- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
When the Playstation 3 was originally announced, Sony revealed an unusual boomerang-shaped design which looked horrendously uncomfortable to hold and many wondered how they were going to manage to play their favourite games with such an odd controller.
Fortunately, Sony quickly seen the error of their ways and binned the hideous design and reverted back to the design that everybody is familiar with from the original Playstation and Playstation 2.
The Playstation 3 contoller is very similar to the Playstation 2 in design, however, small tweaks have made it the best Playstation controller so far.
The most notable of these tweaks is the addition of analogue triggers for the L2 and R2 buttons. This essentially gives even more buttons than before, as different actions can be assigned in-game, depending on how hard you pull the triggers.
Some people who are less familiar with the Playstation controllers may not like the positioning of the analogue sticks. Other controllers like the XBox and Gamecube feature the left analogue stick above a d-pad and the right one lower down. It's all really personal preference, but some people may find it awkward having the analogue sticks next to each other. Also, as there's no grip on these sticks, it's common for thumbs to slide off of them.
The controller itself features motion control, but few games are using this now with the addition of Playstation Move which outclasses the Playstation controller in every aspect. It also contains rumble (which isn't really anything more special than the rumble on any other controller) as well as an internal battery, which can be charged via USB.
Sometimes you don't realise that a product is missing something until you actually have it, then you wonder how the original product was ever without it. This can be said for the Wii Remote and Wii Motion Plus.
When originally announced, the Wii Remote could only detect particular movements, however, the addition of the Wii Motion Plus allows the most precise motion to be detected. This is particularly handy when it comes to games which require that extra precision.
Before, a sword-fighting game could be fooled into thinking you'd swung the Wii Remote simply by shaking it - the remote wasn't clever enough to be able to think you'd done otherwise. With the addition of the Wii Motion Plus, your motion is detected no matter where you move. Swing your arm in a circle, and this will be replicated on screen; swipe diagonally from top-left to bottom-right and it will also show on screen.
Wii Motion Plus has unfortunately been quite under-utilised when it comes to games that support it - noticeable ones are The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Wii Sports Resort and Red Steel 2 - but once you use the attachment, you'll realise the controller should have contained it right from thr start.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is probably Nintendo's most important Zelda title in a while. In fact, it's most likely Nintendo's most important game in a while. Not only because it's one of their last big games for the ageing Wii, but because it marks the first step in the evolution of a franchise that has touched the hearts of gamers, old and young, for 25 years now.
You'll have no doubt heard about the deliberate efforts by Nintendo to change a formula that has become familiar territory across the majority of Zelda titles. Zelda is well-known for changing up its graphical art style, but the basic ingredients have always formed part of the same recipe, with maybe some new seasoning here and there.
Skyward Sword attempts to change this with many alterations to Zelda games past, from the game progression, the cinematic story-telling, and to the much-publicized controls. Whilst the effects are noticeable, and I'll say right off the bat, that it is absolutely one of the best adventure games in the past decade but, for me (and I might as well get that out of the way now), it is not my favourite Zelda game. That isn't to say I haven't enjoyed Skyward Sword immensely - I absolutely have - but whilst the game excels in certain areas, in others it feels like something is missing and that Nintendo have held back.
Every Nintendo fan knows that Zelda magic and it is this magic that draws you into every experience. From the beginning, Skyward Sword is no different. The game develops characters that you actually care for and have a geniune interest in their story and progression. This is felt right from the opening hour, where you spend time as childhood friends with Zelda. In terms of character building, this is the most fleshed-out Zelda Nintendo has created. She has a personality, charm and wit. When the inevitable happens and she is sucked into an abyss below the clouds of her hometown of Skyloft, you feel a desire to actually help her. This is achieved by that opening hour spent with her - performing seemingly meaningless tasks with Zelda is done so that a relationship is built. It's akin to (and bare with me on the odd comparison [which contains spoilers]) the very end of Red Dead Redemption (told you it was an odd comparison!). After John Marsdon finally rescues his wife and son, you spend an hour or so doing missions which appear to be quite pointless. Helping round up cattle and shooting crows with your son don't appear to progress the story in a way, but it's done to build up some form of feelings towards Marsdon's relationships, so that the final showdown and eventual death become all the more emotional.
Skyward Sword achieves this character depth with, not only Zelda, but various secondary characters, such as his nemisis Groose, Zelda's aid, Impa, and even down to the Demon Lord himself, the super-camp Ghirahim, who you'll encounter more than a couple of times throughout your quest, each time learning a bit more about him and his agenda - and that he is not actually top dog...
As with Navi and Midna before, you're given a new companion throughout Skyward Sword, in the form of Fi, who was sealed within Link's sword. And as with any of Link's companions, you are going to love her or be constantly irritated by her. She will regularly tell you information you already know (or don't need to in the first place), however, for the most part, her robotic, analytical personality does come across fairly endearing. I just wish she would stop trying to inform me that my health is low -the beeping does a good enough job already, thanks Fi.
Skward Sword introduces a new level of game progression. In past Zelda adventures, the structure was very similar - home town; embark on adventure; field; town; dungeon; field; town; dungeoun; lather, rinse repeat. This structure has all but gone and been replaced by a far more refined direction. Some may say it's a lot more linear - which is true to an extent -but it means the game has far more clear direction and less of the "aimless, not having a clue where to go next" wandering.
Another aspect of the progression that has been changed is the treading of familiar grounds. Previous affairs would lead Link to various new locations throughout his adventure, however, Skyward Sword only really features three main locations. You'll often come back to the same location numerous times within the game (including returning to dungeons on occasion) and each time you return there will be something new to do, or some new, unexplored area within each location. It's a change that some will love, though some may feel a little bit disappointed once they've completed the third region and realise you have to go back to an area you have already been. The differences when you return are extensive enough that it doesn't feel repetitive, but it can be difficult to shake the disappointment of knowing that there are no major new areas to discover.
With that being said though, some of the later trips back to previous locations include some spectacular moments - a notable one being returning to Lanayru Desert and exploring a sea of sand in a boat which contains a crystal that turns back time, reverting the area around the boat back to the calm sea that was once there before it turned to sand.
Whilst the progression feels fresh for the Zelda series and trips back to familiar territories rarely feel repetitive, you'll come across a few unneccesary tasks within the game which seem like a deliberate attempt to flesh out the play time. In order to gain access to the thunder cloud within the center of the sky, you must deflect light from a couple of windmills within Skyloft. However, one of them has lost its propellor to allow it to pivot. You must then travel back below the clouds to recover it. I have to admit, I did let out a little groan at this section as it did seem a little pointless and a way to back up the "over 50 hours gameplay" claim made by Nintendo. These moments are few and far between, but you'll wish they weren't there nonetheless.
Skyward Sword also shakes up the definition of what a dungeon actually is. Before, puzzles would be presented in the form of dungeons and wouldn't really find a place elsewhere. Bosses would also be strictly confined to dungeons. You would often find an item which would be key to your progression in said dungeon and also key to the eventual slaying of the boss. Now, the line between what is dungeon and what isn't is hazier. Puzzles present themselves anywhere you go and boss characters can be encountered outside their normal confines of a dungeon. It's a welcome change, as you're never entirely sure what you're going to encounter next. Dungeons and temples do still exist, but the completion of them is handled much more openly than previous affairs.
Discovering new items and weapons is always an exciting aspect of any Zelda game, but one common complaint is that, once the dungeon is done and dusted, the item (save maybe the bow and bombs) is near redundant, never to be used again. Skyward Sword allows for the use of each and every item in a variety of different ways throughout your adventure. Don't think that, just because you found the Beetle in the first dungeon, that it's not going to be required to advance past a particularly tricky moment in the last. Items are given much more of a use this time round and can also be upgraded - but only to a point.
You will regularly come across treasure throughout your adventure, which can be used to upgrade various equipment at the local Bazaar shop in Skyloft. You can find this treasure in various places - enemies, chests etc - but the frustrating thing about them, is that once you save and exit the game, when you go back in and encounter any piece of treasure, even ones you have found before, the game will inform you about the item as if it's the first time you've discovered it. There's no question here - this will eventually grate..
The item upgrade is a nice little feature, however there's great room for improvement here. Not every item can be upgraded and their upgrades often produce little excitement. You'll come across the familiar Gust Bellows from The Minish Cap, which can blow away sand, lava and the occassional enemy. However, you'll not be able to make it do much more than this. It would be nice to be able to upgrade the item to spawn a mini-hurricane to rip through enemies, for instance. Ultimately, each item upgrade does little to actually enhance the experience of the item and many may just neglect to upgrade anything at all.
Much has been said about the controls of Skyward Sword and whether they enchance the experience, or hinder it altogether. From playing through the entire game, I have to say, there were very few occassions where I struggled with the controls at all. You swing left, Link does too; swing diagonally, from bottom left to top right and Link does too. It works seemlessly and fights with regular, seemingly easy, enemies become based on skill, rather than the frantic waiving from Twilight Princess. There are a few enemies where you'll engaged in a 1-on-1 swordfight and it's these enemies that you'll notice how intuitive these controls really are. Fights are far more exciting and, by the time you feel you've mastered the controls, you'll encounter an enemy who seems much more skilled with a sword and you'll have to rethink your strategies. The final couple of boss fights (including the sensational final showdown) require complete skill and quick swordsmanship. The only move that seems to not work quite all of the time is the forward jab. There are enemies that can only be defeated with this move and it can be a bit hit-or-miss -you'll notice this mainly with a mini-boss later in the Sea of Sand that requires forward stabs and they don't always connect the way you would expect, making the boss potentially harder than it ought to be.
Many would argue that the Wii cannot compete when it comes to the HD graphics kings of the XBox 360 and PS3, but one area Skyward Sword absolutely shines, is in the graphics. With perhaps the exception of The Wind Waker, this is one of the prettiest Zeldas yet and this is largely due to the unique art style. It's immediately obvious that Nintendo were trying to capture that watercolour painting style and you'll see many areas that would look just gorgeous with a nice frame and above your fireplace. Take one look at Floria Waterfall and it's easy to see that Nintendo know exactly how to make a visually-appealing game with limited hardware. Just make sure your Wii settings are correct if you're playing on a big screen HD TV, as you'll notice regular pixelation (especially in the blue sky) and jagged edges.
It's easy to see the direction Nintendo has taken with the Wii's last big game and the attempts to change up the formula are obvious for anyone who's been with Link from 1986. The controls have been overhauled, the game is paced completely differently and the story has been given a lot more depth than ever before. Some are going to welcome these changes, but, for others, they may feel like the change takes away a lot from what essentially made Zelda... Zelda. That being said, it's Nintendo's most abitious game in years and will still go down as one of the greatest they've ever created.
Final Score - 9.3/10
The nunchuck controller attaches the to base of the Wii Remote to act as the main method of movement of a particular character within a game. It boasts and analogue stick with an octagonal base for precise directional movement, a small C button and larger Z button. It also features gyroscopic motion control, but no pointer control like the standard Wii Remote does.
As an add-on controller, the nunchuck does what it's supposed to - it's essentially designed to be the left-hand side of a standard controller, just seperated from it by the cable.
There are few gripes to be had with the design of the nunchuck, but some may complain that the buttons are digital and not analogue which seems like a missed opportunity to gain even more precision when it comes to button presses. Some may also miss the ridges on the top of the analogue still which generally appear on older controllers like the GameCube. You may find that your thumb slides off the stick a lot easier than it would with an analogue stick that has the ridges.
All in all, the controller functions well and does it's job, but there's a couple of ommissions which prevent perfection.
I've been a massive fan of gravy for years and I've always been one to add it to pretty much any meal. Often I'll add a wee stock cube to the granuals as well just to get a bit more flavour. Even tastier is when you've been cooking vegetables and you add the water directly to the granuals as well, and you get all the flavours of the veg within the gravy as well.
As a student, I lived on a very small budget, so I would often buy a massive tub of gravy and this would last me ages. I'd add it to everything from noodles, to a plate of veg. A pie without some Bisto gravy granuals is a complete waste of a pie in my opinion.
All in all, it's the perfect accompanyment to any main meal - and even acts as a nice little sauce if you wanna grab some bread and go dunking!