I will be posting a review I did on Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door in the next few days.
Been a while since I did a BZP video game review, so I figured I'd start with a game that I recently played(well, perhaps recently isn't the right word, it was a few months ago). Skyward Sword is easily the Wii's best game of 2011, but with such a short list of AAA games for the Wii in 2011, does it measure up against other consoles games? You can find out by reading below(or, more correctly, find out my opinion).
STORY: The story in Skyward Sword is, thank God, something original. Seems like it's been forever since we've had a console Zelda that's attempted something besides "Ganon captures Zelda, Link fights Ganon, Link saves Zelda," etc. This time, Zelda's not a princess that the player has very little connection with, but an old friend that you can legitimately connect with. The other characters in the game work incredibly well, and it's actually fairly reminiscent of another favorite game of mine, Okami. The world is scattered with a colorful cast that makes it actually feel like you're attempting to save a real place. No more barren wastelands with barely anyone inhabiting them like in Twilight Princess, the world of Skyward Sword is full of great characters. Even the villains showed up, with Ghirahim being quite possibly the most entertaining bad guy in the history of Zelda.
The actual plotline is done very well, and for the most part, makes sense. There's a couple of time shifting what the heck moments later on, but as long as you don't think too hard about it, it shouldn't be a problem. It's not Okami or Asura's Wrath quality, but it's very preferable to the predictable formula of "fight through a bunch of dungeons to get to Hyrule Castle to save Zelda." My main complaint is the ridiculous amount of fetch quests you are sent through early on in the game. There are quite a lot, and they take quite a bit of time.
GAMEPLAY: The gameplay is an interesting mix of good and bad. I'll begin with the sword controls, one of the central focuses of the game. Being able to fully control where you sword is is nice, and there are some battles where it feels very natural, and then others where it feels like Nintendo had to adjust the speed of combat to the new controls. For example, there's one boss very late in the game where he'll hold a sword to block your attacks, and you have to beat on the sword until you make a hole in it. From then on, he'll begin shifting the sword's position, forcing you to strike in different ways to continue whittling the hole down until you cut the sword in half. The issue is that he basically stands still the entire time, refusing to attack, and looking ridiculous.
When combat is not being slown down, however, it's a blast. The sword controls work perfectly for the most part, and it feels like there's a whole different level of control being given to you with the sword's 1:1 movement. When they're being worked into a fight with multiple layers of strategy, such as using a powerup or two alongside the sword, there aren't many other battles in Zelda history that can compete with it. The fights where the game completely falls back on sword movement aren't bad either, but they're nowhere near as fun or as engaging. As for the difficulty, the enemies are never difficult, but that doesn't take away from how fun they are.
For everything else, however, the Wii motion plus sucks, and this is where Nintendo's decision completely boggles my mind. You'll use the Wii motion plus for everything from flying, to aiming your bow, to swimming, to using a vacuum cleaner, but the issue is that the controls are very insensitive and frequently become unaligned, which becomes very annoying in the middle of a fight. The sensor bar would have worked fine for most of these, and I'm stunned that Nintendo didn't use it for that. Oh well.
Exploration still plays a big role in the game, though, make no mistake about that. The puzzles are some of the highlights of the game, in my opinion, and, for the most part, they're neither too subtle nor too obvious(though there are a couple that I think could have been explained much better). If you're any sort of fan of puzzle solving, or really any sort of mental games, you'll enjoy the puzzles here. As for the other parts of exploration, they're fun too, although you'll never really be in doubt as to where to go, so it's a bit less noticeable that you're "exploring"(unless you go out of the way of the main quest to look around the areas that you're in).
The upgrade system that makes its way into this game is fun, too, though it doesn't keep every tool from becoming obsolete like has been claimed(sorry, slingshot). The upgrades they do give out aren't easy to come by, but they are very helpful, and this helps facilitate further exploration in areas below the clouds. Believe it or not, Nintendo actually managed to make "treasure hunting" a worthwhile sidequest just for this. I like it, I just wish that Nintendo had made catching bird feathers a bit easier. But it's a minor complaint for something that was implemented very well.
The biggest issue I have with the gameplay is when it completely falls flat on its face, which happens several times. In these instances, Skyward Sword drastically shifts the aspect of the gameplay, forcing you to protect something, or leaving you weaponless while being chased around by giant robots attempting to collect tears of light while not being spotted in poorly done Splinter Cell esque parts. Most of these instances aren't really fun, some of them are downright annoying, and it's another head-scratcher as to why Nintendo thought it would be a good idea to implement them.
The gameplay, when it's not slowed down tremendously or changed into something entirely different, is still worthy of the highest recommendation.
GRAPHICS: The graphics, meh, they're not bad. They sort of seem like a cross between the cartoonish Wind Waker and the realistic Twilight Princess. It works well, but it's not spectacular. Metroid Prime 3 easily remains the best looking Wii game, just to clear up the claims that this game has the best graphics on the Wii.
MUSIC: The music is what we've come to expect from Zelda. A couple of themes will get on your nerves here and there, but the music is spectacular for the most part.
REPLAY VALUE: Skyward Sword's definitely worth a replay, but only on hero mode, and only if you don't mind Fi's hand holding, which gets far more annoying the second time through(especially since there's no way to skip it). However, it's almost guaranteed you won't finish anywhere near everything there is to do the first time through, so give it a second go.
OVERALL: When Skyward Sword is good, it's really good. Its few mistakes, however, are VERY noticeable and quite annoying. If it wasn't for how bad some of these issues are, I would have no problem rating this game right alongside Ocarina as the greatest title in Zelda history. As it is...well...these problems are here, and they hold it back from being a completely amazing experience. It's a great game, no doubt about that, but the issues in game really make you wonder how awesome this could have been had some of these problems been fixed.
9/10: If you have a Wii and Wii motion plus, definitely get this game. If you like Zelda games, but don't have Wii motion plus, I would still advise you to get it. However, if you don't have Wii motion plus and Zelda's never been your favorite franchise, or you've never played Zelda before and you're not sure, I wouldn't advise shelling out the $30 for the plus and then $50 for the game. $80 is a lot for a single game, especially when there are cheaper games out there that have lot more content and lot less Fi.
It's great, but it's not quite the legendary Nintendo game Super Metroid/Ocarina/Metroid Prime caliber.
Again, thanks to Toa Zehvor MT. I myself have hated the demos of Skyward Sword and disagree with pretty much everything in this, but to each their own.