Now that we’re past the first four dungeons of Skyward Sword, which I generally have endless praise for (or in the Ancient Cistern’s case, endless praise mixed with endless criticism), these Skyward Sword Dungeons posts should be on the shorter side in comparison, because oddly enough I don’t have as much to say about the game’s later dungeons. As I wrote near the beginning of my analysis of the Ancient Cistern, I think Skyward Sword’s second half has some problems, particularly in its dungeons. That’s not to say they’re bad, but I think they lose a bit of what defined the game’s earlier dungeons and made them distinct. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Sandship and have many good things to say about it, so don’t let that make you think I hate the dungeon. I will get to my praise shortly.
To me the Sandship felt a lot like a dungeon out of another Zelda game. That might sound like a weird statement, but as I’ve covered throughout this series, the first three dungeons were very unique in their own ways, and didn’t feel like traditional dungeon experiences. The Sandship is completely a traditional dungeon experience. It makes some use of the Timeshift Stone on the deck for some creative puzzle-solving, but for the most part you’ll find yourself going through a traditional dungeon layout of small but numerous rooms with multiple floors. This actually isn’t a bad thing, though, and on its own the Sandship is a fine dungeon. Within a game that changes things up so much most of the time, it’s definitely good to have at least one extremely traditional dungeon.
It bothers me in Skyward Sword mostly because it takes place in the game’s second half along with two other dungeons like that (the Ancient Cistern and as I’ll get into next time, the Fire Sanctuary). It bothers me that the game starts off with a bang and has innovative dungeons, but then regresses back and stays that way for pretty much the rest of the game. I think implementing more traditional dungeons should have been spread out a little more and/or Nintendo put them at the beginning of the game instead, because with the Silent Realms, Harp, and Imprisoned fights, Skyward Sword was already designed to ramp up after the halfway point; putting the unique dungeons afterward would have fit better.
However, the Sandship is very hard to criticize on its own. Like Snowpeak Ruins in Twilight Princess (and ironically taking place at the same point in the game), it’s a tight series of rooms laid out and designed to mimic a specific type of structure (Snowpeak Ruins was a mansion; this time it’s a ship), which is something I think is very cool. The use of the Timeshift Stone is somewhat uncreative compared to Lanayru Mining Facility, but that’s fine considering that one dungeon already got that out of the way, and instead you spend your time interacting with the Sandship as if it’s exactly that: A ship. That’s the big thing this dungeon and the Ancient Cistern excelled at. While the first three dungeons of the game are unique in gameplay, the Ancient Cistern as well as the Sandship have creative settings, and in the case of the Sandship especially, it feels highly believable.
The dungeon’s fights are also entertaining, pitting the player against Technoblins and Beamos once more while also providing cool fights in the ship’s rigging. Scervo was an amazing fight, and although I have talked about missed opportunities with him before, I enjoyed his fight a lot. Tentalus less so, unfortunately. Tentalus was actually my least-favorite boss of the game, though that’s not saying much considering I loved the game’s bosses. I don’t really have specific criticisms for Tentalus other than that I felt the fight was a bit monotonous and easy.
Finally I feel the Sandship carries Lanayru Desert’s awesome melancholy, and this is evident most of all in its music. I would link you to its music, but there are four different variations so I ca- Oh nevermind. I especially love the deck theme with the Timeshift Stone activated.
So all in all I think the Sandship is amazing, but perhaps diminished a little by the dungeons surrounding it. Regardless I had a lot of fun with it. Did you enjoy it too, or did the dungeon bother you? Tell me your thoughts on the dungeon in the comments and how you feel about what I’ve said!
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