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Review: Why You Should Play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an adventure RPG for the Nintendo Wii that revolutionises the series by utilising motion controls to allow the player to further enhance the experience.

Skyward Sword features a vibrant world that takes inspiration from Impressionist artwork. It is colourful and full of personality and each new location is a joy to explore. The introduction of flying and many puzzles in the over-world give the game a huge sense of scale and the numerous weapons and tools in your inventory keep the game play feeling fresh and fun to play. The Legend of Zelda series has been around for 25 years, but Skyward Sword still captures the spirit and wonder of classic instalments while updating it with a modern control scheme and new ideas.

The game’s story is the earliest in the The Legend of Zelda timeline and outlines the origins of Zelda, the Master Sword and the series villain Ganon. Game play definitely takes centre stage, but the narrative is engaging and the characters are genuinely interesting. Zelda is given more personality than previous instalments and the antagonist Ghirahim is menacing and memorable. Voice acting is not present in the game, but the silent protagonist is still a great “Link” between players and this magical adventure.

Game play is the main focus of Skyward Sword and the implementation of motion control takes combat to another level. Using the Wii remote the player has full control over Link’s sword. Many enemies will block your attacks, unless you strike them from different directions and later in the game the AI is no push over. Sword combat is fun, but motion control is also utilised to aim the slingshot, throw bombs, crack whips, guide the remote beetle, shoot arrows and guard attacks with your shield. Bosses take it up another notch requiring thoughtful strategy and precise attacks. Once you have mastered the control scheme it really feels like you have complete control over your arsenal of weapons. Skyward sword also features some of the best designed dungeons in the series including imaginative enemies, though provoking puzzles and great locations.

Another first for the series is a fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music is melodic and epic, featuring brilliant new compositions and enhancing some old favourites. “Ballad of the Goddess” is an energetic main theme, while quieter pieces such as “Isle of Songs” and “Zelda’s Lullaby” are beautiful. The music complements the art style and world adding some extra emotion to the game.

Skyward Sword is the reason we play RPGs, to participate in an adventure through imaginative worlds. If you wish to play an RPG that puts you in control of a hero unlike any other game, then you should play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

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Filed under Reviews, The Legend of Zelda Series

Why I Prefer No Voice Acting in RPGs

There was a time when characters only “spoke” through dialogue boxes and showed all their emotions and charm through body language. In modern RPGs voice acting is the norm, but I find myself more immersed in older games where I am free to imagine characters personalities. At first I thought this was just nostalgia to games made from that era, but after recently playing the newly released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword I have come to the conclusion that I prefer it that way.

Firstly, by having characters converse through written dialogue the player is free to input their own ideas of how they think the character should sound. This really helps with engaging the player in the story as they care more about characters they have helped conceive. It is also easier to identify with the protagonist of the story if the player feels like they can imagine themselves saying the characters lines or adding in a bit of their own personality.

With the emergence of voice acting, musical scores in RPGs have also seemed to take a backseat. In older games music was used to create atmosphere, highlight a memorable scene or to characterise an important party member. In Chrono Trigger we instantly knew Frog was a courageous and noble character just by the triumphant music that played with him and most players would also remember fondly each character from Final Fantasy VI just by hearing their accompanying theme songs. When an RPG features voice acting, it takes centre stage and the music is relegated to background noise, more like a movie. Most of the soundtracks I hear in modern games consist mostly of not very memorable ambient sounds rather than the catchy melodies of years past.

Voice acting can also be over the top, and may even lose the simplicity of scenes where characters show their feelings through their actions. In Final Fantasy VII, after Aeris’ death, each character has their own unique reaction to the tragedy. Some look to the heavens or stand in contemplation, others break down crying or try to hide their tears, but no one says a word and the whole scene is more powerful because of it. If it were remade with voice acting I fear it would lose a lot of the emotion by trying to be too dramatic. Even the cut scenes in previously mentioned The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword perfectly demonstrates Links insurmountable determination and his affection for Zelda without the need to reiterate it through having him speak. I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words.

There are many RPGs that have featured fantastic voice acting, but for me I would rather let my imagination fill out the characters personalities, let the enchanting music set the scene and have the characters show me their emotions.

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Filed under Chrono Series, Editorial, Final Fantasy Series, The Legend of Zelda Series