Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Skyloft

 The Land of The Goddess

Way up high in the sky so blue.
Way up high in the sky so blue.

Honestly, it was a pretty damn good assumption that Skyloft was going to be featured as a Zelda: Skyward Sword stage in some way. The question was more of a “how” than an “if.” And that “how” came out a little cooler than I thought! Warning! A might bit of spoilers for Skyward Sword‘s events lie within the article, so read on carefully!

Concept art of Skyloft.
Concept art of Skyloft.

If you’re into the whole mod scene, you may have seen Project M‘s stab at Skyloft, and honestly I rather liked it. It appears they took a chunk off of the western portion of Hyrule Temple, another sky-bound island stage first used in Melee. Then they dressed it up in Skyward colors, and had it slowly rotate around the Island of Skyloft. A fairly “Smash” stage, if I’ve ever seen one, and impressive as hell from a group of independent modders. I found the ability to put the entire Skyloft asset in the background, with birds flying around, and not dropping a frame to be quite impressive! But what the team over at Smash Bros. had in mind is a bit different, although equally impressive!

More Skyloft concept art!
More Skyloft concept art!

It appears, from videos, and the odd screenshot, that Skyloft is taking on the same ‘roll’ that Delfino Plaza took in the Smash Bros. Brawl, in that it’s about random platforms cruising around the town and stopping off at various locations. I’d call it a “Tourism” style stage, if I had to give it any kind of designation.

Smash Bros Brawl's Delfino Island.
Smash Bros Brawl’s Delfino Island. Imagine Skyloft as being something like this!

Were I to make this stage, and arguably, it’s a good thing that I’m not, I would have centered it around the statue of the Goddess Hylia. I find that to be the sort of central zone of the suspended city. And after a certain time benchmark, I would have it recreate scenes from the endpoint of Skyward Sword and plummet to the world below. This would give a segment of time where the level is low-grav, similar to the falling iceberg in Glacier Summit from Brawl, and ultimately end with a bit of a scenery change. Maybe even a visit from a certain somebody, who comes up along the side and eats people, a’la Bulbin from Distant Planet.

Versus the terrible dragon!
Bowser and Link dance atop Skyloft!

You can get your first look at the stage in action in the original trailer for Smash Bros. Wii U. Keep in mind that Sakurai has confirmed that the 3DS and WiiU will both sport the same roster of characters, but entirely unique levels. As somebody who oddly cares more about the levels than the characters, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. With that in mind, remember that this stage applies only for the Wii U version, and that the 3DS version will play host to levels from portable Zelda titles, such as Spirit Tracks. But more on those to come…

Hat's off, Mario! Enjoy the breeze~
Mario overlooking Skyloft

What do you think? Are you excited to see Skyloft represented? DO you appreciate the Tourism style, or does any particular area call out to you as the strongest? I’d love to hear your comments below!

Art of the Sacred Realm from A Link to the Past. Looks an awful lot like Skyloft, doesn't it?
Art of the Sacred Realm from A Link to the Past. Looks an awful lot like Skyloft, doesn’t it?

The Symphony of The Goddess

For this installment, I’ll be talking about some choice cuts for the Skyloft stage from Zelda: Skyward Sword. I should note upfront that I used the implementation of console-based game stages on Wii U, and portable-based stages on 3DS to help me make some decisions in my playlists. With that in mind, let’s start with the low fruit on the tree:

Skyward Sword – Ballad of the Goddess


Kind of the central theme of Skyward Sword, this particular version of Ballad of the Goddess actually didn’t show up a whole lot in the game. In fact I don’t think it did at all, which is weird. Regardless, I can already tell you this song works for Smash, because it was in the Project M. stage for Skyloft.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – The Sky


It might start off a tad understated, but this song really picks up into a powerful movement that would wonderfully accompany a stage with as much movement and exploration as Skyloft appears to have. Of all the other songs in Skyward Sword to use for Skyloft, this would be the biggest crime to ignore.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Demon Lord Ghirahim


Admittedly, a tad too dark and chaotic on its own, Ghirahim’s theme makes a tremendous Smash song nonetheless. I would certainly appreciate if there was like a stormy alternative to Skyloft that this could play during.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Clocktown


This particular version was taken from www.terriblefate.com, a site designed to advertise a remix album of music from Majora’s Mask. The album’s quite brilliant, and it highlights just why I want to see Clocktown used for Skyloft. I would say, even more than Skyloft, Clocktown is -the- most bustling, realistic town in a Zelda game.5 You can watch people live 3 full days of their life in this little world, and it’s crazy. The overall upbeat nature of it truly does work for a stage set in Skyloft. You could even have a “one minute remaining” version that uses the Third Day version of the song.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Howling Melody


One of my favorite songs in Smash Bros. Brawl was the Ocarina Medley from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In that same vain, there’s musical gold to mine in a remix of the howling themes from Twilight Princess.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Title Theme (MOKA mix)


Even if we see the title sequence music to Ocarina find it’s way into the next Smash, I’m sure it won’t be this version. However, I rather love this mix a great deal, so I thought it worth mentioning. It has enough tempo and nostalgic overtones to fit flying around the dreamy city of Skyloft.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Outset Island


Like Wind Waker before it, Skyward Sword featured a much more care-free hero enjoying life in their own little paradise before danger strikes. It is in that same vein that Outset Island’s theme should come forward to the Skyloft stage. It’s fun, it’s casual, and it’s reminiscent of our youth. It’s the perfect kind of song for an island shared with family and friends. While on the subject, there’s also a really great OC Remix track out there that combines Outset Island’s theme with a lamentful love song.

And you, my gorgeous, and very tasteful reader? What are your thoughts on great Skyloft music? Drop links to your favorite songs below!

On Blank Slate Creativity

Or, why running a tabletop game intimidates me

I have a pretty awesome gaming group consisting of friends who get together after work. Drinks are shared, food is made, and dick jokes are had.  As is the nature with tabletop groups, running the game is something that comes up on occasion; as schedules shift, and obligations arise, new games constantly needed to be forged.  We have a couple different of systems at our disposal, but the most recent one we’ll be looking at is Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. (Shh, I know it’s not most people’s favored system, but that’s for another time!)

As the question arose, the combination of both enthusiasm and dread hit me. Running a game is fun, for sure. It’s a challenging, but very rewarding role. I don’t mind handling off-the-rails things, or solutions I never dreamed of.  It’s coming up with a story from scratch that is rough on me. Without a situation or concept, it’s hard dredging up an idea or story line I think will be fun. How about trying to prevent a demon apocalypse? No, wait, we just did that. We wake up cold and alone, strangers in a strange land? No, also something we just did.

For some reason, coming up with a hook, or even a general idea, is something that I have an incredibly hard time forcing. Most often, it strikes when my mind is wandering on something else entirely — in this case, while taking a post-workout shower while seriously regretting the extra plate of potluck goodies I had.   At the end of the day, I think I struggle with it because I have so many options; the immensity of what I have at my fingertips overwhelms me. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; it’s that I almost readily discard every possibility, waiting for the ‘big’ one. Adding to the difficulty of this task is that little nagging voice behind every creative process–the one that says “hey, you know, that kind of sucks. You’re bad at this.”

In this case, though, instead of a ‘story’ thread, I want to focus on things that can seem tiring in game. Specifically, since there will be a first session where adventurers awkwardly shuffle together, I wanted to target this weirdness. I want to give them a reason to fight together, a reason why they should care about each other’s fate, and a reason to undertake a journey.  I’m actually pretty thrilled to see how well it’ll go; and once my party suffers experiences what I have planned, I’ll throw up an article on how it went.  Until then, I may do a couple of world-building pieces.

How about you, fellow gamers and story crafters? When trying to concept out an idea or story into something tangible, what do you find helps you grasp an idea that sticks?

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