Legend of Zelda - Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword is an odd game for 2011. There are so many things about that are stuck in the last generation of gaming, yet others that seem to push the series forward as a whole.

Exploration

Despite being billed as a 60-80 hour game, it only took me under 40 hours to finish it. Granted, I still have a bunch of side quests left, but I don't imagine those'll take me longer than an additional 3 or 4 hours. With that amount of gametime, you'd think the game would be vast, but it really isn't. Twilight Princess is definitely spans a larger area, but Twilight Princess is no where near as dense.  Nearly every inch of Skyward Sword has something to do, and every area has multiple puzzles, plenty of enemies, and lots of little things tucked away in corners for you to find. It may have been a limitation of the platform that there are only so many of these areas, but there's a lot to do in the tiny space available.

I miss Twilight Princess' vast open spaces, though. The distance gave your journey a feeling of majesty and scale. Your journey took you very far away from home, and into all the reaches of the lands of Hyrule. In Skyward Sword, you live in the sky, and can (basically) fast travel to 3 separate locations on land. These locations are never connected, and have almost nothing to do with each other. BUT, there's plenty to do, and redo. You revisit them quite a bit throughout the story of the game. In Twilight Princess, you scarcely revisited areas unless you were on later side quests. (though, I might be remembering that wrong)

Story and Character

Skyward Sword is somewhat quirky, but is mystical and has a lot of heart. I think this is the first Legend of Zelda whose entire story starts from the beginning to the end. In most Zelda games, you start off in some village and venture out into the world where you encounter evil that is already going on, and are caught up in the middle of it. Skyward Swords also begins in your hometown, but everything is right with the world. The evil doesn't show up until a few hours into the game.

Also, unlike previous Legend of Zelda games, Link and Zelda are very close friends, and have been since childhood. Every other game, Zelda is the princess of Hyrule, and Link is some peasant overcoming all odds to save her. Skyward Sword establishes their vast friendship, and makes the journey to save her meaningful outside of destiny. It's Link's love for Zelda that he continues on, and it makes Skyward Sword incredibly cute and touching in story intense scenes.

Story Significance

2011 was the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, and was celebrated with plenty of games. There were 3 Zelda games released in 2011: Ocarina of Time 3D, Four Swords on DSi and 3DS, and Skyward Sword. Additionally, Nintendo released a 25th Anniversary art book that encompassed the whole series. And it had a timeline, too! Which I mentioned previously: December 21st, 2011.

Here's a better explanation of the timeline:

Canonically, Skyward Sword is the very first Legend of Zelda story. It was first officially mentioned in Wind Waker that in each Legend of Zelda game, you're not playing as the same Link and Zelda. Almost every character is a different person, and these games sometimes take place hundreds of years apart from each other.

Spoilers: At the very end of Skyward Sword, this struggle between the Hero of light, the Princess, and the King of darkness is set up. As the God of evil is slain, he decrees that his hatred is eternal and can never be snuffed out. As time exists, his spirit will hunt down the goddess, and the hero will be reborn. This conflict is eternal. He basically spelt out the entire purpose of the Legend of Zelda series as Wind Waker did.

Nostalgia

The mystical sense of Skyward Sword are all the gods at play. You are agents of the Goddess, and are literally fighting evil. It mirrors a lot of the ancient stories that are sometimes told to explain who you are in previous Legend of Zelda titles.

Spoilers: But the real nostalgia is what you are doing in the second act on the game. You are tempering and forging the Master Sword. In Skyward Sword, you are creating the Master Sword. The same sword used in most later Zelda titles. It's amazing to think of all the other games I've used this sword, and now I'm creating it! Though, I feel it would have been more amazing to forge the Triforce, but (apparently) that's something the gods can only make.

Spoilers: In the end, a section of your town, Skyloft, falls to the surface and forms what it known as the Temple of Time in future games! Once you vanquish the God of evil, you seal his spirit in the Master Sword and place the sword in the alter of the Temple of Time. The SAME position where it is later found in Ocarina of Time. OMG OMG Nostalgia! I was livid during the ending of Skyward Sword.

Though, I felt a greater sense of nostalgia when I returned to the Temple of Time in Twilight Princess. I was actually exploring the same location that existed in Ocarina of Time, and retrieved the Master Sword from the exact spot it was left. There was an amazing amount of build up, and execution in that dungeon that it was almost overwhelming.

Skyward Sword has amazing nostalgia but it's really only in the ending. In Twilight Princess, it allowed me to explore it, and I felt like I was an archeologist. BUT, these games occupy separate ends of the timeline. It easy to uncover stuff from the past when playing in the future, rather than playing in the past and creating everything.

Music

There are some tunes in Skyward Sword that are quite breathtaking, but for the most part the style of music follows the quirky nature of the game. It's very upbeat, and runs at a perfect pace for the areas you explore in the game.

BUT, I still like Twilight Princess better. The Hyrule Field tracks had the perfect ambience and atmosphere that converyed the majesty and queer nature of the game. Also, the background track for the Sky Temple is the most deformed ambient song I've ever heard in The Legend of Zelda. It was the first time I had ever stopped playing a Zelda game, and just listened.

Twilight Princess v. Skyward Sword

Overall, I think Skyward Sword trumps Twilight Princess. Skyward Sword doesn't waste any space, there's an actual meaningful story in of itself with characters you care about, rather than just THE NEW rendition of Link and Zelda. Ever more than that, all the characters in the game have character, and play off each other. The Art direction in Skyward Sword is whimsical, beautiful, and ridiculously colorful. And most of the music complements it perfectly. PLUS! It's actually pretty fun to play on the Wii. Twilight Princess was unplayed on the Wii, in my opinion.

I still like Twilight Princess better, though (Gamecube version, obviously). I haven't played it in 5 years, so I'm probably remembering it better than what it was. But I loved the idea of a dark, somewhat creepy Legend of Zelda title. There were gnarly deformed creatures and enemies. The art direction used a whole lot of light v. dark.

There are both great games, and I can't wait to see what's next for Zelda on the Wii U.

1080p Skyward Sword

The Wii U is set to come out this coming Christmas. It is 1080p, and I HOPE HOPE HOPE that it'll upscale Wii games to that resolution. The Dolphin emulator currently allows you to play Skyward Sword in 1080p, and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Here are some shots from the thread on NeoGaf




The Wii only runs at 480p, and it really shows it age. ESPECIALLY after playing games like Uncharted 3, Batman Arkham City, and Skyrim. For a Comparison, here are two nearly identical shots: one in 480p, and one in 1080p using Dolphin.

480p: http://theschlock.com/photo/120105_zelda/dolphin-480p.jpg
1080p: http://theschlock.com/photo/120105_zelda/dolphin-1080p.jpg

It's a world of difference! I'm not really that big of a graphics whore, but it's definitely noticeable when it feels like you're playing through a stained glass window.  But anyway, if the Dolphin is any proof, Skyward Sword can easily be upscaled to 1080p and looks fantastic, so hopefully the Wii U will do such things!




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