By Video_Game_King 24 Comments
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
(And that's the last Wii game I'm gonna be playing for a while.) I'd say that it's gonna be my last new Wii game, but Xenoblade Chronicles will most likely be eating up my time quite soon. Still, I wouldn't exactly be pissed if this was my last Wii game (assuming, of course, that this was a universe in which Nintendo didn't tell its American fans to fuck off for several months). I mean, just look at this game: it's got great atmosphere, pretty cool combat, and some other awesome stuff. It's like that Blood Omen game I talked about last week....only better.
Part of why it's awesome is the atmosphere: it tries oh so hard to make an interesting world, even if it has no goddamn clue what it's doing. Now, I could just list off the details of why I said that (in fact, I will quite soon), but I feel that summarizing the game from start to finish will suffice. I plop the disc in, am asked to apply an on-disc update (I know that because I wasn't connected to the Internet at the time), and restart my Wii to find Netflix on my dashboard. I'm just as confused as you are, and just as confused as the game turns out to be. Then I actually get into the game and find myself looking at a giant furry (maybe feathered) testicle, clearly pissed at the woods surrounding him. It's not as strange as it sounds; what is as strange as it sounds is seeing the words "Zelda: 25th Anniversary" sprawled across the screen immediately after. I'd say it gets worse from there, but to be honest, it gets better about these random Zelda references, limiting it to character design (HEY GUYS, YOU REMEMBER RAURU AND HOW AWESOME HE WAS, HUH, DO YA, HUH!?) and esoteric level d-...Anyway, after all that, holy hell, does it suck you in. Now, I really want to go into detail about how well it sets up this atmosphere, but there are more important things at hand, like what happens after this awesome set-up scene:
The game becomes Disney as shit. I know that sounds weird, but that's honestly the best word I can use to describe this game. I mean everything from the scenarios to the character design to the characters themselves just seems like something ripped out of a Disney movie. It wouldn't be very surprising to see this within the first twenty minutes. (OK, yea, silent protagonist (something the game goes to great pains to enforce), but that aside...) Hell, you could probably map out the game's progress based on what Disney movie it resembles at the time...which is pretty much what I've done here. Not that this is a bad thing or anything. Disney movies can be pretty fun to watch, and Skyward Sword at least borrows the right things about Disney movies. Example: Ghirahim, our villain du jour. If this was any other game, the main villain would probably just tell you that he's evil before getting back to his super evil plan. But not Ghirahim. This is a guy who knows he's in Snow White and the Seven Dungeons, and he just hams it the fuck up. I'd say that it's a shame that he doesn't come up more often in the story, but the rest of the game follows suit...and that's part of what I don't like about the Disneyness of this game. It's just that it can make some of the more serious story moments a bit hard to take seriously. Take, for example...well, any scene where the characters emote a lot. I don't know how exactly to put it, but the character's faces tend to be off in some way, like they think they're actual people or something. Were they actual people and not Disney cartoons, I imagine things could've gone much better. But alas, they are fated to be cartoon characters, damning their attempts at serious emotion. There are already enough problems with the Wii's graphics being what they are and its insistence on being a game (I don't see a B button on the Master Sword, so what's going on, here?), so adding this on top of that proba-
Wait, why do I keep talking about the problems with the atmosphere? The atmosphere's the best part of the game (which makes the positioning of this paragraph very confusing). It's like playing through an epic, and no, I don't mean it in the "that headshot was epic" sort of way; I mean it in the Kirby's Return to Dreamland sort of way. Now how the fuck does it achieve all this? First off: make everything huge. From the world to the boss battles, there's a lot in this game that will tower over you. I know that sounds trivial and simplistic, but it really does help you feel like you've done something mighty. Then there's the soundtrack, which is equal parts triumphant and Disney. (Again, they borrowed a lot of the right things from Disney.) Speaking of parts, part of what makes it so great is the motion controls. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. When you pull a sword out of a pedestal (or, more likely, thrust it in), you actually have to thrust it in, like, in real life.....OK, I sound like a stoner, but trust me, it works. It does so much to draw you into the experience, and the best part is that there's so much stuff like that in the game. Wanna feel like you're actually flying through the air on that bird of yours? Well, you will, because that's what you get when you combine motion controls with a huge (if empty) sky world to fuck about in. Not in the mood for flying? No problem; just break out your bow and arrow and pretend that this is Wii Sports Resort. Look, it works b...My point is that there's just so much thought put into this game. Even the ending is awesome. Or, rather, the epilogue, since it actually takes the time to explain what Zelda was doing for most of the game. For that alone, I'm willing to overlook all the weird sci-fi elements (what an odd addition to this game) and the compartmentalization of the world.
It has just occurred to me that I've utterly failed to mention anything about the game itself. How about we start with the one thing that sets this game apart from other Zelda games: goblin genocide...by which I mean "combat." Now remember previous Zelda games, where combat consisted of whacking the A button (or the air) until an enemy died? That shit won't fly here. Your sword can move in any direction you choose, and the game knows this. If you want to kill things in this game, you better buckle the fuck down and learn the difference between vertical and horizontal. "Oh, for bosses, right?" They're gonna eat you alive. Even the most basic enemies will know how to counter your random slashing, turning about 70% of the fights into complex math equations. So yea, it can be pretty challenging, but also pretty damn rewarding from encounter to encounter, although I'm not sure how much of that difficulty is due to the controls. Now I'm not calling them bad, but they could be better. My biggest problem (in fact, it may be my only problem) is how hard it is to move from one axis to another. You can't slash from the middle, so you have to move toward a cardinal direction to set yourself up for a slash. Unfortunately, there's no real way of doing this without blatantly telegraphing your attacks, so by the time you've moved your sword into position, Random Baddy X has already placed something in your way to block any hits. I'd say that this leads to you spastically slashing the air like a madman, but again, the game doesn't take kindly to that. And that's not even going into aiming with non-sword weapons, which periodically decide to stop working. Yea, they're not a huge part of the combat, but it's still annoying to deal with, probably because you still have to use them a lot to get around the world.
Speaking of the world...it's a thing, I guess? What exactly am I supposed to say? It certainly looks like there's a lot of shit to do in the world (collecting the hearts of your fallen enemies, whacking around cubes like this is Portal, etc.), but I never really paid any attention to that stuff. If anything, I was in it more for the items than the world. I mean, just look at all the cool shit you find in Skyward Sword. Reverse vacuum cleaner; a metal bug that bumps into shit; a dominatrix whip; and three other things! Nintendo's creativity knows no bounds. Oh, and don't think that the game simply hands these odd inventions to you and calls it a day, either, because Skyward Swords knows how to put this shit to use. I'll admit that I got stuck in some of the dungeons, but so what? That was only because of some pretty creative puzzles, like sliding rooms around the dungeon or making the time stream your bitch. I know that sounds incredibly brief and not a very strong base for a dungeon, but somehow, this game manages to make the most of these ideas. And that's just the dungeons; imagine what the actual world is like. I'm telling you to imagine because I skipped over that shit, but from what I saw (and couldn't reach and therefore never bothered touching), there's a lot to find. Keep in mind that's just what I saw, so there's probably more to it than that. Sure, not everything is pulled off particularly well (Link has a harp, but he's only capable of playing this song), but it does so many other things so well (those Mogma Mitts are pretty badass) that I'm willing to overlook those flaws. Actually, now that I think about it, that's probably the perfect way to describe this game.
- Somebody wanna do a mash-up of Ghirahim's theme and Be Prepared? Because that would be a very apt way of describing this game.
- Swordplay? Awesome! Navigation? Pretty cool. Anything else to do with the Wii-mote? Not so much.
- Still, there's a lot to be had with this game.
- Somehow, I was able to get through this thing without once giving a basic summary of the story. Huzzahs are in order.
As long as we're talking about Zelda...
(And back to the obscure I go!) Man, it feels good to return to form. Yea, the title sounds like it's insulting me by being a combination of the words "otaku" and "pocky" (I don't even like pocky, you asshole!), but I still feel good about this...even though the game is better than it has any right to be. The concept isn't terribly complex, the controls are frustrating, and it definitely overstays its welcome....yet somehow, I still think it's pretty cool.
I could bullshit around about why I think it's cool, but I know exactly why: the music. At first, this doesn't seem like much, since the actual music isn't really anything special. Then you press the A button and OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO GODDAMN AWESOME! MY SHOTS CHANGE PITCH DEPENDING ON WHERE I SHOOT THEM!? KICKASS! I know that sounds really shallow and stupid, but trust me: there's a 200% chance that this will be your reaction when you first play the game (200 because it's like this, but 2). It's like That Video I Posted Above: The Game. Oh, and don't think that that's all there is to it...yet. There are tons of power-ups that fuck about with the music, too, like a speed-up thing (again, better than it sounds) and a time stopper. But that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about the various types of instruments you find, like organs and trumpets and other things you never actually see in the game. (I guess different ranges and movement patterns are supposed to represent the instruments, if in a so-abstract-I'm-calling-bullshit sort of way.) No, it's all about what you hear. Each power-up has its own different sound to it, which may not sound like much until you realize how many goddamn instruments the game has. How did the guys behind this game get so damn much out of the NES hardware? And how did they manage to make such a minor feature so stupidly enjoyable?
Unfortunately, that's really all there is to Otocky. All you do in the game is collect various notes and then shoot them all into the same really easy boss at the end of each level, and it never gets past this simple concept. This would be fine if the game was only two or three levels (OK, it really wouldn't be, but you get the message), but the game goes on for eleven levels. You can't carry "snatch shit" for eleven levels! So what do you do? Notice all the other flaws with the game. For example, the graphics, as you can see from the screenshot, are incredibly simplistic. I'm aware of what I said, and I stand by it. It looks like the game was made in MS Paint!.....Not doing it for you? OK, how about the controls? Moving around works well enough, but shooting your music ball is a bit iffy. You can't just press the A button and expect it to go wherever you want; you need to give that son of a bitch a direction. You can see the problem, can't you? This would make for a pretty awesome dual-stick shooter (assuming, of course, that everything else was sorted out), but this is the NES, a system with absolutely no sticks. As it is, it's a minor but persistent annoyance you just have to deal with throughout the game. Still, there are worse ways to spend the day than mashing the A button and fucking about with the d-pad.
- I NEVER WANT TO STOP HITTING THE A BUTTON!
- BECAUSE THEN I'LL STOP AND NOTICE ALL THE FLAWS!
- WHY AM I STILL YELLING!?