So, I'm not sure how many of you follow PeanutButterGamer (PBG for short), but he recently posted a video about the good points of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on his YouTube channel.
Anyway, I watched this video with Morie today, and it was topical because I just finished playing the game for a second time last month (I was playing for Morie since she couldn't stand the controls). I think they raise some points, but I don't agree with all of them. Let's go over their assertions one by one.
1) It's Linear
Eh. I don't think this is a valid complaint. There have been very linear Zelda games (Ocarina of Time) and very open-world Zelda games (Legend of Zelda). Skyward Sword is a story-driven, linear game. I have no issue with that. What I do take issue with, and what they failed to address, is the constant returning to the same places over and over again. Seriously, Eldin Volcano is the most annoying area. They really don't expand on it much except for that tiny extra area inside the volcano, but once you go there once, you've already visited pretty much the entirety of that area.
Faron woods and Lanayru Desert offer much more to explore, but it still isn't much. Oh yeah, and in order to get the first Flame to purify your sword, you have to go back to the first dungeon of the game and get water from a very specific part of the pond. This is piss-poor game design meant to pad the game and make it take longer. I did not appreciate that.
2) The Motion Controls
You either loved them or you hated them. Not much to say here; however, having played both with the Motion Controller + and Motion Control + attachment, I have to say that the Motion Control + attachment is much less precise. That being said, even with the Motion Controller +, I still had to recalibrate during really intense fights, and there were many times where I would swing in one direction, and the game would interpret me as swinging in the opposite direction. Not very useful in the Stalmaster fights...
Also, I had to recalibrate constantly when using ranged weapons. To make matters worse, whenever I tried to activate a ranged weapon, it would swing Link around in the direction the camera was facing instead of the way Link was facing. This messed me up on a number of fights and puzzles. Oh yeah, and the stabbing motion has a 0.5 to a full second delay when attacking. This is fatal in some fights.
3) A Barren Overworld
The overworld was barren, and things were spread too far apart. At least it wasn't as bad as Wind Waker was, but getting places was still very irritating, especially since the game didn't offer you any sort of warp function. There's no reason why I should have had to fly to the Thunderhead every time I wanted to go there. What made it extra annoying was that there were tornados on the direct path from there to skyloft, so if you weren't paying attention, you were plummeting throught he coulds.
Skyloft itself was a bit of a different matter. It was a town, and there was stuff to do, but Windfall island felt more like a bustling town than Skyloft. On top of that, almost no one lived there. You're telling me all of these people were sequestered on this island for centuries, and only about two dozen people live there? It should have been packed, or at the very least, there should have been more inhabited islands in the sky. Oh yeah, and since it was such a small community, why did no one seem to care when Zelda suddenly disappeared for weeks after potentially plummeting to her death below the clouds? Seriously, fuck these people.
4) Multiple Fights Against the Imprisoned and Girahim
Is this a complaint? I think that's the wrong complaint. The complaint should be that they don't give you enough feedback on how to beat Girahim the first time you fight him. He's way too hard on the first attempt. I eventually learned that you have to move your sword to one side until he moves his hand there, then swing from the opposite direction. Once you had that down, it wasn't terrible, but they really made it too unforgiving. He was actually easier to fight once he took out his own sword.
The Imprisoned was just too hard to do damage too once he started making shockwaves. Again, once you learned to use your bow it wasn't so bad, but the game really encourages you to go in with your sword swinging wildly. It's also hard to get around him to actually hit his toes, and if you run out of arrows, you're shit out of luck unless you want to brave getting hit. Now, I don't ever use a shield when I play, so maybe that would block the shockwaves. I don't know, but if you go shieldless, it's a problem.
5) The Game Had Some of the More Enjoyable Boss Fights in the Franchise
Each game has their own enjoyable boss fights. Koloktos, final Girahim, and Demise were all great fights (although, I always needed to use the invincibility potion to defeat Demise because, again...no shield, and his lightning blocking would kill me...maybe if I were more patient? Nah. Not worth it). That being said, the rest of the bosses didn't really stand out too much or were flat out annoying.
I completely disagree with them on this. Fi is the most annoying companion Link has ever had. The only time she shows any character development is at the very end of the game. The rest of the game, she's a hinderance and annoyance, often telling you the solution to puzzles by the time you've already figured it out. This winds up wasting time as her dialogues are unskippable. Also, any time your hearts get to about...4 or 5, her icon blinks and beeps incessantly on top of the heart beeping noise. What makes it worse is that she could have been a compelling character. They could have shown here becoming more compassionate and understanding during the course of the game. There could have been meaningful dialogue between her and the other characters, especially between herself and Zelda, but they chose not to do this.
Navi was a much more compelling companion than Fi was. At least she had personality. She developed a little bit during the story, and was at least on screen for your battles. She only really popped up telling you where to go if you were taking too long to do something or if there was something nearby that you could Z-target. At worst, Navi was there, but was mostly ignorable if you chose not to talk to her. Fi just pops up out of your sword and stops you from what you're doing to tell you something you already know. Also, I'm convinced she pulled all of those percentages out of her ass. Seriously, I want to see the data. After Midna, Fi is a huge step backwards.
Not Fi related, but another, similar complaint: every time you turn the game on again and you pick up a collectible item, it has to stop the whole fucking game to tell you what it is, even if you already have 20 in your pouch. I seriously hope this goes away in the next Zelda.
7) Zelda and Link's Relationship
This game has one of the most compelling Zelda characters. I actually agree with most of this. My gripe, though, is that Zelda is relegated to waifu status and falls into many of the childhood friend anime stereotypes. Again, they had a chance to make her Midna level compelling, but I seriously think they spent so much time working on the motion-control combat, that they rushed with some of the other details that could have made this one of the more compelling Zelda games. With that being said, I think they could make a spin-off of this game as a downloadable title where you play as Zelda and Impa on her quest to the surface world. I would buy and play the shit out of that (puzzle, stealth platformer with combat sequences later on involving Impa). This would actually work really well on the 3DS.
8) Awakening as a Central Theme
This is a thing. I really don't have much to say about it. A bit ham-fisted, but not the first time it's been done. I really won't say much about this.
Groose is the best character in this game. He's the only character that has real development (besides Link who has minor changes that are assumed based on what the game tells you in the dialogue of other characters). I could go on at length about the greatness of Groose's character, but the video gets into it pretty well and this is getting long and I want to talk about other things. I'll be happy to discuss in the comments, though. I'll end with this, though: Groose would have been a much better companion character.
9) Additional Thoughts From Dyram
Skyward Sword isn't a bad game. It's actually a good game. It's just not a good Zelda game. I've talked about a lot of things up there that really drag the game down, but one thing that this video didn't tackle that I want to tackle is what is possibly the largest plothole in the series' history:
10) The Broken Time Travel Mechanic
During the game, you get the ability to go into the past. This is nothing special in and of itself. They did it very well in Ocarina of Time. There are few to no paradoxes caused by Link's Time Travelling escapades. In this game; however, they forgot to address some glaring issues: Link getting the Triforce in the Present was completely pointless
When Link drops the Statute of the Goddess on Demise, it erradicates him as the imprisoned and he is no longer a threat to the future. However, Girahim comes along and whisks Zelda back to the past, where you have to kill Demise in his Awakening Demon form. So, right there, the Triforce task is invalidated. Once Demise was killed, there was no reason to have to drop the Statue; but when you go back to the present, there it is, sitting in the hole in the ground.
Also, let's not forget that when you beat Demise, you put the Master Sword to rest in the Temple of Time. At no point in the game is the Master Sword in the Temple of Time while you play it. Again, if the Statue of the Goddess hadn't crashed, this wouldn't have been an issue. You could just assume that Link went to an alternate timeline. The crashed Statue of the Goddess still says otherwise.
The last, damning bit of evidence is that Zelda should have reawoken in the past after Demise was defeated. There should, cannonically, be two Zeldas. Zelda was only to sleep until Demise was completely defeated; therefore, she should have woken up in the past. Actually, that could have been a very compelling story point. They could have killed Zelda in Demise's revival, only to have her reawaken from her slumber in the past. How awesome would that have been?
I know that was a long read, but for those of you who stuck through my ramblings, I thank you and appreciate it. What are your thoughts on Skyward Sword? What worked and didn't work? Did I make you think of anything new? Maybe you can give me a new take on something that I said above. I also challenge you to convince me that the time travel in this game made any lick of sense at the end of the game.