Skyward Sword Days 3-5: Volcanoes and Deserts

I’m not almost 14 hours through the game and things just got interesting. Read on to find out where I am along with some more impressions.

SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW

My opinions of the game have not changed at all, it simply is an excellent game. Ocarina of Time … Skyward Sword … it is going to be tough to choose at the end. I’m still thinking of playing through Ocarina again when I am done, but it cannot be stated enough: Skyward Sword is simply an amazing game. If you are not going to play it, that is to for detriment.

First up was the Eldin Volcano/Earth Temple.

Earth Temple

So I have to admit, I used one hint to find the ledge I missed in order to finish up the climb of Eldin Volcano. I’m not proud of this, but I did it.

I am really enjoying the format of a “mini temple” feel for the path up to the main temple, and then how stylistic and gorgeous the temples are in Skyward Sword. The game is just packed full of little puzzles to get you from one place to the other and then there are wholly unique puzzles in every temple after that. It is really good and, even more important, it feels rewarding to not just beat a temple, but just to get into the temple.

So far, nothing has felt like it was tacked on, it all feels “just right”.

The boss almost killed me. I need to get better with controlling my bombs, but luckily I had two potions along because I needed both of them to not get myself completely killed. Proceed with caution.

After a quick stop to pick up some needed potions and to help out a person or two (I won’t go into side quests here), it was off to the desert. Well, it wasn’t ALWAYS a desert, but it was a desert now. Off to Lanyaru Desert!

Lanayru Mining Facility

Once again, the run-up to the actual temple was as fun as the temple itself. This time you got to deal with shifting time around crystals to show the lush past of the desert you were now walking in and talk with the robots who were mining the area for said crystals. It was such a change to see an oasis pop up amid there arid desert and then talk to the past.

This time, no hints were needed for either the desert or the temple itself. Yay for me!

The temple was interesting because it was either the broken down former mining facility or the thriving, mechanical mining facility of the past … depending on what crystal you had hit recently. Some challenging running areas and a new tool to use throughout as well. It was good, and the bright colors of the past amid the dusty and broken present was a great contrast.

The boss this time was much easier for me. It was fun, though, because you had to really take control of your sword to get any hit on the boss. It was a relatively quick fight and only one potion needed this time and it was off to meet up with Zelda at the Temple of Time.

Not the happy ending I wanted, though. Now it is back to the forest to find out what I need to do next.

Just fantastic. Both of these areas and temples were amazing and I look forward to what it ahead.

I can already say this: find a Wii and get Skyward Sword and play it. You will not be disappointed.

Skyward Sword Day 2: Skyview Temple

I might try and post my thoughts on Skyward Sword over the course of my play through. As such, each one of my posts will start with this:

SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW

I’m going to keep my spoilers to a minimum, but I need to toss that at the top because I might stumble upon some story tidbits or some puzzle help that you might not want to know if you plan on playing through the game yourself.

You’ve been warned.

Last night I worked through the Skyview Temple. Truth be told, this would probably be considered the Forest Temple in older parlance, but there you have it.

Skyview Temple

There is an image of the entrance to the temple for you. I think I need to start by really praising the art direction and graphics of this game. SS is an incredible mix of the cell-shaded look of Wind Waker and the “realism” of Twilight Princess. No screenshot is going to really be able to tell the whole story, but there are going to be a couple of “whoa” moments as you play through the first temple.

This wasn’t even one of them.

It is a standard Zelda temple in the sense that you solve puzzles, defeat enemies, get a new piece of gear and then use it to get yourself to the boss at the end. The puzzles are varied and sometimes rather funny (I admit that I needed to look how to get past the second real puzzle … moving your sword in a circular motion to make the sentinel eye “dizzy” to unlock a door … it makes sense now), and a lot of puzzles are packed into this one temple.

One thing I did notice is that as the first temple, the difficulty seemed to be ramped up. This is NOT the Great Deku Tree, but you will be able to get through it if you have any video game ability at all.

Finally, you do not find Zelda … so on to the next area!

I was simply floored while playing this yesterday and was really surprised with how well the combat is coming along. While it is still too early to really form any opinions (only five hours into a 50+ hour game), I can see why some people have been calling this the best Zelda ever.

It might just be THAT good.

Skyward Sword Day 1: First Impressions

My wife got me a Wii for Christmas.

I went out and bought The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the before-mentioned Wii.  I know I had said that I would wait until after the New Year to start the game, but … I lied. I started it last night. These are my initial impressions:

Link and Zelda

This is the most “epic feeling” Zelda of the series so far. Where many start off pretty slow for the first little bit, Skyward Sword (SS) just feels like it gets going pretty quickly and that the scope of this adventure is going to be pretty huge.

Part of it might be the fact that you start in the sky. Twilight Princess ended up with one temple in the air, which was pretty cool, but here you start in the sky, on an island, and you ride huge birds. Cool.

Now I’ll just go ahead and list some “quick hitters”. I’m only 3 hours in and just getting to the first “temple” and love the game so far (a little more on the “temple” thing later).

  • The combat system is going to take some getting-used to. It is really cool, but I’m used to the button-mashing-remote-waving combat of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess and the more deliberate combat of SS is a change (I think, so far, a good one).
  • Skyloft is a good central location for your start. It is large enough for you to explore and has some varied characters on it. Nice.
  • Flying is good and I think the distance is about what the Great Sea should have been in Wind Waker. I’ll see if this holds up later, but for now it is good.
  • You will be using motion controls a lot and in many different ways. I still need to get more comfortable with throwing and walking across tightropes, but there is a lot more “skill” needed to traverse areas.
  • Story is good so far. No spoilers from me.
  • As has been said from other reviews, the locations are temples in themselves … not just the actual temples. Expect to spend a lot of time getting to places, but you really don’t care. So far it is a nice change-of-pace from the walk-and-slash way of getting to locations in the past.

So far, so great.

Why I Won’t Play MMORPGs

With the impending release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I thought that I would evaluate whether I should jump in and give the game a try. Basically, I came to a surprising conclusion and a rule I will be using for the foreseeable future.

I will only play single-player games.

To put it more bluntly, I will only play games that include something like this:

Ocarina of Time Ending

I need an ending. I need a conclusion. I need something that hits my head and says “you’re done, step away”. I tend to get very focused on a single thing and fixate on it until I complete it. I fear that if I would get focused on an MMORPG (or any multiplayer game), I really wouldn’t come up for air at any point.

So, I’m staying away. I just completed Twilight Princess last week and my next three gaming adventures are these:

  1. Dragon Age 2
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  3. Mass Effect 3

Each one is a single-player game (not acknowledging ME3’s multiplayer stuff AT ALL), and each one will have an ending. I will play it, beat it, and then set it aside.

Those are my kind of games.

Rating the 3D Console Zelda Games

I’m going pretty specific here with my list just to keep it from getting too long. I just finished Twilight Princess last night and now I’m wanting to try and rank the 3D console Zelda games from Ocarina to Time to Twilight Princess before I start Skyward Sword after the New Year.

As with all of my lists, the rankings shift quite often and this list is obviously biased toward Twilight Princess since I just completed it. I’ll also preface this entire list by stating that the Zelda franchise is my all-time favorite and that each game would make a Top 20 list for me. They’re all excellent games, but I have to rank them somehow.

Without further ado … I give you …

Number 4 – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

WW Title Screen

One of the more controversial changes to the franchise came with the cell shaded initial Zelda offering on the GameCube. You take child Link on an adventure over land and sea to save the world once again. It has some cool moments, and is a fun game to play, but for me the lack of notable moments doesn’t make it stick in my head for the long-term.

Of course, a must play (like all of these), but secondary when compared to other games in this list.

Number 3 – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

MM Title Screen

Maybe the game that took the traditional formula and changed it the most, you are not in Hyrule, you are not saving a princess, and you only have 72 hours to do it.

Okay, you get to replay those 72 hours a few times, but that is the premise and it definitely makes things tense. Add in your Link-changing masks, and you have a very unique game that is decidedly Zelda, but decidedly a different Zelda. Overall with a darker tone (the Moon is falling into the world), this game is amazing. If you haven’t picked it up because it wasn’t “as good as the last one” … you are missing out.

Number 2 – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

TP Title Screen

Maybe over time this will change, but right now Twilight Princess is just a HAIR under my #1 3D console Zelda game. This game might fall in the rankings over time, but it was just so good I can’t put it any lower.

While it started a bit slow, the action picks up and doesn’t let go as soon as you see your friends get stolen. While a more traditional Zelda, the addition of metamorphosis along with the best companion in any game of the series (Midna … so good) adds some excellent wrinkles.

Definitely the game with the darkest tone (and color palette) and an excellent one-two punch for the final two bosses, it ends like a good book and you just want it to continue. While the motion controls on the Wii are not flawless, I very much enjoyed them and look forward to Skyward Sword to see what Nintendo can do with a game that is built, from the ground up, with motion controls in mind.

Number 1 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

OOT Title Screen

Who doesn’t remember beating the Great Deku Tree, heading out, talking with Saria, and then stepping out into Hyrule Field? It is at that moment that you know you are in for something truly epic. The resulting hours take you from forests, to lakes, to graveyards, to volcanoes, to deserts … and everywhere in between.

Just when you think you’ve completed your task … BOOM! You pull out the Master Sword, Ganondorf steals part of the Triforce, and you have seven years before you come to. Then it really starts to get fun.

While newer games might be longer and prettier, they still have not matched Ocarina of Time in the sheer “wow” factor of seeing Zelda in 3D for the first time. Match that with a tight storyline and some great temple design and you have the best 3D console Zelda game on my list.

Conclusion

Skyward Sword is next on my list, but I need to take a break first. I’m interested to see where I place it when everything is said and done. I need to get some work done first.

One other closing comment: in many ways, Twilight Princess either matches or bests Ocarina of Time, but I have to give a nod to Ocarina of Time because I am still talking about that game like I played it yesterday even more than a decade after beating it during a week I was home sick from school.

You have to give high points for a masterpiece like that.