It sounds odd, but a new item for Link has us remembering our GameCube days.
2011-11-04 Spoiler Warning: This is the latest in our series of impressions about The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It goes without saying that if you're trying to stay away from everything regarding the game, you should probably not read this article.
Good? Here we go...
As if Faron Woods and Eldin Volcano weren't enough. As if the stunning mechanics of the Beetle and the revisions to bomb usage weren't impressive. Each new realm I discover in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword stuns me in its own quiet, remarkable way. These regions, their creatures and their concepts are so strong in execution that they're capable of sustaining hours of gameplay. Nintendo's designers have figured out how to do more with less, and they've managed to fit a lot of adventure into very small areas.
Take Lanayru Desert for example. After leaving the fiery Eldin region, I trekked to these barren wastelands in search of Zelda. What I found was an insane time-warping set of puzzles where certain stones imbued with powers would allow me to fill decayed, broken machinery with life. Suddenly mine carts started running, platforms were rebuilt and dusty sands were replaced with lush greenery.
That wasn't enough for Nintendo. Suddenly the beetle I had been mastering received an upgrade. It was now capable of carrying bombs. The designers literally just revised the usage rules of a key tool in the middle of a game. There was nothing wrong with the previous version, yet the rules for it were suddenly rewritten.
But the most impressive device came in the dark depths of the desert's dungeon. There I discovered the Gust Bellows, a familiar item from Link's Minish Cap quest. A device capable of expelling magical winds, I found myself cleaning evil away, one grain of sand at a time. My mind instantly journeyed back to Super Mario Sunshine, the game that taught me clean was better than dirty. Only rather than washing off graffiti, I was blasting miniature scorpions off of platforms.
Time-switch mechanics were in full force in the dungeon. A lifeless platform shifts to life, rolling down an electric beam. Conveyor belts and electric fields hum with energy while collapsed columns reform, blasting Link with powerful lasers lest he slash them twice horizontally and pierce their robotic eyes.
Effortless is too simple a word to describe Skyward Sword. Yet it fits. Each region crafts a set of rules and ideas so complete that most games would die to have just that amount of perfected gameplay. Yet this was the third major region I had encountered, and it was clear Nintendo's EAD division was only warming up. Just a glance at my equipment menu made it clear I might not even be halfway at this point, despite exploring this predecessor to Hyrule for well over a dozen hours.
Whatever the outcome upon completion, there's no doubt this Zelda story is proving quite memorable so far. If its later segments deliver as powerfully and thoroughly as Faron, Eldin and Lanayru, we could be in for a very, very special entry in the series. One fitting of the franchise's 25th anniversary.