a slight delay between when I swing the Wiimote and when Link actually does something, and getting him to swing in the direction I want is usually a pain. This becomes the game's biggest problem, as nearly every enemy has some kind of blocking ability that required me to slash in a particular area. If I didn't do the motion just right, my attack just bounces off and I get to try again.

Motion problems aren't limited to swordplay. The aiming cursor tends to fly off the screen a lot, requiring constant use of the cursor re-centering button. However, when doing things like swimming or piloting the beetle flyer, re-centering isn't an option. In those instances, I just had to put up with the wonkiness until I was finished doing whatever I was doing. Bomb throwing is another huge problem, as the smallest tilt too far downward will cause Link to switch between throw and roll mode, which led to a ton of bombs going off in my hands.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Screenshot

Problems like this make playing the game much more of a struggle than it should be. The slightest twitch can cause an action to misfire, and sometimes it just does the wrong action altogether. Each successive instance where the controls failed me further seared the question into my mind: why can't I just do this stuff by pressing buttons?

None of this is meant to say that motion controls can't ever work. They've been used several times in ways that made the games in question better. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption used the Wiimote for its aiming system, resulting in an interesting hybrid of a controller and mouse/keyboard setup that worked well. Super Mario Galaxy used it for spinning or the collection of star bits. These games used motion to enhance traditional control methods in a very subtle fashion. They were added on top of the controller, but they didn't replace it. Instead of taking after these successful pairings of traditional controls and motion, Skyward Sword bludgeoned me with motion at every possible moment, as if it were desperately trying to justify the existence of the Wiimote.

The absolute worst instance of this occurred with one of the bosses, which required me to perform the "stabbing" attack to kill it. The stab is done by thrusting the Wiimote straight forward, but since my upper body would often move as well (the nunchuck with it) the shield motion would cancel out the stab, and I would get swatted. I was eventually able to compensate by disabling the shield and making sure to hold the nunchuck perfectly still, but it took me quite some time to figure out what was happening, and this is not something I should have had to worry about in the first place.

If the controls were my only real problem with Skyward Sword, I might be willing to forgive it (to a certain extent) and write it off as a failed experiment with motion gameplay. However, Skyward Sword falls flat even when the controls are removed from the equation. With the exception of a few sections that I'll talk about shortly, the game world comes in well short of the previous Zeldas.

The primary hub level of Skyloft has very little to explore outside of the main town, and while they are very pretty, the three main areas on the surface feel extremely confined. Even the majority of the dungeons are very transparent, and they were often far too eager to give me the solutions to their puzzles. Nobody would ever mistake any Zelda game as having a truly open world, but some more diverse areas to explore would have been appreciated.

The Silent Realm quests, a set of instant-failure stealth and time-based collection missions, are another instance of bad conceptual design. These segments consist of collecting a set amount of goddess tears without being hit by an enemy. Link is totally defenseless, so he has to avoid detection in order to succeed. If that sounds bad, it's because it absolutely is. Zelda games have never been well-suited to stealth missions, but here they're extremely drawn-out and frustrating to the point where its a serious problem.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Screenshot

Even in a more general sense, Skyward Sword is shallow, as everything is incredibly padded for play time. The vast majority of the non-dungeon content can best be described as "going to get a thing." This often consists of nothing more than going to a location, being given an item, then going back. Sometimes these fetch quests made me do something even worse, like the aforementioned Silent Realm missions or a dreadful aquatic scavenger hunt that occurs late in the game. Skyward Sword is hardly the only game (or even the only Zelda game) to have an abundance of fetching, but having it compose over half of the 47 hours I spent is just inexcusable.

On top of all that, travel is generally tedious, and there isn't much to do or see on the numerous runs back and forth. Forcing me to spend so much time "re-exploring" a world that isn't all that interesting to begin with is painfully boring, and a sign that the game lacks for interesting content. When stacked against the rest of the series (especially in terms of level design) Skyward Sword as a whole is dead last in my book.

I have to wonder just how much of the game's shallowness is due to so much effort being focused on the motion controls. I ask this because despite all the issues, there are some genuinely clever and creative things in Skyward Sword. Dungeons three and five are among the best in the series, and nearly all the time I spent in the Lanayru Desert was enjoyable. In addition, the fourth boss and the final dungeon were very pleasant surprises. Despite all my problems with the controls and a painfully slow start, the game did manage to hook me for a while on the strength of some of the mid-game dungeons.

However, the inflated play time is simply ridiculous, and dungeons one, two, and six come off as fairly hollow. The quality of the mid-game portions relative to the rest makes me think about what might have been if the focus had been more on the world itself and less on trying to demonstrate the supposed greatness of Wiimote waggling.

After finishing the game, I can say that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was not what I expected. I thought it would be a good (but not great) practitioner of the Zelda formula hampered by unnecessary motion controls, much like Twilight Princess was. Instead, I got a game that's cripplingly hamstrung by its controls and even falters when presenting the basic Zelda recipe. The game isn't a total loss thanks to a few great levels, and it's clear that Nintendo still has some incredibly talented and creative people working for them. Unfortunately, a couple of great levels aren't enough to save the game from a mountain of other problems. The good portions of Skyward Sword are left drowning in a sea of bad ideas that never should have left the drawing board. Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail purchase and reviewed on the Wii. Approximately 47 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 time). There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains animated blood, comic mischief, and fantasy violence. Kids should be fine with it content-wise. I didn't see anything particularly objectionable, though I can see younger ones getting frustrated by the controls.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be OK. There are no spoken lines, and audio isn't a significant gameplay factor.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Wii  
Developer(s): Nintendo  
Key Creator(s): Shigeru Miyamoto   Eiji Aonuma  
Publisher: Nintendo  
Series: The Legend of Zelda  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore  
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Scale abuse?

"If the controls were my only real problem with Skyward Sword, I might be willing to forgive it (to a certain extent) and write it off as a failed experiment with motion gameplay. However, Skyward Sword falls flat even when the controls are removed from the equation."

The idea that a game like this would garner anything higher than a 3/10 or 4/10 really makes no sense to me. I don't understand giving a 6/10 to a game that you think has terrible controls and generally "flat" design. If you're going to make those claims, I think it's fair to at least follow through with an appropriate score.

However, it also doesn't make sense to me that a person who isn't a fan of motion controls would review this game in the first place. Should someone who already has their mind set against beat-em-ups review Arkham City? Should someone who is turned off by heavy usage of cinematic cutscenes review Uncharted? Of course not.

And as someone who has played the game and read reviews from 50+ people who had very little (if any) control troubles, I think a lot of your claims in this review are pretty dubious. Not as dubious as a 6/10 for a supposedly broken game, but still pretty questionable.

Anthony wrote: However, it

Anthony wrote:

However, it also doesn't make sense to me that a person who isn't a fan of motion controls would review this game in the first place. Should someone who already has their mind set against beat-em-ups review Arkham City? Should someone who is turned off by heavy usage of cinematic cutscenes review Uncharted? Of course not.

Playing games not to your tastes is not the same as playing games where its controls actually - at least in Richard Naik's experience - hinders your progression.

Fair, balanced review.

Anthony wrote:

And as someone who has played the game and read reviews from 50+ people who had very little (if any) control troubles, I think a lot of your claims in this review are pretty dubious.

And I read a lot of 10/10 reviews which were pretty dubious.

I gave up on Skyward Sword five and a half hours in - Richard highlights the padding issue in his review which is very appropriate, I thought. It's good that there are some redeeming features further along, but the first few hours were so brain-numbingly tedious, that I doubt a lot of people will see them.

A fine review by Richard, highlighting the issues, and also being generous enough to look beyond the flaws.

I had a long and epic

I had a long and epic response to this review, but before reaching the submit button I decided there was little point posting it since it changes little; Richard will be stubborn and stern in believing the review is valid, despite obvious flaws in his criticism. However, the following post (from Anthony) has compelled me to post, if only to basically concur and highlight that he reiterates many of the things I was intending to say in my original response.

Anthony wrote:

However, it also doesn't make sense to me that a person who isn't a fan of motion controls would review this game in the first place. Should someone who already has their mind set against beat-em-ups review Arkham City? Should someone who is turned off by heavy usage of cinematic cutscenes review Uncharted? Of course not.

This is a valid point, and not one immediately apparent to me until I realised that Skyward Sword is very much as motion-control centric as something like Wii Sports, Warioware, or whatever. Twilight Princess, perhaps, makes some - like Richard - approach Skyward Sword as a game that is supposed to be rooted in typical controls and gameplay, but the game is never actually billed that way, so to approach it as a confirmed motion-control hater is bound to emit negative responses. Essentially, it's like me reviewing a Madden NFL game - I detest American football, and so the likelihood of me reviewing the game fairly and properly is pretty low, to say the least (this could also be applied if Mike Bracken reviewed the game, I should imagine (worth pointing out I hugely respect Mike before he flames me!)).

The only valid complaint one could have -- as a motion control hater -- is if the game itself had terrible controls. Such a prospect would -- regardless of your preference for motion controls -- be a fair criticism. However...

Quote:

And as someone who has played the game and read reviews from 50+ people who had very little (if any) control troubles, I think a lot of your claims in this review are pretty dubious. Not as dubious as a 6/10 for a supposedly broken game, but still pretty questionable.

This is the point of the review I picked upon most, because for me the game has been surprisingly responsive and enjoyable regarding controls. The only fair criticism Richard levels at the controls is the alignment of the cursor when aiming, which does -- I admit -- go out of focus too often, and subsequently requires use of recalibration/realignment a bit too often. That aside, everything else the game strives to achieve with motion controls is reliable and working as intended (I assume).

So yeah, I fully concur with the points Anthony has made here.

I've run into lots of

I've run into lots of people, other than myself and Richard, who found the controls in Skyward Sword pretty dire in spots. Even guys who loved the game -- like Scott Jones -- willingly admit that the controls are frustrating at times and don't really work the way they're supposed to.

The issue, for me, with the controls is that they don't add anything to the game -- at all. They're a gimmick, just like they've always been. There's not a single thing in Skyward Sword that is enhanced by flailing my arms around. Everything could have been done -- and in most cases, done better -- with a traditional control scheme.

And while I may not like motion controls, that certainly shouldn't disqualify me from writing about the game or having an opinion and voicing it. If the author approaches the game fairly, why should it matter? By that logic, is someone who loves motion controls to the point of ignoring the flaws of them somehow more qualified to write a review? I don't see it. As along as there's transparency, a predisposition to loving or disliking something is largely irrelevant. If Richard went into the game with every intention of hating it, that would be one thing -- but he didn't. Neither did I. The fact remains that the controls in this game are serviceable, when they work -- unfortunately, they don't work nearly as often as they should. Plus, some of us just prefer to play with a traditional controller. I'm not sure that means we should be barred from continuing to play and write about games with motion controls, though.

I just happen to stumble

I just happen to stumble upon this site and already love it. Instant bookmark. Why? Because you seem to be one of the very few that tell it like it is. You know? One of the very few that actually deserve the title game critic.

Responses

@Anthony & @Crofto

First, I gave the game a 6 primarily on the strength of some of the mid-game sections. Dungeons 3, 5, and 7, one of the bosses, and some other stuff in the desert region were genuinely fun. The problem is that outside of those parts the game dies, and thus problems with the controls become that much more glaring. I was enjoying roughly 40-50% of my time, so do whatever mathematical gymnastics you want to add that up to a 6.

Second, I don't see how I'm a "motion control hater". I mention multiple cases where motion controls made their respective games better. Skyward Sword's problem isn't the fact that it uses motion controls, it's that it tries to use them completely in place of traditional controls, and it does so *badly*.

Third, the idea that someone who dislikes motion controls shouldn't review Skyward Sword is ridiculous. A review is an opinion, so if the writer is truly being fair (or as fair as can be), existing thoughts shouldn't matter. If I was so dead set against motion controls that I couldn't see anything else, then Skyward Sword would have gotten like a 3. However, there are good things in this game that I'll happily acknowledge, some of which were enjoyable enough for me to put up with bad controls.

Having finished the game, I just don't get the review....

I'm not a "10 or nothing" type of zelda fan but having played the game I think it deserves a solid 9. The swimming/flying wonkiness that you described happened to me twice throughout my entire 60 hours of playing (and you don't play along when it gets screwy like that, you just go to the start menu and recalibrate. Not sure how you didn't know that).

The thing is I could start a much lengthier argument about why I loved the game but the only thing I'll be saying is "this didn't happen to me". Kinda pointless to argue about something that is supposed to be objective for both of us.

In the game I played, the controls were at least 90% accurate. I only had 3 game-overs and died 4 or 5 times in the Silent Realms. I'm not saying that to brag but just to point out that so few deaths wouldn't have happened in a game with broken controls (especially since it's considered to be the hardest game of the franchise).

The Silent Realms are supposed to contrast the overall game, hence the different tone, music and structure. You can say you didn't like them but you haven't really explained why (I don't consider "it's not Zelda" and "it sounds bad" as arguments). I can find more reasons of why the Silent Realms are awesome. They are an original, brief change of pace and the concept of the guards waking up and chasing you in this ominous atmosphere adds a ton of suspense. The tears aren't hard to find seeing as they glow from a distance so it's basically an exciting 5 minute thrill. Link being without a sidekick and without a weapon adds even more to this thrill because it makes it both easy to win (because of the short length of these missions) but also easy to lose (because of 1 hit KO). It just seems that you lost way too many times and this review is part of your rage quit (honestly, if you put those segments together it's like less than an hour. Why would you complain so much about less than 2% of the game is beyond me).

The "re-visiting" areas is also an unfair point. It's new areas with an underlying theme (I bet if each area was called something totally different and had a different color on the map you wouldn't even notice). It's not the same 3 places over and over as some suggest. Aside from Skyloft you have the sky islands, a lake, a sand sea and its various islands, a time-shifting mine, the sealed grounds, tree tops, desserts, volcanoes and the obvious dungeons (plus you have the song of hero quest where two of these areas go under drastic changes).

Fetch-quests do get a bit too much at some point but that's the only truly valid criticism I can find in the review.

So a bit too many fetch-quests and minor control hiccups is as close as I can get to agreeing with this review.

BUT, an opinion is an opinion. People have them... (I'm so profound)

PS: Can people stop calling him brave for grading this game low? It's not as if Miyamoto has him on a leash and he managed to courageously stand up for himself and fight against the tyranny that is Nintendo. If anything, a low grade makes the review more popular (I mean I'm here aren't I?)

People have given Skyward

People have given Skyward Sword too much praise for what it is. Yes, it's a great Zelda game, but the praise that it has been given over the past couple of months has been outright ridiculous. Though motion controls were the least of my problems, everything else Richard mentioned is true about the game: Too much padding, no exploration, etc. I would even add a few more issues, including lackluster soundtrack and repetitive boss battles.

pointer

people are complaining a lot about the pointer that jumps out of the screen, but its because most of them doesnt know that it isnt a infra-red pointer, its a motion controlled pointer. For instance, when you get the bow, the central point of your aim is the position the controller was when you pressed "B". If your wii remote is in a horizontal position when you get the item, you dont need to aim at the sensor bar and recenter the cursor, you must aim based on the initial position.

pointer

people are complaining about the pointer that jumps out of the screen. That's because they don't know that its NOT an infra-red pointer, it's a motion controlled pointer:it's based on the initial position of the wii remote. For instance, when you get the bow, you dont have to point at the sensor bar and recenter the cursor, if the wiimote was sideways when you pressed "B" for the bow, the center point of the pointer will be sideways.So, when you get the item, just aim based at the initial position.

Score Fits the Review

I read this review when it was first posted, before all the comments. Before even checking the score I guessed it would receive a 6/10 based on the actual written review. I feel like the score fits perfectly based on the text. Not sure what the big deal is.

i played SS too

i played this game too when i first played through i felt it was a good game now that I'm playing through a second time now I'm frustrated with almost everything who would've thought that they would make a worse companion than navi i loved midna she enhanced the story in many ways unobtrusive and she was part of the puzzles at times i loved being able to turn into a wolf but that is another matter. SS doesn't deserve what regie fils-ame claims it to be because he says it was going to be the best game "EVER" made and that no game past present or future would ever or has ever been as good as SS and that it would there would never be a better zelda game. in my opinion that is setting yourself up for disappointment I've lost all fait in that guy. i never believed him not for a second but i thought that SS would deliver me a better game than what it had and i thought i would have to use more than what i had to use to progress in the game like secret areas and what not TP had wqay more things to do that wasted a lot more of my time. now I'm playing through MM on my WII and i i believe i would have more fun replaying that than SS any day

there are a lot 10/10 but

there are a lot 10/10 but let's say they are all dubious....what about the reviews from 90-98? the most reviewers gave score over 85 and 90...an they are two guys with 70 but they compare the graphics with other consoles so they don't count because you can't compare apples with oranges...and only one that gave 60. so who is the dubious?

Anyone who takes Reggie

Anyone who takes Reggie seriously needs his head examined. He's clearly just a marketing representative if anything (and not a very good one).

Relative aiming, but infrared IS used for calibration

Derek Eduardo wrote:

people are complaining about the pointer that jumps out of the screen. That's because they don't know that its NOT an infra-red pointer, it's a motion controlled pointer:it's based on the initial position of the wii remote. For instance, when you get the bow, you dont have to point at the sensor bar and recenter the cursor, if the wiimote was sideways when you pressed "B" for the bow, the center point of the pointer will be sideways.So, when you get the item, just aim based at the initial position.

This is true - you shouldn't have to constantly recenter once you realize that this isn't like a standard Wii game where you have to point at the screen. Your aiming "center" is based on where you're holding your hand. Given that you're waving your sword around constantly, I think this is a pretty good idea and works well. I agree with most of Richard's points about the gameplay for sure, but I can't agree about the controls, which I think work well. If I didn't enjoy the controls, I likely would've enjoyed the game less than he did, since in terms of game design, it's the least interesting of the console Zeldas.

One issue a lot of people don't realize is that this DOES use IR, but only for constant on-the-fly calibration in addition to the motion sensor. I found this out the hard way when I had a Christmas tree sitting to the right of me, and Link's arm kept snapping forward and going wonky every time I would point the remote at the tree (meaning I couldn't pull my sword back beyond a certain point). Turning the lights on the tree off fixed the problem. I think the IR constantly checking where the center of the remote is keeps you from ever having to recalibrate manually, provided it can always "see" your remote.

Ditch the scoring system

Incidentally, given that review comments are almost always bogged down with crap like "how u give this a 6 it's at least a 8," I think Gamecritics should simply ditch the scoring system altogether. This site is all about game discussion beyond simple technical concerns, and boiling all that down to a number is, I think, beside the point of this site.

The critics here are more akin to film critics, viewing games on a more general, personal and artistic basis than simply going down the graphics/sound/fun factor checklist. That's a very good thing, resulting in far better writing and potential for discussion. What's weird is that they've been doing this for years, and yet the vast majority of gaming journalism is still stuck in its infancy - a collection of words that can be summarized with numbers.

Excellent, well justified review!

I found this review by searching for "Skyward Sword Frustrating", and it perfectly sums up the problems with TLOZ: Skyward Sword, as well as my attitude toward the game overall and the Wii motion controls.

The screenshot that accompanies this review, with Link's sword stuck in Ghirahim's hands, cannot be a coincidence - this is the single most frustrating aspect of the game and perfectly illustrates the problems with the precise-motion-centric solutions of some of the boss battles.

Skyward Sword had a very few puzzles that were some of the trickiest in the Zelda universe (like crossing the bridge to the Temple of Songs), but these were few and far between. Even the cleverest of the new features, the use of the time-shifting stones and orbs, always felt more tedious than fun.

Thanks for the very fair review. I realize the bar for Zelda games is very high, and it's clear the designers made a valiant attempt, but this whole is definitely less than the sum of its parts.

thank you very much for this

thank you very much for this review. its the only review on metacritic which seems to reflect my own experience with the game. i just couldnt believe that a game with so many flaws in design gets a 93% score at metacritic. the controls, fetch quest missions and recycled boss battles/areas are just the tip of the iceberg.

greetings

Questions

I want to start off this comment with recognition and gratitude; the reviews of games which are the most different have always been the most valuable. Your review is definitely very informative and useful.

I want to ask a few questions, to clear up some lingering doubts I have from reading your review:

1. How were the graphics, music, and sound effects? There is no mention of any of these aspects of the game whatsoever, and it's a little discouraging to think that a review would skip over what's openly praised elsewhere altogether. The game was basically restarted by Miyamoto in pursuit of the graphics (and the control scheme), so some mention seems like it would be worthwhile. Does the game not have graphics or sound? Or did you not feel it was necessary to explain that to a gamer who might be interested in the graphics?

2. I beat Skyward Sword (all sidequests included) in under 35 hours. Your review cites this in a highly negative light, and I'm not sure how long you expect most gamers to take in comparison. I found none of the puzzles challenging, had no control issues, and took two tries on each of the silent realms (the guardians aren't actually particularly frightening). I'm not some "pro gamer," I play roughly 6 hours of video games a week, and I personally appreciate the added length. I completely agree that the three areas weren't interesting enough to last the three go-rounds in the main storyline, but I don't know how long you suffered through the silent realm and it would be useful to know how different our experiences were.

3. The motion control is a deeply polarizing issue, and I agree that it's not identical to swinging a real sword. On the other hand, the reviews that praise the game say that the sword fighting is skilled and requires judicious swinging, while the naysaying reviews explain that the fighting isn't fun or necessary, and when it is the reviewer struggled to get their hits in. I didn't pretend to treat it as a real swordfighting experience, and I don't know why they had the aiming systems set their coordinate origins at the current location of the Wiimote, but I never had trouble aiming or swordfighting. It wasn't intuitive, but it was certainly new, and I found it rather rewarding. Do you feel you were the majority of players? Did other people you know have the same problems? It would be pretty confusing to read a review based on experiences that no one else shared, and as a published review I'm not sure how useful a unreproducible criticism is.

4. There are a lot of games out there that are repetitive, and yet not all of them are tedious. There seems to be a strong connection between the notion of tedium and how much inherent enjoyment comes from moment-to-moment play. Almost all dissenting reviews start with "the controls were difficult," follow with "the game was the same thing over and over," and end with "even if the controls were decent I still wouldn't have fun." This is a tricky position to take, because this means that including a controller-based control scheme doesn't solve the problem, and yet entire genres of games (fighting, rhythm, shmup, puzzle, platformer, shooter, social "click to win" games) fundamentally revolve around a single task. Many of these never get more exciting. I doubt someone who could never get used to a Guitar Hero controller would ever enjoy a game using it, nor would a gamer who didn't enjoy fighting games have more fun if they were given the 6-button arcade control pad. So I'm rather interested in the inherent comparison made by giving this score to Skyward Sword. Are you saying that this is the worst Zelda game in Zelda history, but as far as action adventure goes it's still above average? Are you saying that gamers who like action adventure should instead seek out the hundreds of shorter, more niche games that gamecritics.com has given perfect scores? Should Zelda fans abandon the series? A 6/10, however it was derived, means different things to different reviewers on different sites and without some coordination or explanation I hate to imagine what happens to little-known games whose sales trajectories might be heavily influenced by a few early dissenting opinions.

Thanks!
A Zelda Fan

Not a good game

I grew up on Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask like the rest of my generation, and I feel like a heroin addict chasing that first high every time I play a new Zelda game. I felt the first pangs during Windwaker, and they intensified with Twilight Princess...but they still kept me playing, and kept me immersed in the quirky, bizarre, endearing, and sometimes frightening world of the Zelda franchise.

-Just AWFUL controls. Terrible. Motion controls are just terrible, and should stay exclusive to the Wii's shovelware titles where they belong.

-Uninspired soundtrack. Uninspired is being generous. I mean, after Ocarina of Time, Majora's mask, and even Twilight Princess, how could you possibly regress this much? Perhaps my expectations are too high in this department, but I have listened to the whole sountrack, and every single track is completely forgettable.

-Boring Story/World. Well. This is where I start to get angry. Then the anger turns into a deep, profound sadness. What happened to that dark, almost bizarre mystique that accompanied the previous titles? This world is so flat and uninspired that it really took effort to finish the game. Part of the allure of Zelda is exploring unique new areas that present some different elemental or thematic aspect of the world. This is just cutesy, barren environments strung together by a generic "Find X item to open Y Gate to whatever and save Zelda" story.

-TERRIBLE Graphics. This is not a complaint against the art style. I generally enjoyed Windwaker's graphics. But I mean, just wow. Windwaker and Twilight Princess looked 100x better than this game. Blurry textures, and dull color choices.

This sums up my thoughts on the game

MrGrieves wrote:

I grew up on Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask like the rest of my generation, and I feel like a heroin addict chasing that first high every time I play a new Zelda game. I felt the first pangs during Windwaker, and they intensified with Twilight Princess...but they still kept me playing, and kept me immersed in the quirky, bizarre, endearing, and sometimes frightening world of the Zelda franchise.

-Just AWFUL controls. Terrible. Motion controls are just terrible, and should stay exclusive to the Wii's shovelware titles where they belong.

-Uninspired soundtrack. Uninspired is being generous. I mean, after Ocarina of Time, Majora's mask, and even Twilight Princess, how could you possibly regress this much? Perhaps my expectations are too high in this department, but I have listened to the whole sountrack, and every single track is completely forgettable.

-Boring Story/World. Well. This is where I start to get angry. Then the anger turns into a deep, profound sadness. What happened to that dark, almost bizarre mystique that accompanied the previous titles? This world is so flat and uninspired that it really took effort to finish the game. Part of the allure of Zelda is exploring unique new areas that present some different elemental or thematic aspect of the world. This is just cutesy, barren environments strung together by a generic "Find X item to open Y Gate to whatever and save Zelda" story.

-TERRIBLE Graphics. This is not a complaint against the art style. I generally enjoyed Windwaker's graphics. But I mean, just wow. Windwaker and Twilight Princess looked 100x better than this game. Blurry textures, and dull color choices.

This, together with the review, perfectly sums up my view on this game. Having read several 9/10 reviews praising the perfect controls, the exciting story and the fantastic graphics (for a wii game) obviously made me eager to play right through what I thought would be a wonderful experience.

After ~40 hours spent fetching x item to open the y gate, in order to become the "Hero of Legend", constantly stalled by the unimaginably redundant and time-wasting Fi, I can't say I'm pleased with the game. Bosses that look like they were brought out of some early 00s child game (Tentalus and even worse the Imprisoned (whom you had to fight thrice(!!))) along with the the blurry textures and the blocky architecture removed any joy I felt from running through the colourful environment,something I never felt playing Wind Waker, which had a similar but at least consequent art style.

The fighting might have been fun if I wouldnt have realized that it was much faster to simply waggle like in Twilight Princess to kill most enemies, especially seeing as actually trying to use the new motion controls worked as often as not, often ending up hitting exactly where you shouldnt, just making you frustrated rather than feeling like improving your swordplay.

The soundtrack... not much to say. Unlike the brilliant soundtracks for any zelda game up to this, I can't seem to remember any particular song from this game, even two hours after stopping playing it. The spirit just isn't there. Even the harp, which they could easily have used creatively along with the motion controls, just ends up as Link randomly playing arpeggios with Fi singing randomly in the background. Not using any or at least very few of the standard themes of the previous few games made me really sad, and especially the horrid overworld theme which made me think of super mario galaxy rather than zelda.

Improving movement by adding the running feature is appreciated, but it seems they made up for this by making every single area HUGE, which means it still takes longer time to get through the places where you have to go three times, adding to the feeling of emptyness which fills this game.

---

But still! IT IS an ENJOYABLE game. It definitely deserves a rating of 6/10, despite the listed flaws. The reasons why it's so easy to come with critisicm is because it has such a series of BRILLIANT games to be compared to. Had this been the Wii follow up of that decent Starfox game from the gamecube, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. But flying on the Loftwing while thinking of the wonderful ocean of Wind Waker or the Hyrule Field of Ocarina of Time simply makes me sad.

As a conclusion, this game deserves 6/10 as a game, but maybe 2/10 compared to other Zelda games!

Man... i'm just new to this

Man... i'm just new to this site and that was my first time reading a review in here... (probably the last, too). Please, dont get me wrong here, i have no intentions to be disrespectful, because i dont have any right to be... but there is one problem with your review out there... The controls are not bad, they work perfectly, period. this isnt even a matter of opinion, because WORKING controls are a matter of fact. It works, perfectly, beautifuly, is inovative to general gaming and even more to the franchise (so i presume, because i am not that of a fan of the franchise myself). Excluding that, i agree with almost everything else you said in that review, but 50% of the review is about the controls so i dont find it valid. The control works nicely, almost every people who played the game, and was actually fair about motion control, and every other review out there is up in the internet to confirm that. Please, see if you had it played with a defectuous controller or something like that, please. i have read a review that seemed like yours about Metroid Other M... some time after the review, they said that their controller was in bad conditions. consider that. Hope i was not disrespectful, and im really sorry if i was.

Could you please define

Could you please define "badly"? It seems like you throw around the term loosely. No motion controls are 100% accurate(and never will be)....and Skyward Sword's certainly aren't. Nintendo wasn't aiming for total accuracy but for fun and intuitive controls, as well as dense gameplay. I feel like they have been successful in that area. The lack of total accuracy in the controls at times doesn't take anything away from what Nintendo accomplished with Skyward Sword- which is a marvelous game.

"However, it also doesn't

"However, it also doesn't make sense to me that a person who isn't a fan of motion controls would review this game in the first place."

I think it makes sense for anyone who likes previous Zelda games to review the game.

As for the score, I agree.

Motion Controls - Get a new controller?

I'm still trying to pick up my jaw off the floor after reading your review of the motion controls. I am absolutely 100% convinced that you had a faulty controller (or low batteries the entire time you played). My experiences with the motion controls were FLAWLESS. In every challenge, tossing bombs, aiming my arrows/beetles, catching bugs, etc... I never experienced what you described. I could stab forward with my sword with deadly accuracy without even thinking about what I was doing with my nunchuk. I simply cannot understand what could possibly be wrong with your Wiimote that would give you such a negative experience. Now, to be fair, of course sometimes when I pulled out my arrows, the aimer was off-center... But all you have to do is aim it back at the middle of the screen and push DOWN on the D-pad!! And it instantly adjusts back to where you want it to be! What could be easier than that?? You can adjust it literally as many times as you want, until it is EXACTLY where you need it to be. And you can do it quickly, without lag time. I'm still completely baffled as to what kind of Wiimote you had... Are you sure you had a Wiimote with a Motion Plus inside?? I mean JEEZ! How could your experience with the motion controls be THAT terrible, when mine was so perfectly flawless? I'm just confused.

As far as the fetch quests, I somewhat agree with your opinion. There were far too many fetch quests, but considering that a Zelda game comes out once every 5 years... I don't mind adding a few more hours to my experience. It's not for everyone, but I enjoyed tracking back through the old worlds to unlock new areas. I also enjoyed the side quests that encouraged you to go through old worlds to find objects for townsfolks. The dousing ability made this task non-tedious, because you weren't walking around aimlessly looking for some random pinwheel. It was just fine, in my opinion! But like I said - Not for everyone. However, I don't remember a 50 hour game that you can play through and NEVER do anything repetitive...

Overall, it wasn't a perfect game, but I found it very rewarding. And one last note - The silent realms?? You didn't like those at all?! My heart was pounding during all of those!! I found it very, VERY rewarding as I sprinted back to the starting point to complete each one after collecting all 15 objects.

It sounds like you're in the minority (in general) about your review of the game, and it sounds like it's because of two things - 1) You hated the idea of it before you even put it in, so you weren't going to enjoy it no matter what, and 2) You had some kind of faulty controller, so it completely ruined any chance the game had of converting you. Sorry about your poor experience, but me and 95% of the other people who played the game had a fantastic 40 hours saving Zelda and the world... again.

Well overall i loved SS.

Well overall i loved SS. Zelda was growing stale with TP (Oot remake) and i liked the motion controls.

Still it´s not perfect.
Skyloft is great but I would liked more towns to explore. Why didn´t the other land races have towns or villages? Just a few huts would do.
The dungeons were really easy and straightforward.
The sky was way to empty, why weren´t more places like the Pumpkin bar.
There was some padding, having to enter the first dungeon twice and the dreadful musical note quest was horrible.
I would like more land to explore.
Give us more enemies than Boboklin or whatever their name is.

I liked most of the new things.

I liked the dense overworld on land. I liked the upgrade system and everything you could collect, for the first time your rupees were worthy. I liked the new fresh puzzles and lack of switches to press and torches to fire. I liked the motion controls except when swimming. I liked the side quest and helping people in Skyloft. Liked the graphic style and music.
I always dreaded to Imprisoned fights and collecting the tears but they turned out to be quite exciting, expecially the Imprisoned fights.

Zelda Skyward Sword: an odd experience

hey, just want to say that I agree with this review.

I don't get it why the internet is full of perfect scores fot this installment. It really has a lot of flaws.

Even though I love Zelda and Nintendo, but they really need to check up on their franchise, because it's not going right...

If you want to read a full review about my thoughts:

http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9098862

It does seem like the author

It does seem like the author should make an attempt to correct the control problems or resolve to test the game on a machine where other players have found the controls to be working well. To write a review, awarding the lowest score for a game found anywhere and complain about the controls when dozens of other reviews have praised them, all while not doubting one's own hardware setup is an amazing show of confidence - crossing into arrogance.

Think about it. Lighting. Position. Batteries. Dirty sensors. Misunderstanding of technique. Uncalibrated controls. Any of these could be responsible for issues that make the experience worse on your machine than others. Watch someone play on YouTube and see if it is behaving better for them. If so, figure it out before writing your review.

Second guessing oneself is healthy at times.

Input Lag

It is a mystery why this reviewer had such a bad experience with the controls.

The problem may be caused by input lag. I have noticed that connecting the Wii to my television with the supplied composite cables would cause severe input lag – connecting with component cables solved the problem.

Others have had the same problem – an example is this thread from the penny-arcade forum:
http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/109004/wii-hdtv-possible-lag-solved

What is worse is that the modern HDTV may have lag even with component or HDMI input. Apparently as much as 100ms (6 frames).
Read the Edge feature "How the HDTV killed rhythm action":
http://www.edge-online.com/features/how-hdtv-killed-rhythm-action/

Reviewers should definitely pay attention to this input lag issue – it can dramatically affect the playability of some games.

It would be excellent if

It would be excellent if Nentendo allowed for both motion control or traditional controller gameplay. The Zelda series has always been my favorite since I first embarked in quests in the late 80s. However, motion controls are often flawed. In a number of ways, depending on who's using it, because everyone has a comfortable way of holding or using a controller. With motion controls, your gameplay will suffer because you're not holding/tilting the wiimote or nunchuck just right. It's awesome that some people really enjoy the abundance of motion controls. I, on the other hand, fight with it throughout the entire game and it affects my experience. A negative experience for a game that one has waited years for, is never fun. I believe that more controller options would alleviate that problem completely, and fans of each can enjoy the game the way that is comfortable for them.
I finished the game, despite the set-backs, but 90% of the time I was frustrated as a result of controls. That's just me.

Just wanted to express something

I just wanted cast my vote for the "good controls" side of the fence.

I have played Skyward Sword for well over 90 hours (still haven't beaten it, by choice) and I'm extremely confused at the criticism of the game's controls.

My first instinct says that the people struggling the the controls have a few screws loose or just a few cards short of a full deck. Maybe they're extremely young or old. Or maybe, forgivingly, they simply don't WANT to enjoy/understand the game's control scheme.

Now, I realize that my initial judgement is unfair to the intellect and efforts of my peers. Therefore, I must insist that these troubled gamers thoroughly inspect their hardware and replace components to ensure that they're not experiencing a hardware failure. It is interesting to me that few, if any, naysayers have mentioned an attempt to rectify possible hardware problems, even as their accounts strongly suggest such problems.

I am keenly aware that the control scheme has a learning curve (as old-fashioned controllers are to non-gamers) and that even past 80 hours into the game, I continued to learn new techniques or nuances. To me, this elucidates another potential impediment to the enjoyment/understanding of the control scheme: That it is complex. Like a good fighting game, there are nuances to each input/command that result in different in-game effects. I feel that this reviewer (and other disappointed gamers) could be either unaware of the learning curve or disapprove of its existence.

My experience with the controls was mostly smooth. It did take me a while to realize certain fundamental aspects and as such, I can appreciate that a quick review will likely reduce the likelihood of noticing them. I present some bias, as I instinctively test each move that I want to perform repeatedly in safe location. The goal is to discover the minimum amount of gesture that precisely activates the intended action. I don't expect other people do behave in such a ritualistic manner, especially reviewers on a time crunch (and with different motives).

A key thing that I disagree with the reviewer directly is when he said that the motion controls offer no value to interaction with the game. That seems insane to me with the inclusion never-before-seen maneuvers (like bomb-rolling and 8-point sword swiping)

Some specific instances of motion control nuances:
1. Underwater swimming and the flying beetle item have the same controls. They are similar to Mario Galaxy's "Monkey" ball (except horizontal) and tLoZ:TP's board game in the fishing hut.
2. Down on D-pad centers the controller for all aiming abilities without any lag or delay.
3. I never noticed this, but in the article it was mentioned that stabbing is cancelled when thrusting both controllers at once. Instantly my thought is, why not pull the nunchuck BACK as you thrust the Wiimote forward? I'm not near my Wii or else I wouldn't be able to resist testing it.

I'm sure there are others but I have to run!

Thanks for hearing me out!

Continued...

Ok, here's an obvious problem people might run into with the controls:

When aiming the sword to deliver precise blows, most gamers acclimated to the IR (instead of the inner gyro, in SS) will attempt to reset the controller to neutral before making a second swipe. This is WRONG! The result is often an unintended swipe followed by NO swipe in the intended direction. For example, "swipe up-left, reset to center of TV, swipe up-right" will typically result in "swipe up-left, swipe down-right, stand around doing nothing." Especially in the heat of combat, trying to do this quickly will definitely frustrate you.

The correct way to use the WiiMoPlus is to never attempt to reset during combat. If you must reset it, do it slowly, or by preventing the resetting swipe with another animation. For example, if you want to "swipe up-left, swipe up-right" you simply "swipe up-left, hold, swipe up-right." The idea is that if you want to only swing UP in frantic fast-paced combat, then your arm should end up over your head, then behind your back.

It sounds silly but I guarantee you won't think the sword is "controllable" or "unpredictable" if you keep that in mind.

Honestly, my biggest gripes with the game are these:

1. Punished when picking up bugs/treasure after quitting (it costs 3-8 seconds to acquire the first of each type).
2. Useless potions. Seriously, they're useless. No one needs invincibility nor 2 rounds of full hp (3 total health bars if used efficiently).
3. Relatively barren overworld. it's the lack of enemies susceptible to swords or arrows that bothers me most. I'd love to slash at enemies without having to land in one of the 3 ground-level zones.
4. Scarcity of big, bad, tough, smart enemies. I really miss that from WW and even TP/OoT. Granted, I haven't beaten the game. But everywhere I read there's only 3 main ground-level areas and I've explored those fully... Most enemies are pushovers. I'd settle for tons of pushovers but we only get some.
5. Shields are not put to the test enough... this is highly related to point #4. There's no good reason I should still have the second wooden shield I purchased, the first iron shield I purchased, and the first magic one as well. Why allow shields to break and give many ways to prevent it (and buy more) when there are hardly any threats to the shields' integrity anyway?

This game is a triumph, in my eyes. It has its issues, but it innovates of things that seriously get me excited for the next Zelda release!

TP had no such effect on me. While I enjoyed the heck out of that game, I was genuinely scared for what the next Zelda game might be like. This game shows lots of promise. Now that Nintendo has mastered motion controls, introduced bug/treasure collecting and item upgrading... I just can't wait to see tougher/smarter enemies, a meaningful end to item upgrading and potions (maybe a damage potion? maybe magic potion that enhances specific attacks?), and more RPG elements.

This game shows huge potential for the Zelda franchise.

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