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Many SPOILERS are contained throughout these posts. You have been warned!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Skyward Sword (Hero Mode) Part 1: More Cutscenes Than Gameplay

One year after I first played through this game, now I'm replaying it again on Hero Mode, but this time I'm only gonna be playing it while high on weed edibles. This is the final draft of my high playthrough log, summarizing what I thought while playing through the game high, and my opinions and interpretations of various parts of the story and gameplay.

I don't recommend you read this if you haven't played the game yourself. Since I've already beaten it before and I'll be talking about it from the perspective of already knowing the ending.


Prologue

When you stay on the title screen, the prologue scene plays... it's very reminiscent of the Wind Waker prologue, but the story is a lot different...

An army of evil forces appeared one day when the Earth cracked open, and they all went on a rampage, tearing the world asunder, in an effort to obtain the Goddess's ultimate power...

This horrible terrifying war that was waged on the goddess sounds like the Earth turned into a literal hell... I guess there's just been this demon world lurking beneath this land of the gods, and it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen...

The ultimate power, which is able to turn ones desires into reality, was left in this world by the old gods under the protection of the goddess. I guess the goddess didn't prepare very well for this sudden underworld invasion, so she gathered a bunch of survivors onto a piece of land and sent the land along with the ultimate power high up into the sky where it would be safe from the underworld. Then the goddess fought with the soldiers and sealed away the evil forces... temporarily.

Knight Academy Introduction

The first cutscene when you start a new file shows the land splitting open again, and an evil muppet monster coming up out of the ground. This probably would've been meaningless to anyone playing this for the first time who just skipped passed the title screen and didn't watch the actual prologue.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

While Zelda is practicing her song for the ceremony, Link sees that evil muppet monster in his dream, while some bright light talks to him about his destiny... It's clearly the goddess's message she prepared for him. Then Link gets woken up by Zelda's Loftwing...

This is the first gameplay section... I think this part is really well designed. You can take your time learning the basic movement controls, talking to every character to learn more about the game and the story, and exploring the island, and you can do some little easy micro-quests for rupees if you're so inclined... or you can just ignore all that and head straight to the next cutscene trigger.

The knight academy building, where Link starts out in, is like a nice little indoor town similar to Dragon Roost... you can spend a lot of time here going to all the rooms, meeting the other knight-in-training characters and the teachers...

Outside the academy, is the big open island village Skyloft... a lot of it is fenced off at this point though. They only optional thing there is to do is you can do the climbing tutorial and rescue the cat ontop of the building. Other than that you can only go to where Zelda told you to go.

This giant goddess statue area... this feels like such a holy place... it's the resting place of the Triforce, the ultimate power that was left under the goddess's protection. It very much feels like you're in that golden land/sacred realm that was referred to so much in the backstory of LttP and OoT.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Zelda's singing is so heavenly... It's obvious that she only called him out here to show off how pretty and perfect she is to Link...

Then Zelda's father Kaepora comes and they talk about the upcoming ceremony that Link is supposed to practice for, and he gives us some lore on the Loftwings... guardian birds that the goddess gave to the people of Skyloft.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

They talk about how Link's bond with his rare Crimson Loftwing is very special... Link looks up in the sky and senses something strange... Zelda wants Link to practice more, and pushes him off the island.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

She goes and saves him when his Loftwing doesn't show up... She didn't believe Link before when he said he couldn't sense his Loftwing in the sky, and thought he was just trying to get out of practicing.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Zelda has to take care of her Loftwing after it worked so hard to save Link from falling... This shows that the divine protection of the Loftwings has limits. They aren't always flying around, able to give you a ride at any moment... sometimes they are tired, injured, or locked up, and in those instances you actually have to be careful not to fall off the island... that would be kinda terrifying.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Also apparently Zelda's Loftwing requires her to lay down on the ground and cuddle with it in order to get its strength back...

Gaepora tells Link to give a message to Instructor Horwell so he can delay the ceremony. Horwell just happens to be standing right outside the academy entrance... All the NPCs now have different things to say than in the previous gameplay segment, and you're supposed to talk to them to gather information on where your bird might be...

The gate leading out from the statue area to the rest of town is still closed, but the other gate outside the academy's lower entrance is open now, so you're free to explore the rest of the village at this point.

The Groose is Loose

Again you can spend a lot of time in this segment, talking to everyone and getting to know the village... and there's a bunch more little things you can do to collect rupees and bugs, like rolling into trees, throwing pots, and various other little things you can interact with. This town has such a nice atmosphere, I genuinely enjoy just taking my time, exploring every little nook and cranny even if the rewards aren't that great.

Soon enough, you run into another cutscene trigger...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshotThe Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshotThe Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Groose and his 2 cronies are picking on Link, until Zelda shows up makes Groose look like bumbling retard... then they fly off. Zelda's Loftwing has recovered already, and she starts searching around for your bird.

A bunch of people are telling me to go talk to Pipit.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

I found Pipit hanging out with Fledge. Fledge is a really weak looking character, and looks easily manipulated... Pipit gets Fledge to confess that he saw Groose's bird chasing down Link's bird near the waterfall. You can talk to Pipit again to learn that you'll need a sword to get to the waterfall area, and he even puts an X on your map to show where that is.

At the sparring hall, you get a training sword and an optional combat lesson. Finally like 20 minutes into the game you get a sword... but I guess if you know what you're doing and are in a hurry, you can easily go straight to all the cutscene triggers and skip the cutscenes to get to this point in like a minute.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

The bird statues in this game let you save your file if you pray at them... but there's this one particular bird statue that stands out, and has a jewel in one of its eye sockets... so mysterious...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Waterfall Cave

The first area in the game with enemies. It sucks that it's blocked off by a barrier forcing you to get a sword first, instead of letting you come here without one... With a sword in your possession, the enemies in here aren't really a threat... just swarms of keese that die in one hit and you can take them all out by just standing there flailing wildly, and chu jellies that also die in one hit.

This cave is very linear, but it has a few optional things to explore to find some extra rupees... There's even a couple things around here that you can't get yet... Skyloft had a lot of stuff you can't get yet either. At the other end of this cave, you find Zelda, and also Link's Loftwing, trapped in behind some wooden planks...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Zelda says she senses something ominous down below the clouds...
I... I heard this voice a few moments ago. Did you hear it too? It's been happening a lot lately. It's the strangest feeling... Almost like someone is calling out to me.
Have you ever wondered what's beneath the clouds? Some say that it's an empty, barren place, or even that there's nothing at all down below, but I just have this feeling that they're wrong.
Some of Father's old texts talk about a place called the surface. The old tales describe a whole world under there, far more vast than Skyloft! The thing is, no one's ever been down there to see it, and our Loftwings won't fly through the cloud barrier.

...But I can't help imagining the wild things that might be waiting below. Someday, I want to see for myself.
This scene is so good... it says so much about how the people of Skyloft have gotten accustomed to living in the clouds, and makes the surface world down below sound like an intriguing, ominous place... This game has some really phenomenal storytelling.

Next you get to practice flying for the first time... Flying feels alright to me, especially if you change how you hold the wiimote so you hold it from the top and can point it downwards much more easily.

The Wing Ceremony

Another cutscene with Groose... he's acting very confident in being able beat Link in the flight race and hopes to gain the reward of having a special moment with Zelda ontop of the Goddess statue and receiving the sailcloth that she made...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

After that nice little cringe moment, the Wing Ceremony begins...


The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

This was a pretty decent reference to the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series. I don't see why they needed to plaster the big obvious "25th anniversary" logo at the beginning of the opening cutscene earlier, this line would've been enough.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Aaand done. That was easy. Time for Link's special moment with Zelda, and for Groose to go cry in his pillow.

Zelda jumps off and makes Link catch her on his Loftwing.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Zelda and Link perform the ceremony on top of the Goddess statue.
Great goddess, guiding light and protector of our people, grant us your blessing and mercy as I act in your stead during this ceremony.
Valiant youth who grasped victory at the celebration of the bird folk...
In accordance with the old ways...

I now bestow the blessings of the goddess upon you.
The blessings of the goddess drift down from the heavens aloft a sail, which I now pass on to you.
When the text turned gold just now, it made it seem like it was the goddess herself talking to Link... Knowing ahead of time that Zelda is actually the goddess makes this scene feel kinda surreal...
You know, they say that the goddess gave the Sailcloth to her chosen hero long ago. Of course, the one you're holding isn't the same one. I've been working hard to finish making this Sailcloth in time to give it to today's champion. I'm really glad I got to give it to you, Link. Make sure you take good care of it, OK?
To finish the ceremony, Link needs to jump off the goddess statue, putting both Link's courage and Zelda's knitting abilities to the test.

After the ceremony is over, Link and Zelda go flying around together...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Zelda wants to talk to Link about something important, but just then...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshotThe Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

A storm makes Zelda fall down towards the surface... the storm is too strong for the Loftwings... Link falls unconscious and sees that ball of light talking to him again...

He wakes up in the academy and tells Zelda's father what happened. Gaepora believes that Zelda will be fine as long as she's with her Loftwing, and tells Link to get some rest.

The Goddess Sword

This part is really cool... It feels like a cutscene, but it's not. This reminds me a lot of that part in Twilight Princess where you meet the ghost of the zora queen.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

This floating sword woman is the same one who was talking to Link in his dreams... She leads you outside... the gates to the rest of the town are closed, but she leads you down a side path that leads up to the goddess statue area... You could have actually found this side path if you were exploring the town earlier, and now you know the reason it exists.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

She opens the door to the inner part of the statue, where a sacred looking sword sits in the ground...
The one chosen by my creator. I have been waiting for you. You will play a role in a great destiny.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Next is a lengthy cutscene where Fi explains this important mission that her creator has assigned to Link.
I was created for a single purpose, long before the recorded memory of your people. I must aid you in fulfilling the great destiny that is your burden to carry.
Fi is the only character who is regularily voiced throughout the entire game, and her voice sounds really neat... She keeps speaking of this "creator", but doesn't mention them by name yet... Link has no reason to listen to this crazy lady as of yet, so she decides to give him more info regarding the situation he's in.
My projections indicate that this information has a high probability of altering your current emotional state.

The one you seek, honorable Zelda, is still alive. And this spirit maiden... the one you call Zelda... is another chosen one fated to be part of the same great mission.

Therefore, should you wish to meet with your friend, I highly recommend you take up this sword before you set out to search for her.
In the name of my creator, draw the sword and raise it skyward.
Nice title drop.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

You got the Goddess Sword! This mysterious sword is bathed in divine light.
Gaepora shows up just then. He's surprised to see Link in this room, the Chamber of the Sword... The knowledge of this room has been passed down via these words from the goddess to only a select few...

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

When the light of the goddess's sword shines bright, the great apocalypse will wake from its long slumber. Do not fear, for it is then that a youth, guided by my hand, shall reveal himself in a place most sacred.
Gaepora had noticed the sword starting to shine brighter than usual lately, but passed it off as his mind messing with him.
I never dreamed the prophecy of legend would come to pass in my lifetime. The words I have sworn to keep secret are coming true before my very eyes.
The youth will be guided by one born of the blade--one who is also youthful in likeness yet wise with knowledge immeasurable.
If you haven't guessed by now, the text highlighted in yellow is Gaepora citing the words of the goddess. This is how the game itself does it as well... Fi chimes in.
Ah yes, the oral tradition, one of the least reliable methods of information retention and transmission. It appears that critical sections of the passage have been lost over the
generations.
Wow... If you've been following the Zelda timeline theorization stuff like I have, you can see the meta joke in this statement very clearly... This is Aonuma justifies retconning stuff and making it harder and harder to piece together a coherent timeline for all of the games. It's all just legends passed down through time, some of the details of which may or may not be true.

Fi:
The youth who draws forth the guiding sword shall be known as the goddess's chosen hero, and it is he who possesses an unbreakable spirit. He shall be burdened with the task of abolishing the shadow of apocalypse from the land. Such is his destiny.

With the spirit of the blade at his side, he shall soar over the clouds and plummet below... And united with the spirit maiden, shall bring forth a piercing light that resurrects the land.

The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword (Wii/Dolphin) screenshot

Link remembers Zelda talking about the surface, and something calling her down there... Now he is much more inclined to believe Fi and go along with her.

Gaepora mentions that nobody in living memory has been below the clouds before, and going down there without any idea where you're going is insane...

Fi then gives Link a piece of a tablet, which has an emerald gem on it... placing this tablet on an altar in the sword chamber makes a green beam of light shoot out of the goddess statue, and illuminate a path in the cloud barrier... This is one of the points of interest Link needs to travel to in order to reunite with Zelda.

From this moment on, Fi declares she will accompany Link throughout the entire game, residing in his sword the whole time... If there's one big missed opportunity here, it's that Hero Mode doesn't involve Fi being asleep in the sword the whole time. She still comes out to nag you constantly with instructions on how to play and where to go...

By now it should be obvious that the "creator" Fi kept talking about is in fact the goddess that the people of Skyloft worship. When Fi recited the rest of the passage that Gaepora started reciting in yellow text, that shows that Fi is even more knowledgeable about the words of the goddess than Gaepora. This whole thing with the sword chamber, the holy sword, the tablet, the beams of light, the hero's mission and the spirit maiden's mission intertwining in the world beneath the clouds... it's all been elaborately planned out by the goddess... The goddess must've known exactly when the seal on the demon world would break and chose a hero in this time period and set everything up perfectly so that all these events would fall into place... This is so crazy...

I have to mention one more thing. What makes this whole big lengthy cutscene great isn't just the visual presentation... but the music... oh my goddess... Fi's theme is even more heavenly and beautiful than Zelda's singing from earlier.

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