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What's with the Skyward Sword hate?

Joined
Oct 7, 2017
When you make a thread like this there are a few members here that you should hope to see reply. Some of those have already posted and I know that the rest soon will, another of those members is me.

Skyward Sword, for me, is one of the most disappointing Zelda games and is by far the worst 3D Zelda game to date. A bad 3D Zelda game had to happen eventually, i'm just glad it happened during the Wii period.

Firstly, Skyward Sword is very much like Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks; games butchered by the hardware they appeared on due to Nintendo always wanting to push an (often once only) 'immersive' gimmick.

The Wii hardware never sat well with me and i didnt enjoy the majority of the games released for it, so it was a shame (but no surprise) that Skyward Sword ended up sucking in so many ways.

Skyward Sword was flawed on a conceptual level due to introducing and integrating the Wii's motion controls into every facet of the game's design. An egregious example would be the Beamos (and other enemies within the Lanayru Mining Facility) that have glowing cut-here-to-defeat lines across their bodies, which is just patronising, but then again so is the rest of the game.

The motion controls for me were a major barrier preventing me from becoming immersed within SS's world from a gameplay perspective; the constant recalibration for first person items like the bow and abilities such as dowsing, the constant flapping of the Loftwing's wings to fly, the lack of manual camera control, the irritation of swinging on vines, pulling switches, throwing and rolling bombs, guiding the beetle, swimming and every aspect of combat felt clunky, limited, inconvenient and not as responsive or intuitive as i'd have liked at all.

I was constantly being reminded that I was playing a game and it wasnt one I was enjoying; 'slash here' 'turn this' 'recalibrate' and 'tilt this way' were dull (and often frustrating) actions that did nothing but detract from the overall experience.
Would enemies have had glowing slash-here-to-defeat lines like a child's first DIY book? Probably not. Would those swinging vines have been there? Probably not. Would those infernal rotating boss key sections have been there? Definitely not.

At this point it sounds like all my frustrations were born of the motion controls and while the game's design is largely the victim of them being included there are many other things Skyward Sword got so completely wrong that the motion controls were the least irritating aspect of my experience...

The art style sucks. Plain and simple. It sounds good on paper that Nintendo chose to use an expressionist style to mask the limitations of the Wii's power but its still horrible. Not because the draw distance is a horrible blur of colour (the blur is the point) but because it is ugly in design. The character designs look terrible, human characters have distractingly ugly facial features, their eyes are dead and some of their expressions are straight up terrifying.

Other characters such as the Mogmas are some of the worst designed characters i've seen in any game ever, they're hideous. The bosses are trash too; Tentalus, Moldarach, Scaldera, Ghirahim, The Imprisoned and Akuma-sorry-Demise. They all have terrible designs and terribly gimmicky motion control based battles, more so than standard enemies and the overworld, none of them are fun save for Koloktos (and even he is overrated in both looks and battle).

While we're on the topic of character design, the design team were given complete freedom for the design of The Imprisoned. Complete freedom and they make a pinecone with toes. Let that sink in.

That's enough for the way things look, now let's talk about the way they interact with each other and the narrative.

Terrible. Just terrible.
The opening hour reads like a fanfiction. A day in the life of Link and Zelda as they flirt and go about their lives with a sugary carefree nature in a place where nobody else is important.
Zelda comes off like a fangirl self-insert and is just as irritating, she hits most of the cliche anime tropes early on and continues to do so until the credits roll.

The way Groose is handled is so ham-fisted that his whole arc is an insultingly blunt affair.
He starts out as a jerk and ends as less of a jerk. A character reversal arc can be a wonderful thing but all it takes for Groose is three very short, very on-the-nose cutscenes (that'd even make Sakamoto blush) to completely 180 his character. It isn't big, it isn't clever but he still manages to be the most interesting character in the game by default because the rest of the cast are just so terribly written.

Ghirahim... well, he doesn't really have anything going on. He wants to defeat Link and sacrifice Zelda to Demise. He starts out wanting to kill Link and dies wanting to kill Link... or does he?
I ask because in the scene following the Lanayru Mining Facility dungeon where Ghirahim attacks Impa and Zelda, Ghirahim basically says to Link 'I should have beat you last time, I could beat you this time, but I'll beat you next time', then he disappears. So... why didn't he fight Link? Did he just not care? Whatever.

Impa keeps her mysterious identity thing going between the young and old versions of herself even though its obvious.
Her younger self has a coldness about her while her older self has a guiding warmth. Good stuff Nintendo, very clever. See what you did there. Nice. Moving on.

Zelda, Groose, Ghirahim and Impa all make for a dull supporting cast alongside the ever-blank Link. Anyone else who appears in the game really isn't worth talking about as far as characterisation goes because there isn't any to be had (especially Fi, her final moments annoy me so much that I'm not going to waste time talking about them).

So what of the narrative?
Well, as i mentioned, the opening hour is a very tropey anime fanfiction while the following hours are something of a chase with Link catching up to a kidnapped Zelda over the course of three dungeons.
After these dungeons Link has to 'prove himself' for the three sacred flames to temper the Goddess Sword into the Master Sword (via some retconning of course) then prove himself again for the Song of the Hero and then prove himself again via (horrific) stealth missions in the Sacred Realm before finally locating the three pieces of the Triforce.

Standard Zelda stuff but the idea of Link constantly 'proving himself' gets old fast, especially when you're tempering the Goddess Sword into the Master Sword. You know how the sword is gonna end up, you're basically going through the motions until the sword looks like what you know. Its dull and tedious.

The final hours are a chore too and the final boss is laughable.
It is pretty difficult to feel intimidated by an end-game boss when you've spent the last thirty hours clipping its toenails (The Imprisoned, the fail whale that it is) before dropping half an island on its head.
Proto-Ganon (Demise) should have been threatening. To see the pure untamed evil that is Ganon-before-Ganon should have been an epic and important moment for the franchise as a whole... but it was just funny. Dude looks like a bargain Akuma.

So, the controls suck, the character designs and art style suck, the characters themselves suck and the narrative sucks... what else is there? Oh yeah!

The overworld sucks too.
What happened here? The whole thing is a mess.

Firstly, the sky; its empty. It really is empty.
Wind Waker has an island in every quadrant of its map, big or small there was something to do on every island you found. There's none of that in Skyward Sword's sky.
You have Skyloft which acts as a fine hub, budget Lon Lon Ranch in the form of the Lumpy Pumpkin which doesnt offer much outside of a few dull sidequests. Then there are three minigame islands and the rest is filler.
The Thunderhead serves as a place to progress the narrative once Link has proven himself for something, the scene of a single boss battle and minigame. That still isn't much to write home about.

Flying in the sky is a chore with all of the flapping (no camera control either despite the nunchuck not being used at all) and it feels so damn slow, mostly because there isn't anything around to give the sense of speed unless you're flying over Skyloft or through a boost-rock.
Combat is pointless as you can only tackle enemies with your Loftwing and not slash at anything with your sword like in TP because the motion controls only allow for control of your bird while flying, not Link (and none of his items either).
You also cant fly at night because SS doesn't have a day/night cycle (what?!) You can make it night by resting in a bed but you still wont be allowed to fly at night. Man, a day/night cycle could have made this game look so damn pretty.
All in all the sky in Skyward Sword is nothing more than an elaborate level select menu.

The world beneath the clouds sucks too.
Three unconnected provinces that open up little by little killing any sense of free progression (Zelda games have always gated you in the past but never to this extent).
These three provinces of forest, fire and desert will be the same ones you'll be seeing for the entire game. Yes, new sections are revealed, but a desert is still a desert and a forest is still a forest (even if you flood it and pretend its a water level).

These provinces are unlike other Zelda deserts and forests as they act like mini dungeons in and of themselves. Theyre filled with non-organic puzzles which lessens the feel of exploration even more since youre always moving something somewhere or rolling a bomb somewhere else. The sense of wonder of exploring a strange new place is entirely lost since you're literally constantly 'working' through it rather than exploring. All three provinces suffer from this design choice to crowbar in more motion control gimmicks.

Apparantly the overworld was originally going to be connected but they decided to separate it so that the player had reason to go back into the sky... Okay, then why not put something worthwhile in the sky to give them a reason?

The dungeons weren't anything to write home about either. Lanayru Mining Facility was probably my favourite but it was still dull as hell. The Ancient Cistern had a nice idea but didn't do it justice and the Sand Ship stands out for being very un-Zelda-like but it was disappointing too.

I'd like to talk about how the horde battle was a mess, how being pulled into the collection screen for ten seconds after each time you load the game, I'd like to talk about the enemies and how the gameplay sacrificed a lot of their potential but I've gone on for a while now. Let's just say I have more issues than I have mentioned but these are a particular miscellaneous set that need mentioning

I should probably talk about something I liked about SS.... well I liked the main theme (backwards Zelda's Lullaby), i like the tracks Fi's Farewell and Island in the Sky. They're some of the best tracks Zelda has to offer as a series.

Hmmm... well... that's why I think Skyward Sword sucked and why i dislike it. I could write another essay on how i would improve Skyward Sword but here isn't the place.
tl;dr, Yeah, I could do with Zelda triangle lip in the beginning just being a little more nicer. I mean, look at Link, he may be a little mischievous but he doesn't tease people approximately half as much as Zelda. But then, when Zelda triangle lip matured in the middle of the game, she still came off as sickeningly sweet, even in her relationship with Link. And I just can't cut the girl some slack even after she realized she was a goddess, she still acted like a damsel-in-distress and still acted like an obnoxious character in the beginning of the game.

The game was a little too short, I think there should've been a bit more worldbuilding because Zelda games like TP tend to have bigger world-building and SS was a bit lazy on the worldbuilding and the ending was a bit abrupt, Zelda and Link plan to stay on the surface but why? I think that post-credits ending should've went on a little bit longer, talking about why Link and Zelda want to stay on the surface.

The game had too much emotion, the worst part being Zelda triangle lip crying tears of joy like a 13 year old at the ending and Link not doing anything. WTH, Link? Can't you say "Don't cry" or something?
 
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NintendoCN

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The motion controls is why my group of friends gave it negative reviews, I still think if motion controls were an option instead of a requirement the game would have had better scores. I only review story, which in this case was lacking in most places, go get this, go here, collect these things to upgrade this, just SUPER boring and monotonous.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
tl;dr, Yeah, I could do with Zelda triangle lip in the beginning just being a little more nicer. I mean, look at Link, he may be a little mischievous but he doesn't tease people approximately half as much as Zelda. But then, when Zelda triangle lip matured in the middle of the game, she still came off as sickeningly sweet, even in her relationship with Link. And I just can't cut the girl some slack even after she realized she was a goddess, she still acted like a damsel-in-distress and still acted like an obnoxious character in the beginning of the game.

The game was a little too short, I think there should've been a bit more worldbuilding because Zelda games like TP tend to have bigger world-building and SS was a bit lazy on the worldbuilding and the ending was a bit abrupt, Zelda and Link plan to stay on the surface but why? I think that post-credits ending should've went on a little bit longer, talking about why Link and Zelda want to stay on the surface.

The game had too much emotion, the worst part being Zelda triangle lip crying tears of joy like a 13 year old at the ending and Link not doing anything. WTH, Link? Can't you say "Don't cry" or something?

I notice no matter the thread you always hate on Princess Zelda. why is that? I mean she's the reason the games exist.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
@Christmas Spirit

Holy complaints Batman! Lol j/k. I really like how you explained all the negatives on the game. half of what you mentioned is all stuff I forgot. I think when i first played it i was blinded by it being a Zelda game. It seems from what you've said the game is over reliant on the motion plus gimmick. I mean every Zelda has it's own gimmick but they don't shove it down your throat. I am still going to rebuy it and replay it and see if i can find anything good about the game. I have to disagree with you on the art style. I absolutely loved the art style they used. but each their own. I have to say i was also disappointed with the size of the world. (or lack thereof) I remember flying around looking for secrets and finding awhole lot of nothing. and only having three of the same provinces let me down abit to. One thing i always loved about the zelda games was exploring every nook and cranny to hopefully find something cool. And in SS i felt robbed of that experience. as for the enemies in the game, i also felt disappointed by the lack of Gannondorf/Gannon. I mean if this was supposed to be the first game in the series you'd think they'd give Gannon a backstory and see how he develops. but no we get some random dude and as you said a big pinecone. I was like who the hell are these people when i first played. but oh well. As i said im still gonna replay it and get the whole story. when i do i will write my own likes/dislikes of the game as a review. But thanks again for giving me such a detailed analysis of the game. I look forward to reading more of your posts on different threads.
 
Joined
Oct 7, 2017
I notice no matter the thread you always hate on Princess Zelda. why is that? I mean she's the reason the games exist.
Because she's sickeningly sweet, too whiny, and in some games like SS and BOTW, a brat. And I don't like her relationship with Link because the two differ too much.
 

Cfrock

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Ok.

There are a lot of reasons why people hate Skyward Sword. There are a lot of things wrong with it. There's almost nothing right about it. This is a bad game. Some people might like it, but that doesn't stop it being bad. I like the Street Fighter movie. It's still a terrible film.

I'm going to break this into three sections to address some of the game's major flaws, and I'll start with the simplest of those:

Story
It's bad.

But seriously, it suffers from terrible characters, weak villains, poor motivations, and the cardinal sin of any prequel, retcon. Let's start there.

SS was intended to be an origin story for the Master Sword. No one asked for that because we knew the origin of the Master Sword. A Link to the Past told us that it was created by a group of sages to defeat evil. That was reinforced in Ocarina of Time, and again in Wind Waker, in which we even saw two sages restore its powers. Twilight Princess covered the basics once more for us, that sages made it for the purpose of defeating evil. It's simple, it's established, it's lore. Then along came a SSpider.

SS re-writes the entire background to the Master Sword by showing us that sages had nothing to do with it. Instead, it was a sword created by the goddess Hylia that Link turned into the Master Sword by tempering it with Sacred Flames protected by dragons.

This is a problem because it makes the previous games canonically incorrect, eroding the integrity of their stories, as well as going against the entire purpose of a prequel. Prequels exist to give details on known events from a franchise's history. SS doesn't give the details, it changes the entire story.

As for what that story is, it's generic fare with nothing to make it stand out. Girl is in danger, boy rushes to her rescue. Riveting. Such a story can be engaging with interesting characters but SS has precisely zero (0) interesting characters. We've got:

Link: He's courageous. And he likes Zelda. No arc, no development, no personality.
Zelda: She's friendly. And she likes Link. The only thing she does is decide to fulfil the duty of the Goddess, which translates to one scene of her crying and then being trapped in a crystal for half the game. We don't see her development that leads to that, it just happens because the plot requires it.
Groose: He's a chad. And he likes Zelda. He actually has an arc, going from a selfish jock to a helpful boy, but as Spirit pointed out, this arc plays out in three scenes with no meaningful development inbetween.
Impa: She's stoic/matronly. And she likes Zelda. She exists as two characters, with no development to show how the one becomes the other. They are just two different one-dimensional characters with the same name.

Nothing about these characters connects to the world they live in, nor do they reveal or develop themes of the story as a whole. They are just mannequins that do what the plot needs them to with the bare minimum of lip service to the concept of development. In order to get anything meaningful out of these puppets you have to bring a lot of your own imagination to the game. What's actually in there is too weak and too thin to support any kind of worthwhile narrative.

Then there's the bad guys. Ultimately, they suffer the same problems as every other main cast members, but given the unique role of villains in a story, it makes them even worse than Groose or Impa.

Ghirahim has no arc. He never changes. The first time he shows up he is cocky and flamboyant. This never changes at any point in the game, up to and including him turning into Demise's sword. Ghirahim says a few times that he'll deal with Link, but he never does, always deliberately "going easy" on him for no discernable reason. He just spouts cliché dialogue, because that's what defines him as a villain. The writers need a character to fill that role so they have Ghirahim.

Demise is equally as one-dimensional. He's evil. That's literally his entire character. He's introduced into the story far too late to have any presence or exude any threat and there is never any urgency to defeat him. He appears earlier as The Imprisoned, but that only works to diminish his threat, seeing as you beat him three times before he even gets a name, making him feel weak and ineffective compared to Link.

These villains are so pathetic that the game lacks any sense of threat or motivating factor. We never see the devastation Demise was supposed to have wrought on the world, and with his only active agent being a prancing idiot who's only ability is procrastination, why exactly should we be worried? Villains are vital for infusing a story with momentum and providing the trials that will facilitate the development of the main charatcers. Ghirahim and Demise completely fail to provide this, which leaves the story flat, dragging itself limply towards a predictable conclusion that lacks any sense of satisfaction or catharsis.

Design
Spirit said it best. Said it so perfectly that it bears saying again. In her own words:
Skyward Sword was flawed on a conceptual level due to introducing and integrating the Wii's motion controls into every facet of the game's design.
This is why so many people hate SS. It's not a game. It's a sales pitch. It's a tech demo, a showcase of what Wii Motion Plus was capable of. Every decision was made with the Motion Plus in mind, how they could use it, how it would fit in. Enemy design was built entirely around Motion Plus. Item design was built entirely around it. The game's pale excuse for exploration was built around it.

I'll talk about the enemies in the next section, so here I'll start with items. It's all stuff that can either be aimed or swung. A useless whip. A useless leaf blower. A useless bug-net. They had to contrive reasons for these things to exists, like lots of sand or levers too high to jump to. Such contrivances basically vanish from the game once the respective dungeons are done with, a classis sign that the designers had no ideas. Think of the spinner from TP, but if it was every item in the game.

Instead of creating a world that would be interesting to explore, SS relies on dowsing to give us a reason to look around. Why dowsing? Because you have to aim a reticule in first-person, which the Motion Plus is good at. The game sacrifices immersive exploration for following an arrow, all so the Motion Plus has something to do. It's boring to do that, it's not engaging, it's not satisfying. Worse still, that approach to finding "secrets" enables a less open overworld design, because you don't need to design areas to be naturally interesting and guide the player organically. Areas can be designed in unnatural ways because players have a magic wand that will tell them which way to go.

The segmenting of the overworld is the death blow for SS. This isn't a world, it's a series of levels that you complete in order to progress. It's a design choice that makes the game feel oppressively linear, as well as ruining any sense of pace. Again, as Spirit said in her 10/10 post, you have to work through these areas, when in previous games you would walk through them, taking in the scenery, being enticed to explore nooks and crannies to satisfy a burst of curiosity. That's a huge part of what makes Zelda worth playing, and SS throws that away just so you can point a remote at a screen.

This overworld design has the knock-on effect of spoiling the dungeons. By the time you get to one of them you're already burnt out from navigating a similar environment for so long beforehand. Worse still when the overworld uses the same elements found in the dungeon, i.e. Lanayru Desert/Mining Facility. The whole experience drags because of this, and it makes backtracking off-putting as just moving around these areas is a chore. It's a world that not only isn't built to be explored but discourages you from exploring.

Gameplay
So, the enemies. They're all the same. Because of Motion Plus. And that's a massive problem with the game.

SS is designed around the idea of 1:1 sword swinging (which it doesn't deliver) and enemies are designed to facilitate that. Let's start with bokoblins. They hold their weapon in a specific direction and wait for you to strike. You do so either with a vertical or horizontal attack. This is repeated for deku babas and beamos, as well as bosses like Koloktos and Ghirahim. Next are lizalfos, which do the exact same thing but you strike on a diagonal line. This is repeated for stalfos and staldras, as well as bosses like Bilocyte and Moldarach.

Add to this enemies killed with the shield bash, starting with octoroks then adding in sentrobes and spumes, and you have a roster of enemies — including the bosses — that are fought in three ways. For the entire game. Without meaningful development on the basic idea (some bokoblins have electric sticks so a mistake is punished, but the method and approach is identical, for example). I cannot emphasise enough how boring this is. When you have end-game bosses that play exactly the same way as the game's most base level mook, you've got a problem. But what could they do? Motion Plus was the whole point of the game so they had to get their mileage out of it.

The combat issue is compounded by the item selection, that was based around the Motion Plus, not having much in the way of combat applications. There's the bow and... bombs, I guess. No ball and chain, no fire or ice rods, no magic spells, no boomerang. There are so few options for fighting enemies, and all because the game is designed for the sword. It's simply not enough. SS's combat is so restrictive with regard to player agency that it's a joke compared to TP or WW. It's not engaging, it's not satisfying, and it's not fun.

There are other issues with Motion Plus's effect on gameplay. Using the Wiimote means no manual camera control, a decision that automatically makes SS feel incredibly dated and archaic. It also affects that wafer-thin exploration as you can't examine your environment as freely as you would like to.

Calibration is a huge issue, and, for me, the aspect of Motion Plus that proves the entire endeavour pointless. The whole point of Motion Plus is immersion, to lose yourself in the game by having you physical actions mirror those in-game. But that becomes impossible when you have a blue robot popping up every few hours to tell you the batteries in your sword are running low, or when you have to place the controller on the floor so your big red bird can fly in a straight line.

The Wiimote's design means that some of the buttons at the top are out of reach for a normal person without uncomfortabel stretching of the hand. For convenience, Nintendo assigned down on the D-Pad to centre the aiming reticule, as well as stuff that up was used for in TP on Wii. The result of this is that SS only lets you have one item ready at any time, since there simply aren't enough buttons in easy read to have more, like in OoT or WW. This means the game asks you to combine the use of multiple items far less than previous games, because doing so would be a hassle.

At every step of the way, in every facet of the game, SS makes sacrifices to accomodate a controller half of the fanbase didn't like to begin with. The result is a game that was crippled from its very conception, built on a cracked foundation, and destined to collapse under its own weight. Such total dedication to a limited and divisive controller prevented SS from being anything but a boring slog through an uninspired and joyless experience that stains the Zelda brand. This is a bad game. It is a bad game at its very core. Its reason for being is flawed, with the knock-on effect being a game that simply shouldn't have been made. Far from showing off the versatility of the Motion Plus, it consistently demonstrated its limitations and uselessness. And they made us wait five years and charged us £40 for a proof-of-concept pitch that didn't prove the concept.

That's why it gets so much hate. I'll never not be salty.
 

YIGAhim

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Ghirahim has no arc. He never changes. The first time he shows up he is cocky and flamboyant. This never changes at any point in the game, up to and including him turning into Demise's sword. Ghirahim says a few times that he'll deal with Link, but he never does, always deliberately "going easy" on him for no discernable reason. He just spouts cliché dialogue, because that's what defines him as a villain. The writers need a character to fill that role so they have Ghirahim.
His arc was that he started off as a cocky guy who was very formal. Each time he got more and more aggravated, and in a figurative and literal way "shed his skin" to unleash the true monster of a character, with no more formalities.

His loss of control was his arc, and I very much liked it. That's the kind of arc I like: Going from controlled to chaotic. Going from Human to animal (In a figurative sense), which is why Phillip Lombard, from "And Then There Were None", by Agatha Christie is by far the coolest and most interesting character in the story. I can't help but root for those kinds of characters.
 

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