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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – what's new?

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the last major release for Nintendo's Wii. But Skyword Sword is repetitious, imitating better role-playing games rather than surpassing them. 

By Sebastian HaleyVentureBeat / November 19, 2011

Nathan Rousseau, of Jaffrey, N.H., explores collectibles from 'The Legend of Zelda' series at Nintendo World in New York during an event on Nov. 19, 2011, celebrating the launch of the new 'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword' video game for the Wii console.

Anders Krusberg/AP Images for Nintendo of America

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While all eyes will soon be shifted to the Wii U, the Wii’s successor, Nintendo still expects there are “millions” of this generation’s console to be sold. If any game from the Japanese publisher/developer can move units off store shelves during the holiday season, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Not since the launch of the Wii in 2006 has there been a proper console Zelda release, and with more than 89 million Wiis out in the wild now, the installed base–and therefore revenue potential–is far higher than with the previous entry. Record sales are almost ensured, but sadly, it’s a wasted opportunity.

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The more things change…

I originally started this review with a fairly lengthy recap of Nintendo’s many past digressions culminating with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which wasn’t just a bad game, but also an inexcusably horrid business decision that severely burnt loyal Nintendo fans, even the ones who were too ignorant to realize it. But I deleted all that, because this interview with Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime speaks for itself. In it, Fils-Aime claims that he believes there hasn’t been a game of the same caliber and score of Skyward Sword, based on what he counts are eight perfect ratings on Metacritic.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a video game in history that’s going to be able to compare to Skyward Sword,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bethesda Softworks announced earlier in the week that rival action-RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been awarded over 50 perfect reviews globally. It’s this kind of blind arrogance that proves Nintendo executives operate within a bubble, while the fact that Skyward Sword suffers from many of the same shortcomings that befell Twilight Princess suggests that shortsightedness extends to their development teams as well.

The story begins promisingly enough. In Skyward Sword, the princess Zelda is not the usual damsel in distress, but a main character on equal ground with the hero Link himself. Perhaps beyond Link even, as she’s definitely the more fleshed-out of the two. They live on a floating island called Skyloft, high above the clouds where most of the residents believe that there’s nothing else in the world besides them, and certainly nothing below. I can’t imagine what a lonely, existentialist nightmare that must be, given that Skyloft is about the size of a single city block in Los Angeles, but after meeting all of the NPCs I doubt any of them are intelligent enough to ponder such a thing. Residents of Skyloft also have a giant winged bird, known as a loftwing, that is bonded directly with them and no one else. This is the one major addition that shakes up the aging Zelda formula and made me wonder if I was in a for a truly unique experience. Just watching Zelda and Link dive off the cliffs of Skyloft and whistle for their loftwings as they freefall is so very un-Zelda-like. It’s both absurd and exhilarating at the same time, giving me a brief moment of uninterrupted excitement.

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