Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Top Five Things I Hate About Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword has some redeeming elements... just not many. Anyway, one my friend's kids was playing SS, and he said to me, "This game sucks. There's too much text, Fi is annoying, and how anyone could possibly think this is better than Ocarina of Time 3D is beyond me." with OoT 3D being the only other Zelda game he'd ever played.

I'd thought that maybe I was just being a nostalgic blowhard by thinking it sucks when compared to previous Zeldas, but if a youngster who didn't grow up in the N64 era thinks so... well maybe I wasn't. Without a further ado, I'd like to rant about the top five things that bother me about Skyward Sword. Now of course, in contests like these, readers might be able to think of literally hundreds of things worth mention that suck about SS, but one would have to write a book to list everything wrong with this game.

5: Unnecessary Reminders

The first time you find a green, red, or orange Rupee, the game will notify you of its value. This is fine. Now, reset your Wii, then and find another Rupee. The game will notify you again. Why!? This is not only condescending, but flat out unnecessary. The amount of Rupees is shown on-screen, and anyone first grader can do the math. Really: If I was able to out Rupee values playing ALttP when I was five, kids today should be able to do it, too. Perhaps Nintendo (understandably) doesn't have any faith in our education system.

That's inexcusable, but it gets worse. How would like to have Skyward Sword notify you about what kind of bug you catch every time you turn your Wii on? And what about crafting materials? Would you like routinely hear about those? Well, no worries my friend. They've got you covered with unnecessary notifications.

And it gets worse: Fi is an unnecessary notification system that's built into the storyline. Like all Zelda games, this game has a heart meter that beeps when you're dying. However, it also Fi to explain to you that your hearts are low. A second beep will start when you have less than three hearts, that beep being Fi wanting to talk to you. She'll also talk to you when your batteries or low. I won't even touch on how she patronizes you at every turn.

4: Lazy Man's Collision Detection

Beedle's Airshop is a shop that floats above Skyloft. To get Beedle to lower a rope for you to climb up, you need to ring his bell. But how? Well, you need the slingshot for that. Can you throw a pot at the bell? No. Tell me why a pot could not hit a bell? Give me one good reason! If you throw a pot at the bell, it would go right through. You could also try using a Skyward Strike on the bell, which also go right through. You could even successfully jump off a cliff and unsuccessfully strike the thing with your sword.

The unnecessary notifications are annoying, but this is just poor design. It even continues into the regular gameplay. Why can't you shoot something with a bow that can be shot with a slingshot? Because Hylia is kind of lazy when it comes designing her civilizations? That's all I can figure.

3: It's the text, stupid.

The first problem: There is too much text in this game. The second (and worst) problem: There is no text speed option. I don't support the idea of voiceacting in Zelda, but the lack of text speed in this game makes a compelling case for it. Final Fantasy 1 had a text speed modifier in the options. For a text-based game made in 2011 not have this is just... worse than magical can-only-be-hit-three-things bells.

To make matters worse, the text is unskippable on a new file. Twilight Princess, to its credit, allowed you to skip cutscenes all day long. But in SKyward Sword, you need to play Hero Mode to be able to skip cutscenes. What if someone wants to play the regular mode with heart spawns, but doesn't want to sit through the three hour intro?

2: An A to Z Journey

It seems like I wrote an entry about this. I'm certain I complained about it on ZU or somewhere, if not. Skyward Sword is the most painfully linear Zelda game ever made. It's worse than Twilight Princess in this area, and that's saying something! Gone is the excitement of open-world exploration. It's replaced with storyline. You can't go to a later dungeon because you'd see a cutscene at the wrong time. And when story is, at best, B-movie material, it all seems very -- what's the word? -- sucky.

1: Fi. Fuck Fi!

Fi makes bad things in SS worse. The game would be so much better if Fi had been left out, or at least replaced with someone more interesting. Midna was a good guide that contributed to the story. Navi was at least helpful and not overly intrusive. Fi just constantly notifies you of things, and spits out probabilities in a manner that would make the cast of Quantum Leap shout, "STFU Ziggy! We're not retarded!" How many times in this game does a character tell you something, after which Fi tells you the same thing again? How many times does she explain dowsing to you? How many times does she abruptly stop you to state the obvious?

Really, fuck Fi!

It's good to have this off my chest.