While we're in no way clever enough to run Nintendo, releasing the best Zelda game since Ocarina Of Time so late into the Wii's lifespan seems like a strange move. Okay, so 2006's Twilight Princess looked beautiful and the twisted, bleak imagination of Hyrule was incredible, but Skyward Sword knocks it off the pedestal with a well-timed swipe.
The Legend Of Zelda series will always have to live up to Ocarina of Time's legacy (though, can we just talk about Majora's Mask for a minute, because that little cartridge oozed gothic darkness like hungover Monday mornings in December). Thankfully Skyward Sword strikes a balance between exploring the limits of the Wii's graphics and etching a land full of gleeful, crayoned charm, something previous titles in the series have failed to do.
"Fuck off, plant."
Utilising the Wii's State Of The Art (read: it came out in 2009, we're being ironic) MotionPlus, the game sees you using TP's 'swing-the-remote-around' mechanic with greater dexterity. The super-sensitive controllers determine how you hold your sword, and this applies to enemies, too. They're clever and cunning now, able to block your moves and think on their feet. And so, too, will you.
The game begins with Link living in Skyloft, a city that floats above the clouds. He's a bit insular, since nobody leaves Skyloft, oblivious to the super rockin' world of Starbucks and cat-memes beneath them, but one things leads to another and Link ends up with a face full of dirt quite early on, determined to find Zelda, who has kind of disappeared.
"Oh come one, Avatar was so stooopid."
Of course, he's not alone; Epona is replaced with a big red bird that Link has to fly for earlier portions of the game (it's a complete pain, if we're honest) and his guide during his quest is Fi, the spirit of an ancient sword Link unearths before leaving Skyloft. She is actually hugely annoying, a bit like the little imp from Twilight Princess. Instead of being a cheeky SOB, however, Fi speaks like a computer, but is a fairy and shouldn't have such a strong grasp on percentages.
BE FREE, SPIRIT, STOP TALKING IN MATHS.
The formula for the game is blurred in Skyward Sword more than ever; the dungeon and not-dungeon segments are harder to distinguish, which is the biggest compliment to give to a series that has, admittedly, become guessable. There's no dull segues between the more exciting dungeons - this is a quest, in every sense of the word.
Highlights include the mine-cart roller coaster segment; it's nothing short of thrilling, rocketing along and using the MotionPlus to keep yourself flying off the tracks. Meanwhile, the boss battle against Koloktos, the Ancient Automaton, is incredible. Armed with a powerful whip, you must flick the Wii Remote forward and snap it back, ensnaring the golden giant's limbs and ripping them off, all the while avoiding his huge blades.
Taking place before Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword tells the story behind the creation of Ganondorf, the legacy behind the Master Sword and also offers insight into Din, Farore and Nayru's back stories and the formation of the Triforce. It's an exciting tale, and for those of you meticulously mapping the Zelda franchise (you know who you are) this game fills in some blanks.
However, some parts of the game, such as exploring the Temple of Time and swimming through Lake Floria, don't feel exciting enough; they can feel old, or instilled with a sense of lull, not like the magic from earlier incarnations. But it's also possible that we're just a bit grumpier than we were when we were ten, and we don't that impacting on what is otherwise one of the most exciting Zelda games to date - more so than Twilight Princess, more engaging than Wind Waker and more than capable of going sword-to-sword with the best games of all time.
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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is out now