Call of Duty, Battlefield, Counter-Strike – these are all big names in the FPS market if you are a PC gamer. The thing is, these games are all cut from the same cloth. Military games, the person with the better weapon and more time spent grinding games, the better advantages you will probably have. I still play these games, yet I find it difficult to be engaged with all these interchangeable titles. Fortunately, I was thrown quite a curveball at PAX East and the experience evolved into one of the better FPS games I’ve had an opportunity to play!
When I got my hands on ShootMania Storm, the most obvious thing I noticed was that the learning curve is relatively low right out of the gate. I had already started to grasp the basic ins and outs by the time that my first full game series ended. What did I walk away with? Well for starters, this is absolutely, positively NOT your cookie cutter FPS game. There are no weapons scattered all over the map, so there is no arms race. There are no real choke points or lopsided maps, your own skill will dictate your success. There isn’t any real ‘camping’ either. The game moves at a breakneck pace, standing around will get you killed faster that running into the tornado. Tornado? Yeah, we are about to talk about that.
ShootMania plays more like Laser Tag but still has a collection of weapons that you can use in the game. With that being said, weapons aren’t picked up. In fact, you get different weapons based on where you are standing. Different areas and platforms allow you to have different types of shots but as soon as you move from the area, you are back to the standard vanilla. In fact, the motto of ShootMania Storm should always be ‘location, location, location’ because once you really get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself always moving towards the best areas.
On the topic of moving around, I spent a majority of my time actually playing the Royal game type. This game type takes King of the Hill and mixes it with a traditional Free for All style. The whole point of the match-type is to have players rush to the center of the map and activate the node at the center that causes a tornado to slowly close in on the playing field. If you touch the walls of the tornado, you are instantly out of the game. It’s quite fast paced, and honestly way more fun than I have had in most other FPS games. There are also game modes like Melee, Team-Battle, Elite, Heroes and Joust. The cool thing is, ShootMania Storm has a little something for any type of player, including the competitive ones.
I play a lot of PC games in my free time, often games like League of Legends. The beauty I’ve found with ShootMania Storm is that there is little time commitment to have fun. You simply need to jump in, choose a game type and then get into a match. I’ve played by myself and with friends and to be honest it’s always quite fun.
Unfortunately, there are still those people who will try to go out of their way to ruin other people’s experiences as well. While everything is extremely balanced for the most part, players can earn extra points for doing things like staying alive. While still pretty rare, I’ve been stuck in games with people who find it humorous to play down to 2 people and grind the clock down until they are forced to end the game. That isn’t fun at all but it seems that these issues are dealt with quickly, so many trolls will be out of your hair after their first offense.
Even in my free time, I find myself coming back to ShootMania Storm. I like to throw a game in between articles and reviews and love that I can do it without having to stress about it. If you are looking for a FPS game that is different, yet still very enjoyable, ShootMania Storm is exactly that game!
A week before PAX East, I received a quirky email detailing how a controller that could be used with only your feet would be at PAX East. I initially put it with the rest of the clutter in the ‘follow-up if I have time pile’ but then another email came through that said something to the extent of ‘Not a Prank! You Have to See to Believe!’. With such persistence, I figured I should at least humor these people and swing by to see this oddity. What I didn’t know was that the decision I just made would pretty much make my PAX.
I swung by the Stinky Footpad team at our agreed upon time and immediately noticed that this really wasn’t just a tool for disabled gamers. This was an actual peripheral that had the ability to give a gamer an extra edge during games. You see, the Stinky Footpad is a board that has 4 mappable keys or macros on it that can also be set with various degrees of sensitivity by using different springs. Want to trigger a key? Step on that area of the footboard and you are cooking. This durable piece of metal and plastic was about to blow my mind.
I sat down to try to play Battlefield 3 with the footboard. I could still use my mouse and the keyboard, yet the controller gave me quick access to four additional keys without having to leave the WASD setup. The Stinky had sprint mapped to the top part of the board, crouch to the back part, knife to the left and dive to the right. The board effectively allowed me to access those 4 abilities without ever-changing the positioning of my fingers on the keyboard or mouse. Since crouch and sprint are toggles, I could also hold them while I did whatever else I needed to with either hand. While there was a bit of a learning curve to get used to actually using your feet while playing a game, I found myself getting the hang of it pretty quick.
After learning a little bit more about the Stinky, I discovered that it was built to take an absolute beating. I was shown a video where the team ran over the board with a truck and then was shown that board in person, the only damage it had was friction damage. It was also explained to me that the Stinky is resistant to spills, so if you were using it and happened to dump a drink on it, it is built to keep undesirable things like liquid out of the board. Two things definitely came to mind almost immediately, how come no one had thought of this yet and what other games could it help with?
I started theory-crafting in my head, mapping keys in League of Legends would be absolutely amazing! How about HAWKEN? Yeah, secondary fire, heal and dash would also be nice to have quick access to. How about productivity? I already have programs mapped, how freaking awesome would it be to open them with a simple press of my foot? The Stinky Footpad opened up a myriad of different opportunities. However, I was also told about a gentleman that had visited the Stinky team while at PAX. He had an issue with a hand and was easily able to use the Stinky while playing Team Fortress 2 and was “kicking ass” while doing it. That reminded me of how the Avenger Controller was built to make console games more accessible, the Stinky Footboard could easily be poised to do the same for PC.
After expressing my enthusiasm about the board, I was told that their people would be in touch with my people, but one thing was for certain. The Stinky Footboard absolutely knocked me off my feet. Kudos to the Stinky Team, you guys easily deserve the best tech at PAX! We can’t wait to take it out for review!
Okay, it’s been over a week and we have been putting in some significant quality time with our Wii U game consoles. With that being said, I’d like to address a few things and also detail the pros and cons of this new system.
Holy hell! This is the actual console!
First off, the curse of E3 2011 is still leaning heavily on this system. It seems that a ton of people I have met don’t understand that the Wii U is a brand new console, not a new controller. It’s not a new fancy portable system either, the GamePad has roughly the same range as an Xbox 360 controller. The system doesn’t play bluray discs, dvds, Gamecube games or anything other than the Wii U and Wii discs. I feel that I have to clarify this as 4 out of 5 times I describe the Wii U to someone in person, their initial response is “Oh, isn’t that the new Wii controller?”.
What is different?
After downloading the SIZABLE update (about 2.5 hours) that I had to complete before playing any games on the system, I was greeted by Nintendo’s brand new social community. While not exactly Xbox Live but way more than the Playstation Network, it’s easiest to describe the Nintendo Network as a massive visual forum that automatically creates a new community for every single title and app available for the console. Users can discuss games, get advice, post pictures or just chat with each other. I expect that this will evolve and grow as time passes, since every other online service has made significant growth since their inceptions. While this is an improvement to the horrible system used by the Wii, it still has a little bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it. I don’t love the Nintendo Network, yet I certainly do not hate it.
Once I actually jumped into a game (holy crap, MORE UPDATES?!), I got to catch my first glimpse of HD gaming, Nintendo style. This was awesomely beautiful and while up to current par with both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, there was something worthg pointing out. On launch day, this system is up to par with the best offerings of the current generation, that means we can only expect progress from here! I experienced the entire launch day catalog and with the exception of a pair of games, was actually solidly impressed with what I saw. If you want a solid feel for some nice HD graphics, play Rayman Legends and Trine 2. If you want to get creative with the GamePad, play ZombiU or NintendoLand. Either way, there is a little something for everyone on launch day and an impressive library of AAA games to boot.
One thing to point out is that the Wii U GamePad doesn’t have a significant battery life, only lasting about 3.5 hours. This can be frustrating in certain games that can lead to extended periods of play. The charging cable is quite long, which helps alleviate some of this inconvenience but with as much movement that the GamePad requires, my patience wore thin pretty quick.
On the topic of the GamePad, it is a higly innovative controller, some of it’s uses are really unique and creative but a few others are quite lackluster. Understandably, I feel that most of the launch day titles really wanted to create a focus and awareness on the GamePad itself, rather than the ability and power of the new console. My concern with this is that a reliance on the GamePad’s touch screen seems to cheapen the overall experience. I am willing to give the mindset an early honeymoon-period pass, as devs likely wanted to play to the console’s strengths. I am pretty sure that most people will enjoy the ability to watch movies and play games from the GamePad, yet I find it a grand waste when I spend a majority of my time looking down at an 854×480 display, rather than my large HDTV that showcases the beauty of the new system.
I’ve touched quite a bit on the launch day software, I don’t want to hold the system responsible either way for the quality or lack there of so we will be covering the Wii U titles on their own merit. With that being said, the launch titles feature something for everyone and NintendoLand, ZombiU, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Sonic & All‑stars Racing Transformed are all great starter games for the system. If you haven’t been able to get your hands on them previously; Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Mass Effect 3, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 are all worth getting checking out but get yourself a GamePad Pro asap, trust me!
After Spending A Week With the Wii U
Wii U Graphics…
Are we all caught up? Hopefully! After a week of playing with the console for a week, here are my thoughts:
I welcome the change of pace that the Nintendo Network offers. However, I don’t feel like it really brings much to the table for a core gamer.
One of the weakest Wii U titles is absolutely New Super Mario Brothers U. If you are considering a Wii U, you may want to reconsider making this a day 1 pickup.
The Wii U absolutely has what it takes to appeal to the core gamer. Games look great, play great and don’t require stupid amounts of work to play online with friends.
The Wii U GamePad… It’s a cool gimmick; it works well with a majority of games, I’d like to see it used less as a crutch and more as a way to enhance gameplay. As of right now, it’s the same gimmick that the Nunchuck and Wii-mote were.
The limited battery on the Wii U GamePad is a bummer, it gives me an opportunity to do other things after a few hours of playing. That isn’t actually a good thing.
The Wii U has one of the largest launch day line-ups available. Oddly, it’s the 3rd party games that shine. NintendoLand is absolutely the exception to this.
I really liked using my Wii U for Netflix and Hulu. The ability to watch a show on my GamePad while my family watches something on the Xbox 360 was pretty cool. In fact, the ability to control my TV with the GamePad is pretty awesome, but not a selling point.
By no means does the Wii U reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t even revolutionize it. My biggest concern is that the Wii U catches a case of the 3DS and takes about a year to get going. We need a flagship title (Smash Bros, Metroid, Castlevania, Zelda etc) as soon as possible. Luigi’s Mansion 2 could be that game, as could Lego City Undercover or Pikmin 3…
The gaming experience is equal to Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Since those systems are pushing their limits right now, it’s going to be exciting to see what the Wii U does from here.
I hate the fact that the sensor bar is still an integral part of playing with a group of people. There was no other way around this?
UPDATES, UPDATES, UPDATES!!! It takes about 5-45 minutes for the Wii U to download updates for every single game the first time I played it!
So, here is the tl;dr – I think the Wii U is a good system at launch, but not great. It doesn’t do anything “better” than the its major competition, although it really doesn’t have to at this point.
Velocity, the phenomenal PlayStation Mini, has been impressing both gamers and critics. After my glowing review, and countless more hours exploring every nook and cranny of the game, I sat down for a casual chat with Robin Jubber, the programmer behind the miniature juggernaut. Combining our powers of science, humor and humour, we merge his self-proclaimed “half-witted thoughts” with my half-witted questions to form what I hope is at least one whole wit of insight and entertainment.
Joey Woznicki: Tell me about FuturLab and your role with the company.
Robin Jubber: Well Futurlab is a little company in Brighton (chilled out fairly warm coastal resort in the UK – it’s where artists, alternative lifestyle types and games companies end up. Sort of a miniature California.)
I’m the Supreme Technical Overlord. Or to put it another way – the only fulltime PSP coder.
Joey Woznicki: Cool!
Robin Jubber: Three years ago we nabbed ourselves some PSP dev kits – and I had a crack at figuring out how the hardware worked while James Marsden (Futurlab’s director) had a pop at coming up with a games design we could make for it very quickly with no budget. We met up over a previous idea of his – a music game – but that had to be put on hold due to licencing costs. (licensing spelling if you’re American, right?) So we used our half built engine to make Coconut Dodge.
Coconut Dodge got a lot of great reviews for such a tiny team – 2 people at a time working on it, plus music and art contributions from people working on the project part-time. It was a good introduction to self publishing, along with getting to grips with proper dev hardware. Big learning curve for us – I’d written games before, but usually as part of a bigger team – never an entire commercial console engine on my own. James had worked on Flash projects as well as with Sony – so a big hill for him to climb as well.
So with Coconut Dodge’s engine working at a solid 60fps with all the bits and pieces a proper game needs – eg recognition, a fanbase (all James’s work), and proper memory card code, sprite display, fast screen updates – all the techy stuff working – we set to work on Velocity. Bit bigger team this time, but only just. Still just one coder (me) but two designers (James and Kirsty Rigden, who really knows her stuff when it comes to learning curves for the player) and sporadic art contributions when we could afford it. John Steels, another chap who lives in Brighton made the scenery for us at an insane speed. Other people chipped in with cutscene art and Joris de Man (Killzone 2 and 3, and N+ composer) polished James’ music to a professional level. And here we are.
Joey Woznicki: Ah, I see! So how would you sum up Velocity? What are its strengths?
Robin Jubber: Blimey – tricky to quickly sum it up without sounding like a PR machine. It’s very slick and smooth for a small production. We tried hard to make it sound good, look good, never crash and run at 60fps everywhere. That’s the technical side – which was a challenge considering the size of the team. Then there’s the game itself. It has the pace of a racing game, the adrenaline of a classic shootemup and the puzzle solving elements of a different genre entirely. It taxes the little grey cells as well as the fingers – it does something entirely new with the genre and ends up as addictive as hell because of it. Now, you might expect the chap who wrote the code to say something like that, but I’ve genuinely never worked on a game I’m so happy to actually play, and that’s after 20 years writing games.
Oh – and we enjoyed making it so much we ended stuffing it full of hidden features, mini-games, 2 player challenges, a ton of in-game trophies and achievements – basically everything we could fit in the memory footprint.
Near the end of development I realised all the stuff we had made for it wouldn’t fit inside the PSP ram, as well as the 100 Meg limit Sony imposes on minis games. So a week was spent compressing the bejeezus out of all the assets – and stripping out any wasted space. Not a fun week.
Joey Woznicki: You just transitioned into about 5 of my other questions. Now I don’t know which to pick next.
Robin Jubber: Sorry Joey- I’ll keep my answers shorter!
Joey Woznicki: No problem. To keep things shorter, can you sum the game up in a haiku?
[We debate about the format of a haiku and pause for a few minutes of thought... then a few more]
Lightning death awaits
teleport and change your fate
tunes are fucking great
Velocity is extremely ambitious for a Mini. I’m regretfully willing to admit I viewed the term ‘Mini’ as a pejorative. Is that something you guys felt the need to overcome?
Robin Jubber: I wasn’t familiar with Minis before we started making one. When Coconut Dodge came out I had only played one or two – I prefer big meaty games like Skyrim or Tomb Raider to the sort of iphone disposable stuff Minis were being used for. With Velocity we wanted to show what the limited rules Sony put in place would allow us to do – what anybody could have done if the other companies had put the effort in. Shovelling in as much code, tunes, graphics as we could fit was a sort of “screw you” to the other companies who had made minis, and in our opinion, hadn’t tried hard enough. There are exceptions – I’ve since played quite a lot of minis to test the competition and a few gems sparkle amongst the rough.
Joey Woznicki: It’s definitely a medium I don’t overlook now thanks to you guys.
Robin Jubber: Well that’s pretty cool. Who’s That Flying by Mediatonic is worth checking out – although we still cane it for framerate and features. Mediatonic are excellent at presentation. We can still learn from them… In fact that’s a good rule of thumb for making games (probably everything actually) – if you ever think you have nothing left to learn, you’re about to screw up horribly.
Joey Woznicki: You did throw an insane amount of content into the game. One of my favorite hidden gems is a reference to one of my favorite TV shows. Who is your favorite character?
Robin Jubber: Which TV show? We referenced more than one. My personal favourites were the Farscape references, which went in first while the levels still didn’t have proper names.
Joey Woznicki: Sorry, I was referring to Community.
Robin Jubber: That was a very last minute addition! I asked the nice people at #sixseasonsandamovie and the people who made the Facebook group called something like “NBC Britta’d it!” who were trying to get various projects going to help save Community. One of their artists kindly donated the x-men spoof and in it went. We’re talking mere minutes from James building the final version of the release disk for Sony… Catherine Boyd – that’s the name of the lady who helped us get the image. Name escaped me for a moment.
Joey Woznicki: I actually stalked you a bit on Facebook once you contacted us. That’s how I found that out.
Robin Jubber: Ah! I shall now lock the front door. I’ve seen Criminal Minds – I know how it goes with you Americans.
Joey Woznicki: I like that shirt you have on right now.
Robin Jubber: It was a bargain! The leather straps were a bit mu.. hang on a mo…
We don’t have proper nutters over here in the UK – psychos stalk us then break into our houses to offer us inferior brand label tea in chipped cups. The horror of it is unspeakable.
Joey Woznicki: Back to Community, favorite character and why?
Robin Jubber: That’s difficult. Jeff started off as the initial focus of the show, and his speeches and complete absence of giving a damn when hell is breaking out – tapping away on his phone during a crisis – very droll. Then there’s Britta – beautiful and incompetent. What’s not to like? I like them all – but I suppose Abed is the break out character in community- he’s sort of the geek’s narrator – a bucket load of meta humour and dorky references for the target audience to pick up on. Similar role, despite different character, to Shawn in Psych.
Joey Woznicki: I agree with Abed. I love his meta humor and eccentricity. I want to build a Dreamatorium.
Robin Jubber: Or Crichton in Farscape. Which is Abed’s favourite show. If you haven’t watched it all the way through you should.
Joey Woznicki: Never have, but I’ll have to give it a look.
Robin Jubber: Starts with a good intro episode – first half of series one bit patchy – then transforms into the funniest most gripping sci-fi show I’ve ever seen. It’s why Abed ‘justs like to talk about Farscape.’ Which is Dan Harmon’s way of saying – watch Farscape.
Joey Woznicki: I’m a big fan of Fringe. Amazing sci-fi!
Robin Jubber: That’s a great show. The girlfriend and I love it. She took to it more quickly than me – I was sideswiped by the absolutely hilariously bad science – but the characters and story arc won me over. I like a good story arc.
Joey Woznicki: Back to Velocity: The calculator can be used to input quite a few codes. Scattered around the internet are quite a few of them. Do you have an estimate as to how many of these codes there are?
Robin Jubber: I have more than an estimate. I think it’s about 15, not including the ones that switch activated features off.
Joey Woznicki: Are there any you’d care to share with me and the gamingirresponsibly community?
Robin Jubber: I’m not sure I’m allowed to! The remaining ones are a closely guarded secret. However – perhaps just the one.
You know how all the menus, popup messages, edge lines and so forth are blue in Velocity? The specific shade of blue is consistent through all sorts of things like the hidden tron mode as well as various icons and text. Well you can change that to a pleasing green – 99999994=
I think I can reveal that code without getting into too much trouble. Of course in a month or so we will probably dish out some juicier secrets – there are quite a few to collect already on the internet, with various sites – but there are more to come. Velocity has a bonkers number of hidden features – not all activated via the calculator.
Joey Woznicki: I like the yellow, 99999996= I believe.
Robin Jubber: Yes – that’s my favourite.
Joey Woznicki: By the way, our editor Josh keeps questions in boring black text. Developer answers are various colors. What color do you want to be?
Robin Jubber: It has to be 26CBFF – the Velocity blue… On the PSP it’s actually ffcb26 – the Playstation portable stores colours backwards – Red, Green, Blue. [Editor's Note: This idea was scrapped after it was deemed too hard to read.]
Joey Woznicki: Are there any questions you want to create and have me ask you? I can edit this part out later to make it seem like I came up with an awesome question which you answered perfectly.
Joey Woznicki: When did you first realize you were a god amongst men?
Robin Jubber: Thanks Joey – I was wondering when you’d get round to asking me that… I think it was when the worshippers formed their own church that it really hit home.
Ooh – just got a tweet from James – Velocity is on the recommended page when you boot up the PS3. That might just be for Europe of course. I hear you colonials have only just got Velocity working on Vita (has to be transferred via PS3 I hear) Sorry – bit of naked advertising there… I asked James if I could do some naked advertising and he said no – people weren’t ready for that, and it was a horrifying mental image and I’d had enough beer
Joey Woznicki: You could have people pay to remove the ad. that could prove quite effective.
Robin Jubber: I’d be a billionaire in femtoseconds
Joey Woznicki: What’s the secret to making a game so addictive? Subliminal messaging? Why do I crave coconuts?
Robin Jubber: The secret is to work with good designers. James Marsden polishes things to the nth degree to get the feel just right. He doesn’t want the player to ever feel like the game killed them because of poor controls or handling. If you screw up, and you know you screwed up, you compulsively want to have another go to get it right. If the game feels like it did you over, perhaps a random enemy or something you couldn’t reasonably react to – then you lose that compulsion. James has a number of other theories on the subject – but I think that control is the crucial element… and melodies that get stuck in your head. That’s important too.
Joey Woznicki: Velocity is the perfect storm of addictiveness. I finished up perfecting all the levels a few days ago. That space invaders challenge is really the only thing standing in my way of getting all the medals.
Robin Jubber: Enders Game? I found it a little easy – but then I did code it one random drunken weekend. I think I made it a little harder just before release – I’ll check and see if it’s fair. It was another lunatic last minute coding marathon to get it into the game in time. We had a lot of days like that.
And thanks for the compliment by the way – very kind of you to say so. Perhaps you’ll be the first – I’ve not heard of anybody getting all the trophies yet – though I’m sure somebody must have.
Ah – the girlfriend has returned – I suspect an evening of catching up on House beckons. Still – time for a few more questions.
She says hi…She thinks she’s waving at the hidden cameras – but I think she just waved at the kettle.
Joey Woznicki: I say hi too.
That’s really all the questions I had. I lead a pretty pathetic life so I could waste time typing for hours. I’ll spare you that torture.
Robin Jubber: I’ve enjoyed our brief time together. It’s nice to have the occasional distraction from zeros and ones – which is what I spend most of the day looking at.
Joey Woznicki: Thanks for being my first interviewee. Thanks for the awesome game, and thanks for playing along with my lunacy. I look forward to your next project of zeros and ones.
Robin Jubber: Groovy! Good interviewing work there sir, if I’m any judge.
Joey Woznicki: Thanks! With everything I do I try to insert a bit of absurdity and humor to keep things from becoming mundane.
Robin Jubber: It’s a wise approach – to life in general.
Latest video from James. He’s very nearly as good at the game as I am:
Joey Woznicki: I was impressed.
Robin Jubber: lol – the girlfriend is playing Velocity as we speak – she’s swearing a lot – she’s playing the Bonus missions.
Joey Woznicki: :D
Again, it was nice talking with you. Have a nice night, and even better days to follow.
Robin Jubber: Cheers Joey – pleasure chatting with you – hope you have many more interviews!
-Error reading from ESRB datastream- Please visit ESRB.org for rating information.
I’d like to think that I grew up on the gaming classics. Titles like Castlevania, Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda and Contra were all staples to my collection, without them I doubt that I would have the passion for games that I do. I’ve played every Legend of Zelda release, even the 3DO games, and Twilight Princess was the sole reason I bought a launch day Wii. As of November 20th, the next Legend of Zelda installment will be upon us, Nintendo was able to get us a chance to play it early for review, here is what we thought.
Almost immediately, I could feel that Skyward Sword had a stronger Japanese influence than prior games. Character interaction was similar to watching an anime and the voice effects were quite the same. While previous titles also included elements like these, Skyward Sword welcomly embraces this. In a way, it modernizes a character and story that has been around for 25 years, without the gritty reboot.
Skyward’s Swords plot is slightly different than your traditional Legend of Zelda story. First off, Zelda is not a princess this time, instead she is the childhood friend of the Skyloft Accademy’s loveable slacker/prodigy, Link. This creates an interesting dynamic to these characters that really hasn’t been present within other titles. An event happens that results in Zelda’s disappearance and Link’s discovery of titular Skyward Sword, which then leads him to the surface world. Here he meets the game’s antagonist, Demon Lord Ghirahim, who happens to be the creepiest Legend of Zelda villian since A Link to the Past’s Ganon/Agahnim. The game is filled with the items, characters and adventure that you should expect from a Legend of Zelda game.
Controls in the game are actually one of the things that I enjoyed the most while playing Skyward Sword. To be frank, the learning curve is quite extreme, since the Motion Plus add-on is a heavy influence in almost everything you do. I learned the hard way how to fly around Skyloft and spent quite a good amount of time practicing my swordplay at the dojo. This helped me specifically since I found that I usually hold my Wiimote in a relaxed state, meaning Link was holding his sword quite low to the ground. Once I was able to get the hang of it though, I felt like I had infinitely more control over Link than I have had in any other Legend of Zelda game. Many different enemies require that you attack them in specific ways, it may be something that once again takes some getting used to but is infinitely better than spamming the attack button over and over.
An interesting feature that also took some getting used to was the revamped item system. Link can no longer carry every single item he finds around with him, initially he can only carry a few items, meaning that you have to pick your items wisely. Bringing potions along may mean you don’t bring your bombs and you may need to go back to Skyloft to pick up the items that you need. This feature is actually quite comical to me since one thing I always used to wonder was how Link carried 20+ items around in one small pack. As far as items are concerned though, they actually break the norm when compared to prior Legend of Zelda titles. Almost every item has multiple uses and I used all of special items continually throughout the game, not just in one dungeon. You can also collect items on your adventures, these collectibles will allow you to make upgrades to your equipment as well, since your shield can only take so much damage before being destroyed. Forcing players to not only use their shield carefully, but also sending them back to Skyloft on occasion for an upgrade or repair.
The game features a beautiful soundtrack, which is to be expected from Legend of Zelda games and the sound effects are great for Wii standards. That has always been something that the Legend of Series has been amazing at, telling a story with music instead of voice actors. As a bonus, Skyward Sword actually includes the orchestrated music CD as well, letting you hear high quality versions of songs that you have come to love. As far as the sound effect go, Link and every other character communicate by making their odd grunts and moans, but after getting out of the town the real effects take center stage. For example, while running with a fully armored Link, you can hear the weight of his sword, shield and chainmail. The graphics may feel slightly dated in comparison to games like Skyrim and Uncharted, but they feel quite painterly throughout. It certainly isn’t something I can really complain about. I did notice that objects in the distance ‘fuzz out’ to help the Wii work a little faster, once again it actually worked well for this title.
Are you still reading this review? Have you made it this far, through my ramblings of graphics and story? Good, then let me do my best as a reviewer and as a gamer to sum this game up as justly as it deserves. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is indeed a magical experience. This game restores the joy and excitement that many of us experienced 25 years ago when an old man told us to “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” and continues to awe us with incredible useful items and massive amounts of collectibles as well. While scoring the game was a difficult and arduous task, I can tell you that even though I hadn’t used my Wii for years, this should be a game that every single person that owns the system should have. This is ultimately the Nintendo Wii’s swan song, the twilight of this console, yet when it is all said and done this will be the game that the system is known for, well over Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Twilight Princess. It may be the end of the Wii, but with any luck at all, we are witnessing the rebirth of one of the most storied video game series of all time.