The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review

  • Great swordplay and environmental puzzles
  • Seeing the beginning of the timeline
  • Bonus soundtrack!
  • Sometimes fiddly motion controls
  • Ghirahim, because he's evil
  • Waiting for a truly HD Zelda

As for everything else

The story bits are best left to discover for yourself. Suffice it to say that seeing what's obviously meant to be the first game in the Zelda timeline feels quite special at times. We won't say much more, but one of the highlights is definitely the beginning of the relationship between Link and Zelda.

Learning about their history together during what might possibly be their very first incarnations retroactively gives new meaning to why Link is always willing to fight for her despite her character not being well-established in early Zelda games. It's also refreshing to see another Zelda game where Zelda doesn't really need rescuing in the traditional sense. Although we don't see her very much, it's clear she's playing her part in the quest just as much as Link is.

Is it the best Zelda ever?

Undoubtedly, Skyward Sword will be many people's new favorite Zelda, so it's understandable that some will honestly feel that it's the best Zelda ever – it's not an unreasonable position to take. The thing is, Zelda is a rare example of a series that has never had a serious misstep to tarnish its record. Every Zelda is someone's favorite Zelda, and there's a legitimate argument for why each Zelda is the "best" Zelda.

The question is: is Skyward Sword objectively superior to its predecessors? No, it isn't. But it does live up to the Zelda legacy, and that's enough to make it superior to most other non-Zelda games.

Is it better than...

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? No, but it’s right up there with it and both have their own strengths. Twilight Princess is more traditional gameplay-wise than Skyward Sword, but more creative story-wise, and Fi pales in comparison to Midna. Skyward Sword's gameplay takes more risks and the Wii MotionPlus definitely adds to it, but its story feels safer. Diehard Ocarina fans may still prefer Twilight Princess, but most others will enjoy the the wealth of newness that Skyward Sword contains. 

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker? No – how dare you even ask. It's debatable (see section above), but we still believe that Wind Waker is the best 3D Zelda overall. The art style is timeless, and Wind Waker still looks better than Skyward Sword despite almost a decade separating the two. Its controls are perfection, it introduced Tetra, and the underwater Hyrule Castle reveal is still one of the most impactful moments in the entire series.

Darksiders? Yes. Darksiders is a great take on an M-rated, Zelda-inspired game, but nothing beats the real thing. Darksiders is still worth playing if you're a Zelda fan who'd like to see something a little darker and more Zelda-meets-God-of-War, but it's not in the same league.

For those who skipped straight to the end

A perfectly balanced mix of innovation and classic Zelda gameplay, Skyward Sword truly lives up to the Zelda legacy of excellence and offers the most variety of any Zelda game to date. Its swordplay and puzzles are some of the best in the series, and seeing Link and Zelda's first story chronologically is a treat for longtime fans.

More Info

Release date: Nov 20 2011 - Wii (US)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Franchise: Legend of Zelda
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Elard621 - April 26, 2012 5:24 p.m.

    So, it is tied with Twilight Princess?
  • AuthorityFigure - January 13, 2012 3:39 a.m.

    This game is incredible. It has achieved the feat that so many releases have missed: the magic of playing a game for a game's sake. It has that magical, whimsical touch that makes the hardcore scene look like a million miles away.
  • Stridefizzel - January 6, 2012 2:07 p.m.

    Having actually played the game, I couldn't agree more with this review. 9/10 is the perfect score, and the reviewer hit pretty much all the good/bad points of the game, including that the fact there is no breathing room somehow takes out some of the magic that OoT and TP had. Gotta say though, I'm really surprised Wind Waker is your favorite zelda. I really didn't care for that game at all, and it didn't even compare with OoT, TP, or this game even. The water world thing got very old, and I absolutely HATED the cartoony, childish, lame graphics. I really can't figure out why people liked that game so much...
  • Nomado - March 16, 2012 3:34 a.m.

    IMO its art style graphic. Though Celshaded Graphic is timeless will never grow old. I know Ocarina of Time is amazing da best but u can see its aging quite a bit by today's standard but Wind waker will never age its like Disney's good old cartoons like Mickey mouse, Lion King etc... I still see disney cartoons and never felt they are dated. I am sure after 10 more years Wind Waker still look awesome. Maybe Miyamoto made this game with idea like that in mind
  • dizzzydragon - November 15, 2011 9:45 p.m.

    wonder what brett thinks
  • samsneeze - November 14, 2011 10:45 a.m.

    I agree that Wind Waker is the best 3D Zelda to date, with Link to the Past being a close second. I never liked Ocarina of Time, it never grabbed me the way it did most people apparently. I honestly had more fun with the DS titles than that game. Majora's Mask is pretty cool though, I guess. The comment section on the review is no better, in fact, worse than the Halo Reach review. People are being extremely and unreasonably butthurt over a nine. I mean seriously, it's a nine people. Everyone is treating it like it got a six or a five. Just goes to show that fanboys are still fanboys no matter what series it is, Halo or Zelda.
  • TwinHallow - November 13, 2011 6:25 p.m.

    Same people write comments like 100 times lol
  • Thequestion 121 - November 12, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    Ahhh, November 20th can't come fast enough D: I can't wait to play!
  • AcefulThinking - November 12, 2011 5:12 p.m.

    Not better than Twilight Princess or Wind Waker? hmmm.
  • inconceivable - November 12, 2011 11:39 a.m.

    Great review; I'll have to pick this up when I have money again. And if I could weigh in on the argument about the score... In the review Carolyn mentions some things that seem to lower the score for her, but aren't mentioned in the "You'll hate" section. Most of them are summed up in the comparison to Twilight Princess, such as the safer story and Fi paling in comparison to Midna. These things aren't listed in "You'll hate" because they're not things to hate, but they could conceivably lower a score, especially when you add in the complaints about the motion controls. And what Skyrim got is completely irrelevant to this review. All in all, when I read the review, it felt like it was going to get a 9. And a 9/10 is awesome.
  • Nikku7 - November 11, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    Although Windwaker is my personal favorite in the series, that's a very much more personal thing because I loved the ocean aesthetic and the epic story details. I however completely understand the reasons that some people don't care for it as much. If you get tired of seeing the sea and island scenery, you get tired of sailing. If you hate searching for treasure that the actual location of disappears when you get close, you might not care for it as much. To me, it was awesome because it was like a post-apocalyptic Zelda game in the sense that Hyrule was now an unlivable and even hidden kingdom lost under the sea. I believe that Skyward Sword has too many pros not to be a 10. Based on what I've seen it already is in my book, and the newly restructured worlds that aren't all long dungeons sounds like a welcome change of pace. Most importantly, this game deserves to be up there with the other big games like Skyrim and (far above) MW3.
  • BladeBlur - November 11, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    Wait... Wind Waker the best 3D Zelda game?! No.
  • Ryozaku - November 11, 2011 7:36 p.m.

    9 is a good no great score, but the reasoning behind why it didn't get a ten do no make sense in my opinion. I'm not being a fanboy (because every player who defends a certain game becomes a fanboy amirite? lol) but the only problem the reviewer mentions is often calibrating the controller. The other reasons are literally irrelavent. It seems that the only reason it scored a 9 instead of a 10 was because the writer's favorite game was Wind Waker. While Skyrim was said to have a few bugs in the system and it could be improved and still got a 10. In terms of relavence you would think the problems in Skyrim are more substantial than just simply recalibrating ever so often. Now based on what I've seen I believe both games deserve 10s. Even though we can all have different opinions as a reviewer I think he should give just reasoning as to why the sc
  • Ryozaku - November 11, 2011 7:40 p.m.

    oops hit the wrong button. I meant that being a high profile reviewer, one need to present just reasons for the scores given and must remain unbias
  • Elard621 - March 5, 2012 12:25 p.m.

    In fact you are right. But you don´t have to worry about that. Think about it, Deus Ex Human Revolution (Great game) was rated with a 10, but Skyward Sword was still between the 5 nominees for Game of the Year. What could that mean? It means that when a game is rated with a 9 it is just an editor´s opinion. A 9 game isn´t worse than a 10 game. It depends on the editor who reviewed it. If all the 10 rated games were obligatory better than 9 games, then Deus Ex: Human Revolution would have been between the 5 nominees, and then Twilight Princess would be better than Wind Waker. Resuming my comment, when a game reaches a 9, it depends on the person who plays if it is perfect or not. A 9 can be a 10, and a 10 can be a 9.
  • EnigmaSpirit - November 11, 2011 4:35 p.m.

    I didn't read too much so I wont know too much about the game, but it seemed very positive. I'm suprised you only gave it a 9. I know 9 is a great score, but nearly everything you said seemed like a 10. I am so stoked that we FINALLY see the relationship between Zelda and Link explored a bit.
  • shawksta - November 11, 2011 3:13 p.m.

    I feel as to apologize for my past concerns for this review that seems to attract negetivity. I seem to be misunderstood on what i expected from this review, but thats probably because I was used to Brett's reviews and just seeing it by caroline it didnt consider the differences. With that said, Awesome review, This game is no doubt gonna be one of the best Zelda's out there and i seriously cant wait to play it, Besides i need an adjustment to see Colorful and Cartoony since i played so much Batman, Rage,MW3 and so on.
  • Pruman - November 11, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    Whoops - you guys did that already. I am a dumbass.
  • Pruman - November 11, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    "The thing is, Zelda is a rare example of a series that has never had a serious misstep to tarnish its record. Every Zelda is someone's favorite Zelda, and there's a legitimate argument for why each Zelda is the 'best' Zelda." Sounds like it's time for a "Why every Zelda game is both the best (and worst) in the series" feature! The Final Fantasy one was awesome, and I've been hoping for one done on another series ever since!
  • talleyXIV - November 11, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    I hate when you guys say "This game is awesome, This game is awesome, This game is awesome. Final verdict: 9." This game truly deserves a 10, I can tell from screenshots. I am not even a Zelda fanboy and I can say that this getting a 9 and Saint's Row 3 getting a 10 is pretty silly.

Showing 1-20 of 88 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000