Thursday, December 13, 2012

Epic Gaming Moments: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

On the whole, Skyward Sword wasn’t a very impressive Zelda game to me.  It was decent, but compared to its predecessors, couldn’t match the Ocarina of Times and Wind Wakers of the bunch.  Nintendo tried a lot of new things and many of them just didn’t work.
But there is one quality carried over from the other games in the series, and that’s the boss battles.  The villain Ghirahim in particular made the game worth playing.  Today’s epic gaming moment shows you exactly what I mean.  I warn you however, that there are some spoilers.

It starts out in a wide open stone room that just screams “Somebody fight in here, please!”
There, Ghirahim is looking at the wall before noticing you.

He talks about how the carvings on the wall suggest that there’s another portal of time somewhere in the world he can use to go back to the past and bring his ultra-powerful master back.

The other one is in the sealed temple your friends take refuge in, but you can’t open it yet.  Ghirahim doesn’t know that, but believes you do.

Sadly, your main character is, and always will be, mute.  Ghirahim seems to forget that, however, and thinks you’re hiding it from him.  He’s in the mood, so he decides to just beat the answer out of you and see if you’ve improved from the last encounter.  This time, the gloves (and cape) are off.

Being Ghirahim, he, of course, needs to play out the whole scene and goes on a long, bragging speech about how awesome his body is and how you and he are connected by the thread of fate; he just loves to hear himself talk.  I can relate.

Though long, the opening here is great.  Ghirahim is really fun to watch move about and be melodramatic, and him taking off his loose articles of clothing builds tension and anticipation for a harder challenge.  This is all helped by excellent cinematography that zooms in at just the right times, and knows when to use what shots.

The joke's on you.  This game is rated E 10+.
Ghirahim starts things off by simply walking up to you, unarmed, holding out one hand with 2 fingers.  If you try to swipe at him in random directions, he will catch the blade between his fingers!  At that point, he’ll hold onto it and keep blocking it unless you swing it upward out of his fingers.  If you don’t, he’ll disarm you and take the sword!  At that point all you can do is run, because without your sword, you’re helpless.  Eventually he’ll get bored and toss the sword aside for you to run over and pick it up (or you can shield bash it out of his hand).  Starting out, Ghirahim is toying with you!

Or not….

You see, he did the exact same stunt in the previous encounter early on in the game.  In that encounter, you learned you had to slash in a specific way.  Anyone with good memory likely won’t fall for it the second time, and since it isn’t any different and the player has had experience time, it serves only as a memory test and warm-up.

It isn’t until he pulls out his weapon when things get serious.  This time, he’s dual wielding.

Because he has 2 swords, you have to swipe in a more specific direction when he blocks, and have to process that in your brain a bit quicker.  In addition to that, you have to avoid his diving and charge strikes, and keep track of where he is, because he just loves to teleport.
When you’re at a far distance, Ghirahim uses a slew of his flying diamond darts.  He makes them orbit himself (or you) and then fly at you in a conveniently straight line or circle that you can slash or spin attack back at him, with the right timing.

It isn’t a particularly difficult fight, but it is a fun one.  What makes it so entertaining is how nonchalant Ghirahim fights with his bevy of attacks, while you’re doing full over the shoulder swings in a fighting stance.  He casually walks toward you, sometimes defending with his 2 swords up in specific positions.  If his swords aren’t up, swinging at him will have one of his swords block it in that direction in the time span of a millisecond with only a flick of his wrist and a sharp clang.  He circles you and only has to snap his fingers for the diamond darts to appear and snap them again to send them your way.  You just know he’s showing off at that point.

He runs at you for a slash and jumps in the air to strike as well, but even then it doesn’t look like he’s giving it his all.  The speed at which he does these things, helped by subtle animation, make it look like he’s playing around.

Just to top things off is a battle remix of his catchy leitmotif.  It sounds like something that should be played at a fancy ball, which fits with the way Ghirahim casually walks around, and the pipe organ can make anything better.  To match the faster tempo of this dance of death, Ghirahim’s battle theme has had castanets added since last time as well.

Before the fight, Ghirahim said he was fighting for real, but, although he upped his game, it doesn’t seem like it.  Judging by his goofy, playful smile in the introduction, I say he was just blowing hot air.  He seems to be having fun, and in this epic gaming moment, so am I…..

Of course, when you win, he stops having fun.

Lol, you mad bro?

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