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

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyward Sword (Hero Mode) Part 2: Kweeeee!

 Link gets changed into his new knight uniform, then heads out on his mission...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Fledge also comes and gives you the "Adventure Pouch", which is a limited inventory screen for storing your shields, bottles, and other consumable items. It's the first time a Zelda game has ever required you to unlock the ability to open the inventory screen...

This is where the game starts for real, and the "more cutscenes than gameplay" part finally comes to an end.

Skyloft Introductions

But first, there's still a bunch more character introductions and other stuff you can do up in the sky world at this point in the game. All of the NPCs in Skyloft now have different things to say than they did on the day of the Wing Ceremony. In fact, after every major story milestone in the game, many of these townspeople will have new information that you might miss out on.

Groose has been sulking in his room ever since the Wing Ceremony ended.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The Sparring Hall captain sees Link and remarks that the sword Link is carrying now is the ancient artifact meant for the goddess's chosen one. The people of Skyloft must have a lot of faith in the goddess, as they just take this all at face value and accept that Link must be the chosen one.

The bazaar area is now open for the first time. More character introductions...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This potion shop owner, Luv, is someone you'll be seeing a lot of on Hero Mode. Since Hero Mode doesn't give you any heart drops from enemies/grass/pots, you need to stock up on potions whenever you head out to the surface unless you're very good at the game. Luv's manlet husband, Bertie, can also power up your potions in exchange for certain materials plus additional rupees.

There's also Rupin, who looks like a more jewish looking Beedle, at the gear shop, who sells stuff like arrows, bombs, shields... but right now the only thing you can get is a wooden shield. Shields eventually break in this game if you rely on them too much.

You can also get your shield repaired back to full for a measly 10 rupees by the big, scruffy character Gondo at the scrap shop... Gondo can also upgrade your shields and other equipment a number of times in exchange for certain materials and rupees. Upgrading stuff would be a real pain without this next guy...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This creepy fortune teller guy, Sparrot... Not only does he give you hints on your main quest, he also tells you where to find the materials that are needed for upgrades and other things.

There's also Peatrice, a cute chick who runs the Item Check, a place to store any items that won't fit in your Adventure Pouch.

I also went to explore all the houses and talk to all the other characters... Some of these houses were inaccessible during the day of the Wing Ceremony.

Rupin's mother, Goselle, is a snobby rich lady.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

She reminds me of the auction house owner from Wind Waker... she yells at you if you stand on her couch, and charges you rupees if you break any of the stuff in her house.

You can also sleep in people's beds, and change from day to night. At night time, there are weak monsters wondering around in Skyloft... and also those cat-like things (called Remlits) that seemed very friendly and docile in the daytime, when you go near them at night they become angry and agressive... almost evil looking... you can't fight them either... if you try to throw them off the island, they'll just fight back.

Also, the shop owners and other characters who normally aren't in their houses in the daytime are home during the night, and they all have different dialog when you talk to them at nighttime. Here's Sparrot's house.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

One more thing that I wanted to point out, is this curious place called the Light Tower.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This place won't be relevant until the half-way point in the game... it's pretty cool that there are things like this and the jewel eye statue that you can come across very early on, and you can tell they seem like very important quest related landmarks but you have no idea what they're about or when you'll be able to do anything with them. It adds a lot of intrigue/mystery to Skyloft...

You can only take off into the sky at the daytime. If you try to do so at night, one of the night patrol people will come and save you... their loftwings are equipped with flashlights and are specially trained to fly at night...

There are several other little islands you can land on and check out, but there's nothing you'll miss by not going to them as soon as possible, so I can check them out later. Now to head down to the surface, through the cloud barrier...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Sealed Grounds 1

With the goddess sword in hand, Link is like a "piercing light" that shines down upon the Sealed Grounds, as he drops in from the sky.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

When you approach the temple, Link looks down at the strange black artifact at the bottom of the spiral path, and sees another vision of that giant black muppet monster showing up... Something calls out to him, he realizes what he must do...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Wow, if slapping this thing with the goddess sword over and over again is all that is required to keep the goddess's seal in tact, then I guess the mission is complete! Link just needs to stay here forever and keep hitting the thing over and over again for the rest of time... okay nah that probably won't work. Link needs to go find Zelda... Guess I'll check out that temple...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshotThe Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

"I am the time witch. My hair controls the flow of time."
Seriously though wtf is with that hairdo...

She certainly knows a lot about this divine mission that Link and Zelda are on.
You stand under the roof of the Sealed Temple, a place built by the goddess an eternity ago. Your arrival here was predestined many, many years ago.

The spirit maiden you seek arrived here shortly before you, descending to this land in a shower of light.

There's no doubting it. The gears of fate have begun to turn.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The Shiekah symbol on the back of her robe... This confirms that the Shiekah tribe have been around even longer than the kingdom of Hyrule.

She says that Zelda arrived here earlier than expected, and senses some evil force at work... The seal must've already started weakening before we got here. She says Zelda has gone to the Faron Woods to complete the first part of her mission, and it's Link's mission to go meet with her there...

She gives me the ability to create beacons on the map that you can follow using the goddess sword's beacon sensing ability. This feature isn't totally necessary, but it comes in handy sometimes. It shows you the general direction of your next objective, but it doesn't spell out how to get there, you still need to navigate your way through the world on your own. Right now the beacon sensor points toward Zelda's location.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Behind the Shiekah clock hair lady there's a door that's cracked open a bit, and you can see some orange crystal back there... Knowing what I know now, I had a theory that this door is actually the Door of Time, and the crystal within this room is frozen in time while the time outside this room flows normally...

Found a 2nd bottle already, in a very easy to find chest outside the temple.

The path behind the temple leads to the Faron Woods... along the path I came across a travelling goron, being attacked by bokoblins... This goron researcher introduces himself as Gorko. He is researching ancient texts that talk about this mystical place called the Isle of the Goddess, and he thinks this bird statue has something to do with it...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

He is very, very interested in this subject.
All right, bud, you had better brace yourself, because I am about to blow your mind. So get this: people actually live on this sky island, and they get around by flying on the backs of huge birds that are way bigger than birds down here! Up there everyone reveres the goddess, and the residents of all the islands in the sky live in a perfect society, totally free of conflict or unhappiness! Not only that, but from what I can tell, their civilization is way, way more advanced than ours down here.
But it does not even stop there, bud! This Isle of the Goddess has even more stuff to marvel at! The place was crafted by the goddess herself, so it figures that it is filled with wonders we do not have here. The buildings are all made of gold! An endless spring of mystical water feeds a river through the place. One sip of that stuff, and you live forever! The trees are heavy with plump fruit that cures all disease! The fields are crowded with pumpkins that never rot! Magic wildflowers bloom everywhere! And the weather. Oh, the weather, bud! Not too hot, not too cold. No chance of sweaty heat in this garden paradise! That is the Isle of the Goddess... Amazing, right? WRONG! T IS BEYOND AMAZING!
Shit you know what? He's right. This really puts into perspective just how different Skyloft is from the surface world... Some of these things are embellished a bit, but a lot of it is true. There does seem to be an endless spring of flowing water coming from nowhere on that island.

When I went to check out the deactivated bird statue, it reacted to the sword's presence and started glowing.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Now you're able to return to the sky at any time by going to any of these bird statues, and when you drop back down to the surface you can warp directly to any bird statue you've been to. That is this game's warp system. Now heading into the woods...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Faron Woods Kikwi Hunt

Most of this is just a linear path through the woods, with a few junctions here and there, and some shortcuts you can open up by pushing a log down a cliff... I found some bokoblins attacking a plant creature, and ran away from me at first but then when I caught up to him, he introduced itself as a Kikwi. He says he saw someone just like Link earlier, a girl, being chased by those red enemies... and the Kikwi elder helped her escape.

Further up ahead, you encounter the Deku Scrub enemies, they can be easily defeated if you have a shield. I imagine getting through this forest without one would be a lot harder, but not impossible...

Got to the Kikwi elder. The Zelda beacon ends here. He forgot where Zelda went, and he asks me to look for all the other Kikwi children who have gone missing while he tries to remember.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The dowsing sensor switches focus to point to where the 3 other kikwi children are. You don't really need it here though. I find it's more fun to just explore every path available to you and see where it leads, without worrying about whether you are following a beacon or not. Doing it this way, you can come across other goodies, such as this heart piece.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

After you find all his kikwi children, he remembers where Zelda went, and and also randomly spits a slingshot out of his back and gives it to you...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The slingshot doesn't hurt most enemies, but it does stun them at least. It's mainly useful for shooting targets and hitting stuff off of trees and stuff like that.

Bokoblins are completely a non-issue for me at this point. Once you get a feel for how your sword swing commands work, and how the enemies change their guarding stance based on where you position your sword, it just becomes a game of Simon Says. Just run up to them with your sword out, and without changing your sword's position, swing in a direction they are vulnerable, and just continue wailing on them until they're dead. You don't need to shield bash or stun them with the slingshot or carefully fake them out with your sword movements or anything like that. The combat is actually very smooth once you understand it.

There's more to the combat than that though. The Skyward Strike is very useful in combat as a long range attack that can hit multiple enemies for a decent amount of damage. There's also the sword spin move, which can be done instantly but uses up a lot of stamina, and it can hit a lot of enemies at once from close range or do more damage to a single enemy than normal sword swings. The sword swing can be done vertically as well as horizontally, so it can get around the Bokoblins' guard stances easily.

The slingshot lets you shoot down a vine that enables access to the deeper part of the forest...

Deep Woods

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This area has a lot of tightrope walking over bottomless pits, with various enemies that'll try to knock you off if you don't take care of them. I also came across the first of many Goddess Cubes.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Gorko is also here to give you his explanation of what these things are. They're basically like the treasure charts in Wind Waker. They are just sitting around all over the place in various locations around the surface, most of which are harder to get to than this one. When you hit a Goddess Cube with a Skyward Strike, it disappears and a beam of light goes up into the sky and activates one of the Goddess Chests. Then when you're up in the sky world, you can set your dowsing beacon to search for active Goddess Chests, which are scattered on tiny islands throughout the sky. If you explore the sky early on you can find many Goddess Chests that aren't active yet and you can't open them until you hit the corresponding Goddess Cube.

Found the entrance to the temple that Zelda went into... to open it I just needed to look around for a switch and shoot them with my slingshot. There's also a stone tablet that hints at where the switch is hidden.
He who descended from above: look to the star that the bird rising heavenward gazes upon, and aim your shot there.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Since I have an extra bottle, I may as well go back to Skyloft real quick and fill up on potions. Actually, now that I have the slingshot, there's one other shop in Skyloft I now have access to... I saw it flying around earlier, but only now I'm able to get the shop owner's attention by shooting at it. Beedle brings down a ladder so I can enter his airshop...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Everything Beedle sells is very expensive and valuable looking. The cheapest thing he has is a bug net for 50 rupees. Got that, but then I didn't have enough for the wallet upgrade just yet... oh well...

Level 1 - Skyview Temple

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Finally starting the first dungeon of the game... The dungeons in this game have their own save statues. They are not bird statues that you can warp to, but you can use them to warp back out of the dungeon and from there you can easily warp back to the sky if needed to fill up on potions and stuff...

Very convenient... This kind of trivializes Hero Mode a little bit, although there are still some long stretches of rooms without any save statues.

Fi doesn't help you at all in the dungeons. She only comes out once at the beginning of this dungeon to tell you that your dowsing beacon will not work in here to track down Zelda, and instead you need to find a map.

The first few rooms of this dungeon have a slightly creepy overgrowth/bug infested atmosphere, with spiderwebs, glowy blue mushrooms, vines and other plant life everywhere... The first room just has some keese and some materials to collect, so far it's just like the waterfall cave but with a different aesthetic... Just need to hit a switch in plain sight to open the door... The next room has an eyeball puzzle, again very easy to figure out.

After these first couple rooms warm you up to the general idea of how switches and eyeball puzzles work, the 3rd section is where the dungeon actually starts requiring you to think... it's a multi-room puzzle spanning 3 rooms, with various gemstone switches you need to find and shoot/hit to open the doors and raise the water level. There are hint stones that guide you on what to do, such as this one:
Two doors lead to rooms left and right, but they will only open when the gemstones are struck. One is above, one below.
You can see one of the gemstones in plain sight above the door, but the other one is a bit hidden, and this hint should get you to check the lower section below the opposite door where you'll find the other gemstone.

These big skulluta enemies that hang from webs... These are the first enemies in the game that are actually a bit of a pain to fight. But in this first encounter you actually you can avoid fighting them head on by shooting down some vines with your slingshot, use the vines to swing to the opposite side of the room, and then take out the skulltulas much more easily from their backside...

Another hint stone:
Gaze upon your map until your eye finds the [X], for it is there that you must strike a glittering gemstone to reveal a path. You shall find a temple map in a room with two such gemstones.
You can't see the [X] this hint is referring to until you find the dungeon map. In this game, the dungeon maps show a lot more details than they did in previous Zelda games, and they also show where the boss room and unopened chests are without needing to find a compass. It even shows which doors are still locked... and in this case, it the map also shows an [X] at the exact spots where the 2 water level gemstone switches are hidden... that's a bit too much handholding if you ask me...

With the water level all the way up, a new path opens up leading to an area with another eyeball puzzle, except with two eyeballs at once, it requires a bit more precision. Got the key to the next room...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

In this big room, right away you see a gemstone switch you can hit with your slingshot, and it opens up the door to the middle tower-like structure... no reason not to go there right away. It leads to the first miniboss.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Huh... that was easy. Normally in Zelda games you'd need bombs to finish off the Stalfos Knight, but this guy goes down just from hitting him with my sword. What a disappointingly easy fight... The only way you'd find this boss hard is if you still make the mistake of telegraphing your sword swings. You just need to hold the wiimote steady and only make quick movements to swing immediately without telegraphing which way you're about to swing.

Got the beetle item, and needed to use it right away to escape this room. This item is very useful for scouting ahead and searching parts of the dungeon that you can't access on foot. In the big room, there's a whole bunch of ceiling paths the beetle can take to collect rupees, cut down skulltula webs, and hit gemstone switches that are too high for your slingshot to reach.

The rest of this dungeon is very straightforward, just a matter of going through the motions and using the beetle in the same way that the big central room taught you to use it... This one room has another eyeball puzzle, but with 3 eyeballs. The twist here is that you need something to stand on so that you can get the attention of all 3 eyeballs at once, and you do that by cutting down a block off of a spiderweb and pushing the block in front of the eyeball puzzle and standing on it.

This new 3-headed enemy, Staldra, puts your sword swinging accuracy to the test, and for the first time requires you to use diagonal sword swings.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The section before the boss door has a really funny, clever puzzle... when you start to walk across the tightrope, the enemy at the other end starts walking across it toward you... then you just have to shake the wiimote to fall and grab onto the rope, and shake the wiimote some more to shake the rope around and make the enemy fall off it... Nothing tells you that you're able to do this, it's just something that should come naturally.

Got the boss key after a tricky vine swinging section... The boss keys in this game are very weird... just putting the key in the door is itself a puzzle. It's kinda fun and it only takes like, 30 seconds at most, so I don't mind it at all.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

Boss 1 - Ghirahim

Link meets the person who is responsible for the storm that made Zelda fall to the surface. He teleports around the room, mocking Link, treating him like he's barely even a threat at all... He's also angry that a servant of the goddess came and took Zelda away before he was able to capture her...

After that strange display of conflicting emotions, he gets naked and duels Link in a sword fight.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This fight is incredibly fun, and actually still a bit challenging to me, in a good way. Unlike all the enemies up until now, with Ghirahim it's not enough to just swing without telegraphing your attack, you also have to fake him out by falsely telegraphing an attack and then swinging in a different direction than what he expects.

With 2 red potions still available to use, I beat him on the first try.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

This place looks stunning... Especially in the scene with Fi dancing and gliding across the water while relaying a message from the goddess...

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword screenshot

From the edge of time I guide you, the one chosen to carry out the goddess's mission.
The spirit maiden who descended from the clouds must travel to two sacred places to purify her body.
You stand in one of these places: Skyview Spring. The other is known as the Earth Spring.
This second spring is hidden away deep within the scorched earth of Eldin. The spirit maiden, ever mindful of the heavy task entrusted to her, has set out for this second sacred place.
After obtaining the tablet piece that opens up the Eldin province, I also found another goddess cube in this Skyview Spring area.

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