"Kweee..." —Kikwi Elder
It's here! In light of Zelda's 35th anniversary (which makes it only 3 years older than myself) Nintendo decided to remaster one of the most decisive Zelda titles to-date: Skyward Sword. Does it hold up? How about those new 'button-only' controls? Are the JoyCons' motion of greater or equal value than that of the Wii-Motion+? Stay tuned to find out on the next Dragon Ball—wait, what was I doing again?
1. PUSHES ALL THE BUTTONS
Let's get the decisive bits out of the way; rip off that Band-Aid called "controls." The original Skyward Sword (SS) had fans in a pickle; you either loved SS or you hated it. Why? The motion-controls of course! Being the stand alone title and built from the ground up for the Nintendo Wii, you bet your tunic-wearing ass it was all about swinging your sword with the Wii-mote and protecting yourself with the Nun-chuck. It all comes down your taste; do you like motion controls or not? Regardless of the new Motion+ attachment or not, some people just did not fancy the, at the time, new way to play their favorite franchise.
Now we fast forward 10 whole years and the Big N has decided to take a chance and bring out the precursor to Breath of the Wild—a bold choice indeed, but a great one. This time, the developers give players a new 'buttons-only' play-style option which means no motion controls at all if you so desire. I have to admit, it was hard to get used to at first with the R-stick acting like your sword and all it's swinging directions, not to mention some of the button combos that were necessary to do the basics that a little wrist swing would take care of. But with all of those slight clunky issues, it works! and I love it. It's the new and best way to play this classic title. Of course, the JoyCons feel just as good, if not better, than the Wii-motion+ attachment from back in the day if you so choose to go the nostalgia route. Choose your potion!
2. SOUNDS OF HEAVEN
I'm an audio guy, I likes ear-gasms—what can I say? Any game that has incredible audio, or in this case music, I'm all over it like a fly on honey. This has the best soundtrack of any other in the series. I know that is a very bold statement, but let me explain... It's true. The power of emotion if very much activated in Skyward Sword HD (SSHD). There are three tracks in particular that are so moving, create wonderful sense of atmosphere, and are composed so well, that you cannot help but think this is a Hollywood production at times, "Gate of Time" and "Romance in the Air" are definite proof. Feel these tracks, don't just listen...
3. BEST IN-CLASS STORY
This. This is the reason SSHD (and the original SS for that matter) have buried such a strong loyalty in my catalog of favorite Zelda titles—the story is unparalleled. Gamers will be receive three major revelations over the course of their incredible journey; which tell all. All will be explained as the timeline solidifies SS as the first in it's entry. That's right... This game is the very first in the order of things and you will see why. I cannot bring myself to spoil such awesome insights that SS and SSHD bestow upon any major fan of the series' lore.
4. IT BUILDS CHARACTER(S)
Of course, a story is only as good as it's characters and this title has no shortage of quality. The quantity however, leaves something to be desired as there aren't that many residents of Skyloft or any other rocks amongst the clouds. I wish I could say that all are strong, memorable characters, but "my calculations show that only 75% are of sufficient worth," (sorry, that was my inner Fi speaking). It's true however, not many characters exist in this game and quite a few of them can kind of go in the 'discount user bin.' But that only equates for one-fourth of the cast, what about the other three quarters you ask? My God, they are anything but dull. Link, Fi, Zelda, Grannie, Impa, Groose, Girahim, and of course... Demise; these are the 'crème de la crème.' Their models, textures, and facial animations (of the humans that is) sell the very tense emotional moments, sense of urgency, determination, and even playful banter amongst each other that just isn't found in any other Zelda title before it's time. More to follow in 'No. 5.'
5. FANTASTIC FACIAL ANIMATION
We have arrived at one of the greatest moments in Zelda's history; pure emotion on the faces of every NPC, and our brave "Hero of the Skies." No other Zelda game has facial animations like this, not even Breath of the Wild! That's right, you heard me—come fight me bro. With a mere twitch of his brow, Link has more pure emotion in his face than I have ever seen in this series. Props to the animators who took the time to perfectly sculpt every ounce of emotion they could out of every character in this game. But Link, man, whoever worked on his face—give them an major raise. Link has never felt more human in all of his adventures. He has personality, a variety of emotional states, and feels more alive than ever.
6. NEVER LOOKED BETTER
One cannot simply talk about an HD remaster without stating the obvious about it's looks. This game looks incredible in HD and is a pleasure to view it's bright colors, exuberant atmosphere, and crisp, smooth textures. One can really appreciate all the thought and love the developers put into the visuals to give this game it's due justice for both current and next generation of fans alike.
7. CONTAINED ADVENTURE
Exploration... It's what makes Zelda a Zelda game, right? Of course. While there is some exploration in SS and SSHD, it's still quite minimal compared to that of almost every other 3D title. One major complaint about SS is how contained in feels, like there isn't much going on anywhere, and they're right. Other than Skyloft, there aren't really any other settlements or sky villages out there—albeit an erection here and there housing a not more than a single individual save for The Lumpy Pumpkin. Skyloft is as big as it gets in terms of village exploration for the most part, and the surface (the world below, A.K.A. Hyrule) is far more linear than ever before. There is no real central hub world below but more of a sectioned off set of areas, three to be exact, each of which are just as linear as the last. Instead of exploration, the developers chose more of a dungeon feel for each section of Hyrule. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.
Need I say more?
9. THE START OF A NEW RPG ERA
Love Breath of the Wild? Well, you can thank SS for pushing the series in that direction. Me personally, I love the amount of RPG elements introduced into SS and SSHD so much that I never felt the need for more. That being said, SSHD introduces the concept of enhancements and forging stronger versions of various items and shields—which are breakable (say for a one.) Introducing such concepts just fits so well with the current Zelda formula that it just felt like a bonus to have the ability to fix your shield, improve it's defense, and then upgrade your slingshot, bomb bag, or other various doohickeys that Link picks up along the way. Using bugs, foliage and monster parts, your set of mediocre consumables just became a hell of a lot more efficient. This also goes for potions too! Want the red potion to restore even more hearts, or green to give you longer lasting stamina? (That's right stamina was introduced in SS too.) Go to the potion maker's husband and infuse those mofo's with some bug juice--blegh!
10. THE UNRIVALED BADASS FINAL BOSS
I cannot understate this; Demise is the most badass boss battle in the history of the franchise. Period. The root of all evil and hatred in mankind for eons to come? Yes, please. The downright reason that our green-brooded hero and blonde princess have to constantly fight for the light of Hyrule to remain from generation to generation? Double yes! A creature so evil, it wields the very antithesis of the Master Sword? Holy-fucking-shit, yes! Demise is the coolest, most badass boss to-date and will remain a tough contender to match for as long as there exists our princess, and her hero.
Skyward Sword HD is a wonderful remaster of such an iconic, albeit divisive Zelda game. Fans' previous "love it or hate it" response to the original has given the re-release's reception a bittersweet taste for many. My hope is that this remaster, given a crisp face lift and proper button controls, will tempt them once more to indulge in the very sweetness this game's story, character development, animations, and gameplay have to offer. Maybe, just maybe, those previously deemed as "hate its"... Have developed a new palette.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD undeniably deserves an...