When I originally started Skyward Sword HD, I was excited to finally play one of the few Legend of Zelda games I had not had a chance to play. Unfortunately, after 30+ hours with the game, I’m wondering if things would have been better had I not played it at all.
Let me explain.
Skyward Sword is, chronologically, the first game in the series. The story the game tells elaborates on where the Master Sword came from, how Link came to be the Chosen Hero, and introduces us to the annoying yet loveable Groose. On paper, this is exciting! And honestly, the story is really solid with plenty of highs and surprises. Ghirahim is easily one of the best antagonists in the series. Yet despite this strong storytelling, what makes the game a slog to play is the gameplay itself.
The rhythm of the game has you visiting 3 main areas which are also the only areas in the game. All fine and good as far as Legend of Zelda games go. But then the game sends you back to those same areas for a second time. The areas open up in some interesting ways but remain largely the same. As you breech the 20 hour mark in the game, it then sends you back to those same areas again for the most tedious fetch and stealth quests put in a game.
Skyward Sword’s blatant redundancy in its quest design isn’t even remotely masked. Nor is it exactly “fun”. I will give some props to Nintendo for mapping the sword controls to the right stick that, for the most part, work well enough. It also didn’t help that the game world felt so barren. Flying around the sky just was not fun and had me pining for a fast travel system.
Maybe I’m so far removed from playing the more “classic” 3D Zelda games and this is just how they are. However, I also recall Twilight Princess being a slog to push through as well. But I at least didn’t feel myself spiraling into madness as the game continued like I did with Skyward Sword.
It was around the time that I had to go find the flying whale to retrieve a song that would lead me to the Triforce so I could take down Ghirahim and save Zelda. Upon rescuing the flying whale from a particularly gross parasite, the whale told me he only had one piece of the song. As I realized the game was about to send me on another fetch quest, within a fetch quest, to find the other 3 parts of the song, I felt my sanity crumble. I even hastily wrote, and posted, a scathing review on my GG profile (which has since been removed).
I was already close to 25 hours into the game and it just dropped another 10 hours on to my plate. What made matters even worse was jumping through the hoops to obtain the other parts of the song. One dragon, for example, remarked at how much more powerful I had become and how it was clear the spirit of the Goddess rested on me. But when asked for the part of the song, she said, “Ah, ah, ah. I can’t just hand out my song to just any hero”. She then proceeded to split her song into 71 notes that I had to go and, you guessed it, FETCH. As I went to another dragon, he remarked at how obvious it was I was the chosen one and simply gave me his part of the song. It’s this kind of disconnect that just felt like a slap across the face as the game continued to disrespect both me and my time.
When you think about it, to get each part of the song, you have to do more and more fetch quests. The entire third act of the game is a series of fetch quests that are so mundane that it numbs the mind to the point of insanity. I simply do not know what Nintendo was thinking when they came up with this part of the game apart from padding out the length of the game so players wouldn’t trade it in.
Now I will admit that the final act of the game, where the story reaches it’s crescendo, is really, really awesome. Ghirahim goes into his ultimate form, resembling Fi but evil, and has some new moves to use against you. Demise’s resurrection is imposing and hits the right notes that an ancient evil had been awakened. Watching Link fully embrace the Hero he was born to be is incredible. The final fight with Demise is one of the most thrilling fights I’ve experienced in a game. As the story comes to a close, and new revelations are revealed, it truly pulls at your heartstrings. If nothing else, the music in Skyward Sword is masterfully crafted.
But despite how epic the final act of the game was, the third act truly sours the experience of the entire game. It did for me, anyway. That’s why Skyward Sword is probably one of my, if not the, least favorite game in the series.
What about you? Have you played Skyward Sword? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.