The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The legend is reborn once again
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Mild Violence: Sword combat against a variety of human-like and non-human enemies with animated blood in some cases. Enemies vanish and purple skull seen upon defeat, player character is seen on fire or electrocuted.

Mature Themes: Enemy character is sadistic in nature

Spiritual Content: Goddesses are mentioned and prayed to, enemy is a skeleton, spirit aids player, player is spiritually separated from his body in places, plot deals with a demon lord and references reincarnation, curses and spells are mentioned.

Gross Humor: Character is shown sitting on toilet with accompanying flushing sound.

All legends have their beginnings. All it really takes is one event that is told and re-told from one person to another through generations. I suppose it could be said that the Legend of Zelda series in a legend in its own right. The series has had several events told to generations of gamers, although most are pretty much the same. The epic hero of the series, Link, embarks on a journey to save the kingdom of Hyrule and its imperiled princess, Zelda, from the clutches of the evil Ganon. It’s truly a legendary feat because it keeps repeating.

That is until now. In late 2011, Nintendo decided to tell us something new. Remember what I said about legends having their beginnings. Well, this could truly be said of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Reviewer’s Note: Spoilers are contained within the review.

Plot

Before the Link bore the Triforce of Courage and drew the Master Sword, before Zelda was princess of Hyrule, before Ganon spread his shadow over the kingdom of Hyrule…before Hyrule was even a kingdom, there was the land of Skyloft.

Skyloft, as its name suggests, floats high above the clouds. As the opening scene informs us, it was torn from the world by the goddess of the land and sent upwards to protect the people from evil forces that had emerged from the depths of the earth. As far as the people of Skyloft is concerned, this is but legend to them. But as you can imagine, they are quite wrong.

One day, a young boy and knight-in-training, Link is awakened from a dream in which a dark creature emerges and a mysterious girl appears. He is awakened by none other than a Loftwing, a bird-like creature, that happens to belong to his childhood friend, Zelda. The Loftwing spits a letter at him, telling him not to forget meeting Zelda just before the up-coming Wing Ceremony. Later, after the ceremony ends, Link and Zelda fly around together when suddenly all goes wrong. A black tornado appears and snatches Zelda away before knocking Link out cold. Link learns later that he must travel to the long-forgotten surface  to save Zelda and possibly the world as well.

Gameplay

Skyward Sword is played with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. You use the control stick to move Link around, the A button lets you dash as long as your stamina holds out, the Z-button lets you target enemies just like the old days. With that in mind, you’d think that this game works just like the older Zelda games. Well, forget it.

A large part of the action, actually almost all of the action, is done with the motion sensing of the Wii Remote. If you swing your arm, Link swings his. If you swing your arm upwards, Link slashes his sword in the same way. If you move your arm sharply forward, Link thrusts with his sword. As a result, enemies now have specific weaknesses that require precise strikes, so it takes some getting used to. But if you think swordplay is hard enough, wait until you try flying on your Loftwing who serves as this game’s version of Epona, Link’s faithful steed if you don’t know. The motion controls also work for Link’s shield when you get one.

Apart from that, you play this game in about the same way as older Zelda games, but there are some big exceptions. You’ll find out for yourself what those exceptions are though.

Offensive Content

Mild Violence

Link fights a variety of enemies in his quest to save Zelda, some of them do resemble people, but most are non-human, mechanical, or animal-like, such as goblin-like creatures, spiders, bats, blobs of goo, ancient robots, and plants. You could consider the violence as taken up a notch since you must perform the slashes and swings needed to dispatch your enemies. One of Link’s moves, the aptly-named Fatal Blow, has him impaling enemies that lie on the ground with a jumping strike. In just about all cases, enemies vanish and we see a purple cloud taking the shape of a skull. One exception is with the Deku Baba, a snapping plant. To defeat it, you must cut its mouth in two. We see the two halves of it fly apart with a bit of goo, but it looks nothing like blood. One boss you fight though requires you to sever its claws, and we do see a bit of red goo that does look a bit like blood. You’re also required to cut off the appendages of another boss, but we see  nothing, except the stubs where they once were.

Link also can end up the receiving end of some pretty bad beatings against enemies that wield swords and clubs. Certain levels feature enemies and hazards that can injure Link by setting him on fire or electrocuting him (who knew that a magical land had that kind of technology). We do see Link on fire, but we don’t see him burn. If Link gets shocked, we see him shake. Link can also make use of bombs in his quest to blow up enemies and obstacles. If he gets caught in an explosion, he is thrown backwards, and some hard blows can do the same. When Link is hurt, all we we see is him flashing red, and a heart disappears from his health. He does fall over and appears to die when his health meter empties.

Mature Themes

Aside from physical violence, there’s some violent bits of dialogue, and most fit the textbook definition of sadism. Ghirahim, your main antagonist, mentions several times how he would enjoy watching Link in agony in order to vent his anger or that he wishes to beat Link within an inch of his life and other rather detailed things. He seems to have little reason to want to do these things, so he’s as close to a sadist as you can get. It might come across as fairly harsh for a game like this.

Spiritual Content

The Zelda series has always had some magic or supernatural occurrences. This one is no exceptions. References are made to a goddess, and early on, we see Zelda offer a prayer to her. Link is also instructed to pray to the goddess at certain statues. We also see a statue of this goddess, and it appears to resemble an angel, complete with wings and an almost-prayerful pose.

Also early on, Link is granted a sword that was implied to be made by the goddess. A spirit, Fi, also lives within the sword and serves as your aide on the journey, almost like Navi or Midna did in past games. Link can also use his sword as a divining rod of sorts; Fi is able to track down people and objects and references sensing auras as well.

At certain points in his quest, Link undergoes trials that are meant to help him spiritually. The game explains that his spirit is separated from his body during these times. We don’t actually see his spirit separate from him, but it’s still said in black and white.

Ghirahim also refers to himself as a demon lord. It’s uncertain as to whether or not he actually is a demon or just calls himself one to create fear in his enemies, but given his violent and altogether evil nature, it may not be too far off the mark.

*****************Spoiler Alert**********************

As it happens, Ghirahim is working to resurrect his master, Demise, a being often referred to as the demon king. To do this, he needs Zelda. Why you may ask? Because we learn that Zelda is in fact a goddess reborn. It’s explained that the goddess who sealed Demise away gave up her divinity and placed her soul into mortal form. Her soul is then the key to Demise’s return, and we see him consume her life which takes the form of light streaming out of her body. The idea of rebirth is also present at the end as Demise promises that his hate will be reborn.

***********************Spoilers End***************

Somewhat more fantasy related, Link encounters a series staple enemy, the Stalfos or variations of it at certain points. This creature is a walking skeleton. As I said, if you’ve played any of the other Zelda games, this one should be no stranger to you. One enemy is referred to as cursed, and they drop items that are said to be a crystallized form of a monster’s malice. Link can also be cursed by some enemies, but all this does is take away his ability to attack or use items for a brief amount of time. A few bits of dialogue talk about spells and curses too. 

Crude Humor

There is one slight moment of toilet humor in this game. In Skyloft, Link can enter a restroom and sit down on the toilet. When he gets up, we hear a flushing sound. We don’t see him do anything though.

In the volcano levels, if Link falls into the lava, he jumps up and we see the seat of his pants set on fire with our hero trying to put out the flames. It almost seems done for laughs due to the almost Loony Tunes-ish manner in which he acts. One might say that it’s a bit of humor at Link’s expense.

Positive Elements

As always, Link is a hero through and through. He is willing to risk life and limb to save Zelda. He is more than willing to lay down his life for his friend, even though he never says so (or anything for that matter). He and other characters, are also willing to make great sacrifices for causes bigger than just themselves. One particularly large one comes from Zelda herself to help hold back the evil that threatens the surface world.

Heroism and courage are also shown to be traits that many can have, even if they feel that they are not up to the task. One character in particular demonstrates this by aiding Link even though he initially believes himself to be useless, and in doing so, shows that he possesses both traits, even if it’s only in a small way. Childish feuds are also shown to be negative as two characters put aside theirs to stand together against a threat.

Conclusion

I remember hearing that Skyward Sword told the very first story of The Legend of Zelda series, a claim previously held by Ocarina of Time. I had such fond memories of running around Hyrule that the idea of Hyrule not being there and Zelda not being a princess didn’t sit right with me at first. Oh, I knew I’d get the game anyway, but still, changes don’t always go well.

In some cases, this is true. The motion controls were fun, but when you accidentally disconnect your Nunchuck while trying to perform a slash, it gets a little annoying. Plus, I missed the inclusion of a really funny companion, like Midna. Another change that wasn’t all that welcome was the inclusion of demons into the legend. Zelda has always been known to have a bit of magic, and Ganondorf’s moniker of demon thief in Twilight Princess seemed closer to a title than a connection to the darker side of spirituality. But Ghirahim is another animal altogether.

All legends have their beginnings. While this was a rather satisfying beginning to our favorite series of legend, it’s a shame they had to take some darker turns to tell it. It’s the one thing that keeps me from giving the recommendation I would like to give.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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