Why I About-Faced on Skyward Sword

 
 
 

Up until yesterday, I was not a fan of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, to say the least. I felt upset and betrayed from my experience playing the game at E3, and it was one of my biggest disappointments of the entire show. I felt for certain that it was going to be the low-point of the series (not counting the CD-i atrocities, of course), and was bound & determined to ignore it entirely. I have publicly declared my dislike for Skyward Sword, and that I felt it was not a well-made game.

Four hours in, I am ready to about-face and eat crow.

It’s difficult to tell why exactly the game is playing so differently from how I remembered it, but I have a few things in mind. After the break, let’s discuss why I didn’t like the E3 build, and how those problems are resolved now.

Problem: The E3 build was jaggy, with unremarkable graphics.

Answer: The final game is beautiful and anti-aliased, completely unlike the E3 build. The game’s wondrous art style was hindered by the E3 presentation, but now the richness and color truly comes through.
There may have been some cleanup during the last 6 months, but I find this somewhat unlikely, as graphics engines are usually done well before this mark. The most likely scenario is that the televisions that were used in the presentation simply did not compliment its true worth, and caused the jaggies problem.

Problem: The sound and music were de-emphasized, with too much emphasis on the Wii controller’s lo-fi speaker.

Answer: There is much less sound coming from the Wii controller’s speaker now (if any), and the music is gorgeous and fully orchestrated. Likely, the music was just not audible over the noise of the hectic E3 halls. It turns out that the soundtrack is one of the game’s high points, truly the highlight of composer Mahito Yokota’s work so far. This is a major point, considering he also did the music for Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2.

Problem: The controls. Ah, yes, the controls. At E3, they were barely responsive, and when they did respond, the result was unpredictable.

Answer: The controls in the final build are far more accurate that what was presented at E3. Horizontal swings go horizontal, vertical swings go vertical; at E3, even this was not certain. I will not go so far as to say that the controls are perfect now, but the game is certainly playable, and then some.
I believe some refinement of the controls has happened here, but I also think that a good portion of the troubles at the show had to do with the sheer number of wireless signals floating through the air. The WiiMotionPlus controllers pass a much larger data set back to the system than standard controllers, so it stands to reason that interference in the air would cause more problems for reliable controls.

There are many people on the internet that claim that the game is not worth the scores it is getting, but after a few hours, I do not believe they the scores are wrong. The story presentation is superior to that in any other Zelda game thus far, and I can see the appeal in the combat system, once refined. Do yourself a favor, and give Skyward Sword a chance.