2/20/2012 12:44:00 PM Games: 'The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword'
Screen capture from "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword."
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK — It has been more 25 years since "The Legend of Zelda" was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Since then, the series that game inaugurated has reached impressive heights of accomplishment — so much so that 1998's "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time," is arguably the most critically acclaimed title in the history of electronic entertainment — the "Citizen Kane" of video games.
Each new entry is a fresh adventure that takes place during a different time period in the Zelda universe, though the games do not follow one another in strict chronology. One unifying factor throughout is the recurring, green-hooded protagonist called Link whom the player controls and can rename.
Nintendo's latest addition to the franchise, "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword," serves as an origin story, following Link through his earliest journey yet to save the perpetually imperiled Princess Zelda. She's been kidnapped by Ghirahim, an evil self-proclaimed Demon Lord who is attempting to use her as part of his plan to resurrect his master, the Demon King.
As Link presses forward, he learns more and more about a malign threat that could leave his world in the grip of perpetual darkness. He's given the titular weapon to empower him against the enemies he will meet on his quest.
As with previous installments, the story draws extensively on a made-up but fairly complex polytheistic mythology. Terms such as "divine," "sacred," "temple" and "demon" are used profusely.
It should be noted, however, that the gods and goddesses of the series only claim to have formed the Zelda universe. At no point is there any mention of them existing in reality, nor is there any invitation to worship these gods and goddesses in the real world.
At the beginning, Zelda is seen praying to the goddess Hylia for her "blessings and mercy." There is also a scene where Link prays to be granted a wish. Some parents may see such incidents as potentially harmful. Others may take the view that any hero who knows that he needs help from a power beyond himself — however imperfectly understood — represents a refreshing departure, if only as a reminder of how powerful true divinity is.
On the technical level, Nintendo's developers have fully utilized the Wii's motion-sensing capabilities. While players will appreciate the sense of direct involvement this fosters, it also can lead to some frustration. Since effective deployment of the Skyward Sword sometimes depends on swinging it in a particular fashion, if the remote is not carefully calibrated, Link takes a beating and the gamer may be left gnashing his or her teeth.
This iteration features iconic dungeon puzzles and the kind of classic challenges that are characteristic of the series. Additionally, Link's treasure hunting becomes a source of upgraded equipment and potions. Although such upgrades are not necessary, they do add a degree of excitement to the idea of gathering the various collectibles Link comes across along his path.
All in all, "Skyward Sword" registers as a worthy — and enjoyable — extension of a celebrated franchise. The above-mentioned mythological elements, together with an increase in the vividness of the combat, however, make it unsuitable for the youngest players.
The game contains scenes of violence and pagan overtones. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating is E-10 — for ages 10 and up.