It's True. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is Worth the Price of a WiiS

Yeah, we think you'd like the new Zelda game and you should buy it. But what if you don't have a Wii?

What if you had one and sold it, chucked or simply don't know whether it's behind your Ab Roller, in a box next to the Ark of the Covenant or otherwise lost?

You need to fix that. Get yourself a Wii. Am I saying that, if you don't have a Nintendo console that new Zelda is worth $170? No. But $130, yeah.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an excellent single-player adventure with an enjoyable, surprising quest that lasts some 40 hours. It's also an encapsulation of two eras of Nintendo game design: a product of the company's 1980's and 1990's expertise in making satisfying, single-player jungle gyms of interactivity as well as a result of the company's recent adventures making motion-controlled games. It mostly, successful utilizes the best of both eras, making this game not just excellent but historically interesting and important.

To temper the hyperbole, I'm not saying the game is perfect nor even my favorite Zelda, but rather that it is excellent in interesting ways. The game structure is formulaic Zelda well-refined, offering adventure, exploration, problem-solving and combat through zone after zone of well-constructed landscape that's enjoyably puzzling to play through.

The game's controls use motion in mostly good ways, primarily to allow the player to slash Link's sword in one of eight specific directions, to fly aerial vehicles as if they were toy planes and—best of all—to present the best, most-responsive inventory system I've seen in a modern game, one that allows the player to select items from radial menus with directional flicks of the wrist without ever pausing the game. That last feature is surprisingly fast, while giving players access to far more items at once then they could toggle with the buttons of any standard non-keyboard game controller.

As good as Skyward Sword sounds to you, however, it might not sound like a game with buying a machine for. Beyond asking you to trust me that it is, let's walk through some pricing.

  • If you have access to a loaner Wii (just ask grandma for hers… she won't mind!), then all you need to make sure you have is the game and a MotionPlus-enabled Wii Remote. If the loaner Wii has the proper controller, then all you need is the game. That's $50 for the game. If the loaner has neither the MotionPlus peripheral nor a Wii Remote Plus that has that MotionPlus tech baked inside, then all you need to go for is the $70 version of Skyward Sword, which includes a gold-colored Wii Remote Plus.
  • If you would have to buy a Wii, you can get a pre-owned one for $100 at GameStop. It won't include the MotionPlus tech which costs $25. Don't buy that. You'd best go for the $70 special edition of Skyward Sword, which includes the Wii Remote that you need (you'll also need the standard Nunchuk add-on that comes with the Wii). Go with that $100 Wii option and GameStop can eventually buy your Wii back. They'll take it off your hands for $40. Full outlay, console trade-in included: $130 plus tax. You'll end up with the game but not the system and can decide in 2012 whether or not to get the Wii-compatible Wii U to play Skyward Sword more on that machine or whether to kiss all this Nintendo console stuff goodbye.

I know many people never jumped on board the whole Wii thing and that others, especially so-called hardcore gamers, always found the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 more to their liking. Those who skipped the Wii missed everything from Wii Sports and the superb Super Mario Galaxy games to the more "hardcore" and wonderful Metroid Prime 3 and Red Steel 2. There are many great gems for the system, from Zack & Wiki to Little King's Story. But this past year has been slow, so slow that even I, a person who could even name terrific games on the maligned WiiWare service, has barely touched the system. Lost in Shadow and Kirby's Return to Dreamland may be the only Wii games this year I've even had anything nice to say about.

The system is indeed in its twilight. It is almost the past, but it isn't yet. Today, it's the present and the platform for one of the best games of the year.

Get yourself a Wii, and enjoy it for at least another 40 hours.


You can contact Stephen Totilo, the author of this post, at stephentotilo@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.