The Legend of Zelda is the greatest video game series of all time. Sure other series like Halo or Call of Duty have sold more copies or have more hype surrounding them, but there is perhaps not one that has had as big of an impact on the evolution of video games then Zelda. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the original game, The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the perfect entry to celebrate all that has made the series so great and influential in the gaming world, especially since it’s positioned as an origin story of sorts. As a disclaimer, the game requires the use of Wii MotionPlus, which can be purchased as an add-on to the usual WiiMote or an entirely new one that has MotionPlus included. There is no option for a classic style control scheme, which may turn off some potential players.

The game begins with Link receiving a letter from Zelda. It’s not about how she’s been captured by the forces of evil and imploring him to go on an epic quest of adventure. Rather, it’s a wake up note for someone who likes to sleep in a bit too much. Link and Zelda are not their usual heroic figures, rather they live a peaceful existence in Skyloft, a city floating above the clouds, whose residents get around on bird-like Loftwings. It’s this change that endears you to the characters, as there is an actual relationship between the two and not the usual save-the-princess-save-the-world mantra of earlier games. After Zelda is carried away by a twister to the world below the clouds, Link begans his adventurous quest. This is still not the typical story, as Zelda is put on equal ground with Link and she has her own quest to fulfill. As its importance unfolds, you appreciate the dynamic between the two more and what each must to do to help the other. The rest of the cast is similarly endearing, including the main villain, Ghirahim, a self-styled ‘Demon Lord’ who is pursuing Zelda for his own ends. The Link’s Sidekick role is filled by Fi, a entity that lives within the Skyward Sword itself and has a mechanical personality, constantly telling Link there is such a percant chance that Zelda is here or the key they just found will work on the door, etc, etc.

The requirement of using Wii MotionPlus opens up a large number of gameplay opportunities. Holding the WiiMote upwards charges the Skyward Strike, a powered up sword blast that is also used for storyline purposes. When you have the sword drawn, the position you hold the WiiMote directly controls which way Link holds it on screen. The combat is reflective of this as enemies will block sword strikes from certain directions, constantly changing these blocks so the player is forced to stay on their toes and swing the WiiMote in the right direction. The enemies get tougher in the ways they defend, forcing the player to fight smarter. The game doesn’t throw you right into this, but presents opportunities for the player to get accustomed to the motion-based sword mechanics.

Where the MotionPlus also comes in are the various items Link picks up along the way. There are series mainstays like a bow, bomb bag and hookshot, but Skyward Sword introduces new ones that make full use of the MotionPlus technology. The very first dungeon item is a remote controlled beetle that once launched is controlled by the WiiMote and can be sent to pick up items in unreachable areas or, best of all, to carry bombs right at enemies. There is also a whip which requires you to move the WiiMote as if you’re casting out a fishing line and is used to swing across gaps. One other item is the Gust Bellows, which is basically a jar that can shoot a continuous stream of air. While that may sound odd, the way in which the game requires you to use it is both rewarding and fun. Even new items that do not directly use MotionPlus are still fun to use such as mitts that allow you to burrow underground for some PacMan-esque exploring. Finally something must be said about the dungeon boss keys. They are not normal keys, but carvings that must be rotated in the exact way so as to fit into the slot on the boss door. It’s a puzzle in and of itself that is challenging, yet fun in a way. The ways in which you use the item acquired in a dungeon against its boss is also a mini-puzzle in and of themselves. That is to say nothing of the boss battles which are entertaining  and genuinely fun.

Link’s journey below the clouds lead him to locations that are familar, such as vast woods, a volcano and a desert that has the remains of an anicent civilization. The stock dungeons do not return as there is no Forest Temple or Fire Temple, but you instead explore such locations as a mining facility, an old cistern and a ship marooned in a sea of sand. As great as diving in Lake Hyrule to enter the Water Temple can be, it’s refreshing to see new dungeons with different layouts then old ones. Navigating your way through them have their own challanges and puzzles. One of the best is the use of Timeshift stones, which allow a small area to revert back in time, activating ancient machinery and changing the landscape. Moving these stones is key to progressing through a few dungeons and some outside areas. Don’t know where you should go next? Well finding where to go has its own mechanic in Dowsing, which requires pointing Link’s sword forward until you find the proper direction to go, sort of like a metal detector. It’s a new twist on the usual exploration formula.

Skyward Sword is more then a worthy addition to the library of great Zelda games. Nintendo has an iconic series and it know how to innovate and make each game a blast to play. They added so much to this entry to make it stand out. The locations, items and  use of the MotionPlus technology are just a few ways of making it a new kind of Zelda game. People are still debating which Zelda game is the best in the series and this entry won’t settle anything, but it just goes to show how much care and development went into the game. If you are a fan of video games at all, then Skyward Sword is one you must play.