Oh man, where to start with Skyward Sword? It does so many things right... Groose, beautiful art design and graphics, fantastic orchestral score, cute love plot between Link and Zelda, Groose... But it’s all completely squandered on a cheap gimmick control scheme that just makes things way more tedious.
Der Legend Aucht Zalda: Ein Skyward Sworden
[Author’s Note: I’ve been told that my control issues with this game may be due to my Wii remote; I’m using a 3rd Party Motion+ dongle, and not an official Wii remote with the Motion+ built in; allegedly the built-in dongle provides an inherently superior control option. I will have to revisit the game once I can pick up a new Wii remote.]
I could really end my thoughts on the game there - it has everything going right for it, but it’s just a fucking chore to play. I’m not completely opposed to motion controls; used right, they can feel organic and make the experience on par with with using a controller. Having played Twilight Princess on both the Wii AND Gamecube, I can definitely say that the motion controls in that game worked fine. Heck, I actually missed being able to aim projectile weapons with the Wii remote.
But Skyward Sword doesn’t use motion controls well. It abuses them, to the point that the whole game suffers. At some point, an executive at Nintendo said, “You know those piranha plant things? Yeah, instead of pressing B once to smack them with a sword and kill them, let’s make the player aim the Wii remote, swing in a specific direction, and only give a brief window of time in which they can do it.”
And the way they re-designed that ONE enemy, that sums up my feelings towards this whole game. Everything that could once be done quickly and easily has now become time-consuming and difficult (I mean, in relative terms) in a ham-fisted attempt to make it feel more “organic”. And the strange irony is, using these motion controls actually forces the fourth wall to break - when the game forces the player to hold the Wii remote in the air to do a special attack, you don’t feel like like; you feel like some doofus holding a controller in the air.
And it’s a real distraction. To be 100% honest, I did not play past the first dungeon. Why? Trying to wrap my head around inorganic, poorly-designed controls was a puzzle in itself; one that actively disrupted my ability to focus on the puzzles and navigation of the dungeon itself.
In summary, I would honestly not be surprised if Skyward Sword went down in history as, “That Skippable Motion Control One”. Compared to my three favourite titles in the series (Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess), it just doesn’t hold a candle. It’s an exercise in arbitary tedium that absolutely no one asked for.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
I never gave Smash a fair chance. I always associated it mentally as a bro game for bros; yet another hyper-competitive, frame-studied, sideways-hat-wearing tournament game for doofuses. I was wrong.
I honestly hadn’t really tried much of Smash until the 3DS version demo. I downloaded it because I like stupid plastic Nintendo toys, and I wanted to see if they were compatible (they don’t seem to be with the demo). But as I played with even the limited roster, I was impressed by just how flashy and downright fun it was; and that was having no concept of the controls.
My fiance watched me play it for a bit in bed, and she downloaded the demo too. We enjoyed fighting each other quite a lot! I mean, in Smash, not just with our typical pre-marital sass. So, when we stopped at a random EB Games, and I found Brawl for $20 used, I picked it up.
And man... I loved it. I spent most of my time with Subspace Emissary, a shitty fanfiction story mode (in a good way) that has epic cutscenes interspersed through platformer stages. Now, Subspace Emissary is a bit clunky; playing a platformer with fighting game controls is not an easy thing to do. But it works better than it rightfully should, and honestly, some of these cutscenes had me squealing like the little Mother 3 fanboy I am.
As for the game itself? It’s... Fun! I mean, there’s not much to it outside of the story mode, but to pick up and play with friends or loved ones for a few rounds, it’s great fun. The decision to not have Subspace 2 in SSB4 was a stupid one, however, and one that will probably see me not buy SSB4 at full price.
(PS, my favourite characters to use are Snake, Lucario and Captain Falcon, in that order.)
Secret of Mana
This is another game I WANTED to like, but couldn’t. See, my fiance and I really like Seiken Densetsu 3. It’s one of her favourite games, and for me, it’s easily top 50 (but I’ve played waaaay more games :P). I’d played Secret of Mana on emulators back in the day, and when I was like 12, I was a fan of this terrible flash animation series called Secret of Mana Theater (WHICH IS STILL RUNNING! I’M 25 NOW! http://www.manatheater.com/).
But honestly, this game has aged poorly. I really like the graphics and sprite animation, and the music is excellent. But it suffers from some really bad slowdown that causes long load times between damage, hits that don’t deal damage at all (they seem to be ignored by the damage counter), and really bad input delays. This was exacerbated by the fact that we were playing co-op; I’d charge up an attack for maximum damage, and it just wouldn’t register, between my fiance and the AI also dealing damage. It’s kind of sad to see, but this game will be a relic of time (while its objectively superior sequel remains Japan-exclusive in all official forms; though my repro of it works perfectly ;D).
Luigi’s Mansion 2
I love this game, but I haven’t yet finished it, so I’ll have to be somewhat restricted in what I say... But I do have a few immediate thoughts.
Firstly, I wish this game was not mission-based. I understand that it’s a handheld game, but I despise that I can’t access certain areas of the game of my own volition, simply because they’re roped-off for later missions. The puzzle-solving nature of the game means it’s laden with secrets, which naturally makes you want to explore. But you can’t. And that irritates the piss out of me.
But mechanically, the game is *solid*. Aside from the aforementioned mission structure, I do not have a single bad thing to say about this game - it’s one of Nintendo’s best. It has all these cute little flourishes like Luigi humming to the stage music, flowers blooming when you flash them with light, and other endearing little nuances, and they all make you want to fall in love with the game. And largely, I have. It’s fantastic!
I’ve heard the the original Luigi’s Mansion does have more of a free-roaming structure to it, but I’ve also heard that it’s not quite as good. I’ll have to pick them up to compare, but hopefully, Luigi’s Mansion 3 brings the best of both worlds together for a masterful sequel.
As a bit of an aside, I actually wound up trading Secret of Mana to a local game store in a straight swap for Super Mario Maker. It was a fair trade, so hopefully Mario Maker impresses me. I’m borrowing my brother’s Wii U for the next few weeks, so this ought to be fun!
Thanks for reading. And happy almost-wedding to two nerds on TAY. :D Sorry I haven’t come to visit yet~