ATB’s Best Games Ever: (21) Skyward Sword

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Thrust your sword into the sky! This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.

21) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Chris: I gave my top 25 votes to other Zelda games, but I thoroughly enjoyed Skyward Sword. There’s just something about the complete package that clicks. Every encounter turns into its own experience — in addition to the standard Z-targeting system with backflips and side dodging, you now have to decipher what the best method of attack is. Rather than feeling forced, the whole setup is intuitive, and the battles against Ghirahim might be the best in the series because of it. skywardswordboxThere’s also a ton of personality on display here (yes, even more than Wind Waker), and it’s no more evident than the relationship between Link and Zelda. We actually get to see them like each other, which sounds basic until you look back on the other games in the series and realize that there really isn’t much there.

I’ve read the complaints about this game. Yes, it does get a little backtrack-heavy toward the end in revisiting the three major areas, but there’s usually something new to explore regardless. Yes, a handful of people were too uncoordinated to use the Wii Motion Plus correctly, and their experience suffered as a result. But Nintendo has finally figured out exactly what Zelda is supposed to be, and Skyward Sword is the example.

Dave: Skyward Sword was everything that I imagined the Wii would be when it first came out. I remember hearing stories about the Wii, how you’d be able to use the controller exactly like a sword or a bow and arrow to totally immerse you in the experience. Then Twilight Princess came out, and while I enjoyed it, it was disturbing how much I just flailed my wrist around for the sword play. Skyward Sword changed all of this with the Wii Motion Plus. Finally I was able to swing my sword upward in order to take out an enemy with his shield over his head, or stab my sword through a monster without pressing a button. I felt like I was more of a master swordsman like Link. The story, as usual in a Zelda game, was well put together and inventive. Everything put together made me want to complete every side quest without any help from a game guide, merely because I wanted to keep fighting with my “sword.” Any game that makes me want to keep playing merely because of the way I use the controller is a worthy addition to our top 25.

Shaun: So I’ll take your complaints about the sometimes wonky motion issues, and raise you the fact that this method of control allows for an extra layer of depth in nearly every encounter. Dispatching enemies, formerly a practice in mindless button mashing, now take patience and skill to take down. This level of richness and detail epitomizes Skyward Sword, the title that takes the Zelda formula and perfects it.

Allow me a rant on the immaculate brilliance that is Skyward Sword:

  • The graphics are incredible — sharp, colorful, and vibrant. To hell with the cel-haters; they were wrong on Wind Waker, and they’re wrong here, too.
  • The sense of scale and exploration is staggering. Each new area is dense with secrets to find and elements to interact with.
  • The story is the best it’s ever been. Nintendo has been emphasizing story as of late. Other M was an unmitigated failure. Skyward Sword, thankfully, is a resounding success.
  • The characters are complex and fleshed out. They might even make you tear up. Now, I’m not saying I cried, but — shut up! It was sad! They’re so cute together!
  • The puzzles are ingenious, walking the fine line between “thoughtful” and “frustrating” without ever crossing it. The decision to “dungeon-ize” the quest to find the dungeons themselves was a great call.
  • Everything about the game is perfection and polish.

I’m not done yet. On top of the list above, Skyward Sword includes one of the best final boss battles of the series, along with one of the franchise’s most intelligent dungeons (if you’ve played through the “morphing room” dungeon, you know what I mean). With Skyward Sword, you see a Zelda title that has completely realized its potential.

While the controller is responsible for some of the game’s finest moments, it will also limit its accessibility down the road. All that means is you should take advantage of this game while you can. You won’t regret it.

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MORE FROM AT THE BUZZER’S TOP 25 LIST

(22) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

(23) Fallout 3

(24) StarCraft

(25) Bioshock

Best Games Ever: #50-26

Best Games Ever: #75-51

Best Games Ever: #100-76

Honorable Mentions

Introduction

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