Skyward Sword and the Problem with Pacing

skyward sword pacing

Having worked my way through most of 2011’s big ticket titles over the Winter break, I’ve finally made my way to Skyward Sword and have been playing it for a few hours. While I do appreciate the art style and the Wii Motion Plus controls work better than I thought they would, the game has some serious pacing issues, specifically in the first few hours.

Skyward Sword starts much like any other Zelda game with the protagonist (Link traditionally, but “Butts” in my game) awakening from a deep slumber filled with dreams of a distant threat. From there you have to do the whole rigmarole of learning how to Z-target, autojump and all those other Zelda actions that are so familiar to us from the past thirteen years of this formula. I get that all these concepts might be new for people who didn’t grow up with the Ocarina style of Zelda games, but for us veterans this kind of stuff can be boring.

The same thing happened to me at the start of Modern Warfare 2 where the game teaches you how to use the basic controls and even runs you through a near carbon copy of the freighter mock-up from Call of Duty 4. Given just how many people bought CoD 4, I would have assumed that people know how to use the controls, but I guess some developers feel the need to be safe rather than sorry.

Getting people used to the way a game functions is essential, but Zelda handles it so, so slowly that it verges on tedious. Once you get past those segments and finally get your Loftwing everything opens up, but getting there is a chore. Additionally, whoever thought that giving Link a stamina bar was a good idea should be fired.

I do enjoy Skyward Sword, don’t get me wrong, but I really would have appreciated a “Yes, I’ve played Zelda” option somewhere along the way so I could just get into the game. This might just be me, but I think they way the tutorial was done was pretty shoddy. What do you guys think? Did Skyward Sword drag a little bit in the beginning? What other games have done this for you?