After twenty-five years it only seems fitting that the Legend of Zelda franchise celebrates its inaugural entry by releasing the most essential instalment in the series for over a decade. At a time when the Nintendo Wii is closely approaching the end of its lifespan, it's hard to think of a more fitting and graceful swansong for the triumphant system.
It'd be easy to get discouraged by the opening few hours of Skyward Sword, the plot trundling along, fascinated with the colourful denizens of Link's quaint hometown of Skyloft, while Link and Zelda drift across the clouds on the back of giant mystical birds.
It's not until Link settles down on terra firma that the game begins to thrive, swiftly breaking franchise tradition as the disparity between gloomy dungeons and the open-world around is magnificently blurred, the landscape brimming with menacing foes and enticing distractions outside of the overarching quest.
It's surprising then that Skyward Sword feels scaled back - more restrained than the bloated world of its predecessor, Twilight Princess. Nevertheless the structure, narrative and design is more minutely detailed, dungeons lavishly conceptualised, unveiling new secrets and unafraid to toy with the pre-established Zelda formula - rarely has a Zelda title held so many surprises.
Link's sword has never felt more intrinsic. Nintendo's MotionPlus controller, while not quite replicating the subtleties of gestures precisely, effectively translates movements into fearsome horizontal and diagonal swipes, integral to combating monsters that can often appear puzzles in themselves. Combat feels, much like the rest of the game, effortless. Ultimately, it makes for another winning, whimsical adventure for the green-clad hero, spinning a tale as legendary as the title suggests.
Reviewed by Bryan Murray