Personally, I’ve never really seen the Nintendo Wii console as the best platform for single player games. I think it’s a brilliant multiplayer console, and despite the fact the original Wii may seem slightly out-dated when compared to the newer, equivalent motion technology you can get with the Xbox or PlayStation, its still a lot of fun. However, playing tennis against yourself, can become rather depressing, particularly if you’re sitting on the sofa and moving the control as minimally as possible. So a good, single player game for the Wii is a blessing, and The Legend of Zelda games are just that.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was, rather shockingly to some, the first Zelda game I had ever played. And it was incredible. The story was brilliantly paced, the characters were likable and the overall gameplay was varied and really good fun. So, I was really excited when The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was released back in 2011.
As with all Zelda games, you play as Link, who in this reincarnation is a trainee knight in the Skyloft Academy. As the name suggests, the island of Skyloft floats above the kingdom of Hyrule, and so Link must travel between the floating island and the land below using a giant bird, or Loftwing.
The game, as many of the Zelda games do, starts relatively mundanely — running around Skyloft talking to the locals, learning about what there is to collect and buy; the usual tutorial stuff. However, the pace soon changes after Zelda is kidnapped and Link must travel down to the land below and save her. At last, you finally unlock the infamous green outfit, this time the Skyloft knight’s uniform, and the game really begins.
In all the Zelda games for the Wii, the developers have clearly tried hard to utilise the console’s motion technology, whilst not allowing it to dominated the playing experience. For example, when you are in combat, you swing the Wii remote in the direction you want to swing your sword, and use the Numchuck to move Link’s shield. While I can’t argue that these controls are better than a conventional joystick controller, it does allow for almost seamless gameplay, whilst still being able to stay sitting on the sofa. And the longer you play, the more intuitive the controls become.
Many of Link’s abilities are the same as in Twilight Princess, with a few additions to his repertoire. Stylistically, Skyward Sword, in its majority, seems slightly more upbeat than the darker Twilight Princess. In this reincarnation, even Link’s companion, called Fi, is more optimistic that the often irritating Midna from Twilight Princess. Though fans of Midna will be happy to know that her successor also alerts you constantly, via the speaker in the Wii control, if she has a hint to give you, which to my knowledge is impossible to mute: a feature I personally wish the developers hadn’t decided to keep.
The gameplay itself is varied, from puzzle solving, to combat; and whilst it is relatively straightforward, it is diverse enough to remain entertaining. However, if you pick up the game after a long time of not playing, it can sometimes take a while to work out what you were doing. There are no levels as such, as the game tends to focus on the completion of an area, such as a dungeon or temple, in order to progress. As such, unless you have a great memory, you may have to spend a bit of time at the beginning of a session having to familiarise yourself with the game.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is, as to be expected, a pretty good game, and for me, it redeems the Wii console for the single player gamer. Nintendo’s flagship series is still going strong; I’m just disappointed I don’t have a Wii U to play the next one.
Rosie Howard, Games columnist
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