Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Complaints about Skyward Sword (Spoilers)

OK, it's time to be casual for this entry. In my review, I tried to stay as professional as I could be (which isn't that professional, I know), but in this blog entry, I'm just going to list all of the complaints I had with the game (many of which I couldn't fit into my review because it would be too long).

Keep in mind, I am a HUGE Zelda fan, and I'm not one of those people who takes pride in "hating". I'm doing this entry simply because of how annoyed I am about the quality of Skyward Sword, and I need to relieve some stress, heh.

So, here we go (remember, I'm gonna be casual with this):

- Skyward Sword (SS) has easily the most boring and stretched out introduction/tutorial sequence of any Zelda.

- As far as the interaction between Link and Zelda in the beginning is concerned, it's like Nintendo just bought the first volume of the most popular Shoujo manga and used that as a reference of how childhood friends interact. As a result, the interaction just felt forced and weak; which is surprising since Spirit Tracks and Wind Waker had excellent interaction between Link and Zelda. Remember Tetra? Of course you do, because she was a badass. Are you gonna remember this Zelda? Tch, probably only if you place your name in the game instead of "Link" and you've always fantasized about dating Zelda.

- Why do the graphics in this game suck so much? Environment and characters have practically no textures. Just go to Skyloft and look at the ground; it looks like it's from the N64 era. The part where I noticed the poor graphics the most is when Fletch (you know, the wimp who does push-ups at night but's too cheap to buy his own freakin' stamina potions) drinks the stamina potion you give him; the animation is right out of Ocarina of Time. In Wind Waker Link actually put the bottle to his mouth and actually pushed out his cheeks when he let a breath out; that was quality stuff. Where is that quality in SS? I thought this was Nintedo's most expensive game to date? Sure doesn't look like it.

- This is the first Zelda to have a really poor and uninspired art direction. Remember Majora's Mask's amazing atmosphere, character/monster designs, and cutscene direction (Link riding Epona through the mist in the beginning is forever burned in my memory)? Well, none of that is in Skyward Sword. SS's environments and landscapes are so lacking in detail (save for a couple dungeons) that it looks like the artists were forced to used crayons to draw the concept art. There is also a huge lack of variation; the desert just looks like one big beige-colored carpet; same can be said for the volcano and forest areas, except replace beige with red and green, respectively. I will give some of the dungeons credit though; some were nicely detailed; nowhere near the level of Wind Waker or Ocarina of Time's dungeons, but still satisfactory.

- Perhaps the biggest disappointment I had with the game was the boss fight on the ship in the desert. It started off like it was going to be pretty epic. You run through the ship, dodging barrels and cutting tentacles, and then you get to the top of the ship and you see destruction and rain everywhere. The set up was really great and made me feel like I may get a Majora's Mask-level boss fight; but then the boss emerged out of the water. What I saw was probably the stupidest looking thing I've seen in a Nintendo game. The design of the boss was just awful, and I couldn't help but lose my excitement right there. And then I fought the boss ..... just awful. Of course you have to use the skyward strike in order to cut the bosses tentacles, and of course the skyward strike is hard as crap to pull of efficiently because the game is so freakin' strict about how you have to hold the Wiimote directly up; doing that crap while dodging all the tentacles was just not fun at all. And then the boss battle has the balls to be freakin' long. Ugh, I thought that fight might redeem the game a little, but it turned out to be one of the weakest moments.

- Swordplay would've probably been a lot more bearable if enemies didn't block your moves as soon as you move your sword. It's so freakin hard to get a hit in when directly facing an enemy. Some may call this a need for strategy; I'm not one of them. Combat isn't about reading the enemy or judging attacks, or any type of authenticity aside from strike direction. Hell, you get more authentic sword fighting tactics in SNK's Samurai Showdown games. No, combat in SS comes down to either waiting for an opening (sneaking behind an enemy, or knocking them down for a kill strike), or just making one with parrying. Parrying basically makes swordplay pointless, as it's an easy tactic to use, and it works on every enemy that can attack you, including the final boss. IMO, combat was much more satisfying in past Zelda games where you had to use multiple items to take enemies down; the variety in combat was much better then. Enemy variety was better with the old combat style too; I mean, how many different enemy types are there in SS, 8? 10? Tch. Wind Waker still has the best combat in the series, it had lots of enemy types, lots of different items were useful on enemies, and it had the awesome counter system. You just can't touch WW.

- There are only three areas in this game. THREE! And none of them has towns of Gorons, side-quests, or any mysteries or areas to explore; just more puzzles and fights. I said it in my review, but really, Nintendo should have just made the game have a chapter structure; since there's no exploration aspects to travelling from dungeon to dungeon. It's just non-stop fetch-quests from start to finish. And that's no exaggeration; SS is NOTHING but fetch-quests! Oh man, you want to save Zelda? Well, you're going to have to hunt down these flames to make you're sword stronger. But wait, it's not that easy, you have to hunt down these little tears in order to get to the place where the flame is. You made the Master Sword? Awesome. Now just play the final song so you can get the Triforce. Oh wait, it turns out that the song is split into 5 pieces, you gotta go back the the same areas you been too three times already to find some stupid-looking dragons and listen to their awful singing. If you really look back at SS, it may have taken 30 hours to beat the game, but there is very little content in this game, it's just that you explore the same content over and over again with a slight variation each time. This just feels really lazy on Nintendo's part.

- btw, how stupid-looking were those dragons. Ugh, the art direction in this game. And not just them, aside from a few of the girls, the people of Skyloft all look awful. Have you looked at the potion shop owners husband (you know the one with the baby), he looks like he has less polygons on him than an N64 character; and that baby ... Nintendo didn't even try there.

- How come by the end of the game, Groose is the best character?

- Girahim was a pretty poor villain by Zelda standards, but at least he had some personality (though he was still pretty boring, and I'd barely consider him evil since he didn't actually do anything). But then, he is totally shafted in the end of the game. He never gets a last word or anything. Plus, you only see the guy three times in the whole game. Nintendo hyped him up for nothing.

- Fi, why are you so boring?!? I get it, she's supposed to be some type of robot, but that's boring, especially when there is no real explanation of her origin other than she was made by Hylia. Coming after the awesomeness that was Midna, this is what Nintendo gives us? A boring sword spirit that acts more like an omnipresent tutorial than actual character. At least her character design was good.

- As a personal gripe, I hate how Fi constantly calls the player "Master". This makes her feel even less like an independent character and more like a robot. Plus, it makes the women in this game feel even less important and more like characters in the background. Which is a shame considering that recently Zelda games have had some strong female characters (Tetra, Midna, TP Zelda, ST Zelda).

- I'm very disappointed in Nintendo for reusing a Link character design. SS Link the same design as TP Link but with less detail and more color; that's it. So lazy.

- SS's only memorable music piece is it's main theme, which is very weak in comparison to other Zelda main themes. Why is the soundtrack so poor? What happened? Spirit Tracks had a superb soundtrack with memorable themes coming out of everywhere! What happened? And with the Zelda Symphony music being composed right alongside this game's development, why didn't Nintendo notice the quality of the music of past Zelda games say " Oh man! The music in Skyward Sword is crap compared to older games, we have to try harder!". The soundtrack was probably my biggest disappointment with the game, for if it were better, I think it would've helped the atmosphere a lot and make me forget about the crap graphics.

- Talk about some of the most boring items in the series. Now don't get me wrong, the Beetle is freakin' awesome and needs to be a staple itemin every Zelda game from now on alongside the bow and whip, but the rest were either staple items we've seen before, or just boring. The gust bellows have been done before, but much better. Remember Minish Cap? Tch, of course you don't. Well, the gust bellows in that sucked up certain material and then spit it back out, making for many interesting puzzles. All the gust bellows in SS do is blow wind ... why you so lazy Nintendo?

- Hey, Nintendo was that last boss fight supposed to be epic? Because it wasn't. You'd think after having so many epic final bosses, you'd make one that wasn't just unoriginal, but very unimpressive visually. You basically took the final boss of Wind Waker, took out any emotional story connection, took out the awesome visual atmosphere, and added motion controls to it. Oh, motion controls make everything better you say? No, no they do not.

- The Imprisoned is one of the stupidest and laziest monster designs I've ever seen.

- Nintendo and many critics have hyped up SS as the most cinematic Zelda game to date. To that I say: what the hell are you playing? If anything, SS is the least cinematic Zelda game. The scene where Impa and Zelda are being chased out of Hyrule Castle by Ganondorf in OoT is more cinematic than any cutscene in SS. SS if full of cutscenes of characters barely moving, stiff animations, and long-winded conversations. Tch, what you all are calling cinematic, I call lazy. You want cinematic, watch the scene in Majora's Mask where the four giants come to Clock Town to hold up the moon, or the cutscene right before the final battle in Wind Waker. Those are cinematic!

- As a huge Zelda fan, I am pretty knowledgeable of the consistent Zelda storyline and timeline. And, since this game was supposed to show the origins of the Master Sword and the legend itself, I was excited for the story. Zelda's origins were quite good, and I don't really have any complaints there. My complaint goes to the origins of Ganondorf. So, just because Demises hate is so intense, he will be reborn in order to claim the Triforce for his own and rule the world. Also, did I dention Demise looks exactly like Ganondorf (you know, just in case we're too stupid to realize that's who he'll be reborn as)...

IMO, this just wrecks the Ganondorf we've come to know in OoT, WW, and TP, and reduces him back to the angry pig monster of past Zelda games. What happened to Ganondorf's rage being the cause of his coveting of the paradise of the Hylains, what happened to him using pawns and having plans? Now he's just: "I hate the goddess sooooo much! I will have the Triforce!" There's no reason behind it, that's just how it is ... so lazy Nintendo.

- Now, going off of that, while Zelda's origins were good; how they ended were pretty bad. Basically, according to the story of SS, Zelda is destined to always be behind Link, never helping, and watch him do all the work. Of course, since the other Zelda game come after SS, we know this to turn out to be bull-crap since many Zelda's have aided Link in his battles (Tetra! ST Zelda!). But, it's as if Nintendo was really trying to make Zelda look weak in SS, which is really crappy considering her personality is rather strong (at least in the beginning). I just hope that the role Zelda played in SS in no indication of how she will act in future Zelda games. For in SS, she's basically Princess Peach, and we all know how much she sucks (except in Smash Bros.; she's awesome in those).

- I covered the whole lack of atmosphere complaint in my review, so I won't dwell on it, but it really is a gripe I have with the game. Just weak. I mean, the sky isn't big at all, it's full of these beige clouds (barely any blue sky), and the surface is almost just as boring. Basically, it seems all Nintendo focused on with SS was the motion-controlled swordplay and puzzles. There is just no magic in SS.

- The Link in SS is awful. Sure, Link hasn't had too much personality in the past, but at least in past Zelda games he felt more like a person. In OoT, he was the one Kokiri without a fairy, he was teased and felt alone, sure he had his best friend Saria, but that caused even more problems; his quest was one not just of saving the world, but finding his purpose in a place that he just didn't seem to belong in. In WW, Link was care-free kid with a sweet sister and loving grand-mother; life was simple and great until his sister is kidnapped and he embarks on a mission to save her. TP Link had a job, he had a close lady friend, and he was adored by the younger children who looked up to him, especially Colin who admired Link more than anyone else; Link was already a hero to these kids, he had nothing to prove, that's why it was so tragic when this life was ripped apart by the Twilight.

Now let's look at SS Link: a lazy schoolboy who is childhood friends with Zelda, and when she's kidnapped, he goes looking for her to find she is safe, but then it turns out he is the hero chosen by fate and must now embark on a quest. That's it. Pretty boring backstory which also leads to my final complaint ...

- FATE. This word is probably said more times throughout the game than any other word (well, maybe other than "Master", ugh). The entire story is driven by fate. Link is constantly fated to do this and that. It's Link's fate that he must seal The Imprisoned, it's Link's fate that he must save Zelda, it's Link's fate that he must forge the Master Sword; this is Link's fate as the chosen hero of the goddess. Well, let me ask you this: why the hell is Link the chosen hero? What the hell makes him soooo special? He's just a lazy schoolboy and can't get his ass up in the mornings. There are only two explanations I can think of: 1) because he's Zelda's friend, or 2) because he's the main playable character. By the end of the game, Groose has more qualities of a hero than Link. Just because Link solves these puzzles and beats these monsters, that's what makes him a chosen hero of the goddess? That's just poor story execution. At least the other Link's suffered (put to sleep for 7 years, got their butt kicked by Ganondorf, lost a dear friend (Bryne T_T)), or went through personal trials to become a hero of legend. Fate has never played a role in any other Link's journey. Each Link had to earn their place as a hero of legend, SS Link was chosen right at the beginning for no good reason! At least no really good reason, as I'm sure Nintendo would just say: "Link was the goddesses' chosen hero because Zelda is the goddess and they're best friends." And to that I say ...

Nintendo has stated many times that their goal with SS was to challenge the conventions of past Zelda games. This they did, but with very poor execution. It is possible to change a game in a long-running series quite a bit, while still retaining the spirit of the series (see Metroid: Other M). But, with SS, Nintendo just couldn't pull it off. Other than the fact that it has dungeons, and characters named Link, Zelda, and Impa; nothing else about the game screams "Zelda". The "feeling" that Zelda games have, even the multiplayer Four Swords games, just isn't in SS. Furthermore, Zelda games, while absent of voice acting, usually always showed the best Nintendo could offer in terms of graphics, music, and quality; SS does not do this at all.

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