Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Top 10 Games of the Seventh Generation Consoles - #1: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
This is easily the most impressive Zelda title I’ve played since Ocarina of Time and the Oracle titles. Whereas Twilight Princess blatantly tried to align itself with Ocarina of Time and offered up a host of uninspired and generally non-threatening bosses, Skyward Sword borrowed elements of practically every previous Zelda game and meshed them with a brand new combat system. The result is one of the most fresh and enjoyable experiences I’ve had with any video game in a long while, and the most fun I've had with a Zelda release in over a decade.
Certainly, the core essence of Zelda is retained, but there’s plenty of new characters and content to indulge in, like sassy and prideful Demon Lord Ghirahim or the Timeshift Stones that are scattered about Lanayru Desert. Ganondorf has long reigned as my favorite video game villain of all time (specifically, his Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker incarnations), But Ghirahim ranks quite highly as well. While Skyward Sword’s enemy number one is full of attitude from the first encounter to the last, he slowly reveals more and more about his true nature with each encounter he has with Link – and I don’t mean that we learn more about his plans to revive his master, as that is something we know practically from the outset. Rather, we see how truly prideful he is, as well as how he is unable to deal with someone else besting him in battle, let alone a human.
As for the new combat system, it is what the Wii was designed for – a perfect 1:1 reaction as Link swings his sword up, down, sideways, and vertically. The dungeons are chock full of fun puzzles and stronger enemies than usual, many of whom require a specific angle of attack from Link’s sword. There’s a curious collection of items at Link’s disposal, including a whip, double clawshot, and the beetle, though none of these serve to replace pre-existing items as is typical of Zelda titles. Many of the items also see multiple applications, such as the whip being used to swing across chasms and pull on switches. While few of the dungeons ever reach the scale of those in Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, they are all wonderfully inspired on both the front of puzzle design and aesthetic presentation.
The soundtrack is gorgeous, the art style phenomenal, and the characters – especially a more bright and talkative Zelda – genuinely lovable. Skyward Sword ends with one of the most epic, atmospheric boss fights to ever grace the series, which is saying a lot, considering how well-received the boss fights in nearly any Zelda game tend to be. This is the story that sets in motion all the patterns witnessed in the rest of the series, and I could not have asked for a more perfect way for it to be conveyed. It’s a game that I waited more than two years to play after its initial reveal, a game that I was excited for unlike any other before it, and a game that delivered everything I had hoped for and more.