After first two dates, Zelda Skyward Sword overcomes most of its initial flaws

Zelda Skyward Sword starts slower than any other Zelda in recent memory. In fact, it took two dates with her before I decided I wanted to keep dating. 

The reason: I was a little bummed by the pacing in the first two hours before opening the larger story arch. More fetch quests than I would have liked. But once that arc hits, the game accelerates better than any other Zelda in recent memory.

I’ve been critical of slow starting games in the past, and largely still am. But if this thing keeps accelerating like it does, I’m willing to overlook its slow start and washed out visuals. (NOTE: The above screen is not indicative of the games’s actual, often dull graphics, especially when switching between Mario Galaxy and this to ensure it wasn’t a monitor, cable or setting error on my part).

That said, the game also feels massive’lots of empty spaces on the maps where things will obviously manifest themselves later. I could easily see this adventure lasting dozens of hours, if not 50 with all the side quests. Speaking of side quest, several hours in and I haven’t been asked to round up chickens, at least not yet. That’s a good thing. The objectives seem fresh and the sidekick, Fi, is my favorite since Ezlo from Minish Cap.

Strike that, she’s better than Ezlo.

So far, this isn’t my favorite Zelda’at least not yet. The sword play is a little wonky, not as precise as I’d expect. I avoid otherwise harmless Dekus as often as I can, since they require more precision to kill. That’s fine when your Wiimote is calibrated. Bad when it’s not. And I’m not sure how to recalibrate WiiMotion Plus in-game (am I missing something, Nintendo? Can’t see any menus or prompts telling me otherwise.)

Nevertheless, none of the above complaints have been deal breakers. In fact, Skyward Sword carries an uncanny amount of momentum, particularly after its sluggish introduction. The overworld duality reminds me of Wind Waker, which I love. The script makes me chuckle (“Hey Link, you probably shouldn’t open other people’s cupboards without asking first…” etc). And the combat is more thoughtful, dare I say meaningful, than before.

Skyward Sword is the 16th game in a long line of Zeldas. But you wouldn’t know it by playing it. It feels almost as seductive as the first time you played. Yes, you’ll have to save Zelda and restore peace in the land (again). And the formula shows its age here and there.

But after five years since last making an appearing on your TV, Zelda is back.

(Spoiler: Skydiving is cool.)