Analysis of Game Design: Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 

Skyward Sword was released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii. Although Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game to feature motion controls, Skyward Sword really pioneered the use of motion controls as a game mechanic. Although Twilight Princess required you to swing the remote to attack, and use the remote to aim arrows, Skyward Sword went one step further, and included Motion Plus to “accurately” swing in the direction you swing the remote, and used puzzles and weapon mechanics that required precise remote controller movement to perform.

The Legend of Zelda series as a whole targets a wide range of audiences, because the game is so accessible that anyone of any age can enjoy it. The themes of the game are quite simple, mostly revolving around friendship, responsibility, destiny, and growing up. The friendship between Link and Zelda is unusual for a Zelda title, but their adorable, unlikely friendship can appeal to anyone, and pretty much anyone can read between the lines and tell that Link and Zelda are childhood sweethearts. Link  is faced with immeasurable responsibilities in Skyward Sword, and when the story takes sad turns and Link can’t accomplish his responsibilities and protect Zelda, Impa weighs down on him harshly, and this is a theme that practically anyone can relate to. Destiny and fate is a staple theme throughout the Zelda franchise, and this game is no different, except this time, the characters have stronger obligations and links to their fates, and because of this, the game’s story is much sadder and more painful than other titles, because the friendship between Link and Zelda is so strong that when they inevitably get separated and figure out their fates, it is legitimately painful to see them get ripped away from each other. Similarly to the theme of fate, growing is also a big theme in this game. Again, a lot of Zelda titles are based around themes of growing up or growing spiritually, and Skyward Sword features both. Link grows into a more confident character, grows as a swordsman and a knight, and grows spiritually as he endures the Spirit Realm trials, and everyone can appreciate and understand growing up.

The games design in Skyward Sword receives mixed reviews from fans, some fans love Skyward Sword, but it still receives a lot of negativity from fans, mostly because of the disenchanting motion controls. Nintendo brought out new software and hardware purely to improve the controller’s motion controls, and this game was one of the pioneer games to feature the new hardware, because it only works if the motion plus is attached to the remote. However, the game’s heavy reliance on this occasionally flawed hardware soured the reception for a lot of fans, because the calibration was easily knocked by players flailing the remote around, ultimately making it a flawed invention. In game fight sequences were true to the Zelda series, as fights are real time, however this made it more infuriating for players, because combat became really hard when the remote’s calibration went wrong, making that the main reason why combat was difficult. The boss battles are formulaic to most Zelda titles, requiring the new item you get from that area to beat them, however many items in Skyward Sword feature the use of motion controls to master, such as the beetle (which is essentially a drone that link can fly for a few seconds to collect small pickups or knock switches), and the Gust Bellows. Another thing that soured this game for a lot of fans was the assistant, Fi. A lot of fans don’t like Fi, because they say that she holds the player’s hand throughout the whole game, and patronises the player, and this is especially true when the batteries run out of the Wii remote. The environments in Skyward Sword are beautiful, the graphics and art style is inspired by the Impressionist art movement, and the landscapes very well reflect this art movement. The Faron woods is filled with lush greens and blues, the Lanayru desert looks barren, but with the flick of a switch can look as life filled as the forest, and the volcano looks daunting and intimidating as it towers over the Eldin province. Overall, Skyward Sword received very positive reviews from game reviewers, and I myself love this game, despite the finicky controls. The story is strong, and I personally love this game a lot.

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