The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

If you're wondering what I've been doing over the past few weeks, well, part of that has to do with finals. Last few weeks of a semester are always heavy on the workload. Of course, I was done with everything several days ago, so what was I doing over the past few days...? That also has a simple answer: Skyward Sword.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the newest incarnation of that all too famous franchise. Had I not been playing it quite intensely over the past few days (I believe I logged over forty hours of play time), I might even be inclined to listen to the usual charge of "making the same game over again." Certainly, Nintendo loves its franchises, mostly because they keep bringing in the money. Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda would count as the big three, I think, although certainly they aren't the only ones. (Metroid also comes to mind.)

And there is a grain of truth to the argument, really. Certainly, playing through Skyward Sword, I saw all of the same elements that I've seen in prior Zelda games. I won't go into too much detail, of course, since no doubt there are people that might read this who don't want the game spoiled. What I will say is this: Skyward Sword deserves to be compared favorably to any of its predecessors. In my opinion, it is the best iteration of the series since, and including, Ocarina of Time.

Yes, I just claimed that it's better than that venerable N64 title. There's a simple reason for that: this game is interactive in a way no modern Zelda game has ever tried to be.

I am a huge fan of the bow, both inside the Zelda games and, to be honest, in real life. (Which isn't to say I have any skill with one.) I fondly remember the Hidden Village from Twilight Princess, which was basically one long excuse to snipe a bunch of enemies. I consider it no spoiler to say that the bow does appear in Skyward Sword as well.

And once I had it, I quickly realized that I could play with it. One of the features that appears in Skyward Sword? Equipment can be upgraded, and you have a limited number of gear slots to play with for stuff that isn't mission critical. In past games, you'd find things like an upgraded quiver and bomb bag, which would then simply be part of your gear. In this one, you have to carry those kinds of things with you, and carrying one means you don't have space for another.

Which meant that in the end, I was ludicrously bow-heavy. Normally, you can carry 20 arrows; I was carrying sixty-five. With a fully upgraded bow to boot. In between that, a shield, and four bottles (two fairies, two potions), that was it for my gear.

The point being, though? Someone else's final loadout will look very different than mine. Someone else went straight for the slingshot upgrade and stocked up on seed satchels. Perhaps another went for a balanced system that didn't prioritize anything in particular. Depending on how you wanted to play, you could leave all of that at home and focus on carrying useful potions!

Is it the same style game as the last several Legend of Zelda games? Broadly, yes. That doesn't mean that it can't be a fresh experience, in its own ways. And damned fun to boot.

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