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Review - The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword

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One improvement on previous entries is the relationship between Link and Zelda, which finally manages to flesh out both characters beyond the usual hollow archetypes of hero and damsel in distress. Stripping Zelda of her royal status (although she is still the daughter of the prestigious Knight Academy's headmaster), she instead becomes Link's dearest childhood friend and unspoken crush, the one who wakes him up when he sleeps in - leading to the game's most heartbreaking line - and shouts down the gang of jealous bullies who confront him. If the other characters are mostly reduced to space-fillers (exceptions being Groose's excellent comedy stylings and Lord Ghirahim's gleefully sadistic androgyny), putting Link and Zelda as the game's emotional core works to moving effect.

The central love story - because that's what it is, even if Zelda is quite the tease - is enhanced no end by Koji Kondo's versatile and playful score. While only the end credits track reaches the heights of his greatest works, notably on Ocarina and Mario Galaxy, the orchestration is an enormous step up from the MIDI-produced soundtracks from previous Zelda titles and hits all the right emotional cues - sad, funny, stirring, sedate - at all the right moments. The way the music for the Skyloft Bazaar alters slightly to suit each vendor is a particularly endearing touch.

So too does Skyward Sword change character, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The painterly visuals are a perfect fit for the series' unique blend of epic scope and intimate charm, but the feeling pervades that they are unlikely to survive the leap to the next generation of consoles. The streamlined design leads to some of the series' most engaging dungeons, but also makes this the first 3D Zelda to have no time for a sunset. The story of Zelda and Link finally finds a heart to match its legendary scale, but reduces the supporting cast to non-entities. For every fresh innovation to drive the series forward, there seems to be a frustration or a loss to match. Nods to the past feel perfunctory and half-hearted. A relief, then, that the moments when it all comes together are so much greater in power than those when it stumbles: Skyward Sword's greatest achievement is in getting a twenty-five year old series moving again. [ 7 ]

This review will also be published on my blog at 12pm GMT tomorrow.
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About Xander Markhamone of us since 3:08 PM on 02.07.2010

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I'm a 26-year old English writer, formerly known on the CBlogs as Xandaça. I've been an avid gamer since I was a wee lad, gripping a NES controller in my hands and comprehensively failing to get past those infuriating Hammer Bros on Level 8-3 of Super Mario Bros. I've stuck with Nintendo since then (not for any animosity towards the other console makers of course - Nintendo just make games I enjoy and have grown up with), apart from a brief sojourn with a Sony PlayStation, several woeful attempts to play Half-Life 2 using a laptop touchpad and sporadically wrangling a turn on my sister's beloved Sega Saturn.

In addition to burping out the occasional novel, I'm a passionate critic, writing reviews and articles of films, book and games for my school magazine and university newspaper, for which I created and edited its film section. In addition to starting up my own blog, covering television, games and movies, I am also a writer for Destructoid's cine-geek sister Flixist. While primarily a film geek, the evolution of the games industry over the course of its short lifetime has fascinated me and provided vast quantities of content for some incendiary pieces of work - perhaps a few more might spring up on here?

My Favourite Games of All Time (because who doesn't love having a few Of All Time lists?) are GoldenEye 007 (which I still play through at least once a year to remind me of its glories), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Gunstar Heroes, Super Mario Bros 3 (I don't know who told Shigsy Miyamoto-san that raccoons could fly, but I'll love them forever) and No More Heroes.

I hope you find great enjoyment in my many scribings, and please keep an eye out for upcoming news on my novel(s) and do pay a visit to my blog sometime. And yes, the Dtoid community's 'no copy and paste' rule will be fully respected!

Good gaming, everyone!