I picked up this week in the middle of running around Skyloft looking for Gratitude Crystals. What are they? A reward for doing little sidequests for people around the world, which you can turn into a monster named Batreaux in exchange for prizes. It’s not unlike the Goddess Cubes in how it’s just inserting another step between you and your reward. At least Batreaux (“Uncle Bats”) is a fun character.
I didn’t get around to mentioning it last week, but there’s a “bar” in the sky called The Lumpy Pumpkin. Inside, there’s a chandelier with a heart piece resting on top of it. There are also signs warning not to roll into the walls, as you may knock down the (very expensive, custom ordered) chandelier. Of course, you will do this anyway, because you want the piece of heart. And when you do, you get chewed out by the barkeep and have to run errands for him to make up the cost of a new chandelier. The bar patrons will also question what the heck is wrong with you if you talk to them. It’s a fun little “actions have consequenses” sequence that pokes fun at video game conventions, like the penalties for shoplifting in Link’s Awakening.
Can you get the heart piece without breaking the chandelier? I don’t know. I broke it right away. I wanted the piece of heart! Doing jobs for the barkeep gives you the opportunity to learn a little more about some of the Skyloft residents, so it’s worth the effort. Plus you can just ignore him and leave if you really want to be a dick.
The sound balance is ever-so-slightly off, as the jingle when you pick up a collectible or catch a bug is really loud. Also, super annoying that it gives you the descriptions of each thing again every time you load the game. It’s like the rupee description “issue” with Twilight Princess but about thirty times worse.
Speaking of which, Skyward Sword borrows the spoils collecting aspect of Wind Waker and bug collecting from Twilight Princess. I don’t remember at all what bugs are for besides selling for money, but spoils factor into one of my favourite parts of Skyward Sword: upgrading your gear. For a handful of junk and some rupees, you can upgrade a number of your adventuring items, and even some of the main tools. For example, you can reinforce shields to extend their durability, or upgrade bomb bags to higher capacities (no more winning the bigger bags in mini-games). I think some of the tools need to be upgraded to progress the game (the Beetle, at least), but otherwise it’s just an optional way to make your quest a little easier.
Eldin Volcano is a much more linear field than Faron Woods, and I think it was equally less fun to explore. Maybe because there wasn’t a whole lot of exploring. It’s basically just one long winding path through the lava and up the side of the volcano. Also there’s a cave and a minesweeper-esque mini-game. The worst part, though, is the stupid slide that you have to run over and over because it’s kind of difficult to get the right angle to land on the platform that holds a Goddess Cube. I mean, you could just ignore the Cube, but what if its treasure is something good? (I think it was a silver rupee).
The Earth Temple was another really small dungeon, and honestly I’m not sure where I stand on this. On one hand, it’s very tightly designed and fairly fun to play through. But on the other hand, it feels like its over just as it’s really getting going. I suppose there’s something to say for not dragging something out for longer than it needs to be, but the dungeons in Twilight Princess manage to be comparatively massive and fun throughout, so it can be done. At the end of the day, though, what I noticed most was how visually interesting the temple was, with a lot of blue on the walls and floors to contrast with the copious orange lava, and all the different animal statues throughout.
The boss of the Earth Temple, Scaldera, was just as fun as I remember. It’s a boss fight that more or less hinges on bomb-bowling, a fairly unpopular feature that I happen to love. It was a little frustrating, however, since you need to be standing next to a bomb flower for a second before the prompt to pick it shows up. Maybe this is par for the course, but it is annoying that you can’t pluck a bomb without breaking stride.
I tried exploring Skyloft a little more after the Earth Temple, but as it turns out, still not a ton of secrets. I also learned that time does not flow naturally in this game, and that you have to rest in a bad to switch between morning and night. I don’t know if I like this system better than a day/night cycle, but it’s mostly irrelevant anyway because you can’t leave Skyloft at night for whatever reason. (The reason of course is that nobody wanted to go through the effort of setting up night-time versions of every other location).
One of my favourite things about Twilight Princess is that there is a fortune teller who will give you a hint about where you’re supposed to go next, which is a long-standing Zelda tradition. What makes this fortune teller unique is that she will also give you hints to where any pieces of heart are hidden, which is a fantastic time saver. Skyward Sword’s fortune teller does not give heart piece hints, which makes him doubly redundant, since Fi will give you hints, and there’s also a Sheikah Stone in Skyloft that shows you where to go.
While my original intent was to stop playing before heading into Lanayru province, I found myself with a little extra time on Sunday and decided to start poking around in the obligatory desert level. It’s way cooler than most desert levels, with little robots all over the place, and stones that turn back time in a short radius around them, which typically turns the environment from sandy and blah to green and pretty. This, of course, factors into minor environmental puzzles, and I think is the closest Skyward Sword gets to a “change the water level” kind of situation.
Also I ran around in circles for a while chasing tumbleweeds.
Also also, I got sort of stuck and am not sure what I need to do to progress. Not so stuck that I felt the need to ask Fi for directions, but stuck enough that I decided to give it a rest and come back to it another day with fresh eyes.