I guess this is the start of a series that I'm doing called "The Week After" (get it...like the morning after? nevermind) where I review games exactly a week (or more, it depends) after I complete it. I wait so I give it time to completely soak in and I'm not blinded by the love and/or hatred that I was exposed to during the experience. I just want to make it clear that in no way, shape or form am I trying to be objective here; I'm just going to be stating my opinions, for whatever they're worth, so if you disagree...cool. You're entitled to that. Now, without further ado, I shall begin.
EP 1: Skyward Sword
Graphics - This game is astonishingly beautiful. I know many people are not a fan of the art style, but I found it to be extremely charming and full of life. The most stunning thing about the game's art is that, at any point throughout the journey, it looks like it could've been ripped straight off of Paul Cezanne's canvas (y'know, assuming Cezanne had protected copyright to use Zelda characters...and if he was alive when this series even began). In particular, I think this game lends itself very well to the Wii's capabilities. 480p does not feel like a hinderence to this game. In fact, I'd almost be willing to say it enhances the artistic and grainy texture that paintings such as Cezanne's typically have. All in all, this game has one of my favorite art directions to ever be used in a Zelda game. It's magnificent.
Story - The one thing that this game seems to do better than most Zelda games I've played is that it actually makes me care about the characters. Most notably, Zelda herself. In this game, Link and Zelda are lifelong friends, and while they don't outright say they have romantic interest in each other, it's abundantly clear from the moment you start the game. They feel like human characters. You can see the emotion they have for each other and the world around them, and that's where I think this game succeeds. When I play as Link, I want to save Zelda. I want to rescue her and have her reunite with Link. Motivation is key here. It's also worth mentioning that you collect these things called gratitude crystals throughout the game, which can be recieved after doing favors for the citizens throughout Skyloft or elsewhere. And what you do has a clear impact on their characters, which I found to be pretty neat. It definitely made the world feel more cohesive. The implementation of Ghirahim, The Demon Lord and The Imprisoned was very intruiging to me. Ghirahim isn't what I would call the most traditional Zelda villain, and he's one of the most interesting characters in the series. This game really kicked it into high gear within its final moments by having you battle Zelda's interpretation of Satan himself, and it honestly had my blood pumping. Very intense ending, if I do say so myself.
Controls - One of the best things about this game, to me, was the immersion in the controls. Being able to aim precisely with the bow/arrow, whip, beetle, gust bellows, slingshot, clawshots, etc. was so satisfying and it felt very natural. For this reason, I am glad motion controls were implemented into this game.
Dungeons - The dungeons in this game are some of my favorites in the series. They've very intricate, yet not too frustrating. Ultimately, they strike a nice balance between length and difficulty. The puzzles utilize items you collect throughout the game, and it rarely feels like an item is useless. I found the timeshift orb to be a really unique and clever mecahnic that I haven't seen before in...well, any game really. Overall, they were nice and fairly spread out. So good job here.
Repititon - This game has you do the same shit over and over. Oh, you just fought The Imprisoned twice before? Well, fight him again 20 minutes later. Because why the fuck not? You don't like fighting Ghirahim? Too fucking bad, fight him again. You mean to tell me you were just in The Faron Woods? Go back and find Lake Floria. Now go back again to find part of The Hero's Song. Rinse and repeat for each area.
Lack of Variety - This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above point, but I think it warrants its own section. There are only 3 true areas in this game: Faron Woods, Lanayru Desert, and Eldin Volcano. Yes, you find additional areas within these areas, but they're pretty much the same themes with little to add. Lake Floria is probably the only one that feels different enough to justify its existence. Maybe the Sandship too, but only because it's half-pirate themed (I say half-pirate because the timeshit orb removes this theme periodically throughout the temple and it just becomes a chunk of floating wood in the sand). Overall, this causes issues within the experience and I wish there was more diversity.
Controls - Oh, you thought I was done discussing this? Nope. Controls were brilliant when it came to items, but combat? Not my favorite. I found it to be tolerable when you were one-on-one or fighting small groups, but when they throw ten different enemies at you and expect you to perform ungodly maneuvers just to get the hell out of dodge, that's when it becomes an issue. I felt as if attacks didn't register quick enough most of the time, and bosses such as Ghiriham were a huge pain in the dick because you have to swing from a certain angle and sometimes the Wiimote likes to pretend you didn't swing from the angle you were supposed to. It wasn't the worst thing ever like some people claim to have experienced, but I didn't particularly like the motion control combat.
Empty Hub - There's not much to do in Skyward Sword's world. There's Skyloft, and that's cool. And Pumpkin Landing. And...yeah. A bunch of empty, floating islands with treasure chests. It feels barren. Flying from place to place felt like a chore because there usually wasn't a feeling of "Hey! What's that over there?!" It basically just served as a way to get from point A to point B, and little more. There was a lot of potential and missed opportunity here. But hey, at least it wasn't unnecessarily massive like some other games.
Verdict: Skyward Sword is Zelda artistry at its finest. Its moments of eloquency, while few and far between, are brilliant on their own and provide for a worthwhile experience. Its characters, design, dungeons and immersive item control make experiencing the journey magnicificent in its own right. While its riddled with repetition, clunky combat and little sidequests, this is a game that every Wii owner and Zelda fan must try for themselves.
Gameplay: It's Zelda.
(I didn't anticipate this being so long)