The plot thickens on Zelda: Skyward Sword and Gamespot

Just the other day I praised Gamespot for giving The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a 7.5/10, a score that indicated that it was good, but that there were problems with it.  Chief among them were the controls and the stale ‘Zelda formula’.  I felt that these were legitimate enough points for him to make, having not played it fully myself.  The problem is, the first of those complaints, about the wonky controls, seems to be one not shared by pretty much any other reviewer that has published.  Due to this, there was a bit of an out roar about the score.  Well, Gamespot decided to update the review with a bit of a clarification.

Editor’s note: This review originally stated that aiming was handled through the Wii Remote’s infrared sensor, which is incorrect. The review has been amended accordingly. GameSpot regrets the error.

Now this seems to be a small error, perhaps typographical.  However, it seems like this isn’t such a small error, and may actually explain the lower score than expected.  You would assume that a professional reviewer would be able to play a game properly and figure out the controls over a full 40hr+ playthrough.  But looking more closely at the review and a couple questions that were asked him, it seems like he may not have.  Let’s take a look:

Your opinion of Skyward Sword’s controls were very different than those of other reviewers. Why is that? What is your opinion of motion control in general?

As anyone who has followed me should know, controls are the single most important element of a game to me. If they aren’t responsive all the time, I get frustrated, because it’s a problem that could have been averted had the developers been more conscious of the experience they were creating. In the case of Skyward Sword, the controls function as they should most of the time, but that’s not enough. When I swing and it doesn’t register, or I point toward the screen but Link looks at the ground, I get angry. Nintendo usually sets the standard for controls, so I’m shocked they would release a game in this state.

I get what he’s saying, and honestly I felt similarly when I was playing Red Steel 2.  The controls worked for the most part, but I felt frustrated by them at times when I couldn’t get them to do what I wanted, or what I felt they should be translating to.  Problem is something else, as nicely pointed out.

Whenever Tom gets out an item, he points his remote at the screen. Take the bow and arrow as an example. What you are supposed to do is point the Wii remote upwards (towards the roof), and pull your hand back like you are drawing a bow. Using logic, you can determine that if you point the remote at the screen in these circumstances, of course Link will look towards the ground. GameSpot’s reviewer is stuck in the days in Twilight Princess. He uses waggling and pointing, instead of one-to-one actions.

Ouch.  But it’s correct!  I can confirm that with my own limited time with the game, that’s exactly what would happen.  It would then require either some readjustment or something else entirely to be able to use the items.  When asked about the error that GameSpot corrected, this was his response.

You made an error in your review regarding the game’s controls (which has since been amended by the time of this writing). Do you think that an error like that might unintentionally affect your opinion (and therefore the review) of the game?

Not at all. In my original text, I said that aiming was handled by the infared sensor, when it’s actually controlled by the gyroscopes. Ultimately, you point at the screen no matter which method the controller is using, so, for the player, the result is the same. My problem with the aiming is that you have to recenter your view often, and that’s true no matter what the underlying technology is.

But, you don’t.  You don’t need to point your remote at the screen.  In fact you shouldn’t be pointing it at the screen.  I have to reiterate here, no other review that I have read has pointed to a single problem like this.  It’s concerning that Tom McShea would make an error this massive and then refuse to admit it.  Look, if a game deserves a 7.5/10, please by all means give it.  But when you knock points off because of controls that you didn’t comprehend, that just isn’t fair.

When you get your hands on it finally, let me know how you fare!  We should find out very quickly if this review is justified or not.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

2 Comments on "The plot thickens on Zelda: Skyward Sword and Gamespot"

  1. Garlador November 19, 2011 at 3:34 PM - Reply

    Tom McShea’s criticisms of the controls have been refuted by plenty of people, both gamers and other journalists, some of whom even took to Youtube to show how accurate the controls actually are.

    He played the game wrong, pure and simple. While I would prefer a re-evaluation or a second-opinion from Gamespot about the game after having addressed the matter, that would require humility, professionalism, and integrity… and the responses given about the “score” (not the content) don’t seem to point in that direction.

    • Micah
      Micah November 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM - Reply

      They’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either they fess up and admit that the game was played wrong (the right thing to do, I think everyone can agree) and prove that one of their reviewers either didn’t play the game fully or is incompetent, or they try this half-assed approach which kind of apologizes but doesn’t change what was said and just pisses off more people. Either way, they aren’t coming out of this one smelling like roses.

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