Skyrim and Skyward Sword are two vastly different games, but playing Skyward Sword made me realize just what felt off about Skyrim. It’s that uncanny valley problem again. When your game strives for photorealism as much as Skyrim does, it can’t help but feel a little off when your character doesn’t move like a real person. LoZ: SS has none of those problems, as you might imagine, because it looks so stylized.
As you might imagine, Skyward Sword is yet another Wii game trying to do more with less. In motion and outside of cutscenes the game looks perfectly fine. It’s only when you zoom in for those cinematic moments that you have jaggies and aliasing and the seams start to show. I really do appreciate the brilliance of the Nintendo artists because games like this and Kirby’s Epic Yarn both look fantastic on a 480p connection.
I’ve still got to put more than two or three hours in, but Skyward Sword is shaping up to be one of my favorite games of this fall for one reason: character. If there was one thing that Twilight Princess lacked, it was character. Everything was dark and dreary and realistic just like every other stupid fantasy game out there. It was especially glaring after what we got in Wind Waker with its vibrant colors and eccentric characters. So far, Skyward Sword has that in spades.
The Skyloft area is a hub of zany fun. Link’s classmates are hilarious archetypes with the pompadour-ed bully and his goofy looking lackeys. Zelda and Link’s relationship reminds me of anime high school relationships and his headmaster is named Gaepora! Fly outside of the city and you also get characters like the bartender at the pumpkin bar place who I’m now in thrall to thanks to a chandelier…er…accident. It was awesome!
Our interaction went something like this. I walked into the bar and the camera showed me that there was a heart piece hanging from the roof. When I spoke to the barman’s daughter she told me not to try to knock it down because it wouldn’t work. Naturally I went right up to the second floor and knocked down the chandelier. Everyone in the bar was super shocked and then the barman started yelling, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” It…was…awesome. Now I have to sell soup for him, but it was totally worth it for that absurdist moment there. That’s what Twilight Princess was missing. When TP got absurd it got creepy and weird.
Below are the rest of my miscellaneous observations:
– Not having access to fine tune settings like text speed is a little weird for me. I hate the glacial pace that the text flows and there’s no quick way to fast forward it.
– On the other hand, they did give me the option to remove most of the UI and that is awesome. Nothing worse than an overcrowded UI.
– There are new mechanics that are neat. Actions all seem to drain stamina in a Mario-style pie chart. Running, hanging from ledges, climbing, rolling, spin attacks…It’s not a huge change, but I like it.
– The way they bind motion option selections with a string is brilliant in a way that makes me wonder why no one has ever thought of it before. So much better than hunting for menu items with the pointer.
– Like I said earlier, Headmaster Gaepora! Awesome. Can’t wait to find more mythology tie-ins
– Ok…using the sword is super cool. Sometimes I get a jab when I want a swing, but that’s usually when I’m being lazy. Getting swarmed was tough to deal with at first, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it as time goes on. Doesn’t help that my shield has a health bar. What gives?!
– Flying is initially clumsy because you control it with the wiimote, not the cursor. I’m getting better at it, but it flies against first instinct.
– It’s the little touches. Always the little touches:
– The Zelda found secret stinger is played on a harp since the arc instrument in this game is a harp
– In the bazaar the music changes to reflect each vendor’s motifs, adding and dropping instruments based on proximity. In fact, all of the music in this game is pretty awesome so far.
– Everyone’s house/room tells a little story about who they are from someone who collects cute things to someone who clearly doesn’t dust at all. No one room is a generic “room”. Skyrim doesn’t have these emergent stories. Homes are homes with scant little to differentiate or personalize them.
– There was a woman with antiques who charged me every time I broke her stuff by rolling into the wall. I emptied my wallet laughing so hard and breaking all her shit. That was so much fun.
– If there was one terrible thing, it’s the constant reminders about rupee denominations. I KNOW! It’s annoying and it doesn’t add anything to keep reminding us what everything does every time we run into it.