Ugh, Skyward Sword? Where to begin....
First off, this isn't a Zelda game. I don't know if Nintendo thinks that slapping the word 'Zelda' on a random game makes it a Zelda game, but it doesn't. It's like what they did with Doki Doki Panic - it's obvious that this is not a Zelda game.
There is no overworld! I cannot stress that enough, that is of utmost importance. Remember when you got that incredible feeling when you explored Hyrule on the NES? That's not present here. This "game" is just a bunch of disconnected islands floating in the ether. You get from island to island via an annoying bird minigame. It's like Spirit Tracks to the extreme. If you want to go to Faron Woods from Eldin Volcano, you are not allowed to run there. You're forced to go to a bird statue, go up to the sky, get on your bird, navigate to the Eldin Volcano portal, and drop down. Worse than being tedious, it doesn't create the feeling of a great interconnected world. Instead it feels like the designers got lazy.
There is no action whatsoever. If you've played the earlier Zeldas, you'll know what I'm talking about here. When Zelda was first created, there were some tough fights. It wasn't a puzzle-based game like the newer ones, and the enemy encounters were definitely not puzzles. They instead used an arcadey quick reflexes type of combat which required a player to be skilled. Now, the enemies will basically stand stil or circle you slowly while holding their swords/shields/mouths in a specific way. Based on how they are positioned, you strike them in a certain area. This is incredibly tedious. When I saw an enemy in Zelda II, even one as innocent as an Octorok, I knew to watch out. I was in for a dangerous encounter, and unless my skill was paralleled only by Link's level, I wouldn't come out of the encounter too happy. Am I saying Skyward Sword needs a level system? No. But it could use a difficulty boost, and a return to the more action-packed combat of the older games.
There is no boomerang. This may seem like something petty to many people, but it's one of those things that I nitpick to no end. The boomerang has always been an essential part of my combat style in Zelda games. In LoZ I would stun an enemy then take it out, meaning my boomerang was always on B when I could get away with it. Link's Awakening - while it did take forever to get with that super long trading sequence, it was very helpful throughout the remainder of the game. For anyone who's gotten it, you'll know that it also makes the final boss a piece of cake. In Twilight Princess, Nintendo neutered it to an extent, but that was better than not having it at all, in my opinion. I still used it when I could, but I set the Clawshot to B in TP, just as I did in OoT. Now we get to Skyward Sword. The Beetle is not a boomerang. From the first-person view to the super long amount of time it takes to use it to its uselessness in combat, that Beetle is not a boomerang. And the combat in Skyward Sword suffers from it.
The game spoke down to you. You could really sense the contempt the developers have for their fans. From Fi telling you every obvious thing under the sun to the game informing you that a blue rupee is worth five, Skyward Sword will not stop treating you like an idiot. We're Zelda fans, for goodness' sake. I think we know what a rupee is. On Fi - *red battery icon flashes on the corner of my screen*. Me: "Time to get some batteries! I'll grab them as I beat this [insert one of the 50 variations of Bokoblins here]." Fi: "Master, your batteries are running low!" Me: "And you think I didn't notice...?" Also, Fi's tendency to throw the phrase "90% probability" into everything is really annoying. Me: *just solved puzzle, large chest appears*. Fi: "Master, there is a 90% probability that that chest contains something important!" Me: *layered with heavy sarcasm* "No way! You're kidding me!" And then we have the game deciding we have short-term memory loss and telling us what every item does. This doesn't just extend to the items that monsters drop - there's really only one way to use the bow and arrow!
The tutorials. Great heavens, the tutorials! There's no skipping them - they're an essential part of the "story" (which LoZ and AoL got on fine without). At the beginning of the game, you're greeted with a tutorial. After that, you watch about 10 cutscenes (is this a movie or a game?). Then you get another tutorial for your sword. And get this - you can't even get the sword until that stupid bird gets kidnapped! Whatever happened to LoZ when you could get the sword at your leisure? People get it within the first 15 seconds of playing, while others have actually beaten the game without it. In this game, not only are you forced to get it, but you're forced to get it when Nintendo wants. But this is about tutorials - I digress.... Next, you meet (guess what?) another tutorial! This time, it's a bird race to teach you how too fly the bird. Then, you watch two more cutscenes (I'm leaning towards 'movie'), after which Zelda herself gives you a tutorial on landing. But this is no ordinary tutorial - it is the most tedious, difficult, ridiculous, useless, mind-boggling awful abomination of a tutorial this world has ever seen. "Land in that circle." "But I don't want to." "I don't care. Do what I say or you can't play this game." "Alright, alright. I'm jumping. Wait, what? How the heck do I do this? I just shot about 15 feet away from the circle when I tilted the Wiimote slightly!" "Well, you just (launches into discussion of unrelated topics)." "What? I'm looking this up online." 30 minutes of searching later - "Whew! I finally did it!" Your reward? Cutscene! Then there are more tutorials interspersed throughout the game, which pop up whenever you obtain a new item. "You got an item! Now use it to escape from the room you got it in!" Maybe it would work on a four-year-old, but most gamers will figure out the formula easily and quickly become bored. The same holds true throughout the game - dungeon, puzzle, cutscene, puzzle, item, cutscene, tutorial, puzzle, puzzle, boss, cutscene, warp, maze, puzzle, dungeon, puzzle.... What's with all the puzzles? LoZ was not a puzzle game. I can not stress this enough. Somewhere along the way (and this probably has something to do with Aonuma taking over) Zelda went from action-adventure-RPG to puzzle.
And the linearity. Oh, the linearity! The entire game is carefully structured from beginning to end, so that we don't miss any of Aonuma's grand plot designs. You make no choices throughout. It's literally the exact opposite of LoZ in that regard. Heck, the '80s were better than now if this is how far we've devolved! I'm an advocate of players making choices, and I love nonlinear games where one can just freely roam open plains. Sure, you might get the stuffing beat out of you by a level 98 monster, but at least you can choose to challenge it if you want! This is a huge part of what makes games an intriguing and fun medium - you become the character. Your personality determines how you play the game. Don't want to use any keys, but instead like to bomb walls to get to the end? Feel free. Don't want to get the red ring? You can play without it. Feel like challenging the third dungeon first? It's entirely up to you. Zelda needs to look at why it became so popular in the first place, because at this point it's starting to go backward.
Around the time of Wind Waker, people began to stop liking Zelda. Perhaps it was because of the huge overhaul of the gameplay. Many people quit purely because of the cel-shading. Some may think that's ridiculous, but even though I have nothing against that particular art style, I can see why it was unpopular with some fans. At any rate, it appeared the general consensus was that the fans clearly wanted the more realistic art style they saw in the demos for the Gamecube Zelda. So Nintendo does the smart thing and gives the fans what they want. The fans who don't like cel-shading are back, it's not quite as puzzle-focused and Wind Waker, it has an actual overworld... It's not perfect, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. Then what does Nintendo give us, not even a full year later? Another cel-shaded game, and it's a sequel to Wind Waker, no less! Why would they do this? It couldn't be more clear that fans prefer the realistic style and the overworld. No one asked for this! I doubt anyone wanted it at all! It was even more clear, then, that they would completely ignore what the fans want when they released Spirit Tracks. That game was their way of saying, "We'll use realistic Zelda demos to get you to buy our systems, but we'll then turn right around and give you exploration-free, puzzle-centered, cel-shaded Zelda for all your hard-earned money." Spirit Tracks was the breaking point for a good number of fans, and my friend's girlfriend was one of them. "What? There are trains? In Zelda? Where's Hyrule Field? What with the random and arbitrarily conceived main enemy? Do they really think we're so stupid that we can't notice that the guy's wearing two hats?" she screamed in outrage. Needless to say, he apologized numerous times and got her an Elder Scrolls game. She loved it, and now is perfectly content without Zelda. I might add that she was one of the biggest Zelda fans out there. I've seen her house before (courtesy of my friend, of course), and it was filled with Zelda manga, the cartoon series on DVD, posters... you name it, she had it. I can only imagine how different that must look now. Oh well, the bigger they are, the harder they fall....
What was the purpose of that story? Why, to show you how easy it is to satisfy Zelda fans who are dissatisfied with the modern games. We're not elitist snobs who demand nonlinear gaming perfection. Throw us an Elder Scrolls game and we'll be fine. The same is true for any readers that don't like Skyward Sword - you're not forced to play Zelda, waiting in vain for the kind of experience you got 20+ years ago. There are many games out there now with nonlinear gameplay that don't act like a movie that you can only see the next scene of if you give "user input". You're not forced to complete puzzle after pointless puzzle, pouring in fruitless hours of your life to try to get a mere taste of the wonder and adventure you experienced so long ago. Don't like Elder Scrolls? There are many other games out there that are just as good. Xenoblade is a good choice for those who've only got a Wii.
I have one last thing to say before I go and play my NES - Nintendo is a company that is most adept at manipulation. For example, remember the Wii U tech demo we saw, with the realistic Zelda? Ring any bells? Specifically one from the Gamecube era? Then you won't be surprised to find that Nintendo says to not expect that as the actual Zelda Wii U game. They will do whatever they can to invoke those feelings of wonder and nostalgia in you, so they can sell you drivel like this. I beg of you, do not be taken in again. My breaking point was recent, with Skyward Sword. Around the time I gave up on Zelda, I realized that Nintendo tricked me into buying that game, with false promises of long hours of fun and sword beams thrown in to invoke my nostalgia. Please don't make the mistake I did. Unless Aonuma is fired and the best semblance of the original Zelda team Nintendo can muster is brought in, Zelda is going to continue spiraling down to its grave.