BlogWeek, Day Four: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The problem with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the problem with all the past alternate Zeldas: redundant parts that get tedious and turn play into chores. Start with Ocarina of Time which is flawless. God, remember Ocarina of Time? Yes, there was that wacky goosechase/errand boy mini-quest where you had to pass successive objects from one lazy Hyrulian’s hand to another, but something about this felt to me heroic—or at least a form of good citizenship.

Then we got Majora’s Mask, the central conceit of which was (if memory serves) that you had to keep living the same three days over and over again, doing things differently each time to make your way toward Zelda. (Maybe? I never got to the end.) Redundancy and repetition. I never felt comfortable in that weird world, nor did I feel gallant and ambitious in my discomfort.

Next is—wait, I’ve got it wrong. They don’t exactly alternate between good and bad, because next was Wind Waker, which started out nice and graphically cool, but then (again if memory serves) you’re tasked with going on your little raft back to all these tiny islands you hit up earlier in the game, in, I think, a certain sequence. Just to get an item you need to continue in your quest.

This is the point I’m trying to make: it seems that alternate Zeldas take these kind of narratively lazy shortcuts as a means of prolonging game play, where rather than move little Link forward and onward, they stick him in a kind of recursive loop for a few cycles. The effect is either like being a hockey player in a penalty box, or falling down a chute when you want to climb a ladder.

Okay so next was Twilight Princess, which I found great and different and continually forward-moving. What it did to the Zelda mythos with the shape-shifting and the weird sci-fi World of Twilight was unexpected and somehow fit. No complaints.

And no complaints at first with Skyward Sword. Like lots of Zeldas, it starts off with a kind of base level of play that suddenly explodes after defeating three…let’s throwbackishly call them dungeons. Remember this? How in Ocarina of Time you eventually got the Master Sword, which enabled you to become grownup Link and find a lot more dungeons? This might go back to A Link to the Past, I think. At any rate, now, before I can enter through the Gate of Time, this old lady in Skyward Sword is telling me I need to enter back into each of the three dungeons I just successfully navigated through, so’s to collect flames that’ll make my little sword strong enough to carve the entrance or something.

Naturally these same dungeons I went through and defeated the angry bosses of (which, like, should have rendered the dungeons clean and uninhabited by evil things, in the Zelda mythology, right?) have new bosses, which the nebbishy Type-A travel companion who lives in my skyward sword and has a name that’s more of a syllable than an actual name informs me are bigger and badder than the bosses I already bested. Maybe I’ll find things are different down there, but from where I am, it seems like I have to play the game I just played all over again. I’m not looking forward to it.

…all of which is to say nothing about how nice it used to be to use my thumbs to push a bunch of buttons in the right sequence. Remember how playing the Ocarina felt kinda like playing a real ocarina, minus the air-blowing? Now, with Wii Motion Plus, I can’t do anything with buttons. I have to act it out, like a stupid mime on the couch. It just kind-of works. When I go like this with my “sword-holding hand,” Link tends to go like that and get his ass zapped by the dude’s electric shield his sword just hit. Also, I’ve got this harp I need to use at special moments, and this requires me to like, sweep my whole arm back and form in front of me like a grand dame making a ballroom entrance. Often IN TIME WITH SOME RHYTHM! There isn’t a person on the planet who has fun sweeping the air in front of him while sitting on a couch, except maybe LARPer shut-ins. That no one at Nintendo seemed to have thought of this means something’s very wrong over there.

2 thoughts on “BlogWeek, Day Four: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”

  1. Your best blog week post so far!

    Strangely, thought being right at the demographic sweet spot for Zelda games, I never played one until the first DS installment, maybe five years ago? I kind of liked it but never finished it. I then decided I’d go back and try playing all the Zelda games in order as sort of an academic study, but I hated the first game and never got any further.

    I think what you describe in the latest game is what I don’t like about Zelda in general. The repetitiveness of having to constantly go back to places you were before, defeat the same enemies, and search around aimlessly. It just doesn’t click with me. I’m a Mario guy.

    I still want to try Ocarina at some point, since it’s so often called the greatest game of all time, but I’ve never brought myself to buy a GameCube controller for my Wii.

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