Skyward Sword impressions, thoughts, ramblings, and stuff.

Now with more Beedle!

It's been ages since I've voiced my opinion here about a video game I was currently playing in great detail. This year was a great year for some, but for me it wasn't the most impressive year of the generation. In fact, it's probably the weakest I've seen since 2006 when the industry was going through the transition towards HD graphics and motion controls. And it was in 2006 when we were introduced to the Wii and a little game called The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Some like myself thought the game was excellent and improved on what made its predecessors so endearing. Others thought Twilight Princess was too much like the previous games and was predictable enough to dislike. 5 years later, the same thing can be applied to Skyward Sword. And here I am 5 years later playing a game that is unequivocally Zelda to the core and loving it. And despite the traditional trappings, Skyward Sword also makes enough subtle changes to keep many of those who want dramatic change occupied a few years until we get the Wii U's interpretation of the story about Zelda, Link, the Triforce, and the rest.

This is Zelda. She's kind of a big deal in these games.

My impressions will be mostly positive, but let's get the predictable story plots out of the way. The story doesn't exactly veer off into left field, at least as far as I know. I'd say I'm about 80% through the main story and it's not that different than the others. Zelda is part of some elaborate witness protection program like in Ocarina of Time and Link must go through a series of dungeons finding trinkets and doo-dads that will all eventually help with the end boss. The only major twist is that Zelda and Link start off best friends in the game. And since I believe Skyward Sword is intended to be an origin story, I hope they eventually wrap up some of the 20 million or so loose ends in the timeline. As I usually do with Zelda games, the story is secondary to the meat and potatoes of the game, the gameplay.

And the game plays just like a Zelda game with advanced motion controls. I find the controls to be pretty superb and the MotionPlus works at least 95% of the time. It appears that the Zelda team took some cues from the Wii Sports Resort team and utilized the controls from a number of the Wii Sports Resort games. The bow controls are straight from archery, rolling bombs remind me of bowling, and flying is... flying. Anybody remember the beginning of Wii Sports Resort where your Mii goes skydiving? Yep, same controls when Link skydives. The only minor flaw that can hinder the controls a bit is while pointing at the screen to aim, but even that can be fixed with a button press. I have had no problems with calibration to speak of and other than maybe some human error, Link's sword goes where my Wii Remote goes. Link's weapon selection is a bit different this time around... think no boomerang. There's a leafblower device that cleans up sand and dirt, a bug net for catching bugs (yay), and the most useful device I've seen in a Zelda game in a while, the Beetle. It's been incredibly handy as a land surveyor, grabber of goodies, and distractor of baddies. The Beetle is one of the first examples of actual technology in the Zelda universe. In fact, this might be the most advanced civilization in a Zelda game. Like... robots! Robots in my Zelda game? It somehow works. And everything controls great.

And it's probably a good thing I've had no troubles with the controls because the majority of enemies rely on those high fidelity controls working near-perfectly. There will always be a handful of enemies that can be killed through waggling, but most involve swinging your controller a specific direction to effectively get the hit or kill. And I'm surprised that Link's arsenal can be very useful against some bad guys. It definitely keeps me on my toes and forces me to think about how to kill enemies compared to previous games where either button mashing or waggling were the standard.

As for how it looks and sounds, I'm all for the impressionist look. We all know the Wii never blew people away with its technical prowess and those people aren't going to be wowed by Skyward Sword. So I'm praising Skyward Sword's visuals for being different and unlike anything we've seen in a long while. It's simply beautiful overall even if there are some spots where it's less flattering. It's a good way to combine the gritty realist look of Twilight Princess with the clean, colorful look of Wind Waker and give Skyward Sword its own identity. And the soundtrack is a glorious mix of old and new, most of it in its orchestral glory. So check that box. Voice acting... not this time. A disappointment, but it doesn't bother me. The few dozen characters still express more emotion than most characters in other games where they won't shut up. I'll take Beedle's enthusiastic yells or even Fi's computer gibberish over Beedle's actual voice or Fi speaking at all... she's too much of a Captain Obvious.

Leave it to the resident black guy to pimp Link's equipment.

But it's a Zelda game so there are going to be many elements that are inherently Zelda. Heart pieces and rupees remain as they should, maps are important for dungeon exploration, and many of the weapons return like the bow, bombs, and clawshot. Even the upgrade system feels like an upgrade system that would be in a Zelda game, simple and a bit irrational, but kinda neat at the same time. The cast of characters are still as goofy and colorful as they have been. Like the big-headed fortune teller or the Kikwi fella in the picture above who reminds me of Adam Savage of Mythbusters... if he were a giant pair of balls. Skyloft, Hyrule, and the rest of the universe will always have its quirky citizens and I wouldn't want it any other way. As for Zelda's dungeons, they're dungeons you'd find in a Zelda game. The themes are typical for Zelda (forest, fire, water) but now the surface world acts as several small dungeons. Skyloft is the central hub where everything happens, but the world below is much less open and is deceptively dungeon-like. The dungeons themselves haven't changed except for the lack of torch puzzles... shocking! Every dungeon still has blocks to move in order to climb up a high ledge, there are switches that only the slingshot or bow can reach, and I believe every dungeon has that end boss where the rule of three exists, but Nintendo can still create a fun and challenging dungeon boss scenario. I can keep going on about the remixed side quests (like the variation of the toilet paper scene in Majora's Mask) or the minigames that don't seem to evolve or the tear collecting that rips straight from Twilight Princess or the one dick who hates Link because he's so awesome or the... everything else I've seen in other Zelda games. I say they should bring back the Bomber's Notebook quests from Majora's Mask... because that was the shit!

But does all this translate into a Game of the Year contender? I guess it depends on your tastes in games today. In 2006, Jeff Gerstmann (you know who he is) felt that Twilight Princess was an 8.8 (still great, guys) and his opinion ain't gonna change with Skyward Sword. That's fine and we need people like Jeff and Patrick Klepek of Giant Bomb fame to emphasize what some people believe are negatives. Hopefully they make sure Nintendo doesn't just remake the same, old game again and again even though some people think Nintendo remakes the same, old games again and again. Personally, Skyward Sword is vastly different than previous games, but so familiar that it feels like I've played this exact game before with a different coat of paint. That means I think it's an awesome game that everybody should check out if you have a Wii. That also means that Skyward Sword doesn't really change much from past games in any meaningful way other than the MotionPlus controls... for those who believe in motion controls. We might finally be at the point where every future Zelda game from now to the end of time will be scrutinized for being either too different, too similar to the rest, too dark, too lighthearted, too simple, too challenging, etc. It's pretty common to see something that's been around as long as Zelda be criticized for a host of things. Look at The Simpsons, for Christ's sake. People like me who feed on nostalgia can live without innovation to a point and still love Zelda for what it is, but with gamers finding themselves more attracted to games like Skyrim, The Witcher 2, and Dragon Age, something like Skyward Sword feels like a throwback.

But I love myself a good throwback. As does this guy.

5 stars.

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Several questions related to Skyward Sword that need answering.

About 5 days and 28 hours of play time with the latest Zelda adventure, I can honestly say that I'm familiar with the inner workings of Skyloft and the surface world in general. I know my way around town pretty well, I have a friendly relationship with the Item Check girl, and I am a master bug catcher. There is so much I know about the world in Skyward Sword, but there are burning questions that need answered. It's possible they'll be answered as I play through the second half of the game, but I can't wait for the final battle with Ghirahim or maybe the fortune teller (he knows too much) to have these questions answered for me. So let me ask you all here since you've all been playing Skyward Sword on your dustless Wii consoles.

  1. In the world of Skyloft, there is an honest-to-goodness working toilet. It's fairly crude by modern standards, but indoor plumbing in my Zelda game? I'm stunned! Anyway, there is only one of these toilets in the entire floating town. That toilet takes care of the people who live at the Knight Academy, but what about the common folk? They don't have toilets. Do they... just poop off the edge of the island? Or do they all just use that one crapper? Because I never see a line into the bathroom. Ever.
  2. No Zelda game can ever survive without pots of all shapes, sizes, and creeds. They are virtually everywhere in the universe, both above the clouds and below. Yet not a single potter in Skyloft. Where the hell do they come from? Does it rain pots while the town sleeps? Seriously, somebody has to explain these mysterious pots for me.
  3. Speaking of pots and breakables, how come only a handful of people get pissed off when I break their shit? Some people don't give a fuck if I break their fine china. Why? Do they think Link is "special" or something?
  4. On the subject of breaking shit, why is Link such an asshole? Why does he always barge into people's homes and tear shit up for no reason?
  5. And finally, who has ever tried pumpkin soup? Because this delicacy has eluded me my entire life. It's a pretty big deal in some circles in Skyloft, but the real world doesn't care about pumpkin soup.

I should have more serious thoughts on Zelda: Skyward Sword in a few days... unless I run into the only potter in town. Because he's gonna kill me after what I've done to his work.

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A boatload of Skyward Sword rumors!

We're about a month away from the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the game people are proclaiming as the Wii's swan song. It's a pretty big deal for fans of the series being a full-fledged console game and not a portable jaunt or a minigame cavalcade of mediocrity. I am getting very excited for the game myself, but the latest rumors are making me question the direction the series is taking. I'll list a few of the major rumors so you can make up your own conclusions.

Rumors courtesy of the Rumor Mill, 420 East Western Drive, North Bumshire, USA, 2nd floor next to the titty bar.
  • Weapon upgrading and crafting has been confirmed, but the latest rumor is that Link can also craft new hats. Link can use his inventory of useless items and weapons and combine them to create a slew of hats including, but not limited to: the fedora, fez, derby, sombrero, glengarry bonnet, tin foil, do-rag, and dozens more. Link will also be able to spend rupees or Wii Points on custom hats if you're lazy and have disposable income.
  • Ganon or Ganondorf isn't a part of the main story, but Ganondorf Jr. is a major boss near the halfway point in the game. Rumor has it Ganondorf Jr. borrowed an airship from a friend of his in another game.
  • There is no left-handed mode, but there is a left-footed mode for people who prefer to use their lower appendages.
  • Link and Zelda have known each other since they were kids and have a special relationship. After Zelda is kidnapped again, Link must save her and all that, but Zelda is saved fairly early in the game and Link becomes very popular in Skyloft, which leads to intimacy. So in layman's terms, they "get it on."
  • Tingle has been replaced with American Idol walking stereotype, Adam Lambert.
  • Finally, there is a rumor going around about how Link can steal weapons and use them against his enemies. Unfortunately, the only weapon enemies carry are guns.

Nintendo of Japan released a statement about the above rumors stating:

"Nintendo does not comment about rumors and speculation, but we'll look into Link and Zelda getting it on in a future Zelda game."
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The cursing was a bit much, huh?

"Do you know any swear word in a foreign language? German, French, Polish? When you say it out loud, no biggie, right? Not a problem to use it during a family dinner, I assume?"
"That is how all the f-bombs sounded to us. Being Polish, all the strong language in Bulletstorm was just exotic and fun to us. We did not feel its power. In other words, Epic thought this is what we wanted and respected our creative vision, while we had no idea this vision was a bit more than we really wanted."
"It was only at the end of the development, when I read the Polish translation of the game, that I realized how dirty we were. I swear a lot. A LOT. And yet still I ...kind of blushed."

Well how about them dicktits?

We knew Bulletstorm wasn't exactly going to blow the world away with its less serious take on the shooter, but even the fine people that can fly who work at People Can Fly were surprised that using a naughty word every 4 words can turn off some players. My opinion? I never finished Bulletstorm, but the cursing never bothered me even though I'm of Polish descent... although I never heard the dialogue in Polish. Probably would sound like filthy gibberish. But yeah, too much of a certain thing can hurt a game in the minds of some gamers, even swearing if you can fucking believe it.

Here's a source because that's what the pros do.

And in baseball news, I'm temporarily on the Brewers bandwagon until 2012 when the Yankees begin their road to another championship... preferably without A-Rod, that choking cunt.

Tootles.

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We shall start where the last man left off.

As time goes by, we see technology expand and grow beyond our wildest dreams, yet we all know the future holds even greater possibilities. We live in a world of instant communication, information, and gratification because of technology, but this has been the norm since the beginning of time.

We built tools out of sticks and stones to keep us warm and fed. We created cures for diseases that extended our lives. We created elixirs that may not cure what ails us, but have become a daily part of our diet. We used the power of invention to create while others used it to destroy. We invent things that lead to countless new inventions while we also invent things that don't need much improving.

We built large devices that can do simple tasks, but we also built small devices that can perform both simple tasks and the most complex calculations.

1955-2011.

And although the future might look bleak on the surface, man's ingenuity and ability to invent can only make us better as a society for many millennia.

On that note, perhaps it's time I get an iPod. I'm thinking an iPod Touch... 5th generation when it comes out. If I had more music, I'd go Classic, but I don't have nearly enough music to fill it. Plus, I can try this Angry Birds game Conan O'Brien keeps joking about.

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Zelda hype, espionage, and bible stories?

I believe the Zelda hype should be beginning to show itself soon, right?

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is about a few weeks away from release and it's looking like a Zelda game... you may portray that statement in a positive or negative light depending on your alignment and tastes. I will be that guy who will wait impatiently for the second (or 16th) coming of Christ. I seem to be one of the few souls around here who is legitimately excited for Skyward Sword, but if I remember correctly, most of you sold your Wii consoles long, long ago or shoved it in a closet where light can't get to it so you probably don't give a damn about another Zelda game.

Boy do I sound like a dick, but perhaps it's because I expect a lot more clamor from people when a main Zelda title looms near. Is it because it's late in the Wii's lifespan and most people have moved on? Is it because it doesn't look dramatically different than other Zelda games? Is it because it looks too dramatically different than other Zelda games? Call me old-fashioned, but the days leading up to the release of a new Zelda game should be spent talking about said Zelda game. I find it a bit strange that we were going crazy over this image for days while we tried to analyze every square inch of it and the actual game gets little attention.

This one, remember?

I've been looking through the various articles and rumor posts about the game and I believe it's doing a lot of things right. It's 100% Ganon-free, Link can upgrade weapons and other items, ride giant birds, and then there's Fi, the latest incarnation of Navi/Midna. And from the trailers, I'm sensing Skyward Sword is an amalgamation of numerous motion control concepts that have been used in other games, like when Link has to balance himself on a giant sphere a la Super Mario Galaxy or when Link shoots that beetle thingy which probably controls much like the dogfighters in Wii Sports Resort. Skyward Sword could end up being the best case for motion controls to date.

But until I get my grubby hands on the game, it's all about the hype, or lack thereof right now.

I don't consider myself an alpha male.

Yet I still thought buying Alpha Protocol was a good decision. When a game of its size is being given away, I feel guilty if I don't buy it. I've been hearing people sing its praises and yet at the same time, cursing the game as a huge disappointment, and everything in between... but since I paid $2 for it, the disappointment argument for me personally is officially disqualified. Basically what I'm being promised is Mass Effect combined with Splinter Cell and yeah, I guess that description fits, but I wasn't impressed with the first hour of the game so far. Yes, it's safe to say I've barely scratched the surface, but first impressions count towards something and Alpha Protocol has yet to convince me it's any good. It appears to be a game that could've used an extra few months of work to get the controls to work properly and to smooth out some of the cover issues. Also, I suck at picking locks for some reason. I believe there's a decent game in Alpha Protocol somewhere, but I haven't seen it during my brief time with it.

And finally, more Zelda?

I've been asking myself whether I should spend my cash on The Binding of Isaac or go to Burger King and pound down a Triple Stacker and some onion rings. It's hard for me to say no to BK, but The Binding of Isaac sounds and looks pretty cool. It's Rogue, but also Zelda, like old-ass Zelda... or The Guardian Legend... or the parts of Blaster Master when you're not driving a fucking tank. And it looks very much like Super Meat Boy for some reason. However, I think you all knew that already. So instead of stating the obvious and blogging in generalities, let's just say I need a solid rogue-like game of my own. Someone a while back mentioned Dungeons of Dredmor... which might be the better game for me.

Dungeons of Dredmor it is then. Yes, I actually made a gaming purchase decision while blogging. To be honest, I just bought both games right now. Expect thoughts on both next time... maybe.

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The future of Future is looking more digitized.

It's hard to believe that the antiquated print magazine is still around despite the rise of the internet and tablet PCs, but I guess there's still people out there who prefer the feel of paper across their fingers. I'm not on of these people. Once I started using the internet regularly, my Nintendo Power subscription was no more replaced with Gamespot and IGN, the powerhouses of gaming news at the time... and the present time I guess. That was about 12 years ago.

Today, Future might not have a future in the print magazine business as they're boosting their digital department and perhaps cleaning house. That means mags like Nintendo Power, OXM, Edge, and PC Gamer might be only available on your iPad or Steam or your mobile talking device in the near future.

I'm not exactly against this digitalization of media, but it is another memory from my childhood that is coming to an end as a former subscriber to Nintendo Power. I had always looked forward to my monthly Nintendo fix through that magazine and it's sad to think kids these days might not have something like OXM to look forward to in the mail. Then again, kids have the internet and I'm speaking like an old coot who hates change. Change can be good, dammit! We get our news virtually instantly nowadays so the thought of waiting a month for news is sounding ridiculous in today's world.

In a few years, the children of the world will be reading Nintendo Power on their magic screens while I will look through my old, tattered pile of Nintendo Power mags looking for cheat codes for Super R-Type and tips on how to beat the final boss in Crystalis.

Now get off muh lawn!

Now if you excuse me, I'll be downloading Alpha Protocol just to see what the hubbub is all about. I feel obligated to try it out since I paid about the same amount for that game as a convenient store chicken sandwich I had today... and I hope it's just as good as that sandwich.

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King Dedede's epic yarn.

Pornography comes in many forms and you should all know, what with all the naked cartoon pussy and all. But Sears is playing catch-up. Take a gander at this actual product that Nintendo surprisingly approved.

Now... let's analyze this sling bag together, everyone. Available at Sears.com.

At first glance, it appears that King Dedede is buttfucking that Waddle Dee, the Goomba of the Kirby franchise. The king looks very pleased as if he's in some sort of dream land. The other Waddle Dee wants no part of the action and is looking away in shame, yet is in direct fire of the sticky liquid (I assume it's sticky) being sprayed all over. I have a feeling Nintendo will be taking this fine product off the market very, very soon.

If that's how Nintendo wants to market the release of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, I will fully support the game and buy it on launch day. And if Nintendo has a collector's edition with a full-body Waddle Dee pillow, I will finally have some use for my Wiimote condom.

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A mild bout of blog fatigue that hopefully passes.

If you've been wondering why I've been lax with this whole blog over the past few weeks and months, it can be explained with the words "writer's block." I've been struggling to write about the many topics that have been swirling in my head for a while now and unlike my early days of blogging here at Giant Bomb, I'm attempting to create some sort of standard of quality to a point. Combine that with a busy summer, a pinch of real life, and a lack of time spent playing video games, there's been little for me to actually blog about. Hopefully with the summer season ending and the busy gaming season beginning, there's hope that I can start providing the community with something... anything.

And maybe the end of 2011 will make up for a pretty lackluster lineup of games I believe we had throughout 2011 as a whole. Maybe the past few years have spoiled me, but this year has been a disappointment. The games that interest me have been few and far between and all the games I'm looking forward to in the near future (Skyward Sword, Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2) are still weeks, months, and maybe years away respectively. I guess I had so much fun with last year's games that I'm suffering from gaming fatigue or indifference to new things... I'm not sure. Maybe it's because the Wii decided to take a long sabbatical or the bad economy finally catching up to us, but 2011 kinda sucks at this time and is ruining the blog I built with my bare hands.

Or maybe I'm just fucking lazy.

Oh, and I guess it's becoming common knowledge, but Mento gets my vote for rookie of the year in the Giant Bombosphere. Go read his stuff if you haven't already.

Well that's a small load off my chest. Now Sweep won't ban me... tonight.

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