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---The Stuff of Legends---
Christmas: Something you'll probably be hearing about for a while on here while everyone slowly gets through their list of new and shiny toys. Not this time. It just so happens that around about March 1986 my parents were rather bored and the result of which is that it was my birthday two days after Christmas of the same year. For my birthday this year by amazingly sparkly boyfriend decided to make my year and got me the newest Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. He pulled out all the stops and got me the special limited edition pack too. I nearly died of happy. Nearly. Since I didn't, I'll tell you about it here!
---The Stuff of History---
The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's most lucrative titles, up there with Mario and... well. Mario. They don't really do much else, do they? Does Banjo Kazooie REALLY count? No. I didn't think so either. The basic premise behind every single Zelda game is similar. Zelda (The Princess) gets caught up in some crazy dastardly scheme from Gannondorf (evil dude) and Link (Hero of Time aka You) has to go try and save her. This generally includes battling your way through "temples" or "dungeons" that will test your brain power verily and also includes the occasional sword fight with various mythical creatures. Along the way you have to complete a million and ten little side quests so as to gather equipment and pieces of heart to increase your life so as to help get you through the dungeons. Now you have your history, lets move on to the presents. My presents. Oh yeah!
---The Stuff in the Big Shiny Box---
The limited edition version comes with a couple of extras that, if you are a massive Zelda shaped geek like myself, you will absolutely wet yourself over. The most obvious extra is the Golden Wii-mote. Not just any Wii-mote either, it's one of the newfangled motion plus majiggers! It also has the funky little Crest printed on I (a symbol used in the game a lot which gets a wee makeover for each new game).
Value for money really depends on where you get it and just how much you want the extras. When it first came out it was about £15 more than the game on its own offering amazing bang for your buck. Currently its sitting at about £79 which is about £30 more than the game on its own. If you don't have a wii remote with motion plus it might still be worth your time to get it since the wii-mote is about £30 for a proper one (you could get one of the bulky ugly attachments for a tenner though). Taking into account the special wii-mote and the other extras I'm about to go over, even the £30 hike is kinda worth it. But then I'm a geek. *shrug*
---The Stuff of Songs---
If you are a bit slow and don't have the worlds best eyesight (raises hand) then you may not realise that this set comes with more than just the game and the wii-mote. There's a picture of a little golden disc on the front that I had just assumed was the game. While gently unpacking this hallowed gift from its innards, a little packet fell out with this disc in. I went from almost wetting myself to actually wetting myself. The disc is, in fact, a compilation of orchestral medleys!
The music taken from Zelda games past and present and gives you at least 45 minutes and 16 seconds of pure joy. Being a bit of an all round geek, this made me as happy as the game. I could now ride (drive) around in my car to an orchestral version of the music from the fields of Hyrule (if you're a geek, you'll understand) or even the music from the Great Sea of the Windwaker! (See previous brackets). Even if you haven't played the games much, if you like classical or orchestral music, this CD is just fabulous (yep, I used the word fabulous, don't tell my boyfriend).
There are 8 tracks on the CD, if you are interested what they consist of, the breakdown is about to follow, if not, just skip to the next section!
Track 1: The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley - 8:09
Track 2: Kakariko Village / Twilight Princess Theme - 2:50
Track 3: The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement - 10:31
Track 4: Gerudo Valley - 3:36
Track 5: Great Fairy's Fountain Theme - 3:04
Track 6: Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement - 10:31
Track 7: The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley- 4:29
Track 8: Ballad of the Goddess from Skyward Sword - 2:06
---Would you like a hand?---
The last thing that is included in the box is, you guessed it, the game itself! Push your disc gently into your Wii slot and soon you will be very pleased. Ahem. Conversely, my first annoyance crops its ugly head the first time you load the game. Before you are allowed to get to the game, you have to sit through an instructional video on how to attach a motion plus attachment to an old style controller. It goes through attaching it, calibrating it, and taking it off again. This video takes about 5 minutes and you can't skip it. Incredibly annoying if you already have a motion plus ready controller (for example, the shiny gold one that comes in the pack?!). You don't even get the option to tell them you have a newer remote or to just skip it all together. Personally I'm firmly of the belief that if you can't figure out how to attach a motion plus attachment to a wii-remote, then you are not worthy of playing Zelda in the first place. Put it down, walk away, it will be too taxing for your tiny brain.
As if to add insult to injury, the woman whose hands are featured heavily in the video has really stubby, horrible hands. I mean, seriously. At least employ a hand model to appease judgemental gamers like me. Further to that, this little video will play again if you move the game to a different console. I took it down to my boyfriend's house and when I popped the game into that console I was subjected to this five minute head-desker of a video. Grr Nintendo. Grr.
---Knights and Daze---
Finally plunging face first into the daze which is my Zelda induced gamer coma, I discover Link is now living on an island in the sky above a thick layer of clouds that no one has ventured through in thousands of years. They live in a society similar to the movie avatar, where they each get chosen by a giant bird creature which they share a bond with, allowing them to ride through the air on them. You start your journey at an academy for Knights in training. Typically the first hour or so of a Zelda game is mild and built to initiate knowledge of the controls and your surroundings. This is a great little thing if you've never played the games before; it lets you get comfy before diving into the action. If you've played the games before, however, I tend to find it a little bit boring. Not in this one! It's still mild and gets you used to things but they put a bit more of a story into it this time making it keep your attention from the get go.
Soon the inevitable happens and Link starts having weird dreams and Zelda goes missing. Once you are able to explore a bit more, Nintendo do what they are best at and throw in a lot of connections to older games, be it through place names, objects or items. I love the little connections, it makes me smile.
In contrast to all the similarities, there are also a few interesting changes in how the game is played. If you don't want to ruin your gaming experience with spoilers, I'd suggest you look away now.
You have a main items tab where your weapons like slingshots etc go. These are set to a certain spot and that's that. Unlike previous games you also have an "adventure pouch" in which other things like shields, extra bomb bags, bottles and potions go. You start off with only a few pouches so you can't carry much but you can build on them throughout the game. There is also an "item check" stall in the local market where you can store excess items. This is an interesting new element as it means that you really need to plan what you want to take with you at each point.
Your shields also come with a shelf life now. If it gets too battered, it will simply break and you'll need to buy or find a new one. On top of this, you can upgrade items. Throughout the game you collect various treasures which can be handed over to the repair man to strengthen and improve your items. It does, again, mean you really have to plan what you are doing if you want to upgrade your equipment quickly. It also brings in an added element of frustration if you work at upgrading your shields to the best they can be and then you are silly enough to not get it repaired before it breaks.
As with most other Zelda games, you eventually get equipped with an instrument that assists you in your quest. In this incarnation, you get a harp. I have to say that I'm not a fan of it. To play it you move the wii-mote from side to side, generally in time with something moving on the screen. It's not as responsive or accurate as I'd have really hoped and it can leave you with no real connection to the musical moments of the game. Unlike previous versions, you most likely won't know the music you play inside out by the time you finish playing the game as you are too busy concentrating on the rhythm rather than the notes (which play automatically)
My penultimate nuisance with the game is as follows. Throughout the game you collect treasure and insects (don't ask!) For each different type of treasure or insect you collect, the first time you get it, you will triumphantly hold it above your head and a small explanation will appear. The game will then automatically open up the treasure/ insect menu and add what you've found to your collection. This takes about 20 seconds all in all and isn't something that's actually all too annoying. After that point a small picture of what you found hovers above your head briefly and its automatically added to your collection without any fanfare.
That's not the end of that story though. Every time you save your game and go back to the world of the living (aka, quit game) it resets the function. So if you turn the game off and on, every time you find a treasure for the first time in that session, you have to sit and wait for it to go through the motions even though you already have about 30 of the item you've just found. Given how long the game play in Zelda is, it does get really irritating. The only solution to this would be to not turn it off till you've completed it. That, by the way, will wreck you, your social life and/or your console.
---Stuck in the middle with you---
Finally my last ranting point of the day! I've noticed that the remote can go out of alignment easily which can be quite frustrating if you have to stop mid sword fight to recalibrate your remote. Occasionally this means that your targeted weapons are way off. Thankfully if you watched that compulsory video at the start, it tells you how to recalibrate it. It's quite easy and fairly quick to fix, but it does become a very slight pain in the arse.
---Praise the Gods---
Despite these minor issues, I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The story is engaging as ever and the pace of the game is very player driven. By which I mean if you want to take time out from the main plot, you can go do one of the plethora of other mini plots and story lines if you want. It can also be as demanding or as easy as you want it to be. You can set the screen up to give you a full view of your remote functions if you can't quite grasp them, or varying degrees of control help right down to a blank screen for advanced gamers. You also have the options to get hints and information from the spirit guide Fi at all points throughout the game. Basically, doesn't matter if you are uber intelligent or not, you should be able to get through the game and enjoy it loads. There's a great balance of new things to play with and old stuff to keep the game geeks smiling.
---What I just said, but shorter---
So, as a quick recap: The instructional video is too long and should be optional, I don't like the harp and treasure and bug notifications are annoying. Also the remote needs calibrated too much. However, the game play and plot more than make up for any downfalls of the game. New ideas and old connections leave even the most avid Zelda fan with a big cheesy grin on their face, grabbing their partner and trying to explain why, in fact, that really boring thing that just happened is soooooo cool. Yep, it happens regularly. I'd recommend this game to anyone who loves a game that makes you think and lets you get your rage out on cute little monsters occasionally! The limited edition set is really good value too. Go Skyward and enjoy!