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I still kinda like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. That's right. You heard me. Allow me to explain.
Skyward Sword was my first Zelda game so it holds a special place in my heart. It was the 25th anniversary of the series, and the hype around the game was pretty real. So I figured this would be the perfect time to get into the series. And it worked. If it weren’t for Skyward Sword, I probably would’ve never played Ocarina of Time, Link Between Worlds, Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild or even the original Zelda on the NES. I never would have fallen in love with this world and these characters or played these much better games. So let's get into it.
Why not start with the elephant in the room? The motion control.
Now it’s not perfect, but let me ask you this: If you’re not a fan of the motion controls, is it because there are motion controls, or because those controls were faulty? Now, it may very well be the latter. But, in my experience, the controls were only an issue in two situations. 1, when you try to stab. And 2, when an enemy is blocking from one side, and you have to move your sword to the other side, but instead Link just attacks the side that is being blocked. The rest of the time, the controls worked fine for me. Now, that’s still not great. That’s like if 10 percent of the time you press the B button, it stopped existing. But I still don’t think it’s entirely fair to completely write off a game just because you don’t like the control scheme. I don’t like console first person shooters because I prefer playing them on PC, but that doesn’t mean they are bad games, or even that they control badly. But let’s get into the main reason I like Skyward Sword: the story.
Skyward Sword has the best story of any Zelda game. It features the best version of Zelda, you know, the title character of the series, and it is still the only game where I actually care about saving her. This is because they finally cracked the formula. Instead of Zelda being this abstract princess who’s way out of your league, she’s the girl next door. The whole first act of the game sets up Link and Zelda’s relationship, so that when she gets sucked into a tornado, you actually care.
They’ve done this type of relationship in other Zeldas to lesser effects. In Ocarina you have Saria initially, and then Malon, neither of who are ever really in imminent danger. You do meet Zelda pretty early, but you don’t have too much of a genuine connection with her other than "destiny," and then she’s just kind of doing her own thing as Sheik for the rest of the game. Twilight Princess’s girl next door Illia, gets captured and you have to save her. And then you do a couple hours later, and Zelda is barely even in that game. Wind Waker comes the closest when you have to save your sister, but again you do so within a couple hours. Then you have Tetra, who is really cool and interesting, but then as soon as she reveals that she is Zelda, boom kidnapped by Ganon, and it’s like, oh, this again.
In Skyward Sword they fix all that. They make Zelda the girl next door, your best friend and the closest thing you have to a family. Link and Zelda have genuine chemistry, and not just because of destiny or some shit. So you actually care when you have to hero up. But Zelda doesn’t get captured early like a bitch either, instead, she’s off being a badass on her own more important adventure with Impa. Then when Link finally does reunite with Zelda, and she has to be sealed away, it’s heartbreaking.
Skyward Sword has Groose, the best supporting character in any Zelda. Groose is a national treasure. He is basically Flash Thompson from Spectacular Spider-Man or the comics. He’s this douchey jock character that gets a redemption arc and becomes crucial to the story. Now, there are many other great supporting characters in the Zelda franchise, but how many of them actually get character arcs? Or even much development?
Let’s talk Breath of the Wild. BOTW is a great game and in many ways the superior Zelda, but it borrows a lot of ideas and mechanics from Skyward Sword. In the same way that BOTW perfects the weapon stealing mechanic from Wind Waker, it also perfects the stamina meter from Skyward Sword. It also takes from and improves SS’s semi-cell shaded art style. Yes, BOTW did these things better, but give credit where credit is due.
Other things I want to mention that I like about Skyward Sword:
Ghirahim is a great Villain. Fighting that boss with the 6 arms is epic. The Letter side quest is hilarious. Flying over Skyloft is fun and beautiful, though I do wish there were more to do. The soundtrack is beautiful and emotional and one of the best in the series.
Skyward Sword is too long, tedious at times, and tells the origin of a world that probably didn’t need one. And maybe it’s just nostalgia for me, the fact that it helped me get into much better games, or that it made me feel like a gosh dang sword swinging hero as a kid, but I will always look back at it with fondness.