The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Good Or Bad?

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Tally, bally ho!

Released in November 2011, Skyward Sword was an ambitious effort by Nintendo to shake up one of its most beloved series.

It met with sweeping critical acclaim from the gaming press, but has since gained a negative reputation amongst some gamers. So, where does it stand today – is it good or bad?

Skyward Sword

Straight up we’ll say we, for the large part, loved the game. It’s not perfect, but there’s the ubiquitous charm the series always throws up in spades.

Our confusion with the anti-Skyward Sword brigade began on Facebook when we saw some random individual describe it as “shit”. He didn’t qualify why, that was just his insightful assessment.

Many gamers are mindlessly caustic and frustratingly toxic in their behaviour. The game is far from bad, but its approach to the Zelda universe was markedly different to previous outings.

Yet there are many highlights, such as the Lanayru Sand Sea. We found this entire section astonishing – riveting. The section’s focus on changing time zones was beautiful to watch and engaing to play.

And, of course, there’s the incredible soundtrack to go with it from Hajime Wakai, Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota, and Takeshi Hama.

Hidemaro Fujibayashi was the director for Skyward Sword, with series creator Shigeru Miyamoto not having much to do with it.

Using the Wii’s motion controller, the player receives more independent movement over Link’s sword than ever before. Adding to that, the game is more linear in structure – almost like a platformer.

Now, it appears the major complaints about the title stem from those two issues – the controls and the linear structure. Let’s take a look at the former first.

Using the Wii controller, you can waft about Link’s sword for greater accuracy. The idea was clearly to be more immersive – the player becomes Link.

On the whole it works pretty well, but can be a bit fiddly at times. But some gamers think the system is an abomination and have made it very clear online they hate it.

The second issue is Skyward Sword’s linear structure. It’s often quite clear where to go and what to do, taking the exploration element away from the series. Nintendo listened to fan feedback for that with the successor Breath of the Wild, a vast openworld romp.

But this doesn’t ruin Skyward Sword for us. The new approach is different, sure, but there are still some epic areas to cover – as with the Lanayru region covered above.

There’s a much geater emphasis on platforming, for sure, which disappointed fans of the series wanting to head out and explore stuff.

Yet the shift away from the series’ characteristics doesn’t dent the charm – it’s beautiful to look at and a typically immersive experience.

As Link, you live in Skyloft as a knight in training. It’s a sort of sky city where you ride giant loftwing birds around, which isn’t executed in the fun sounding way you’d expect.

The birds are quite slow and you’re often left to flap around for several minutes before reaching new stages, which you’re zapped to from Skyloft into the enemey-ridden world below.

There you meet Fi, this purple woman thing who helps you defeat the dungeons below. She’s essentially the equivalent of Navi from Ocarina of Time (1998).

On the whole, though, this is the usual batch of puzzle solving and dungeon exploration. Revisiting it after almost a decade, we weren’t charmed by the thing and appreciate Skyward Sword’s sense of innovation.

It’s not perfect in its approach and some of the features probably looked like great ideas on paper, but are a bit stupid in execution – such as the bug guiding element above.

But is the game terrible? No, of course not. It’s great – the Zelda series sets a very high benchmark in terms of quality and fans expect the utmost from it.

Whilst it deviates away from Zelda norms, in so doing it makes itself stand out as a something different.

And whilst Breath of the Wild has since eclipsed it, the lessons Nintendo learned when developing Skyward Sword paved the way for what is arguably the greatest game of all time.

11 comments

  1. To me, Skyward Sword is a perfect example of a game that’s actively bad when it’s not good. There are so many great things about it, yet its flaws are completely inexcusable. I dug the motion controls, but the sheer amount of backtracking involved was ridiculous. Also, I can’t award a passing grade to a game that has a character as insufferable as Ghirahim in it, I just can’t. He really is the most poorly-written character the series has ever had. In short, I can appreciate the influence it had on Breath of the Wild, but even eight years later, it has not aged terribly well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, we’re just going to have a good old fashioned flame war, sir, as I still rather enjoy the game. Although Ghirahim is annoying, yes.

      So, you make the first insult. Profanities are allowed, just no “fuddy duddies”. You hear!?

      Liked by 1 person

      • But we agreed on something. That pretty much ends the flame war before it had a chance to begin. Also, I can agree it still translates to an above-average experience; just not one to which I could give a straight recommendation.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite at all, but I did enjoy it a lot back in 2011 and was surprised how much I liked it again – especially considering the hate it now gets.

      But hey, can’t wait for the Link’s Awakening remake later this year.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I managed to get the special edition pack that looks epic. Can’t wait for it – roll on September.

          But as for the Skyward Sword hate, I find gamers often exagerate things to a weird level. It’s a good, if not great, game. Not the best in the series, but heck. This is one mighty series we’re on about.

          Liked by 1 person

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